PIGCAWAYAN, North Cotabato (MindaNews/24 October) – During our elementary years, going to the beach was one of the most precious escapades that we enjoyed. It’s because the nearest beach is about 35 kilometers away from our barrio.
Back then, we usually swam in the nearby rocky rivers in Barangay Kimarayag and Tigbawan that flow into the Rio Grande de Mindanao. The rivers were still crystal-clear and pretty deep enough for us to jump or dive into.
But the experience of going to the beach was still different for young children like us. Aside from the fact that it’s a different place, we would go there with our childhood friends, teachers, and neighbors.
Years after, our favorite beach in Parang, Maguindanao became crowded as many houses were built on the shores. In short, it is no longer pleasing as it was about two decades ago. Therefore, it is no longer the top weekend destination for us. Besides, the unstable peace and order in Parang has discouraged us and other excursionists as well from going there.
Then sometime in June 2000, adventurer and local businessman Totoy Agustin converted his two-hectare fishpond area where he used to grow tilapia into a swimming pool resort. It has since become the top weekend getaway in this town. People from as far as Kidapawan and Cotabato cities have also come to the place.
Located one and a half kilometers away from the national highway, the resort sits in the middle of the rice field of Barangay Tigbawan.
The rejuvenating view of the Akir-akir mountain range on the east and the lush rice field makes it a perfect weekend getaway. On its west side is a row of bamboos that provides a shade to a portion of the resort.
For an entrance fee of just P30, the resort offers dozens of cottages that cost from P80 to P200. However, it does not have a restaurant. So the excursionists would either bring their prepared food or cook it in the resort.
Since most of the excursionists bring fish or meat for grilling the resort provides a free grilling stand. Of course, it has a sari-sari store where one may buy soft drinks, rum, wine and beer.
Those who don’t feel like taking a dip in the pool, can play billiards, volleyball and sing to their hearts’ content with a videoke machine.
However, if you want to really enjoy the scenic view and rustling of leaves of the bamboo and rice, visit the resort on weekdays.
On weekends, as many as 500 visitors would come, too crowded for a 2-hectare resort.
Sometime in 2004, I brought some friends from Kabacan town to this resort. It was a Good Friday but the place was really overcrowded.
We went there supposedly to relax, to have a drinking spree and for my friends to see for themselves the beauty of this resort, which was already popular even back in Kabacan. But when we ordered beer in the sari-sari store the keeper said they had run out of the brew and they were still waiting for additional stocks to arrive. It was still 12 noon. So we ended up drinking in our house.
This resort would also be crowded during Christmas breaks, weekends of summer, Holy Week and even during holidays.
Fresh water, green surrounding
What really attracts people to this resort is the clean and fresh water in its four pools, two of which are for children.
Nancy Agustin, resort manager, said they don’t have overnight services because the water is drained right after they close at 5pm. They would then refill the pools with fresh water from nearby springs, and by 6am the following day, they’re already filled up.
The bamboos, coconuts and some trees provide a natural shade to the resort. It makes the atmosphere more conducive to afternoon siestas.
Nancy said her husband decided to convert the fishponds to swimming pools because his brothers and nephews would dive and swim in there as if they were really swimming pools.
How to get here
From the town proper, you may ride a jeep or pedicab for P7. Then get off at the junction beside the elementary school in Barangay Presbitero.
But if you’re coming from Midsayap, you may take a jeep to Barangay Presbitero for P15. Then take a single motorcycle from the junction to the resort for P10.
If you have a vehicle of your own, just ask around when you get to Baragay Tigbawan.
The nearest hotels are in Midsayap and Cotabato City, which is about 26 kilometers away. (Keith Bacongco /Mindanews)