EXPERIENCING SAN JOSE AND THE PROVINCE OF DINAGAT ISLANDS

After having an astounding island exploration at the Bucas Grande Islands, my journey to the Caraga Region continued.

Lalaking Bukid, Dinagat Islands

Aboard a passenger van, I traveled for almost two hours from Hayanggabon Port in Claver, Surigao Del Norte to Surigao City. Upon arriving at the City bus terminal, I hurriedly took a passenger multi-cab to bring me to the Ferry Port located at The Boulevard. Getting there, I immediately rushed to the location where boats bound to Dinagat Island are stationed. It was 11 in the morning then. Luckily, the boat was scheduled to leave at 2 o’clock in the afternoon. That was the only boat servicing Surigao City and Dinagat Islands on Sundays.

Basilisa, Dinagat Islands

A week before I planned this trip, fellow traveler Dr. Emilio Dela Rosa introduced me to Mr. Danilo Bulabos, the Provincial Tourism Officer of the Dinagat Islands. Mr. Bulabos also manages Bahay Turista Mini Chalet, a province-owned chalet considered to be the best place to stay while in the Island Province. Mr. Bulabos will be my official tour guide/host for my entire stay and adventure in the mystical Dinagat Province. That day, Mr. Bulabos was at Surigao City. So we decided to meet at one place and together we headed to our boat. Shortly, the boat started to sail going to our main destination, the Municipality of San Jose, capital town of Dinagat Islands.
The world renowned Surigao StraitThe boat trip from Surigao City to San Jose was about an hour and a half passing across the famed Surigao Strait. Dinagat Islands lies on the south side of Leyte Gulf. Leyte is to its west, across Surigao Strait, Mindanao is to its south and Pacific Ocean is to its east. Looking at the vastness of waters of the province, Dinagat Islands is composed of hundreds of breathtaking Islands and Islets waiting to be discovered and explored by travelers like me.

The view of the Islander’s Castle from the Boat

Entering the waters of Dinagat Islands, Mr. Bulabos started to tell me about the many interesting facts about the province of Dinagat Islands. From him I learned that Dinagat Islands had been a part of the First District of Surigao del Norte Province until becoming an independent province on December 2, 2006. The Province of Dinagat Islands is composed of seven municipalities namely Dinagat, Loreto, Cagdianao, Libjo (Albor), Basilisa (Rizal), Tubajon and its including the provincial capital, San Jose. Among the seven towns, the Municipality of Dinagat is the oldest community formally established in 1855.

Nearing the capital town of San Jose, Dinagat Islands

Approaching the town of San Jose, I immediately felt the coastal charm of the Province. There was an innate charisma that the Islands possess and it instantly hit me. Group of different Islands and Islets abound the place. Without me knowing, Mr. Bulabos was observing me keenly. He saw me so amazed at what I saw. So then he said. Dinagat Island is called “The Mystical Island Province of Love”. It is blessed with untouched natural wonders from pristine white sand beaches to unrevealed caves and coves, marvelous bonsai forests to stunning group of islands and islet. These gifts of nature are treasures that the people of Dinagat Islands are taking care of. Their love for the Islands developed protecting and preserving its natural wonders. Some of these wonders are until now still undisclosed. Hearing this from no less than the Tourism Officer of the Province, I can’t help but appreciate its people for their efforts to maintain the exquisite beauty of the Islands.
During our conversation, I honestly told Mr. Bulabos the many negative things I heard about the province. I was truthful about my apprehensions. He said all of them in the Island including himself are aware of these bad publicities. But he assured me that my stay in Dinagat Islands will definitely change my perception about the Island and prove those malicious news are false. Hearing it, I felt relieved.

The Port of San Jose

Arriving at the Port of San Jose, we headed right away to Bahay Turista Mini Chalet, my official home for two days in Dinagat Islands. Bahay Turista is a very charming Chalet that also serves as a Tourist and Culture Center of the whole province. It showcases different handicrafts, various memorabilia and other tourism-related materials related to the Islands.

