Tuesday, October 15, 2013

MARAWI CITY TOUR

Official Name: Islamic City of Marawi (capital city)
Province: Lanao del Sur
Region: Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao
Coordinates: 08°00′N 124°18′E
Total Land Area: 87.55 km2(33.80 sq mi.)
Elevation: 700 meters (2,300 feet)
Incorporated town of Dansalan: May 24, 1097
Charter City of Dansalan: 1940
From Dansalan to Marawi City: June 16, 1956
Barangays: 96
Districts: 1st District
Time Zone: PST
Zip Code: 9700
Dialing Code: 63

Marawi City was formerly known as Dansalan when it served as the capital of the undivided Lanao province from 1907 to 1940 .


View Larger Map


MSU grounds' commanding rolling terrain giving a majestic view of the Lake Lanao


Marawi City is predominantly Muslim city which accounts for 95% of the population. The distribution of alcoholic products and gambling is forbidden, non-Muslims though are exempted to this rule. On the other hand, Dansalan in Maranao is a place where ships berth which means a port of entry. Marawi is located on the shores of Lake Lanao and straddles the area where the Agus River starts. Its high elevation along Lake Lanao at approximately 2,300 feet or 700 meters gives it a cool and pleasant climate. With a scenery of mountains, rolling hills, valleys and a large placid lake that dominate the city’s landscape, it makes the best place to live.

The pride of Marawi City and Mindanao - Marawi State University


According to the late well-known Maranao scholar Dr. Mamitua Saber, Marawi City got its charter in 1940. The granting of a charter to the old Dansalan municipality was jointly conceived by the Philippine Commonwealth President Manuel L. Quezon and Assemblyman, later Senator, Tomas L. Cabili. The changing of the official name from Dansalan to Marawi was through Congressional amendment of the Charter in 1956 sponsored by Sen. Domocao Alonto. This is embodied by Republic Act No. 1552 dated June 16, 1956. The renaming of the city as "Islamic City of Marawi" was proposed by Parliamentary Bill No. 261 in the defunct Batasang Pambansa, the former parliament of the Philippines during the Marcos regime, reportedly to attract funds from the Middle East.

The imposing main entrance of Mindanao State University


Honestly, it took me several years before I can set foot to this place though since 2001 I have been already frequenting to visit Mindanao. It was just for now that this realization to visit this place became a reality. Though twice I visited Iligan City, nobody would accompany me to tour around this beautiful city.

The long and winding road leading to the university campus


Since we did not have a private car, we opted to have a leisurely walk to get inside the university campus. The air was cool and it was refreshing long walk along the shady winding road.

i.link.ph website has this to say about Mindanao State University (MSU) Marawi: "MSU Marawi was created under RA 1387 as amended through authorship of Senator Domocao A. Alonto, the Mindanao State University was established in Marawi City on September 1, 1961. Dr. Antonio Isidro, former Vice President for Academic Affairs of the University of the Philippines, was its founder and first president."

"Formal classes opened in June 1962 with 282 students, 19 faculty members and staff, and three core colleges: Community Development, Liberal Arts and Education."

"After more than three decades of operation, the University has grown into a multi-campus University System with seventeen colleges and degree-granting units in the Marawi campus alone."

The university logo in concrete tablet form


The Aga Khan Museum in MSU Campus


MSU's Stadium and oval tracks


This gentle greenery is a part of a 9-hole golf course laid out in MSU Campus


King Faisal Center for Islamic, Arabic and Asian Studies


The Islamic Center in Brgy. Pangarungan in downtown of Marawi City


Monday, October 14, 2013

OTHER JEWELS OF BUCAS GRANDE ISLAND

Location: Bucas Grande Island, Siargao Island Group
Province: Surigao del Norte, Philippines

As my trip to Siargao Island concluded, I realized that there's a lot of things to see and do in Bucas Grande Island than in Siargao Island just to see the famous Cloud 9 Surfing Paradise. In Bucas Grande, you can find the Sohoton Ecopark with the Jellyfish Sanctuary and the other jewels of the island are: Club Tara Resort, Hidden Island Resort, Bubon Islets and many other nameless white beaches. For me, a visit to the fishing village of Barangay Bay-ang is plus factor. Bucas Grande is one of the 48 islands of Siargao Islands group. It belongs to the municipality of Socorro, one of the six municipalities of Siargao Islands group.


