DISCOVERING DAINTY DAVAO DEL SUR
By Henrylito D. Tacio
Photos by Paolo R. Lim
Published in SUNSTAR DAVAO, 23, September 2010
The history of Davao is supposed to be the history of Davao del Sur. But when Davao City was separated from the province, it was relegated to the side. As Davao del Norte and Davao Oriental (Compostela Valley became the fourth province in 1998) continue to become more progressive, Davao del Sur seems to stand still.
Governor Douglas Ra. Cagas is very much aware of this. To awaken his constituents, he puts forward the motto: “We’re proud to be from Davao del Sur!” Today, wherever you go when you visit the towns of Davao del Sur, you will see the sign – in schools, in government offices, and even in private establishments.
Davao del Sur is composed of 14 towns, namely: Bansalan, Don Marcelino, Hagonoy, Jose Abad Santos, Kiblawan, Magsaysay, Malalag, Malita, Matan-ao, Padada, Santa Cruz, Santa Maria, Sarangani, and Sulop. The only city is Digos, which is also the province’s capital.
There are actually many reasons why Davao del Sur is now becoming a popular tourist destination.
To attract tourists – locals, nationals and foreigners – the province launched several festivals. Every January 15, Digos celebrates the Saulogon Festival. Jose Abad Santos commemorates the Kapyaan Festival in February. April is the month of Pista sa Kinaiyahan in Santa Cruz. Kapatagan in Digos comes alive on June during their Dorong Festival. September has two festivals: Padigosan in Digos and Bansaulog in Bansalan.
Davao del Sur is home to several natural tourist attractions. Leading the list is Mount Apo, the country’s highest peak (towering 10,311 feet above sea level) and a very popular climbing destination. Forty-two of the 629 identified floral species are endemic, of which 18 are considered at risk, including the famous “waling-waling” orchid (Vanda sanderiana). You can scale the mother of all mountains by following the Bansalan trail.
Mount Pispis, in barangay South Lamidan of Don Marcelino, is famous for its preserved and numerous wildlife species like deer, monkeys, wild pigs, and birds. Mount Sumadel, also in Don Marcelino, is noted for its shape; townsfolk called it “Babaeng Nakahiga’t Nakahubad” (a naked lying woman).
Mainit Hot Spring, in barangay Caburan, is located 30 kilometers west of Digos City; it sits in forest 365 meters above sea level. Another hot spring, in barangay Managa, Bansalan, is about 30 kilometers from the town and 200 meters above sea level.
The Lumayon Spring, about 10 kilometers from the highway of Balabag, Digos, has rolling hill and forest on the side complimenting the spring that makes it more suitable for bathing, swimming and sightseeing.
There are several waterfalls found in the province. Tudaya Falls, at barangay Sibulan, Sta Cruz, is touted to be the tallest waterfalls in the Mt. Apo Natural Park (at 100 meters). The waters plunge from a rock cliff to a 50-meter diameter pool.
Kipanan Falls in Malita is multi-tiered, consisting of ten drops of varying widths and heights. The Indalugong Falls, in the mountain forest of barangay Pangaleon (still in Malita), is a big body of waterfall plunging from a height of approximately 80 feet.
Don Marcelino has two popular waterfalls. The Kepiya Falls in barangay Lawa has seven tiers of cascading waters. . The Banag Falls in barangay Dalupan can be accessed via a motorcycle ride up to a certain portion followed by a one-hour hike through a forest.
Small islands also abound in the province. The town of Sarangani has two famous islands: Balut and Sarangani. Balut has a land area of 6,604 hectares while Sarangani has 4,014. Balut is a Maguindanaon term which means “an island.” It is composed of 12 barangays mostly populated by sangils who landed in the island in the mid-14th century from Sangir Island, North of Indonesia, when the Dutch began to take dominion over the island.
Seventy meters across Balut Island is Marorong, fondly called Balistic Island because of its bullet form. The rock structure built by the Sangils and B’laans served in the past as a fortress against Villalobos’ army. Fr. Jose Luego, a Jesuit historian, and Gregorio Zaide in his History of the Filipino People noted the landing of Ruy Lopez de Villalobos in Marorong in search for the Moluccas Island in 1543: “…and in dire need for provisions, he sailed to Sarangani…” Zaide wrote.
