Butuan ~ Souvenirs

Butuan Sun Shining ThroughThe fiesta season this merry month of May is a hectic time for entrepreneurs selling all kinds of novelties and souvenirs for the eager tourists who will be visiting the city for the annual Balanghai Festival. Trade fairs and exhibits, cultural shows, pageants, alumni homecomings, parties, socio-civic affairs, conventions etc. all make the whole month very busy for the city. One of the interesting things to do is haggling around the line of bargain stalls along the city’s main downtown street of AD Curato. There, one may find interesting items that can make a fine pasalubong and souvenirs to complete the journey to this historic dynamic city.

Let’s feast for the Butuan fiesta today ~

A thousand taras for a thousand Butuan years

Golden Tara souvenirs

photo owned by

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Butuan ~ Bridges

Butuan Sun shining

This is one of the photography art pieces by Edison Lee during last Magellan Photo Contest, an annual event organized by the Balanghai Festival and civic organizations to increase awareness of the different scenic destinations around and within Butuan City.

Aim your cams today in Butuan ~

Bridge to Bliss ~ Lake Mainit Resort Wharf

Lake Mainit

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Butuan and Balanghai ~ A Journey Through Time

Butuan Golden Tara

Today,  May 1, 2009  is  the  official  start  of  Butuan City’s month long Balanghai Festival.  We usually  hear this word  around  this  time  of summer as  we usually equate it with the  city’s  display of culture and tradition as well as its opportunity to show  the  development  highlights it has travailed in its a thousand  years  of existence, from an influential maritime  kingdom in the  Sri Vidjayan and  Madjapahit Empires, to a gold  finders paradise in the early 20th century… to a  booming timber-town in the 50’s.  From a  fragile, perennial  calamity hit locality… to  a rising highly urbanized  regional  capital of today…to that  of vigorous  shining metropolis  in the near future. Let us again take a review of Balanghai, and how this great Indo-Malay  word came  to represent this  city’s journey through the past millenia.

Golden Voyage

Since the 10th  century,  Butuan  appeared to have been in good relations with  the Srivijayan Empire. Being  located on the coast of Mindanao,  balanghais are  often docking at the Butuan bay keeping good business  between the local  people of Butuan and traders from the neighboring empire.

During the 1970’s,  these  balanghais  were exposed through an  excavation to the modern  time and found that through carbon-dating process, the boats were almost a thousand years old.

Building  balanghai requires  teamwork and  unity among workers which is why it was  used by the Philippine  Government as a term to  refer to the smallest political unit, now became popularly pronounced as barangay.

Butuan’s Early Balanghais

A  balanghai, or some refer  to it as balangay,  is a wooden boat adjoined by planks, and  believed that  the term originated from an  Italian archaeologist named Antonio Pigafetta  in the 16th century  when he mentioned  the word spelled “balanghai”.

The  balangays did not serve just a  wooden boat  but stood as a symbol for social unit. In the 16th century,   Spaniards found  out that balangay also referred to the smallest unit of politics among Filipinos.

Balanghai Boats

Late 1970’s,  balangay boats were  discovered in Butuan City by the National Museum archaelogists.  Nine were  recovered during the excavation. The first is being presently preserved and displayed  in the museum in  Libertad, Butuan City. It had  undergone carbon-dating  and  dated at year 320.  The second  boat, dated 1250, is presently located at the Maritime Hall of National Museum in Manila. The third  was  transferred to Butuan  Regional Museum while the six other boats are under the process of  excavtion and  preserved,  remaining to their original waterlogged condition to protect the artifacts.

The Historical Butuan

The city of Butuan is the home  of treasures such as the  Tara, golden  figurine of Buddha’s consort, an array of lustrous,  most intricate jewelry, a collection of priceless ceramics  from the Sung Dynasty, and  the remains of the early balanghai.

These precious  treasures of Butuan  are now found around the globe.  The Tara is now at the Field Museum in Chicago, the Chinese  precious findings and the restored  balanghais are being displayed  at the National Museum,  and the incomparable gold jewelry is the Metropolitan  Museum of Manila’s grandest collection.

The first mass in the  Philippines is believed to have  taken place near  the Agusan River,  and it is said that Ferdinand  Magellan himself dropped the anchor of the ship in 1521 at the Agusan River, and held a  mass to  commemorate the event.

