Three scenic lakes, seven captivating falls, a bunch of endearing T’boli people, fascinating culture, pristine beaches and historical sites – what more reasosn can one ask for to visit South Central Mindanao? Of course I still get those “Aren’t these places dangerous?” or “We might get kidnapped for a ransom!” a lot of times until now. I’ve been saying this over many times, Mindanao has some insurgent spots but not the whole area. Lake Sebu, General Santos and Sarangani are one of those safe places to visit in Mindanao. I’m sure you’ll be aptly rewarded from your gutsy decision.
General Santos is the gateway to South-Central Mindanao. We passed through the city going to Lake Sebu and also Sarangani. Our companions from Backpack Photography took off a day earlier than us so we had to find a place to stay for the night. Tierra Verde, was my choice from Jen’s Peter’s Philippines Travel Guide. Bidding farewell to our friends at KCC Mall, we took a cab going to National Highway and was pleasantly to find the said mentioned hotel is under a new management and no goes by the name, Tierra Montana Hotel.
Making the most of our last morning in Tawi-Tawi, we decided to visit one of the more popular Bajau Villages in Bongao, but not having a Bongao breakfast at the Chinese Pier first after visiting Pagasinan. We told Kit and Sheva, that we’d like to see and possibly take home some native crafts from Tawi-tawi. It has been my practice when I go to different places to take but items unique or crafted from the place of origin.
The sun has already shone high as we wrapped our morning shoot at Sanga-sanga. We then decided to venture into one of the villages situated by the the river we were taking photos off. Veering right from the bridge into an inner road, we passed by a village slowly waking up. We passed by rows of stilt houses first then we entered a road where lines of ships on varying conditions were docked on shore. We are now at the ship building town of Pagasinan.
It was already late in the afternoon when we started our way back from Balobok Cave. Our 4×4 vehicle roared through the uneven terrain of Barangay Lakit-lakit. On our right the sun was also racing down far by the sea horizon. We passed by a nice stretch of beach they called Pasiagan. This is where Christian Bautista shot the music video of “Tawi-tawi Beach”. When we reached Sanga-sanga, we stopped by a small quaint village by the sea.
Another day started when we found ourselves on the top of Bongao Capitol enjoying the breath taking views. After, we sampled local delicacies at one of their coffeeshops at the town center for breakfast. Fast forward, we checked out Hotel Juanita and made another attempt as Simunul but Kit wasn’t really comfortable of letting us go along with strangers so we just accepted an invite to witness a Muslim pre-wedding ceremony of Pamutong. After which we were told, the tourism people would take us to one important site not only in Tawi-tawi but in the whole South East Asia, the Balobok Rock Shelter.
We were supposed to go to Simunul Island that afternoon, but around noon we were still making our way down Bud Bongao. We didn’t expect that the muddy and sticky trail would slow us down. They already texted us that our host for Simunul was already waiting at the Chinese Pier. After having lunch and checking out Beachside Inn, we sped through town and headed for the old pier where we met Kit. But we didn’t manage to catch our host.