Travelers who visit Davao City very rarely venture out of the city and explore the nearby towns except perhaps to cross the Gulf looking for a strip of white sand beach. But Davao Region has so much more to offer than just vibrant Metro Davao and sunny Samal Island. One needs only to hop on a bus headed to less popular but nevertheless beautiful parts of the region.
Let us take you to Tagum City, Davao del Norte.
Tagum City is the nerve center of the province of Davao del Norte. Although essentially part of Metropolitan Davao, the city is often regarded as an entirely separate entity with its own identity and special features. Tagum City has a few nicknames including Palm City of the Philippines, City of Parks, City of Golden Opportunities and Music Capital of Mindanao and the South, among others.
Getting There And Getting Around
Tagum City is about an hour from Davao City by land. Travel time greatly depends on your mode of transport but it is very likely that you will get there under an hour, less if you are on a private vehicle. On the way you’d pass by the suburbs of Davao City before entering Panabo City, another key city in Davao del Norte. After Panabo, you’ll enter the Municipality of Carmen and finally reach Tagum City after crossing the Gov. Generoso Bridge. All these places are right along the Maharlika Highway.
You’ll know you’ve entered Tagum City once you see the palm-fringed National Road. The wide, concrete highway looks almost quaint in these parts; aside from the towering palms that might remind you of Los Angeles in the United States, there are walls of mangrove trees along the highway which add to the green “feel” of the city. I can honestly say Tagum City is even greener than my hometown Davao City.
Tagum City is a booming city but there are still traces of the provincial town. This is especially evident in the mode of transportation. While huge metros like Manila, Cebu and Davao rely on jeepneys, buses and taxis to take people from point A to B, Tagum City still employs tricycles. These smaller vehicles make for easier travel between places within the city. They are considered a cheaper version of taxis since they can take you to pretty much anywhere unlike jeepneys which have definite routes.
Points Of Interest
Tagum City is largely agricultural, with lands irrigated by the Libuganon River and its many tributaries. Ecotourism is slowly (but surely) becoming a popular venture for the local government, promoting tours through their many rivers, forests and even their plantations. Tagum is located close to, if not at, the heart of the Davao Gulf so there are also opportunities for enjoying the sea.
Christ the King Cathedral – This church is reputed to be the biggest Catholic cathedral in Mindanao. Being home to the world’s largest wooden rosary, the church is especially popular during Holy Week in the Philippines. During the season, the cathedral becomes a mecca for Catholics doing Visita Iglesia (church visits).
San Agustin Botanical Park – Sprawled over 32 hectares of rolling hills, this park is a perfect stop for visitors who wish to stop and drink in the scenery. The park is part of the local government’s efforts to boost tourism by adding manmade wonders to the plethora of natural attractions that abound in the city. Expected to be in full bloom by 2020, the park presently plays host to growing tropical trees, manicured lawns, gazebos, and other amenities that make for a great picnic venue.
Lanikai Heritage House – This house is owned by the Tuasons of the Hijo Plantations, the very first exporters of Cavendish bananas from the Philippines. Lanikai is of colonial American design, having been built during the era when Americans planned to use the surrounding land for growing bananas. Their plan did not come to fruition under their hands but flourished when the land was acquired by the Tuason Family. Today, Lanikai Heritage House is an exclusive resort and the Tuason family’s vacation home.
Banana Beach Resort – This is the only beach resort in the world that is located within a banana plantation so there’s no mystery behind its name. It is also owned by the Tuasons. Banana Beach is a special interest resort which can be an all-in-one destination for travelers. It has everything a traveler seeks: a gorgeous black sand beach, inland adventures, a fishing village, excellent restaurants, exciting tours and first class accommodations.
River Tours – With the Libuganon and its tributaries slicing through the city, it is only to be expected that the local tourism board invest in river tours. The Tagum River Cruise takes you through the city’s mangrove-laden wetlands, a farm for freshwater crabs, a Kalagan Tribe village and to the mouth of the river where it meets the Davao Gulf. The cruise begins and ends at Punong Restaurant where you can feast on the blessings of the river and the sea. If you’re visiting Banana Beach Resort, you may also avail of their River Tour aboard a luxurious pontoon.
Festivals – One of Tagum City’s nicknames is “City of Festivals” and fittingly so because it holds 15 festivals all throughout the year. The city honors the local culture, arts, sports, tribes, indigenous products and even their LGBT community through their festivals. Most notable of them are Musikahan sa Tagum, Durian Festival, Summer Sports Festival and their Christmas festivities when they light the tallest Christmas tree in the Philippines in their Freedom Park.
Tagum City is indeed achieving its goal to be a major city in the Philippines. It serves more than just to ease the congestion in Davao City; it’s becoming a very important facet of tourism in Mindanao. With the second largest commercial port under construction in the city, we can only expect great things from Tagum City sooner rather than later.