POSTCARD FROM LASWITAN

SURIGAO DEL SUR’S LASWITAN
An Ultimate Pacific Ocean Fun

Laswitan comes the word LASWIT which means splash. Here at Laswitan, the strong splash of the waves coming from the Pacific Ocean against the 20-foot black limestone creates a spectacular scene often describe by tourists as waterfalls by the ocean. Just awesome!

KINABAYO FESTIVAL: Dapitanon’s Way of Honoring St. James the Greater

When I hear the word Dapitan, the first thing that comes to my mind is the National Hero, Dr. Jose Rizal. In fact, Rizal has become synonymous to Dapitan as this city became his home when he was exiled in Mindanao. But there’s more to Dapitan than just Pepe.

While the City is best known for its rich history, it is also home to some grand celebrations and festivals the city hosts every year. One of these is the Kinabayo Festival, a colourful celebration staged every year in honor of the city’s patron saint, Saint James the Greater, who is also the patron saint of the entire Spain.

Dapitan City is among the first territories in Mindanao colonized by Spaniards. Aside from the deep Catholic faith, the colonizers left the Dapitanons with a very extraordinary and unique legacy – the tradition and pageantry of Kinabayo Festival which was celebrated even back in the olden days. Kinabayo is a unique festival re-enacting the Spanish-Moorish wars particularly the Battle of Covadonga.

During the early years of the Spanish rule, Dapitan was still flooded by Moro pirates. To protect the Dapitanons from an attack of Moro invaders, the Jesuit priests made St. James the Greater as their patron saint with a strong faith that the Patron Saint will protect the town and the people from the invaders. Back in the fifth century in Spain, it was believed that there was an apparition of St. James the Greater riding a horse carrying a sword guiding the Spanish Christians to win the battle against the Moors in the Battle of Covadonga. After three centuries, St. James the Greater played the same part this time in the lives of the Dapitanons.

For quite some time now, Kinabayo Festival of Dapitan has become one of the most celebrated festivals in the whole Zamboanga Del Norte. Dapitanons have remained faithful to their devotion to their patron Saint and Kinabayo Festival is their great way of honouring him.

Celebrated on the feast day, July 25, a magnificent re-enactment of the Battle of Covadonga is staged before the city folk and a sea of tourists. Thousands of residents would gather at the city center not just to be entertained by the number of events lined up for the festival but also to show their devotion to their patron saint.

Kinabayo Festival has also become the most visited season in Dapiatn City. The celebration attracts tourists – both local and foreign – to come to the southern region to experience culture and tradition embedded in Kinabayo Festival. And those who come here, they don’t only enjoy the festivities but also got to enjoy the many amazing destinations Dapitan City has to offer.

Apart from Kinabayo Festival, Dapitan City is renowned being the home of Dakak Beach Resort, the most famous beach resort in Zamboanga Peninsula. Aside from Dakak, the city also hosts the Rizal Shrine and Park, a 16-hectare property where national hero Jose Rizal was exiled from 1892 to 1896. This has garnered the city as the Shrine City of Mindanao. Dapitan also houses the only Disney-themed family and recreational park in Mindanao, the Gloria’s Fantasyland de Dapitan.

Shout out of gratitude to the LGU of Dapitan City for the invitation for the Kinabayo Festival most especially to Ms. Apple Marie Agolong, the City Tourism Officer. Same goes my to travel buddy Ida Nanette Damo of ChoosePhilippines for her letting me use of her photos in the post. Daghang salamat! Viva Senior Santiago!

REVISITING CARAGA CHURCH OF DAVAO ORIENTAL

For another year, I am invited by the LGU of Caraga, Davao Oriental to be one of their guests for the annual celebration of the town’s Founding Anniversary and its Parochial Town Fiesta celebrated every 16th day of July. Caraga is the oldest town in the Province of Davao Oriental.

Situated in the eastcoast of the province, CARAGA is a laid-back town teeming with natural attractions, colorful culture and rich history. Being the easternmost town in the country, it is famous as the Sunrise Capital of the Philippines as the sun shines here first particularly in Pusan Point. The town also takes pride as home of the Mandaya Indigenous People, one of the most interesting and fascinating IP groups of Mindanao where culture and traditions are still intact even to this day.

Another fascinating thing CARAGA is so proud of is the SAN SALVADOR DEL MUNDO CHURCH, the Parish Church of the town, as it is known as the oldest Church in the whole Davao Region. Long before the arrivals of the Spaniards in the Davao Gulf to conquer what is now Davao City in 1848, Caraga is already established as a town and was part of Caraga Province (referring to CARAGA Region). The town served as a mission station of Spanish Missionaries in propagating Christianity in eastern Mindanao. San Salvador Del Mundo Church is the legacy and heritage they left to Caragenos.

