MATI: A GEM IN DAVAO ORIENTAL
There is much more to discover in Mati, Davao Oriental besides its picturesque landscapes and resorts.
By James Steven Batucan
Mati City has always been a destination for beachgoers. Aside from being the hub of trade and industry developments, there is much more to discover in this provincial capital of Davao Oriental besides its picturesque landscapes and resorts. It is now renowned as a surfing and skimboarding destination for foreign visitors.
HOW TO GET TO MATI? You can reach Davao Oriental by land from either the Province of Compostella Valley, where you’ll first see the Municipality of Banaybanay, or the Province of Siargao, where you’ll first see the Municipality of Cateel. Mati, the third city from the town of Banaybanay, is three hours away by van or private car or five hours away by utility bus. If you’re traveling to the city of Mati from the mainland, you’ll soon come across a zigzag road locally known as “Badas,” from which you’ll have a breathtaking view of Sleeping Dinosaur Island.
THE AIRPORT If you are traveling from Manila, Cebu, or another city, you can reach Davao Oriental by flying over Davao City on one of the daily scheduled airline flights through the Davao International Airport or by taking a regularly scheduled vessel that sails the Manila-Davao Sea route only. It is also directly accessible by a twenty-five-minute chartered flight from Davao City International Airport to the Mati Community Airport, also known as the Imelda R. Marcos Airport in Mati City.
Before the Mati Community Airport became a functioning airport, it was originally built as a border to land by some prominent Mati families, who later added a strip to turn it into an airport. It was initially known as the Imelda Marcos Airport because these families were close to the first lady at the time. During her visits in the 1970s, Mrs. Marcos would fly directly through the airport. After locals and officials realized the strip had airport potential, they had it registered with the Philippines’ Civil Aviation Authority (CAAP) as the Mati Community Airport (also known as RPMQ).
The CAAP and the Saga Mindanao Flying Club are currently responsible for the airport’s operation and maintenance. As part of Congress’ plan to make the airport a potential Davao City replacement airport, renovations and an expansion are planned.
FLY AROUND MATI The Saga Mindanao Flying Club’s ingenuity has enabled one to enjoy a lush and breathtaking aerial view of Mati, Davao Oriental’s scenery. The Saga Mindanao Flying Club is the only sports club of its kind in the province. It offers an activity called “Ultra-Light Flying” that lets people see the province’s amazing landscape from the air, which is a unique way to see it.
SLEEPING DINOSAUR Along the long and winding road to Mati, Davao Oriental, there is a spectacular landmark view known as the Sleeping Dinosaur. The island got its name because it looks like a sleeping dinosaur,
surrounded by water. The luscious green island can be easily spotted if you’re taking the land route, with a handful of free viewing decks along the winding road.
SURFING IN MATI Mati is surrounded by several beautiful, clear-blue beaches. Dahikan, which is known as Mati’s surfing capital because of its huge, crystal-clear waves, attracts both domestic and foreign tourists on a daily basis. It also serves as a haven for the endangered pawikans (sea turtles). Dahikan beaches have produced a number of local surfers and skimboarders who have represented the city at local, national, and even international surfing competitions.
One, if not the most famous is Sonny Boy “Bayogyog” Aborpo, a skimboarding and surfing prodigy who started shredding waves in 2004 at the young age of six years. Later on, Aborpo would compete and win several local, national, and even international competitions, all the while representing the City of Mati, Davao Oriental.
Aborpo has bagged over 28 national skimboarding competitions to date, bagging the championship title each time; as well as competing in several international skimboarding and surfing competitions such as being the champion in Hong Kong in 2012, Malaysia in 2013, Singapore, and Malaysia in 2016, and having his most recent from October 2022 where he won the first-ever Algarve International Skim Competition in Portugal, beating at least 40 other competitors from around the world in addition to a few weeks prior where he was in Spain for the United Skim Tour.
This goes to show that the shores of Mati do not fall short in producing great people and talent.
GOLFING IN MATI Don Paco Rocamora Golf and Country Club (DPRGCC) is a nine-hole golf course in Barangay Dahican Mati City, adjacent to the Mati City Community Airport. The relatively flat course is the only golf course east of Davao City, but its design offers a variety of challenges to both beginner and advanced players. The facility also includes an eight-bay driving range and a 300-person clubhouse. Club cars, golf cars, trolleys, and caddies are also readily available to provide the best playing experience for players.
FOOD AND DRINKS NOT TO MISS Mati also has a number of local household food establishments, such as Bador and Homebrew Café, each of which offers a distinct tasteful experience. Mati’s Bador is a household name when it comes to native chicken barbeque. A flavorful experience dating back to the 1970s, the juicy recipe has been passed down from father to son its time memorial. Since 1999, Bador’s name has been a football in Mati, popular with both locals and tourists. Finally, Homebrew is the only coffee shop in Mati, Davao Oriental, that offers customers a premium blended experience. Best sellers include the Homebrew Special, a creamy, sweet coffee blend, and the Popcorn Latte, which tastes exactly like drinking actual popcorn.
The beans used in the establishment are a blend of 80% Arabica and 20% Robusta, all of which are sourced locally from Mt. Apo. They also have 100% pour-over imported beans, a light coffee that is rich in flavor and does not require any added sugar. Slow-drip coffee, which is prepared by batch because the extraction time ranges from six to eight hours, is also available in their café. They also sell fermented cold brew, which contains more than 200 milligrams of caffeine per cup, compared to regular brewed coffee, which contains only 50 milligrams per cup.
Having said that, Mati is not only a venue to escape the hustle and bustle of city life but also a place to enjoy the magnificent sights and sounds of nature. To sum it all up, Mati, Davao Oriental, is a treasure chest full of gems for you to explore.