GLAN, SARANGANI PROVINCE: Yesteryears’ Heritage is Today’s Treasure

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.

Glan Centennial Celebration CoverBut 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.

Glan Centennial Celebration 4COLONO MARKER

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.

Glan Centennial Celebration 3CENTURY OLD ANCESTRAL HOUSES

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.

Glan Centennial Celebration 2EMILIO ALEGADO COLONIAL HOUSE

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.

Glan Centennial Celebration 1CENTURY OLD ACACIA TREES

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.

Glan Centennial Celebration 7SANTA CATALINA DE ALEXANDRIA CHURCH

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.

Glan Centennial Celebration 5THE RUIZ ANTIQUE COLLECTION

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.

#ByahengMindanaw Team at Gumasa Beach

#ByahengMindanaw Team at Gumasa Beach

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.

Glan Centennial Celebration

The Travel Teller inside the E. Alegado Ancestral House

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.

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An Ancestral House located in Hacienda Don Juan

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.

Glan Centennial Celebration logo1A thank you shout-out to Ms. Lodar Dagoy Escobillo, the ever energetic Tourism Head of Glan for making this Heritage Tour possible.

Glan Centennial Celebration logo

VIDEO BLOG: Into the Heart of Agusan Marsh

Agusan Marsh Wildlife Sanctuary in the province of Agusan Del Sur is one of the most ecologically important swamplands in the Philippines. Declared as a protected area and wildlife sanctuary, it is home to hundreds of species of birds, freshwater fish, bats, soft shell turtles, rare plants and trees, salt water and fresh water crocodiles. Situated at the very heart of Agusan basin, this enormous spread of marsh covers an area of about 20,000 hectares – equivalent to the size of Metro Manila.

The most popular entry point to the Agusan Marsh is through the town of Bunawan. It came to fame because it is where Lolong, then world’s largest crocodile in captivity, was captured. But Agusan Marsh Wildlife Sanctuary can be easily accessed through the town of Loreto in Agusan del Sur.

Wandering deep into the waterscape of rivers, creeks, freshwater marshes connected to multiple lakes and numerous ponds brings you to an unusual world – a bizarre world you never even imagine to have existed.

DCIM100GOPRODeep into the marshland is a floating village of the Manobo tribe whose lives and homes literally rise and ebbs with the tides of the swamp. Obviously, they don’t have dry lands to call their own but they what have are vast marshes that serve not only their homes but a haven they considered sacred. And yes, the marsh has been very good to them. The marsh provided everything they need.

Commune with nature |Immerse with its people – two of the most unforgettable things that Agusan Marsh can let you experience. Life in Agusan Marsh despite its isolation from the modern world we know is good. There is an enigmatic air of peace and silence that awaits you there. There is this kind of stillness that will make you feel one with the earth. It will make you love everything around you. It will bedazzle you. Such things make this wetland paradise of Agusan Del Sur an “Enchanted Marsh”.

CELEBRATING CHRISTMAS AND NEW YEAR IN MY HOMETOWN OF CATEEL

Today, I’m compiling all the beautiful snapshots I took during the two weeks holiday vacation I spent in my rustic hometown of Cateel, Davao Oriental. Yes, two weeks of sheer joy, funny moments and exciting merriment enjoying the most wonderful time of year with my family and friends in this special place so close to my heart.

Christmas Eve Mass at St. James the Apostle Church

Christmas Eve Mass at St. James the Apostle Church

Before I went back home, I had few invitations to travel and spend the holidays somewhere. In fact, I had plane tickets purchased earlier but I opted to cancel all my planned trips and declined travel invitations for December to spend fully my two-week break in my quaint hometown of Cateel.

The Travel Teller Gives Back 2013

The Travel Teller Gives Back 2013

This was the first Christmas after that horrific calamity that hardly hit our town last December 4, 2012 – the Super Typhoon Pablo. During those times, Christmas holidays was barely felt. Power supply was down. Most of houses were roofless. People didn’t have much to buy food and stuffs to prepare for Noche Buena and Media Noche. Gloomy as it may sound; it was the darkest Christmas that Cateel ever had.

