Make it Mindanao now!

"WHAT’S your best seller?" might be the question you ask in a restaurant you patronize for the very first time, and perhaps "What's new?" when you keep going back and looking for a different flavor your palate can delight in.

It's the same case with traveling. You just have to scratch those itchy feet bitten by the travel bug and head to a new place, maybe a destination that didn't even land on your bucket list. Feed yourself with adventure!

Yes, it's really more fun in the Philippines.

If you're one into checking out travel fairs, maybe you've seen which destinations put colors to the exhibition. In the recent Philippine Travel Mart at the SMX in Mall of Asia, Mindanao certainly had the most attractive pavilions and presentations.

Children from the Land of the Dreamweavers, Lake Sebu.

Que guapa. Zamboanga maidens in Maskota, Zamboanga Peninsula's official wear.

Look beyond the traditional costumes of the different tribal groups the regions are presenting and you will find the adventure-for the palate, mind or body-you may have been longing for.

Traveled across Mindanao ever? Lately? If you have or been wanting to, who's the best person to ask about what a certain region can offer? Who else but the Department of Tourism (DOT) Regional Directors themselves.

So, I asked them these questions: first, "It's my first time to visit your area, what's one place I should not miss checking out?", and second, "Aside from the more popular sites, what's something new the region is pushing?"

Director Mary June Bugante, Region 9 aka Zamboanga Peninsula consisting of three provinces-Zamboanga del Norte, Zamboanga del Sur, and Zamboanga Sibugay- and two independent cities-Isabela and Zamboanga City.

Director Mary June Bugante, DOT Region 9.
"Visit the pink beaches of the Great Sta. Cruz Island."

"First would be Zamboanga City. We would want them to see the diversity of the culture in the area. And of course we also have the pink sand beaches of the Great Sta. Cruz Island. The island is also home to the Sama-Bangingi Tribe and in the area holds an ancient burial ground."

The organ pipe coral gave the sand of Sta. Cruz Island its pink color. (Photo by wowzamboangacity)

"We're pushing now for Zamboanga del Norte, the areas of Dipolog and Dapitan. Recently, to commemorate the 70th anniversary of sinking of the Shinyu Maru, a marker was installed and unveiled in Sindangan. We're hoping that it's going to be part of the World War II historical tour."

The marker is dedicated to the residents of Liloy-Sindangan for their bravery in saving and caring for the 82 American prisoners of war that survived the sinking.

Director Catalino Chan III, Region 10 with five provinces- Camiguin, Misamis Oriental, Lanao del Norte, Bukidnon and Misamis Occidental.

"Actually, there are different offers. In Region 10, we call it Northern Mindanao Power 10, basically our market is really nature and adventure-white water rafting, mountain climbing in Mt. Kitanglad and Mt. Malindang, sea sun and fun in the beautiful Camiguin, Maria Christina Falls where you can go zip line by the falls. In all niche markets, we can offer you everything except the Rice Terraces."

Director Catalino Chan III, Region 10:
"Experience the Northern Mindanao Power 10, it’s all about nature and adventure."

"We are now concentrating on Cagayan de Oro and the white water rafting. In fact, we will be hosting the first World White Water open competition next year with 25 countries invited."

Cagayan de Oro will be hosting the first World White Water open competition in 2015. (Photo by Teng Romero)

Asec. Art Boncato, Region 11 in southeastern Mindanao with the five provinces-Compostela Valley, Davao del Norte, Davao del Sur, Davao Oriental, and the newly-created, Davao Occidental.

DOT Asec Art Boncato, Region 11.
"Visit the Philippine Eagle Center & Monfort Bat Colony."

"Visit the Philippine Eagle center and the Monfort Bat Sanctuary. It gives a great message about biodiversity and the need for a popular advocacy on protection and preservation. When the bats are alive we know durian tress will continue to bear fruits. When we see eagles secured in cages, we know something has to be done to re-green and expand our forests."

The National Bird & the King of the Birds - the Philippine Eagle. Visit & learn how you can save this noble bird from extinction. (Photo by Alain Pascua)

"We are working with the LGU of Sta. Cruz, Davao del Sur, the Bagobo-Tagabawa Tribal Council in Tibolo, Sta. Cruz, National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP), Tibolo barangay leaders, and Tibolo council of women in transforming the Tibolo cultural village into a 24/7 cultural village with a school of living tradition, museum, accommodation, traditional kitchen, restaurant and function hall. This is going to be a model community-based ecotourism site for Davao."

Director Nelly Nita Dillera, Region 12 in central Mindanao aka Soccsksargen, an acronym for the region's four provinces and one of its cities-South Cotabato, Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat, Sarangani and General Santos City.

"T'boli and Lake Sebu. T'boli is where the royal T'bolis are, the original settlement of the T'boli and now promoted for their extreme sports, and Lake Sebu is where the weavers are."

Director Nelly Nita Dillera, Region 12
"Go visit T’boli & Lake Sebu."

"I want you to try paragliding. It's our newest product and the potential is not just domestic but international. The fact is we just hosted the International Paragliding competition with 13 countries, 43 participants, and we are eyeing to host the World Cup next year. The bidding will be this coming November and we hope to bid with DOT will be supporting the organizers."

Sarangani recently hosted the International Paragliding competition eyeing to host the 2015 World Cup. (Photo by TravelTeller)

Director Leticia dela Cruz-Tan, Region 13 aka the Caraga Region in northeastern Mindanao is composed of five provinces-Agusan del Norte, Agusan del Sur, Surigao del Norte, Surigao del Sur and Dinagat Islands- six cities- Butuan City, Cabadbaran, Surigao, Tandag, Bislig and Bayugan.

"For history that goes back a thousand years, Butuan, for water adventure- sports, diving and game fishing in Siargao, and for leisure and nature tour, we have Tinuy-an Falls, Enchanted River and Britania Islands."

Director Leticia dela Cruz-Tan, Region 13.
"Explore the Region of Waters—the lakes, rivers, seas and the big waves of Caraga region."

"We are pushing for Socorro Islands to become a Tourism Enterprise Zone. Once that's pushed through, come the investors. Along with the development, the yet to be discovered areas and activities within the island will be promoted, like the Sohoton Cove, other water sports, and swimming with the stingless jellyfish."

 Swim with the stingless jellyfish in Sohoton Cove. (Photo by Jefferson Balon)

Regional Cabinet Secretary Marites Maguindera, ARMM or the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, composed of five predominantly Muslim provinces-Basilan (except Isabela City), Lanao del Sur, Maguindanao, Sulu and Tawi-Tawi.

"The two areas which we are setting all the preparations for the travelers to go are Tawi-tawi and Upi in Maguindanao."

Regional Cabinet Secretary Marites Maguindera, ARMM

"Aside from the sand and beaches, we want you to try the food. You can only have the true seafood experience when you come to Tawi-tawi, which you can't have in any part of the country. While you're there, experience the Sheik Karimal Makdum commemoration on November 7. He was the first Arab missionary who brought Islam to the country long before the coming in of the Spaniards and he built the first mosque, which is the oldest in the country. This November 7, the ARMM regional government will be having the first pilgrimage in this mosque, and since it's a Friday, it will be the biggest congregational Friday prayer the municipality will ever experience. There will be a reenactment, 'Sasakay tayo ng malalaking vinta.'"

The Sheik Karimal Makdum Mosque, the oldest mosque in the country, will be hosting its first pilgrimage in November 7. (Photo by James Betia)

Now, get up and travel Mindanao now!