by Henrylito D. Tacio
“WE’RE PROUD TO BE FROM DAVAO DEL SUR!” Wherever you go when you visit the towns of Davao del Sur, you will see this sign – in schools, in government offices, and even in private establishments.
They have something to be proud of, especially when it comes to its tourist destinations and attractions. It’s not only fun, fun, fun. See, walk, hike, climb, soar, swim, dive, ponder, marvel, and learn. These are the other things you can do while visiting Davao del Sur.
The province of Davao del Sur is composed of 14 towns, namely: Bansalan, Don Marcelino, Hagonoy, Jose Abad Santos, Kiblawan, Magsaysay, Malalag, Malita, Matan-ao, Padada, Santa Cruz, Santa Maria, Sarangani, and Sulop. The only city is Digos, which is also the province’s capital.
The province is home to several festivals. Every January 15, Digos celebrates the Saulogon Festival. Jose Abad Santos commemorates the Kapyaan Festival in February. April is the month of Pista sa Kinaiyahan in Santa Cruz. Kapatagan in Digos comes alive on June during their Dorong Festival. September has two festivals: Padigosan in Digos and Bansaulog in Bansalan.
If you are looking for a province where you can relax, swim and dive, don’t go too far. They’re all here. In Sarangani, situated in the southernmost tip of the province, you have several options. To name a few beaches: Mabila, Huway, Manando, Baetong, Mangahos, Laker, Patuco, and Sarangani. You can also go to the Olaniban Island, a privately-owned coconut-filled island which can be reached by pump boat.
If the real Boracay is too far and expensive for you, why not go to Mariscal Beach Resort, touted to be the “little Boracay of Davao del Sur.” Located six kilometers away from the town proper of Santa Maria, it offers white sand shore, open-air cottages, dressing rooms, and canteen. Three other known beach resorts in Santa Maria are Gloria, Giger, and Hiquiana.
Malita, some 62 kilometers south of Digos, has four fine beaches to visit: Lacampco and Palmas Oro Beach Resorts (privately-owned), Malita Beach Park (developed through the assistance of Department of Tourism), and Terra Beach (located at barangay New Argao).
Digos City also boasts its own beach resorts: Dawis Beach Club and Resort (with fine natural sand, corals and colorful fish), Bolinaon Beach Resorts (an array of privately-owned commercial establishments), and Aplaya Beach (where you can find cottages, videoke bars and dining places).
If you love diving, then don’t miss the fish sanctuary within the Malalag coastal area in barangay Bulacan. Underwater cave in Sarangani can be explored by diving through its underwater opening. In Padada, you can do your thing at the Piape Reef, which is covered with a variety of corals. The area is submerged during the high tide and visible during the low tide.
The depth of Tubalan Cove in Malita is ideal for scuba diving while the surface is an invitation to water skiers.
If history is your thing, then you should not miss Davao del Sur. In 1528, the Spaniards explored Mindanao when Alvaro de Saavedra went through the Sarangani Islands on the southwestern tip of Davao Gulf. Ruy Lopez de Villalobos skirted the eastern coasts of this province. In fact, there is a Fort Villalobos Fort situated in Sarangani.
Davao del Sur also figured out in history during the Japanese occupation. In Padada, there is a 4-kilometer Japanese cave that passes the provincial road going to Kiblawan. In Hagonoy, there is a Tologan Japanese tunnel, which served as a garage for the heavy equipment used by Japanese soldiers.
Davao del Sur is noted for its natural waterfalls. Malita has three well-known falls: Kipanan (consisting of 10 falls of varying widths and heights), Kablolan (with two falls, one 30 feet in height while the other is 50 feet in height), and Indalugong (waterfall plunging from a height of 80 feet).
But the mother of all falls in Davao del Sur is the Tudaya Falls. The tallest waterfalls in Mount Apo National Park (100 meters in height and 50-meter diameter pool), it can be reached for six hours trek via Sibulan trail or three hours via Kapatagan.
Those who like mountain climbing and trekking, they can start with the Mount Tangali “Highland Resort” in Malalag. About 900 meters above sea level, it is surrounded with virgin forest and home to various wildlife species. The temperature is cool and foggy.
Mount Apo is shared by Santa Cruz, Bansalan, and Digos. However, best scaling the country’s highest peak can be staged via Kapatagan area, located 30 kilometers northwest of Digos City.
If you enjoy eco-adventure activities, you can do river tubing, a simpler version of white-water rafting using inflatable tire, in Sibulan River, Darong, Sta. Cruz and aqua-sports activities in Malalag, Sta. Maria, Jose Abad Santos, Sarangani, Sta. Cruz, and in other towns of the province.
Davao del Sur is also noted for its man-made attractions. In Bansalan, there’s the Sloping Agricultural Land Technology (SALT), a sustainable farming system. People from all over the world come to barangay Kinuskusan just to see how the system works. Its former director, Rev. Harold R. Watson, clinched a Ramon Magsaysay Award (considered the Nobel Prize of Asia) for encouraging international utilization of the scheme.
Magsaysay is known for its three man-made swimming resorts: Narvaza-Kalapaw and Kamonsilan in Barayong and Encar, just 1.5 kilometers away from the poblacion. On your way to this town, you can see wide areas planted to rice. In fact, the town is known as the “rice granary of Davao del Sur.”
“A province of culture” is how some people describe Davao del Sur. In Bansalan, you can visit the Bitaug Weaving Center managed by Salinta Monon, the 1998 Gawad sa Manlilikha ng Bayan winner. In Matan-ao, don’t fail to go to the Savoy B’laan Cultural Village, about nine kilometers away from the town proper. Home mostly to B’laan (90 percent of the people), you can learn anything about this tribe.
Davao Del Sur was created under Republic Act. No. 4867 on May 8, 1967 and started as a province on July 1, 1967. It is bounded by Davao City in the north; by Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat, and Kidapawan City in the west; by the Celebes Sea, Sarangani Province, and General Santos City in the south; and by the Davao Gulf in the east. Its capital is Digos City; Davao City used to be a part of the province until it was made an independent city.
The western part of the province is dominated by Mount Apo, the country’s highest peak. Mount Tanglao and Mount Latian are two other landmarks in the hinterlands. Wide fertile valleys are found between the mountain ranges and the narrow coastal plains in the east.
Davao del Sur is blessed with a favorable climate characterized by wet and dry seasons. The coldest time is during the months of December and January and the hottest is during the months of April and May. The province is outside the typhoon belt.
Because of its favorable climate and fertile soil, Davao del Sur is primarily an agricultural province. It is popularly known as coconut country since coconut is its major commercial crop. Its rice and corn production is more than sufficient for its population. Other crops grown are bananas, cacao, ramie, coffee, fruits and vegetables.
Welcome to Davao del Sur! — ###