Why visit Maitum in Sarangani?

A young pawikan swimming at the Pawikan Nesting Sanctuary's holding pen

Mindanao, the Philippines’s second largest island has a veil of mystery draped around her. Feared by the uninformed but loved by those who know her true worth and beauty. This series is my tribute for Mindanao, where I’ve been crisscrossing over the years and where a part of me also comes from. Maitum is a gem in Sarangani, a young province located at the bottom of Mindanao Island. Before the uninformed and ignorant tremble, nope, this place is as safe as one wants to be and, in fact, there are foreign tourists who shrug off their country’s security warning and venture into this not so visited but beautiful place with interesting history, culture and sights to offer the traveler.

Here are reasons why you should brave up and visit this town.

1 Pawikan Nesting Sanctuary
Ever since Danilo Dequina helped organized the sanctuary way back in 2003, the place has been an important partner in marine turtle conservation with the beaches of Maitum known nesting grounds to five species: olive ridley, loggerhead, hawksbill, green turtle and leatherback, which was last seen a decade ago.

Its a center where travelers and visitors will learn more about the importance of conserving these animals, their biology as well as experience first hand setting free young turtles as they slowly scamper out into the sea.

Inside one of two caves where the anthropomorphic jars were prepared by ancient inhabitants before transferring to the final resting place

Recreated anthropomorphic burial jar displayed at the town hall

2 The ancient burial jars
The Maitum anthropomorphic burial jars are the only one of its kind found in Southeast Asia and was done by ancient inhabitants who meticulously made these vessels as receptacles of their departed family members’s bones.

Each jar bears a sculptured face said to represent, or has a likeness to the dead person interred. Other jars, without the sculpted head, bears interesting markings and hold other remains.

Its possible to visit the cave by asking the caretaker which lives just opposite the mouth. Although the place has been cleared of the findings, some jar fragments and bones can still be seen inside.

The cache was discovered in the town of Pinol and are said to date from the Metal Age. Recreated samples are displayed at the municipal hall that includes important descriptions.

Water tubing in Pangi River

3 Watertubing fun in Pangi River
Maitum has clean river systems and one of the biggest, Pangi River, is a great destination for watertubing. Tire interiors are adeptly transformed into watertubes with a webbed seat and handles. With the guides, several watertubes are attached side by side and are then floated down the river. It can be really exciting, heart pumping but very enjoyable.

Giant fruit bats resting

4 Bat watching in Pinol
The town of Pinol is a bit distant from the municipal center but it not only has the burial caves but at one area a few meters from the highway are the resting place of fruit bats. During the day, these mammals, in the form of dark sacs, hang from branches of trees. Some are stretching a wing or two or flying to transfer to another branch. Its kind of a surreal but beautiful experience.

A family of Tbolis

5 Encountering indigenous Tbolis
Native Tbolis are not only found in Lake Sebu, a town just behind the mountains of Maitum but they also inhabit the lower slopes near the rivers. During the L’moyg Festival, the Tboli’s come down to perform rituals garbed in their colorful native wear with other tribes living in the area.

Their houses are also interesting as not a single nail is used to build it but woods are tied together using rattan strips.

Bangsi or flying fish dried out in the open

6 A taste of bangsi
Maitum is so proud of its bangsi day old dried flying fish that they have a festival in honor of this fish. Caught off the waters of the town, it is a popular breakfast fare which is fried and eaten with tomatoes and salted duck eggs. For visitors, its good for pasalubong.

To better appreciate your visit to Maitum, better visit the Tourism Office first located at the Municipal Hall. The officers there are really very helpful and goes out of their way for tourists. The town also has one of the well organized tourism initiatives in the country.

This is my entry for the Pinoy Travel Bloggers’s Blog Carnival with the theme Mindanao Bliss. Click on the graphic at right to visit the blog carnival page.

Visit Maitum now and explore this wonderful municipality rich with natural, cultural, historical and natural wonders that will surely make your visit worthwhile. Contact the municipal tourism office via tourism officer Arlex at +63 919 373 8007.

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