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Scene City | Sawom Davao Dive Festival

Divers participating the Sawom Dabaw Dive festival prepare for their first dive in the Coral Garden located in Barangay Tibanban, Governor Generoso, 14 June 2019
This story appears on Page B8 of the June 28, 2019, issue of Mindanao Times. To download a copy, visit www.bit.ly/MindanaoTimes

Discovering new dive sites in the Municipality of Governor Generoso, Davao Oriental offered an exciting experience during the First Sawom Festival conducted by the Department of Tourism XI, together Visit Davao Summer Festival, the Province of Davao Oriental and the Municipality of Governor Generoso, held in pursuit of promoting and developing the dive tourism industry. The Davao Oriental Dive Festival at the Municipality of Governor Generoso (GovGen) was held last June 14 to 15.

Certified divers joining the SAWOM Davao Dive Festival prepare for their first dive in Coral Garden dive site in Barangay Tibanban, Governor Generoso, Davao Oriental

Sawom,” which literally means to swim or dive, is a festival that features discovery dive tour among open water certified divers. Twenty-one divers participated in the dive familiarization tour, with some coming all the way from Manila, Cebu, and Sarangani Province.

They were able to dive through the underrated dive sites of GovGen, particularly the dive sites of Coral Garden in Brgy. Tibanban, the Great Wall in Barangay Tagabebe and the dive sites in Cape San Agustin area in Brgy. Lavigan. In conjunction with the event that also promotes sustainability of the ecological sites and marine biodiversity of the municipality, a dive forum was conducted simultaneously for the locals, who also got to experience introductory shore-entry scuba diving in Pundaguitan, also located in GovGen.

Divers pose for OK sign as they dive through Coral Garden in Barangay Tibanban, Governor Generoso

Davao Oriental Provincial Tourism Officer Miguel Trocio envisions the Davao Oriental Province as the next diving capital of Region XI given the province’s topographical and geographical locations that have garnered for the province the monikers “Sunrise Capital of the Philippines”, “Gateway to the Pacific”, as well as “Location to Eastern Mindanao Biodiversity Corridors”.

According to Trocio “The province has the longest coastline in the entire Davao Region extending to more than five hundred kilometers of shoreline from Banaybanay to Boston, exemplifying the richness of the province’s coastal and marine resources that can be harnessed for sustainable tourism development”.

Divers dive through the Great Wall, a dive site located in Barangay Tagabebe, in Municipality of Governor Generoso

The Municipality of Governor Generoso, located at the southeastern most tip of the Philippine archipelago, was chosen after the success of the dive festival in 2018. The humble municipality of GovGen boasts of unspoiled resources where a vast count of marine species live.

The “wall” [dive site], a drop off point near the coast of Tagabebe village is adorned with barrel sponges, soft coral and gorgonian fans. Sawom Dabaw was an amazing weekend discovering new dive sites along Governor Generoso”, recounts Edgar Alan Zeta-Yap, a Cebu-based blogger and diver who joined the activity.

Divers dive through the Great Wall, a dive site located in Barangay Tagabebe, in Municipality of Governor Generoso

DOT-XI Regional Director Tanya Rabat-Tan explained that the dive festival is one of the activities prepared by the Department with partners, Visit Davao Summer Festival and Province of Davao Oriental, under the Summer Dive Caravan. In January 2019 a Focus Group Discussion was conducted among the dive stakeholders of the region, where among those discussed were the need for various trainings for the divers and the stakeholders, better collaboration among the public-private stakeholders of Davao Gulf, and the need to identify and discover new dive sites. In May 2019, a 3-day seminar on dive opportunities and underwater photography was conducted, and a series of dive validation activities was set in June for Mati City and the Municipality of Tarragona, in the province of Davao Oriental.

Participating diver of Sawom Dabaw: Davao Oriental Dive Festival takes photos of underwater sea crickets in The Great Wall dive site at Barangay Tagabebe, Municipality of Governor Generoso, Davao Oriental

The dive caravan was an event supported by the DOT-Philippine Commission on Sports Scuba Diving (PSSCD), where Davao City-based dive enthusiast and founder of Davao Reef Divers Association, Dr. Fred Medina, sits as one of the national commissioners. Photo credits: Rodney Hao/DOT

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