Let me take you to a wonderful place called Surigao del Sur. I really didn't expect much of the place when I chose it for a shoot for our Microentreprenenur of the Year Awards. I said, hey, I've never been to Tandag, and hearing those rough roads for 4 hours didn't seem to bother me much. I've experienced worse.
We landed in Butuan Airport in Agusan del Norte, and eventually travelled for 4 hours as warned. But the road wasn't all rough and rocky, there were nice asphalted ones nearer to the airport. As we hit the mountains, crossing to Surigao from Agusan, it was all dirt road. When we reached Surigao del Sur, I asked the driver if we took a shortcut. He said no, and that we were on a main highway. A rough road for a main thoroughfare. I thought all of Mindanao had great roads except for some in Lanao, Maguindanao and Zambo. Anyway, reaching Tandag City was a relief and as soon as I saw the coastline, I knew I was already in for a treat.
True enough, Surigao del Sur was different and spectacular. It had mountains, beaches, islands, caves, markets, quaint little towns, rivers, mining sites, and many more sights that you can't get enough of. We were there for work, so I wasn't really on vacation, but it was so hard not to explore.
When work ended in Tandag, our host, Gen. Hotchkiss told us to come to the town of Cantillan where we would meet and have dinner with him. They let us stay in this beachfront resort in Cantillan. We also needed to find ships to shoot, so we made our way to the pier to. There I saw quaint islands that seemed to have whispered to me, luring me.
So, when we got back to the resort, I was insistent in renting a pumpboat that would take us to the islands I saw. You could see them as well off the Cantillan shore. Its white sands looked so inviting. We got a small fishing boat and darted our way in excitement.
We landed in Humayao Island of the coast of Cantillan at 5PM, with the sun already setting. The island was perfect. Deserted and virgin, serene and magical. The white sand was I think better than Boracay, making it the most powdery sand I have ever set my foot upon. The setting was rustic. Too bad we only had an hour. We tried to visit some smaller nearby islands like Casa Rica, and then go around before heading back at 7PM with the moonlight upon us. There were more islands to explore, and it was such a shame we didn't go there earlier. Nevertheless, at least we had an hour in paradise.
When we met Gen. Hotchkiss, we mentioned to him our short trip. He told me that his family owned one of the bigger islands, and we should stay for a night more. It was an offer too hard to resist, but we had a schedule to follow. We woke up the next day basking in one of the most glorious sunrises I have ever seen. We rode a van back to the airport, passing by Lanuza Bay (nice rock formations and waves, popular among surfers) and the Surigao mines on Red Mountain. I saw more islands in Surigao del Norte that made me crave for the place more.
Mesmerized with the beauty of Surigao, I often tell the people of the great potential for tourism in their place. I keep asking why they don't fix their roads. I always get a silent response. After much reflection (haha), I came to realize that it really didn't matter much to them. They were already happy with what they have. And this is what makes Surigao and their people special. This is what makes their place so coveted. Seclusion by the Pacific Ocean promises serenity and beauty.
So who's with me? The roads won't stop me. I will definitely go back. Surigao del Sur has more in store for me to explore.