This little island called Passig Islet is one of Davao del Sur's treasures. Little is known about the Passig Islet Aqua-Eco Park, but this is nestled at the waters of Sta. Cruz town in the province of Davao del Sur, barely 30 kilometers southwest of Davao City.
A white sand islet off Barangay Bato in Sta. Cruz, this has already attracted and mesmerized visitors for its natural white sand, clear waters and a diversity of beautiful aquatic resources.
This elongated-shaped islet the size of almost one hectare can be reached through motorized banca, or pump boat, in about five minutes from the beach jetty just near the highway.
The small island was once barren and just resting lifeless. Four years ago, the provincial government of Davao del Sur started to put up the marketing infrastructure to groom the islet into an aqua-eco park tourism attraction.
The brainchild of Senior Board Member Mercedes C. Cagas, chairperson of the committee on tourism, the islet drew the government’s interest for its nature offerings. Then, a variety of small coconut trees were planted and started growing neatly in arranged arrays, and thus began the pleasurable and dynamic life to radiate into the visitors of the resort, as well as to the residents of the barangay on the mainland Sta. Cruz.
Old tires also ring the islet to prevent sand erosion.
To complement the beauty of the islet and to package it as a tourist destination, several amenities and features are put up to enhance a relaxing mood and a taste of beach leisure.
Among the amenities are nipa hut cottages shaped like mushrooms placed conveniently around the islet, some of them constructed just near the beach for beach lovers to immediately take a dip in the clean and clear waters.
Visitors may choose from among 16 open cottages at rates ranging from P100 (four units), P150 (three units) and P250 (nine units). Four closed and non-airconditioned cottages are also available for overnight stays at P500 per unit.
Provincial tourism officer Rogel L. Panganiban said that additional cottages are being constructed to satisfy more demand for overnight accommodations.
Panganiban said the resort also handles big gatherings to celebrate special occasions such as weddings, baptisms and birthdays, and office conventions and retreats. It has a pavilion that can house 1,000 persons.
The concrete pavilion is located at the center of the islet and can be rented for P5,000, which also covers the purchase of crude oil for the generator set. Near the structure are newly refurbished comfort rooms and shower rooms for clients’ convenience.
All price rates are reasonable at the resort including the entrance fee of P15 per adult and P10 per child.
Peace and Security
Panganiban assured of the peace and order on the islet, saying that the place is secured 24/7 with two Civil Security Unit personnel taking turns at ensuring safety and security of the visitors.
There are four lifesavers assigned to keep tight watch on swimmers. They have undergone intensive training on water safety and rescue procedures.
Aside from the security personnel, one receptionist is assigned daily to welcome tourists and utility staff to maintain the cleanliness of the place.
As part of ensuring the protection and preservation of the natural features of the resort, the Provincial Tourism Office and the Provincial Tourism Board Council have imposed the policies of no-cooking and waste segregation at the islet. Visitors are allowed to bring food and drinks, free of corkage fees.
Cleanliness and orderly in the resort is required with the waste segregation system in place.
Panganiban said that fisherfolks are not allowed to fish around the islet to protect and preserve its biodiversity.
Panganiban said that the Passig Islet Aqua-Eco Park is among the most tangible tourist destinations in the province that make economic sense, noting that the resort is almost self-sustaining after four years of operation.
Local folks also benefit. The bangkeros, for instance, are fisherfolks in the barangay duly accredited by the PTO to make an extra income from transporting the resorts customers.
How to get There
Not many people know that the islet is just a 15-minute ride in a private vehicle from Digos City plying the Digos-Davao route, and less than an hour from Davao City.
Secluded Island Vacations on Passig Islet
From the national highway, the entrance gate of the resort is just a short walk away. The port is a board walk from the main gate and it is lined with mangroves naturally grown in a two-hectare area around the port.
A floating restaurant is being constructed at the right side before reaching the port. A souvenir arcade is also being put up where local crafts and One Town One Product (OTOP) products will be displayed.
Currently, the Passig Islet Souvenir Center is placed at the entrance of the resort.
The round trip boat ride to the islet is P20 per head. Panganiban said that 18 motorized bancas owned by accredited local bangkeros are readily available to transport visitors.
Depending on the size, a pump boat has seating capacity of up to 15 passengers, he said and disclosed that two units of pump boats will be used soon to ferry VIP visitors.
Bangkeros may also be requested to conduct a tour around the islet depending on the water level which according to Panganiban could rise up to six feet and with a low tide that could last up to two hours, and could reach as far as the 50-hectare area surrounding the islet.
Being eyed as the core of the tourism program of the provincial government, the Passig Islet Aqua-Eco Park will be a hub of development work in the near future.
Panganiban bared the plan of the provincial tourism group to build a hotel with spa and massage therapy services. Open cottages will also rise within the mangrove area near the floating restaurant.
Aside from the islet resort, the provincial government is also initiating the promotion of another tourism destination, the Aplaya Baywalk patterned after Baywalk at Roxas Boulevard in Manila. The baywalk area is part of the resort located in Barangay Aplaya in Digos City.
He said the provincial government has adapted “sustainable policies and safeguards” to protect tourists and visitors, making a significant impact in the growth of tourism in the province. (PIA-11/Carina L. Cayon)