SUROY-SUROY SA SIGABOY: A Day Tour to Gov. Generoso

In my ardent desire to help promote the many spectacular places to see in the Municipality of Governor Generoso in my home province of Davao Oriental, The Travel Teller organized a day tour called “Suroy-suroy Sa Sigaboy: A Day Tour to Gov. Generoso” last Sunday, May 20, 2012. This tour was co-organized by my travel best buddy Sarah Jane Elizar, the woman behind Sarah’s Travel Diary.

This event was inspired based on my recent trip to Governor Generoso sponsored by the Municipal Tourism Office of the town. As my way of thanking them, I promised to bring friends and guests to also see and experience all the things I love about their coastal town. After weeks of planning and inviting, Suroy-suroy Sa Sigaboy: A Day Tour to Gov. Generoso” was all set and ready to go participated by 26 equally adventurous souls.

Aboard the two hired passengers vans, we left Davao City at 4:00 o’clock in the very morning. From Davao City, traveling by land to Governor Generoso is approximately two and half hours. As planned, the group stopped at the Welcome Park of Davao Oriental for breakfast. This is the part of Davao Oriental developed by the Province as one-stop tourist destination. It has a coffee shop named Oriental Café and a recently constructed 601-step Shrine of the Holy Cross where motorists, tourists and alike can enjoy. The coffee shop was still closed when we got there but we were allowed to use the outdoor tables for breakfast.

Soon after breakfast, we traveled our way to Governor Generoso. The Municipal Tourism Staffs were already at the Municipal Building waiting for us. We were also privileged to be escorted by no less than the Provincial Tourism Officer of Davao Oriental Mr. Miguel Trocio who traveled from Mati City just to be with us.

Our first stop was the Tibanban Shores to catch the beautiful fishing industry of Govgen. The town of Govgen is the fishing capital of Davao Oriental. Like my first visit, I was still impressed by the serene seascape here dotted with colorful fishing boats with the stunning Sigaboy Island at the background. Most of the participants felt the same way. They were stunned by the view that was laid before them. For photographers, it was a very good start of the day.

From Tibanban, we headed to Aloy’s Tilapia Hatchery. Participants were jovial seeing ponds and fingerlings that abound the whole place. Manong Aloy, the owner was also there giving us an educational tour of the whole place.

From Aloy’s Tilapia Hatchery, we then traveled our way to Cape San Agustin. It was an hour and half travel passing through scenic coastal roads of Govgen. Like my first visit, we made sure to stop at the key places I considered tourist spots of Govgen before reaching Cape San Agustin. Our first stop was the coastal roads of Montserrat which I considered a perfect place to behold. Like me, participants were so excited they jumped out from the van and started taking pictures of all sort at the road. When done, we moved to Montserrat View Deck just minutes away from that coastal road where the scenic view of Sigaboy Island is fantastic. Everyone seemed pleased.

From the View Deck, we headed forward to Barangay Magdug to see the Centennial Tree. Like me, the group was truly amazed seeing this gigantic Mamacao tree. Participants explored the whole base of the tree. Some even went inside the hole. On my part, I took some pictures at the back where I missed shooting the first time I was there.

From Magdug, our next stop was Tubob Beach at Barangay Tagabebe, about 30 minutes from the Centennial Tree. Unlike my first visit, it was low tide when we get there. It means we can explore the whole beach as much as we can. In my case, I took time photographing some scene I wasn’t able to shoot on my first time. Pretty amazing!

From Tulob Beach, we then proceeded to our final destination – the Cape San Agustin! During my first visit there three weeks ago, the weather was very gloomy and drizzling. This time, it was cloudy but it wasn’t raining. So, when we arrived at Cape San Agustin, the weather was just really perfect to enjoy the scenery. Like me, all of the participants did what I did there – climbing at the Lighthouse (Parola), sightseeing the Celebes Sea and Davao Gulf, photographing the Islet and many more. Since it was low tide at that time, some even went down to the shores and enjoyed the sea rock formations that abound down there.

