CAGWAIT'S  HIDDEN PARADISE IN SURIGAO DEL SUR
 

[PHOTO AT LEFT - Kaliguan Fest Dance Showdown in Cagwait Beach (photo by JOJIE ALCANTARA)]

MANILA, JULY 21, 2010 (BULLETIN) By JOJIE ALCANTARA - In the ‘70s, the famous American aviator Charles Lindbergh flew to the Philippines as part of his campaign to preserve endangered wildlife and the Philippine Eagle. Circling above Mindanao, a beautiful horseshoe-shaped cove with white fringe bordered by dazzling blue waters caught his eye.

Lindbergh was said to have exclaimed “It’s like Waikiki in Hawaii!” and landed on this spot to meet the locals. He had christened the stunning white beach in Cagwait, Surigao del Sur.

The Municipality of Cagwait is around 32 kms. southwest of Tandag, the capital town of Surigao del Sur. Waikiki or White Beach is endowed with a wide expanse of powdery white sand similar in texture to that of Boracay. Your feet sink in its super fine grains, as you walk along its lengthy shore. What’s more, the varying shades of cerulean blue matching sea and sky will tempt you to take a plunge.

The White Beach became so popular among locals in the province who flock by the thousands during the Kaliguan Festival, celebrated every June 21-24th. “Kaliguan” (the Feast Day of St. John the Baptist), was a coined word for both a good bathing place and thanksgiving for a blessed bounty bestowed on the small community. Neighboring municipalities and cities participate in a festivity that runs for five days which include a well-prepared beauty pageant (the Perlas ng Kaliguan), dance performances, sports and cultural activities, all happening on the pristine white beach. Beauty contestants travel from miles away just to be part of this highly anticipated event. The bonus of Waikiki is that you get to wake up to a different and beautiful sunrise each day, and it was something I looked forward to while I was there.

Kaliguan may have a positive impact on its tourism industry, but the municipality is yet to cause a ripple and buzz outside the province, prompting Mayor Bonifacio Ondona to refer to his hometown as “the Unseen Paradise” waiting to be discovered. However, recent developments hastened new constructed roads in Surigao del Sur, and travel to Cagwait is now merely five hours away from Davao City via San Francisco, Agusan del Sur. Affordable and simple resorts now border the shores of Waikiki. Special thanks to Governor Johnny Pimentel and family for inviting me over several years ago back when it was still an undiscovered haven. For more information, visit http://www.surigaodelsur.net.

(Jojie Alcantara is a travel photojournalist and lifestyle columnist based in Davao City. She bravely explores off-the-beaten paths with her cameras and asthma inhaler and loves to share her island adventures through her stories and lens. View them in www.pbase.com/jojie_alcantara or email her at jojiealcantara@gmail.com)


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