LIGHTING THE GIANT HOLIDAY TREE OF THE CITY OF TAGUM

“It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas, everywhere you go…” This is exactly the right song one should be singing when visiting the City of Tagum today.

Davao Region’s Tallest and Grandest Holiday Tree

The City of Tagum in the province of Davao Del Norte is branded as the Palm City of the Philippines and home to the various festivals celebrated every year. As a matter of fact, it is the only city in the whole Davao Region (Region XI) to boast 14 different grand festivals that truly depict the colorful culture, vibrant lifestyle and good governance of the Tagumeños.
This holiday season, the City of Tagum once again made another mark in the whole Davao Region as they welcome the Yuletide Season with the traditional Lighting of the Giant Holiday Tree. Luckily, I am amongst those honored guests given the privilege to witness this event up close and personal.
With a towering height of 108.60 feet (33.10 meters), the Giant Holiday Tree of the City of Tagum is considered as the tallest in the Davao Region and probably in Mindanao. Its traditional lighting spearheaded by no less than the father of the City, Mayor Rey Uy, marks the beginning of the bright shining glittering Christmas Season in the whole City of Tagum.
For six years now, the Giant Holiday Tree which is conveniently situated at the City’s Freedom Park has attracted thousands of visitors and tourists to come to the City to feel its Yuletide Spirit. It has become the City’s landmark that Tagumeños and visiting guests look forward to every Holiday Season. For this reason, the City Government of Tagum considered the Giant Holiday Tree as a landmark fit to be given much interest as part of the City’s tourism campaign. Thus, the City Engineer’s Office is tasked to come up new plans and fresh designs to make the Holiday Tree more appealing and inviting every year. Like the Giant Holiday Tree, its annual Traditional Lighting is also an anticipated event that everyone, including this writer, look forward to this Holiday Season.

And on the breezy evening of November 16th, 2011, this year’s Giant Holiday Tree came to life as Mayor Rey Uy together with other City Officials switched on the thousands glistening lights of the towering Christmas tree. At 33 meters in height lighted in full glory, the Giant Holiday Tree becomes the main attraction of the evening putting every spectator including myself in much awe and admiration.

This year’s Giant Holiday Tree is adorned with the different symbols of Christmas Season. Decorative shapes of flowers, snowflakes, angels blowing horns, doves, fruits and musicals notes abound the steel tree. Thousands of pixie lights and rice bulbs ranging from yellow, green, blue and red put these decorative shapes to life. The giant Bethlehem Star on top made the Holiday Tree more interesting and eye-catching.

During the formal lighting ceremonies, spectators are treated to a Street Choir Performance of the Tagum City Composite Chorale and Symphonic Band. The Christmas Carols sung by the 100 Voices Ensemble added flavors and drama to the lighting of the Giant Holiday Tree.
My friends at the City Information Office of the City of Tagum led by Mr. Edwin Lasquite proudly told me that the Giant Holiday Tree is the symbol of the love, peace and progress that the City of Tagum is experiencing day by day. He added that it has been the vision of Mayor Rey Uy that the Giant Holiday Tree will be fitting venue that will provide Tagumeños an opportunity to commune together to celebrate the yuletide season and share its message of peace. It is a holiday spot where families can come and bond together during yuletide season.

This particular photo was taken last year during the lighting of the 2010 Giant Chirstmas Tree and won the Juror’s Choice Award for the Tagum City Photo Contest.

Having attended the grand lighting of the Giant Holiday Tree and felt its significance to the City of Tagum for two years now, I concluded that Mayor Rey Uy’s vision has reached thousands of people not just in the City of Tagum but its neighboring cities and towns as well. I, for one, was among those individuals looking forward to witness the lighting of the significant steel tree feeling one with the Tagumeños in welcoming the Yuletide Season. But it was not just the lighting of the Giant Holiday Tree that I’ve witnessed, but the message of love, peace and hope delivered and shared during the event.

This Blogger with the Children of the 100 Voices Ensemble

To the people of Tagum and Mayor Rey Uy, thank you for opening your doors for us to experience “Christmas in the City of Tagum”!