Built on the promontory that overlooks a spectacular view of the great Pacific Ocean, San Salvador Del Mundo Church is mainly made of rubble – irregular pieces of rocks and corals – but the upper portion is built with hardwood. The aged door in the opening bears insignias that symbolize of the Holy Name of Jesus. The construction of this church began in 1877 led by Fr. Pablo Pastells, SJ and Fr. Juan Terricabras, SJ and was completed in 1884.

In 2012 during the town’s Parochial Fiesta, the San Salvador Del Mundo Church was declared a National Historic Site, a distinction given by no less than the National Historical Commission of the Philippines. The declaration was made 128 years after it was built in 1884 – something that every Carageños should be proud of, including me who hails from the same province.

San Salvador Del Mundo Church has survived the tests of changing times and has remained a beacon of Catholic faith in this side of the country.

CATEEL FROM ABOVE: It’s Incredibly Charming

When I got my DJI Spark a month ago, I told myself that the very first place that I should feature using this aircraft will be my hometown of Cateel. When our town celebrated its 114th Founding Anniversary, I was invited to go home to sit as judge in one of its event. And so I took this great opportunity to fly my drone camera and take incredible photos and videos of my hometown which I have never seen before. I have so much fun documenting my hometown from above. Here are some of these stunning photos that truly made me feel prouder of where I come from.

CATEEL FROM ABOVE:
It’s Incredibly Charming

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TIPS FOR VISITING MANILA’S RESORT

As a travel destination, the Philippines are best known for beachside retreats and natural attractions. This is a visually stunning country full of fascinating things to see and places to relax. As is somewhat inevitable with popular tourist destinations, however, a resort culture has sprung up as well – primarily in Manila. Visiting the world-famous resorts of Manila is a little bit different than your average trip to the Philippines, so we wanted to provide a few general tips for exploring and enjoying this area.

Know The Top Resorts

Manila is right up there with other Southeast Asian destinations like Singapore and Macau when it comes to major resorts. But it still pays to know the specifics before you’re traveling there (rather than just having a vague understanding that there are some huge hotels there). Generally speaking, there are some excellent luxury hotels in the area, including places like The Peninsula, Amanpulo, and the Pangulasian Island Resort, all of which offer terrific comforts and scenery. However, the main draws are the casino resorts: City Of Dreams, Resorts World, and Okada. These are some of the names that should be in your searches as you set out to plan a trip.

Plan Your Casino Visits

You certainly don’t have to visit the casinos at these resorts, as there are plenty of other things to do. However, the casinos are arguably the main attractions, and if you decide you want to check them out, a little bit of preparation is in order. You’ll want to research which games are offered at which venues, and then make sure you understand those games. You may also want to look into how people present themselves so you can dress accordingly, though as casino gaming has become more casual over the years, people now have the freedom to wear almost anything they like in these types of venues. Overall, you just want to have a solid idea of what you’re walking into.

Plan A Few Meals

In more remote Philippines destinations, you’ll be treated to flavorful local cuisine and generally unique dining experiences. In a resort area, it’s more about fine dining – but that’s not a bad thing at all. Some of the restaurants can definitely be pricey, but often the menus are worth it. A few names to keep in mind are Passion (a Chinese restaurant at Resorts World), La Piazza (a surprisingly lovely Italian place at Okada), and Goryeo (an elegant Korean establishment, also at Okada). At City Of Dreams there’s also a Nobu – part of the empire of restaurants Japanese celebrity chef Nobuyuki Matsuhisa built with Robet De Niro. This will be a lot of travelers’ first choice.

Look Beyond The Hotels

This is definitely a resort destination, and as mentioned there are other places all over the Philippines for natural beauty and cultural experience. However, even if you’re looking for a luxury hotel to stay at, you should keep in mind that Manila is far more than its cluster of casinos and resorts. Rizal Park, for instance, is a beautiful outdoor attractions and one of the biggest urban parks in all of Asia. Taal Volcano attracts a lot of sightseers as well. And those are just two of many places to see as you wander the area during the day.

Once you’ve chosen a resort and arrived in Manila, most of your hour-to-hour enjoyment will come easily. You’ll find things to do in and around the hotel, and you’ll be able to relax however you see fit. However, it’s still a good idea to have some of these experiences picked out and considered in advance.