When done, we moved to Parola Beach, the pink sand beach of Cape San Agustin. Our seafood lunch was waiting for us there. Hungry, we feasted over the mouthwatering seafood dishes prepared for us by the Tourism Office of Govgen – grilled fishes, kinilaw, grilled squid, grilled pork belly and a lot more. While we were eating, Joey Gamao, the Assistant Tourism Officer, briefed us about the importance of Cape San Agustin to the history of Governor Generoso. Though eating, everyone seemed to get amused hearing stories from Joey.

After lunch, I asked everyone to prepare themselves for The Altar. As mentioned, The Altar the is the most important spot in the whole Cape San Agustin as it is believed to be the place where Spanish Missionary priest St. Francis Xavier celebrated his first Holy Eucharist when he arrived in Mindanao. Learning this, participants got excited to see how the altar looks like.

In my part, I got so thrilled because this time I’ll be climbing up the top of The Altar. I failed to climb there during my last visit. So, this time I asked our tour guide Ralston to prepare a rope that we can use to climb up there. And so going there, my excitement was really consuming.

Geared with excitement, I braved the challenge of climbing up the Altar. With the help of our guides, I did it. I made it to the exact place where the great Saint once said his first mass. Incredible.

From the top, the great view of the seascape is so breathtaking. The Celebes Sea, the bed of sea rocks, the pink sand beach – everything surrounds the place looks incredibly magnificent! It is in this spot that one can clearly behold and appreciate everything down there.

Our day tour to Govgen did not end at Cape San Agustin. Our final stop for the day is the island tour to Sigaboy Island. That means we had to hurry up getting back to the town proper as it was already 3 o’clock. An hour and a half later, we found ourselves at the shores of Tibanban waiting for our boats to bring us to Sigaboy Island.

It was already getting dark. The sun was about to set. The boats started to bring other participants to the Island. I, on the other hand, chose to be on the last boat so that I can take photos of sunset of Sigaboy that I failed to capture during my first visit.

The sunset on the day was not that glorious compared to other sunsets that I’ve witnessed. Some gloomy clouds covered the setting sun from afar. But I opted to wait until fate would allow me taking at least one sunset photo I could be proud of on that day. And alas, I got one! It was not that breathtaking but that is the best one I captured.

When my time to ride the boat, I got again so excited. The waves are getting stronger. Darkness almost covered the place. As the boat sailed, we were swaying to the beat of the waves. I enjoyed such spectacle. And it was so unusual. We are heading to the Island at sunset to take a dip of the Sigaboy’s waters – I mean night swimming at the Island! Unbelievably fun!

At the island, if not all, everyone was on the beach swimming, teasing and enjoying the warm waters of Sigaboy. It was our ultimate prize for the day having toured non-stop the many spectacular things to see in Govgen. While swimming at the Island, I glued my eyes to the spot where the yellow skies reflected on the waters. It was so beautiful. Life is a beach, I exclaimed.

It was already past 6 o’clock when we sailed back to the mainland. After freshening up, we headed forth to our vans and started traveling back to Davao City. Everyone was exhausted from a whole day’s trip but it was all worth it. Tired, most of us fell asleep inside the van while heading back to Davao. As I headed back home, I felt so delighted of what we just made that day – touring and sharing to others the beauty of Govgen. Indeed, it’s more fun in Governor Generoso!  “Suroy-suroy Sa Sigaboy: A Day Tour to Gov. Generoso” was fun!

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The 4 Ultimate Altar Survivors: Doc Pen, Doc Mario, Sarah and this Blogger
This Blogger with my two friends/guides Ralston and Clinton

In behalf of my co-organizer Sarah, I would like to thank all the participants of the  “Suroy-suroy Sa Sigaboy: A Day Tour to Gov. Generoso” who, like us, enjoyed so much the hidden treasures of Govgen. May you guys share to your friends what you see and experience in this part of Davao Region. Our heartfelt thanks also goes out to the Municipal Tourism Office of Governor Generoso for their untiring support in making this day tour possible. Special thanks to the Provincial Tourism Officer of Davao Oriental, Miguel Trocio for keeping us company during the event. To everyone, again – salamatay gayud kamayong tanan!

