On the 1st of January 2000, this particular site along the coast of Davao Oriental facing the Pacific Ocean was the setting of a grand spectacle. Hundreds of local and even foreign tourists are said to have gathered here to catch a glimpse of the first sunrise of the new millennium. Almost two decades later, many people visiting the province are still not familiar that in Pusan Point in the town of Caraga is where the sun rises first in the Philippines.
Pusan Point is some about 9 kilometers or some 15 minutes drive from the national highway going east towards the coast. It is part of Brgy. Santiago of the municipality of Caraga, considered as one of the oldest settlements in whole of Mindanao. Due to its geographical location, Pusan Point is actually the easternmost inland point of the Philippines. So on our Davao Oriental trip, we made it a point to check out this particular site.
Few days before our visit, we saw an update from the Davao Oriental Province Facebook that a new facility was recently launched in the area. Accompanying photos of that post particularly made us excited that there is more to the the sunrise and view in Pusan, but it is now a full fledged park with a science center, thus the name Pusan Point Eco Park and Science Discovery Center. And we are glad that we are one of the few visitors from outside Mindanao to set foot in the place.
To mark the Millennium Sunrise, a Jubilee Cross was erected right along its rugged limestone cliffs. An old lighthouse was also standing there before it was replaced by a modern one.
WHAT TO DO
Aside from the bragging rights to have visited the country’s easternmost front, the location is perfect for your selfies, Instagram posts and photoshoots from all angles.
After taking in the stiff cliffs and rock formations, visitors can explore the newly built Science Center (it was closed to the public during our visit).
A large swimming pool was also built right beside the building, while a viewing deck gives visitors a clear sight of the Pacific Ocean. We believe that accommodations would be put in place soon. As of our visit, entrance is still free.
Conclude your stay with fresh buko juice and refreshments from the stalls outside the gates. This visit also completed our aim of conquering the 4 Cornerstone Provinces of the Philippines: Batanes in the north, Tawi-Tawi in the south, Palawan in the west, and Davao Oriental in the east.
The easiest way to reach Pusan Point is through Mati City. If coming from Davao, take a 3-hour van ride to Mati. At the terminal, transfer to another van or bus (Bachelor Express/Mallen Bus) bound for Baganga or Cateel. Tell the driver to drop you off at Pusan Point in Brgy. Santiago, Caraga. Travel time is 1 hour 30 minutes and fare is about Php 100/pax. If coming from Cateel, take a Mati-bound van for about 2 hours and alight at Pusan Point (after Caraga town proper).
From the Pusan Point crossing, motorcycles/habal-habal are readily available to bring you to the park for about 15 minutes along a paved and cemented road passing through lush coconut vegetation. You can contact Kuya Joel (0926 521 2208) to take you to the park. Their house is right at the corner of the intersection. Fare is Php 100/ pax round-trip.
WHERE TO STAY
Pending the completion of accommodations at the park, the nearest comfortable stay would be in Mati (Dahican Beach or City Proper) or Baganga. Visiting the site however could be done in half a day.
*Credits to the Provincial Government of Davao Oriental for allowing us to use some of their photos.