Coming from the Divine Master’s Shrine and Islander’s Castle, we continued south, hugging the coast of Dinagat Municipality. In half an hour, we reached the tip of the finger-like westward protrusion of land to find Bijasong Beach. It looked like a nice beach from a picture I saw on a tarp at the inn. After a scenic drive descending a winding road, we found a beach battered by waves brought by the habagat under drab sky. We spent a few minutes at one of the cottages for snacks before continuing southeast for Cagdianao. It looked like the trip was turning bleak as the weather at this point on.
After a half hour ride, we arrived at the boulevard of downtown Cagdianao. The sight of the sun shining here amidst the clouds made me hopeful. Cagdianao has the 2nd largest land area in Dinagat and occupies most of the western side. Cagdianao came from the word agdao, which means mangroves as the place is referred to as “the place where mangrove grows”. The poblacion sits on a cove where the waves are tamer and a couple of islets in sight. The town looks clean, organized with wide streets and surprisingly, stronger internet than in San Jose.
My habal-habal driver took me to Tagbirayan Beach, a short ride up north from town. A stretch of golden sands met my sight. The soft sand felt good under my feet and the shore was clean with only a few local crowd at the beach. It was low tide so I wasn’t able to take a dip but I enjoyed just sitting there at the beach. There’s a few resorts in the area if one wishes to stay here overnight. I enjoyed the beach but the little islet on the horizon beckons.
We returned to the boulevard and looked for a boat willing to take us to Sayaw Islet. We found a small outrigger boat just enough for three people. The boatman agreed on an easy Php 500, just to take us around and back. No standard rates here yet so that was a haggle. Descending down the waters from the boulevard breakwaters was a little challenge. All the time hoping I wouldn’t slip on the logs as makeshift stairs.
It felt good to be going somewhere off and things going my way this time. It only took 15 minutes to reach the islet. The bean-shaped Sayaw Islet has lush greenery and a strip of white sand. The waters were inviting and I couldn’t help but take a swim. Just a few meters from the shore, I could already see healthy corals and some fishes through clear waters. I was amazed and thought this area was great for snorkeling. Too bad we only had limited time here. We noticed the dark clouds start to roll in.
We soon headed out of the island but not without the squall catching us. It was hard dense rain and visibility was almost zero. If we weren’t close to shore, I would worry. Our boatman navigated excellently as rains pounded us. Fishes were jumping around, one even got into the boat. And as if the weather was playing with us, the squall quickly dissipated and sun was out again when we reached the boulevard. That was quite a mini-adventure. It was short but I felt a little sense of accomplishment. We had lunch at a small eatery in town before heading back to the west.
A Glimpse of Basilisa Islands
Before heading back to the inn, my driver decided to take me to a few more spots near San Jose. One interesting place is the headquarters of the the deflected members from PBMA. It turns out, a younger Ecleo formed his own group and are starting out there. Contrast to the lavishness of PBMA, their headquarters have wooden huts and pavilions.
Then there’s the San Jose Municipality Beach. Again it looked nice but the weather gave a gloomy photo. The we drove up the zigzaging highway heading to Loreto up north. It was a scenic drive I’m sure road trippers would enjoy driving here with a car. If you’re a foreigner driving here first time, check out INTERNATIONAL DRIVERS ASSOCIATION for a handy guide in driving in the country.
We stopped on a turn on the road, high enough to have a nice view of Basilisa and Melgar Bay. This would cap my road trip around Dinagat Island. I’ll be leaving the next day. Will I have the chance to visit some of these islands of Basilisa?
Ferdz Decena is an award-winning travel photographer, writer and blogger. His works has found print in publications such as Singapore Airlines’s Silver Kris, Philippine Airlines’ Mabuhay, Cebu Pacific’s Smile and Seair InFlight. He has also lent his expertise to various organizations like the Oceana Philippines, Lopez Group Foundation, Save the Children and World Vision, contributing quality images for their marketing materials.