MATI, Davao Oriental—It is midday in Dahican but a number of children are under the sun, chasing the white foam formed by the crashing of the white sand and the frantic waves twirled by the Amihan or the northeastern monsoon wind.
One by one, shirtless teenagers, called Amihan Boys—their skin the color of burnt olives, their hair squash yellow—run for the water and happily ride the waves.
From under the shade of the coconuts lining up the white-sand beachline emerge Portuguese Hugo Moura and his Filipina girlfriend, Sisi. A surfer, Hugo says he fell in love with Dahican the first time he visited the place two years ago.
“It’s beautiful here. Look at that blue water,” he says. Facing the Pacific, Dahican is a paradise for those who desire to detach from the fast-paced city life.
Not that it is secluded because it is only about 15-minute drive from downtown Mati City, where inns, restaurants and cafes are starting to sprout around. Some parts of the road to Dahican remain craggy—if not finished with limestone—but the place is very popular among backpackers and surfers.
Even before summer or during the cold and rainy months, many would still go to Dahican and leave, after a day or two, feeling not really wanting to leave at all, certainly enamored by its beauty.
Thing is, Dahican is a world within a world. It has its own way of slowing down things.
People going to Dahican and intend to stay here for a couple of days must ready themselves of the rawness of the things that it can offer. No soft beds or hotels but only the earth where they can pitch their tents or the nipa hut of the Amihan Boys.
Here, the silence is interrupted only by the frantic union of the white sand and the sparkling green water that explodes into foam as it reaches the shore.
The same silence can at times be spoiled by the excited giggles of girls learning to skimboard or surf.
This is a place for those who want to forget or finish an almost forgotten song. Perhaps this is the same silence that calls back on endangered sea turtles to lay their eggs on. On this particular Saturday, three spots have been cordoned by the Amihan Boys as nests of the turtles.
“You can do a lot of that here. Write and travel to another world, a different world. Something is in Dahican that makes you fall in love with something, someone, or even with yourself,” says journalist LA Cascaro.
“You can even be whoever you are here. No pretensions. You go here and be yourself. This is a space that can own.”
Environmentalists will also be mystified by how the coastlines of Dahican continue to become a nesting ground for the endangered pawikan. Dahican’s name was taken from the word ‘dahik’ or lay eggs.
Occasionally, dolphins put up a show. Sometimes, the dugongs take the center stage.
Poets, even those who have the penchant for bleak, would be swept away by the dryness of the amihan—the wind—as it manipulates the waves. Or the warmth of the Amihan—the boys and the poetry behind their lives of constant romance with the sea and the lacking opportunity for them to go to school.
They are the sons of the fishermen who sail every night and go back shore, with their fresh catch, finding their wives waiting for them.
The Amihan Boys have, over the years, made a name in the national skimboarding community following a number of triumphs in various competitions.
The water, the sand, the silence, and the people in Dahican apparently are what complete the ingredients that make up the charm of the place. These were the reason why Manila girls Rain Bautista and Jessica Edora flew to Mindanao.
“We wanted to go to Mati and experience Mati ourselves,” says Jessica, a medical student.
The girls spent for almost two weeks in Dahican, sleeping under a tent set-up close to the bahay kubo of the Amihan Boys—who did not only become their instant tour guides and surfing teachers but their friends.
Rain, a teacher in Quezon City, says she loves the fact that Dahican has not been influenced by commercialization yet.
“It’s untouched and the people, the Amihan Boys, are very friendly and will surely take care of you,” she says.
Mayor Michelle Rabat says she’s proud about the reputation of Dahican.
“Dahican is really exceptional for me. No biases. I have been to other beaches and in fact, it is comparable to these world class beaches. They’re saying that Malaysia’s beaches are really beautiful but I think Dahican is more,” she says.
As for accommodation, she admits, it is something that must be improved.
With its pristine water, white sand, a quiet and safe place to retreat, the pawikan, dugongs and dolphins, and the friendly people—it’s easy to see why travelers don’t mind roughing it up amid the natural beauty of Dahican.