Monday, June 17, 2013

Backtrack # 11: My unexpected but unforgettable trip to the province of Southern Leyte

It was December 2010 when I visited the Province of Southern Leyte to cover a wedding of one of my friends (Bangas) from Sta. Cruz who now permanently resides there in Macrohon town. It was actually the first major trip I made just month after my own wedding. My last-minute decision to pursue with the trip was worth it, as I witnessed some promising sites of the Eastern Visayas and eventually collected yet another memorable experience.
Traveling by land is exhausting but at the same time rewarding 
Together with my in-laws, we took the Davao-Southern Leyte trip through the famous Bachelor Express Bus via the Tagum-Butuan-Surigao City route. The ferry boat travel from Surigao’s Lipata port to Lilo-an port took us four hours to reach the gateway of Eastern Visayas region from the island of Mindanao. Our base town where we stayed for three days was the municipality of Macrohon, approximately 2 hours travel from Liloan. It is a 3rd class municipality in Southern Leyte with varied geographic characteristics. It sits beside a huge coastal area facing the Mindanao sea and is just 13 kilometers from Maasim City, the province’s capital city. 
Ferry boat from Lipata Port to Liloan Port, connecting Easterm Visayas from Mindanao
On our way to Lilo-an, we spotted the historic Limasawa Island where the sunset rays emanate, beaming directly towards us in a fine afternoon. How could we forget Limasawa Island? This place has been consigned as the sight of the first Catholic Mass in the Philippines way back 1521.
Limasawa Sunset
My friend’s wedding was scheduled 3:00 PM the next day, so we still had enough time to room around the entire town of Macrohon. Early in the morning, we visited an adjacent place in Padre Burgos and experienced the beautiful Tangka-an Beach Resort. There we saw the replica of Padre Burgos who were erected in memory of the priest Padre Jose Burgos (one of the 3 priests of GOMBURZA), who were executed to death by Spanish colonial authorities on charges of rebellion in Cavite on year 1872.

Pader Burgos Replica, Tangka-an Beach Resort
Some 5 kilometers south from where we stayed was Kuting Beach Resort, one of the few commercial resorts in Macrohon. It boosts of its infinity pool which according to them seamlessly blends with the sea. The verdant green landscape of the resort is remarkable and has added to its already-comfortable amenities.

Kuting Beach Resort
The town of Macrohon also takes pride of its fine white-sand beaches. Resorts in the Barangays of Buscayan, Aguinaldo and Asuncion are destinations favored by local and foreign tourists alike. Aside from the white sands, mangrove forests also abound as part of the local government’s initiative to conserve its marine environment. I took a personal tour to all these sites particularly the scenic Buscayan Beach and Manaya Resort where I tasted the delicious wiri-wiri – a native delicacy similar to that of Mindanao’s budbud.  

Buscayan White Sand Beach
Manaya Beach Resort
Mangrove Reserves of Barangay Aguinaldo
Wiri-Wiri, a native Southern Leyte Delicacy
Over at Barangay Molopolo, we headed to their Fish Sanctuary Project. It is a community-based project featuring a 25-hectare marine park and fish sanctuary shared by two Barangays – Sta.  Cruz and Molopolo. Assorted fishes and sea birds both inhabit in this part of Macrohon which formed part of Southern Leyte’s Reef Conservation Project.

Molopolo Fish Sanctuary
 Our trip back to Davao was scheduled in an early dawn and as we got back to Liloan port, I saw the beautiful sunrise while waiting for the boat to take its jaunt to the sea. The peso-divers in Liloan also caught my attention, which marveled my mind about how those kids survive by just merely picking the coins being intentionally thrown to the deep sea by well-off persons. Life, indeed is a survival of the fittest.

Sunrise at Liloan Port
Liloan Peso Divers
I never regretted visiting Southern Leyte last 2010 although that was just one month after my wedding. The warmth of the people there was addicting. The lovely places I have stepped into and photographed were all extraordinary. And maybe it would take another unexpected scene before I can go back to Southern Leyte. It is therefore my pleasure to retrieve all my photo files and share to my readers all the great things happening in this beautiful part of the Philippines.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Experiencing the rich and diverse Tuban seascape

This year’s version of summer has ended. And while most of my traveling friends are busy uploading and making stories of their respective summer escapade experiences featuring popular destinations in the Philippines and beyond, I would like to share a story of a destination in my hometown that has slowly but surely been tagged as a spot to watch out for – a rich and diverse sea scape of Barangay Tuban in Sta. Cruz, Davao del Sur.
Sunrise of Barangay Tuban on June 2, 2013
As I treaded to this part of the town on June 2, 2013 in the morning; I realized that there are more pressing features of the place other than the famous linubirang suman, imbao and the according-to-them mind-boggling abode where witches dwelled.

The long coastal stretch of Tuban
Being one of the open areas situated in the Davao Gulf, Tuban is a perfect sight for those who would want to experience nature at its best. The isolated Passig which can be reached via sitio Baybay or Baliwaga can be compared to that of Zambales’ Anawangin Cove. The islet is bounded by an undisturbed mangrove forest with assorted fishes rooming around the place.

Fisher folks on their way to the mainland
With the island detached almost 150 meters from the mainland, a private resident had installed a bamboo hanging footbridge which made it even more attractive. The footbridge towers over a vast mangrove canopy where one can see the other neighboring coastal barangays of the town. It also connects the mainland to a distinct resort owned by the Laude family.

The hanging footbridge of Tuban with its lush mangrove forest
After an hour of taking pictures in the island, I headed back to the mainland and while I was on the way through the bridge, I spotted several fisher folks unloading their fresh catches. The place where they docked their fishing boats saw several residents still keen on doing collective efforts in helping fisher folks carrying their catches all the way to the fish traders (lab-asera). Bayanihan is still very much alive in Tuban.

Residents helping fisher folks docking their catches is Tuban's manifestation of Bayanihan
I then brought home several over-the-counter fresh fishes and squids for breakfast to the delight of my wife. Indeed, it is always nice to share to our family some things pulled out just right from the palm of nature’s bounty.

Some of Tuban's fresh catches
Thank you very much Tuban for always bringing out nature’s best offerings to your good people. I have always been glad to have stayed here for the last three years, and I will forever be staying here, no doubt about it. 

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Fun with Sun Treasure Hunt at Samal Island

As part of the continuing summer events of the Island Garden City of Samal (IGACOS), I have joined a Treasure Hunting adventure race as event marshal. It was held at the Paseo del Embarcadero, Baywalk, IGACOS on May 25, 2013 and was a major offering of Sun Cellular Network. It was jointly spearheaded by MFPI, MFSM and Bugsay Davao.

Pre-event Zumba Dancing
 Dubbed as “Scavenger Hunt with a Twist,” the event was participated by more or less twenty (20) teams mostly mountaineers and outdoor enthusiasts. It was a six-hour race composed of two members per team regardless of gender. Participating teams were tasked to put together all identified treasures and present it to the race personnel on or before the cut-off time. Every gathered treasure had a corresponding point for the teams. A team garnering the highest total points without getting beyond the mechanics were declared grand winners.

Team Edge Outdoors bested other contenders onward to bringing home the championship cash prize and trophy. Team DDS won second place while Team TRIMMOC settled for third place.

Special thanks to event Director Jun Bacus for the invitation.