By Mayette Timblaco-Geraldino
I have always been fascinated by Dinagat Islands. Dinagat fascinates me not only because I’m married to a ‘lumad’ Dinagatnon, but more so because of its mystique, breathtaking islets, white beaches, blue-green seas, beautiful sunsets, and friendly people.
One of my husband’s fond childhood memories is his family’s fish pen or ‘bungsod’ in Tagbuyakhaw that teemed with fresh and prized variety of fishes. Add to that the sorts of shellfish, crustaceans, and seaweed that delight his family’s dinner table. He loves to recall how the fresh breeze in the family’s rice farm in Malandog always lulls him to sleep in a hammock . He always speak of his hometown with pride and longing ….
During college days, my friend, Zilda, used to regale me with stories of the island’s amazing rock formation, white powdery sand of Bitaog Beach, fresh water stream that defies gravity, and its unexplored caves adorned by stalactites and stalagmites.
And yes, “Who has not heard of the enigmatic Philippine Benevolent Missionary Association (PBMA) founded by the highly revered supreme leader Ruben Edera Ecleo, Sr?” was her standard closing statement, in dialect.
Dinagat Island's amazing rock formation and islets captured by sister-in-law, Nian Geraldino.
It’s also compelling to hear the elders’ voices inflect as they whisper about the trove of Yamashita treasures that are said to be left hidden by the Japanese soldiers in the caves’ caverns and in the huge rocks’ nooks and crevices, during World War II.
It’s a historical fact that Dinagat, according to US Gen. Douglas MacArthur, was one of “three island-sentinels guarding the (southern) Philippines from the enemies in the Pacific.”
Bitaog Beach by Jannice Olarte Geraldino.
Dinagat islands was also featured in the National Geographic due to its newly discovered unique species of tarsier, a big-eyed nocturnal animal about the size of an adult man’s hand, which is described as ” bigger in size, has darker hair and has stubbier fingers and toes.”
These newly discovered unique breed of primates, says the Biodiversity Institute of the University of Kansas, will “no doubt attract attention as an adorably cute new ecotourism focal point.”
Isn’t Dinagat Islands fascinating? My hubby, fondly called Tata by family and friends, definitely thinks so and invites everyone to visit the place he calls ‘home.’