The province of Dinagat Islands is formerly part of the larger province of Surigao del Norte until it officially became an independent province in 2011, making it the country's 80th province. It is one "off-the-beaten" destination that most travelers hardly visit. That's why when I got the chance to travel in CARAGA Region in Mindanao some time in 2012, I made sure that I include this province in my itinerary. Coming from Cebu, I took a 40-minute plane ride to Surigao City. Together with my friend who works in Dinagat Islands, we took a passenger boat bound for San Jose, the capital municipality of the province.
Past 30 minutes upon leaving Surigao City, breathtaking views of rock formations and islets greeted us. I quickly stood up from where I was seated inside the boat and took photos of the amazing rock formations and islets. They're truly eye-catching! From here on, I know that I am up for some amazing sights in the province of Dinagat.
You'll know that you're nearing the Port of San Jose when you see a castle, majestically standing on top of a mountain.
The boat ride took only about a little over an hour. We disembarked at the port and took a habal-habal to my friend's office where his co-workers are waiting for us.
The town is a typical provincial town with houses concentrated at the town proper. I didn't see any tricycle around. Because of its hilly terrain, habal-habal (single motorcycles) are the primary mode of land transportation in going around the province.
After resting for a while and getting acquainted with everyone, we then started to see things around the municipality.
PBMA SHRINEOur first destination is the Philippine Benevolent Missionaries Association (PBMA) Shrine, also known as the Holy Land. Dinagat Islands is the home of the organization and the town of San Jose serves as its center. PBMA is a SEC registered, legitimate, non-sectarian, non-profit, humanitarian and a brotherhood organization founded by its "Divine Master" Ruben Ecleo, Sr. in 1965. Majority of the people in Dinagat Islands are members of the said organization and the shrine is where Ruben Ecleo, Sr's body rests. NOTE: Be sure to ask permission before entering the shrine.
ISLANDER'S CASTLEFrom the shrine, you can already see the Islander's Castle that sits on top of the hilly portion of San Jose. It is a beautiful private property mansion owned by Governor Glenda Ecleo. It is not open to public but you can take photos from the outside the gate. The castle has already been a tourist spot in the province for its beauty and grandeur. Who would not want to live in a castle and feel like a prince or a princess in a fairy tale?
BREATHTAKING ISLETSOn one side of the shrine, you'll see a breathtaking view of some of the province's islets. As the sun started to go down, it provides an amazing view with hues of oranges reflected on the peaceful waters.
SUNSET AT BASILISABefore the sun totally disappear, we quickly drove to the town of Basilisa to catch the sunset. Basilisa is the next town north of San Jose. It can be reached via a 30-minute habal-habal ride.
We arrived at Basilisa just in time for the sunset. We settled on one side of the road facing west and enjoyed the magical view of the setting sun. As the sun drowned in the horizon, its rays fill the sky with radiant and vibrant colors. I was mesmerized as the sun slowly disappeared in the horizon, it's like a painting done in front of me.
As the night comes, we went back to San Jose to have dinner, kill some time and finally calling it a day.
Sadly, we had to leave the following day taking the first trip back to Surigao City at 6:00 AM. It was a quick but meaningful experience exploring the capital town of Dinagat Islands. I will surely be back to explore more of the province's gorgeous rock formations, pristine white sand beaches, majestic lakes, untouched islets and its hidden wonders. 'Til the next time!
Many thanks to my friend, Jeffrey of www.travelingmorion.com and to his co-workers for touring me around Dinagat Islands.
This is part of my Dinagat Islands adventure that happened on August 18-19, 2012. Dinagat Islands is the 75th province on my list.
- TRAVEL TIP: How to Get to Dinagat Islands
- Exploring San Jose in the Province of Dinagat Islands
- Where to Stay in Dinagat Islands: Rose Pink Lodge
More photos on Pinoy AdvenTurista's Facebook Page, click here.
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