NEW CORELLA, Davao del Norte—It would be a pity if picnickers and nature lovers miss out on this gem.
A 10-minute drive from the center of this agricultural town, Panas, is an idyllic mountain resort tucked deep in a forest and nestled between the hills, replete with natural multitiered waterfalls that cascade to a lagoon where intrepid swimmers can take a dip in its soothingly cold, crystal-clear waters.
Situated in a community bearing its name, Panas is located in New Carcor village, 5 kilometers from the poblacion.
With 20 cottages dotting the vicinity of the waterfalls and the lagoon, it is an ideal getaway for families and friends, says Joel Quinanahan, New Corella tourism officer.
Picnic huts or cottages are available at dirt-cheap rates (between P50 and P100) in this increasingly popular tourist destination, a popular choice of travelers who have a dozen or so ecotourism and inland resorts to pick from in Davao del Norte province.
The local government manages the resort that straddles a 30-hectare area on the fringes of the New Corella watershed. It is open seven days a week, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Noel Daquioag, provincial tourism officer, says Panas forms part of a three-town cluster packaged as ecotourism destinations, along with Asuncion and Kapalong. The three towns are also known for their caves found around Panas.
New Corella, in fact, is slowly becoming a spelunking destination.
Quinanahan says the provincial government has partnered with the Department of Tourism (DOT) in opening up infrastructure projects to further boost Panas’ chances of cashing in on the tourism boom.
Partnership with DOT
“What draws people to the place is that the entire area is an ecotourism paradise. And the entrance fee is minimal,” the municipal tourism officer explains. “You pay pang-masa (common man) rates for a high-end recreation experience.”
Feeding the three-level waterfall are streams and tributaries of the Del Monte and Patrociño rivers.
For the more adventurous guests, there is more to Panas than its stairway-like gushing crystal waters.
Led by experienced guides, guests can take a 1.5-kilometer trek upriver as their eyes feast on the enchanting sight of flowers, plants and butterflies to the sounds of a multitude of chirping birds.
In partnership with the DOT, the provincial government is undertaking the concreting of parts of the New Carcor-Poblacion road and other infrastructure projects to make the place more accessible to visitors.
The improvements include additional landscaping and the construction of 20 new cottages.
How to get there
From Davao City, one can take a one-hour, 55-kilometer air-conditioned bus ride to the Tagum Overland Transport Integrated Terminal in Tagum City for just over P100. Across it is Pereyras Terminal where you can find jeepneys bound for New Corella parked from 4 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily. Jeep fare ranges from P30-P60.
From the town, one can take an exciting ride on a habal-habal (motorcycle-for-hire) for P20. The trip not only offers one a view of rural life up close while negotiating a bumpy road that cuts through the hills, but gives first-time habal-habal riders a cheap thrills trip of a lifetime.
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