Text and Photos by Henrylito D. Tacio
Barangay Dahican in Mati City, Davao Oriental is noted for its 7-kilometer fine white-sand seashore. Most people visit the area to do any of the following: swimming, skimboarding, or surfing. Others just want to walk barefoot and enjoy the cool air from the Pacific Ocean.
But what most people don’t know is that barangay Dahican is also known for its diversified mangroves. It is located in Sitio Guang-Guang and is known as Guang-Guang Mangrove Forest.
When Mati City received P2 million from the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) for being the regional winner in the 2020 Malinis at Masaganang Karagatan Search for Outstanding Coastal Community, Mayor Michelle Rabat said she would use part of the cash prize “for the continuing mangrove protection in Guang-Guang Mangrove Park.”
The protected mangrove forest encompasses 21,000 hectares, where you can see 18 of the rarest, mostly endangered, mangrove species in the country. People living in Guang-Guang are managing it with support from the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR).
Recently, the city government has included the area as one of its tourist destinations. It is called Mangrove Nature Reserve Park. The place, which is accessible by private or public transportation, is about 25 minutes to half an hour from the heart of the city. If you don’t have a vehicle, you can always hire a pedicab or a single motorcycle.
But before you go, here are some guidelines you need to know first. Open from 8 am to 5 pm daily (except Monday), the park is primarily for educational and scientific purposes only. No overnight stay. Smokers are allowed only in a designated area. Excessive noise on park premises is not allowed.
Bringing in of food is allowed only in designated areas but not at the boardwalk. Parents and/or guardians must keep an eye on their children at all times. All guests must be assisted by an accredited community tour guide when inside the park.
Among those that are prohibited while inside the park: are cutting, picking, or destroying plants; hunting and trapping of birds, mammals, or non-venomous reptiles and other protected marine species; consumption, sale, use, or possession of alcoholic beverages and illegal drugs; fireworks, firearms, air guns; vandalism and destruction of structures on park premises; and peddling, selling, soliciting, or offering for sale any food, goods, wares or merchandise.
Camping and hanging hammocks are highly discouraged within the park vicinity at all times. Vehicles are permitted to park in designated areas only.