FEATURED PHOTO: Into The Woods of Mount Pulag

COME. Let’s get into the woods of Mount Pulag…! Mount Pulag is the Philippines’ third highest mountain and Luzon’s highest. Endowed with such beauty so unimaginable and surreal, Mount Pulag is considered the “Playground of the Gods“.

"Into the Woods... of Mount Pulag!"

I chanced to have a thrill-packed weekend at Province of Benguet and conquered Mount Pulag National Park. Climbing MOUNT PULAG was my first major climb and by far, the most unforgettable climb I had in my life. Photos and words are not enough to show and describe the exquisite beauty of this SACRED MOUNTAIN.

“Into the Woods… of Mount Pulag!”
Mount Pulag National Park
Via Ambangeg Trail
Kabayan, Benguet Province

REMINISCING MUELLE DE SANTA FILOMENA

SANTA FILOMENA BEACH. Probably, the most popular beach spot in my hometown Cateel, Davao Oriental situated in Barangay Santa Filomena, a 10 minute drive from Poblacion. BARANGAY SANTA FILOMENA features an old wharf called MUELLE, a Spanish term for seaport. Long time ago when national roads and highways were merely just a dream for every Cateeleño, Muelle De Santa Filomena was the gateway to reach to coastal town of Cateel.


I, for one, was born in a time where pump boats were the only means of transportation to reach the neighboring town of Lingig, Surigao del Sur where national roads going to Davao City and other key towns were already constructed. Having played a vital role as the key wharf in the whole town, Muelle De Santa Filomena witnessed the hopes and frustrations of many Cateeleños leaving and coming back to Cateel. I grew up learning many stories about the Muelle; some were even tragic. For some, the Muelle is a place of great memories. There were love stories created around the Muelle. No one can deny that at one point Muelle became the most popular place in town. Ask those people of my age and perhaps the older than I am, we all have memories to share about Muelle De Santa Filomena. Some were good, some were sad. Those were memories that have shaped us to be who we are today.


As years gone by, Cateel was finally linked to the world. Three major national roads and highways were constructed to come in and out of the town. People come and go. Buses, private vehicles and the likes become the means to reach and travel in and outside of Cateel. Slowly, Muelle De Santa Filomena was forgotten. Slowly, its popularity faded. Its golden days were over. Its importance to the lives of Cateeleños was bit by bit forgotten. What are left are remnants of its past glory.


Every time I am home, I never missed a chance to visit the Muelle. It one of the best places in my hometown Cateel I will never get tired to see and visit. It has an innate charm until now I can never resist liking. Yes, its golden days are over but its reminiscences are there. Gaily I say, happy are those Cateeleños like me who was born witnessing the golden times of Muelle De Santa Filomena. I can truly appreciate what we have become because we have a yesteryear full of memories to cherish.

SNAPSHOTS ON CRUISING DINAGAT ISLANDS

Exploring the mystical Islands and Islets of the Province of Dinagat Islands continued. Visiting the “Mystical Island Province of Love” is not complete without romancing the many spectacular Islets and Islands of the Province. Being a large group of Islands, the Province is endowed with stunning wonders of nature worthy to be discovered and explored. This is the main reason why I braved to come to Dinagat Islands – to uncover the Secret Paradise Islands of the Province. Dinagat Group of Islands is in itself a Wonder of Nature and seeing at least few of its hidden nature’s treasure is enough for me to take pride of. This has made me excited. Together with Dinagat IslandS Provincial Tourism Officer Danilo Bulabos, I, with the company new found adventurous friends, explored the true gems of the Province – the Islands and Islets beautifully scattered by nature on the waters of Dinagat.

Two of the many stunning Islets of Dinagat Islands

Aboard the motorized boat especially made for tourists, our Island Tour started leaving the Port of San Jose. As the boat sailed, Mr. Bulabos offered a prayer for our safe Island Tour. We were lucky that the weather that day was incredibly great. We had the chance to appreciate the azure skies blending the sapphire colors of the Dinagat waters.

