DAPITAN CITY: More Than Just A Shrine City

It was an invitation I have long wanted to get. In fact, years ago, I was invited to visit this very important destination in Mindanao but for some reasons I wasn’t available. But being on my bucket list, seeing this city has always been my dream. Finally, a very enticing invitation came to travel and experience the wonders of this phenomenal destination – the Shrine City of Dapitan.

Like those other destinations in my bucketlist, this beautiful and tranquil city is among those places that topped on my Sibika at Kultura Book. How can I forget those lessons I learned about Rizal in Dapitan? Or that commercial ad of Dakak Park and Beach Resort played repeatedly on Eat Bulaga? And with this invitation, seeing, experiencing and relishing Dapitan is a dream unfolding.

One week before the trip, the whole island of Mindanao was placed under Martial Law. Checkpoints were everywhere. Strict security measures have been implemented. Many tourists and travelers cancelled their trips to many destinations in Mindanao even to those that are not directly affected by the crisis. I, on the hand, found myself traveling to Dapitan on the 5th day of Martial Law in Mindanao. From Davao, I flew to Dipolog City via Cebu and headed straight to the famed Shrine City of the Philippines.

Unlike other trips I have, I did not do any research about Dapitan. In fact, I did not check the photos and images in the internet. I wanted to be surprised. I wanted to be amazed by the things and wonders that I will see in Dapitan. And true enough, Dapitan City did not only surprise me but amused me with so many things that I never expected to experience.

Here are some of the most exciting things that made my stay in Dapitan City more fun, memorable and worth-sharing.

DAKAK PARK AND BEACH RESORT

If you grow up in the 90’s, you probably heard and watched that of Dakak Beach Resort’s advertisement played on Eat Bulaga. That TV Ad actually ignited the interest in me to experience this famed Beach Resort of Northern Mindanao. And just like what that old ad said, DAKAK BEACH RESORT is indeed a paradise to enjoy. Staying there is like reliving that childhood wish of experiencing this Northern Paradise that has enticed tourists from all over the world including the beautiful Misses of the Universe. I was booked at the Deluxe Room. It’s a very spacious room with amenities that promise comfort, ease and relaxation. The beachline is clean. And the food is incredibly good.

VILLA ANGELINA LUXURY SUITES

Dakak Beach Resort now boasts of its newly constructed Villas situated in the Cliffside. These beautiful villas provide an amazing view overlooking the calm waters of Dakak Cove and the famous sunset of Dapitan. This beautiful array of exquisitely designed villas is called Villa Angelina Luxury Suites. This is located just adjacent to Dakak Beach Resort but unlike Dakak, Villa Angelina Luxe Resort is exclusive and more luxurious than the regular rooms of Dakak. The construction is still in progress but some 20 luxury suites are now open for its valued guests. These suites are called Cliffside Casitas and each villa comes with amenities that promise luxurious, relaxing and comfortable stay.

DAKAK ADVENTURE ZONE

Dakak never runs out of fun and exciting things in store for their guests. Aside from its beach and aquafun activities, it also boasts of its facilities apt for thrill seekers and adrenaline junkie – the Dakak Adventure Zone. It is home to the longest dual zipline in Asia that stretches up to 1.3 kilometers long and said to be one of ziplines in the country offering the most scenic view.  Aside from the zipline, there is also an ATV Thrill Ride that offers extreme adventure and fun-filled drive.

GLORIA’S FANTASYLAND

Dapitan City takes pride as home to the only theme park outside of the island of Luzon and that is courtesy of the Gloria’s Fantasyland. With its theme “Everyday is a Festival!”, spectators are assured of one magical experience. The theme park features a line-up of thrilling rides and attractions and spectacular quality entertainment. The Grand Night Parade is a must-see. It features a Fire and Thunder Show, a parade of Festival Colors and Cultures of the world and a specular Firework Display. Indeed, one’s stay in Dapitan is not complete without a visit a Gloria’s Fantasyland.

RIZAL SA DAPITAN

Aside from Dakak Beach, another synonymous phrase to Dapitan is “Rizal sa Dapitan”. Our national hero’s exile to Dapitan has made remarkable significance to the city to be coined as the Shrine City of the Philippines. Rizal spent 4 fruitful years in what was then a laid-back town of Dapitan and helped the community develop significant changes that until now can be sensed. The works, life and great contribution of Ka Pepe is preserved until now.  The Rizal Shrine tops as the number historical and heritage spot in the whole city.