View Bucas Islands in a larger map


The pristine and tranquil Club Tara Resort


Going to Socorro Port from Sohoton National Ecopark, one will pass thru a state-of-the-art resort in the name of Club Tara Resort which offers every luxury a guest would wish to have.

Club Tara Resort is equipped with swimming pool with a bar along its sides


Club Tara Resort is equipped with a docking port and physical sports facilities as well as aqua sports facilities to complete the fun of guests who wanted to stay for long vacation.

Still a part of Club Tara Resort


Indeed, Club Tara Resort is a haven where guests will love to stay as they are pampered with all the luxuries they need.

Truly a hidden paradise with lots of fun to offer


Our next stop was the Hidden Island Resort where it offers a complete fun for individuals and families who wanted to enjoy their vacation in a very secluded but paradise location.

One of the islets in Bubon


Bubon group of islets are picturesque and each islet has its unique charm to entice the visitors to stay for a swim, a picnic or an overnight camping.

An entry to the fishing village of Barangay Bay-ang


We were suppose to head to Socorro Port which is still more than an hour boat ride to catch the 1:00 P.M. boat trip to Dapa of Siargao Island but we almost ran out of gasoline and so we were forced to drop by at Barangay Bay-ang to buy fuel for our boat.

A house in the middle of the sea?


This house may seem odd in terms of location but I find it picturesque and unique. After all, we can't see this in a metropolitan city.

Simple joys in simple dwellings


Kids around their simple shanties enjoy their playful moments satisfied with what they have in a completely surrounded environment by seascape.

A time for playing, a time for bonding


Unmindful of where they live, these kids still have the enthusiasm to play and bond with each other. If you live here, will you do the same?
A real picture of sadness


While we were still at a distance, I saw the girl in the picture to be too busy with something. As we approached near, she sat down and stared towards our boat with gloomy facial projection. Why the sudden change of emotion?

Resting after a tiring swim


After enjoying a round of swimming race, this kid rested at the back of their house to regain his energy.

Kids are having a swim without the presence of their parents


I can still recall when I grew up in our coastal town. We are not allowed to swim in any body of water like beach or river without the presence of our parents no matter how shallow they are. While these kids are given the liberty to do their swimming stuff unguarded.

They are not the typical camera-shy kids


As these kids saw us, they posed for posterity sake. They are not those typical kids in the remote areas where they will shy away with the click of a camera.

The kids have there ever-ready smile every click of my camera


As long as they knew that the camera is grinding, they are ever-ready to flash their smile. They even became more acrobatic on the water just get our attention.

He must have a problem since he did not join the other kids


I noticed this kid in the picture to have been sad and did not even bother to glance to other kids who were enjoying their swimming. He must be sick.

An improvised swimming pool in the middle of their houses


Maybe for safety reasons, the kids were told by their parents to swim unguarded near their house rather than at the open beach. At least, it is safe.

Part of the fishing village is grown with mangroves


Curious of what life is in that fishing village, I had a stroll there and chat with a few residents.

The coastline leading to Socorro Port


After having three picturesque stopovers, we headed to Socorro Port with a travel duration of more than one hour to catch for our trip to Dapa Port of Siargao Island.

JELLYFISH SANCTUARY (SURIGAO DEL NORTE)

Location: Tujuman Lagoon, Sohoton National Park, Bucas Island, Siargao Island Group
Province: Surigao del Norte, Philippines

This Jellyfish Sanctuary is a part of the Sohoton National Park. In this part of the globe, you can experience to swim along with hundreds of harmless jellyfish in the 20-feet deep Tujuman Lagoon. Kayaking is the only means of transport to visit this site so that the jellyfish thriving here will not be disturbed by the noise of the engine of the boat and at the same time they will not be harmed with the motor boat's propeller. It is also a part of the island of Bucas, one of the 48 islands of Siargao Islands group. It belongs to the municipality of Socorro, one of the six municipalities of Siargao Islands group.


View Bucas Islands in a larger map


It's fun to swim with a school of jellyfish


To get to the sanctuary, each of the three of us, was provided with a boat with our own paddler. It was just 20 minutes from the Management Office.

