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Trip to magical Cape San Agustin  

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(PHILIPPINES) If you ever want to experience the feeling of standing at the edge of the world, head out to Cape San Agustin, the southernmost tip of Governor Generoso in Davao Oriental, Philippines.

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Up at the very tip of this quiet municipality is one magical destination known to many but dreamed about by more and continuesto draw visitors from all over the world.

Pundaguitan is the last town in Governor Generoso where the buses either make the round trip to Davao City or sleep for the night. From the bus stop, my photographer buddy Arjoy and I hired one of the motorcycles for 200 pesos per passenger and up we went to passing barangay Lavigan heading to the famed Cape San Agustin.P1220473

I had been to the Cape twice in the past, but a lot has changed in the last decade. The once-rough road that I used to call stomach-churning, butt-numbing motorcycle ride as drivers try to reach the destination without falling into the deep ravine was now smooth and paved snaking its way up and around the mountain until we reached a clearing on top of the hill and then we were there.

There was no one at the Cape aside from a family with a small child who takes care of the property. I was back to one of the places I consider my favorite on earth.P1220391

I wanted to stand at the very edge of the Parola and watch the endless stretch of blue ocean merging with the blue skies, dotted by the red and yellow sails of a couple of fishing boats in the far distance but Arjoy and I got to work right away. For the next couple of hours, I forgot about everyone and everything and only my camera and the magical place I was in mattered.

A few meters away from the very end of the cliff we were standing on was The Islet which looked like a small piece of the island chopped and pushed off from the cliff a bit farther.P1220421

Under the cliff facing the Last Islet is a hidden cave that opens out into the ocean. The waves come in through the small openings in the rocks. The best feature of the Pagoda is the three lighthouses, with the oldest built in 1938 featuring an external spiral staircase

I was looking forward to climb hundred-plus steps to the top of the middle lighthouse but the door was locked and our guide/motorcycle driver told us the key keeper was out for the day.

The top of the lighthouse offers a 360 degree panoramic view of the Cape and the point where the raging waves of Celebes Sea blends with the peaceful calm of Davao Gulf.

From the Pagoda, we made our way down the hill under tall coconut trees to the Pagoda Beach below. The ocean seemed angry at the interruption and sent out huge waves rolling to the shore but it was not even scary, only mesmerizingly beautiful. A few hundred feet away is the Altar, an extra-ordinary rock formation believed to be the place where the Spanish missionary St. Francis Xavier, the Spanish missionary said his first mass in 1550. I’ve climbed it in the past but didn’t have time to do it on this trip as we had to catch the last bus that leaves at 3 p.m. to stay the night in a delightful fishing village but that is another story.P1220558

Half the fun is in getting to Cape San Agustin. The four-hour trip on a public bus from Davao City takes you through green lush forests and picturesque coastal views past quaint fishing villages, vast rice fields, jungles, limestone walls, mountainsides and breathtaking cliff lines. It is where goats and cows rule the road and won’t budge so that buses and other vehicles have to go around them to pass through.

When in the southern part of the Philippines, don’t miss a visit to Cape San Agustin. It’s a place that never ceases to mesmerize everyone.

Getting there

From Ecoland Terminal in Davao City ride any of the public buses to Governor Generoso. The buses travel daily from 3 a.m. to 2 p.m. at one hour interval. As an option, check out the L300 vans outside the bus terminal.  Travel time for L300 vans is about two and a half hours.

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Crocodile ice cream anyone?

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DAVAO CITDSC03570Y—After months of seeing photos and reading about the crocodile ice cream from local, national and international publications, I finally had the chance to try this classic dessert with a unique (spelled scary) dessert some weeks ago at the Crocodile Park, one of the most popular attractions in Davao City.

I was looking forward to try this crocodile ice cream whose popularity has already spread far and wide, but when I saw the photo of the crocodile standing up and holding a cone of ice cream at the green hut with hot pink stripes, I begin to have second thoughts.

The mind is a powerful enemy, and images of bits of crocodile flesh and scales sticking out of my ice cream or if I’m lucky to dig out a tooth or a nail made me walk slower but my companion and I were on a dare. We were not going to go leave the Crocodile Park without fulfilling our mission, and that is to eat crocodile ice cream.

Ok, so be it! I convinced Rox to get the crocodile pandan ice cream, promising her I will take a bite from her scoop. I ordered the ostrich vanilla, trying to shake away the feeling that I was going to take a bite of an ostrich in a cone.??

There is nothing extraordinary or scary about crocodile ice cream. My ostrich ice cream which is made from ostrich eggs looked nothing out of the ordinary too. With its light brown color, it looked like ordinary ice cream.

I studied Roxanne’s crocodile ice cream for long seconds but I didn’t see any bits of flesh or meat or scales in it. Except for the extra creamy and smooth texture, we were eating ordinary ice cream, or was I just trying to convince myself?

We learned later that crocodile ice cream is actually made from a combination of milk and crocodile eggs. Each crocodile egg is about (80 percent egg yolk which makes the ice cream creamier and thicker than regular ice cream, but contains less cholesterol and gives more protein than an ordinary chicken egg.?????? H

The Crocodile Pandan ice cream and ostrich vanilla sells for 80 pesos per scoop. Durian crocodile ice cream is also available and this one you should try—especially if you haven’t tasted durian yet. The funniest description of durian I encountered yet is “a porcupine-looking fruit with a smell that stinks to high heavens.”

I love durian, but only the native species so there was no need for me to try it. Other traditional flavors available are maple bacon, coffee rush, strawberry and mango mazing for 60 pesos, langka, cookies and cream at 50 pesos per scoop, and chocoloco and cheese cheese at 40 pesos a scoop.??

With the growing popularity of crocodile ice cream, isn’t it time time for the horses, camels, lions, unicorns and other wildlife to start hiding? Just thinking…

Lick the soft creamy coolness of the crocodile ice cream and forget about visions of biting a crocodile. On another note, why not? The chance to bite a crocodile doesn’t come to anyone’s way often.

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