CAVING, WATERFALLS AND MANGROVE TOURS

I was wrong when I thought that Dapitan is just all about Rizal and Dakak. Truth is, this Shrine City of Mindanao is home to a number of natural wonders that is truly something that Dapitan can boast. It has long coasts, majestic waterfalls, pristine cave system and rivers that remain untainted to this day. In Ba-ao, the Kamanganon Cave is a must visit. It is about 20 minutes trek from the jump off area passing through series of streams and waterfalls that make the whole experience more exciting and fun. The city is also home to a vast mangrove reserve. In fact mangrove trees thrive everywhere and have become sanctuary for marine life. River cruising can also be experienced here. It is something one should experience when visiting Dapitan away from the usual tours.

HERITAGE TOUR

As a Spanish settlement, Dapitan is a home to a number of heritage sites in Mindanao. Being Jose Rizal’s official home in Mindanao, Dapitan boasts of its rich heritage roots tracing back pre-Spanish times. The City Poblacion boasts of its rich heritage sites that until now are carefully preserved not only by the City Government but even by the people. Some of these heritages sites are already marked as National Historical Site by the National Historical Commission of the Philippines.

DAKAK GOLF CLUB INCORPORATED

Dapitan will soon become one of Mindanao’s Golf Destination. This is courtesy of Dakak Championship Golf Club being developed in the vast acre of Dakak Park Complex.  The golf course is eyed to become one of the best Golf Courses in the Philippines and in Asia. The nine hole championship golf course is designed by no less than Greg Norman, an Austrailan golfer who used to be world’s number 1 Golfer. My favorite area is the Balete Hole with an amazing view of Dakak Park and the Sulu Seas.

SHORTEST MAN ALIVE

It’s not hearsay. It’s a record and it’s a Guinness World Record. The shortest man alive is in the Philippines and now lives in Dapitan. He is Junrey Balawig from Sindangan, Zamboanga del Norte. He is 23 years old now and stands 69.93 centimeters (23.59 inches) tall. He was declared the shortest man alive during his 18th birthday. Junrey the record of Khadendra Thapa Magar of Nepal who is 0.67 meters tall. With the help of former Congressman Nonong Jaloslos, Junrey and his family now live in Dapitan City and resides at the Heritage House, the building occupied by the City Tourism Office.

THE NEW CITY HALL OF DAPITAN

Among the cities and towns that I have visited in the country, I find Dapitan’s New City Hall as one of the most impressive. It perfectly sits in an area that commands a perfect view of nearby river and the bridge that connects the City to the mainland. For me, I consider it a perfect sight as a welcome treat to people entering Dapitan City. The City Hall is a newly constructed building. It houses the office of the Mayor, the Vice Mayor and the Sanguniang Panglungsod and the key offices government officer of the city.

FOOD TRIPPING IN DAPITAN

If you’re on a gastronomic journey, Dapitan City will never fail you. With a good number of restaurants and cafes scattered in the different areas of the city, Dapitan is a delectable choice for you. Seafood is one of the city’s specialties. Some of Dapitan’s good food choices can be found at Gloria’s Fantasyland complex.

These are just among the many spectacular sights to see in Dapitan. There is more to see and more to experience in this city that was once loved and nurtured by no less than our National Hero Jose Rizal. And like Ka Pepe, if given a chance, I want to be exiled here – a sweet beautiful exile. After all, Dapitan City is more than just a shrine city – it has everything one is looking for in a destination.

MAGUINDANAO: It’s MagandaNOW

NATURE | CULTURE | HERITAGE | PEOPLE | FLAVORS

These are some of the things that await you in the #ARMMazing Province of Maguindanao – all at their best.

MAGUINDANAO: It’s MagandaNOW

What used to be a laid back province in the Philippines is now an emerging tourist destination in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao – an emerging destination that has created buzz and interest especially in social media. Blessed with majestic mountains, unspoiled waterfalls and springs, magnificent lakes, vibrant and rich culture, warm people and delectable flavors, Maguindanao is an amazing destination to explore and experience.