I Felt the Christmas Rush in Cateel

Christmas Rush in Cateel

But one struggling year after that catastrophic day, Cateel and our people are moving forward facing new homes, new hopes and new beginnings. And this time, our people were up, jovial and ready to celebrate CHRISTMAS and NEW YEAR with a big bang! As a true son of Cateel, I didn’t want to miss this event! This is something I want to experience, something I wanted to look back when I grow old, and something I want to share to you and to the rest of the world.

Midnight Scene in Cateel During the New Year's Eve Celebration

Midnight Scene in Cateel During the New Year’s Eve Celebration

From my hometown of Cateel, allow me to share these photographs to you to inspire you and make realize that in the midst of all tragedies and calamities, there is love, there is hope, there is GOD!

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My Davao-based friends who traveled to Cateel to join me in THE TRAVEL TELLER GIVES BACK 2013

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Me and beautiful family. 🙂

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Our makulit and sipat na mga batang silingan. 🙂

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Reconnecting with friends – old and new!

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Sta Filomena Beach, our favorite beach spot every Christmas and New Year

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Boxing Day, Cateel Style

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The usual food we have on our table. 🙂

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Say HELLO to TONGKIP. 🙂

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Beach Life is and has always been part of my Cateel Vacation. 🙂

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Parlor Games for the Kids at Rizal Street. This is where I grew up.

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We used to do this when we were their age. 🙂 I miss being a kid. 🙂

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So amazed to see these kids dancing BUDOTS BUDOTS! 🙂 Puede ilaban sa Camus Boys! 🙂

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Tomato Dance: It brings back so many happy thoughts.

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Gwyn-gwyn and Angel: FOR THE WIN!

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Being with these kids brought out the CHILD in me! 🙂

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We wish to do it every year! 🙂 Reliving the Legacy of Tiyo Dodoy Veroy.

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Lola Villa coaching her grandchildren in the longest line game. They won! 🙂

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Sim sum sim sum give a name of fish cannot be repeated anymore! for example: PAGOKPOK

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My good looking cousins. 🙂

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New Year’s Day Street Party

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TALONG, oh nasaan ang talong! Hanapin mo ang TALONG!

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We were joined by the rest of our kababayan during our New Year’s Day Celebration

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We were joined by the rest of our kababayan during our New Year’s Day Celebration

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We were joined by the rest of our kababayan during our New Year’s Day Celebration

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THE STARS OF THE NIGHT: Miss Gay Talisay Universe 2014

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THE STARS OF THE NIGHT: Miss Gay Talisay Universe 2014

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Our STAR DANCER, my inaanak Vianne Pascua Vertudazo. 🙂 Proud of you Nak. 🙂

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THE STARS OF THE NIGHT: Miss Gay Talisay Universe 2014. Thanks for making us LOL!

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young at hearts! 🙂 mga ka-batch ko lang! 🙂

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parang mga ka-edad ko lang! 🙂 hahahaha!

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Syempre, di mawawala ng inuman!

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BAGONG TAON NA! Inuman na!

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Our new HOME in Cateel after Super Typhoon Pablo. Our old house was totally damaged.

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New Home. New Hope. New Beginnings

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My brother Dong wrapping the gifts for THE TRAVEL TELLER GIVES BACK

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SANTA OLAN on Christmas. 🙂

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RAINY RAINY CHRISTMAS! 

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St. James the Apostle Church was jam-packed during the Christmas and New year’s Eve Mass

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St. James the Apostle Church was jampacked during the Christmas and New year’s Eve Mass

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St. James the Apostle Church was jampacked during the Christmas and New year’s Eve Mass

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St. James the Apostle Church was jampacked during the Christmas and New year’s Eve Mass

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Pahalik sa Batang Hesus

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Handaan sa NOCHE BUENA

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Christmas Day Salo Salo with Cousins. 🙂

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Parade of Gifts for the Teens of Cateel | The Travel Teller Gives Back 2013

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Parade of Gifts for the Teens of Cateel | The Travel Teller Gives Back 2013

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From The Travel Teller and FRIENDS

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Thanks EDWIN, CAROL, SARAH and NICOLE for joining me in The Travel Teller Gives Back 2013

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Gifts for the Teens of Cateel

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THANK YOU SO MUCH SPONSORS

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The Travel Teller Gives Back 2013

