Thursday, June 12, 2014

Dashing into Dahican Strip (Part 2)

Facing Mayo Bay, Dahican, which is being groomed as the “Skimboarding Capital of Southern Philippines”, is a sought-after sanctuary of beach enthusiasts who love to swim, surf, snorkel and skimboard in the blue waters coming from the Pacific. 

Dahican Strip
Having been to Dahican several times in the past, I told my compansions that we should try to get ourselves billeted at the resorts in Dahican so that we can easily go swimming and stroll along the beach anytime we want.

Dahican Beach

Beach-hungry feet

Days before the sojourn, Maliz tried to book the team at Botona Dahican Resort (where I had stayed before). To her chagrin, it was fully booked! Tropical Kanakbai, on the other hand, had available rooms but the rates were quite steep for us. 

Left with no other choice, she tried to make reservations with other nearby beach resorts—Blue Bless, Gregorio, Jambay and Cinco Masao, which are the four popular establishments sharing space along the inviting shores of Pujada Bay.

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I haven’t stayed in any of those resorts before but I’ve heard from friends who’ve been there that they offer nice accommodations ranging from Php500 to Php4,000 a night. Depending on the rate, the rooms can accommodate as many as six people.

Day tourists can chill out at their open cottages by the bay. Those staying overnight may billet themselves at any of the resorts’ guestrooms. Those wanting to go island hopping to the nearby islands of Waniban, Pujada and Oak may make arrangements with these resorts. 

To our delight, one room was vacant at Jambay Resort that could accommodate all six of us! Jambay was almost filled to capacity as many budget travellers who couldn’t billet themselves at the other resorts flocked there. Whew, we’re so lucky! 

It took us roughly 15 minutes shuttling to and fro Jambay and Dahican but we didn't mind the small inconvenience. Staying at Jambay was the most practical thing to do given the circumstances that time.

After securing our stuff at Jambay, we headed towards Dahican. On our way there, we saw this new treasure-trove of heritage that true blue culture vultures have been raving about. I’ve been raring to explore it myself since it was opened to the public early this year—the state-of-the-art Subangan Museum!

At Subangan, the heart and soul of Davao Oriental is up on display for visitors to admire. Those wanting to know what makes the province tick will find the answer in the said repository whose name was derived from the word subang meaning “east” or “sunrise”. Subangan, thus, means “where the sun rises” in the vernacular. 

The remains of DavOr, the gentle giant, inside the Subangan Museum
Inside the museum, you’d be dumbfounded by the wide array of interesting artifacts on display—relics, objets d'art, photos, videos, interactive visuals, documents, fabrics, and other products—all tangible evidences of the province’s rich history and culture.  

Subangan’s pièce de résistance, however, are the preserved remains of the 53-foot sperm whale prominently displayed at the lobby. Weighing about 20 tons, the gentle giant is said to be the largest in the Philippines and the seventh largest in the world.

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Named Davor (a portmanteau for Davao Oriental), the mammal was initially found dead along the shores of Governor Generoso and San Isidro, two of Davao Oriental’s ten towns. Huge waves, however, washed it ashore in Talikud Island in Davao del Norte. 

One of Governor Corazon Malanyaon’s pet projects, Subangan was bolstered by the recovery of Davor’s remains whose preservation was made possible through the combined efforts of several national agencies and the provincial government which had to go to great lengths to retrieve the whale’s bones.

The governor once said that Subangan represents “eternal hope, endless as the rising of the sun as it welcomes each new day” and “symbolizes the resiliency of the people of Davao Oriental” which the world saw during the onslaught of Super Typhoon Pablo.

Aside from Davor, another interesting hallmark of the museum’s Natural Heritage Section which caught my attention was the exhibit on Mt. Hamiguitan Wildlife Sanctuary. This particular exhibit’s prominent rarity is the amazing "pygmy forest" of century old trees. Seeing the said unique forest one of these days is part of my bucket list.
Davao Oriental’s other tourist destinations like pristine Dahican Beach in Mati, amazing Aliwagwag Falls in Cateel (which I’ve visited before Super Typhoon Pablo damaged it), and the centuries-old Caraga Church are also highlighted in the section.