The 16-hectare Olaniban Island, about one-hour boat ride from the town proper in Sarangani, has white sea shores, clear water, rare corals, and seaweeds. The island is suitable for scuba diving, water skiing and swimming.
In Bato, Sta Cruz, there is the so-called Passig Islet. This man-made islet was used before as a base for coastguards. It is known for its white sand and clear waters and can be accessed by a 500-meter long footbridge.
Several beach resorts can be found along the coastal towns. The Baetiong Beach in Sarangani has a spread of around 3,200 square meter of black-grained sand. On the other hand, the Manando Beach has corral and limed-grained sand of about 16,000 square meters.
Little Boracay, located 5 kilometers from the town of Sta Maria, has a fine white sand beach, open-air cottages and is backed by a high mountain overlooking the sea. Barangay Kisulad Beach has also white sand beaches. In Sta Cruz, there's the Paradise Beach.
Aside from the fortress in Marorong, another historical site in the province is located in Padada. At the Itakura Hills, some 30 interconnected World War II Japanese foxholes can be found. Japanese World War II tunnels are also located at the poblacion and barangays Balutakay and Tologan in Hagonoy. In Kiblawan, the 100-feet high Pandong Bato (derived from the native words for “cover” and “stone”) was said to have been used by Japanese soldiers as a protective wall during World War II.
Davao del Sur has several cottage industries. Matti, in Digos, is known for its pottery while wood carvings abound in Sta Cruz. Both industries are found along the highway from Bansalan going to Davao City.
In Bansalan, two famous agricultural initiatives are known. The Mindanao Baptist Rural Life Center is noted for its internationally-known conservation system called Sloping Agricultural Land Technology in barangay Kinuskusan. In the nearby barangay Eman, the Lao Integrated Farm is well-known for its coco sugar, coco honey, and organic farming.
If you like extreme adventure, visit Camp Sabros in sitio Baras in barangay Kapatagan of Digos City. The camp, 3,980 feet above sea level, sits in an immense natural beauty of forest and wildlife. It has an 820-meter zipline, which traverses along the top of pine trees with the majestic Mt. Apo looming on site.
Not far from the Camp Sabros is the Agong House.
If you love diving, then don’t miss the fish sanctuary within the Malalag coastal area in barangay Bulacan. Underwater cave in Sarangani can be explored by diving through its underwater opening. In Padada, you can do your thing at the Piape Reef, which is covered with a variety of corals. The area is submerged during the high tide and visible during the low tide. The depth of Tubalan Cove in Malita is ideal for scuba diving while the surface is an invitation to water skiers.
Maayong pag-abot! -- ###
There's No Place Like Home
by Evelyn Bautista-Laguidao
World Bank Project Specialist
While others dreaded the idea of going home, I for one marvels at the thought of it. Having lived 20 years in a foreign land, it feels like I was on top of the world…. prosperous, successful and almost invincible!
But beneath the euphoric surface of that good life, something’s wrong with the picture, something seems terribly missing. I had searched high and low to find the answers. At first, there was nothing. I was engulfed with a hollow feeling, so awful, so profound, and I never knew why?
I went along with life, marriage, beautiful children, great job… but why such feeling?
A little over a decade ago, I had that fateful trip back HOME, first time ever after I left. I had mixed feelings, I found myself in ecstasy to have seen old family and friends and my hometown BANSALAN. While I had a blast sharing my bounty and meeting friends, I was equally sad of what’s happening around me. It seemed like I was in the midst of a synchronized chaos in a far-flung deprived society. And there was confusion, lots of it! Everywhere I go, people were nonchalantly smiling and very warm. I was confused, I didn’t understand then. Though struggling in their daily lives, people are content and especially happy. I was amazed and somewhat awed by the striking resilience of my people.
I went back to my other home in a foreign land. And all of a sudden, I found myself terribly lonely. I could still hear the seemingly loud laughter of friends, the sumptuous Filipino food, and the warmth around me. I felt very empty, reduced to tears. Now I understand. I have found the answer. This is what’s been missing all along. I realize I will never be the same. That fateful trip was an eye-opener. It was like watching colorful flashbacks.
