two out of 12th paradise

I am a wild reader, the reason why I hate to write about the things that transpired during my travels. I think my writing is not enough to describe the beauty I saw and the feelings I felt; however, one thing I will admit is; I wrote this article straight from my heart.

The 12th paradise are places found in different municipalities of region 12. I am lucky that I already visited most of them, but this article will be all about the 2 municipalities I visited recently together with the craziest, coolest and most talented travel buddies you will ever have, the “ByahengMindanaw” team. Ehem!

Day 1
The day after T’nalak Festival we were fetch by the LGU of Tupi, South Cotabato for the first leg of our two day trip. We had to travel for an hour to reach Mt. Matutum protected landscape where Brgy. Linan wildlife sanctuary is situated; a home to different endangered species including the famous Tarsier or “Tukay mal” for the B’laan tribe which means small monkey, famed to be only found in Bohol. Did I say tarsier right? Don’t get too excited packing your things and head on to Linan, Thank God the place is not yet ready for mass tourism. The reason? I forgot.✌
I think we could ask or, I saw them jotting down notes when Sir Rolly the tourism officer of Tupi was explaining facts about the protected landscape.


We also experienced the hospitality of the B’laan tribe where they had prepared a very sumptuous and native lunch for us.



Afterwards, we had to rush for the largest plantation of the Philippines at the foot of Mt. Matutum and have our photo/video shoot in our chosen tribal attire.
We had to do it in just 20 minutes considering we are already late in meeting our ride for Kiamba, Sarangani. Nonetheless, we really had fun posing and dancing under the sun and grace of Mt. Matutum.


We arrived at General Santos city around 3:00 in the afternoon, 2 hours late of our ETA. Our ride was waiting for us at Robinson’s mall, so after buying our provisions for the next journey we were all set to go.
The whole day activity was tiring since I had only 4 hours of sleep from last night’s partying (can’t help it, t’was a festival after all), I fell asleep only to woke up when we were already in Kiamba.


We were supposed to sleep overnight at Tuka bay but due to weather and other reasons, we were advised to stay at the town proper and save our trip for the next morning.
We stayed at Villanueva’s homestay, a 46 year old house with type of architecture prominent during American era. The owner was very hospitable and friendly, He told us that the house was built by his parents and withstand two earthquakes, the first was during 1976 with a magnitude of 6.5 which left the house with a crack lines at the corner of their bathroom. Don’t worry peeping tom couldn’t have a pass on you, the bathroom is located at the 2nd floor. 😉

Day 2
The next morning, I was up early to stroll around the plaza and bay walk; and was impressed of the surroundings. I would describe Kiamba as a quaint town with deep roots of history.





After having breakfast we prepared ourselves for our journey in Tuka bay. We rode on a small boat, lucky as we are the sea was calm. Our boatman told us that sometimes dolphins can be seen in the area, after all, Tuka bay is a protected marine sanctuary. We really enjoyed the ride to our destination, beholding the wonders of nature.


Upon arriving in Tuka bay resort, we were like kids running on their lengthy white beach; a place to relax and throw caution to the wind. The resort was also adorned by a very beautiful beach house and colorful cottages.


We were supposed to have snorkeling but due to big waves another activity was not materialized. Yet, it did not stop us to relish the place; we played under the rain, rode the big waves and laughed our hearts out. Did I say rain? Yes, it rained shortly after we arrived and tampered our hope to have a photo-shoot in the area.



However, an hour before our departure Mr. Sun slightly graced the place; presto! We had our photos worth of a FrontPage. I told you so, we were always lucky. Hahah!


My two day trip was indeed a journey to showcase the hidden gems of the 12th paradise. So, what are you waiting for? Pack your bags and discover for yourself the gems I was talking about.
How to get there? Simple. Just Google it. X

Our special thanks to ACTS office of South, Cotabato; LGU Tupi, South Cotabato; LGU Kiamba, Saranggani; Department of Tourism XII; Mindanao Tourism Council; Smart Telecom; ByahengMindanaw team; Brgy.Linan Council; The B’laan tribe of Brgy. Linan; and every person who made this trip possible. Bong Selamat!

P.S: I would like to congratulate our group the “ByahengMindanw” team for this worthwhile travel. Once again, we showed the world that Mindanao is a place with beautiful culture and people, along with spectacular sceneries.

Photocredits:;; Madayaw WowDagway;


Lady of the lake

“The Mountain is calling, and I must go.”

