Monday, June 13, 2016

Suroy Surigao City

Heading to Surigao City. Cut across any of these three to get to Surigao City:

Sky. There are daily flights to Surigao City from Manila (via Philippine Airlines) and from Cebu (via Cebu Pacific).

Sea. From Maasin (Southern Leyte) or from Cebu, cross the sea via Cokaliong Shipping Lines. From Liloan (Southern Leyte), take the FastCat to Lipata, Surigao City. From San Ricardo (Southern Leyte), take Montenegro Shipping Lines to Lipata, Surigao City.

Soil. There are buses to Surigao City direct from Butuan and Davao. Vans also ply between neighboring cities (such as from Tandag City in Surigao del Sur) to Surigao City.

Tourist bunks in Cokaliong's M/V Filipinas Maasin

History in the Heart of the City. You know you're in the heart of a city in the Philippines when you find the City Hall with a park or plaza nearby.

Surigao City Hall. Every city hall must have the country's flag flying outside. But there is only one city hall that has a marker reminding every passerby that on this site on December 26, 1898 was where the Philippine flag was first raised in Mindanao.

Luneta Park. Like Manila, Surigao City’s Luneta Park also has a statue of Dr Jose Rizal. Unlike Manila, Surigao City's Luneta Park has a colorful giant boot, a tourist assistance office, and the Battle of Surigao Strait Museum. The giant boot, according to MindaNews, houses a generator to power the nearby city hall, police headquarters, fire department, and public market during power outages; and a siren that goes off on a daily schedule and during emergencies. (I peeked and saw dust and junk. Maybe the generator was under all that junk.) The boot, according to the lady in the tourism office, was created in honor of Imelda Marcos who had donated the land and that the other boot, the left one, is in Tacloban. (To anyone who has spotted the left boot in Tacloban, please send me a photo!)

The giant boot at Luneta Park
Photo by Brennan Mercado of Baktin Corporation

Hungry in the City. These are the three things not to miss when in Surigao City:

Sayongsong. Sayongsong is Surigao City's delicacy. It is made of sticky rice, coconut milk, and sugar, and wrapped in a banana leaf like a cone. What does it taste like? To me it tastes like baye baye from Iloilo, but a lot softer. To my friend it tastes "like brains!" I wonder whose brains she had eaten.

Photo by Brennan Mercado of Baktin Corporation

Isaw. Because I think Surigao City has the best isaw! But what is isaw? Uhh...chicken intestines. "Ewww," you say? Ewww to isaw from other places, but yum to Surigao's isaw! Surigao's isaw are cut down the middle, cleaned, and grilled to a slight crisp. Isaw can be had at any of the barbecue stalls just outside the Port of Surigao City.

Seafood. I never had the taste for crabs, but all that changed when I visited Surigao City for the first time, about 12 years ago, and my friend set down a platter of fat crabs on the table. For our recent visit to Surigao City, we sniffed our way around for some seafood and found Babielyn's Kitchenette, a carinderia in the Public Market, and Ocean Bounties Restaurant just across Babielyn's. Babielyn's offers seafood in addition to the usual carinderia fare; seafood dishes cost Php120 per order. We splurged at Ocean Bounties and spent about Php 450 each for a very satisfying lunch of clam chowder, half a kilo of grilled fish, and half a kilo of garlic chili crab.

Clam chowder, grilled fish, and garlic chili crab at Ocean Bounties

Heading Away From the City. But not really. When stifled by the heat emanating from concrete structures of the city, head on to the beaches of Surigao City, just a 30–minute ride away.

Mabua Pebble Beach. The clear waters of Mabua will make you want to jump right in. Its smooth stones will give your feet a massage as you walk on them. The open cottages on the beach can shelter 10 persons and cost from Php 250 to 300 per cottage. To get to Mabua Pebble Beach, hire a tricycle for Php 200 (up to 6 persons) or take a jeepney to the crossing for Mabua (Php 18) and then a habalhabal to Mabua Pebble Beach (Php 10). Going back to the city, if you can catch a tricycle, would only cost Php 20 per person.

Mabua Pebble Beach

Looc Pebble Beach. A little bit of exercise is required to reach Looc Pebble Beach. From Mabua Pebble Beach, climb 380 steps over and down a hill to find Looc Pebble Beach, where the pebbles have significantly diminished, not in number, but in size; but where the waters have remained just as clear.

This article is now available as a mobile app. Go to GPSmyCity to download the app for GPS-assisted travel directions to the attractions featured in this article.


  1. You should have climbed Mt. Bagarabon. The view from the top is very scenic.

    1. Pakit-a nalang ko sa imong pictures :)

    2. Hello Maam/Sir Good day!ask lang unta ko kung pwede ba nako ni gamiton na article as one of my related literature sa amoang reseach

    3. Sure. i-share nya inyong research paper. :-)