Isla Aga, Town of Basilisa

As we toured around the many jaw-dropping islands and islets of Dinagat Islands, I can’t help but appreciate every single thing that my eyes saw right at where I was. The tiny group of islets so alluring to see, the thick foliage covering some big islands, the limestone wall that erected at one side, the rock formations truly so amazing and the waters so crystal clear were things I can truly say the jewels of the Province.

An Amazing Seascape Like No Other

Simply put, words are not enough to describe those wonders of nature that once lured me cruising Dinagat Islands. As a photography enthusiast, the whole place is a paradise so ideal for picture perfect snapshots. As a nature lover, the place is a haven where communing with nature is at best. As a self proclaimed “Son of the Beach”, this is undeniably – the place to be.

The Jewels of the Island Province

Here are my collection of the must visit Islets and Islands of the Province of Dinagat Islands. There are more to see, there are more to experience.

Biray Biray Rock Formation
Bitaug Beach
Some of the Islands around Basilisa, Dinagat Islands
Kabacungan Island
Island Tour Destinations

Bababu Rocks

Isla Aga
Hagkahak Island
Sondayo Beach
The Hanging Bridge of Isla Aga
Sondayo Beach, Hagakhak Island
Bitaug Beach
Huge Rocks of Bitaug
This Blogger Awed By The Beauty of Dinagat Islands
Nature at its Best
The Mystical Allure of Dinagat Islands

Stunning Charm of Island Living.

Having visited and toured the province, now I say, one must not fear in going to Dinagat Islands. One should not be hesitant in discovering the wonders of the Islands. The whole Province of Dinagat Islands is a paradise waiting to be explored, waiting to be discovered, and waiting to be enjoyed.

This Blogger Savoring the Charm and Beauty of Dinagat Islands

COME. VISIT DINAGAT ISLANDS AND EXPERIENCE THE MYSTICAL ISLAND PROVINCE OF LOVE!

I would like to end my DINAGAT ISLAND TRAVEL SERIES thanking the people who made this journey possible. To Mr. Danilo Bulabos, the Provincial Tourism Officer, my most heartfelt gratitude for your kindest accommodation, you are a gift to the Tourism Industry of the whole Islands; to MARK ACAIN, thanks for the ride; the Bahay Turista, for being my home for two days; to my new found friends in the Office of the Presidential Adviser for Peace Process, thank you for the great time, i enjoyed playing “dollar dollar how I wonder”; and to the people of Dinagat Islands, daghan salamat for letting me experience the Charm of your Island. You have the most incredible beaches in the island. Take care of it! Again, my heartfelt THANK YOU.

This is the last 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
  9. SNAPSHOTS ON CRUISING DINAGAT ISLANDS

THE JELLYFISH SANCTUARY OF BUCAS GRANDE ISLANDS

Among the many breathtaking natural attractions that I have explored in the whole Bucas Grande Islands, there is one magical place that until now bedazzled me. This place is called Jellyfish Sanctuary.

Having toured to the key tourist spots in the whole islands, I thought I had seen enough. Truthfully, all these wonders of nature were captivating. But when our tour guide led us to the Jellyfish Sanctuary, everything seemed surreal. As if we were brought to the other world. Here’s the story.
After our island tour at Bubon Group of Islets, we sailed back to Sohoton Reception Center. It was already late afternoon. Upon reaching the Center, we were told that we will be transferring to small paddleboats in going to the Jellyfish Sanctuary. Motorized boats are strictly not allowed getting inside the whole sanctuary. The small paddleboats can carry two passengers and a boatman. In my case, I was the only passenger.
The sail going to the Jellyfish Sanctuary was out of the ordinary experience. The waters were calm. The whole environs were wrapped by tranquility I can hear the rowing of the paddles. The enigmatic chirping of various wild birds made the sail more exciting. I’ve tried boating in different places but this one was entirely surreal.

