MY ATTEMPT TO RELIVE AN OLD RUSTIC BEACH LIFE

Isak Dinesen once quoted, “the cure for anything is salt water – sweat, tears, or the sea”. Among these three, for me, it is the sea or the beach that I regard as a “real cure” for a heart that needs comfort and a mind that needs peace. Long before I came across this famous quote, the beach has been my personal solace. Whenever I am in distress and I feel the burden of fast-paced living, I would run off the nearest beach, walk on the shores, listen to the sound of the waves, feel the kiss of ocean breeze and just feel the calmness of the seas. There is comfort in the beach.

I grew up loving and enjoying a laidback beach life in my hometown Cateel in the east coast of Davao Oriental. There, we don’t have white beaches to boast. No posh beach resorts to stay. No beach crowd of party animals. There, all one can see is the long beach of gray sand, sea of raging waves and local beach goers just living nearby. Despite this plainness, beaches in my hometown Cateel have certain allures that charm us, the locals, in living a beach life so carefree yet so memorable.

Whenever I am home, going to the beach tops my to-do lists. So, while spending my recent holiday break in Cateel, there was no single day that went by without me lounging at the beach. I visited different beach spots in different places while I was home – at times with the company of my friends and relatives but most of the times I was alone. There was a soothing feeling when only Me, Myself and I, alone at the beach.

The vastness of the ocean, the azure skies kissing down the navy seas, the gentle breeze gently caressing my face, the roaring sounds of the mighty waves, the sea of drift woods scattered on the shores, the dancing coconut trees close at hand, the poor sandcastles, the simplest family picnics, the feeling of being one with the beach – all of these mattered to me. These are things I always long to relive again – a rustic way of celebrating a beach life. So this has been my quest whenever I am home – to go back to the beach.

One of the beaches I would never fail to visit in my hometown is the Baldo Beach. It was the most famous beach spot during our childhood days back in Cateel. It is where the waters of Cateel River and the seas of the Pacific meet. We, kids, loved Baldo, named after the famous local who lived near the area. It is where I first learned how to swim and battled against huge waves. Baldo played a great part of my beach life in this coastal hometown of mine. Today, things have changed. I can no longer see kids playing around enjoying the waters of Baldo. Even Baldo’s topography has changed.

Moving forward, my itchy feet brought me to the long forgotten Sisters’ Beach. This beach is named after a Sister’s Convent situated in the area. The sister’s convent was the home of Diocesan Nuns running my alma mater then Maryknoll High School of Cateel, the only Catholic School in my town. Years ago, Sisters’ Beach was as famous as Baldo’s. If Baldo was at the mouth of the River, the Sisters’ Beach is a long stretch of gray sand that faces the mighty seas of the Pacific Ocean. Long ago, this beach spot was the town’s favorite. Its huge waves were among the much loved features of the beach. I can recall how we loved swimming and playing with the waves using an inflatable rubber tires we called salbabida. During beach picnics at the Sisters’ Beach, we would gather coconut palms from nearby and make huts out of it to cover us from the punishing heat of the sun. It was really a rustic way of beach life that until now I want to experience. Today, the charm of Sisters’ Beach is gone. No more picnics, no more beach goers. I wondered what made it changed. The ravaging waves are still there – just waiting for its playmates. I can still see the sisters’ convent from afar but the glory that the Sisters’ Beach one savored is no longer there. Indeed, a lot has changed.

The next day, I went further to now famed Santa Filomena Beach. This is where local beach goers frequent now these days. Years back, Barangay Santa Filomena was just a quite coastal barrio in Cateel not frequented by beach fanatics. As development and infrastructure progresses, Santa Fe as fondly called by many becomes so accessible from the main Poblacion and other neighboring barrios. Slowly, entertainments like videoke houses and mini-resort were introduced in the place. Gradually, Santa Filomena Beach becomes the most loved beach spot in Cateel putting the Baldo Beach and Sisters’ Beach behind. Today, Santa Fe has gone too far. Lined up Videoke Houses/Rural Bars abound the place. Another featured spot of this coastal barrio is the Muelle De Santa Filomena. It is an old wharf that has now become a favorite spot for diving and swimming for locals.

There is also Mahan-ob Beach. It remains undisturbed until today. I got so emotional when I visited this spot. I got to stay here alone for half day doing nothing but romancing its innate tranquility and total calmness. Its stillness is infectious. It instantly got it. Here, I found some enlightenment to my questions about life’s ups and downs I was carrying when I was there. Now, as I look back, I wish to be there again – this time to thank the beach and its kindness for letting me realized some things I should have long realized.

