Sunday, September 12, 2010

Gumasa: Escaping to the white sand beach down under

Gumasa - Dramatic Morning Shadows
Dramatic morning shadows over the white sands of Gumasa

Days of staying at high elevation can make you get used to the cool, crisp, 22 degree Celsius daytime clime.  So much so that by the time you get to the lowlands, you can tell you're closer to sea level just by the hot and dry feeling.  By the time we got back to Gensan, it was a dry 34 degrees.  Good thing we already plotted out an escape in advance -- to Saranggani's not-so-secret getaway place, Gumasa.

White beach bummin' - Getting to Gumasa entails some creative haggling with the drivers of the vans parked at the terminal near KCC Mall.  If you're not careful, you can get charged as much as P3,500 for the hour-long trip to the Glan terminal which is still around 15 minutes away from Gumasa.  Instead of paying per head, we rented out a whole van for half the popularly-quoted price.
Gumasa - White Haven Big Banca Morning II
Beached boat separating White Haven Resort from Rosal
The over-an-hour trip takes you to a stretch of concrete highway until the turn towards Brgy. Roque Adarna where there is a short stretch of rough road. We arrived at Gumasa to find the Rosal Beach Resort fully-booked so we ventured over to the neighboring Coco Beach Resort.  Planting our weary feet into the powdery white sand half-sealed the idea of staying there.  Getting a 6-bed, air-conditioned room with T&B for P3,500 a night sealed the deal for us.
 
The owners said that during summer, the resort can be filled to the rafters with guests from all over but mostly from Gensan and Davao.  But now, in the off-season, the beach is deserted which is just the way I prefer it.
Glan Adarna House - Babae sa Bintana
Glan - Babae sa Bintana
Glan - Home Cinema Double Feature
Glan's home theaters
Detour to Glan.  The kind owners loaned us their pick-up for a trip to the Glan town proper where we can view old houses still being used and lived in.  Some are owned and maintained by members of the Adarna clan, relatives of the owners of the resorts along Gumasa.  We got lucky to have been welcomed inside the CariƱo house where the furnishings and the ambiance looked and felt strangely familiar (tableware and sulihiya chairs uncannily like my mom's; Radiowealth TV, all-steel electric fans like my grandparents').  Funny that at the height of the Ms. Universe fever, we were snooping around in old houses in an unfamiliar town.  

There were curiosities, too, that are priceless to note such as the "home cinemas" showing DVD movies like Angelina Jolie's "Wanted" and Stallone's "Rocky IV" (Glan has no movie theater) and the sweet, sweet mangosteens we regrettably bought too few of from an ambulant vendor at around P110 for 3 kilos.
Glan Adarna House - Facade
Glan Adarna House: a look at a bygone era
Back to the beach.  The habagat season means sunny mornings are almost always followed by rainy afternoons and wetter evenings.  We got back to Gumasa to anticipate a decent sunset but the weather had other plans.  What better excuse than to put away the camera and borrow a volleyball for some games and later, a dip into the waters.  We also spent a bit more time giving our feet a "sand spa massage," enjoying the always-cool sensation of the powdery white sand. This may have prompted not a few to call Gumasa the "Boracay of Mindanao."  Considering the over-the-top development and commercialization of Boracay, I pray Gumasa remains to be the way it is.
Gumasa - Copra Maker sa Kalsada
Copra-making is one of the province's chief industries
Info:  Gumasa is located in Saranggani, Southern Mindanao.  It is about an hour's drive away from Gensan, reachable via private vehicle or public transport.  Getting there: Depending on where you are coming from, you can usually find a bus that will take you from your cheap Davao hotel to the KCC Mall in downtown Gensan. Davao is about 2 hours away so it is smart to leave early. You can either ride a motorcycle going to Gumasa or ask a bus driver to take you down there for a good deal. Remember to haggle, and most of all, haggle with a smile. • Accommodations: We stayed at the Coco Beach Resort which has a lot of accommodations to choose from.  Food: It's smart to buy supplies in Gensan or Glan town proper.  If you plan to eat in Gumasa, do advise the resort hands well in advance.
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