Saturday, February 14, 2009
Travel in the Philippines - Mindanao Region
Mindanao compared to Luzon and Visayas gets less tourists because of its distance and the constant news of insurgency and kidnappings. Too bad this has become the image of this wonderful region and it is a pity that even us Filipinos would think twice about visiting and enjoying the rich and colorful culture of our brothers and sisters in Mindanao.
Personally, I only had the chance to visit only 4 provinces in this region and have yet to go to my wife's hometown in Zamboanga City. Nevertheless, i enjoyed my stay and would always think of going back. I love the places i visited just like the way i felt when i went to Visayas provinces. As always, food here tastes great, fruits are fresh and cheap and you would actually miss the pollution in Metro Manila. Here are the places I recommend:
1. Cagayan de Oro - they say that CDO is the gateway to Mindanao. This city is relatively small, compared to cities in Cebu but is actually well developed, good zoning, clean and less traffic. Whitewater rafting is famous in this city because of its proximity to the river. Lanzones is so sweet in this place because people say the fruits came from Camiguin. From this city, you can ride a bus going to Bukidnon, Iligan City or as far as Davao City. Seafoods are fresh and cheap here.
2. Iligan City - One of the famous cities in Mindanao. This is where you go if you want to see the majestic Maria Cristina falls but you have to call or inform the tourism office for schedules. I heard that Napocor actually diverts the water from the falls to generate electricity for the province. Best tasting chicken in pandan leaves i had! Rice also is presented or cooked (i think) in pandan leaves.
3. Bukidnon - This place rivals the temperature, scenery, fresh fruits and fresh air of Luzon's Mountain Province. Its cold even on the highways that if you travel by car and you put down your windows, chances are the air outside is colder that your airconditioner. We all know that Del Monte and Dole pineapple farms are in this province so you would expect to get the sweetest and most fresh at the local markets. If you love waterfalls, this is the place. Retirement? I definitely suggest this place.
4. Davao - Davao is home to the country's largest city, Davao City. This city is the most disciplined-- no smoking in public places, no smoke belchers, no traffic, no fireworks during New Year's Eve and taxicabs giving change even for the last peso. Davao is also famous for the Durian fruit, Marang, Suha, Rambutan, Lanzones and Mangosteen. Eat all you can restaurants are almost everywhere so i guess you will enjoy all the seafoods you want in this city--price is also cheap! Davao is not complete without mentioning Samal Island. From within the city, take a cab (travel is about 10-15min) to the port, ride a small boat for another 15-20min and then you will arrive at this small island. The beach is majestically clean, one can swim beside small fishes and the food is awesome! Water pollution is nowhere in sight even when you see the city limits at the other side of the beach. Davao is also home for the Philippine Eagle Foundation, try to drop by and see the biggest eagle in the world. You will definitely be proud of being a Filipino.
5. Butuan City - i heard this is another must see because of their resorts, food and great tourist spots.
6. Surigao - Siargao Island - the surfing capital of the Philippines.
7. Zamboanga City - Have you heard of the pink beach? If you ever get tired of Boracay, Palawan and Bohol's white sand, mind going to Zamboanga for pink sand? Pink actually comes from the unique corals only found in this province. How about curacha? Have you tasted it? Its a marine animal, just like the crab but has twice the fats (aligue), easier to open (its shell) and definitely has more meat. Yummmm.
I have more to share but will go to specifics to the other places i have not mentioned. Truly, travel in the Philippines is one of the best experiences i had which is why i encourage people to travel while they are young, have a little savings and experience our country's culture and tradition other than hanging out to your favorite malls and coffeeshops.