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Islands Enchanting: An Adventure

Updated on February 5, 2016
Sea waves create a mandala pattern at Bonbonon Islet, Britania, Surigao del Sur
Sea waves create a mandala pattern at Bonbonon Islet, Britania, Surigao del Sur

Mindanao Adventures

In his Mindanao Adventures posted at Facebook, Mindanao-based traveler Eduard Pasturan Pugosa, feeling amazed with his companion Dabyo Hermosilla and two others travelled from Cagayan de Oro City to Davao through the popular Bukidnon-Davao (BuDa) road, an almost 7-hour pleasure cruising drive through asphalted and cemented winding roads lined with panoramic views of the Bukidnon highlands. In his post, Eduard entices the reader to drop by the Seagull Resort along the BuDa road and look at the Tea from the Garden. “Did you know that in Seagull Resort in Bukidnon-Davao, you can ‘create your own tea’ fresh from the garden?”, he challenges the reader.

The refreshing drop-by not only relaxes the weary traveler but changes the conventional way of having a travel break after a continuous 4-hour long driving by simply going inside a restaurant for a sandwich bite, coffee or juice. The stop-by facilities lets the traveler unwind by strolling through the tea garden, chose and pick the desired fresh tea leaves, and put the leaves inside a tea boiler, after which he enjoys the tea drink as if he owns the place. This creative way of letting the traveler participate in an activity that relaxes is truly an innovation that one can find only in this part of Mindanao. It is an adventure in discovery and participation.

Seagull Resort Tea Garden

The Tea Garden
The Tea Garden | Source
Make your own tea from the tea leaves you pick at the tea garden.
Make your own tea from the tea leaves you pick at the tea garden. | Source

Tea, Fresh Seafood and Fruits

But fresh tea leaf drinking is not only the main attraction here in Mindanao. The enchanting islands offer a wide variety of food menus, cooking styles, succulent fruits and fresh seafood that can alter one’s consciousness and one’s mood and bring one to the heights of heavenly gastronomic pleasure.

The fruits taste test is one way to find out whether the local or foreign traveler who comes to Mindanao has a knack for the rare and mind-altering taste of fruits produced in the six regions. Of course, most of these fruits like marang and durian have already been exported to Manila and people have been used to seeing them displayed in supermarkets.

For the first-timer on the loose in Mindanao faced with an array of rare fruits, the encounter becomes a festival of palate. Durian, mangosteen, lanzones, rambutan and marang are five major fruits that are unique to Mindanao and are savored for their rare delights. These fruits can also be found in other Southeast Asian countries. Durian, in relatively large quantities can be intoxicating with its white flesh and sweet milky taste, compounded by a natural perfume that the uninitiated can mistake as pungent. Unlike the other unique fruits of Mindanao, the taste of durian is beyond description.

Mindanao's Fruits

(From left) Rambutan, lanzones, mangosteen, and durian
(From left) Rambutan, lanzones, mangosteen, and durian | Source
Durian, a heavenly-tasting succulent fruit
Durian, a heavenly-tasting succulent fruit | Source

If you think that the best mangoes can only be found in the Visayan Guimaras Island, you need to look at the ripe, yellow mangoes in almost any place in Mindanao. Its sweetness and succulence is incomparable. It is probably due to the volcanic character of the soil spread all over the island-region. One traveler aficionado, Ed Quitoriano, found the mangoes in Zamboanga City not only liberally served in hotels but incredibly cheap. In his post he says, “Where I am, it is the buyer’s market for mangoes. You get a liberal splash of mango slices at breakfast in the hotel or PHP 25 per kilogram for the golden yellows in the public market.”

