Thursday, May 9, 2013

Genial in GovGen (Part 2)

En route to Cape San Agustin, we had a brief stopover at the coastal village of Montserrat. On a clear day, the village would have looked picturesque when captured in photos but on that gloomy afternoon it seemed rather drab and dull. Still, we managed to take a few shots of that part of the town. 

From Montserrat, our next stop was the sleepy village of Magdug where we were enthralled to see a gargantuan tree that’s said to be three hundred years old! For the next few minutes, it was once again photo ops time for the adventure-seeking bunch.

Wasting no time, we drove farther towards the southernmost town of GovGen where the awesome Cape San Agustin is found: Lavigan. For the most part, I felt comfy as we trod the paved portion of the Tibanban-Lavigan coastal road but when the bumps and humps became constant and the unpaved paths turned dangerously narrow, a twinge of anxiety suddenly welled up inside me. What if one of the drivers made the wrong move and plunged the vehicle deep into the ravines? I shivered at the possibility. Pushing the morbid thought out of my mind, I tried to catch some sleep.

Two hours down the road, the vans came to a stop. The drivers said they could only take us up to that point. This meant we had to hike for about thirty minutes to get to the lighthouses of Cape San Agustin. The sloping trail to the lighthouses was far from a bed of roses as the rain had made it muddy and slippery. Still, we forged ahead, inching our way up into the clearing. Later, we reached the spot where we rested and had our snacks.

The Last Islet

Cameras flashed and tablets clicked once more as the group gravitated towards the Parola and posed all over the place for what seemed like eternity, if only for posterity’s sake. 

Having enough of the lighthouses, Olan led us to the edge of the promontory where we had a glimpse of what is known as The Last Islet, a tiny speck of land that stood apart from the edge of the cliff. There, we saw the point where the calm waters of Davao Gulf on the west converge with the raging waters of the Celebes Sea on the south and the wild ones of the Pacific Ocean on the east. Geez, it was such a mind-blowing spectacle! More picture-takings followed.

Unfortunately, inclement weather and inadequate time kept us from exploring Cape San Agustin’s wonderful rock formations on the other end of the coastline towards the village of Pundaguitan. One of these formations, the so-called “Altar”, is said to have been the lone mute witness to the foundation of Christianity in the province where St. Francis Xavier allegedly celebrated the Holy Mass when he set foot in Mindanao in 1550!  Sounds too good to be true, eh?  

While it’s been written by 17th century writers that the saint landed in the island during his expedition to the Moluccas, I have my misgivings. That’s why I added “allegedly” because it’s never been proven beyond reasonable doubt that he indeed reached the place and preached the Gospel in that part of the Philippines, based on accounts of the Catholic Encyclopedia. With or without St. Francis Xavier going there, however, I’m poised to return to that part of the town if only to see those rocks. But that, I guess, must have to wait until the road going there has been fully concreted.   

From the Parola, we left for the beach below the promontory. Known for its pink grains of powdery sand, Parola Beach had me the moment I stepped into its virginal shores, which appeared more like peach to me that day because of the gloomy weather. Bashed by the raging waves of the Pacific Ocean, the beach was one of the highlights of the tour, mitigating the vexations I felt during the two-hour ride to Lavigan. Many of us took a quick dip into the cold waters of the deep blue sea if only to shake off from our tired bodies the dust, dirt and distress of the trip.


Dusk was about to settle when we left Parola Beach. On the way back to Tibanban, we caught sight of the sunset.  At the distant horizon, the sheltering sky exploded into fiery tinges of deep red before it dimmed into dreary shades of purple and faded into black. Before we knew it, nightfall came like some savage monster, voraciously swallowing everything that came its way, marking the end of another thrill-filled day for us. Too bad, I failed to capture that rare moment since my Nikon had run out of power!

The pink sands of Parola Beach
Reaching Tibanban, two of our vehicles had flat tires so we stayed for about an hour until they were fixed. One of the vans, however, wouldn’t budge despite several attempts to make it run, thus, leaving the organizers no choice but to look for another vehicle to take the entourage back to Davao City. It was past nine in the evening when we were finally homeward bound. Exhausted but ecstatic, I reached home at almost one in the morning the following day. All told, it was one more great sunup-to-sundown (or should I say sunup-to-sunup) adventure that energized me to the max.

Just like every adventure I’ve had, there were, however, some downsides to the GovGen tour. And I can think of at least three that marred what could have been a perfect weekend wandering. One, the intermittent drizzles that somewhat prolonged the journey, forcing the organizers to abandon the exploration of the rock formations in Cape San Agustin; second, the flat tires that bogged down two of the vehicles; and third and probably the worst, the miserable road condition of the Tibanban-Lavigan road network.

Parola Beach
By golly! It’s the third snag that really got on my nerves! Good thing, I saw how the local government is exerting efforts to complete the infrastructure there. Otherwise, I would have ended cursing myself for going the distance only to be bashed, battered and banged for two hours. Be that as it may, I’m confident the woes resulting from the dilapidated patches of the road there would soon be over after the concreting works are completed within the next two to three years.

Let it be known though that I took all these snags in stride and considered them part and parcel of the whole GovGen experience. A few times during the tour, Olan asked me if I was okay and if I was enjoying myself the whole time we were there. I always managed to say yes. Not because I wanted to be courteous to him or  to Sarah. I really meant it when I said yes because I enjoyed to the hilt my GovGen escapade, warts and all. :D

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