Davao Orientals Slice of Paradise

Dec. 28, 2006

Former Mutya ng Dabaw and Davao Today columnist Joan Mae Soco has always dreamed of enjoying the beaches of Phuket, Thailand. Little did she know that, only six hours away by land, in Baganga, Davao Oriental, is a paradise that is just as lovely. She filed this report about a recent trip there.

DAVAO CITY — I have always dreamed of enjoying Kamla Beach in Phuket, Thailand, and wished to experience it during a vacation. I prayed a lot for it to happen. And a different, not to mention more beautiful, answer to my prayer came.

In the recent Araw ng Baganga, I and some members of the Davao City Tourism Office were invited by Mayor Gerry Morales of Baganga, Davao Oriental, to host a major event in his town. When I was told of the invitation, I was quite hesitant to go because of the long drive. But I went anyway.

The six-hour ride to Baganga was worth it because when we arrived at the mayors house, a feast was waiting for us lobsters, crabs and lots of other seafoods. And to think we arrived at midnight!

HIDDEN HEAVEN. The mangroves of Baganga are a sight to behold. (davaotoday.com photo by Joan Mae Soco)

The next morning, Mayor Gerry himself toured us around the mangrove garden. I was awed by the scenery of a veritable forest nurtured by the seawater. However, we learned that the mangrove garden was just a product of rehabilitation by the town. Residents along the shores usually cut down the mangroves for different purposes. According to Mayor Gerry, there used to be 300 hectares of mangroves but this has rapidly reduced to 162 hectares due to kaingin (slash and burn) farming and scraping of mangrove barks for tungog, an ingredient in making tuba or coconut wine.

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