Grooming the Davao region’s next tourism hotspot

Monday, what better way tot start the week than checking out the next possible tourism hotspots in the region. We have lots, I know, but perhaps it needs is a tweak to make a place more interesting and lure in the tourists. The experience, in the words of Mari Kondo, should spark joy. Everything else will follow.

With Tanya Tan, the new DOT Regional Director, we rode towards the south at sunrise. “We’re heading to Lao Integrated Farm. But the reason I asked you to join me was to see the Tibolo Cultural Village in Sta. Cruz,” she said. She wanted to check the two sites and look into the possibility of turning it into a hotspot.

I have been to Tibolo Cultural Village in 2017 and feasted on the tribe’s specialty: the nilutlot (native chicken slow cooked in coconut milk in a bamboo stalk). I am up to another bout with the dish and welcome the update on how the village has changed since then.


Mt. Apo seen from the Tibolo Cultural Village


It would be my fist time to visit Lao Integrated Farm. With a necessary change to a healthier diet, I’m looking forward to shop for organic vegetables and other ingredients to shop and take home.

DOT’s focus is on sustainable tourism. Sustainable tourism is the concept of visiting a place as a tourist and trying to make a positive impact on the environment, society, and economy. Both the places we were visiting were marked by the DOT.

After driving for two hours, we reached our destination in Bansalan, Davao del Sur. Access to the Lao Integrated Farm was through a narrow, unpaved road flanked by trees.


DOT-XI Director Tanya Tan trying her hand on harvesting organically grown vegetable at Lao Integrated Farm in Bansalan, Davao del Sur


Impressive is how Lao Integrated Farm can be described. It’s a Filipino company with a humble beginning and today is the country’s leading exporter of coconut syrup. It that advocates organic farming and healthy living. It yields healthy and safe produce, which are exported. They protect farmlands via its natural farming techniques (which you should see for yourself), and providing employment to the locals.


Goats are part of the farm’s humble beginnings-and success. Did you know that the goat’s manure is a good source of organic fertilizer for chlorotic and less productive coconut trees?

Uncle Ben’s Ice Cream is one of Lao Integrated Farm’s products. The farm’s cows were the milk source

Organic All Dip under the Donnabelle label is Lao Farm’s best selling product


Next stop was the Tibolo Cultural Village in Sta. Cruz. This time around we were welcomed with the young boys of the tribe dancing to the beat of the gong. After the introductions, we were taken around the village and given updates on the reconstruction of the village facilities.


Young Bagobo Tagabawa boys dancing to welcome the day’s guests

Nilutlot prepared by the women of the tribe


The receiving hall was the first structure to be rehabilitated. Thanks to the influx of funding from different institutions, the longhouses and the rooms to accommodate guests will be renovated next.


The newly-rehabilitated receiving hall. The village facilities will be renovated soon

Will these two be the region’s next tourism hotspots? If groomed well enough, Why not?


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Also published in the SunStar Davao newspaper