GLAN, SARANGANI, PHILIPPINES — Being an archipelagic country, there was never a scarcity for beaches in the Philippines. On the geographically-divided province of Sarangani, the eastern part holds Gumasa Beach – a long stretch of white sand beach that covers at least eight resorts.
I was on an eight-hour boat trip to the island municipality of Sarangani, not to be confused with Sarangani province, when I’ve decided to write my day-to-day activities for this SOCCSKSARGEN-MY-ID-SG trip. The Sarangani Islands (one of which is Balut Island) are located in the youngest province of the Philippines – Davao Occidental, which was originally a part of Davao del Sur. Writing this post was originally meant as pampalipas oras. Haba kaya ng biyahe, gabi pa. Haha. Shall I start with a “Dear Piece of Paper”?
This is the 2nd year I’ve got to spend my birthday on a solo traveling mode. Last year’s was spent around Northern Samar for 3 days. This time, the target is the SOCCSKSARGEN Region in Central Mindanao.
DAY 1 (July 7, 2016)
I’ve got no sleep. My bag was packed very late because I had to work on yesterday’s holiday and for reasons I don’t know, have become nauseated in the evening. Maybe it’s the food I ate, but after vomiting I started becoming okay. Thanks sa laway na krus, pwera usog. My flight is still at around 5am.
The only problem was the ride to Manila from Bulacan. For the past trips, colorum vans are always to the rescue for trips past midnight. But not today. Since Pres. Duterte is on the “purge” mode, they’ve stopped operations. I’m not against it. Just unlucky this time. I’ve waited for about 2 hours just to get away from Bulacan. I’ve arrived at NAIA Terminal 3 a few minutes before the boarding gate closed. Buzzer beater!
TICKETS FOR BALUT
I’ve immediately went to Balut Island Port near Lion’s Beach (now Queen Tuna Park) after arrival to reserve a ticket. It turns out the next trip is on Friday. So I had to go to the other wharf in Puting Bato. It hurts my wallet actually travelling around GenSan alone, as I need to “pakyaw“ or pay for all the seats of the tri-sikad, GenSan’s version of tricycle. Back to the 320-peso ticket, I was only asked to write my name and age on a piece of scrap milk carton and asked me to return at 7pm for boarding and to get the actual ticket. Hala kuya wag mo iwala yan ha!
BOUND TO GUMASA BEACH
I went to the van terminal in KCC Mall for a ride to Glan (PhP 100). I was so tired from last night’s lack of sleep thus, I’ve paid no attention to the long GenSan-Glan trip. I woke up when the passenger beside me shyly nudged my shoulders – signalling me that we’ve already arrived at the town of Glan in the western division of Sarangani.
DAVAK RIDGE RESORT
Among the beach resorts in the Gumasa beach stretch, Davak Ridge Beach Resort will be the first to greet you. A tri-sikad from the van terminal costs around PhP 60 (pakyaw) to Davak Ridge Beach Resort. I decided to stay here because it has good reviews from Biyaherong Barat and the entrance fee is only PhP 50. I was the only customer that day – it’s a Thursday after all.
The beach was good – dirty white if I’d describe it. But I didn’t dipped in the water. I was still weary from yesterday’s hectic holiday work and headache. A nap by the beach under the shade of a tree is one of the best things that I needed today. I think I’ve slept for more than an hour. Too bad the waters of Gumasa have receded when I woke up. Low tide really seems to like me. Or maybe the tides hate me?
ISLA JARDIN DEL MAR RESORT
Ate Bet, the caretaker of the Davak Ridge Resort, told me to visit Isla Jardin del Mar, the farthest of the Gumasa beach resorts. She also asked if I do blog. Yes Ate! But it’s not a hit. Just an avenue for sharing my experiences. She had a hard time with the name of this blog, which reminded me of my poor choices in a blog name. The damage is done, mahirap na magpalit. Let it be.
Kuya Jun, the guard of the resort and a habal-habal driver, accompanied me to Isla Jardin del Mar Resort. He negotiated that the guards would let me enter for free because I’ll just be looking around and since it was a lowtide in Gumasa Beach. Yey!
After Gumasa Beach, I’ve returned to GenSan City at around 4pm to loiter around KCC and Veranda Malls and to shop for my supplies of cup noodles and corned tuna.
TRIP TO BALUT ISLAND
On the way to Puting Bato Wharf, the tri-sikad driver, Kuya Nonoy, asked me a lot of questions – why am I alone, does my parents know, and of all places to go alone, why Mindanao? I just gave him the usual smile I give to others and a I-really-don’t-know look. Maybe for the thrill of adventure, or maybe just for seeing the way of life in other places.
Right on the ticketer’s schedule, I was on the port by 7pm. It turns out it was a waiting game. It’s not a problem for me since I’ve got nothing to do in GenSan. The highly entropic city life pushes me into a corner. So people-watching is a better alternative than to pass my time at the busy streets of GenSan. There were a good mix of passengers, but dominantly from our Muslim countrymen. There were also a few Sangils, whom were Indonesian by blood origin. This may be explained by the relatively close proximity of the Sangihe Islands (Kepualauan Sangihe) of Northern Sulawesi province in Indonesia to Sarangani Islands. I didn’t know what time the boat left because I got sleepy in my bunker. But judging by the next day’s time of arrival, it seems the boat left at 12 midnight.
TRAVEL GUIDE / TIPS
- HOW TO GET THERE (Gumasa Beach). The nearest airport is General Santos International Airport (GES), although most flights are domestic. In General Santos City, look for the van terminal near KCC Mall and ride the van bound to Glan, Sarangani. Fare is PhP 100 for about 1 hour of travel time. Once at the terminal in Glan, either ride a trisikad (tricycle) or a habal-habal (motorcycle). The usual fare is PhP 35 per person. Since, I was solo I paid PhP 60 for a trisikad up to the first resort.
- WHERE TO STAY. There are at least eight (8) resorts in Gumasa Beach.
- The first to appear and the most backpacker-friendly resort is Davak Ridge Beach Resort. Entrance fee is PhP 50 per person. If you wish to stay overnight, a fan room costs around P800. Or you can just pitch a tent. For reservations, please contact Ate Bet at +63-909-810-8435.
- Ate Bet, the caretaker of Davak Ridge Beach Resort, recommended to visit Isla Jardin del Mar Resort – the farthest but the best of the eight resorts (in Ate Bet’s description). Rates are higher of course.
- The adrenaline-packed SarBay Fest, or the Sarangani Bay Festival, is held in Gumasa Beach yearly (around 3rd week of May to 1st week of June).
This is part of an 11-day solo birthday adventure to Soccsksargen, Singapore, Bintan (Indonesia) & Johor Bahru (Malaysia). Read the rest of the adventure here:
- From GenSan to Gumasa Beach in Glan
- Balut Island, Davao Occidental
- General Santos Fish Port Complex
- Lake Sebu
- Asik-asik Falls
- Grand Mosque
- Pink Mosque
- Sultan Kudarat Capitol
- Baras Bird Sanctuary, Tacurong City
- Lake Agco & Davao City
- Tanjungpinang, Riau Islands, Indonesia
- Loklok Hunting in Johor Bahru, Malaysia
- Marina Bay, Singapore