One of my companions, Tess Corpuz. The green structure is just opposite the Management Office


The entry point to Tujuman Lagoon offers a refreshing experience as you see the 20-feet deep seabed through the aquamarine blue waters.

The school of fish welcome us upon entry to Tujuman Lagoon


I can feel the warm welcome of the school of fish as we enter the jellyfish sanctuary. the white sparkling colors in the picture are fish jumping from above the water.

That is how a jelly fish looks like. Would you dare swim with them?
Never in my life I dared to touch a real jelly fish. This time, I had so much fun with them. They were as tender as cottons.

Feeling the texture of the jellyfish in my palm


From the boat, we immersed ourselves right to the habitat of countless jellyfish. We scooped a few of them in our palm.

A fun-filled swim with a school of jellyfish


I really treasured this moment having experience once in my lifetime this not-so-common communing with God's creation --- the harmless jellyfish.

Regretful of leaving the Kingdom of the Jellyfish


One hour bonding with the jellyfish was not really enough. If I have the time, I will revisit this place again and be a part of their kingdom for another hour or two.

HOW TO GET THERE

If you are already in Surigao City, you can either take a bus with a signboard of Tandag with a bus fare of P120 or a chartered van of P1,000 from Surigao City going down in Bgry. Hayangganon of the Municipality of Claver for 1 hour and 10 minutes and from there take a boat for 40 minutes to Sohoton Ecopark.

Alternately, there is a route from Surigao City through big boats to Dapa of Siargao for almost 3 hours or through Roro for 4 hours which usually leaves Surigao City at 6:00 A.M. and another at 12:00 Noon. from Dapa of Siargao Island, one can have a regular boat trip (once a day) to Socorro port of Buscas Grande Island for 1 hour and 15 minutes and from Socorro to Sohoton Ecopark is a boat for another one hour.

CONTACTS

Provincial Governor’s Office
Provincial Capitol, Surigao City
Tel. Nos. (086) 826-7778 Telefax (086) 826-0462

Provincial Tourism and Cultural Office
Provincial Capitol, Surigao City
Tel. Nos. (086) 232-6962 local 410; +639088963975
Email address: surigaodelnortetourism@yahoo.com
Website: www.surigaodelnorteph.com

Mr. Rolando “Dodo” Henson
Operations Manager
Sohoton Ecopark
Mobile Number +639394235793

SOHOTON NATIONAL ECOPARK (SURIGAO DEL NORTE)

Location: Bucas Island, Siargao Island Group
Province: Surigao del Norte, Philippines

Sohoton National Ecopark is unique of its kind as this pristine emerald paradise has magnificent underwater small caves and lakes, crystal clear water, corals of high definition colors and lush vegetation growing from limestone walls. It is uninhabited and luxuriant in vegetation complemented with emerald waters. This natural wonder is in the island of Bucas, one of the 48 islands of Siargao Islands group. It belongs to the municipality of Socorro, one of the six municipalities of Siargao Islands group. “Sohoton” is a term which means to pass through a narrow and low passage to the extent of crawling. It is highly advisable to visit this natural wonder during lowtide.


View Bucas Islands in a larger map


The crystal clear emerald cove of Sohoton


This trip started when we left Surigao City at 5:40 A.M. boarding a chartered a van going to Brgy. Hayanggabon in the Municipality of Claver at 6:50 A.M. From Hayanggabon port, we boarded a chartered small motor boat at 7:20 A.M. crossing the sea waters of Hinatuan Passage and arrived in Sohoton Ecopark Administration Office at 8:02 A.M. of Bucas Grande Island where we met its Operations Manager for tour briefing. in the name of Mr. Rolando “Dodo” Henson.

This is what you will see in Hayanggabon Port.


This is what you will see standing at Hayanggabon Port looking at the vast sea afar


Sohoton!!! You crawl flat to the ground to fit it with the low lying massive rock entrance


After the briefing from the Management Office, the thrill started as we drove through crystal clear cove. I felt so breathless wondering of how creation on this part of the earth was made. Was God more creative when He made this part of the planet?

