Governor Generoso: Unplugged and Charged

July 24, 2019 Travel

Too often, when I travel, I get so distracted by my phone notifications that I fail to truly be present for the experiences right in front of me.
When I found out there would be no cellphone signal in the resort we would be staying in, I initially got anxious. But, it quickly turned to joy as I watched all my cares in the world vanish, and I just relished the opportunity to be back in the province I vowed to return to and enjoy a part of it I haven’t seen. 
Governor Generoso or GovGen, located at the southeastern most tip of Philippine archipelago, played host recently to a group of divers and non-divers like me. The quiet, unassuming municipality opened up the province’s bid to become a diving destination in an event called Sawom Davao.
Sawom Davao, the Davao Oriental Dive Festival, is an activity jointly initiated by the provincial government of Davao Oriental, the Department of Tourism Region XI, and the Visit Davao Summer Festival, and sponsored by my client, AirAsia.
The participants of Sawom Davao

Davao Oriental as a diving destination is another feather to add to its cap. The province is also known as the “Sunrise Capital of the Philippines,” the “Gateway to the Pacific,” and the “home of the Eastern Mindanao Biodiversity Corridors.” It has the longest coastline in the entire Davao Region, which extends across more than five hundred (500) kilometers.

A year ago, I had the chance to explore Davao Oriental after attending the 39th Mountaineering Federation of the Philippines’ Annual Congress held in Maragusan, Compostela Valley. The province left me in awe of its beauty. 

We started in the Dahican Beach in Mati, where we camped for the night. The following day, we bummed around the beach, and then in the afternoon, I had my first Ultralight Flying Experience, through the watchful eye of the Mindanao Saga Flying Club.

On our last day, we started our tour of the rest of Davao Oriental at the Sleeping Dinosaur Island view deck, a very popular stopover; then we drove to Pusan Point in Caraga, where the sun rises first in the country; then along the way, we spotted a charming island in San Victor; then we took photographs of the whitewashed mangroves of Baganga; then finally,we  got to see the most picturesque waterfalls I have ever seen, Aliwagwag Falls in Cateel. 

I didn’t expect to see much because the event is for people who dive, but that’s a skill I haven’t had the chance to learn, except for a few intro dives. But GovGen had a few surprises up its sleeves.

The sunrise at Cape San Agustin was among the most breathtaking I have ever seen. From on top of one of the lighthouses, I was able to witness one of nature’s spectacles, while marveling at the three bodies of water clashing in front of us.

It’s the one corner in this earth where the Pacific Ocean, the Celebes Sea, and the Davao Gulf meet. Cape San Agustin is literally the most southeastern point of the Davao region and is located in Sitio Talisay, Barangay Lavigan.

One of the three light houses of Cape San Agustin

I can’t believe I tried talking my way out of that part of the itinerary the night before, as we were partying during the event’s fellowship night. Good thing our guide, named Bong, was able to convince me otherwise.

As promised, it was stunning. I have completely forgotten about the comfortable bed I left at the resort where we stayed, which is another one of GovGen’s wonders.

El Don Resort is true to the meaning of its name. It is a gift. 

I really did not expect to see such a high-end resort in this part of the country. It was nighttime when we arrived. Our boat had difficulty docking, and we had walk to the shore, with the seawater about chest-high. All I could think about was a nice shower, and it didn’t matter if it was hot or cold. I just needed to wash off the sea salt on my skin. 

Even after all of this, the resort was stunning to look at. The pool was lit up, and I could see all the preparations set for the fellowship night at the other side of the pool. It was too inviting to ignore. But, first thing first: I needed to freshen up.

Our room at El Don was spacious. It had three beds and a small extra bed, which was what I chose to sleep on. It had all the things I look for in a room – soft sheets, a comfy bed, and a hot shower. The only thing lacking was a space to hang my wet clothes, but I had that figured out. 

After dinner, I joined the rest of the group in the fellowship night attended by officials of the organizations I mentioned earlier. Some of them I met earlier at the event kickoff at Sigaboy Island, another one of GovGen’s treasures.

After the program, we moved to a quieter spot near the pool. Sans the distractions, I was more able to enjoy the night with friends, both old and new, over whiskey and beer. 

We all talked about how amazed we were at the resort, and I thought I already saw the best of it, but lo and behold, the day after our sunrise-watching at Cape San Agustin, I was astonished anew.

One spot overlooks the sea, and I already saw myself lounging in one of yellow hammocks, but there was more to explore. The resort sits in beside a kilometer-long stretch of white sand beachfront along the Davao Gulf. 

El Don occupies a 21-hectare land, and we were told that further developments are still underway. Its Mediterranean-inspired architectural design blends well with its lush landscape.

I am really grateful for resorts that respect nature. I am thankful for people who take part in this important task.

And, it turned-out, GovGen is really regarded for its love of the environment.

That same day, we also visited a mangrove area that is also a turtle sanctuary for a tree-planting activity. 

Our group with the environmental heroes of Davao Oriental

We were told the site is home to four species of turtles, two species of mangroves, and various hosts of migratory birds. The locals play an important part in the preservation of this site. 

I did my share by planting a few seedlings, hoping fate would again bring me back to this paradise so I could see my mangrove trees grow big, and connect again to what matters most to me: nature.

I brought back home so much inspiration and many affirmations on the value of being present and establishing meaningful connections.

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  1. Davao Oriental is really a beautiful place. If you have the time, go check out Camp Bernardino de Lavigan too. It is a really great place. Chill and really sophisticated too. :)