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SKY LANTERN on NEW YEAR’S EVE

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Handaan sa MEDIA NOCHE. 🙂 

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The Travel Teller Gives Back 2013

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THREE of the most special women in my life today! 🙂 ATE LULU, ATE MIMI, ATE PINKY

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The Travel Teller Gives Back 2013

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with my HELP CATEEL VOLUNTEERS

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THANK YOU GLOBE! 🙂

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THANK YOU SMART! 🙂

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The Travel Teller Gives Back 2013 | A Huge Success

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With MAC STUDENTS

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Me and my brother DONG! 🙂 thank you DONG for all the support! 🙂

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MARCO, LEON, DOLPO, BAYANI and DURAN – friends from Davao who traveled to Cateel to join The Travel Teller Gives Back 2013

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Lamyerda sa CATEEL and BAGANGA. My friends were so amazed to see the beauty of my hometown! 🙂

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My beloved Carol and me at Aliwagwag Falls

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My ever supportive travel buddy Edwin aka Madayaw Wow Dagway and me at Aliwagwag Falls

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The busy streets and sidewalks of CATEEL on the DESPERAS NG BAGONG TAON.

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The busy streets and sidewalks of CATEEL on the DESPERAS NG BAGONG TAON.

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The busy streets and sidewalks of CATEEL on the DESPERAS NG BAGONG TAON.

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The busy streets and sidewalks of CATEEL on the DESPERAS NG BAGONG TAON.

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The busy streets and sidewalks of CATEEL on the DESPERAS NG BAGONG TAON.

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The busy streets and sidewalks of CATEEL on the DESPERAS NG BAGONG TAON.

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The busy streets and sidewalks of CATEEL on the DESPERAS NG BAGONG TAON.

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The busy streets and sidewalks of CATEEL on the DESPERAS NG BAGONG TAON.

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The busy streets and sidewalks of CATEEL on the DESPERAS NG BAGONG TAON.

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The busy streets and sidewalks of CATEEL on the DESPERAS NG BAGONG TAON.

FROM MY HOMETOWN OF CATEEL IN DAVAO ORIENTAL,
A VERY PROSPEROUS NEW YEAR!

MY JOURNEY TO GOVERNOR GENEROSO

Oh boy, I’m going to Sigaboy! These were exactly the words I muttered while looking at the travel photos of my friends’ recent visit to the quaint fishing town of Governor Generoso in the Province of Davao Oriental. The captivating photos of the picturesque seascape and scenic landscape seemed to be teasers of what one can see, experience and enjoy in this southeasterly part of the Philippines. Enticed by these snapshots, I made ways to go there to see, experience and enjoy it firsthand and promised myself to behold more of what the town has to offer. Thus, another travel series of The Travel Teller commenced the day I said “Yes, I’ll Go to Governor Generoso!”

Governor Generoso is one of the 11 municipalities comprising the Province of Davao Oriental, the easternmost part of Mindanao. It is bounded by the City of Mati in the East, Davao Gulf in the West, Municipality of San Isidro in the North and Celebes Sea in the South. It is 57 kilometers away from Mati City, the province’s capital; and 175 kilometers away from Davao City, the metropolitan center of Southern Mindanao.

Governor Generoso is not new to me. In fact, I have heard of so much about it since I was a kid growing up in my hometown of Cateel, also a town in Davao Oriental. The Municipality of Governor Generoso endearingly called Govgen is formerly named Sigaboy, a term derived from a local folklore. After many years, it was changed to the Municipality of Governor Generoso in honor to Governor Sebastian Generoso, one of most popular governors of then Davao Province who hailed from the town. But even if it was changed to Govgen, its old name Sigaboy was still widely used referring to the town.

Although Govgen is part of my home province of Davao Oriental, I have to admit, I have never explored this side of our province. In fact, I have never been there. But of course, all those beautiful stories about the town remained fresh and enticing to me. Among those is the Cape San Agustin believed to be the site where Spanish Missionary Priest St. Francis Xavier celebrated his first mass when he arrived in the Philippines some centuries ago. That among other stories along with the amusing travel photos of my friends ignited the excitement and enthusiasm in me to come and visit the place.