This Blogger at Bahay Turista Mini Chalet
The Facade of Bahay Turista – Tourism and Culture Center of Dinagat Islands

After checking in, Mr. Bulabos took me right away to the must see place in capital town of San Jose, the PBMA Founder’s Shrine. The Province of Dinagat Island is the home of the famed Philippine Benevolent Missionaries Association (PBMA) and the town of San Jose serves as its center. PBMA is a SEC registered, legitimate, non-sectarian, non-profit, humanitarian and a brotherhood organization that came to existence since the early parts of 1960s. It was founded by the late Ruben Ecleo, Sr. its first Supreme President on October 19, 1965. Until today, PBMA is still headed by the Ecleos. The Ecleo’s as well are the political leaders of the Province of Dinagat Islands. The PBMA Founder’s Shrine was a masterpiece created by its members, done out of love and respect for its Supreme President. It is the where the body of the late Ruben Ecleo, Sr. was laid to rest.

PBMA Founder’s Shrine
The Shrine where PBMA former Supreme President Ruben Ecleo, Sr was laid to rest.
Philippine Benevolent Missionaries Association Founder’s Shrine

Another spot in the Province that has become a tourist attraction of its own is the Islander’s Castle that sits atop the hilly portion of San Jose. It is a beautiful mansion owned by Governor Glenda Ecleo. It is not open to visiting public but they allow tourists to take pictures outside the gates of the Castle.

The Islander’s Castle
The Islander’s Castle of Governor Glenda Ecleo

Another attention-grabbing landmark is the PBMA President’s House located within the vicinity of the PBMA Founder’s Shrine. It has an interesting wall with carvings of different animals. The carvings on the wall appeared to me like group of different animals parading towards the President’s House. According to Mr. Bulabos, the carvings on the wall have significance to the organization.

The PBMA President’s House
Interesting Wall of the President’s House

Came dusk, a very magnificent orangey sunset consumed the whole Islands. From the where I stood, the dazzling color of the setting sun reflected down on the calm waters. It was very dramatic. I couldn’t stop staring the glorious sun gradually setting in front of me.

Sunset at San Jose, Dinagat Islands
This Blogger worshiping the stunning sunset of Dinagat Islands

After that quick tour, we headed back to Bahay Turista. On our way back to the Chalet, there are two things I learned that really amazed me about San Jose. Among the seven municipalities of the Province of Dinagat Islands, the capital town of San Jose strictly imposes a “smoking and drinking ban”. It is strictly prohibited on public areas. Smoking and drinking can only be done inside the houses of the residents. Hence, I’d seen no one smoking or drinking the whole time I was there.

This Blogger with Mr. Danilo Bulabos, the Provincial Tourism Officer of Dinagat Islands.

Back at the Chalet, I immediately prepared my things for the next day’s Dinagat Islands Exploration. From Mr. Bulabos words, the Island Tour will bring me to the pristine white sand beaches, gorgeous rock formations and untouched Islets that truly are Nature’s Gift to the people of Dinagat Island. Those words made me so excited.

This is the seventh part of “EXPLORING CARAGA REGION: The Travel Series

  1. CATCHING SUNRISE AT CLAVER, SURIGAO DEL NORTE
  2. SOCORRO AND THE BUCAS GRANDE ISLANDS
  3. CLUB TARA AND TIKTIKAN LAKE OF BUCAS GRANDE ISLANDS
  4. SOHOTON NATIONAL PARK OF BUCAS GRANDE ISLANDS
  5. THE SANDY BEACHES AND STUNNING ISLETS OF BUCAS GRANDE ISLANDS
  6. THE JELLYFISH SANCTUARY OF BUCAS GRANDE ISLANDS
  7. EXPERIENCING SAN JOSE AND THE PROVINCE OF DINAGAT ISLANDS
  8. THE LEGEND OF DINAGAT ISLANDS

Comments

comments

Comments

  1. Wow…what a delightful writing Sir.. I appreciate it… Dinagat Islands is indeed a mysterious place, yet a worth-visiting creation..Perfect!

    • Thank you so much for the kind words. 🙂 Yeah, Dinagat Island is mysterious. Until now and still at awe thinking of the places I have been to when i was there. Truly, unforgettable Dinagat.

  2. as usual… amazing photos again olantot!

