Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Genial in GovGen (Part 1)

A pink-sand beach in GovGen
A few weeks ago, I got tagged in an invite posted on Facebook about a day tour to the town of Governor Generoso in Davao Oriental. I’ve been hearing about this place fondly called GovGen, which, I guess, is more popular by its old name, Sigaboy. Going there, however, wasn’t exactly part of my best-laid plans this year or the immediate future for that matter.  But then again, the unexpected invite of fellow blogger and traveller, Sarah Elizar a.k.a. Journeying Sarah, to join “Suroy-Suroy sa Sigaboy”, was simply irresistible to refuse. God, I’m too weak to refuse invitations to small town explorations like this! LOL! 

Sarah and her friend, Davao-based blogger Olan Emboscado a.k.a. The Travel Teller, have joined forces to mount the escapade to GovGen, which was participated in by no less forty-plus excited weekend wanderers, including travel buff and friend, Letty Andres, and her two companions.  Some members of Davao City’s blogging community also came along. Since the tour was just a sunup-to-sundown affair, I gave in to the temptation of wandering (again!) even if I was still smarting from a severe bout with arthritis that hit me a day before the trip.

There were occasional signs of the pain recurring on the very day of the tour but I didn’t allow these to ruin my mood. Mind over matter, I told myself. So, instead of wearing a smirk, I managed to smile my aches away. Geez, I couldn’t help but be genial and gregarious in GovGen. And who wouldn’t if you’re exploring exotic places in the company of such free-spirited and fun-loving peeps? Indeed, I have no regrets going to the town since it showed me a different side of the provincethe wild, wind-blown, winding and wickedly wonderful side of Davao Oriental!

I’ve been to a few towns in the province but it was my first time to go to that place. I hardly knew anything about GovGen, except that it’s one of the so-called Gulf Towns of Davao Oriental (the others being Banaybanay, Lupon and San Isidro as they’re all located along Davao Gulf’s coastline). Found at the tip of the region’s easternmost province, the town was named in honor of Atty. Sebastian Generoso, the three-term governor of the then undivided Davao who hailed from Sigaboy.

Going over Davao historian and writer Ernesto Corcino’s book, “Davao History”, I came to know some bits and pieces on Generoso, one of Davao’s well-loved governors. In the said book, it was mentioned that he governed the old Davao during the American years (1925-28 and 1928-30) and the early Commonwealth era (1935-36). I heard Olan saying during the tour that he’s the same political figure from whom the Governor Generoso Bridge at Bankerohan in Davao City was named after.  

Classified as a second class municipality based on income, GovGen has a population of about 50,000 or so living in its 20 barangays, according to the latest census.  Although it only became a municipality sometime in 1948, the old town has a long history dating back to pre-Spanish times. Originally inhabited by the Manobos and Tagacaulos of Mindanao, it is said to have maintained close ties with other Asians such as the Malays, Indonesians and Chinese as evidenced by the archaeological relics discovered in the area. 

Until now, GovGen has maintained its overseas linkages with the country’s Asian neighbors, particularly Indonesia. Proof of this is the presence of a small office of the Bureau of Immigration right in the village of Tibanban. It was, however, closed when we dropped by there. I’ve heard that the BI branch processes the documents of local fishermen who venture into international waters near the island of Celebes or present-day Sulawesi in Indonesia.   

Europeans were also known to have visited Sigaboy when the country was still under Spain. This has resulted to intermarriages between the natives and the foreigners. It is no wonder then why there are some mestizos and mestizas residing in GovGen today. Word has it also that the Spanish missionary priest, St. Francis Xavier, often referred to as “the first Apostle of the Philippines” had landed in Sigaboy, particularly in Cape San Agustin, which was the second to the last stop of our tour in the gulf town.

Sigaboy Island

The sun wasn’t up yet when our group departed for GovGen, leaving Davao City aboard three vans. Along the way, we picked up other participants of the tour. More than two hours later, we reached the town of Banaybanay where we stopped over for al fresco breakfast at a promenade adjacent the province’s welcome signage. The landmark proved to be a sight to behold for this adventure junkie who hasn’t stepped into Davao Oriental for close to fifteen years. Indeed, it was a welcome relief seeing that the local government had built a promenade where motorists bound for the province can drop by for a break before proceeding with their journey.

Seeing that everyone had settled at the tables, Sarah and Olan began distributing breakfast packs to the delight of the hungry bunch. Before eating, Olan welcomed everyone and gave us an overview of the things that we’d be doing the whole day. After everyone’s tummies had been filled, the mood turned convivial as people started making small talk and exchanging pleasantries with one another. Soon, cameras flashed and tablets clicked as we engaged ourselves in seemingly endless photoshoots at the Davao Oriental welcome signage.

From Banaybanay, our vehicles moved onward, picking up along the way a few more participants who came from Mati City. After being on the road for about five hours, we arrived at the poblacion (Sigaboy). We then headed for the municipal hall where we met with a fellow named Joey, one of GovGen’s tourism honchos, who briefed us about the town’s history and other matters. More picture-takings followed as we posed here, there and everywhere the town plaza where a huge monument of the late governor stood prominently in the middle.

Minutes later, we were on the road again, heading for the fishing village of Tibanban, said to be the town’s economic hub because of its thriving fishing industry. Strolling along the shores of Tibanban, we had our first glimpse of awesome Sigaboy Island. Viewing it from afar, the island intrigued me with its pyramid-looking shape. Though it wasn’t exactly a picture-perfect morning since overcast skies somewhat dimmed the landscape, I still went on snapping at the island and the interesting scenes in the fishing village. 

Later, we hopped into a motorized boat bound for Sigaboy Island. Aboard the vessel, I took more snaps of the surrounding seascape. After a 15-minute cruise, we came ashore. The visitors then went around exploring the nooks and crannies of the charming island. Most of my tour mates, however, decided to scale the lighthouse found at the top. Me? I opted to take as many shots as I could of the beach scenes. For a while, shooting there felt like I was in Palawan again because of the strange rock formations behind me.

Time stood still as I scoured the beach while fiddling with my Nikon. I learned later, however, that while I was having a grand time shooting, the others were having a hard time climbing the treacherous trail to the lighthouse. What the climbers had hoped to be an exhilarating mountain climbing experience turned out to be a mountain crawling ordeal! How’s that for an end-of-summer adventure in Sigaboy Island? LOL!

It was almost noon when we returned to the mainland for lunch. From the shoreline, we hiked a few meters and went inside one of the karinderias found in Tibanban.  We didn’t wait for long before the sumptuous meal was served. And I must say that the buffet lunch was superb, consisting of generous offerings of fresh bounty from the sea—kinilaw, sinugbang isda, sinabawang isda and what I surmised must have been strips of adobong pugita

Sated, we returned to our vans and headed for our ultimate destination: the three lighthouses of Cape San Agustin collectively known as “Parola.”

(to be continued…)


  1. you are really a great blogger my dear friend am so proud of you and your blog! more power! -Letty

  2. Replies
    1. sure, ma'am letty. we'll have more coming up courtesy of our adventurous blogging friends. :)