Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Mt. Kiyawa day hike on a Sunday

Last Sunday (January 24) was just an ordinary hiking day for me as I settled for a short day hike up Mt. Kiyawa, the highest peak of the municipality of Sta. Maria in Davao Occidental. It was still part of my Occidental lifescape tour. With me during the climb were SJR buddy Plonge and good friend Rhoda

We started the climb at around 8:30 in the morning and although some isolated fogs surrounded the mountain earlier, the extreme hot weather took over in the late morning when we arrived at the summit. The trail was composed majority of single track with some cultivated farm lands visible along the way. There were portions of lose rocks and few cliffs experience when we were about to reach the ridge. Two major sceneries graced us while walking along the ridge, the settlement area of Sta. Maria on the right side and the panoramic Davao Gulf on the other side.

Mt. Kiyawa is measured approximately 400 meters above sea level and is a good day hiking destination in the province of Davao Occidental. I was told by Rhoda that the summit of Kiyawa has always been a venue for Sta. Marians to celebrate New Year’s eve. The summit offers a clear 360-degree view of the town and neighbouring places. On the southern part we saw the huge coconut plantation that borders the towns of Sta. Maria and Malita, while on the northern part I saw the Malalag Bay seascape that also includes Piape Hill of Padada and the mountain ranges of Malalag.

The highest point of the mountain was the Sto. Niño shrine owned by a private person there. I met some folks there working to improve some structures in preparation for their fiesta schedule within the month. The barangay folks in the place are a mix of Christian, Muslin and some Tagacaolo natives.

At around 10:30 in the morning we started going down on the other side in Barangay San Agustin with the more favourable trail of coconut and banana farm.  We proceeded directly to one of Sta. Maria’s popular beach destinations, the Mariscal Beach Resort also known as the town’s Little Boracay.

To all my day-hiking friends, I suggest you try scaling Mt. Kiyawa and it will surely be a good hiking destination for first-timers and those who would like to go summit-camping overnight. One more reminder, the summit and trail of Mt. Kiyawa has no water source, so better refill potable water before doing the hike. Mt. Kiyawa is also a dry mountain with no vegetation cover from the trail head to the entrance of the ridge. On the way to the summit, however, is made up of coconut trees and some light houses that serve as stopovers.

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

If I get lost in Macau, I will stay there for good

Prior to my joining of the 2016 Hongkong Standard Marathon on January 17, 2016; I had an opportunity to visit the island of Macau with pare Dockie and good friends Pin and JP. I considered it as a mammoth side trip, even an interesting destination more than the host venue Hongkong for some reasons I observed and experienced. Upon reaching the place and interacting with Chinese people there, I believed that the next Philippine president should visit this country, understand and internalize the systems and have some slice of the systems emulated into our country.

With a mix of portugese culture being envaded by Portugal Empire long ago, Macau made its colorful culture as its major asset. I also discovered that only very few there know how to speak the English language which to me not a basis for a certain country to be rich and successful economically. The way they managed their infrastructure to compliment with the increasing population is praiseworthy. Presently, while they are still enjoying the comfort of their freeways brought by a comprehensive bus transport systems, they already reached like 60-70 percent completion of their mass railway transport, a move they anticipate that would ease the burden of their people 25 years from now. Yes, they plan and act 25 years advance. Planning is their core prevention so that an economic illness will not happen in their country, visionary planning. Not like us in the Philippines.

Tourism has been a tool and strategy of Macau. They have invited people to come to their place. And the tourism packages they offer are not the usual packages we know. They have existing structures there such as the St. Paul ruins located in the heart of the city and some eye-catching old Chinese structures to compliment. Their native delicacies are equally enticing, the pork and beef jerky captured my taste buds at that, and the other foods are really good, which also attracts tourists.

However, the main economic driver in Macau is the legalized gambling. Gambling in Macau is legal since the 18th century and it is one of the influences brought about by the portugese government. Since then, Macau has been considered the gambling capital in Asia and even compared to that of Las Vegas in the United States.

Gambling is the biggest source of revenue in Macau which accounts for almost 50% of their economy. It was even levelled up with the entry of large casinos owned by countries like Australia and USA. At present, almost all big hotels in Macau operates a casino. With gambling, tourism and manufacturing industries, Macau is now one of the richest cities in the world according to World Bank report. As of 2013, the Gross Domestic Product per capita by purchasing power parity is higher than that of any country in the world.

For me, the success of Macau’s economy sprouted when they allowed their cultural advantages to dictate them and by crafting a comprehensive policies for which all of its residents followed. In a deeper sense, Macau succeeded in its attempt for an economic transformation because they have people who are ready to reciprocate whatever rules and guidelines introduced by the government. Not like us Filipinos.

If there is one country I would like to revisit, Macau would always stand up as number one on the list.

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Exploring Colagsing – The Northern Tip of Davao Occidental

I started my ambitious life scape tour on January 2, 2016 by day touring the isolated island of Colagsing in the municipality of Sta. Maria, Davao Occidental. It is the northern tip of the newly-created province and we accessed the island via the Malalag Port of Davao del Sur. I have been yearning to visit the island through the recommendation of my friend Czaldy Garrote.

I was accompanied by a friend from the Tourism Office of Sta. Maria Miss Rhoda Mae. It was also her first time in the island. The boat ride from Malalag Port to Colagsing was only about 20 minutes through the famous Malalag Bay who shared a jurisdiction over the island. We sailed through huge waves of the bay and when we reached or destination, I witnessed how the people dwelled in this place I considered “disremembered  by the times”.

Life in Colagsing is meek. The people depends on fishing as a main source of income and while they belong to the territorial soils of Sta. Maria, most of their economic activity is networked in Malalag. Agriculture has not been thriving very well in the island except for some residents who raised backyard livestock and some gardening.

There is a dirt road connecting Colagsing to the mainland of Sta. Maria through Barangay Colongan but according to the locals, it is very far. The residents are mixed where both Muslims and Christians inhabit the place, as well as a small subdivision of the B’laan tribe.

While in the island, I saw the highest point of the town of Padada on the other side which I visited last June, the Piape Hill. The high point of Malalag also was visible in the south western part – the famed highway thru-cut portion. Some beautiful panoramic landscape bounding the island is captivating. And, the vessels docking in Malalag Bay, as well as the fish cages of bangus, are other attractions of the place.

Just before reaching Colagsing, there is a small island where visitors enjoyed bathing around. They call it Polo and it is the most-visited site in Colagsing. In the future, ecotourism can be a vast potential in the locality because there are other islands surrounding it. Island-hopping can be an option activity that can be introduced in the long run if the local governments of Sta. Maria and Malalag are really bent on pushing tourism to alleviate the economic status of the locals in Colagsing.

There was no clear skies during my visit in Colagsing which might just be the reason for me to go back to the island to capture more good photos. At any rate, I would like to thank Rhoda Mae for assisting my travel to this beautiful place. With you around the whole trip reaffirms my belief that Sta. Maria is a place of beautiful wonders resided by equally – beautiful people.