Sunday, June 18, 2017

Tagum, Davao del Norte: Kayaking Out to Sea, Unwinding in Between Meetings, and Watching the Davao Gulf Scenery

Hijo Resorts Banana Beach Sunset Scenery
I've been rowing for half an hour and I've only gone as far as the distant fishing hut and bamboo markers to the west of the Hijo estates coast in Madaum; Brgy. Liboganon is still some half-an-hour or so rowing to go.  Not that I intend to go that far as the kayak rental is only for an hour and I've been in fact fetched by the Bantay Dagat security personnel, not realizing I've gone a lot farther than most tourists ever do around here (I wonder why though).  Anyway, that's painting a picture of how expansive the estate's coastline is.  We were scheduled to spend almost a week here preparing for the groundbreaking of the Hijo industrial estates and despite my insomnia and compounded lack of sleep, I was determined to put in some hours of working out with the bonus of exploring the sights from the sea.

We came here for work (believe it or not) and pardon our occasional social media posts which can be downright deceiving, we just squeeze in a bit of recreation when the schedule allows.  Anyone who's done event management work will attest to that.   The work pressure can get to you if you don't learn to have some fun, balancing out the stress with your choice of R&R.  Some ease the pressure by drinking, some by gaming or bingeing; in my case, I workout.  From our first visit here for an ocular, I've already noticed the pile of paddleboards and kayaks lying unused near the shore; the resort guests and daytrippers largely ignoring them and splashing instead at the infinity pool, a pity really.  I haven't paddled or kayaked for a long while so I was curious if I can still log some decent distances.

Another perspective of Banana Beach Sunset Seascape
It's the habagat season, the weather here characterized by hot and humid afternoons with rains almost every late afternoon to evening.  I would've love to wake up early to catch the sunrise as it's rare to have dramatic sunsets but sometimes, the heavens give you a break.  Our second afternoon out here, I deferred napping after interfacing with client to wander by the shoreline curving towards the estuary that separates Banana Beach from Lanikai Resort and beyond it, the deep sea port.   I wanted to kayak weren't it for the wavy sea, the waves rolling inland which could test my patience and stamina this early in the trip so I wandered instead along the shore to catch the glimpse of the sunset.  It turned out to be beautiful, illuminating the top of the hilly terrain and palm tree tops, and casting a golden hue on the cabana that leads to the curving jetty over at Lanikai (I didn't bring my heavy, long Nikon telephoto lens so that description will suffice for now).

On our third morning, the Davao Gulf was very calm, the water almost mirror-like due to the lack of breezes so I gave in and bit the bullet (the kayak rate is a bit steep, too, at P750/hour).   If I had more time, I would've loved to take a nap under the sun as the kayak held very still.   Every now and then, I took out my phone and snapped some pictures.  I found out that the fishing hut serves as sort of a harbor for boats; fishermen were diving for fishes.  It was still early in the season for talakitok (trevally) but indeed, they fish for them out here.  I didn't know about the fishing rules out here but I was tempted to scoop out some of the purple sea urchins floating by, they would've made for an uni treat back at the resort (dunno how the Bantay Dagat guys would take it though so it may have been a good thing I didn't scoop them with my oar).  
Tagum City Hall modern interior
FORAY INTO THE CITY.   In between meetings with client, we also made occasional trips to Tagum city proper.  To those who are wondering where on earth it is, Tagum is located in Davao del Norte, some 45 minutes to 1 hour drive from the Davao International Airport, approximately 1 1/2 - 2 hours away from Davao City.  When we first took a tour here for our ocular about three weeks ago, we were taken aback by the sights -- the city hall looks like a modern glass, metal and concrete mall.  Speaking of mall, apart from the ever-present Gaisano, there's a CityMall and a Robinson's along the national highway.  It goes without saying that an SM mall is being planned.  I'm not a fan of malls and how they impact the local community and small businesses though in the Philippines, an SM mall is sort of a barometer of a province's or city's status.

We shopped around for some of our props here; my friends/business collaborators/ basketball fanatics colleagues caught the NBA game on the widescreen TV displays of Robinson's Department stores; ate at some of the joints; inspected the racks for swimming shorts (I found the prices steep so I ended up buying a 99 peso surfing short in a warehouse club-type store also within Robinson's).  Riding along the main avenue, the roads are lined by palm trees, with little traffic snags.  It's hard not to be impressed and who knows, in a few years, Tagum just might give Davao City some stiff competition in terms of tourism, industrial development, and port services.
Orange kayak, blue sea, cloudy sky
SLOWING DOWN AFTER THE BIG SHOW.   As we neared the event hour, the pace picked up.  There were last-minute tweaking to the script, 11th hour shooting to fill out the audio visual presentation, etc.  This is where working with good friends you've known and worked with for a long time comes in handy -- we pitch in for jobs that need doing nevermind that it's not in our job description, and most importantly, keep calm even when things get a bit hairy.  Thank Yahweh the show went smoothly, the heavens holding back the rains for the first time in days.  There were little to no-nerves on show here; maybe it's because of the soothing scenery.  Hey, not everyone can say they've mounted an event in the middle of a banana plantation with a view of distant mountains.

Nevermind the lack of sleep but to calm down after the event, I opted to go kayaking again instead of joining the eco-tour (I find it interesting but I want to explore the forest minus the hordes of people).  The sky was grey and cloudy, the wind picking up speed when I rowed northwards towards Lanikai and the port.  The sound of merriment was carried out to sea from Lanikai where the client's clan was billeted.  Farther out towards the deep sea port, the birds were diving to within centimeters of the water (maybe they didn't like me intruding on their playground).  I look up the orange crane that marks the pier, visible even from the far end of the Stokes Island coastline.  I utter a prayer of thanks and savor the moment: the sound of diving birds, the distant laughter, the occasional gusts of breezes blowing inland, the lapping of waves rolling towards the shore, the flow of grey clouds threatening rain but holding the precipitation back for the rest of the day.

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