The “simbang gabi”, I miss terribly; the “amateur singing contest” on Friday and Saturday evenings at the public market terminal; the basketball tournaments at ABC Gym where Holy Cross vs. Nazareth was the highlight. It was like David (Nazareth) vs. Goliath (HCCB). Holy Cross flaunted their all-famous band and watched Nazareth humiliated down its spine only to be beaten at the end by the relentless determination of the underdogs.
My sister and I could not contain our best behaviors but escaped the family home for a chance to gallivant the streets of Bansalan only to be pinched real badly by mom on our return home in the middle of the night. Every now and then, my sister and I would giggly reminisce. And yes, the “tubig-tubig” and the “bulan-bulan”, the all-time favorite past-time on weekends. Of course the “caimito and mansanitas” climbing adventures.
Truckloads of sugarcane would park alongside the highway and we’d try to sneak for a taste of that sweet cane, do you remember that? Ahh… the Bansalan Elite Theatre, of course, with its flea-infested and unpadded chairs that almost bruised your bottom, and a virtual stinky-smelling pool of water at the bottom of the so-called “orchestra”, where we have enjoyed the acts of Fernando Poe and Vilma Santos, and mesmerized by the love story of Sharon Cuneta and Gabby Concepcion. The ever-tasty “chicken barbecue” of “Dayang” in front of it… The “siopao” at Mabuhay Restaurant was the best! And “Adidas” was the hit shoe brand. Ahhh…. Memories… I can go on and on…
Old photographs and places I remembered. Behind the chaos of it all, there is happiness… TRUE happiness. Even though I walk in the first world, drive in world-class superhighways, it’s my country’s winding roads and Bansalan’s leading by-ways that make me long for HOME.
(The author, Evelyn Bautista-Laguidao, is a proud true-blue Bansaleňo and lives in Virginia USA. She is currently a Project Specialist for East Asia and Pacific Region at the World Bank Group Headquarters in Washington DC. She goes home and visits Bansalan every year with her husband and 2 kids, and reluctantly drags herself to the airport with a heavy heart each time it was time to go back. She is also a resident of Malita, Davao del Sur).
Banami Youth Conference 2008
US-based group helping residents of Davao Sur town
BANSALAN, Davao del Sur -- A USbased group has helped improved the standards of living of people in the 1st District of Davao del Sur, particularly in Bansalan.
Bansalan-American Inc. (Banami), a US-based group led by Evelyn Bautista-Laguidao, with a counterpart in the Philippines, donated 10 boxes of high school textbooks that were distributed to private and public high schools in this town.
The textbook donations were intended to help improve the quality of learning and study of the students in various fields. The group gives more importance to education, believing it is one means to alleviate poverty in the country, Laguidao said.
Since Banami launched its socio-civic activities in Bansalan in 2006, it has already implemented several undertakings.
Aside from the textbook donation, Laguidao said Banami had given scholarships to 12 elementary public school students. It also gave scholarships to four high school students, and this year, it will grant two college scholarships.
Banami established an Arts Library to encourage beneficiaries to appreciate art works. It also sponsored cultural shows for Bansalenos to teach them to appreciate their cultural heritage.
It conducted its first medical and dental mission in Bansalan last July 22 wherein it served 620 indigenous poor patients.
Just recently, Banami conducted here the first Women Empowerment and Youth Leadership Forum 2008.
The forum aims to empower women, especially working mothers, through leadership trainings that reinforce their roles in their communities and inspire the youths to also become leaders and models in their respective fields.
Banami is an international non-profit, non-partisan, charitable organization based in the US. Founded in 2006 by a group of OFWs (overseas Filipino workers), Banami prefers action to empower and improve the standards of living of Bansalan people.
The youth leadership forum was also hosted by the Sangguniang Kabataan (SK) Federation of Bansalan.
SOURCE: Manila Bulletin Online (www.mb.com.ph/issues/2008/04/15/PROV20080415121918.html)
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