Every time I am invited to a climb my first reaction was to say No; I am more a beach person having spent my university days in Panay, an island surrounded with pristine white beaches. Yet, everything changes when I had the chance to climb Mt. Melibingoy and discovered the alluring and serene beauty of Lake Holon. My first glimpse of the ethereal lake awed me beyond my imagination that you could compose a poem for her on an instant. And what I felt was beyond description. The spell of the place was forever etched in my mind; it was a perfect harmony between human and nature. I needed to come back here, a place where I felt at most peace with myself.
A longing that was answered a year later when my cousin invited me to join TAKLADTAMIG DIES a climb for a cause organized by FHM (Friends of Melibingoy and Holon). I was pretty ecstatic and excited that I had nights dreaming her. When the fateful day came, I was up early to prepare my things, myself and meet my friend who will join me to conquer the mighty Melibingoy once again. Together with the participants under MTC (Mindanao Tourism Council), we met our local organizers in T’boli, South Cotabato. Upon arriving at the place, a dump truck (Seriously a dump truck, I never saw it coming. Hahah!) was waiting to transport us at Sitio Kule, our jump-off point for the climb and where our outreach will take place. After the usual protocol and registration, we are off to go.
The ride to Sitio Kule was not a pleasant one, nevertheless it was very memorable, heart stopping and thrilling experience. Why? Given the fact that the road is unpaved and uneven, our truck almost flipped 180 degrees. Don’t worry, it didn’t happen considering I’m making this article.
The warm welcome of the t’boli community was overwhelming, they even prepared a feast and a program for us in their own ways.
After our community lunch, the organizer gathered us for a last minute instructions. Given the fact that we will not take the usual trail but a hunter’s trail, I was thrilled for the adventure that await us since it’s a 4 to 5 hours trek to the lake. The first hour of the climb went smoothly albeit having a 15 liters of weight at my back, but as the hour progresses I was already extremely tired thanks to the very challenging path we had. My shirt was soaked with sweat and dirt; and my knees was bruised having almost kissed a rock as big as a little nipa hut while trying to climb it to progress with my trail. My friends tried to persuade me to hand my bag to a local but stubborn as I could be, I refused saying that it won’t be a real climb for me if I load off my bag to a porter. As we advanced our way I was more becoming tired that I had few brushes with a fatal casualty, it was a real “buwis-buhay” scenario for me. I almost quit yet I taunted myself that if our climb is the way of life I will never come out as victorious, with this new resolve I summoned up all my strength to stand up and continue. I never gave in, I had to do this, and I had to finish this journey. As I was nearing my destination I almost weep, my body is aching all over; my feet was turning into a jelly; I’m thirsty and freaking hungry.  Then a cool breeze of wind hits my face, she welcomed me, the ethereal lake Holon. I had reach my haven, a place where my soul, my heart and mind meets.
After setting up my tent I grab the opportunity to rest while waiting for others. Having my tent in front of the lake I had the picturesque view worth of a postcard and thousand words.
The night came, we had our little social which includes introducing ourselves and giving out of certificates. Since we are all tired of the day’s activities we had an early lights off, after all we went there not to party but to enjoy the serenity of the place. Morning came and we have to prepare for descend, I woke up early to enjoy the lake in its morning glory, take pictures and appreciate the magnificence of the place.
The hour came to bid our farewell, with my last glimpse of the ethereal lake a promised was made to see her again after a year. A promise that will be materialized on March 2015 when she will be opened again for the public.
Learning Insights: Our journey here on earth is similar to my journey to Lake Holon. It was not an easy one, you will stumble; get hurt; run out of breath; but life is not about how many times you fall but how many times you stand up and fight your way to reach your goal. You also need to remember that you couldn’t do it on your own, once in a while you need to ask help from others for you to enjoy the things life offers you. After all, you should live for the journey not the destination. 

Road, sand, sea and soulmates

If you don’t know where you’re going, any road will take you there. -George Harrison

It was the 20th of April, The sky is promising of a good weather. A good news for us because we have a trip to visit the haven of Gumasa, Saranggani. It was a get-away we are waiting for months, after a year of not seeing each other with work, school and distance we need to consider. We agreed to meet in Shobe’s house at 7:00 a.m but I was already there at 6:30 a.m, I’m pretty excited you may say. We left Tacurong city(our hometown) at around 7:15 a.m, Having missed each other, our travel was full of laughter, teasing and selfies. The 2 hour drive to General Santos city passed like a blur. We had to stop by at Sm city Gensan where our friend Colen was waiting for us to buy food, drinks and of course liquor. The shopping takes longer than usual, blame it to long lines and goofing around. We left Gensan city at around 1:30 p.m and hit the road for Gumasa, Saranggani where our paradise awaits. We arrived at around 3:30 p.m a little late of our ETA for we had to stop at their market to buy “Lechon Manok” or grilled chicken for our dinner. There are several resort to choose from, offering good accommodations and white sand beach yet we opted Isla Jardin Del Mar resort. We love the fact that it’s quite far with other resorts and famous for not being too crowded, perfect for those people like us who wants privacy. The travel made a toll on us, so after we checked in and ushered into our cottage, we dig in for our food intended for lunch having no proper meal while on the road. Our cottage has two rooms and a bathroom, not bad for a P1,700 fee for a night. I shared the room with Colen, while April, Shobe and Ellen shared the other room. After resting for a while we decided to changed into our bikinis and had our pictures taken at the beachfront. Then, the night started with drinking ourselves to oblivion. I mean ellen. Hahah! Sharing things about our year, friends we met along our journey and our ups and lows. t’was a night worth remembering with lots of laughter and couple of tears. oh well, I can’t give you every details, It is a pretty little secret.