Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Philippines - Serene Charm in Idyllic Davao del Sur

In the island of Mindanao, south of the Philippines, lies the province of Davao del Sur. Nope, this isn't Davao City (which everyone is familiar with), Davao del Norte (which encompasses Pearl Farm Resort), or Davao Oriental (which I have yet to visit). This is a stretch of land characterized by the richest agricultural soil, rolling hills rich in flora, a vicinity teeming with the country's most exotic fruits, and the Pacific seas as its eastern border! Except for its contiguous neighbor of Cotabato City to the west and General Santos City further south, this rich conglomerate is a bastion of peace.

Its capital is Digos City and the province borders Davao City to the north, and Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat, South Cotabato, and Sarangani to the west. To the east lies Davao Gulf. It has a land area of 3,900 square kilometer and a population of 830,000. Its municipalities include: Bansalan, Don Marcelino, Hagonoy, Jose Abad Santos, Kiblawan, Magsaysay, Malalag, Malita, Matan-ao, Padada, Santa Cruz, Santa Maria and Sulop. Sarangani (where boxing champ Manny Pacquiao recently won a seat for Congress) is now part of General Santos City. It used to be part of Davao del Sur!

Davao del Sur was ironically founded by its Japanese colonizers in 1942, but it didn't take long before the Davao guerillas helped free it from its "captors" - with the help of the Americans who then assumed the rule of the land. Language is Cebuano or Visayan, with a great majority alternating Tagalog with ease. English is widely accepted as the language of commerce and instruction (education).

Digos City is roughly 75 kilometers south of Davao City (the country's biggest city). It's an almost 2 hour ride along beachside communities and undulating hills of sugarcane, coconut, Mango and Banana trees, and grazing lands. The roads are some of the best maintained thoroughfares in the country. When navigating the area, Digos City would make a reasonable basecamp. A plane ride from Manila takes roughly 1 hour and 30 minutes. Cebu Pacific seat averages P2,500 ($55.30) one-way if booked 5 days or so prior to the trip.

There are sites that are being briskly developed for local and foreign tourists.These accelerated developments make the region an exciting area to explore. There are plenty of off-the-beaten tracks.

This is the Eye in the Sky!

A fishpond in Leling, Hagonoy, Davao del Sur.

Dawis Beach, Digos City. An afternoon frolic.

A child diving away!

Dawis Beach

Father and child. Bolinao Beach, Barangay Dawis.

Clusters of very sweet lanzones (langsat in Malaysia, duku in Indonesia, tongue -wisting gadu guda in Sri Lanka, bonbon in Vietnam. In rural Visayas, some people refer to it as "buwahan". Nutritional composition is a rich supply of calcium, phosphorus, vitamin C and iron.

Bounty of Davao del Sur. Huge prawns. This lot costs PhP480 ($10.60) a kilo.

Fresh catch.

All cooked.


Lechon de leche!

Bananas as far as the eyes can see in La Panday Plantation. This was taken from Padada Bridge (formerly Guihing Bridge).

Ostrich taking her close-up. Seagull Inland Resort, Barangay Guihing, Hagonoy, Davao del Sur.

Seagull Inland Resort.

Seagull Inland Resort

P100 (about $2) cottages in Leling Beach.

Eagle eyed fry catcher. This lady is "harvesting" those almost microscopic baby milkfish ("bangus"). They are smaller than tadpoles, thus I am in awe of how they can catch these "fries" (once bigger, they become "fingerling" and would fetch a higher price) from the raging waves of the seas. They collect these fries then sell them to a nursery in Digos City they refer to as "Dipalubos Bodega". Fishpond farmers who grow "bangus" (milkfish) buy these "fries" in thousands from the bodega.

Dusk in Leling (pronounced "lee-leeng").

Silhouette dreams

Parked away. A bangka in Malalag, Davao del Sur.

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