Having revisited some of my favorite beach destinations at home, I realize that this simple beach life I have back in my humble town will always be part of who I am – a Beach Person.  It influences a lot in me – appreciate God’s given natural gifts, the value for life and love for my humble beginnings. Looking back, I know that the Beach has helped me a lot in realizing my potentials and seeing my worth. I know for a fact that a lot has changed now. Beach life in my hometown was no longer the same like the old days. I must admit, I miss it. But despite these changes, the beach will always be part of the lives of my townsfolk.

As for me, there is one thing I am so certain about. I will forever be a son of a beach. The beach will always be my favorite place on earth.

FINDING ENLIGHTENMENT AT MAHAN-OB BEACH

When everybody was busy preparing for the New Year’s celebrating, there I was consuming my time lounging at my much loved place on earth, the Beach.

I was home for the holidays at my hometown Cateel in the province of Davao Oriental. From day one until the last day that I was there, no was no single day that passed without me visiting the beach. Cateel, being a coastal town that faces the great Pacific Ocean, has been a coastal paradise for me. My love for beach traces back here.

While I enjoyed my beach life there for the whole time, I was also there to find peace, solace and enlightenment from a life I have in the Big City. I grow up in Cateel learning the simplest life it can offer and when blessed to have a great life in the city, there are simplest things that seemed to have changed – things that I missed so much. Life in the province is laidback. Hassle free. No worries. No pressures. I missed those days when life was just like that – simple! These are the things that I tried to live while I was there for ten days. I told myself I was home, I must enjoy it.

Among the beaches I frequented for ten days there, I fell in love with Mahan-ob Beach. There is nothing special there – just the gray sand, the misty cove, the coconut trees and the huge waves sweeping off the dark shores. What I love about it is its innate tranquility that surrounds the whole place drowning me to its private serenity.

When I got there, total stillness enveloped the whole place. I can hear the strong blowing winds and the splashing of powerful waves. The moment I got there, I looked for a corner where I can comfortably settle. The coconut tree was the perfect spot. I was sitting under that coconut tree armed with camera but lazily capturing yet another beach scene that I can hopefully share to my cyber friends. But it was reverse. I was captured by the beach. I was bedazzled not by its beauty but by its solitude.

I sat there for hours staring at afar trying to recollect all the pieces of my yesteryears from the day I can still recall my life in my hometown, to the day I left there to get a life in the City and until the day that I was right there again sitting under that coconut tree recollecting these pieces of yesteryears.

Sitting there, my emotions shifted from joy to sadness and smiles to frowns as I relive those moments. Gently, my tears fell down my cheeks. I can savor it salty taste. Admittedly, when I went home for the holidays, there was a part of me that was broken. A part of my being that needs to be repaired. Spending time alone in this beach was my hope to find light and answers to everything. But softly, my crying continued. Suddenly, a strong cold wind caressed my face and clouds became darker. It was about to rain, I thought. But there was I, still sitting at that corner, succumbing to my sentiments. All I care was to let lose. Pouring out what’s inside me. Slowly, the heavens drizzled. I, on the other hand, stuck on that corner feeling all what was inside me. At another instant, I looked up the skies; there was a light beaming from the army of dark clouds. Slowly it grew until the skies become clearer. There was light.

From a distance, the raging waves are battling each others to reach the lonely shores. They were huge ravaging waves that appeared like monsters ready to attack its prey – ready to attack me. The waters nearly reached where I was sitting. Yet, they failed to reach me.

While I was there staring at everything, I was trying to find meaning of all these. The reason why I was home for the Holidays, the lonely beach, the weather, the waves – everything became a puzzle to me. They were like shattered pieces I wanted to put back. I, myself, was like shattered pieces I wanted to put back in shape.

And then, there was inside of me that whispered, “LET GO… LET GO… LET GO…” It was something that I didn’t expect but it was something that put a smile in my face. I stood up from where I was sitting, ran to the shores and yelled out from my lungs everything I wanted to shout. It was a release. I ran to the seas and washed all the sands covering my body. It was like washing away all my pains and anguish. I felt good. I was home. I was at the beach. It felt good.

Minutes later, I looked around searching for other souls but learned I was all alone from the moment I got to Mahan-ob Beach. Me, myself, I and the beach.

It was getting darker again. It was time to leave Mahan-ob Beach. This time, full of enlightenment.

HAPPY NEW YEAR EVERYONE!

REVISITING PASSIG ISLET AQUA-ECO PARK RESORT

Few years back, I discovered the cheapest way to experience beach bumming that is incredibly so affordable without sacrificing beach quality, comfort and fun. I got three reasons why I love coming back there. One, it is 45 minutes away from my Davao City. Two, the place is damn relaxing. And three, there’s a lot of fun I can do there. I’m talking about the “secret no more” beach haven called Passig Islet Aqua-Eco Park Resort.

The “secret no more” beach haven called Passig Islet Aqua-Eco Park Resort.

