2014 was an awesome year for me traveling around the Philippines and discover many interesting places especially those that I’ve never been. But I guess the highlights of my travels are those journeys and experiences that have left indelible marks in my heart. My journey around these beautiful islands of Mindanao on the other hand was an enriching experience. Not only because I’ve got to see and discover new places but because of the different culture I’ve learned and somehow lived along the way – something that has changed me in a way today. I did so many amazing crazy never-wracking things that I never even imagined I would be doing. Above all, the great people I met along the way who share the same passion and love for travels and culture like I do. And some of these awesome people became my instant family and together we swore to the loyal brotherhood of #ByahengMindanaw, capturing the beauty and culture of Mindanao and share it to the world. These photos below are some of the funnest and memorable moments I had in 2014. Enjoy! It was an awesome 2014!
When Super Typhoon Pablo ravaged Cateel in December 2012, Aliwagwag Falls was not spared. The horrifying winds brought by Pablo severely destroyed its vast rainforests and century-old trees. The mossy forest was left balding. Wild flowers and orchids were gone. Waters overflowed. For barely three hours on that horrific morning of December 4, 2012, the majestic beauty of Aliwagwag Falls was spoiled.
Long before Typhoon Pablo hard-hit our beautiful town, Aliwagwag Falls is considered as the crown cascading jewel not only of Cateel and the Province of Davao Oriental but the whole Davao Region. As a matter of fact, it is considered as one of most beautiful waterfalls in the Philippines enchanting tourists from different parts of the country and the world to travel down south to see and wonder at this nature’s greatest gift to our town. And when Super Typhoon Pablo molested and ravaged the unequal beauty of this prized attraction, all Cateeleños from all the globe mourn for its devastation. Everyone prayed, including myself, that Aliwagwag Falls will regain and regrow back to her natural shape. Like our homes destroyed by the monstrous typhoon, we all hoped to see Aliwagwag Falls back to her unparalleled beauty again. Gladly, prayers are answered.
Where there’s water, there’s life. Two years after that unforgettable day, the precious jewel of Cateel is back to her majestic shape again – even grander and more amusing. The forest surrounding it are filled greens again. Waters are abundant and the multi-tiered falls looks stunningly like a stairway to heaven. In fact, it looks like it didn’t go through an unimaginable devastation from the ST Pablo. So to speak, much as nature is a serial killer, nature is such an amazing healer.
And so today, this prized possession of my hometown is ready for the world. And I bet 2015 will be the year for Aliwagwag Falls to be the cornerstone of tourism not only in Davao Oriental but in the whole Davao Region. An on-going Aliwagwag Development Program surrounding the falls is underway now to conveniently receive thousands of tourists expected to flock in the coming months. This remarkable development plan is spearheaded by no less than the Davao Oriental Governor Corazon Malanyaon who is also a proud daughter of Cateel whose top priorities include tourism development in the Province. In the coming days upon the completion of this project, Aliwagwag Falls is ready for the world. Everyone in our town including myself is excited!
Super Typhoon Pablo was a monstrous disaster Cateelenos will never forget for the rest of our lives. Pablo may be a monstrous destroyer of our homes and all the gifts of nature we have in our town but somehow it taught us that everyone can survive and surpass even the strongest storms of our lives if we only believe in the “power of love” – love for our hometown, care for our nature and compassion for fellowmen. Aliwagwag Falls is great reminder for every Cateeleno and perhaps every Filipino that whatever struggles we face in our lives, we have to remember that “we can get through all storms of our lives”. Believe and strive hard to get up, move forward and start anew. And with the right and compassionate leaders we have in the town and the province, we are certainly on the right path – building back a better Cateel. The regrowth of Aliwagwag Falls is a great proof that our hometown and its resilient people can rise above the darkest days our lives – proof that we are moving forward, braver enough to get up and get through super typhoons of our lives.
I have been around many places and have seen numbers of waterfalls. Yes, each of these waterfalls possesses different charm, different splendor but Aliwagwag Falls is different. I may sound bias because I come from this place but for me the striking beauty of the Aliwagwag Falls is still without equal – still unmatched. Its mesmeric grandeur is like no other. Even right now as I am writing this, my mind is wandering thinking about unrivaled majestic beauty, cotton-like cascades and refreshing waters! If you haven’t been there, come and see it for yourself and you’ll definitely understand why I call this jewel – Her Majesty Queen Aliwagwag Falls.
For arranged trip or group tour to Aliwagwag Falls, you can call or text The Travel Teller at 0939-342-3939. The Travel Teller hails from Cateel, Davao Oriental.
