I’VE always wanted to visit Mindanao. Everyone I know in the traveling community seem to have visited some part of it – Davao, CDO, Camiguin, Bukidnon, etc. – and have only good things to say about their experiences going there. Since I was beginning to feel left out in discussions on Mindanao among my traveling buddies, and my online albums are conspicuously missing photos of anywhere south of the Visayas, I resolved to make a visit to Mindanao a priority in 2011. Prior to this trip, the closest I’ve gotten to Mindanao was to view the coast of Zamboanga del Norte from far away Siquijor in the Visayas.
What makes it difficult for me to travel to Mindanao is the fact that a lot of times I’m a solo traveler, and this certainly has an effect on any budget estimate. My best bet cut costs would be to take advantage of a package tour with groups like Travel Factor, or to somehow join an informal traveling group (sabit). I don’t exactly remember the circumstances but Travel Factor either didn’t have a scheduled package tour to anywhere in Mindanao, or their tours didn’t match my company’s critical work days calendar.
Fortunately, I came across an ad in one of the blogs I read from time to time – http://happysole.wordpress.com/ . In the ad, the blogger, whom I later learned was named Gwen, put out a general invitation looking for companions for a trip to northern Mindanao. Seeing that as my best opportunity to travel to Mindanao, I immediately emailed her to inquire about the details of the trip and if I can still join. The itinerary revolved around parts of Surigao del Norte and Surigao del Sur, with the gateway being Butuan City.
Luckily, the inclusive dates of the intended trip matched my office schedule so I made the necessary preparations – filing VLs, booking flights, etc. (This I had to do while also preparing for my Batanes return trip, which I recently blogged about.) To make a long story short, I met Gwen and her friends Florence, Cha and Kring at the airport in the morning we were supposed to fly to Butuan. It took me around 48 hours to memorize their nicknames – that’s how bad I am with names.
Yes, I was apparently the only male in the group. But this didn’t prove to be any problem as the 4 weren’t very fussy travelers. But just as a courtesy, I did apologize in advance as I am known to snore. (I don’t know if it ever did bother the 4 of them, but if it did, I’d say they’re polite enough not to have complained about it.)
For this series, I won’t be putting budget estimates and itineraries. I want to accord Gwen the courtesy of being the one to blog about those particulars as this whole trip was her idea. I’ll confine my blog about my own experiences during the trip and would politely direct you to Gwen’s blog if you wish to have a sample itinerary or budget estimate.
= = = = = = = = = =
This entry is part of the Surigao & Butuan series dated September 22-27, 2011:
1. The Ugly Side of Surigao del Norte
2. Preview: Surigao del Sur’s Twin Gems
3. The Surigao & Butuan Series (prologue)
4. Bucas Grande and Sohoton Cove
5. A few stops between Sohoton and Socorro
6. The Long Road to Bislig and Tinuy-an Falls
7. An Afternoon in Hinatuan
8. A Heritage Tour of Butuan