Subangan Museum in Mati
Subangan Museum in Mati

Much of Mati City in Davao Oriental has been a surprise. I recall the place having been devastated by Typhoon Pablo a couple of years ago but I’m glad to see the city has recovered and with interesting developments. From the plaza, to the capitol, schools and hospital a familiar paint of purple can be seen which I was told was the color of healing. When I was going around Mati, I had no idea there was a Subangan Museum in which my habal-habal driver recommend I visit. I was hesitant at first but since I was already there, I thought I would do a quick round but ended up staying more than an hour.

Entering Subangan Museum
Entering Subangan Museum

Subangan Museum

The two-story Subangan Museum stands on a 1000 sqm land. It’s a modern looking building surrounded with greenery and a cafe outside. But looking closely, one would notice the native patterns incorporated on the metal fences and the beautifully carved doors inside the museum. These are the native patterns from Davao Oriental’s indigenous people, the Mandaya and Kaagan. I was able to converse with Lyrna Padohinog, the Museum Administrator, who also warmly welcomed me as a guest. She explained that the word Subang is a bisaya term which means “east” or “sunrise”. So apt because Pusan point, which is part of Davao Oriental is where the sunlight of the new millennium happened. Lyrna also told me the museum just opened this January 2014 and it the brainchild of Governor Corazon Nuñez-Malanyaon.

Davor the whale, the highlight exhibit of the museum
Davor the whale, the highlight exhibit of the museum

Meet Davor the Whale

At the main hall of the exhibit is Davor the whale. An impressive 53-feet fossilized remains of a 20-ton sperm whale found at the coast of General Generoso. My guide Rizza, narrated that locals saw Davor, accompanied by a couple of whales to assist him to shore. As with many sperm whales, if they feel they are dying they would go to the coast and die out of the sea. Davor is considered the 7th largest whale exhibit in the world and the 1st in the Philippines. Davor’s name came from the province, **DA**Vao **OR**iental. There’s a running video documentary on the display and interactive tablet app to make it more interesting for kids to know more about whales and Davor.

The Cultural Heritage section highlights the Mandaya and Kaagan tribes
The Cultural Heritage section highlights the Mandaya and Kaagan tribes

Cultural Heritage

Still on the first floor, a huge section is dedicated to the tribes of Davao Oriental, particularly the Mandaya and Kaagan. It’s good to know about them since I’m not familiar with these tribes. The Mandaya are very much like the Tboli’s of Lake Sebu and the Kaagan similar to the Sama. What I do like about the section is that the presentation is well thought out, the photography was excellent as well as the video documentation.

A section on Mt Hamiguitan for the National Heritage section
A section on Mt Hamiguitan for the National Heritage section

National Heritage

With the declaration of our 5th UNESCO heritage site, Mt Hamiguitan, Subangan Museum dedicated a large portion of its exhibit on this mountain. I like the display of the numerous dwarf bamboos found in Mt Hamiguitan and the extensive range of flora and fauna. There’s even a faux forest walk to get a feel of what’s like in the mountain range. Large part of Mt Hamiguitan is under Davao Oriental.

Also on the same floor is a showcase of natural wonders found within the province. Highlight on the wall projection is the stunning Aliwagwag Falls in Cateel, then the other falls, beaches and caves are also showcased.

A room dedicated to the Typhoon Pablo devastation
A room dedicated to the Typhoon Pablo devastation

Beyond Typhoon Pablo

Back on the first floor, behind an elaborately designed, large wooden door is a small square room. Filled with mural of collage, the room serves as a reminder of Typhoon Pablo’s devastation. The photos used effectively depicts the state of the hard stricken areas like Cateel. The video presentation was well-produced and has some powerful footages with the before and after photos as well as the relief operations. Ms Lyrna, pointed out earlier that Mati and Davao Oriental in general is considered as a model for successful recovery from a calamity in the likes of Typhoon Pablo.

The al fresco cafe beside the museum
The al fresco cafe beside the museum

More on the Museum

Really taking time to explore the museum is worthwhile. There’s a Trade and Commerce section as well that showcases the livelihood and products of the province. Subangan Museum was a welcome surprise and definitely worth a visit when in Mati. Visitors have also an option to be accompanied by a guide for free. My guide Rizza who has only been with the museum was very knowledgeable and enthusiastic to share information about her beloved province. This makes Subangan Museum a good first stop to get an overall view of what to find, look and see in the whole province of Davao Oriental.

Subangan Museum
8200, Mati
Davao Oriental
Contact: (+6387) 811.3397

Admission rates
Students and Children: Php 10.00
Adults: Davao Oriental Residents – Php 20.00; Non-Davao Oriental Visitors – Php 50
Foreign Nationals – Php 100
Senior Citizens – Php 20.00

Operating Hours: Monday to Saturdays 9:00am to 8:00pm; Sundays Half-day

*All photos on this post are taken with a Nikon D7100. Visit Nikon Philippines.

A feature on the rich biodiversity in Mt Hamiguitan and a mini forest walk
A feature on the rich biodiversity in Mt Hamiguitan and a mini forest walk
Showcasing the numerous waterfalls in the province
Showcasing the numerous waterfalls in the province
The Kaagan tribe section of the museum
The Kaagan tribe section of the museum
The Mandaya tribe section
The Mandaya tribe section
Inside the forest walk
Inside the forest walk