While walking around Baras Bird Sanctuary, Mr. Rey Malana, the owner, mentioned that the best way to observe these flocks of birds actively flying from tree to tree is from the top of the Observatory Deck. I was thrilled I wanted him to bring us there right away. But when we reached area, it wasn’t the ordinary observation deck I painted on my head. It was a huge Sampaloc Tree towering at 50 feet high with a makeshift steel ladder nailed on the trunk. There was no deck up there. Only branches big enough to carry my weight. While everyone chose to stay on the ground, there I was succumbing to this “sense of adventure” that has brought me to places I never imagined to see. I braved enough and made it to the top. And up there I marveled at one of most beautiful sight I’ve seen in years. Oh God, I wish I lived here.
IT’S DEFINITELY WORTH THE CLIMB.
Baras Bird Sanctuary is the most visited tourist site in Tacurong City, Sultan Kudarat and going there is just easy. It is very accessible to any type of transportation and about 20 minute away from the main city. You can also frop by the Tacurong City Tourism Office for more information and who knows they might give you a free ride going there. Swear, thousands of birds await you.
HERONS AND EGRETS AS PHOTOGRAPHED AS WILD BIRD PHOTOGRAPHERS OF THE PHILIPPINES
I was wrong when I thought all that matters to Glan is its pristine white sand beach. You can’t blame me. The famous Gumasa Beach where Sarangani Bay Festival is held every year is located in this town and this six-kilometer stretch of white sand is said to be among the finest in Mindanao. So, if someone talks about Glan, the first thing that comes to mind is Gumasa Beach.
But there’s more to Glan than its coastal wonders. Being the oldest municipality in the whole SocCCSKSarGen Region, Glan is a heritage town that played a significant role in shaping the whole region’s vibrant history. Forget about those white sand beaches, Glan’s substantial historical value makes this coastal town the most interesting place to discover in Sarangani Province. And those who come here to search for nature and pure pleasure find themselves more fascinated when the olden charms of Glan that are frozen in time are laid before their eyes. For some, they even call this beautiful place a little museum town.
Glan’s Heritage of Yesteryears, Today’s Treasures.
In 1914, Don Tranquilino Ruiz from Alegria, Cebu was appointed by Gov. Gen. Francis Burton Harrison as Superintendent of Agricultural Colony No. 9. It was one of the Agricultural Colonies sent to then Moro Province now called Mindanao thru Colonization Law of Don Sergio Osmena, Sr., then Speaker of the House of Representatives. Don Tranquilino Ruiz together with other 16 Cebuanos were among the first Christian settlers who came to Glan on October 8, 1914. They were welcomed by the natives and together created a harmonious and progressive community. As town’s tribute to this first meeting of Christians and natives, this town’s foremost historic structure, the Colono Marker, was erected. If you happen to meet any local, ask him and he’ll probably name those in the structure.
If you stroll around Poblacion, your eyes will surely be glued to the ample rows of ancestral houses standing still and resilient with time. Mostly built in the 1920’s, these colonial homes still house stunning collection of antiques and priceless heirlooms handed down from generation to generation. Some of these houses were originally constructed by those Colonos who came to Glan carrying with them furniture pieces and stuff from Cebu. Some of these houses now are occupied or maintained by either third or fourth generation of the family. If you’re lucky, owners will allow you to come inside their homes and let you take a glimpse of its colorful past. But even viewing them from the outside, you’ll absolutely be mesmerized by their high balconies, canopies, capiz shell windows, calado embroidered walls and wide wooden staircases. Take your time. Lavish your eyes with such vintage sight you can only see in Glan.
Perhaps the most visited and most photographed ancestral house in Glan is the E. Alegado Ancestral House. It was constructed in 1949 after the Japanese-American with both Spanish and American architectural influences. Emilio Alducente Alegado, the one who built it, was the first elected Municipal Mayor of Glan. He was endeared to his people that not just a street but also a barangay in Glan was named after him. Visit this home. It is now occupied by Councilor Martin Alegado, grandson of the late E. Alegado and you’ll surely be amazed by the intricate calado embroidered walls that abound inside. Of course, antique collections of the family can be seen everywhere.
Walk around the town proper and you will see several century old trees lining up along the streets, in schools and town plazas. At one glance, they almost resemble like those talking Ents in the Lord of The Rings. These trees are as old as the early Christian settlers of this quaint town and they’re undeniably the mute witnesses of how Glan becomes what it is now. Take a brisk walk under these trees or maybe sit on a bench under their shades, it will make you feel the antiquity of this rustic town and somehow would make you wonder how it was like living here 100 years ago. Honestly, I’ve never been to any town or city in this country with this number of century-old trees thriving like in the real forest. While some towns and cities in the country are cutting their heritage trees in favor of modernization, here in Glan they’re taken care of. They’re well-preserved for they too are part of the town’s heritage.
