Sunday, October 19, 2014

Sarangani, Davao Occidental: Sarangani, Olanivan & Marorong Islands

Olanivan Island
Bask on the bone-white sands of Olanivan Island, Sarangani, Davao Occidental
The frontier town of Sarangani consists of three islands: the main island of Balut, the namesake island of Sarangani and the small islets of Olanivan and Marorong. A day of island-hopping can take visitors around these islands and islets, jumping off from Mabila Port on Balut Island.

Tuke Maklang Beach Resort
Tuke Maklang Beach Resort is home to hundreds of endangered flying foxes!
In contrast to the prominent peak and graceful slopes of Balut Volcano which I hiked across with B'laan farmers, the neighboring island of Sarangani offers a different topography altogether with its limestone hills and azure lagoons. The low-lying island provides oases of calm like Bolae Cove and Tuke Nunsol where one can safely swim or snorkel in sheltered waters. We cruised around these turquoise-colored natural harbors, before hopping over to Tuke Maklang.

Paras Beach, Sarangani Island
Sarangani Island harbors turquoise coves and white-sand coasts like Paras Beach
Paras Beach
A colorful resident of Paras Beach on Sarangani Island

Tuke Maklang has a beach resort straddling two coves. It's possible to spend a rustic night or two here on barebones accommodation in the company of hundreds flying foxes roosting on the nearby trees. Our last stop on Sarangani Island was Paras Beach, a swimming spot popular with locals. The east-facing coastline afforded panoramic views of Balut Island which makes an ideal area to watch the sun rise from behind the island volcano.

Marorong Islet (Ballistic Islet)
Marorong Islet (Ballistic Islet) is a stone's throw away from Mabila Port on Balut Island
Marorong Islet (Ballistic Islet)
Are these the ruins of an outpost built by a 16th century Spanish explorer?

After visiting Sarangani Island, we then proceeded to the smaller islands which were no less intriguing. North of Sarangani, there’s Olanivan Island ringed by coral reefs and pristine white sand. Moreover, Marorong Islet (also known as Ballistic Islet), on the other hand, is a stone's throw away from Mabila Port.  The foliage on this islet conceals the stone ruins of what many believe was the fortified outpost that 16th century Spanish explorer Ruy Lopez de Villalobos built on his journey out of the Philippines to the Spice Islands (present-day Maluku, Indonesia). While locals may dish out this story as historical fact, experts have yet to validated the claim.

For instructions on how to get there and where to stay, please check out my previous post on Hiking Balut Volcano.

Monday, October 13, 2014

7th Siargao International Gamefishing Tournament [SP]

7th Siargao International Game Fishing Tournament
Besides surfing, Siargao Island in Surigao del Norte is also known for world-class game fishing. 
The island of Siargao in northeastern Mindanao has long been synonymous for surfing. Along with those big waves, the Pacific Ocean also brings in big fish. Every summer, the town of Pilar – known for the Magpupungko rock formation and tidal pools – organizes an international game fishing tournament to celebrate the bounty of the ocean. Organized by One Corporate Events in collaboration with the Department of Tourism - Region 13 and local government units, the 7th Siargao International Gamefishing Tournament was held last April 24 to 28, 2014.

7th Siargao International Game Fishing Tournament
Anglers are teamed with local fishermen, who also get the chance to win prizes
Around 75 local and foreign anglers participated in this year's event. Teamed up with a local fishermen, who also get the chance to win cash prizes, each participant would set out very early early in the morning on outrigger boats and return in the late afternoon. The most interesting part of the event was watching the anglers return to the pier to have their catch weighed and hung out to display on the floating stage. It was my first time to see huge game fish like sailfish, wahoo and barracuda! Winners were chosen based on the total catch weight in four categories: Biggest Billfish, Biggest Talakitok (Trevally), Biggest Wahoo/Tangigue (Mackerel) and Biggest Dorado (Dolphinfish). The biggest catch of this year's tournament was a 36.85 kg ‪sailfish‬ caught by Australian ‪angler‬ Glen Pascoe. 

7th Siargao International Game Fishing Tournament
Checking out the catch...
But from a spectator's perspective, I think much has to be improved with the tournament to make it as enjoyable as it was to the participating anglers as to the general public. Besides viewing the daily catch in the afternoon, there's nothing much for tourists to see or do during the game fishing event. Given that the town of Pilar is quite a drive away from the tourist centers of Cloud Nine, General Luna and Dapa, the event organizers should come up with ways to attract more tourists such as street dancing and cultural performances, or perhaps get them involved by trying out fishing themselves.

Special thanks to One Corporate Events and Bayud Beach Resort, a lovely seaside enclave in General Luna. Read more about my resort experience in my previous blog post.

Disclaimer: This is a sponsored post. I accept advertisers as long as they are relevant to tourism, adventure and outdoors. For advertising inquiries, please e-mail

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Siargao Island, Surigao del Norte: Bayud Beach Resort [SP]

During the 7th Siargao International Gamefishing Tournament from April 24 to 28, 2014 organized by One Corporate Grand Tours, I stayed at Bayud Beach Resort, a private enclave located along a deserted stretch of coastline at the town of General Luna. Located far away from the town center within a quiet seaside village, the resort's location obviously has its pros and cons. While its remoteness makes it a bit inconvenient to visit town or catch public transportation, it lends to the relaxed and exclusive atmosphere of the complex on the other hand.

Bayud Beach Resort, Siargao Island
Bucolic beachfront of Bayud Beach Resort in Siargao Island, Philippines
Bayud Beach Resort, Siargao Island

The deluxe room I stayed in was clean and spacious with a slightly rustic charm owing to its wood furnishings.  The plated meals, which consisted chiefly of locally caught seafood, were homey and delicious. I particularly liked their calamares. Meals were dished out at the central dining area fronting the swimming pool, with splendid views of the coconut-lined beachfront.

Catching Mantis Shrimps
Local children catching mantis shrimps 
This beautiful resort is an ideal setting for a laid-back honeymoon, family reunion, or office outing, where people can enjoy the company of their family or friends in a natural environment.  The villas and rooms are surrounded by lush tropical gardens.  And true to the resort's name – which means "wave" in the Surigaonon dialect – the Pacific Ocean rumbled on distant tidal flats. I enjoyed walking down this coralline beach, passing by the next-door luxury resort. I made it all the way to the next village where I met three children catching mantis shrimps to bring home for dinner.

Bayud Beach Resort, Siargao Island
Care for a swim?
Bayud Beach Resort is located at Brgy. Malinao, General Luna on the island of Siargao, Surigao del Norte. Rates are on a per pax per day basis, starting at PHP 1,900/person/day for triple sharing at the Maharlika room with full board meals. The resort can arrange private transfers to and from Siargao Airport or Dapa Port at PHP 1,500 per way.

Book the resort through One Corporate Grand Tours, 1st & 2nd Flr. Grateful Realty Bldg. 088 Pili Drive, Butuan City, Tel: +63 85 3424803, Fax: +63 85 3427477

Disclaimer: This is a sponsored post. I accept advertisers as long as they are relevant to tourism, adventure and outdoors. For advertising inquiries, please e-mail
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