May 8-15, 2013
7 Days in Tandag City, Surigao del Sur
Tandag City, the capital of Surigao del Sur, is a 4th class coastal city I never heard about until I came to Butuan. The name didn't pop-up until I was told not to take the Tandag route because buses fall off its ravines. I got a hint of that while boarding the bus from Barobo to Tandag. It would go fast on curves, you fall off your seat unless you hang on tight. Maybe it's not so much about the road but the drivers! But I hear the 'chicken intestine' road from Tandag to Surigao is even more treacherous. It's not really reassuring, but here I am in Tandag, discovering its quaint charm.
On the Boulevard and along the main road is an array of barbeque stalls selling grilled chicken, pork and yes, grilled fish! Unfortunately, a lot of coastal towns and cities don't grill as much fish as they do chicken or pork. I'm just glad they have it here. BBQ is great tasting and cheap. So far, I can say that they know their barbeques here. Yummy...to sum it up.
I initially took a P200 fan room at Desire Lodge, but I could not stand to be there another day. The place, energy and vibe was just too repulsive. Luckily, I found a much better, cleaner and more ventilated place at IGM Hotel for the same price. I like the balcony and the spacious alfresco veranda where I could use the big table to do my work, with a beach view at that! The flow-through air was a relief from the oppressing heat.
Like Dumaguete, Tandag has a coastal promenade commonly referred to as 'Boulevard'. It's wide and long, serving as local hang-out, specially with the array of barbeque stalls lined up along half its length. The other half is open space where kids can play around and for the general public to view the nightly outdoor free video. It was relaxing just to be there, watching people pass by. This place perhaps defines Tandag's charm more than anything else.
The hot place for night life is Nico's Grill. It's an all-around chillout place with several big alfresco huts - one for the restaurant, another for billiards, another for videoke, and the most popular, the bar with big screen video playing the latest in hip hop and R&B music. The sound system is a heart pounding bass with laser lights strobing all over. It's dark and loud - a perfect party place.
There are internet cafes here, but internet speed is slow. To get wifi, there are two popular places - Cafe la jara and Jakas Restaurant. Still, internet speed leaves much to be desired. Again, in my limited thinking, with the internet serving as umbilical cord to a vast wealth of knowledge, information and empowerment, a constricted internet access means a restricted access to that wealth. This effect is amplified in small and remote places like Tandag. With the election, strong internet connection should be a campaign promise. Enough said.
The town plaza has a monument of Jose Rizal, a cathedral across the street and spacious ground for town activities. A few school kids still hangout there. It is also a reminder that Tandag has seen better days. The place felt tired and weary. The peeling paint and dried-up algae somehow gives the neglect away. The grass is unkept and the facilities need some maintenance. It needs new blood to be revitalized.
I thought I would just pass through Tandag as a transit point for Surigao City, but I chose to spend a night and see what else is there. To my surprise, I stayed 7 days. Despite signs of neglect, Tandag keeps its quaint and pleasant charm. People are friendly and laid back. Streets are safe, even at night. Food is cheap and cost of living is low. Tandag has no mall and no movie house, but they have a free nightly outdoor movie. Tricycles are everywhere to pick and drop-off passengers (P8/pax) around the city. The only big banks here are PNB and Land Bank. Tandag hums leisurely in its own pace as life unfolds day-to-day. People wake up to a new day and begin their routine.
ps - If you want me to objectively cover the features of your city or municipality or barangay for this website (fiesta, waterfall, mountain trail, lake, river, cave, food, islands, beach, etc.), email me.
- bring lotsa cash. There is PNB and Land Bank here and some rural banks - that's it. I had difficulty getting cash from all of their ATMs - "detected a response delay in your access request", "destination not available", "switch unavailable"etc. Land Bank even has a notice that they may debit your account even if you didn't get the cash - and that they will credit back the amount after 2 weeks! That's what I call a thief in a business suit!
- There are buses from Butuan City and Surigao del Norte that will go straight to Tandag. Just go to the bus terminal and look for Tandag bound buses.
- Villa Maria Luisa Hotel - the upscale hotel in town
- Haguisan - midscale, ~P500 fan room
- Tindalo - midscale, ~P500 fan room
- IGM Hotel - budget, P200 fan room, well ventillated, alfresco common balcony, good windows on rooms (recommended for budget travelers!)
