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.

THE PACIFIC SCENT OF BANGO BEACH

 

I was gently swaying my red-painted swing as I stuck my eyes to the vast cobalt seas of the Pacific. The afternoon sea breeze caressed my face. Its relaxing scent soothed my senses. I was listening to the music on my playlist and it seemed to perfectly compliment the scene. I continued swaying and bit by bit I drowned myself the best kind of state I always long to be – the unhurried pleasures of living by the beach.

Caraga, Davao OrientalThis is the kind of state that the pristine beach hideaway in the quiescent town of Caraga, Davao Oriental took me while I was there for a couple of days. This little beach paradise is called Bango Beach which is surprisingly located in the town’s Poblacion.

Caraga, Dav Or 2016 (174)Bango Beach is nestled in the secluded cove about 5-minute ride from the heart of the town. Although it is part of the Poblacion, the white sand beach is isolated from the town’s commercial area; hence, it is not touristy and does not have any huge commercial establishments at all except of course for the huts, cottages and rooms built by the owners of the property. But the beach has maintained its laid-back charm – the kind of beach destination I always wanted to be at.

Caraga, Dav Or 2016 (156) Caraga, Dav Or 2016 (124) Caraga, Dav Or 2016 (122)The property is about 3 hectares and mostly covered by coconuts and other vegetation. The coastal portion of the property is endowed with a 500-meter beachline draped in white sand beach and different rock formations on the sides. Adding to the beauty of the beach are the huge yet gentle waves from the Pacific Ocean kissing its sands and rocks. During high tide, the waters devour the rocky sea bed and signal the perfect time to swim and enjoy the waters of the great Pacific. Honestly, until now I can still smell the ocean breeze scent of Bango Beach.

Caraga, Dav Or 2016 (164) Caraga, Dav Or 2016 (199)Caraga, Dav Or 2016 (208) Caraga, Dav Or 2016 (221) Caraga, Dav Or 2016 (226)Although the town center lies on the eastern seaboard, most of the coastlines are rocky and not so ideal for swimming unlike Bango Beach which boasts of its lengthy white sand shoreline. Thus, it is considered as the most favorite beach hideout of the Caraguenos especially those who live nearby.

Caraga, Dav Or 2016 (138) Caraga, Dav Or 2016 (140)I was very fortunate to meet one of the owners of Bango Beach who also hosted my whole stay – Mr. Remus Burgos Lumaya. I learned from him that Bango Beach was called such because of certain flower-bearing trees that thrive in the area many years ago. Locals say that the scent of flower possesses a heavenly scent that can be smelled even from afar. Locals then started to call the place Bango Beach because of those sweet-smelling flowers. In one morning, I crazily tried to find that tree hopeful to breathe its scent but to no avail. I swam in the clear crystal waters instead and enjoyed the scent of the Pacific Ocean.

Caraga, Dav Or 2016 (258) Caraga, Dav Or 2016 (259)Staying at Bango Beach is not a problem. Campers are welcome. You can bring your tents and pitch them near the beach. They have cottages and rooms too. Non-AC room is Php 1,500 and that’s good for 6 persons while AC Room is Php 1,500.00 good for 2 persons. Entrance fee is very minimal at Php 10.00 while Php 15.00 for overnight stay. There are no restaurants the beach. Bring your own food, cook it fresh. Do not look for kayaks, scuba rentals or jetski. You cannot find it there. But I tell you Bango Beach will never disappoint you. Frolic in the sands, kill time just swimming, sit on the swing and swing like a kid, content yourself with the tropical magic of the Pacific or grab a book and read it under the old huge mangrove trees, these and more are the best things you can do while in Bango.

Caraga, Dav Or 2016 (185) Caraga, Dav Or 2016 (10) Caraga, Dav Or 2016 (11) Caraga, Dav Or 2016 (121) Caraga, Dav Or 2016 (35) Caraga, Dav Or 2016 (38)In year 2000, the town of Caraga came to fame as the first town in the whole Philippines where the first rays of sunrise of the new millennium was viewed. Caraga is where you can find the easternmost point of the country, the Pusan Point, which can be seen from Bango Beach.

Caraga, Dav Or 2016 (87)During my stay, I braved the cold mornings and the call of the bed to wake at 4:30 in the very dawn and waited for the sun to come out from beautiful horizons of the Pacific Ocean. For two mornings, I was greeted by two spectacular sunrises worthy of waking up in the very dawn. I was never sunrise person but seeing that glorious sunrise before my very eyes give me the reason to start own quest of chasing beautiful sunrises. The two sunrises I captured right in the shores of Bango Beach are among the best things that make my stay in Caraga unforgettable.

Caraga Sunrise 1 Caraga Sunrise 2I have been to Caraga a number of times. I have visited the long coastline of black and grey sand of Barangay San Luis and even bathed at LikSim (Likod sa Simbahan) – two of the other most loved beach spots in Caraga. But when I visited and stayed at Bangao Beach, swam and lounged for hours in its waters and sands, undoubtedly it is the most prized beach spot in this oldest town of Davao Oriental.

For bookings and reservations:

BANGO BEACH RESORT
Poblacion, Caraga, Davao Oriental
Contact Person: Remus B. Lumaya
Contact Number: 0939-912-4305

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Caraga Sunrise 3I would like to thank Mr. Remus Burgos Lumaya for hosting my 2D/2N stay in Caraga and Bango Beach. Thank you Sir for the warm accommodation, good food and great company. To dearest friends Sakina Arnado and Reil Labasano, thank you guys for the patience and for bringing me to stunning places like Bango Beach. To Engr. Jun Dela Rosa, thank you for the vehicles you lent us, very generous of you. Salamatay guys and looking forward to go back to CARAGA because truly, it is CARAGANG KAY GANDA.