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.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. 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. 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.