The trip to Dinagat Islands had been so 2018. Due to unpredictable weather in the province, the trip had been canceled so many times only to be finally pushed through this 2020. Personally, I was enthralled that my first travel this year had been to this very beautiful province.

Dinagat Islands is so underrated. On the record, this may be the most beautiful destination I have went to in Mindanao. I am more of an island person so I am always emotionally invested with my island trips more than any other trips and I must say that Dinagat Islands will always be worth going back to despite the long, tiring land travel.

I did not Google any destination in our itinerary for this trip because I did not want to expect anything. Let’s just say that I was blown away by how beautiful the places in Dinagat Islands actually are.

Like many of the trips which had been and many more that will be, I was with Marefe and Merk on this trip. We joined a Davao-based tour with this Dinagat trip like with did with our Camiguin and Barobo trips.

Despite having been constantly traveling for a couple of years now with Marefe and Merk, I just realize that I haven’t really talked about them. And I should keep it that way. They’re really private people.

The three of us knew each other because we worked on the same company. Shorty after Marefe and Merk began seeing each other, Merk resigned for another company. Marefe and I remain in the company but not floormates anymore.

Sometimes, I think that I am not showing how thankful enough I am for them, but I am eternally grateful that they have stuck with me all through these years. I hope I can show it enough this year and for the years to come.

While traveling sure binds us three, I am also very appreciative that they have been very patient with me with all my boy-related dramas almost every year. Rest assured that every single time, I am deeply embarrassed by it. Therefore, even if completely hard on my part, I will be making sure to keep things on the down-low this year. But no promises. HAHAHA.

Lake Bababu

The Lake Bababu of Dinagat has some reputation to uphold. Being one of the most famous destinations of the province, the lake has had numerous tales to tell. One thing is for sure though: the trek towards the lake should not be underestimated.

One of the downsides of not checking the destinations beforehand is not being able to prepare for treks such as that. I, for once, never thought I will be trekking. I just expected islands, beaches, abs (which was a disappointment btw), coconut trees, and boat. What can I say, I was the person to not expect much.

The destinations which followed were all beautiful islands, beaches, no abs, and everything else I was hoping for.

Again, I have to reiterate that Dinagat Islands may be the most beautiful destination I have been to in Mindanao. I love the place. And I love the idea that it is not yet crowded. There is no other way to beat around the bush than liking it to being almost paradise.


We had the trip before all of January became a total ball of chaos. It took me weeks to finally write about it but it doesn’t matter.

January 2020 will come down as one of the most brutal months to happen to earth in this modern era. It made all other months in previous years hold its beer and became a total fuckup.

It had been the other side of paradise. The other side that nobody wants to talk about but exists; and from time to time reminds us that it never left.

It’s funny how the only thing predictable in life is its unpredictability. No matter how we adapt and make ourselves immune, we are always reminded that we are as fragile and as easily infected. Nevertheless, like we always do, we dust ourselves and navigate through the bushfires putting them out along the way. We may lose people along the way or find ourselves cowering to the intensity of how badly we are shaken, but always find ways to survive. It is in our nature. It is ingrained in our DNA to survive – and we always do!

It humbles me to realize that while I am basking on the experience of Paradise, hell can happen just like that. And from day to day we are reminded that things in this world can totally change for the worse in an instant. It does not wait for us to be ready. It doesn’t wait for anybody to be well-prepared. However, in as much as it can change for the worse, it can also change for the better. It always does.

Remember that saying that everything will be okay in the end and if it is not okay, it is not the end? That is a total lie! Everything can easily end not being okay. And we have to live with that. We have to learn to adapt to that possibility. On the other side, we have to remember that everything can also be okay. That is also a possibility and the one that we want to achieve. We have to strive for it. We have to learn how to fearlessly go after what we want. We cannot be complacent and accept that where we are is where the divine has intended us to be even when deep inside we know that we deserve better.

It’s an internal struggle to stay where we stand and give any meaning we can give to justify standing or begin to sit for a while reassess where we are in life and decide whether we want more or we are contented with what we have. At the end of the day, it all boils down to the opportunities that come our way. And sadly, not everybody has equal opportunities in life. Not everybody has the opportunity of having what we have or just being able to have to choose from having it. So the bottom line remains that we work with the cards we are dealt with. We always do, and somehow we learn how to make them work to our advantage.

Like this article which has gone to so many places without a clear sight of the end, life has brought us to so many paradises and hells that sometimes we can only beg for in-between. And like all the travel plans this year that we are very much pumped to give colors to, life needs to be a continual look to the future — even when the colors seem bleak, even when it can stop at any moment, and even when there is no end in sight.


Dinagat Islands
Bababu Beach
Dinagat Islands
Bababu Beach
Dinagat Islands
Lake Bababu
Dinagat Islands
Pangabangan Island
Dinagat Islands
Blue Lagoon / Tidal Pool
Dinagat Islands
Dinagat Islands
Cabacungan Beach
Dinagat Islands
Pangkawasan Beach

Author: Mark Atong

If he is not taking advantage of his skills on full-time IT employment, he is going different places and hopefully making his mother proud. He believes writing is his passion; but it has yet to prove to pay his bills. He is a fun-loving individual who would rather stay at home reading books and catch-up on episodes of TV shows.

Tell us what you think