Tuesday, October 9, 2012


The main island of Dinagat Province, Dinagat measures about 60 kms from north to south. It possesses splendid rock formations, white beaches, waterfalls, caves and bonsai forests perfect for thrill-seekers. The capital of San Jose is the headquarters of Philippine Benevolent Missionaries Association, Inc. (PBMA) founded by the late Ruben Ecleo. 

Holy Friday. All set for Dinagat Island trip. A hired boat departed from Surigao City in a sunny morning.

While floating on the bully waves of the Pacific, nervousness was partnered by awe by the irresistible sights of the islands and islets of Surigao del Norte.

Buenavista Island is worth a stop.

Its caves await the curious explorers.

Its lively stalactites and stalagmites proudly pose their exquisite formations.

Some look like chandeliers, some like curtain, and some simply drip clear drops.

Leaving the island means another struggle with the waves. I was singing gospel songs to ease myself from the spine-chilling turbulence.

I ate my cellophane-packed rice mixed with sardines in a tilting boat.

I already set foot on the port of Dinagat before I could throw up my intake.

The island’s reputation yielded an unusual goose bumpy feeling I couldn’t explain. But my curiosity insisted to look for the island’s brighter image.     

The views of the pristine beaches on one side and the rice paddies on the other entertained my eyes while taking a rough habalhabal ride.

Only the engine and the rustling foliage interrupted the deafening silence of the island.
My driver-guide brought me uphill graced by bonsai forests.
Atop the highest point of the island pedestals a palatial abode of Ruben Ecleo’s first better half. Any passers-by would be tempted to see the palace up close.

At first I was only allowed to take photos outside the gate.

Later on, the guard let me in to take a better look. Alas! It’s the same palace I saw in fairy tales!

Astonishment rode with me while leaving the fantastic palace. How I wished to have stepped on its royal ground.

We were heading to the headquarters of PBMA when my guide warned me not to mention any name nor the word “cult”. That was Holy Friday. I entered the main gate together with hundreds of devout in all-white. Some simply took on foot while some stepped down from their gallant lifts.

We walked together as if I was floating. Everyone’s stare daunted me. I was the only one wearing sandals, trekking shorts and hat. But hey, I was not the only one with a scarf, theirs were all white, though.

Inside, I was wrapped in admiration of its landscapes and structures.

I was restricted to step inside a temple where Ecleo’s body is laid down. The body is believed to come back to life one day.

A gigantic crown dominates atop the temple.

A strange feeling continued all along my tour inside the quarter, I never dared to talk to anyone.

I just had the guts to connect with the children and even convinced them to give their best pose.
 It’s so wonderful to walk on a high surface with the overview of exhilarating islets on the grand waters.

The place also offered a magnificent view of the fantastic palace.
A building with a wall resembling to Noah’s Ark was another structure to marvel about.
A sermon loudly echoed all over the compound. I moved out of the place feeling like I victoriously survived from something.

Another turbulent boat ride awaited me at the port.

The sun had settled in the west when I docked at the fishermen’s port at Surigao City.

My heart came back to its most relaxed state when I stepped down the boat approached by the warm smiles of the local kids.

I rewarded myself with fresh fruits for another remarkable Holy Friday tour...


  1. A palace that sits atop a mountain seems to top it off but its not starkly different from Quiboloy’s hidden citadel or so called Prayer Mountain at Tamayong, Calinan. There’s a kind of separatism that is essentially evoked by these deliberate architecture, a feat duplicated many times over by other religions as well; old catholic churches are known for their beautiful baroque and gothic architecture. The architecture is symbolical of a belief system, which you either scorn or glorify.

    1. Joems, thanks for the info. People just see the structures as they are. But if they look deeper into them, they can truly see a lot more.

  2. even with a PBMA member with us as our guide, we didn't went to the castle as we were not sure if they will allow us to get near to it. But you did it! ang galing mo!

    Yes, may feeling na kakaiba when you set foot on the island, maybe because of what we hear from the news. But for me, Dinagat Island is just the same with other provinces with very warm people. :)

    1. luckily, mervs, i saw it that close. at first the guards were reluctant to let me in. after a trivial interrogation, they opened the gate and allowed me to just take photos.

  3. This looks like a very interesting place to go to. Also challenging in terms of restricting one's self from mentioning certain words or for fear of disrupting their own peace. Good for you your trip here was a success! =)


    1. thanks, lovelee. really an interesting place. only few tourists have visited here. setting foot on this island is so fulfilling.