  3. Amazing photos! When can I visit this part of the country kaya? 😀

  4. Nice knowing that you’ve visited Dinagat Islands. I only managed to visit San Jose, Cagdianao and Dinagat towns in the province though it’s the island next to our’s. I must have to be there in the near future. Hats off to your nice post and of course, the excellent pictures…

  5. amazing views from an island where I used to live, where i spent most of my teenage days, i missed this place, i wish i can make it on May 5, 2012 grand reunion!!!

  6. Maria Nancy Edera says:

    Great blog! Dinagat is my hometown but never knew the whole island’s secret places..I only visited San Jose (I am a relative of mother side of PBMA Founder) Cagdianao (Mother’s hometown) wow i should visit the whole Island in near future when I come home..More power to you Olan Emboscado!

  7. REMEMBER: “Only those who doesn’t fear to come to Dinagat Islands can understand fully the Legend of the Islands. Only those whose hearts are pure and those who come to see Dinagat Island as gift of nature to behold can only see the proofs of the Legend.” So, come,visit, revisit and explore “The Mystical Island Province…of Love” DINAGAT ISLANDS Philippines. Thanks Olan my new found truly friend………….

    • Thank you very much Sir Danny. My Dinagat Island Exploration would not have been possible without your kindest support and accommodation. My the bottom of my heart, DAGHAN KAAYONG SALAMAT.

  8. Thank you so much for posting this article. I will share this article to http://www.wowdinagat.com list of dinagat islands blog posts… If you have some articles like this related to dinagat islands, wowdiangat.com is very much willing to accept write-ups and publish it to our website.

  9. Hello there there! This submit couldn’t be published any greater! Looking at by way of this submit reminds me of my prior area mate! He constantly held referring to this. I’ll ahead this informative article to him. Quite positive he’ll possess a very good study. Thanks for sharing!

  10. Luminada Balazick says:

    Olan so beautiful ! and i love it ! galing mo…… wish more tourist to come…. God bless..

  11. Domingo Oliveros Ocampo,Jr. says:

    Excellent Mr. Emboscado, I heard the Ecleos are my relatives any way they can contact me. I am in the facebook, Domingo Oliveros Ocampo, Jr.

  12. You have a great weblog and I like your style of writing about this stuff. Keep up the good work!

  13. thank you for all your efforts that you have put in this. Very interesting info. “Wish not so much to live long as to live well.” by Benjamin Franklin.

  14. this makes me more excited for my trip to the island next month… thanks for the infos! 🙂

  15. AYENAYEN says:

    HI! REALLY WANTED TO VISIT DINAGAT…BUT I WAS SCARED BECAUSE I HEARD A LOT OF NEGATIVE AND MALICIOUS INFO ABOUT THE PLACE….EVEN MY YAYA TOLD ME THAT YOU CANNOT ENTER THE ISLAND UNLESS YOUR A MEMBER OF PBMA…BUT AFTER READING YOUR BLOG I WAS REALLY REFRESHED AND ALL NEGATIVE THINKING WAS ALREADY GONE…….still has a lot of questions in my mind but really wanted to visit the place…. 🙂

    • Hi Ayen…. Ganun din ang feeling ko nung di oa ako nakapunta dun. Ang daming mga negative publicity about the place but when i get there, i realize na bad publicities lang pala yun. Ang totoo, ang bababit ng mga tao dun at super maasikaso pa.

  16. AYENAYEN says:

    Please send me nman contact info’s on where to stay in Dinagat 🙂 places to visit etc 🙂

  17. On my philippine road trip now. this sounds like good place to visit. must be quiet and traditional way of life there. will try and plan it into my travels. Thanks for this post.

  18. Jolito Alto Escano says:

    What you saw i and what you felt much appreciated by Dinagatnon..Actually I came from Ilo-ilo raised in Masbate and finished my degree here in San Jose . I started 1983 I saw… I conquered what is PBMA and Proud to be Dinagatnon ….

  19. Hi everyone,
    can i have updated contact number of reaching Dinagat island.

    Thank you and Mabuhay.

  20. Alma sardane llorca says:

    Gud day dili man makontak ng 0946 828 3761 para mkainquire

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