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.


  1. i love it OLAN…feeling ko adto ako sang mga beach na ikadtuan mo, though im from cateel pero wa ko gyud ka explore pa yang beaches ngadto kanato kay i dont go home sooo proud of u my KABABAYAN…keep it up..:)

    1. HI LIZ. 🙂 thank you so much for dropping by a comment. 🙂 iday agaw, gustohay ko yang beach maski agaw ampan white beach ngadto kanato pero gusto gihapon ko mgapanaw panaw sang baybayon. 🙂 Thanks Liz. 🙂

    2. Wow ang ganda pala place nyo fren wish i was there too , tama “the cure for anything is salt water – sweat, tears, or the sea”. Once plang me nakapunta sa beach during my childhood days i remember when i threw a bottle with a letter on it… SHOUTOUT IN THE BOTTLE OVER THE SEA hhehehe… hoping more pictures…..

      1. Salamat Noel. 🙂 getting comments from you is inspiring. 🙂 Cateel is a coastal area in Davao Oriental kaya i grow up loving and enjoying a rustic yet memorable beach life. 🙂 Kaya pag may problema ako – stress and in distress, takbo lang ako sa DAGAT, magiging okay na ako. 🙂

  2. Out of curiousity i read your article, and i was amased by your thoughts and feelings towards our hometown cateel.. Emingaw nuon ako!, huhuhu… Cateel has many thing to offerd you should explore much more to share to everybody!!! Thank a lot.

    1. Thanks Mary Grace for the nice words. I am happy that somehow my readers coming from Cateel appreciate my attempt to bridge our home close sa inyu. And yes, try to read some of my previous blogs, i have plenty of travel stories and featured posts about our hometown. 🙂

  3. Congratulations Lanlan for winning Best Travel Blog 2011 Mindanao. I am proud of you not just
    because you won awards (photography,travel blog) but on how much you love Cateel as well.
    Hinaut gawo mahimo kaw n sumbanan ng mga batan on na Cateeleno sang aspeto ng pag love
    ng kanato lungsod bsan sang gamay n paagi….

    Next time mouli kaw try to visit the Beach forest haw ngidtong bay ng oson in Barangay Baybay.

    Keep up the good work. Again, KUDOS :o)

    1. Hello ate lulu. Thanks for the kindest words. I was looking for you while i was home. I want to explore more the many beautiful spots in our hometown especially those that are hidden. I know you’ve been to these places before. Let me know if you have plans. Tag me along, please. Thanks ate Lulu for all the support you’ve given me.

  4. lan, sunod mga falls sa taas..sabay kita ngawon ikadtuan nami dati tumoy ng aliwagwag hasta source ng odiongan river kay mata-mata cave..kadtoan nato ako model mo..eheheh

    1. Hi Lan… I have around three fals of cateel featured here at my blog. I am planning to visiting other waterfalls we have there and share it here. Sige, sabay kita. Ikaw model ko ha. Bantay kaw lang di kaw musugot na ipahimu ko kanmo. Hahahaha. Btw, pagstart da himu ng blog mo.

  5. Hi Lan…. Thank you for being our travel teller. It’s an appointed task. It’s good to do things you love and realy enjoy doing. Yes…. Beach… the fun is beyond compare. Siguro tanan taga Cateel maka sulti na yang beaches nato ngawun though not a white sand used to be our playground. I recalled playing Shatong… Shakay.. sang beach nato ngawun. My memory is still serving me right. At that moment it was like perfect.. ama ng way katapusan. I miss all my friends there. We all had the best childhood. Even at night we would go to the beach to look for fireflies and we would put it in the bottle to serve as out light. I miss everything.. most especially the simplicity of life. Part of that journey was an early morning walk. I took photo of my footprints there in our beach before. Unfortunately i could not anymore locate it. I would love to look at those footprints of mine again. Those were the footprints of a lass full of hope… hope to hitch her wagon to the star. It feels good to be in touch with who we were before. Moreover, thanks for sharing your thoughts. I would love to do the same thing but I guess I am more emerged with what my job requires me to do now. It’s just hard to create a balance. Hope to feel the sand again this time with my kids.

    1. Hi Jaon, ikaw lang gayud yang gatawag kanak na “our Travelteller”. Salamatay. It is my honor. 🙂 And yes, BEACH LIFE in Cateel is beyond compare. I could not trade it for any beach life i will have in other place. Kumbaga, this is my FIRST LOVE. 🙂 Lahi ra gayud. 🙂 As i mentiioned, i will always go back to the beach – the beaches of Cateel. 🙂 Joan, with you eloquence, you can really be a good blogger. It is very simple. 🙂 Been doing this even those days of my hectic schedule. This has become my consolation. 🙂 And i know you can make it. Just like you said, BALANCE lang gayud. 🙂 Thanks again. 🙂

  6. Wow! touching kaayo Olan. Same here anak dagat pod ko. Naremeber nko akoang childhood days. every Sunday naa gyud mi sa Times Beach. Sikat pod kaayo ng Times Beach tong una. Kron it crash down my heart…

  7. Wow, stirs up a lot of wonderful memories of my high school days. Picnic with classmates and just strolling down the shore from Cateel proper all the way to the Sister’s Beach and back. At times Father McCahill stood idly by at the veranda of the Sister’s house, peered at us through his binoculars and we simply waved back. Olan, your narrative is so forlorn na hapitay da ako magtyaho pagbasa ko san-i. You know what’s missing?? … US…

    1. Hi Tita. 🙂 there is one thing about this beach life I can never trade for anything in this world – it is the fact that it is where my LOVE FOR BEACH started… Kumbaga, FIRST LOVE ko. 🙂 Yeah, nostalgic moments dayun whenever i remember those days. 🙂 THANK YOU AGAIN AND AGAIN.

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