An hour’s ride away from Davao is the fast rising phenomenon of a small urban city packed with exemplary governance and a simple but harmonious lifestyle by the locals.
It has different interesting monikers: Palm City of the Philippines (a line of beautiful palm trees along the highway indicates you are entering the clean city), Music Capital of Mindanao (annual host to local music festivals and an international one), City of Parks (the biggest of which is a 50-hectare EcoPark to be finished by 2014 with cable cars) and the Home of Festivals (now this one’s hardest to beat—they celebrate FIFTEEN festivals in the city’s calendar year). In this city where the government treasures human resources, recognition is given to all sectors in the society including lumad festivals and the Binuhat Festival, which openly supports the gay community. These various festivals brought about a surge of curious domestic and international visitors from all over.
Recently recognized for excellence in governance (thanks to visionary leader Mayor Rey Uy) and the only city in Davao region to have won the award given by the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) and President Noynoy Aquino, Tagum is strategically located at the northern part of southern Mindanao where it lies in an intersection of three major road network structures: the Phil-Japan Friendship Highway, the Davao-Mati, Davao-Agusan road and Davao-Bukidnon road that connects Tagum to other major destinations in Mindanao.
One of the top attractions in this bustling city is the River Cruise that stretches to 8.9 kilometers on a half day tour. A scenic and calming view of thousands of newly planted young trees dot the river alongside gnarled, centennial mangroves. Along the route are fish cages that hold particular fish species and endemic soft-shelled crabs for the fisherfolks livelihood. Migratory birds can be seen alighting and flying away from the area. At the end point of Nabintad River is a delicious eat-all-you-can seafood feast for the guests. This Mangrove Development and Rehabilitation Program is a pride of Tagumenos, who have planted an estimated 82,500 seedlings for the past five years in its efforts to preserve and create a sanctuary of immense importance.
With unequaled biodiversity, this mangrove ecosystem encouraged and developed through the leadership of Mayor Rey Uy establishes Tagum to be another valuable future wetland reserve and ecotourism attraction within a city.
The popular Banana Beach is the only beach found inside the banana plantation of the vast Hijo Estate which is also home to the posh and private Lanikai Resort. A day’s tour offers you family activities from kayaking, swimming to horseback riding. The plantation tour historically educates you on being the first banana plantation in the country to have exported fruits in Japan years ago.
The forest tour will open your world to wild pigs, birds and monkeys freely roaming in the woods, while a high canopy walk will challenge your fear of heights as old giant trees surround you, still existing within the well-maintained private sanctuary.
There is so much to like, see and experience in Tagum beyond their festivities. There are the tempting barbecue stalls and night market at the plaza, the delicious pastries and addictive food in charming Yuyu Café and Dessert Shop (the babyback ribs to die for), the overwhelming exotic smell and fruits at the Durian Park, and the just recently lighted the country’s tallest artificial Christmas tree at 108.60 feet.
Don’t forget to drop by the La Filipina Public Cemetery and be amazed at the well-organized burial of bones transferred from the old cemetery, in alphabetical order yet! But the most anticipated structure is the rising of the futuristic Iconic City Hall of Tagum which took years and millions of pesos to finish. Government employees eagerly look forward to working inside an establishment that looks more like a stylish mall than any regular building you will see in the country.
Visit their official website for more interesting information, http://www.tagumcity.gov.ph.
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