It may not be as old as baroque or stone churches in the Visayas where Christianity was first introduced, Santa Catalina de Alexandria Church, the Parish Church of Glan is worth a visit. The Catholic Faith in this part of Mindanao was brought by Christian Settlers who came to this town from Cebu. Majority of them came from the town of Carcar where Santa Catalina of Alexandria is the patron saint. This explains further why the patron saint of Glan is the same as that of Carcar. Though Christians Cebuanos migrated to Glan in 1914, the Santa Catalina de Alexandria Church was built in 1949. It is now 65 years old and considered a built heritage. When you visit there, never miss saying a prayer for Santa Catalina or St. Catherine. Just so you know, she is the patroness of philosophers and preachers.
There’s no one in town who doesn’t know this walking encyclopedia of Glan. His name is Dr. Jose Tranquilino “Dodong” Ruiz III and he is the grandson of no less than the great Don Tranquilino Ruiz. He is a current Municipal Councilor and physician by profession. More than that, Dr. Ruiz is an antique collector and lover of something that has historical value. His museum-like home houses his family memorabilia which he prudently preserved over the years. Most of these antique collections speak about the history of his hometown. Over the years, Dr. Dodong Ruiz has built a reputation as the greatest local historian with his collection of antiques, local stories and personal account of his town’s heritage. And so when you visit this rustic town, drop by the Ruiz House to fully appreciate the history and legacy of Glan.
GUMASA WHITE SAND BEACH
Like most of those who came to Glan, your visit to this coastal town is not complete without visiting Gumasa Beach. After luxuriating yourself with your heritage tour at the town proper, hit the beach and surrender yourself to the town’s tropical allure. Gumasa is the priced beach jewel of Glan. It is nestled amidst the turquoise waters of the Sarangani Bay with long stretch of powdery white sands beaches and coves favorite among locals and foreign tourists. After engaging yourself all day beach bumming or suntanning, you can settle down and lounge by the seashore and gaze at the glorious sunset setting in the waters of Sarangani Bay. It is the perfect thing to do to end the day in Gumasa.
Today, Glan remains to be the home of proud Glanians who take pride of their roots and their rich heritage. They are warm people and they welcome everyone to their beloved town with warm smiles. True that the sights and sounds of modernity have established their presence in the town but they cannot drown the stillness and elegance of the past as embodied by century-old trees and colonial houses of Glan. The town and its people may have opened themselves to rapid change but they have not sacrificed the bountiful wealth of their heritage. They chose to protect it, conserve it for their next generation of Glanians to see, appreciate and preserve.
This is GLAN. Its Yesteryears’ Heritage is Today’s Treasure.
This coming October 8, Glan will celebrate its 100 years as a town – the oldest town in the whole Region 12. This will be the most celebrated event to be staged in the whole town where every Glanian from all over the world looks forward to. Thus, the celebration is made even bigger and grander. COME VISIT GLAN and join the Glanian celebrating its 100 Years Legacy of Great Heritage and History. For more details, please like and follow GLAN100 on Facebook to get updates about this Centennial Celebration of the Oldest Town in SOCCKSARGEN.
A thank you shout-out to Ms. Lodar Dagoy Escobillo, the ever energetic Tourism Head of Glan for making this Heritage Tour possible.
Twenty five participating dance and theatre ensembles converged at Davao City Recreation Center for the annual staging of Sayaw Mindanaw, an annual indigenous-based dance competition held in Davao City as part of the Kadayawan Festival celebration. It is considered as one of the important events of the festival as it depicts the rich and colorful culture and tradition of the Mindanao portrayed though live indigenous music and theatrical dance narratives.
I had the opportunity to be seated at the front row witnessing a rare convergence of vibrant colors, rhythmic beats and graceful movements of different tribes in Mindanao. It is not just a competition but also a celebration and appreciation of Mindanao’s rich indigenous culture and traditions.
Sayaw Mindanaw is open to all dance groups of students, out of school youth and community based performers though out Mindanao. Entries should be of theatrical dance narratives narrating Mindanao Indigenous Peoples’ epics, folklores and traditions.
Out of the 25 participating entries vying for the qualifying round and the finals, Davao City’s Madayaw Dance Ensemble was adjudged as champion in this year’s Sayaw Mindanao competition. Second place went to the T’boli National High School Performing Arts from T’boli, South Cotabato and Liceo de Cagayan Folkloric Dance Troupe from Cagayan De Oro City bagged the third prize.
One of the entries of this year’s competition is the Caraga National High School Dance Troupe from Caraga, Davao Oriental where they portrayed indigenous Mandayan marriage ceremony. I was so proud to see them wearing proudly the vivid colors and performing lively the cultures of our Mandaya brothers and sisters from our Province. In the end, they bagged the special citation as Best in Indigenous Research Material.
100 CAPTURED MOMENTS AT SAYAW MINDANAW
The staging of Sayaw Mindanaw every year as part of the Kadayawan Festival celebration is one great opportunity to better understand and appreciate Mindanao’s indigenous culture and traditions. Our diversity and multi-ethnicity make this island the most interesting cultural destination in the country.
Byaheng Mindanaw na!