Passig Islet Aqua-Eco Park Resort lies on the waters of Sitio Bato in Santa Cruz, Davao Del Sur. This is 15 minutes away from the nearby City of Digos. The municipality of Santa Cruz, on the other hand, is the nearest town of Davao Del Sur from Davao City.

“The Foot Bridge”

I used to call this place before as a secret beach hidden away from the clamoring sound of the Big City. In fact, on my first visit here, I described it as a secret beach haven kept by a few from the crowd craving for beach escape. Today, two years after that visit, the name Passig is widely known in the region.

Few years back, Passig Islet used to be a very tiny white islet open to the public. It was the locals’ favorite beach hang-out. Soon, the Provincial Government of Davao del Sur saw its eco-tourism potential and later they allocated funds to develop the Islet into a stunning and relaxing resort with an astonishing ambience of tropical leisure. Managed by the Provincial Tourism Office, today, it is one of the province’s pride and honor.

In getting to the islet, a concrete foot bridge is constructed in the middle of the bushy mangroves leading to the mouth of the coast where pump boats are readily available to take its guests to the resort. Walking on the footbridge surrounded by century old mangroves is in itself a great experience. On the other hand, the 5 minute boat ride to the islet gives a 360 degrees panoramic view of the sea, the islet and the mountains behind.

On my recent visit, I was impressed to notice that the tidy ambience and the tranquility of the Islet are still maintained. It is still so relaxing and comfortable. I used to call it a beach sanctuary and now it is still the same.

Going around the islet, everything is still in place. From small cottages to its main function hall, everything seemed to be just right. The whole surrounding is still so clean and well maintained. Tropical trees and palm trees are now fully grown and surroundings are still neatly manicured. Bathrooms and restrooms are clean and fresh waters are provided.

The Islet’s abundant white sand is not as refined as those of Boracay’s but its color gives the Islet a real tropical beach touch. The ocean surrounds it is clean and green. There were small fishes nearby.

With an entrance fee of Php 15.00 per person, roundtrip boat fare of Php 20.00 and cottages ranging from Php 100.00 to Php 500.00, Passig Islet Aqua-Eco Park Resort is surprisingly cheap yet undeniably worth to visit.

Visiting back Passig Islet Aqua-Eco Park Resort is like coming back to an old playground. I just love to be there. For me, it is one of the great beach escapes in Davao Region to come and just laze around after a hard days’ work. In fact, writing this makes me want to come back there – NOW!

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 SANDY BEACHES AND STUNNING ISLETS OF BUCAS GRANDE ISLANDS

Bucas Grande Islands of Socorro, Surigao Del Norte is not all about its mystical coves and those enchanted blue lagoons. Some of big Islands comprising the Bucas Grande feature powdery white sand beaches. These sandy beaches are equally stunning like those coves and lagoons. These along with the eye-catching Islets are must-visit places while in Socorro.

Bubon Group of Islets

For the certified beach bums, I would say Bucas Grande Islands is the right place for you. Being a self proclaimed “son of a beach”, I find the sandy beaches and Islets of Bucas Grande as great places to enjoy the grandeur and silence of nature. One can just lazily sit on the sand and feel the rustle of the leaves that sway in the mellow breeze.

Kanlunes Resort
Markaa Beach

One of the beaches we visited is the Markaa Beach. Markaa Beach offers a white sand beach and magnificent rock formations of different sizes. It has shallow clear waters where beautiful corals abound the place. We took time enjoying Markaa beach. The sea was so inviting everyone can’t resist but dipped into the waters. It a perfect place so snorkeling. Corals of different sizes and colors amazed me when I started diving. Really amazing.

Different Corals in the waters of Markaa Beach
This Blogger enjoying the scenic underwater world of Bucas Grande Island. Many thanks to my friend Roy Geonzon for allowing me to use this photo.

Discovering the underwater paradise of Bucas Grande Islands. Photo courtesy of my friend Roy Geonzon. Thank you for this awesome photo.

Our next stop was the Bubon Beach. Bubon Beach offers a great view of Bubon group of 8 Islets that appears like gigantic green mushrooms sprouting from the seawaters. It is one of the places frequented by tourists when in Bucas Grande Islands. One of the Islands features yet another white sand beach so ideal to just laze around. We stopped at this spot and took time enjoying the view of the 8 Islets, the clear waters and the white sand beach.

The Bubon group of 8 stunning mushroom-lie Islets.
Planking Shot at Bubon White Sand Beach

From Bubon Beach, we headed off the other part of the Islands passing different beaches, resorts and other breathtaking Islets that truly made our day remarkable.

HERE ARE THE PHOTOS OF SOME OF THE STUNNING ISLETS OF THE BUCAS GRANDE ISLANDS.

Having toured around, I concluded that Bucas Grande Island is indeed a paradise so worth to discover and experience.

This is the fifth 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