Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Surigao City Tour

Nice enough tour. It probably helped that I had been in this city previously.

Since I was billeted at Hotel Tavern, I started my roam with ‘the boulevard’ – but that’s been written on the previous entry, right?!. From there I walked towards the center of town with no particular place or destination in mind. I thought I would just walk around and see the city. I did!

The western end of the boulevard is so busy with so many people and vehicles that to me it looked like a public market. I walked towards the left at an even busier little street perpendicular to the boulevard. Hmm, emerging from it unto Borromeo St., indeed I was in the public market area. I could see it was just a corner away. Just looked at the entirety of the market from that corner. But for some reason, it reminded me of the Dumaguete Public Market. Yep… relatively cleaner than most other public markets I’ve seen in this country.

When in a city, tourists have a natural propensity towards trees and foliage. That is my little theory that applies to at least, me! Standing on that corner of Borromeo, to the left and beyond the market were buildings and houses, while to the right I could see trees, so I headed right! Whoa, I was on familiar territory! The plaza, the city hall area! Reaching the place, after a bank, there was a big 3-storey building being constructed. Beside it, just before the row of ukay-ukay stalls and the city hall was a sign of Mario’s. Oh alright, so that is Mario’s, I told myself. I have read about this place on the net and remembers it to be one of my dinner options. Didn’t bother checking it out as it was already past lunch time.

Snubbed the city hall this time (I’ve been there previously, remember?) and headed instead for the park. Oh that is called Luneta park. Yep, Rizal Park, is its other name too! And there is Rizal’s statue with his back to the chess tables. But something is a bit curious about that statue. Should you be there, look at how the eyes were made. They don’t look like many of the Rizal statues or images we see everywhere hehe! The “chess plaza” is still the way it is – a lot of old and young men huddled on tables with those checkered boards. Don’t wonder though why some of them keep slapping something (and as if in a hurry) on the side of his table. Those I learned are the game timers that they have to tap after every move.

Ah my previous visit to this park was on a rainy day. So, I took time to at least wander around. Nice resting areas for people who got nothing to do or just get away from everything they were busy with! Children here (at least during my visit) have a different fad – rollerblading. Am not sure if it has just arrived on Surigao in this “PSP age” or those kids were/are just trying to revive the “sport”. But I did enjoy watching them for a while – some were already good at the jumping and sliding techniques while some could even barely run.

Tourism Office
Then there was the tourism office. And that eerie feeling again! Why is it that when you enter a tourism office anywhere in this country and in the world, everyone (when there is anyone, anyway hehe) notices you as if they have seen some royalty. When I entered that office, everyone seemed to have frozen while the girl (an apprentice?) on the front-most table that I approached asked how she could help me. I wanted a map, there was none. I wanted to know who offers day-tours around the various spots in Surigao. She seemed unsure but told me to ask any of the travel agencies in the city. “Like where are they?” so I asked. And she fished a page of bond paper from a clear book. I asked if I can have that copy, she did not say “no” but was looking around as if to ask where she could photocopy that very same page. I got a better idea – got my camera and took a shot at it!

I asked what I should visit aside from the city hall and the church. None. Everything offered were islands caves and waterfalls – which we all know are not in the city center – and which they had every bit of information from brochures to posters on the walls. Ah! No wonder they call it “the city of island adventures”. Next, I asked if I could still go to Day-asan Floating Village. The answer was “yes if you really want to”. Hmm, I took that as a “no”. I also asked if the Sto. Nino Shrine in Bad-asay was near. I was surprised to hear her say “why?”. I said I just wanted to see it as I’ve read from some internet page that it was historic. She said I can take a jeep or tricycle, following it up with “but it is just a small village sir, by the way, are you alone?”. I took that as she was saying “don’t go there, ever alone” hehehe! Those are just my interpretations of her non-verbals. And mind you, I heeded!

Gosh! What helpful thing did I get from the city tourism office? A lot – like a picture of their list of travel agencies?! Ah hehehe! It’s a good thing I browsed the web about this city before I jetted in!

Out of the tourism office, I walked to the church. But I have been there, right?! Ah, I just wanted to see if that “reflexology ad” at the church entrance was still there. Well, not anymore! Went inside and took some pics.

Next, I hailed a tricycle from outside the church. When the driver asked where I was headed I told him “kapitolyo”.

The Capitol
As most other capitols in the Philippines, the Surigao Del Norte Capitol site is not in the middle of town. It actually perches on a hill – though the views from there are not that great as it is covered by foliage or buildings. But I went there just the same – if only to see how it is. Well, it is old and imposing but not really breathtakingly spectacular as others I have seen in this country. Maybe it is because instead of a big lawn or field fronting it, in Surigao Del Norte, their capitol is fronted by another building about as big. Was that a “legislative building”? Probably. In fact, the left wing of the capitol’s main building stands side-by-side with another building (the provincial health office) whose left end in turn meets with the right end of the legfislative building. That means, the capitol area became a compound or a square where all buildings face the center. That makes it un-picturesque hehe! Well, maybe their provincial officials believe in function over form!

There is a park though, and I think they call it “provincial park”, but it did not look that inviting (as of this visit anyway). The entrance had a barricade, I saw lovers walking or sitting under trees, the paths rather littered with leaves (at least not plastic wrappers), some workers repairing a truck and the place just exuded an air of being un-visited. So I skipped roaming more and opted to walk away of the capitol.

Away from the Capitol
Moving out and away from the provincial capitol means heading downhill. But its not that steep a road. And for some reason, I suspected the main road must be near, so I walked. On that downhill walk, I opted to follow the road leftwards instead of heading right where I came from earlier. This is a residential area with houses very close to each other but becomes fairly dotted with commercial establishments as the road leads to ground level.

Then there was Jannex to my right. Whoa! Jannex Pension and Restaurant was one of those I considered when choosing accommodations in Surigao City. Good I did not hehe. It is rather off the city center. Just a walk away to a bustling corner with a gas station, but just the same, off the center of town! Some folks were busy cleaning what looks like a restaurant – and I’ve read somewhere Jannex is one of the few places in this city that has a bar with live singers. Hmm, I thought I’d keep it as an option for a night out, anyway.

Walking further down to the end of that road from the capitol I reach upon a busy highway and OMG, I’ve seen it before! Of course I did, it is part f the R1 route from the airport! So I hopped unto one of the multicabs plying the R1 to get to city center again and roam aimlessly!

Aside from the many ukay-ukay places and many more stores, I thought there was nothing more to visit or ogle at in the center of town. So I decided to look for a tricycle who can take me off to Lipata and Nabua.


  1. The tourism office is not that helpful at all eh? I think the province has a lot to offer besides Siargao and Bucas Grande Islands. BTW, Do you have any idea if there are boats to nearby islands? Like Basilisa, Cantiasay etc?

  2. or there are just really nothing to see IN the city as their pictures and brochures are all about islands, caves, waterfalls, beaches etc., :)

    there are boats to those islands and I was about to get into one of them except that I backed out when it started to rain. those baots are all at the boulevard.

  3. oh my.. we are about to go there this month. I would like to see Cantiasay bridge. hope it doesn't rain.