HOW TO GET TO GOVERNOR 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.

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

EXPLORING THE MUNICIPALITY OF GOVERNOR GENEROSO

Saturday morning. 7:00 o’clock. I was already awake waiting for my two equally vigorous tour guides, Ralston and Clinton to fetch me from the Traveler’s Inn. As early as that, my excitement already consumed me. I was completely engrossed with the thought of what I was going to see and discover at this part of my home province of Davao Oriental, the town of Governor Generoso endearingly called Govgen. This is the only town in the whole province that I haven’t visited nor explored in my life. Thus, everything became a thrilling experience.

After few minutes of waiting, Ralston and Clinton arrived and brought me directly to Basco Restaurant for our breakfast. Like what we agreed on, I gave both the liberty to create the best itinerary for me for two days. Following that, I just prepared myself for anything worth photographing while on the road.

Our first stop was at the shores of Barangay Tibanban that faces the stunning Sigaboy Island. At the long shoreline, local fishermen busied themselves tending their fresh catch. Fishing is the main source of living in Governor Generoso. In fact, it is the biggest fishing industry among the 11 municipalities of Davao Oriental. Proofs to that are the numerous fishing vessels, huge and small, scattered on tranquil waters of Tibanban. Most of the locals living by the shores are fishermen. I noticed each of the houses there has its own pumpboats if not banca. I was lucky I was brought here to take a glimpse and somehow feel the local life of Govgen.

From the shores of Tibaban, we journeyed towards the south district of Governor Generoso. Aboard the habal-habal, we were driving through the scenic coastal roads upon entering Barangay Chicote. I was bedazzled seeing such gorgeous coastal roads concretely built along the scenic seascape of turquoise waters and some verdant hills. I can’t resist its charm I asked to stop to photograph such spectacle. I was very impressed.

The next Barangay from Chicote is Montserrat, a coastal Barangay that lies on the cove. Still driving our way on the newly constructed coastal road, we headed forward to the proposed site of Montserrat View Deck. This is the perfect site to view the calm turquoise seas of the Davao Gulf, Sigaboy Island, the verdant mountains nearby and the coastal community of Montserrat.

From the proposed Montserrat View Deck, we headed further to Barangay Magdug. This is where the so called Centennial Tree is situated. The Centennial Tree becomes an attraction of its own as it is said to be a 300-year old tree with a towering height of 260 feet. It is a Mamacao Tree that stands so humongous, strong and proud along the highway of Barangay Magdug. I gazed in full awe beholding such gigantic tree. I admire the local folks for taking good care of it and preserving it to be seen by the next generation. For me, it is the oldest living thing that has witnessed of what the town of Governor Generoso has become.

From Barangay Magdug, we headed back to the town proper for me to see the town’s Poblacion. Many years ago before the town got its name Governor Generoso; it was named as Municipality of Sigaboy. Thus, I thought the name Sigaboy refers to the whole town of now Governor Generoso. Contrary to what I know, the name Sigaboy today refers to the town’s Poblacion. Sigaboy is the center of the Local Government of Govgen. It is where local government offices, the parish church, the local hospital and the old wharf are situated. Sigaboy, although the town’s Poblacion, is not the center of trade and commerce of Govgen. Its nearby Barangay Tibanban is considered as the town’s commercial district. Thus, Sigaboy is not as busy and crowded as Tibanban.

Another site we visited at Govgen is the Aloy Farm and Tilapia Hatchery, a private entrepreneurial fishery development project fully supported by LGU of Govgen and Provincial Government of Davao Oriental. It is also slowly developed as an eco-tourism site whereby visitors and alike can come and enjoy the sceneries of the place. I myself admired the quaint beauty of the place filled with earthen ponds filled with fingerlings and other cultured fishes and the lushes of greenery that surrounds it.

