When I was in Butuan, People always said that "In the beginning there was no Philippines but there was BUTUAN". And that's what I am about to find out.
BUTUAN or what they sometimes call BXU is a city full of history and culture. I explore places not just for it's beauty but I am also very interested about the history of a place. Butuan was once mentioned in the history book that I used for my students and from that moment, I decided that I must visit Butuan and explore it myself.
Coming from Bislig and Hinatuan, I decided to stay for at least 2 nights at Prince Hotel in Butuan City. They have a single room with a promo rate of Php 700.00 per night which includes breakfast. (http://www.vcduprincehotel.com)
Since I was travelling alone, I have no clue how to get to these places. So the first thing I did was to go to the City Tourism Office located at the Butuan City Hall. Cathy from the City Tourism Office gave me a nice brochure whith the different places to visit and also a map where they are located.
HOW I FOUND TRANSPORT?
I also asked them what is the best way to go around since I was by myself. They told me to take one of the Habal-Habal found at the corner of LIBERTAD. I told the jeepney driver to take me to the CORNER OF BONBON CLOSE TO THE SPORTS COMPLEX. From there, there were so many habal-habal drivers ready to take everyone for a tour. I got one for Php 700.00 for the whole day!
Here are the places, I would like to share to you the places I explored around Butuan City.
1. BUTUAN NATIONAL MUSEUM - Barangay Doongan
Next to the City Hall of Butuan, you will find the Butuan National Museum where you will find some archaeological, cultural, and different artifacts found in Butuan and in the Caraga region. Back in the 4th Century, Butuan had already established trade relations to nearby countries making Butuan so rich in history, culture, and arts.
2. BEQUIBEL SHELL MIDDEN - Barangay BonBon
I have to be honest, this is the place that made me decided to visit Butuan. You are probably thinking what's with these shells. Well, these shells are prehistoric. In fact, the age of these shells are 7000 years ago during the Neolithic period. I couldn't believe it myself, but they have proof!
Midden is like a large trash pile by prehistoric people thousand of years ago. This gives you an idea of what they eat and what their diet was like back then. What's amazing was, aside from the shells, you will also find bones around the area which I was stunned. I am actually looking at a prehistoric bone!
Mr. Bequibel is from the tourism office anwho also toured me around the Shell Midden. He is a very cool person and very knowledgeable about the history of Butuan.
Human bone still stuck in the midden.
In this midden, they found animal tusk and human remains. Look closely to the human burial, did you observe that their fingers are on the same length? So different from ours now right?
When you visit Bequibel Shell Midden, you will definitely see him and you will learn a lot from him. I really enjoyed our conversation and I am glad we have something like this in the Philippines. Thank you Sir Bequibel!
3. BALANGAY NATIONAL MUSEUM - Paradise, Barangay Libertad
To support the rich historical significance of Butuan City in the Philippine history, this is where you will find Balangay Boats. Balangay or what they call Butuan boat is a wooden boat that was used in fishing, trading, travel, communication and many more. These boats were even dated to about 320 AD making it the oldest known Philippine water craft ever recovered and I am glad I saw it myself!
Some of the Balangay boats are still being treated found at the side of the Balanghay National Museum.
Coffin burials dated back in the 14th -15th century and human skulls were also exhibited in the area. It was also interesting to learn about the deformed skulls specifically on their foreheads which was a practice before the Spaniards arrived. For them, it was a sign of enhancing their beauty!
4. BOOD (BUD) PROMONTORY & ECO-PARK - Barangay Pinamanculan
One of the many controversies surrounding this area was where did the first mass took place? Was it in Limasawa in Leyte or here in Masao, Butuan. There were so many different claims but the people of Butuan believed that it was at here in Butuan.
This park serves as a commemoration site of the first planting of the cross and the Mass led by Ferdinand Magellan on the Easter Sunday March 31, 1521. Aside from that history, this eco-park gives you a beautiful view of Butuan bay and Masao river. A nice place to hang out and picnic since there are cottages available around the area.