And fish is plentiful. Ed Q describes his adventure in one of the islands in Mindanao where fishermen make sardines. Fish catch are sun dried, “sun-kissed and water underneath” he says, and made into the local version of sardines. But fish has a number of uses as there are species. The rare species can be found in Tawi-Tawi and Cotabato which includes the marshland shrimps, prawns and lobsters. The Otherwise, one goes for the Visayan version of “sushi” known as “kinilaw” cut from fresh yellow fin tuna belly, mixed with local vinegar and other spice ingredients sans horse radish, or you may opt for “sinugba” where fish is cleaned and grilled in low fire charcoal. The aroma from the smoking grille is enticing as one prepares for a delectable encounter over beer or wine. Don’t forget the warm hospitality where Mindanaoans are noted for this. The culture of friendship is so much ingrained among the people of Mindanao, whether Christian, Muslim or Lumad and is one of the surprises awaiting the newbie.

Zamboanga

Mindanao Foods Galore

Freshly cooked lobster
Freshly cooked lobster | Source
Sinugba or grilled fish
Sinugba or grilled fish | Source
Fresh fruits and desserts at the Pearl Farm beach Resort in Davao
Fresh fruits and desserts at the Pearl Farm beach Resort in Davao | Source
Pizza Roti Baguette
Pizza Roti Baguette | Source

Island Hopping

Actually, culturally, Palawan, the ever popular tourist island among foreigners is a part of the Mindanao regional geographic complex, the reason why the word “MINSUPALA” was coined (that stands for Mindanao-Sulu-Palawan). Megan Eileen McDonough of Bohemian Trails writing for Business Insider described Palawan as “a great snorkeling and diving destination.” But she acknowledges that travel magazines have dubbed Palawan as “the most beautiful island in the world.”

Today it is, but it probably it was even astounding thousands of years ago when the earliest man in the Philippines, the Tabon man roamed the islands and stayed in caves. Palawan is the enchanting island that locals have discovered only at the turn of the 20th century. “Then I went to El Nido and everything changed,” said McDonough. It was probably akin to a mystical experience.

Palawan Island

Palawan Lagoon
Palawan Lagoon | Source
El Nido, Palawam
El Nido, Palawam | Source

Palawan Province, Philippines

Yet, everything changes not only in El Nido but as one goes to the other islands of Mindanao like Arangasa and Britania in Surigao Province, and the Sarangani, Balut and Olanivan Islands in Davao Occidental Province. What makes the change is the absolute experience of the “umwelt” the sea, sun, wind, land the four elements—the temperature and air pressure—expressed as the creative presentation of nature to the senses.

Here you have a stunning emerald sea in contrast to a deep blue sky lined with white clouds on the horizon mixed in a cocktail of white sands, and lush greenery as one relaxes under the cool shade kissed by a fresh blow of wind from the sea or the mountain nearby. One can only experience in absolute reverence the beauty, stillness and sacredness of the enchanting island.

Is there anything more that one can ask for under such a unique arrangement? Such an experience can only enhance man-nature communication, for even just viewing the islands from the air, as one comes closer, already excites the senses.

Mindanao Isles Adventure

Sarangani, Balut and Olinavan Islands in Davao Occidental
Sarangani, Balut and Olinavan Islands in Davao Occidental | Source
Hinatuan Island Boat Port, Surigao
Hinatuan Island Boat Port, Surigao | Source
Turtle Island at Barobo, Surigao
Turtle Island at Barobo, Surigao | Source

Come to Mindanao

The island-region poses an even greater challenge to the brave traveler, undaunted by stories of armed conflicts and kidnapping incidents. Such discrete events occur in only in isolation from the mainstream flow of the major cities in the six regions. Mindanao is one of the most secure places in the world that is even safer than Manila or Bangkok.

One can live here forever as the Canadian “Kulas” or Kyle Jennerman has done in Cagayan de Oro City with his “on becoming a Filipino” lifestyle, as he takes jeepney rides every day, talks with ordinary people on the streets, eats the food everyone eats, and goes on a high adventure in the cities of Northern Mindanao.


Whitewater rafting in Cagayan de Oro City, Northern Mindanao
Whitewater rafting in Cagayan de Oro City, Northern Mindanao | Source

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