We were in the island of Talicud, Island Garden City of Samal during the last week-end on invitation by a couple friends of ours.
We departed from Davao City on board a motor launch from the Sta. Ana wharf early Saturday morning.
From the volume of passengers taking the boat we assumed that something very alluring to people must be in the island because the boat had to leave one after the other. It only took less than half an hour from landing for the boat to depart again for Talicud.
Being a first time visitor we were amazed at the seeming enthusiasm of the people to get a ride for their trip to the island.
However, as soon as our motor boat landed at the public wharf at barangay Sta. Cruz we immediately sensed that the level of the island’s development that we have in mind was unlikely the true situation of the locality.
First we have observed that the available transportation for visitors consists only of single motorcycles popularly called “habal-habal.” We were lucky our group (our family and some relatives who tagged along) was fetched by three multi-cabs courtesy of the family who invited us. But the others have to bear with the motorbikes the drivers of which do not seem to know about safety of passengers. They do not wear any helmet much more provide for their passengers that could number as many as three persons per bike.
The first three to four hundred meters from the pier is, fortunately, a concrete road. But it is a steep climb of about 45 degrees before it somewhat levels off.
Our destination was barangay Cogon, about five kilometers away from the port. But after the first three hundred or four hundred meters of concrete road the rest of the way is a bumpy ride on uneven surface limestone road that could displace an intra-uterine device from inside a woman family planning practitioner.
Then our ride even became more rugged when we took a turn towards the shoreline residence of our host family which is another kilometer away. And we noted that cables used in flying electrical connections dominate the road sides overhead and black PE pipes line on the ground beside the hardly-maintained more of a limestone alley than barangay road. The pipes are where water goes to the households for their use.
And why are we writing about this somewhat squalid condition of the island when we were merely guest to a family who gave us such courtesy? No, we are not putting Talicud island down and its people in a bad light.
Instead we believe that their situation must reach the consciousness of the government, both local and national, so that something must be done about their plight.
Yes, we can see that the island has huge potentials for eco-tourism and certain kind of agricultural product other than coconut — the luxurious fruit for the royalty, grapes. Only, it is our hunch that for selfish interest, some influential government leaders, private businesses and scheming owners of shrewdly-acquired large agricultural lands in the area seem to prefer perpetuation of the island’s isolation.
Examples of private businesses that are now earning much, much more are resorts that charge quite an amount for those who come and enjoy its amenities. The owners also control the operation of motor boats transporting people to and from the tourist facilities. Non-guests of the resorts who are left behind by the regular boat plying the Sta. Cruz wharf in Talicud and Sta. Ana port in Davao City are not allowed to take the boat servicing its customers.
And, as if rubbing salt to an open wound, the last trip of motor boats from Talicud back to Sta. Ana port in Davao City, is scheduled at 1 o’clock in the afternoon on Saturdays and Sundays. So, the island visitors’ only option is to charter pump boats from Sta. Cruz port to Kaputian in the main island of Samal at a cost prescribed by the boat operators.
Ironically, the city government has not also provided a boat landing facility at the Kaputian side. Hence, arriving or departing boat passengers have to climb down or up on makeshift ladder and wade into ankle-deep water. For those who do not want to get their legs wet they have to request the boat hands to carry them bodily.
On positive notes however, we found the fine white sand beaches in some parts of Talicud real gems waiting to be fully harnessed for development. Even the rock formations and the cliffs in some of the island’s shorelines are major attractions to the more adventurous visitors and real connoisseurs of nature’s beauty.
We also saw two thriving grape farms along the way. The one owned by a certain Mrs. Ayuste already have fruiting vines. And the plants’ healthy condition somehow gives credence to some agricultural literature we read that grape vines grow well in sunny, lime-dominated soil in windy areas. And Talicud island fits the condition described to a T.
But for as long as the government – local or national – refuses to see the acute needs of the island, the potentials will remain unharnessed.
And for tourism to bloom in that island within a city, access to tourism sites must be provided. If there are existing roads, these have to be improved. Talicud must also be allowed better and safer public transport that would give visitors easy and enjoyable ride to places they want to go.
Our trip last week-end in Talicud however, also turned back the hands of time in our life. We were reminded of the condition of our own hometown in Cebu – Cordova — where our parents buried our umbilical cord several decades ago.
Cordova is so closely similar in situation with Talicud. The town is one of three islands that make up the Mactan island group. The others are the then Municipality of Opon now the bustling Lapulapu City, and Sta. Rosa which is famous for its being host to hundreds of thousands of migratory birds during certain months of the year.
Today the development of the nearby Lapulapu City has clearly rubbed in on the neighboring town of Cordova. Any uninitiated person can hardly distinguish whether the municipality is a separate locality from its border city.
Can it happen to Talicud island which is itself a part of the Island Garden City of Samal? Yes, it can if… (To be continued in tomorrow’s column)