The undersea world of Governor Generoso (GovGen) is indeed alive and magical as the diver-participants of the first ever SAWOM Dive Festival have proven for themselves.

Divers dive through the Great Wall, a dive site located in Barangay Tagabebe, in Municipality of Governor Generoso last 14-15 June 2019. PHOTO BY RODNEY JAO.

The 21 divers some of whom came all the way from Manila, Cebu, and Sarangani Province were able to dive through the underrated dive sites of GovGen, particularly the dive sites of Coral Garden in Brgy. Tibanban, the Great Wall in Barangay Tagabebe and the dive sites in Cape San Agustin area in Brgy. Lavigan last June 15.

Divers participating the Sawom Dabaw Dive festival prepares for their first dive in Coral Garden located

Certified divers joining the SAWOM Davao Dive Festival prepare for their first dive in Coral Garden dive site in Barangay Tibanban, Governor Generoso, Davao Oriental, 14 June 2019. Photo by DOT-XI.

“Sawom”, which literally means to swim or dive, features discovery dive tour among open water certified divers. The event was held in pursuit of promoting and developing the dive tourism industry in the provinces of Davao Region and spearheaded by the Department of Tourism-XI, together with Visit Davao Summer Festival, Province of Davao Oriental and the Municipality of Governor Generoso.

Davao Oriental Provincial Tourism Officer Miguel Trocio envisions the Davao Oriental Province as the next diving capital of Region XI given the province’s topographical and geographical locations that have garnered the province the monikers “Sunrise Capital of the Philippines”, “Gateway to the Pacific”, as well as “Location to Eastern Mindanao Biodiversity Corridors”.

“The province has the longest coastline in the entire Davao Region extending to more than five hundred (500) kilometers of shoreline from Banaybanay to Boston, exemplifying the richness of the province’s coastal and marine resources that can be harnessed for sustainable tourism development”, said Trocio.

Divers float through Coral Garden in Barangay Tibanban, Governor Generoso, Davao Oriental, 14 June 2019. PHOTO BY RODNEY JAO.

In conjunction to the event that also promotes sustainability of the ecological sites and marine biodiversity of the municipality, a dive forum was also conducted simultaneously for the locals. Further, the local delegates also got to experience introductory shore-entry scuba diving in Pundaguitan, also located in GovGen.

Meanwhile, the Municipality of Governor Generoso, the southeasternmost tip of Philippine archipelago, was selected after the successful implementation of the dive festival in 2018. The humble municipality of GovGen boasts of unspoiled resources where a vast count of marine species lives.

Participating diver of Sawom Dabaw: Davao Oriental Dive Festival takes photos of underwater sea crickets in The Great Wall dive site at Barangay Tagabebe, Municipality of Governor Generoso, Davao Oriental, 14-15 June 2019. PHOTO BY RODNEY JAO.

“The wall [dive site], a drop off near the coast of Tagabebe village is adorned with barrel sponges, soft coral, and gorgonian fans. [Sawom Dabaw] is an amazing weekend discovering new dive sites along Governor Generoso”, recounts Edgar Alan Zeta-Yap, a Cebu-based blogger and diver who joined the activity.

DOT-XI Regional Director Tanya Rabat-Tan, in her message, explained that the dive festival is one of the activities prepared by the Department with partners, Visit Davao Summer Festival and Province of Davao Oriental, under the Summer Dive Caravan. Back in January 2019, a Focus Group Discussion was conducted among the dive stakeholders of the region, where among those that were discussed were the need for various training for the divers and the stakeholders, better collaborations among the public-private stakeholders of Davao Gulf, and the need to identify and discover new dive sites. Thus, in May 2019, a 3-day seminar on dive opportunities and underwater photography was conducted, and a series of dive validation activities is set in the coming weeks of June for Mati City and Municipality of Tarragona, in the province of Davao Oriental.

Divers pose for OK sign as they dive through Coral Garden in Barangay Tibanban, Governor Generoso. They are among the 21 certified divers who participated in the first Sawom Dabaw: Davao Oriental Dive Festival last June 14-15, 2019. Photo by RODNEY JAO.

The dive caravan is an event also supported by the DOT-Philippine Commission on Sports Scuba Diving (PSSCD), where Davao City-based dive enthusiast and founder of Davao Reef Divers Association, Dr. Fred Medina, sits as one of the national commissioners.

Divers, organizing team and partners pose for a group photo during the Welcome Activities of Sawom Dabaw: Davao Oriental Dive Festival at Sigaboy Island, Municipality of Governor Generoso, last 14 June 2019. Photo by DOT-XI.

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