Thanks to my good friend Miguel Trocio, the Provincial Tourism Officer of Davao Oriental, I was endorsed to be accommodated by the Municipal Tourism Office of Governor Generoso led by Miss Quin Mae Flores, the Tourism Officer and Municipal Administrator and Joey Gamao, the Assistant Tourism Officer. From there, my journey to Sigaboy commenced and my dream of seeing that historical sacred place in Cape San Agustin was about to begin.

It was Friday night when I left Davao City. Govgen is 175 kilometers away from Davao City and approximately 3 hours drive. Traveling to Govgen is fun. All roads are paved and the scenic view of the coastal road is just superb especially when traveling by day. It was almost 9 in the evening when I arrived at Govgen. I headed right to Brgy. Tibaban, the center of trade and commerce of the town and met Clinton Polancos and Ralston Jayee Gabayan, staffs of the Municipal Tourism Office who will also be serving as my tour guides for my two-day stay there. I was warmly welcomed by them and was brought to Basco Restaurant for our dinner. I learned from them that the said restaurant is the only “high end” restaurant in the town, thus, recommended for visiting guests like me.

During dinner, I learned a lot of interesting things about Govgen from my two new friends. I learned from them that Sigaboy comes from two legends. The first one is believed to be derived from Sant Elmo’s Fire (Siga) and Pig (Baboy) and the other one is from Almasiga Boys. Whichever is true, one certain thing I learned from them is that Sigaboy now refers to the town’s Poblacion. Hence, when a local says Sigaboy, it refers to the town proper of Govgen; it does not refer to the whole of Governor Generoso. The chitchat continued. We planned our itinerary for the next two days. Since both Clinton and Ralston are based there, I left to them the right to plan what best for my trip. When they presented it to me, excitement instantly consumed me.

As it was getting late, Clinton and Ralston brought me to the Traveler’s Inn, one of the 4 lodging houses in the whole town. It will be my home for two days there. Traveler’s Inn is situated in Barangay Tibanban. It has plenty of fanned rooms and has two air-conditioned rooms. I was housed at the AC room. There are no posh hotels and first rate inns in the whole town. As for me, since I’ve embraced backpacking, the Traveler’s Inn is just right.

When my two guides left, I went down to nearby store to buy some stuff. Most of the stores were already closed since it was almost 10 in the evening. Quaint rural towns are mostly like that. At that moment, I felt an old familiar feeling. I felt home – in a quaint town where simplicity of life is at best, when sleeping time begins at 8 in the evening and where infectious silence envelops the whole surroundings by night. As I went back to my room, I felt a little nostalgia. Govgen is like my hometown – provincial yet most loved. At that night, I felt like Govgen is my home. 

As I readied myself to bed, I thought again of what I’ll be doing in the next two days. I listed – island hopping, beach combing, fishing industry, hatchery, millennium tree, coastal road trip, sunsets, sunrises, Cape San Agustin, parola, beaches, beaches and more beaches. That list made me more thrilled. And so off to bed early that night, I knew the coming two days will be too long for me to explore the alluring coastal charms of Govgen.

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This is “Yes, I’ll Go to Governor Generoso!” the Travel Series
1.  MY JOURNEY TO GOVERNOR GENEROSO
2. EXPLORING THE MUNICIPALITY OF GOVERNOR GENEROSO

WHERE AND HOW TO GET TO GOVENOR GENEROSO

From Davao City, one may take either public utility buses or L300 vans to reach Governor Generoso. Public utility buses coming from Ecoland Terminal in Davao City travel to the town of Governor Generoso daily at one hour interval from 3:00 o’clock in the morning up to 2:00 o’clock in the afternoon. Travel time with these buses takes less than four hours. On the other hand, L300 Vans with terminal at Gaisano Mall and Victoria Plaza Mall, both in Bajada, Davao City takes only two and half hours. Just a tip, bring enough cash, compare credit cards are not accepted there!

FOR ASSISTANCE:
Municipal Tourism Office – Telefax No. (082) 440-354
Mr. Joey Gamao – 0935.920.2165
Mr. Clinton Polancos – 0905.121.2915
Mr. Ralston Jayee Gabayan – 0939.543.0468


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.