Dinagat Province is the newest province of the Philippines- making the list 80 after the Supreme Court reversed its decision making Dinagat islands a province out of Surigao del Norte.
A province blessed with everything beautiful but sadly not being maximized to the fullest potential.
Anyway, I wanted to talk about my reflections while we toured around the island on a motorbike.
An Island Paradise.
Dinagat is an island paradise consisting of many more islets just waiting to be explored. If the nearby Socorro and Siargao islands have amazing white beaches then I’m sure that this has many virgin beaches too. Ironically, when you google for travel guides or tourist spots, there’s only one photo that will show a photo of a white beach- Ivan’s Cagdianao Beach.
A Bonsai Forest.
Dinagat has a bonsai forest- Mt. Redondo in Loreto town. While this should be taken cared of and promoted as a tourism area, the grim truth is that this area is slowly being mined for chromite because the province is declared as a mineral reserve. Its really heart-wrenching to discover how people are willing to kill wildlife and nature for money and ‘development’.
You can check out a 2008 birding exploration that reports sighting of storks, eagles, Mindanao-bleeding heart, owls, woodpeckers, and even a flying lemur in this article by Philippine Birding Trip Reports. I wonder if the next generation would have the chance of seeing those.
A Rich Ruler with Poor Followers.
I have nothing against their cult but I can’t stand the idea of people (mostly from Samar, Leyte and Surigao) selling lots and properties to be donated to their cult and live under the master where they act as servants, blindly following orders. I heard real-life stories while I talked with some locals on my quick stay in the island. I also find it ironic to see a huge castle as their leader’s residence while the people live in small houses. How come? While most are contented with having a single motorbike their leader is enjoying SUVs and Yachts.
I feel sad about the reality I saw in Dinagat islands. A province which is definitely rich in natural resources and hospitable people live in poverty. Actually, it is ranked 76th out of 80, meaning the 5th poorest province in the Philippines.
Where does the revenue from mining goes? Who benefits from it? What will happen to tourism when all the mountains are mined and rivers and seas die?
Isn’t that the Bible says, “Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress.” (James 1:27, NIV). Meaning, those people who are poor and hopeless should be served and ministered unto not exploited and abused. Define ‘benevolent’?
How to get to Dinagat Islands Province?
Lantsa or big boats are available at the Boulevard port in Surigao City. There are 3 trips to the capital town San Jose which are 9:00am; 12:00nn; and 3:00pm. Fare is Php50 and travel time is 1hour.
Accommodation in San Jose, Dinagat. I saw San Jose Pension House just walking distance from the port.
Getting around: The best way is to hire a motorbike with driver if touring the island as roads are sometimes hard to navigate and steep.
Food. There are restaurants near the public market, budget per meal start at Php40.
Cellphone signal- both Globe and Smart have fairly good reception. No signal for Sun when I was there last March 2012.
It is practically safe for tourist to visit Dinagat, locals are warm and smiling.
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I visited Dinagat Province during Days 47 to 49 of ISANGDAAN Journey. My trip there will not be possible without a help of fellow couchsurfer, Carleen, who accompanied me during the 2-day tour because she has a brother living in the island.
#ISANGDAAN is a personal journey and challenge to backpack around the Philippines the cheapest way possible for 100 days. The book entitled “ISANGDAAN Journey” will be out soon!
If you want to follow my steps, I have an interactive map- ISANGDAAN Journey map.