The sky was overcast for several days already but my wife and I decided to push through with our Gumasa getaway (last Dec 30-31, last travel for 2008, sans the kids). Its been 13 years since we last visited that nice stretch of fine white (or light cream ) colored sand and word has it that the place is now "developed" (something that I feared and not too enthusiastic about).
Gumasa is a small fishing village in the municipality of Glan, a coastal town on the southern end of the Sarangani bay near the tip of mainland Mindanao. Its popular for its fine white sand beach that stretches for almost a kilometer. While popular for its beach, the remote area gained notoriety in the 1990s because of the kidnappings. Tourists avoid the place, they instead prefer the gray sand beaches on the northwestern side of Sarangani bay because of their proximity the city of General Santos.
Things have changed a bit in Gumasa. The (very) rough and dusty road that I remembered is now replaced with a paved rolling highway.
The simple huts near the beach are now replaced with resorts, some with grand accommodations and swimming pools. The resorts are concentrated on the southern end of the beach, where the beach area is flatter and the water shallower. The villagers who used to live where the resorts now stand were given relocations on the nearby hills and on the north-western part of the beach.
We decided to skip the resorts and instead stayed with one of the families we befriended (an interesting fact: many of the "locals" are actually Indonesians who came to make Gumasa their second home. Indonesia is just 16 hours away by outrigger boat ). I wanted to be closer to the end of the beach where the rocks are for "picture taking" reasons (luckily my wife understands my photographic needs :), she was my assistant the whole day, handing me filters when I need them).
We had our tent with us and we were ready to rough it out but they offered us the use of one of their open cottages, and their kitchen, and their utensils.
The dinner we shared with our hosts that night was a simple dish of fried balo (needlefish), freshly caught just off the beach. This is the Gumasa I remembered.
As I watched a moody sunset over Celebes Sea, I can't help wonder how tourism will transform the place another 5 years from now, now that the place is very accessible and (relatively) peaceful. A lot of folks say that Gumasa is going to be Mindanao's Boracay. I hope not, for Gumasa's sake.
- From Gumasa, there is a rough and bumpy road (accessible only to habal-habals or motorcycles) going to Batolaki Point at the very tip of the Mindanao mainland. I heard the waters of Batolaki Point are very pristine and teeming with underwater life.
- Sarangani and Balut Islands are just a 1-hour boat ride (outrigger boats) from Gumasa. You can make a sidetrip to Batolaki Point on the way to Balut Island.