HERE ARE SOME OF THE PHOTO TEASERS THAT CAN ENTICE YOU
TO TRAVEL TO MAGUINDANAO

MOUNT MINANDAR in Datu Odin Sinsuat, Maguindanao

The historic Maliga Walay or Red House of Datu Piang, Maguindanao

The Masjid Dimaukom which is more popuparly known as the Pink Mosque in Datu Saudi Ampatuan, Maguindanao

The Masjid Abpi, a beautiful white mosque in Datu Odin Sinsuat, Maguindanao

The magnificent lake Bulan in the town of Buluan, Maguindanao.

The old Capitol Building at Shariff Aguak, Maguindanao

The enchanting Blue Lagoon of Datu Odin Sinsuat, Maguindanao

#ExperienceMindaNOW team at the magnificent Lake Bulan in the town of Buluan, Maguindanao.

#ExperienceMindaNOW team at the Pink Mosque of Datu Saudi Ampatuan, Maguindanao.

#ExperienceMindaNOW team at Masjid Abpi in the town of Datu Odin Sinsuat, Maguindanao.

#ExperienceMindaNOW team at the Kusion Beach in the town of Datu Odin Sinsuat, Maguindanao.

The famous Pastil of Maguindanao

The Inaul, the colorful weaves of the Maguindanaoan that speaks so much of their vibrant culture and tradition.

The Travel Teller at MOUNT MINANDAR in Datu Odin Sinsuat, Maguindanao

Travel to Maguindanao and be inspired by the stories of its people, be at awe by the spectacular view of its landscape and seascape, be filled by the deletable flavors and be amazed by their wonderful culture.

This is Maguindanao. It’s #MagandaNOW.

CELEBRATE THE CULTURE AND HERITAGE OF MAGUINDANAO THROUGH INAUL FESTIVAL

For the very first time, the Province of Maguindanao in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao will be celebrating the Inaul Festival, a festival honoring the Province and its people’s identity and cultural heritage – the Inaul.

INAUL, a Maguindanaon word that literally means “weaved”, is a unique fabric manually and meticulously woven mostly by Maguindanaon women weavers in Mindanao. More than just piece of textile used traditionally as a “malong”, it is considered as a “Bara-Bangsa”, a term tantamount to something with royalty, dignity and nobility. In the past, the use of inaul in Muslim Mindanao was a status symbol and worn always with pride and respect.

Inaul weaving is said to have more than twenty designs, with the royal heirloom piece being the rarest since it is no longer being produced. Other ways of inaul weaving include the “umpak”, “binaludto”, “panigabi” or “taro” and “binaludan”, which is also called “ikat” by the T’boli and the tribes of Cordillera. There are three types of threads used in weaving the inaul: the cottony “tanor”, the silky “rayon”, and the shiny “katiyado”.  “Rayon” and “tanor” can be combined to form a malong called “mestiza.”

The colors of the inual fabric reflects the vibrant culture of Maguindanao. Each color used in weaving corresponds to a specific meaning. Yellow and orange is for royalty while red represents bravery. White is the color of purity that speaks of grief and mourning, whereas, green indicates peace and harmony. Black denotes nobility and dignity.

Today, the inaul is no longer confined to “malong” and other traditional garments. The beautiful woven fabric of Maguindanao is now being made into modern outfits, such as gowns, long and short sleeved shirts for men, trousers, accessories, among many others. An example of the modern evolution of the inaul are the fashionable and glamorous ball gowns worn by the Miss Universe candidates during the recent Mindanao Tapestry Show in Davao City.

With inaul in the spotlight and on the world stage, the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao gives honor to this regal fabric of Maguindanao along with the weavers who painstakingly create them with the celebration of the first Inaul Festival sa Maguindanao on Febreuary 9-14.

The Department of Tourism-ARMM supports this endeavor and commits to align its tourism promotions program in helping preserve, protect, promote and develop this intangible cultural heritage of Maguindanao.

 

CAMPAWAN CURTAIN FALLS: Davao Region’s Widest Waterfall

Among the five provinces found in the Davao Region, the Province of Davao Oriental is considered as the Water Wonder.

baganga-campawan-curtain-falls-33White sand beaches are dotting the shorelines of the Province. A number of beautiful islands can also be found here. It also boasts of its unspoiled lakes, pristine riverine system and even hot springs. And when it comes to waterfalls, Davao Oriental is the place to be.

