Coming Home to A New Dahican
The winds start picking up and it slowly matures into an almost never-ending gush of a storm-like sea breeze. You'd be blessed if you could still score a few more waves after lunch, but for the most part, the afternoons in Dahican are exercises in finding creatives ways to spend time.
It usually begins in March when the winds pick up. It signals the end of the surf season and the start of a waveless summer. There are still cute waves to catch from April to May, but it's not like the past season where you're sitting on your surfboard with an exciting mix of fear and fun.
I was fortunate enough to get to spend time early this year in my happy place in Mindanao—Dahican in Mati City, Davao Oriental. If you've been reading or following me for a while, you'd know that Dahican is and will always be home for me. People might have grown up, resorts may have changed their look, and there are more people now than back then, but one thing still holds true for me—Dahican will always be a place I can call home.
When you think about home, what comes to mind?
Home can mean a lot of things for different people. It can be the roof over our heads when we were growing up, it can be a city with all our childhood friends in it or simply where your loved ones are.
It's simple for me. Home is where you find family, whether they're biological or not. Home is where you have friends or even strangers that treat you like family.
Have no roof over your head for the night? They'll invite you to stay in their humble shack or offer you their worn-out hammock to sleep in for the night or two.
Don't have a surfboard with you? They'll lend theirs even if they won’t able to surf but for them, at least you are.
Hungry but left your wallet somewhere else? They'll treat you to whatever's cooking and invite you for a boodle fight feast with fresh seafood and canned goods on top of steamed rice served on a longboard.
The best thing about what I call home in Dahican is that the people, especially the locals, will always welcome you no matter how long you've been away. They're still eager to see you and ask about your stories from wherever you've been.
And the next best thing? The waves will always welcome you home, no matter how long you've been gone or how far you've set your foot from its shores.
I remember walking barefoot on the road from an epic surf session a few kilometers away from Dahican Surf Resort. Everything I felt was nostalgic. The hot sand on the soles of my feet, the burning sun drying up my damp sarong and the areas around my salt-crusted brows feeling the onset of a grand sunburn—the nostalgia was present and so real.
I wondered how something could feel surreal and yet so real, this beautiful place that I go back to every so often was still home despite the progress around the area. We have Balud Coffee House where the best caramel frappe is served.
It started as a lofty dream. The millennials in us, with passionate hearts to pursue what we love the most. I am proud of Cha Sardinia and Carlos Mancupang for chasing this dream into reality. Without their resilience, I wouldn't have this first coffee shop in Dahican. Whether I'm done surfing or about to get some writing down, I no longer have to worry about where I’m getting my caffeine fix for the day.
Out near the shore, we have Chill Station serving the best mais con hielo and a creative assortment of cold refreshments that leave you wishing for another heaping serving of anything ice cold inside a buko shell. Curly haired goddess, Jeorj, is the mastermind of this humble dessert shack, inspired by the goodness of halo-halo and everything Filipinos love to eat by the beach on a hot summer's day.
If you're blessed, you come across a pop-up of So Surf Mindanao and Coast Collective. The former is a surf shop started by a Dahican local, Connor Bautista, who happens to gather inspiration from his recent trips to Sri Lanka and Australia. The items from his shop are a mix of local goodies and imported brands Australia.
Coast Collective is a lifestyle brand dedicated to bringing back the local surf culture, respect for local spots, and the pride of wearing local. It proudly hails from Dahican and is run by the brother of Connor, Eding Bautista with help from fellow saltwater soul, Maru Salvador.
Eding and Connor are two of my Dahican icons. They remind me of what is good in a simple life and how to be contented with what we have. Their humility knows no boundaries, and so do their dreams. I remember how their businesses started with just, and now that it's a reality, I could never be prouder of these two.
All these local business owners have a common cause, and they all work towards keeping everything in Dahican sustainable. From their packaging and containers to the way they handle their businesses and even during their free time, like my sister and me, it's always a beach clean up whenever we walk along the shores of Dahican. See what One Dahican is doing! This movement was started by no other than Connor himself!
I dream of the day where there is no longer any trash to pick up on the shore because everybody does their own part in picking up. I dream of the day when kids themselves tell their playmates not to throw trash carelessly. I dream of the day where we no longer have unsightly waste seen on our shores and in our waters.
Most importantly, I dream of the day when the waves call me home I know where to go. When they do call, and they call often, I think of Dahican. I think of its people, the coconut trees lining up the on the shore, the tanned children with skimboards and the mesmerizing shades of blue of the water's surface.
Dahican may not be like before, there's a lot of change, but this change is good because those that effect change now believe in the preserving power of sustainability which we all can take part in. This summer and every time we head to the beach let's be reminded to clean up after ourselves and never leave trash in the place, I and many others also call home.