Came afternoon, we headed back to the shores of Barangay Tibanban for our exciting Island Tour to Sigaboy Island, a stunning Island just 10 minutes boat ride from the shores of both Tibanban and Sigaboy. Sigaboy Island is privately owned by a local of Govgen. Although private, the owner allows other people to come to the Island to enjoy its waters, white sand beach and its verdant environs. From Tibanban, we rented a boat for Php 250.00 to bring us to the Island. Sigaboy Island is just a small Island that can be toured around by boat in just 15 minutes. What I like about the Island is the waters that surround it – clear and calmer. Even corals of different sizes can be visibly seen from our boat.

Swimming at Sigaboy Island is amusingly fun. I spent an hour two merely swimming under the scorching heat of the sun. Another fun thing to do at the Island is trekking up to the Lighthouse built at its highest point. The island is covered with lush vegetation; hence, climbing is more fun.

From Sigaboy Island, the full coastal view of Barangay Tibanban is in full view. Seeing the coastal scene from afar, I find it too charming with all those pretty colorful fishing boats scattered on the Gulf.

After hours of frolicking in the sea, the sand and the sun of Sigaboy Island, we boarded back to our boat and sailed back to Tibanban. From here, we moved to our next pit stop which was the Heart Spring Resort, the well renowned inland resort in the whole Govgen. The Heart Spring Resort nestled at the hilly slopes of Barangay Tandang Sora, about 20 minutes habal-habal drive from Govgen proper. It is a nice-looking spring resort with swimming pools of spring waters, charming native kubos, neat nipa cottages and a cool relaxing setting. The pool was so enticing I wanted to take a dip but it was almost 4 in the afternoon I had to chase my sunset shoot.

Off we left Heart Spring Resort and roved back to town. Along the way, we passed by several places that caught my interest. Among those were the wooden bridge by the river, kids gaily swimming at the stream and another concrete foot bridge I find so fascinating. I was all smiles seeing all those captivating things I saw there. I can’t help but told Ralston and Clinton how beautiful their town is and how lucky they are living in a town like Govgen.

When the mighty sun was about to set, Ralston and Clinton suggested to head back to Montserrat View Deck to get a spectacular sunset photos. They said the place can give me the best sunset photographs of Govgen. Among the 11 municipalities of Davao Oriental, the town of Governor Generoso has the most scenic sunset to watch. It sets on the serene waters of Davao Gulf having Sigaboy Island as a perfect background.

I was praying for a beautiful sunset that day. But what we had was not what I wish to see. The other side was gloomy and the color of the setting sun was not as its best. So inasmuch as I wanted to get that dream sunset photo of Govgen, the weather was that supportive. But I was not disappointed. I took some photos and smiled. I know I’ll have the reason to come back – to capture that famous sunset. From Montserrat View Deck, I asked my tour guides to bring me to the shores of Barangay Tibanban. I was still hoping I can get some good if not best sunset photos there. When I get there, I immediately found what I want – the coastal life by the sunset. I was right. I may not have a perfect sunset photo that day but I got coastal life photos can tell beautiful stories about Govgen’s sunset. Glorious, I muttered.

Contented, we left the shores of Tibanban and hurried back to the Traveler’s Inn. By evening, Ralston picked me up from the Inn and drove me around Tibanban and Sigaboy. It was a taste of what the town becomes by night – quaint, peaceful and rustic. At an instant, I felt sentimental. I just love rural life.

As we ended the night, I reviewed all my photos and felt so pleased of what I visited on my first day at Governor Generoso. It was packed with all the things that a jovial traveler like me wants to see and experience. I felt so contented. I retired to bed that night still elated about my Govgen experience that day. Tomorrow promised another one great beach adventure at this eastern part of the country.

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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

HOW TO GET TO GOVERNOR 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.

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 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