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Maitum, not just any other town in Mindanao

A fisherman's wife attending to the nets. Maitum is part agricultural and part fishing town with a wide coast

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, at first look, seems just any provincial town in Mindanao that one just passes by along the way: habal habals, tricycles and VHires go about their daily routines, ordinary houses, large rice fields, old stands of coconuts and a good highway that hastens one’s travel. But then again, its just the surface.

While most tourists just make this place a one day affair, I decided to stay for a few days and even come back to explore more of the town.

Black river rocks where Maitum got its name

The town of Maitum is one of the municipalities of Sarangani, a young province carved out from South Cotabato that, surprisingly, has a lot of tourism potential to offer, and well organized. And this is the reason that brought me here in this town after learning about these spots.

Clean and fast flowing river from the mountains

Traditionally, it is part of the ancestral domain of the Tboli, Lake Sebu is just behind the mountain range, but the influx of migrants from Luzon and the Visayas in the 20th century has made this a multicultural municipality shared also by a community of Muslims, Maguindanaoans to be exact, mostly found at Barangay Pinol, the last town that borders with Palembang in Sultan Kudarat.

Stands of coconut trees cover a large portion of the town, left; Good and wide roads of Maitum, right

An ostrich at one of the farms

It is really a rich town with ancient stands of primary and secondary forests, one of the last in Mindanao, rich fishing grounds fringing the Celebes Sea, hectares upon hectares of coconut groves as well as rubber plantations.

The townspeople are peace loving. Because of the multicultural nature, it is easy to hear Ilocano, Pangasinense, Cebuano, Ilongo, Tboli and one of the Muslim tongues spoken here with many able to speak and understand three different languages!

But what makes Maitum special for the traveler is its good mix of tourism sites that includes cultural by way of the Tbolis, anthropological/historical with its prehistoric anthropomorphic burial jars, adventure via water tubing, great hiking destinations, caves, waterfalls, forest exploration and a pawikan nesting sanctuary.

Food in the form of its most prized product, bangsi, a species of flying fish that is abundant in the area and even organic salted eggs, one of the best I’ve tasted in the country. These, I will be writing about in the next few posts. So, strap on and enjoy the ride to Maitum!

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.

Estan Cabigas is freelance photographer, blogger and writer based in Makati City, the Philippines. A true blue Cebuano, he makes stunning images and meaningful photo stories. His work has been published in local and international publications including National Geographic Magazine, Geo (Germany), Sunday Times Magazine (London) and other publications. He is also a peripatetic traveler and has traveled to all 81 Philippines provinces. I'm open for work, collaborations and inquiries, including hotel, restaurant and site features and reviews.

11 Comments

  1. Edmaration
    December 13, 2011 @ 16:52

    Wow sir estan astig. Galing mo talaga sa photogs. Gusto ko ung 3-lane road na pedestrian lang.

  2. journeyingjames
    December 15, 2011 @ 8:39

    you scratched the surface! nice read pre

  3. Anonymous
    December 17, 2011 @ 7:14

    meron pala slow river tsong? 🙂

  4. Kaila
    December 17, 2011 @ 10:46

    Great photos of Maitum. I’ve been wanting to visit the province to check out the anthropomorphic burial jars, but I’ve there aren’t any hotels in town. Where did you stay during your visit?

  5. Anonymous
    December 23, 2011 @ 13:56

    kaila, do wait for the accommodations post 🙂

  6. » Why visit Maitum in Sarangani? | Langyaw: Sojourns and Off-the-Beaten Path Travels
    December 26, 2011 @ 16:45

    […] 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. […]

  7. Anonymous
    December 27, 2011 @ 8:23

    Yup, languidly flowing 🙂

  8. Cpalmer1430
    January 22, 2012 @ 12:51

    Thanks! I’ve been wanting to visit Maitum, but i can’t find any hotels in the area. Lovely pictures by the way… cheers!

  9. Anonymous
    February 14, 2012 @ 22:42

    Cpalmer, there are now accommodations in Maitum, and cheap. Just ask at the tourism office.

  10. » Part 1: Going to a Maitum wild adventure | Langyaw: Sojourns and Off-the-Beaten Path Travels
    June 11, 2012 @ 15:15

    […] will be exploring a newly discovered waterfall in the hinterlands of Maitum, the domain of the Tboli’s. Do you want to come? It will involve hiking. Ms. Beth of the Local […]

  11. » Filling pastil at a Gensan jeep terminal | Langyaw: Sojourns and Off-the-Beaten Path Travels
    March 14, 2013 @ 13:19

    […] the jeepney terminal in Gensan, after a flight from Manila and was already enroute for my trip to Maitum municipality in the province of […]

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