The Entrance of the Jellyfish Sanctuary

Nearing the mouth of the Sanctuary, my boatman named Richmond began narrating the story behind the mystical beauty of the Jellyfish Sanctuary. I learned from him that some years ago the whole place was originally inhabited by multitude of sea urchins locally known as “Tujom” hence they formerly called the place Tujoman. One day, for some unknown reason, this huge number of sea urchin dwelling at Tujoman began disappearing until none of them was left. As days gone by, a smack of jellyfishes began congregating the place. It was becoming a larger group and local folks began noticing. Soon, the locals found out that these jellyfishes dwelling in the waters of Tujoman were non-stinging. The smack of jellyfishes grew into a great number. It even multiplied to millions of jellyfishes permanently dwelling in the place. Soon after, they called the place “The Jellyfish Sanctuary”. They later opened the place for tourists but intense protection and preservation of the Sanctuary were maintained.

Limestone forests abounds inside the Jellyfish Sanctuary

As we enter the opening of the Jellyfish Sanctuary, there was one thing I instantly noticed about the place. There was a profound tranquility that enveloped the whole environs. Everything that I see there was filled with calmness and peace. It was a very contagious serenity I can feel it inside me.

The first jelly fish that i saw made me shout in amazement.

Sailing forward, jellyfishes began to appear in the waters. I shouted in amazement seeing the very first jellyfish that appeared in the waters. Another smack of jellyfishes we passed by. And then another. And another. As we moved towards the very heart of sanctuary, multitude of jellyfishes surrounded our boats. Again, I felt I was on another planet. This was surreal. Slowly, I was beginning to get emotional. Teary-eyed, I looked around praising and admiring such a spectacular body of water fully inhabited by millions of stunning jellyfishes.

Sitting at the edge of the boat, I noticed a smack of jellyfish flocking around out tiny vessel. I learned from Richmond that jellyfishes here are naturally friendly. They even come closer when boats are coming in. Since these creatures are non-stinging, I excitedly caught one jellyfish out of the water and held it in my hands. As soon as I felt its texture and seen its form, I let go of it. Richmond told me jellyfishes can only last for ten seconds out of the water. So, I had to put it back.

I had to admit I fear jellyfishes. They are noted to be stingingly perilous. But the jellyfishes of the Bucas Grande Islands are non-stinging and friendly. They even came closer towards us. It seemed they wanted play around with us. They were so welcoming. I put my hands in the waters at once and they came nearer. They were like wonderful pets. Amazing creatures.

Before the sundown, the group started to leave the Sanctuary. All of us left the place charmed and amazed by what we saw. In my case, I felt overly joyous having experienced such tremendous encounter with the jellyfish. I was very lucky too that my boatman Richmond was kind and smart enough to tell me everything I want to know about the Sanctuary. After all, it is one of their prides.

This is ME with a non-stinging jellyfish in my hands.

Having gone and experienced this unique adventure with the Jellyfishes of Bucas Grande Islands, I felt another dream of mine has realized. I used to dream of going to the island nation of Palau and swim with the jellyfishes at the Jellyfish Lake of Eil Malk but now I need not to go out of the country to fulfill this bizarre experience. My beautiful island of the Philippines now boasts the Jellyfish Sanctuary of Bucas Grande Islands that is undeniably a world-class natural attraction that can definitely put all tourists, local and foreign alike, in so much awe and amazement like those in Palau.

Me and travel buddies amazed by the enchanting Charms of the Jellyfish Sanctuary.

My closest encounter with jellyfish at the Sanctuary is the highlight of my Bucas Grande Island Exploration. Other natural wonders of the Island are indisputably attractions to behold. But experiencing Jellyfish Sanctuary is absolutely an exceptional experience. It is commendable and worth to experience again. If given a chance, I shall back there and swim and play with the jellyfishes again.

Meet Richmond, my gracious boatman. Many thanks.

Experiencing Jellyfish Sanctuary of the Bucas Grande Islands is the final stop of my Bucas Grande Island Exploration.

FOR GUIDED TOUR, you may call contact:

VINCENT ADLAO TAMAYO
Accredited Tour Guide of Socorro Tourism Office
0930.802.8704 

This is the sixth 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