By Rommel Tiongco
I could not help smile with this innocent query from an Australian friend who’s recently bitten by travel bug and wants to see the world, first with Southeast Asian countries as destination.
“I’ve been to Thailand and Malaysia and met tourists from some countries and they told me to see Philippine Islands like Camiguin and Siargao,” he wrote me.
All his life, he confessed, he lives in a mountain city and dream of islands and seas “even for a day.” Now, it’s my turn to tell him (and a few others who are not familiar of Caraga.)
Caraga is a region of Mindanao in the Pacific Ocean side. It is composed of five provinces of Agusan del Norte, Agusan del Sur, Surigao del Norte, Surigao del Sur and Dinagat Islands.
Siargao Island belongs to the province of Surigao del Norte which is about four hours by boat from Surigao City, the provincial capital.
While Siargao is popular as water sports destinations (surfing and game fishing), other islands along the Surigao coasts are equally and perhaps even more breathtaking to go to for holidays and explorations especially if you prefer not too crowded and commercialized destinations.
These islands are Dinagat (with its eye-catching rock formations and secret coves and white sand beaches), Britania Group of Islands, Turtle Island and Hinatuan cove.
Surigao city is known as the city of islands and it seem endless. In fact, you would complain-so many islands little time.
Other must-see and explore are the mainland jewels like Tinuy-an Falls in Bislig City, Surigao del Sur (the widest waterfalls in the country), the Agusan Marsh of Agusan del Sur and the view decks to nature of Cabadbaran City and RTR town in Agusan del Norte.
Of course not to be missed is the attractions of the City of Butuan, the region’s capital, with its historic come-on attractions that could equal the grandeur and color of the past centuries with the Southeast Asian nations.
Interestingly, Butuan is a child of the ancient Agusan River, nourished and adored by the people with creative expressions like the Abayan fluvial parade and festival held every first week of August. This is the very city where you find the ancient sea-traveling boats that ply to Vietnam and even China in the 10th century.
Definitely, there is much to see and experience this developing Northern Mindanao region any time of the year. Islands, islets, waterfalls, marsh and swamps and rivers abound and historical sites and warm and friendly people to trade stories with.
Caraga Region really is more than the popular Siargao Island you see.