- Boulevard - best at night, bbq, chill-out, nightly free outdoor movie
- Mabua Beach - fine black sand, short trike away, lots of beach huts
- Dayao Cave - huge cathedral-like chambers
- Dinakit Cave - also where Dayao Cave is, at Nilungao, just a short trike ride away
- Nico's Grill - lively night life
- Lubcon Falls - 30 minutes away in Cortes
(along the Surigao coastline from Surigao City to Surigao del Sur)
- Rite of Passage on Cantrasa Shoal Jul 12, 2013
- Karma Yoga in Surigao City July 5, 2013
- The Wooden Footbridge and Waterfall of Cantiasay, Surigao City July 1, 2013
- Outdoor Adventure Tour in Nonoc Island, Surigao City Jul 1-2, 2013
- The Deadly Bitaugan Whirlpool of Surigao City Jun 26, 2013
- Beaching it at Pebble Beach and Looc Beach, Surigao City Jun 22-24, 2013
- Exploring Silop Cave of Surigao City Jun 22, 2013
- Free-Diving the Coral Reef of Birok Islet, Surigao City June 12, 2013
- Boat Ride through the Floating Village of Day-asan June 12, 2013
- Island Hopping Adventures in Tagana-an, Surigao del Norte July 23-25, 2013
- Exploring Siargao's Cloud 9 July 18-20, 2013
- Judging Del Carmen's Beauty Pagent and Street Dancing July 15-16, 2013
- Diving the Reef of Cagtinae, Surigao del Norte Jul 7, 2013
- Ayoke Island May 27, 2013
- Casarica Island May 27, 2013
- General Island May 27, 2013
- Sua Cold Spring - in Brgy Esperanza. From main highway, get off at Madrid terminal and take motorcycle ride for the spring. If coming from Lanuza, get off at crossing of Cangcaban then take habal-habal for the spring
- Hubason River May 18, 2013
- Lanuza Marine Park and Sanctuary May 17, 2013 - coral reef, snorkeling, cafe. Also a short walk to Magkawas Falls.
- Magkawas Falls in Lanuza, Surigao del Sur May 16, 2013
- Silop Spring May 16, 2013
- Campamento Cave May 16, 2013
- Herrera Ancestral Home
- Lubcon Falls - from Tandag, take jeep for Cantilan or Cortes and ask the driver to drop you off at Lubcon Falls, P25, 30 mins, 15 kms
- Burgos Togonan Falls
- Laswitan - strong waves crashing against the rocks and spilling over to fill up a rock pool (while you're dipping in it)
- Campiri Rocks - going over huge boulders, dipping in a rock pool, standing on a rock summit as waves hits and splash against it, and to cap all, you rest on the base of the light house perched on top of the rocks in full view of the magnificent Pacific Ocean
- Bakwitan Cave - a refuge by the towns folk during the Japanese occupation and during the typhoon of 2004
- Buybuyan Beach - small beach, almost like a personal beach, fine white sand (there are no commercial establishments on the beach...its undeveloped)
- Sihagan Beach - fine white sand for long walks on a beach (there are no commercial establishments on the beach...its undeveloped)
- Uba Marine Sanctuaries - scuba dive with gear from the LGU. At P250 per dive, you can't beat it!
- Capandan Marine Sanctuaries - scuba dive with gear from the LGU. At P250 per dive, you can't beat it!
- Balibadon Marine Sanctuary
- Mabahin Marine Sanctuary
- Tigao Marine Sanctuary
- Poblacion Marine Sanctuary
- Exploring Dayao Cave of Tandag, Surigao del Sur May 12, 2013
- Brgy. Bongtud - Twin Linungao Island, Mancagangi Island & MPA (Marine Protected Area - fish sanctuary)
- white sand beaches
- Britania Islets May 6-8, 2013 - small islets dotting the bay. Island tour, beach, mangrove forest.
- Enchanted River May 6, 2013
- Sibadan Fish Cage May 5, 2013
- Tinuy-an Falls
(Jan 17, 2016) I'm from Tandag and never before have I been charmed about my own town until I read your blog. I've been all over the world but haven't yet been to the places you mentioned in your piece. I don't live there anymore but have retained romantic notions about my town, notions that are promptly shattered each time I go there for a visit. You write beautifully. Thank you for sharing.
May 8-15, 2013
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