The highest waterfalls in the Philippines and considered as one of the most beautiful is found in Davao Oriental, the Aliwagwag Falls of Cateel. Now adding to the list of the most beautiful falls in the entire Davao Region is the CURTAIN FALLS located in Barangay Campawan in the town of Baganga.

baganga-campawan-curtain-falls-28CAMPAWAN CURTAIN FALLS has come to fame when the doors of tourism in the eastcoast of Davao Oriental opened last year. For many years, this water wonder was kept preserved and only the local residents living nearby got to enjoy its natural beauty. But with its tourism potential, the roads going to Campawan were cleared and widened giving the way for other locals in nearby towns to come and see the town’s hidden water gem.

baganga-campawan-curtain-falls-16When a number of photos of Campawan Curtain Falls broke out in social media, many have mistaken it as Tinuy-an Falls found in Surigao Del Sur because of its similarity to the later. Like Tinuy-an Falls, Campawan Curtain Falls boasts of its wide water curtain extending to a width said to be the widest in the whole Davao Region.

baganga-campawan-curtain-falls-1 baganga-campawan-curtain-falls-2 baganga-campawan-curtain-falls-7Being situated in the heavily forested hinterland of Baganga, getting to the Curtain Falls entails a long travel from either the town proper or from the town of Cateel. The road is not yet concrete and others may find it uncomfortable. But the green and forested sides that can be seen along the way assured fun and adventure. From the parking area, you need to cross a river and walk for about 5-10 minutes to get to the area of the falls. And the moment you get there, the unparalleled view of the waterfall will keep you in awe as you marvel at its magnificent beauty.

baganga-campawan-curtain-falls-8 baganga-campawan-curtain-falls-9 baganga-campawan-curtain-falls-12 baganga-campawan-curtain-falls-13 baganga-campawan-curtain-falls-14The absence of modern developments around the waterfalls plus its remoteness from the highway promised that Campawan Curtain Falls is still a natural beauty to behold. Unlike Aliwagwag Falls Eco Park, there are no concrete developments made in the area yet. Although there are stores and cottages, one can tell that the place is still unspoiled retaining its natural splendor.

baganga-campawan-curtain-falls-20 baganga-campawan-curtain-falls-25There is no entrance fee. You only pay for parking fees in the area where owned privately. The cottages can be rented as low as 150 pesos. If you’re going there and you intend not to rent a cottage, that’s not a problem. There are shaded places where you can leave your things and enjoy the scenic view right in front of you.

baganga-campawan-curtain-falls-27Taking a natural shower under the falls and swimming in its shallow basin is among the best way to enjoy the waters of Campawan Curtain Falls. Getting closer to the cascading water is very easy and accessible. Everyone who goes there take time to come closer to the falls and enjoy its cascading waters. If you’re into selfies, go to one side and take that selfie shot for yourself.

Campawan Curtain Falls is now considered as one of Davao Oriental’s must-visit destinations. So, when you visit the eastcoast of the Province, include it in your list of places to see. In fact, most of those who visit Aliwagwag Falls, they also make way to visit the Curtain Falls. Doing so, you get to see and experience not only the highest waterfalls in the Philippines but also the widest falls in the whole Davao Region.

HOW TO GET THERE:

The best way to get to Campawan Curtain Falls is through the towns of Baganga or Cateel. Both towns can be reached by taking a bus or van from Davao City via the Compostela Valley Road or Mati City Road. Buses and vans are on daily schedule located at Davao City Overland Transport Terminal (DCOTT). When you get to Baganga or Cateel, you can take a habal-habal and tell the drivers to take you to Campawan Curtain Falls. You can hire the habal-habal for Php 500.00 for one day.

THE PACMAN TOUR IN GENERAL SANTOS CITY

Without a shred of doubt, boxer turned politician Senator Manny “Pacman” Pacquiao is the most famous personality who hailed from the Tuna Capital of the country, General Santos City and Sarangani. Christened as the “People’s Champ”, the Pacman continues to bring pride to the Philippines and has put the country in the global map in terms of boxing and sports in general – something that his hometown cherishes the most.

