No, I'm not just talking about the weather when I said Butuan is warm, although it was indeed bright and sunny when I arrived. The word warm pertains more to the feeling that the place gave me when I stepped foot on it. Warm. And super friendly.
My first day in Butuan could never be smoother than this. Absolutely no hitch. Everything fell into their proper places and to think that the only preparation I ever did was to browse blogs and text random people. And of course, prayed. A lot. I believe it was the prayers that sealed the deal for what is going to be one of the best trips that I'll ever make.
I arrived at Butuan at around 930am. One thing I like about Butuan airport is the prominent tourism booth they have. The friendly officer gave me a pamphlet (with a map) and instructions on how to go to each places via public transpo. I didn't remember all his instructions, though :)) Another thing is the absence of barkers who hound you as you try to make your way out of the airport to catch a ride to the city center via the cheapest transportation available. I thought I had to walk far before I can catch a multicab, but there were some only a few steps away from the exit. The multicab can take you to the bus terminal (for Php 20) or to Gaisano (Php 15). I went to Gaisano to have an early lunch and plan my city tour. When my co-passengers in the multicab learned that I was from Manila and that I was travelling alone, they all gave me advice and reassurance that Butuan is very safe. Then the inevitable question, but why are you travelling alone? I just smiled.
I arrived at Gaisano and had a big lunch at Greenwich. Then I went to the grocery to buy water, toothbrush and toothpaste. A lot of people were milling at the entrance so I went to see what's the commotion about. Turns out Unique toothpaste was having their brush hour challenge, which means free toothpaste and toothbrush for those who signed up. Hurray, 2 less things to buy. :)
I went to the baggage counter to ask for permission to leave my bag there. I know some people would say I could do that without asking permission but better safe than sorry. The attendant said I could (of course I took my valuables with me). Then I went out to start my city tour.
The only thing I remembered from the tourism officer's directions was that the R10 jeep passes by one of the destination listed in the pamphlet, and yes, I forgot which destination was that. XD I considered walking all the way (the farthest is 7.6k) but of course I didn't. I'm hopeless with a map. >.<
I asked for directions outside Gaisano, but most trike drivers said it was too far. I always walk away when I hear the word far because I know they'd be offering to get me there at a special price and I can't be tempted with comfort because I'm on a budget. Haha. Finally a DHL driver saw me looking lost and offered to talk a trike driver for me. I told him I can't pay much and he assumed I was a student haha. (I was also wearing my UP shirt :P) He found a driver he knew and asked him to take me to three of the places featured in the pamphlet (Balangay Museum, Bequibel Shell Midden and Bood Promontory Ecopark) for Php 200. I don't know if that was a bargain or not, but I agreed because the heat of the day was starting to bother me. The trike driver didn't exactly know where those places are, only the barangays where the spots are located. So it was sort of an Amazing Race for both of us. Haha. We weren't able to find Balangay Museum (but we found out later that we passed by the school near to it). Thankfully, signs going to Bood Promontory Eco park were abundant, so we had little trouble finding it.
Bood Promontory Eco Park according to the pamphlet is where "...the historic event of the first planting of the cross in Philippine soil [which] Pigafetta recorded..." happened. The first easter mass is depicted by statues. There is also a stone balanghay in the park and several picnic tables. At the foot of the hill is a river and there are houses across the river. There were very few people around (actually just me and 3 girls plus the trike driver) considering that it was a Sunday. Perhaps because the road leading to the park was a little rough?
After that we went to find Bequibel Shell Midden. It took some wrong turns and lots of directions from locals before we found the place. The shell midden was a very interesting place for archaeologists (and archaeo-enthusiasts, like me. :P) since not only a shell midden was found there, but also several human skeletons with curious fingers (their thumb is almost as long as the rest of their fingers). Mr. Bequibel, the owner of the place and from whom the place was named after, was very accommodating and knowledgeable about the site. He narrated the history of the place, including a lot of facts from findings of the experts. There was also a side story of his father beating a huge crocodile, the details of which were featured in a 1955 news article. He had the article laminated and it showed a caricature of man engaged in a tussle with a crocodile.
|7,000 year old shells. Don't you feel reverent?|
Day 1 Itinerary:
Arrival/ End of Activity
Butuan Airport 9:30a
Gaisano (Butuan city proper) 10:00a
Lunch, grocery, etc
(I joined an instore promo. haha) 11:00p
City tour 1:30p
Bood Promontory Eco park
Bequibel Shell Midden
Hinatuan (CJ Hometel) 6:00p
For details on expenses, see: Expenses
Read about my 5-day solo adventures in the south : Butuan city tour, Hinatuan Falls and Enchanted River (and more), Lolong the giant croc, Davao, Samal, and more Davao.