We were extremely amazed as its second unfold to us the mystical beauty of Sohoton


Second by second, our eyes, screwed to its detail of the cove. The place was so serene. Nobody was around except our group with God so happy to see us amazed of His unparalleled creation.

These rock formations can tell the age of the Earth


For its turn of the boat, different rock formations are revealed. Every second then was a new experience.

Another treat to our feasting eyes


We had three guides with us. They are well-trained to explain to us what are those we see around.

One of our guides explaining what was in that rock wall formation


As we silently navigate the interior of the cove, we can see the small underwater caves inhabited with species endemic to the place.

The entry point to Hagocan Cave


We first had a minor spelunking in Hagocan Cave where it has a very small and narrow entry point. The entire cave has water coming from the cove outside and one has to swim inside to enjoy its beautiful scenery.

Swimming inside Hagocan Cave


We enjoyed our moments inside Hagocan cave where we had a refreshing swim and endless pictorials to document our unique experience.

Outside Magcocoog Cave while waiting for my companions who tried to have a dive from the atop a wooden flatform


Just minutes away, we proceed to have another minor spelunking in Magcocoog Cave where its topmost elevated exit served as a diving flatform down to the clear aquamarine waters of Sohoton Cove.

Our group inside Magcocoog Cave with our guide


According to our guides, these two caves are the caves where the Teleserye Asian Treasure topbilled by Robin Padilla and Angel Locsin were partly shot.

Having spelunking in the interior of Magcocoog Cave


We were advised by our guides not to stay long inside the cove or else during high tide or else you will climb the rocky cliffs just to have an exit to real world.

After savoring the beauty of the cove, we returned to the Management office and have different guides for the non-stinging jellyfish sanctuary.

HOW TO GET THERE

If you are already in Surigao City, you can either take a bus with a signboard of Tandag with a bus fare of P120 or a chartered van of P1,000 from Surigao City going down in Bgry. Hayangganon of the Municipality of Claver for 1 hour and 10 minutes and from there take a boat for 40 minutes to Sohoton Ecopark.

Alternately, there is a route from Surigao City through big boats to Dapa of Siargao for almost 3 hours or through Roro for 4 hours which usually leaves Surigao City at 6:00 A.M. and another at 12:00 Noon. from Dapa of Siargao Island, one can have a regular boat trip (once a day) to Socorro port of Buscas Grande Island for 1 hour and 15 minutes and from Socorro to Sohoton Ecopark is a boat for another one hour.

CONTACTS

Provincial Governor’s Office
Provincial Capitol, Surigao City
Tel. Nos. (086) 826-7778 Telefax (086) 826-0462

Provincial Tourism and Cultural Office
Provincial Capitol, Surigao City
Tel. Nos. (086) 232-6962 local 410; +639088963975
Email address: surigaodelnortetourism@yahoo.com
Website: www.surigaodelnorteph.com

Mr. Rolando “Dodo” Henson
Operations Manager
Sohoton Ecopark
Mobile Number +639394235793

SURIGAO CITY

Location: Northeast Mindanao, Philippines
Province: Surigao del Norte
Region: XIII (CARAGA)
Coordinates: 09°47′N 125°29′E
Total Land Area: 245.30 km2(94.71 sq mi.)
City’s Nickname: City of Island Adventures
Founded: June 29, 1655
Cityhood: August 31, 1970
Barangays: 54
Districts: 1 (2nd District of Surigao del Norte)
Time Zone: PHT (UTC+8)
Zip Code: 8400
Dialing Code: 86

Surigao City is the capital of the province of Surigao del Norte. Its three main islands indeed can boast a lot of adventures, namely: Siargao, Dinagat and Bucas Grande.


View Surigao City in a larger map


Taken as our ferry was approaching the Port of the City of Surigao coming from Siargao


When I decided to book for my Siargao Trip, I was thinking that Surigao City is just simply a jump-off point to reach my desired and long-dreamed destination. I was only excited for Siargao though I read some information about Surigao del Norte. It was my first time to be in this place. Together with my couple friend, we boarded Air Philippines flight from Manila to Surigao City.

Upon arrival at Surigao City Airport in Barangay Luna


Based on my series of research, I learned the following: "That the City of Surigao was formerly known, according to Fray San Juan Francisco de San Antonio as Banahao, San Antonio, in his “Chronicles” written in 1738, described Banahao as located at the northern head of Mindanao within there is a good port for ships called Bilan-bilan. Banahao was part of the old district of Caraga which became the Politico-Military District of Surigao with Tandag (presently, the capital of Surigao del Sur) as its capital. In its original size during the Spanish era, Surigao del Sur, Surigao del Norte up to Gingoog River in Misamis Oriental according to the Philippine Commission Report of 1901, Surigao was ten times bigger than Rhodes Island and three times bigger than Connecticut. Because of repeated attacks by Moro pirates, the provincial capital was within the defensive perimeter of the Spanish Naval Squadron in Cebu and Ozamis.

Surigao officially became a town when it became the permanent residence of the Recollects on February 1, 1751 when all the canonical books were moved from Siargao to Surigao. “The first canonical books bore the signature of Fr. Lucas dela Cruz.” Previously, the place was Justa “Vista” of the Parish in Caolo (Siargao).

Surigao is named after the old province (district) of the same name (Surigao). There are many versions regarding the meaning of Surigao: how this was derived. Like Sulo which names current (Sulog). Surigao probably came from Spanish word Surgir, meaning swift water or current. With the division of Surigao into two province, Surigao del Sur and Surigao del Norte, the municipality of Surigao became the capital of Surigao del Norte. It became a chartered City on August 31, 1970.

A busy street in Surigao City


Going back, as our flight was early in the afternoon, we decided to have an overnight in the city. It is a typical provincial city and its vibrance is due to the presence of schools and universities in the area, namely: Saint Paul University, Philippine Women University, San Sebastian College, STI College, St. Jude Thaddeus Institute of Technology and a few others. It also has several banks and the common fastfood chains in Manila like Jollibee, McDonalds, Chowking and a few others. We checked in at an affordable hotel and unwind in their famous Luneta Park the whole afternoon. We also visited its Tourism Office and went to souvenir stores for pasalubong.



The city itself has no attractions but I find Surigao City's beauty when I returned back to it coming from Siargao Island boarding Fortune Angels Ferry with its departure at 6:00 A.M. and arrived Eva M. Macapagal Passenger Terminal Port of Surigao City at 8:45 A.M., so early for our flight back to Manila at 2:40 P.M.

The pictures below were taken while we were on board the ferry boat. They reveal much of the beauty of Surigao.

A common sight of mangrove forest along seashores


An island with white beach strip and a lighthouse


Fishermen in action


A fisherman with his son in action


A cruising yatch


A container vessel


Another beach strip in an isolated island


Bright skies brightens my day. Such a beauty to behold.


The scenery of skies and the sea continue to fascinate me


More closer to the destination port


The last of a fisherman's show


Finally!!!! I am at Eva M. Macapagal Passenger SeaportTerminal of Surigao City. Ready to fly back to Manila.


HOW TO GET THERE

BY AIR: Airphilippines flies daily from Surigao to Manila and vice-versa, and Surigao to Cebu and vice-versa every Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Sunday. Cebu Pacific likewise flies every Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday from Surigao to Cebu and vice-versa. Cebu Pacific flies every Monday and Friday at 10:40 A.M. from Cebu and returning from Siargao (Sayak Airport) at 11:50 A.M. and vice versa.

BY LAND: Buses from Pasay City have trips going to Surigao several times a week via Lipata Ferry Terminal. Daily bus trips from Surigao City to Butuan, Cagayan de Oro City or Davao City are also available at regular intervals only up to Surigao City. Roro and ferry are available for Surigao City – Siargao Tirp.

BY SEA: Passenger boats direct from Manila and Cebu City are also available daily. And from Surigao City, passenger boats and Roro are available daily at 6:00 A.M. and 12:00 Noon via PPA Port for Roro at Boulevard Port.

CONTACTS

Provincial Governor’s Office
Provincial Capitol, Surigao City
Tel. Nos. (086) 826-7778 Telefax (086) 826-0462

Provincial Tourism and Cultural Office
Provincial Capitol, Surigao City
Tel. Nos. (086) 232-6962 local 410; +639088963975
Email address: surigaodelnortetourism@yahoo.com
Website: www.surigaodelnorteph.com