(This article originally appeared in Buhay Pinoy of the Philippine Online Chronicles on February 7, 2015 with the title Pilipinas tara na:10 safe places to visit in Mindanao (part 1))
Wild Water Rafting along Davao River. Exhilarating adventure!
It is again in the limelight these days because of the recent Mamasapano Clash. The thought of coming to Mindanao for a trip, business or leisure, will probably scare a lot of Filipinos and foreigners especially those who think that Maguindanao is already Mindanao although the island has been named after the Maguindanaoans who constituted the largest sultanate in the 17th and 18th centuries. Today, more than 70% of the population adheres to Christianity and only 20.44% adhere to the Islam religion.
My family and a score of many other families live peacefully in Mindanao. I can give you 10 provinces to visit where you can be safe to enjoy yourselves with your family and friends in your outings and vacations. Mind you, this huge island has so much to offer. Let me take you on a virtual trip to these places where we've been to.
1. Davao del Sur
For geographical and statistical purposes, Davao City is grouped with the province of Davao del Sur but is governed independently from it. This largest city of the Philippines in terms of land area is located at the heart of Metro Davao in the Davao Region. It is a bustling place with a countryside flavor. If you want to go to the mountains, it will just take you roughly 30 minutes to go there. It takes an hour or less to go to the beach. It stands at the crossroads going to the north to other Davao Region, Surigao and Northern Mindanao provinces and to the south to Sarangani and South Cotabato provinces. We will go there, too.
|Eden Nature Park and Resort, a mountain resort in Toril, Davao City|
|Unique D’Bone Collector
Museum in downtown Davao City, one of a handful of museums in the city.|
Going south from Davao City is the province of Davao del Sur with Digos City as its capital. Going up the highlands of Kapatagan, one will be able to view Mt. Apo from Mt. Apo Highlands Resort and also from the Playground in the Sky of Kublai Millan. For the adventurous souls, there is the treacherous trail down to Virgin Falls. One can also go up Mt. Apo from the Kapatagan trail.
Mt. Apo, highest mountain in the Philippines
Kapatagan, Digos City.
Coming from Davao City in the south we go up north. First stop is Tagum City, capital of Davao del Norte province. It is a crossroad that leads to Compostela Valley to the north, Davao Oriental to the East, and other towns of the province to the west. Although Island Garden City of Samal (IGACOS) is accessible from Davao City, it is under the province of Davao del Norte.
|The palm-tree-lined Pan Philippine highway leading to the town proper of Tagum City. This is the Host City of the Palarong Pambansa 2015 to be held on May 3-9, 2015.)|
|New City Hall and the Sacred Heart Shrine in Tagum City.|
|Banana Beach Resort in Madaum, Tagum City. It is a resort that sprang from a banana plantation.|
|The famous and world-class beach resort, Pearl Farm Beach Resort in IGACOS.|
|A new beach resort complex, SECDEA, also in IGACOS|
3. Compostela Valley
Going to the east from Tagum City, you can pass a couple of coastal towns one of which is Mabini where Beach View Resort is located. There are also other smaller resorts along the way which are all jump-off points to the protective area of Kopyat island where you can go swimming, diving and snorkeling. Aside from Mabini, Pantukan town, the last town before reaching Davao Oriental has also, has also its share of beach resorts.
|Compostela Valley. Beach View Resort in Pindasan, Mabini.|
4. Davao Oriental
The first sunrise that ushered in the millennium in 2000 in the Philippines was at Pusan Point in Caraga, Davao Oriental. This is one province that promises many adventures with nature. Its Mt. Hamiguitan has recently been named UNESCO Heritage site. One can find beaches, islands, waterfalls, and mountains all over the province. Despite the setback it experienced in the first-ever typhoon that devastated the province in December 2012, it is slowly getting back on its feet.
|“Subangan” Museum along the main road of Mati City, capital of Davao Oriental. A must-see world-class museum when you visit Davao Oriental.|
|Dahican Beach is just 15 minutes away from downtown Mati City. It is considered a surfing haven for surfers and skimboarders. This is Bayogyog, international skimboarding champion. He lives in Dahican.|
|A pristine and rustic island, Pujada. It is around 45 minutes travel on a boat from Mati City.|
|Another rustic island within the vicinity of Pujada is Waniban island with powdery white sand and clear waters for swimming and snorkeling.)|
|A peaceful and picturesque fishing village in Gov. Generoso town. This is where most fish sold in the markets of Davao Oriental and nearby provinces come from. The road leads to the San Agustin town, the tip of the Gov. Generoso peninsula.)|
|The coast of Baganga town leading to Cateel town facing the Pacific Ocean.|
|The amazing 84-tier Aliwagwag Falls in Cateel town. The surrounding forest was badly devastated during Typhoon Pablo but has since been restored to its lush beauty. Cateel, second to the last town of Davao Oriental before reaching Surigao del Sur is around 3 hours travel from Mati City.|
Davao Occidental? Where is that? Wikipedia gives us this: "By virtue of Republic Act 10360 enacted on July 23, 2013, the province is the newest in the country, carved out from the southern part of Davao del Sur. The Act was passed by the House of Representatives and the Senate on November 28, 2012, and December 5, 2012, respectively, and signed by President Benigno Aquino III on January 14, 2013. A plebiscite was held on October 28, 2013 along with the Barangay elections and the majority of votes cast were “Yes”, ratifying the province."
Most of the towns in this new province are coastal towns. In Sta. Maria town, there a place called “Little Boracay.” It is a resort with kilometer stretch of white sand. But the magic does not lie in there. It’s in a rustic hideaway the locals call “Paradise.” It takes around 7 minutes by boat to get to this place where you will only see a long stretch of powdery white sand beach with leaves of coconut trees occasionally strewn on the shore. The waters are crystal clear you will just want to swim all day!
|Davao Occidental. Little Boracay, a gateway to a hideaway.|
Watch out for Part 2 featuring Sarangani, South Cotabato, Bukidnon, Surigao del Sur and Surigao del Norte.