(more than a Boracay in its purpose and setting)
By: Douglas Ra. Cagas, LLB, MBE, MNSA
Have you ever been to a place, far away from your home? Where the air you breath is clean and fresh, and fishes swim with endless freedom? Where the silhouette of jumping fishes, serve as an interlude of the coming night? Where the ‘danggits’ allure ones eyes as they lay flat underwater boasting their shining scales? Where the great Mt. Apo’s peak is clear scenery, having the crimson colored clouds of sunset as its backdrop? Where the thick green leaves of mangrove trees, sway and span as far as the eyes can see - a protector, a provider of food for the fish sanctuary of more than 75 hectares? Where the eastern part of an islet that serves as the sentry of this fish sanctuary, lies underwater the breath-taking view of coral reef, a paradise for scuba diving? You may wonder why? You may also ask. Where is this place being found? Without a second thought, this is the PASSIG. An islet, a sentry of the fish sanctuary, a watchman for the mangrove trees and the sentinel of the coral reef, situated at Bato, Sta. Cruz, Davao del Sur. This PASSIG, as describe above, is more than a Boracay in its purpose and setting.
As I assumed Office as Governor of the Province of Davao del Sur, the first thing that came into my mind is to have a place in my Province, that one can be proud of. A showcase of natural beauty, packed with intense thrust of man-made effort to develop, but the outcome is natural. Then, an islet, an abandoned islet came into my mind. After series of consultations, a plan of development for this islet emerged, and the name PASSIG was conceived. The original land area of this islet is only 1,100 square meters. Moved by enthusiasm, a reclamation activity is then on going for the target land area of one (1) hectare for this PASSIG in the future. This 8,900 square meters material fillings for reclamation to make this islet into a one (1) hectare land area, is really tedious and mind wrecking activity. However, the definite chief aim of those who are with me is greater than the reluctance and doubts, nurtured in the mind and heart of a lazy man. And this attitude has attracted the support of Mindanao Rural Development Program (MRDP), the Provincial Government of Davao del Sur, Hydro Electric Development Corp. (HEDCOR), and other concerned agencies and institutions.
Along with this reclamation activity, some amenities have been put into place; like, comfort room, temporary cottages, covered area for cooking, dining and conferences, to be used by the visitors that keep coming and growing in number. Few months ago, a water system that costs P10,000.00 was installed. Then, this was followed by solar generated lighting facilities worth P1.2 million. A 760 meters rock causeway that connects PASSIG and sitio Lawis worth P12 million, will be constructed in the next few months. This rock causeway is passable at low tide, and at high tide, a greater chance of business for those who operate banca for hire within the locality. It is predicted that business will boom in this community when PASSIG will arrive into its full development.
The total area of the fish sanctuary is 75 hectares. Barangay Tuban and Tagabuli combined area is 50 hectares, while Barangay Bato has 25 hectares. The abundance of fish can be observed through the ripples created as the school of fish gracefully passes by. While underwater, the sea-grass sway along the dictate of the waves, a haven of varied marine lives thriving confidently and safe, within the safeguard of the mangrove trees. Coral reef that started in Barangay Tuban and traversing Barangay Tagabuli, then finally in Barangay Bato, is a spectacle to be kept in ones memory. All these, are that something that makes PASSIG, more than a Boracay in its purpose and setting.