The Festival

Balanghai Festival

Commemorating  the coming of the early settlers from Borneo and Celebes, Butuan in Agusan  del Sur is celebrating Balanghai  Festival during  the third week of May, coinciding the feast of Butuan’s patron  saint, Saint Joseph.

The balanghai,  also known as balangay and Butuan boat, is  the first water vessel to have  excavated in Southeast Asia, serving as  evidence to the craftsmanship of the early Filipinos in attempting to transport on water.

Balanghai Festival is  one historical event commemorated  through a  night of exotic performances, costumes in an array of colors and creativity, and dazzling floats. One can also take part in the festivals activities such as contests, exhibits, and many other events.

Take  a  Journey  to  Butuan  today…explore  ~

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Butuan ~ Summer

Butuan Sun ShiningThe summer sun shining through this part of the city’s skyline dotted by telecommunication towers, mall tower and commercial billboards.

Sun always shine in Butuan ~

Three Towers

Butuan Sun

photo by Ed Longsa

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Butuan Library ~ Relearning History

Butuan Balanghai BoatNot to be missed visiting when in the city is the Butuan City Library. Its facilities as well as its looks easily earned itself as Mindanao’s most modern public library. It contains archives of the city’s local historical documents as well as a wide collection of data that solidifies Butuan’s claim as the site of the first Christian Mass in the country. There is also free broadband internet service cafe at its second level.

At the library’s front lawn  stands the veteran’s war memorial and one of the newest landmarks in the city.

Read and Learn more about Butuan today ~

Butuan City Library and War Memorial

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Butuan ~ Coffee

Butuan Golden TaraButuan is not spared from coffee mania. There are now many coffee shops that cater to every coffeeholics budget and taste. One noteworthy of feauturing here is Butuan’s PIT STOP Cafe along JC Aquino Ave. besides Otis Metro Mall.

One look at their facade would give an impression that it is a car repair/hardware store. But once you get’s really is looking like a car store ~ only that car parts are used as its furnishings or furnitures. Coffee tables made from old tires, foot stools made from empty lube containers, washbins made from old magwheels etc. etc. could certainly make that brewed caffeine go an extra mile over drive.

One good point too in this trendsetting cafe is they have a modest space for al fresco diners at the second level where you could sip that warm coffee while enjoying late afternoon sunset views of Mt. Mayapay.

Make a Pit Stop in Butuan today …

Pit Stop Cafe

Pit Stop Cafe

Pit Stop Cafe

Pit Stop Cafe

Pit Stop Cafe

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Butuan ~ Access

Butuan Sun Shining ThroughPhilippine major carriers like PAL and Cebu Pacific have stepped up frequencies servicing busy segments like the Manila-Butuan and Cebu-Butuan routes. This happens as vacation time peaks and the upcoming Butuan’s Balanghai Festival this month of May nears. For Manila-Butuan sector, PAL has added an early morning frequency using another Airbus A319. Cebu Pacific reinforcing its lead, will also be mounting another third frequency.

Worth mentioning too is that Butuan is the only point in Northern Mindanao being served using an Airbus 319 jet from Cebu’s Mactan Airport. Its competitor PAL Express in response have increased its seat allocations by using a bigger Bombardier DH4.

Fly now and explore Butuan today ~

Butuan Airport

Philippine Birds at Butuan’s Bancasi tarmac

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Butuan ~ Vacations

Butuan Golden TaraVacations is always fun outdoors, the city has a wide array of choices as far as spending quality time with families and friends in the most peaceful and relaxing experience.

Butuan’s southern part has many good places to go. Though not as known against those established resorts along the coasts, its crystal clear streams and green fresh sceneries are something really worth coming back for more.

Spend your vacations in Butuan today …

Clear streams in Villa Exaltacion, Tungao

Butuan Vacation

Butuan Vacation

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Butuan ~ Sunday Trips

Butuan Sun ShiningEscaping the summer heat in the city does not only mean going to the beach resorts. One good summer trip very near the city is heading off to Agusan del Sur Hostel. A sprawling villa-inspired facility that offers standard comforts set in the laidback and provincial charms of Agusan del Sur. Getting there is simply a breeze, a thirty minute car ride via a smooth well paved highway. There are a lot things that you can do around Agusan del Sur on a fine Sunday, you can head off to the town’s market and buy the freshest farm produce or simply you might just enjoy the lesiurely drive through the scenic views along the highway which this province is known for.