Culture vultures shouldn’t dare miss the museum’s Cultural Heritage Section, which highlights the rich culture and history of the province’s indigenous communities, particularly the Mandayas and the Kalagans. The exhibit features woven fabrics, baskets, weapons and tools used by the tribes.

Meanwhile, history buffs dropping by the Historical Heritage Section will be intrigued to discover that the province was once a part of Caraga Province, which originally included the two Agusans, the two Surigaos, the eastern portion of Misamis Oriental and the northern part of Davao Oriental!   

Too bad, we failed to explore the section on Typhoon Pablo (Bopha) Memorial, which commemorates the catas-trophic storm that hit Mindanao about two years ago. That for me is one good reason to return to Subangan one of these days.

While in Subangan, we also spent some time exploring the well-kept gardens, nibbling the empanadas we bought from Seaside at the museum's cafe, and taking a peek at the mementos sold at the souvenir shop.

From the museum, we went to the public market where we bought the freshest bounties from the sea. That night, we had another sumptuous seafood meal—kinilaw na malasugue (blue marlin ceviche), sinabawang malasugue (blue marlin soup), adobong pusit (squid) and grilled tuna tail, cooked to perfection by the staff of Jambay Resort. 

Later, we spent a few hours in humorous banter while sipping our after-dinner drinks. Tired from the day’s meanderings and weakened by past sleepless nights, I excused myself early from the drinking spree so I can doze off, leaving to the other guys the delightful task of finishing the last few bottles of beer we bought. 

The road to Dahican
I also wanted to wake up at 5 o’clock in the morning so I can capture the sunrise at nearby Dahican. While I already have a fair share of sunrise shots from my previous sorties to the beach, I still couldn’t get enough of the awe-inspiring phenomenon!  

To my dismay, the sun went up rather reluctantly over Mati the next day. Early in the morning, the sky turned into a whitish haze; there was no glowing sunrise at that hour. Ah, the vagaries of weather—or should I say, climate change.

Summer’s folding up and the rains are coming—I hope not in torrents. Even so, Team Dahican didn’t allow the whimsical weather to ruin our day. So, right after a hearty breakfast at Jambay Beach Resort, we trooped back to the famous beach.

To our delight, the sky suddenly lit up as we reached Botona Resort where we frolicked for a few hours before returning to Davao. At Botona, anything is possible under the sun—swimming, surfing, skimboarding, sailing, snorkeling, scuba diving, etc.

If you intend to stay in one of the picnic huts there, you can bring along your own food and drinks. If you wish, you can stay overnight, that is, if the rooms aren’t fully booked! In that case, you’ll have to wait for the off-peak season.

We rented one of the picnic tables along the beach at Botona. From where we sat, the turquoise waters of Mayo Bay seemed to beckon us to take a dip. And we heeded the call but not after enjoying another round of selfies with the skimboards used by the famous Amihan Boys. LOL!

Dahican’s surreal seascape has always appealed to those who’ve seen it. Caressed by wild waters coming from the Pacific, the waves there, however, suddenly rush at you and seem to pull you further into the deep. Unless you’re really a good swimmer or diver, you’re better off in the shallow waters.

All told, I enjoyed to the hilt the company of my happy-go-lucky companions during this recent invasion of Mati. Geez, I couldn’t recall a single dull moment with Team Dahican! Together with the boisterous bunch, the escapade was six times more fun! 

If there’s one thing about this sojourn I’m quite certain of, it would be this: Mati’s tourist come-ons, especially Dahican, have definitely magnetized my co-workers! So, cheers to the city for making our last summer hurrah truly an unforgettable adventure!
Finally, I say: Thank you, Dahican, for the wonderful images we world-weary souls took back home during that all-too quick visit there. For sure, I’m—I mean we’re—coming back for you—and most likely, with the travel bugs who missed this recent sojourn. :-D

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