After about two months of planning and a number of text and facebook conversations, my friend and I decided to make Aliwagwag Falls in Cateel, Davao Oriental our first destination in our Eastern Mindanao trip.
I met him at Francisco Bangoy International Airport (or Davao Airport) since he was coming from Cebu and I flew from Clark. We rode a taxi going to Ecoland terminal. It cost us about 190 pesos. Since it was past the hour of 12 that time, we’ve decided to stop by a nearby restaurant to eat before heading to the terminal.
|Buses at Ecoland Terminal in Davao City|
At half past 1 we proceeded to Ecoland only to find out that the bus going to Cateel has left just a few minutes before we arrived. We asked the staff of Bachelor Express what time the next trip will be, but they weren’t quite sure as there are no standby buses for Cateel and we would really have to wait until the bus from Cateel arrives.
Fifteen minutes after waiting in the terminal, a guy approached us, asking us where we’re headed. We told him we were bound for Cateel, and he immediately told us that there’s a van parked a block away from Ecoland going to Cateel. After a short talk, my friend and I decided to opt for the van than wait for the bus.
After walking a short distance from Ecoland, we were ushered in a yellow airconditioned van. We were then informed that the van is actually going to Mati City, but will head to Cateel after. We then realized our trip will be longer as compared to the bus trip that will pass by the Davao-Compostela Road. But anyway,we thought it was also a good idea to pass by Mati city and the nearby municipalities of Compostela Valley and Davao Oriental.
|Our yellow van at Maco Transport Terminal|
After collecting our fare of 500 pesos each, we started our trip. I fell asleep without even getting out of Davao City yet. I was awakened by my friend’s constant tapping about 2 hours later only to tell me that we were now in Compostela Valley (ComVal for short). Haha. After a short while we had our first stop over at Maco Terminal. At last, I got to set foot on Compostela Valley even for just a few minutes. I bought some bread at a nearby bakery and we continued our trip.
Though a bit sleepy, I decided to stay awake throughout the entire stretch of passing by ComVal so that I’ll get to see a bit of the province. We passed by three municipalities—Maco, Maragusan and Pantukan. Along the road, I saw seemingly endless parcels of banana plantations. I learned from one passenger that bananas grown here are being exported to China.
|View of banana plantation from the road|
After an hour or so, we have reached Mati City. We passed by an interesting view which turned out to be called the Sleeping Dinosaur Island. It would’ve nice to take a picture of the island but we were too shy to ask the driver to stop the van. After a few more minutes the van stopped over at Mati City Terminal for some CR break and to pick up passengers. After 15 minutes we hit the road again.
|Stop over at Mati City Transport Terminal|
At around 7pm we stopped over at Tarragona to have some dinner. There was an eatery in the middle of nowhere that serves fairly good food. I had my fill for 68 pesos.
On with our journey, passengers alight one by one as we breeze through the mountainous towns of Davao Oriental. By the time we reached Baganga at around 9pm, the last group of passengers alighted. At this point, the driver started talking with my friend in Bisaya. I asked my friend what they were talking about and told me that the driver wanted to bring us to the bus terminal and have us ride a bus going to Cateel. He said that Cateel is still an hour away from Baganga. He drove us to the terminal but there was no bus bound for Cateel. He suggested we stay in Baganga for the night and travel to Cateel the following day. I didn’t like the idea. He was insisting to let us ride the bus, so we waited for the last bus going to Cateel to arrive. The assistant handed out 100 pesos to me, saying that we use the money to pay for the bus ride. At this point I was starting to lose my patience but held it since I did not want to cause any trouble especially that we were in an unfamiliar place.
After an hour and a half, a bus passed by but didn’t stop. At this point the driver agreed to bring us to Cateel. Fear started to get into me when the assistant took the steering wheel and drove along the dark road. He was driving at ridiculous speeds! For about 20 minutes I was sitting quietly, praying that we get to our destination safe. In a few moments, our van has overtaken the bus that passed by in Baganga. Further down the road the driver told us we get off at the junction and just wait for the bus. I couldn’t agree more as I couldn’t take another minute inside a van traveling at 120 kph along a pitch-black road. In just a few moments the bus approached the junction and stopped to pick us up. The driver told us they don’t usually pick up passengers in such locations for safety reasons. Maybe we looked too angelic to pass as robbers. Haha! Thank God. We paid 35 pesos each for the ticket going to Cateel terminal and had a small chat with the driver. He told us that had we opted to ride the bus, we would have arrived in Cateel after just about 4-5 hours. I told him we were on the road for more than 8 hours already.
Twenty minutes later, we were already in Cateel bus terminal. We thanked the driver and his assistant for picking us up and bid them goodbye. We were so tired and sleepy at that point but thank heavens because across the terminal, there was Oar Inn. Without even talking to each other, we walked towards the inn, excited to hit the shower and the bed.
In the first 8.5 hours of our 6-day trip, we’ve already gone through so much! Passed by scenic views, met new people, learned new stuff, and experienced the grace and protection of God. As I was about to sleep I thought to myself, “the next few days would be more exciting, I can hardly wait!
GETTING TO CATEEL:
You can reach Cateel by bus or van. I would definitely recommend taking the bus since I didn’t have a good experience riding the van. In Davao City, proceed to Ecoland terminal and catch a Bachelor Express bus bound for Cateel. For buses taking the Davao-Compostela-Cateel road, travel time is 4-5 hours. For buses taking the Mati City route, travel time is 6-7 hours, passing by the coastal towns of Davao Oriental. Fare is around 450 pesos for ordinary buses, and 500 or so for airconditioned buses. Last trip from Davao City is 4pm.