5. MAGELLAN'S ANCHORAGE - Barangay Masao
What makes this place special was when an explorer Ferdinand Magellan and his men anchored near to an island that lit up with a very bright light that the islanders called MAZAUA. This is where they got the name Masao which is also the name of the Barangay. Remember that Butuan was a famous trading route in the earlier centuries. This is also a famous beach for locals and tourists to go swim and relax.
6. BALANGAY BOAT BUILDING SITE - Luna Compound, Brgy. Bading, Butuan City
A Balangay boat is something that we could be proud of as Filipinos. This simply shows the ingenuity of the early Filipinos. At this beautiful and relaxing place, you will find a replica or a reproduction of the Balangay boat. Giving everyone an idea of what it's like.
The place is also surrounded with huge acacia trees along side the Agusan river making it a perfect place to just relax.
7. GUINGONA PARK - Between E Luna and A.D. Curato Sts. and J.C. Aquino Ave.
Located at the center of the city, this place is where flag of the Philippines was in Mindanao was first formally raised back in January 17, 1899. You will be amazed how big that Philippine flag waving proudly at Guingona park.
8. ST. JOSEPH CATHEDRAL - E Luna St.
Right next to Guingona Park, you will find the St. Joseph Cathedral. Although I am not Catholic, but I am always intrigued with the architecture and the interior of the Catholic churches. But if you are a Catholic, it would be nice to drop by and say a short prayer for guidance and be thankful to all the blessings you received.
9. BUTUAN CHURCH RUINS - Lilo, Barangay Banza
Once you reached this place, you will see a Banyan Tree or a Balete Tree. You are probably going to ask where the church was. The answer is, the tree wraps the ruined church. I couldn't believe it myself but when I checked the inside of the tree, you can really that there is something inside. Built by the recollect missionaries, this church was burned by the Moro pirates and was disuse due to the transfer of people to different towns back in 1865.
10. SNACK BREAK -Buenavista
We ended all our tour at around 3:00 pm. It was an exhausting but a fun day. It was hot and humid, so I was craving for a Halo-Halo. One of my friend told me that there is a place somewhere in Buenavista that is famous for their halo-halo. So, I asked my habal-habal driver to take me there although it was 30 minutes away from the City of Butuan.
When I arrived at Snack Break, I couldn't believe how many people there was in this small shop. People are queuing up for their Halo-Halo. I was so intrigued, and when our Halo-Halo finally arrived, it was heaven! I didn't even feel the crushed ice. It was creamy, flavorful, and for its affordable price, it was really worth it! So far, this is now the BEST halo-halo I've tasted!
11. MADYAW KADYAW SOUVENIR SHOP - JC Aquino Ave.
Never leave Butuan City without getting souvenirs from Madyaw Kadyaw. They basically have everything you need, from fridge magnets, to Balangay replicas, bags, beautiful fabrics, and many more that is proudly from Butuan. Since the place is very close to my hotel. This is also where I told my driver to drop me off. And if you ask someone where to get souvenirs, I am sure they will also point you to the same place.
12. WEEGOL'S - Montilla Boulevard
If you are looking for a place to eat that is only found in Butuan, then you need to go to Weegol's. A famous grill house among locals and tourist. This is where I had my lunch and dinner. Well, there are two Weegols that I went to. One is next to the City hall at lunch time and the other one was at Montilla Blvd for dinner.
You have to try their specialty which is CHICKEN INATO. A grilled chicken almost similar to Inasal in Bacolod. You can also try their Halo-Halo served on Coconut fruit which is so cool. Basically the whole meal cost me around 200+ for both Chicken Inato and the halo-halo, including drinks.
I am glad, I was able to explore Butuan City. I hope people would not just think of Butuan as a stop over from different destinations surrounding the province. I hope through this, people would really stop, stay and explore why Butuan is also great destination to visit in the Philippines!
If you want to get more information, you may contact the
BUTUAN CITY TOURISM OFFICE.
2nd Floor City Hall Building, Doonga, Butuan City, Philippines
+85 342-8193 / 342-6880 / 225-4041