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Saturday, May 19, 2018

The Off-the-Grid Quaintness and Charm of Sapang Dalaga | Misamis Occidental

Less than 50 kilometers away from Dapitan City in Dipolog, a quaint place called Sapang Dalaga radiates more than enough charm worthy of a visit.

Under the outstretched arm of a Jesus Christ statue perched atop a hill, I scrutinized the magnificent view of the twin bays of Casul and Murcielagos against the sheen of the setting sun. From the gleaming waters, I trailed my sight to the rolling mountain slopes circling back 180 degrees and leading my eyes again to the towering figure of Caluya Shrine – a 45-feet doppelganger of Rio de Janeiro’s Jesus Christ the Redeemer.


The first thing I noticed was the collective tranquility of the place. Despite the presence of a few fishing boats revving its engine from afar, the silence was deafening. The blowing wind sounded like a whisper from a shy lady, telling you sweet nothings while tickling your ear.


Feeling the cool air while staring at the repetitious polish of the bay and the picturesque scenery of the countryside, you instantly find justice to the name of the place: Sapang Dalaga or Maiden of the Creek. Like a beautiful girl who glides inside a room and sweep everyone’s attention, the place of Sapang Dalaga pulls you in a contemplative spell.

Cruising Casul Bay

Although Caluya Shrine can be reached by land, we opted to take the more scenic route: over the still waters of a narrow river leading to Casul Bay. It was mid-afternoon when we boarded a small fishing boat, blessing us a time of the day where the sun glosses more strikingly. As we slowly voyaged, I watched at the world around me upside down through the reflections on the water of the dense tropical setting enveloping the bay.


We passed by smaller fishing boats docked neatly in front of pockets of small houses built by the river. As soon as we exited its tributary and caught sight of the much bigger bay of Murcielagos, It was then I saw the sun shining magnificent rays of gold over the nearby mountains, the distant island and the almost unmoving waters.


After gently docking at the small port, we were greeted by staff members from the tourism office of Misamis Occidental. After a brief exchange of pleasantries, they invited us to go on a short hike to Caluya Shrine.

JC the Redeemer’s Little Bro

Walking a hundred steps over the paved stairs took us to the top of a hill blessed with a magnificent view of the nearby Naburos and Naputhao islands and Mount Malindang. Erected only a few years ago as a replica of Jesus Christ, the Redeemer statue in Rio De Janeiro, Brazil, the Caluya Shrine isn’t without its own remarkable qualities. 


Standing on a higher ground and overlooking the quiet waters, it stretches its hands in a welcoming gesture to fisher folks toiling hard at sea, and even to visitors enjoying a sumptuous meals over the many floating cottages docked near Naputhao Island. It has become a popular pilgrimage site and destination for tourists in this part of Misamis Occidental.


As we witness the sun slowly setting down against the clouds in the horizon and the golden gloss of the sun swiftly gives way to darkness, we make our way down and back to the port – only to be fetched by a smaller boat to take us to one of the floating cottages.


We capped a beautiful day by feasting over fresh shrimps, crabs and a local favorite known as Saang shells, which were mostly caught just that afternoon. As total darkness came, only the shining stars at the skies and the flickering lights of a few houses remains illuminated from the distance. 


Licking my hands busy from pulling meat on a piece of a fresh saang shell, I looked up at the direction of Caluya Shine and there it was – the silhouette of Misamis Occidental’s own Jesus Christ Redeemer, appearing a central figure even in the dark. 

Travel tip: For a hassle-free tour around the province of Misamis Oriental and Occidenal, contact Earth Explorers Travel and Tours. They are the leading travel provider for destinations in Northern Mindanao.

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