"Alas-dies pa na molarga" ("It's leaving at 10"), so says one guy we asked at the wharf in Davao City. He was referring to a large outrigger boat painted with the name "Pacific". We arrived just before 8AM thinking there's one leaving much earlier so that left us with two hours to kill. No problem, we're not in a mad rush to get there. After paying the ₱60 fare, we took our seats. From where we were, I could see the island's faint outline, an hour away by banca. Unlike the hulking Samal island which is closer - our destination seem longer than an hour away.
|A fishing boat dwarfs a distant view of Davao City as we sailed towards Talicud|
|Arriving in Sta. Cruz, Talicud island (Samal island is at the background)|
Back in the old days, when one talks about a beach in Davao City, this usually meant the Times Beach, so close to the city and long heralded as the city's "pang-masa" beach. Then came the late 80's which brought many across Samal Island and into Paradise Beach. The idea of hopping into an island with its white sand beaches became a big local hit, never mind if it's a mere 15-minute banca ride to Samal. From then on, developers found more manna from heaven in Samal - there's the Pearl Farm, Anamarina, Blue Jaz, Bali Bali, Blue Waters and a host of others.
Then there's Talicud island.
An island at the southeastern tip of Samal, almost "at the back" - hence the name. For the longest time, I've always wanted to go there. There's the lure of more beaches, diving, snorkeling and for me at least while on this overnight visit, the chance to see how locals live in this island right in the heart of Davao Gulf. Along with its big sister Samal, Talicud is part of what's officially and lengthily called the Island Garden City of Samal (or IGACOS), both covering a total land area of 30,130 hectares. (Why such a name really eludes me!)
An hour after we left Davao City's Sta. Ana wharf, our boat reached Sta. Cruz - the main barangay in the island. There were mostly men with motorcycles waiting for passengers, habal-habal as it's called everywhere in Mindanao. Talicud, while smaller than Samal, is still big and locals living in other parts of the island find it speedier to move around on a habal-habal than using a banca.
"Asa man diay mo moadto?" ("Where are you going?"), most of them asked. "Diri ra mi sa Isla Reta" (We're only going to Isla Reta"), I shot back. We walked past the men and their habal-habal, past several sari-sari stores and right into a fishing village we went through, helped by a local's pointing finger towards the unremarkable gate leading to Isla Reta - a beach resort that was to be our home for the night. There are three ways to stay - an uninspired concrete cottage (₱800), a very basic nipa cottage (₱700) or just pitch your tent and pay the overnight fee (₱150).
For our lunch, we went back to the port where fish caught just earlier in the morning were being sold. We bought what's locally called matambaka (or bigeye scad) and had the resort's kitchen staff cook it for us for ₱75. The lunch was great! No matter how simple the dish is - in our case having the fish simply fried and the rest of it into a delightful tinola - the freshness of the fish was a big factor in making the meal more memorable.
Later in the afternoon, when the sun wasn't too fierce, we checked the beach and found portions of it littered with so much broken corals that it became uncomfortable to walk barefoot. While the water is warm and clear, the beach gradient is moderately steep for swimming. This part of Talicud isn't certainly as perfect as other Philippine beaches. But that's still fine with me. Once the frigid winters of North America will hit me later on, I'll be even thinking of this island that's not so little after all. I'll be thinking of these: