01-Sep-2011 -- This confluence visit was an afterthought.
Today is our third day in Davao City. Santah and I had been traveling up and down by car the Visayas Islands and Luzon and had visited various confluences along the way but this is our first venture to the “Land of Promise” - Mindanao. It was the invitation of Francis Lao, an old school friend of mine and a long time resident of this biggest city in the Philippines that made me decide that it was about time for me to cross the Surigao Strait. He wanted me to see first-hand how coco sugar is made. I am interested to see this because I have two hectares of coconut farm in Samar and maybe this new craze and high demand for sugar with low glycemix index appropriate for diabetic people can make a better use of my anemic farm.
The adventure in traveling is not reaching the destination but the travel itself. Along the route, we had a pleasant surprise when we saw two people zipping through the air above us at Agas-agas bridge in Kahupian, Sogod, Southern Leyte. We had to stop and went up to the launch site built by DPWH and saw a long line of young people waiting for their turn to “zip” down. See the photo. Another excitement was the notorious very sharp U-turn zig-zag climbing roads named “The Saddle” between Lilo-an and San Ricardo. This is definitely a first gear affair for the driver but it can be really challenging if you happen to encounter another vehicle going down while you are doing the steep U-turn climb. The San Ricardo Ferry Service to Lipata, Surigao is recently opened last December 2010 and it cut the ferry boat travel time from Leyte to Surigao from four hours to just one hour. This will ultimately spell the end for Lilo-an Ferry Service.
We reached Lipata, Surigao at about 3:30 PM, Monday afternoon and we decided to travel down further for about five hours reaching Tagum City, just one hour away from our final destination, Davao City. I was too tired to continue and we decided to sleep in our pickup truck parked at an Open-24-hour gas station. For travelers on real budget, this could be a good idea for four reasons, 1: Gas station is usually well-lighted and safe with a security guard. 2: Also, it has toilet just in case you need it. 3: Chances are you are very tired and you can well go to sleep in an instant in a familiar environment (your air-conditioned car) instead of strange hotel. 4: Fourth reason and the most important is that it is cheaper than hotel. Adventure in life is how you make it.
We continued driving to Davao City early next morning and we stayed as guests at the house of Esper Rosales, cousin of my wife and a practicing ob gyn doctor. There is another guest, the good-looking Fe Garcia that had Santah all ears on her interesting stories. They took care of us and we felt like being in a 5-star hotel. Plenty of fruits in our room and even with newspapers! It was our first time to taste durian and the taste is uniquely incredible. We spent our second day touring in Eden Resort; a mountain resort located about 40 kilometers from the city at the foothill of Mt. Apo courtesy of my good friend, Francis. We had a chance to visit the orchid farm Zul Orchids about 10 kilometers from Provincial –Bukidnon Highway Intersection. Santah made Zul Orchids 3,200 pesos richer that day with her purchase of several varieties.
Today, Thursday, is a free day for me and we decided to go confluence hunting. I was long aware of the presence of 7N 126E confluence in Sitio Tumariktik, Barangay Piso, Town of Banaybanay in Davao Oriental which is about 110 km. away from Davao City. This CF is a “low lying fruit” for senior citizens like us because it is only about 500 meters from the main road, the terrain variation is no more than 20 meters and Google satellite photo shows that the area is a coconut plantation. True enough, the hike was easy in spite of the absence of foot trails. We did not have a straight-line walk due to the presence of small ridges but I guess we walked to it for about 700 meters. This is my first CF visit in Mindanao, a new landmark for my personal quest and an appropriate bonus for my first trip to Mindanao.