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Adored and loved by many not only in the Philippines but around the globe, Manny Pacquiao charmed the world not only with his greatest triumphs in sports but with his humility, sincerity and pure heart of helping and serving the needy especially his people in the Province of Sarangani.

The Pacman Mansion 1

The PacMan Mansion 1

Together with his wife, Jinkee who once served as Vice Governor of Sarangani, the couple founded Emmanuel and Jinkee’s Heart Foundation, Inc., a foundation which main objective is to help finance various activities and livelihood programs to help uplift the socio-economic life of the less fortunate people especially in their hometown.

The PacMan Mansion 2

The PacMan Mansion 2

As part of the Foundation’s Tourism Project, the couple opened the doors of some of their properties as tourist sites to tourists who’d like to take a peek of the life of the People’s Champ. Sites include Mansion 1, Mansion 2, Wildcard Gym, PacMan Stadium, Pacman Beach Resort, PacMan Farm and PacMan Hotel.

Facade of the PacMan Mansion 1

Facade of the PacMan Mansion 1

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The Boxing Glove Shape Pool at the PacMan Mansion 1

Looks like a Heart but that’s a shape of a Boxing Glove

Accompanied by my Wrangler friends, we had fun visiting these properties and was astounded by the triumph and success of the great boxer exemplified by the places we visited. Like those who took the tour, we found ourselves inspired by the life’s story of the people’s champ who was once a struggling boxer rising to fame, eventually become a pound-for-pound king and now a Senator of the land.

PacMan's Framed Boxing Fights in Display

PacMan’s Framed Boxing Fights in Display

The Wranglers inside PacMan Mansion 1

The Wranglers inside PacMan Mansion 1

Maka-proud si PacMan

Maka-proud si PacMan

The places and structures we visited are concrete proof of PacMan’s humble beginnings and his victorious road to become who he is now. But what’s very noble about this is that some of the structures are utilized to hone and train more talents and athletes especially in the field of boxing and other sports.

Basketball Court and Multipurpose Gym at Mansion 2

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The Children’s Mini-playground at Mansion 2

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Senator Manny’s Office and Bulwagan at Mansion 2

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The Louis Vuitton and Hermes Bikes at Mansion 2

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These Louis Vuitton and Hermes Bikes deserve a groupie.

Another property we visited is the 2-hectare Mansion 3 which is undergoing construction to this day. This will be the biggest residential property of the couple among the many properties they own. Taking photos are not allowed, so I can’t give you the picture of how big the property is but, swear, when I say BIG, it really is!!!

The Pacman Sport Stadium

The Pacman Sport Stadium

Inside Pacman Sport Stadium. It's BIG!!!

Inside Pacman Sport Stadium. It’s BIG!!!

Our tour ended with a sumptuous lunch, of course, at the Manny Pacquiao Hotel which is also known as the Road Haus Hotel. Roadhaus is one of General Santos City’s finest business and leisure hotel. It is situated in downtown area and is 30 minutes away from the Airport, 15 minutes away from the pier and just a short ride to shopping malls, convention areas and other recreational spots. For bookings and reservations, you can reach them at (083) 553-8888 or at 09174195727 and 09257002750. Aside from spacious and comfy rooms, PacMan Hotel has a restaurant serving delectable cuisines. Of course, must-try are the tuna dishes. the-pacman-tour-1 the-pacman-tour-2

And so when in General Santos City, whether you are a PacMan fan or not, try the Pacman Tour and you’ll go home inspired by the life’s story of this living legend and you’ll end up prouder because of what this greatest athlete has contribute to our country – even to you as a Filipino.
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LVA Travel Care and Allied Services arranges the PacMan Tour in General Santos City. You call them at 0933-104-6098 for booking and reservations. If you’re lucky, the beautiful Vienna Q. Borro, the owner, will be your official tour guide and will inspire your more with the stories of our great Pacman. Part of the proceeds of the PacMan Tour will go to the the Emmaneul and Jinkee’s Heart Foundation, Inc.

Special thanks to Ms. Vienna Borro for arranging this tour. Same goes to our handsome tour guide Jao. Salamat gayud kaayo!!!