About Me, Adventures, Davao Oriental, Davao Region XI, Islands, Mindanao, Nature, Newspapers, Places, Published Works, Travel, Trends
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Secrets of Lawigan

Fisherman casts his net

Fisherman casts his net

Secrets of Lawigan
Text and photos by Jojie Alcantara (published article, SunStar Davao and Manila Bulletin in 2012)

Visiting my birthplace in Mati, Davao Oriental, often brings me a lot of unexpected moments and pleasant surprises. For one, every time I come back for a short visit, my sunrise shoots at 5am in the popular Dahican strip always give me a different seascape each time.

Fresh catch of the day

Fresh catch of the day

 

In my childhood days, it took four hours on very rough and narrow roads to traverse from Davao to Mati. Today, widened cemented roads offer a scenic view of the gulf from the cliffs, reaching the city in three hours, and literally paving the way for Mati to become a sought after tropical destination because of its beautiful coastline.

Fishermen in Lawigan

Fishermen in Lawigan

 

My last visit, though, was extraordinary, something that ranked up there with my dolphin tour last year in the waters. This time I made a trip to a hidden coastal village that is yet to be explored fully. Here, at the farthest edge of Mati’s coastal topography, lies Lawigan, one of 26 barangays with a population of 4,000, a household of 485 within 12 puroks, and villagers whose livelihood relies on fishing and goats.

Enjoying the sand bar taken by Mark Limbaga

Jojie Alcantara in Lawigan sand bar

 

Dotted by rugged rock formations, mangroves and white sands interspersed with coconut trees and patches of civilization with huts built on shorelines, the road to Lawigan is quite narrow and perched on a precipice, before going down at sea level again. We’ve passed by several tiny kids walking towards school, backpacks in tow.

Fishermen heading out into the open sea Fishermen heading out into the open sea

Fishermen heading out into the open sea

 

Thankfully, we were warmly welcomed by the villagers who invited us for a hearty lunch which they themselves prepared and cooked in an open stove. Former Kagawad Rey Mamilhic, who still works in the provincial government, proudly told us of Lawigan’s hidden beauty and tourism potential. He has worked on asking for an ambulance van from the city and radio sets for communication, which the Mayor is said to have approved. In the works are homestay arrangements for visitors since they can only provide the school gym for now.

Cellphones tied to a tree to reach signal

Cellphones tied to a tree to reach signal

 

Up a tree, I noticed several cellphone units tied to branches, their owners hoping to catch some signal. If you ever need to get away from the populated urban life, this is one of the remotest places to go where you can’t easily be reached. About the strongest signal available is in nearby Barangay Tamisan where a fish monitoring device was erected by Smart Communications in a project supported by the government.

Fisherman preparing his net

Fisherman preparing his net

 

This successful Marine Protection Area resource management boosts community efforts to preserve and improve the biodiversity of the area, which in turn encouraged neighboring Lawigan to hopefully establish their own MPA as well. Since then, a significant increase in number of marine life was noted, populating the shoreline, and fish catch among locals have improved. Regular sightings of dolphins and dugongs prove the sea grass and colorful coral beds to be healthy and regenerating, confirming Lawigan as a potential dive and surf destination.

Fresh kinilaw served in Lawigan

Fresh kinilaw served in Lawigan

 

Proof of this are the healthy fresh fishes served to us in the form of soup, grilled and kinilaw. Lunch by the beach was invigorating and filled our stomachs immediately.

Still rolling in the sand bar, photo of me by Mark Limbaga

Jojie Alcantara in Lawigan sand bar

 

It was a very lovely day where I couldn’t get enough of its seascape glory. I took photos of its extended sandbar which you can walk for yards and yards out into sea. While the coast was calm and clear, farther ahead where mangroves are growing, the sea changes into a fury of white waves bashing into protective reef fringes, where the gulf meets the raging Pacific sea. Here, the fishing boats ply the outer area where waters are deep and aquatic life is in abundance.

Me capturing a fisherman in a banca

Jojie Alcantara capturing a fisherman in a banca

 

I asked a fisherman to throw his net into the sea, with me bobbing in the waters and capturing the moment, even when the sun was bearing down on me. Kids kept me company as they happily jumped from the boat.

Kids frolic in Lawigan beach

Kids in Lawigan by Jojie Alcantara

Will I come back here again? Definitely, even if it meant camping in the open sky on the shore, with my cellphone tied to a tree branch. There are beach coasts I have encountered in my life where I would like to stay incommunicado for a long while. This hidden paradise is one of them.

* * * *

View more photos in my gallery of Lawigan

July18 2012 Lawigan SunStar Jojie Alcantara

Published in SunStar Davao July 18 2012

 

July29 2012 Manila Bulletin Lawigan by Jojie Alcantara

July 29 2012 Manila Bulletin – Lawigan by Jojie Alcantara

Filed under: About Me, Adventures, Davao Oriental, Davao Region XI, Islands, Mindanao, Nature, Newspapers, Places, Published Works, Travel, Trends

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The author is a multi-awarded photographer, journalist, and artist whose works are featured in tourism campaigns (It's More Fun in the Philippines), covers and spreads of books and international magazines. A long time columnist of SunStar Davao, she is a frequent traveler in search of inspirational heartwarming stories of human interest. She is also an  influencer and motivational speaker who gives photography workshops in universities and organizations. A former TV personality, she has done several print and TV commercials, event hosting and speaking engagements. In 2013, she has received an award from the City Government of Davao for her significant contribution in the social media. She was one of the speakers in Photo World Asia 2017.  A web designer/blogger since the 90s, she has seen the evolution of the internet and social media transition from the perspective of a traditional media person.

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