Have a relaxing laidback Sundays in and around Butuan today ~

Agusan del Sur Hostel

Agusan del Sur Hostel

photo owned by Alan Milan Digital Photography, Butuan City

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Butuan ~ City of Love

Butuan Balanghai BoatAside from one of the country’s most peaceful and orderly cities, Butuan City is one of the loveliest, either literally and figuratively. The fine natural city scapes, good facilities and scenic views make Butuan an ideal place to live the life and of course love the life.

Live and Love in Butuan ~

Butuan City of Love

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Butuan ~ Living

Butuan Sun ShiningButuan for the past 4 years had seen a dramatic development in its real estate sector. The current feverish construction of several middle class subdivisions have ushered in new developments to its suburbs. The city is an ideal location for housing owing to its huge and cheap land potential, hence more and more housing and real estate companies from other cities are setting a foothold on Butuan. There are also a marked improvement in road infrastructure that links these new communities to the city center.

Make Butuan your new Home today ….

One of the beautifully designed homes of VCDU Realty Co. in Villa Kanangga

Cinderella Mansions

VCDU RealtyCinderella Pines

Big ticket real estate projects is lead by giant companies such as Filinvest Land who just set shop in the city.

Filiinvest Land

Filinvest Land is currently embarking on a thirteen hectare prime property development at the city’s eastern side.

Filiinvest Homes

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Butuan ~ Outdoors

Butuan Golden TaraThere are many emerging outdoor activity groups in Butuan today. Noteworthy of mention is the Butuan/Caraga Picanto Club.

The Picanto Club of Caraga Region XIII is a group of KIA Picanto (KIA Morning) owners who are responsible, outgoing and law abiding citizens which aims to develop fellowship among Picanto owners in the Caraga region. The Group is based in Butuan City and is open to any opportunities which varies from personal, community and environmental concerns in commitment to service.

Usual activities for the group include outdoor enjoyment of Caragan landscapes while enjoying the smooth rides afforded by the Picanto. It has in a way parted a value of appreciation of the beautiful destinations around the city and region as well.

Drive yourself to Butuan today…

Picanto pose, with the looming Mt. Mayapay in the foreground

Butuan Picanto Club

photo owned by Benjie Lasam

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Butuan ~ Mother Earth

Earth Day Symbol

Earth Day, celebrated April 22, is a day designed to inspire awareness and appreciation for the Earth’s environment. It was founded by U.S. Senator Gaylard Nelson as an environmental teach-in in 1970 and is celebrated in many countries every year.

Green fashion photography Butuan style…Be Green…Be Clean…Save Mother Earth Today

Going Green for Mother Earth

Photography, by Alan Milan Digital Photography, Butuan City

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Butuan ~ Soaring High

Butuan Sun Shining ThroughThe singular tower of the new Diosdado Macapagal Bridge is a large letter H shaped concrete structure hovering over this part of the city. It stabilizes the long east and west steel spans of the bridge by steel cables.

Bridge yourself to Butuan now ~

Macapagal Bridge

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Butuan ~ The Shield

Butuan Balanghai BoatThe most prominent geographical feauture around CARAGA region would easily go to Mt. Hilong-Hilong, rising up to 2,012 feet makes it as the second tallest in the island of Mindanao.This tall mountain forms a vital part of the Diwata Mountain Ranges….a system of mountains that forms the Agusan Valley. The mountains’ height makes an important natural shield for Butuan from fierce Pacific storms coming in from Surigao.

Its majestic views can be viewed from all corners around the region. The mountain is a perfect destination for the trekkers, climbers and adventurers who would want to discover its various waterfalls and enchanting lakes.

Mt. Hilong-Hilong Peak as viewed from Ramon Trinidad Romualdez (RTR)

Mt. Hilong Hilong Peak

The northernmost part of the Diwata Mountain Range extends from Surigao del Sur-Agusan del Sur up to the Agusan del Norte-Surigao del Norte Border towns of Kitcharao and Tubay.

The mountain shield as viewed from Lake Mainit

Mt. Hilong Hilong - Diwata Range

Mt. Hilong Hilong peak as seen from Masao River in Butuan

foto by Erwin Mascarinas

Mt. Hilong Hilong Peak as seen from Masao, Butuan

head for the peak to Butuan today ~

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