Discovering more of Davao Oriental through Subangan Museum

The thing about travelling is that it is more than just seeing new places, but it is also about learning more about them because the only way to truly know a place, a country, a province, a city, is through discovering its culture.

Subangan Museum
Subangan Museum

I recently visited Mati City as a part of the tour provided to us by the Department of Tourism in partnership with AirAsia. And one of the things included in our tour, after our wonderful lunch at one of one of the resorts in Dahican Beach, was a trip to Subangan Museum.

“East” is what Subangan means. It was from the Bisayan word, Subang, although, Subang can also mean “sunrise” or a place where the sun rises.


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Subangan Davao Oriental Provincial Museum
Subangan Davao Oriental Provincial Museum

The idea of building this magnificent museum was around the year 2010, when an unfortunate event happened along the shore of San lsidro and Governor Generoso towns. A 20 metric ton sperm whale had drifted along the shore. When this event happened, people of the province decided that this 53-feet long mammal should have its bones retrieved and preserved. By doing so, scientists and researchers started flocking to the province to study the mammal. And by 2011, the decision of creating a museum in the province was finalized.

Meet Davor
Meet Davor

The townspeople made sure the government knows they are supporting this plan, knowing that this would attract interests of researchers, visitors, and tourists.

Dagmay Weaving
Dagmay Weaving

But it was not only the sperm whale that the people wanted to preserve, but they voiced out as well their desire to preserve and conserve the different land and seascapes found in the province. Because of this the Tourism Infrastructure and Enterprise Zone Authority vowed to support the project of building the museum. And some other entities decided to fund the construction too.

Mandaya Tribe Accessories
Mandaya Tribe Accessories

And now, because of that incident, the museum was built after how many years of planning and the sperm whale is now the museum’s main attraction. The mammal was then named Davor, Dava – for Davao and Or – for Oriental.

TRIVIA: Davor is actually the largest display here in the Philippines and it is ranked 7th in the world.

The great thing about the Subangan Museum is that it was created in such a way that both the young and the old would be fascinated and intrigued by it. It is a combination of old and new things.

A photo of Mandaya Tribe inside Subangan Museum in Mati City
A photo of Mandaya Tribe inside Subangan Museum in Mati City

One part of the museum that does help me learn more about Davao Oriental is through its displays and presentations of the tribes of Davao Oriental. It was able to clearly showcase the rich cultural heritage of the province.

Information on tribes such as the Mandaya and Kaagan were presented through descriptions and photographs, and it sure does help you have a wider understanding of the province, its culture and their people.

Typical Dress of Davao Oriental Tribes
Typical Dress of Davao Oriental Tribes

And one that truly left me in awe was the part of the museum that showcased and highlighted the natural heritage of Davao Oriental.

Because one of the UNESCO World Heritage Sites here in the Philippines is located in Davao Oriental, it is no surprise that the museum would miss-out on highlighting its wonders and its beauty.

Mt. Hamiguitan Biodiversity
Mt. Hamiguitan Biodiversity

TRIVIA: Did you know that Mt. Hamiguitan is recognized as a place that has high land-based biological diversity.

There are more than 1,300 plant and animal species found in Mt. Hamiguitan. And all of these species can only be found in the area, species like the Philippine tarsier, mossy-pygmy fruit bats, Philippine eagle, and many more species, you would be excited to learn about.

There was a display model of Mt. Hamiguitan in the museum and it presents the different and exquisite fauna and flora, and as well as dwarf bamboos found in the mountain.

This part of this museum tour was very relaxing and enjoyable. While you stroll around this area, you will hear faint background sound effects of waterfalls. One area was even built to give people a similar experience of walking in the forests of mountain ranges. You even get to touch the forest!

Flora and Fauna of Mt. Hamiguitan
Flora and Fauna of Mt. Hamiguitan

Photographs of the rivers and creeks found in Mt. Hamiguitan were also shown.

TRIVIA: Mt. Hamiguitan Range Wildlife Sanctuary is a part of the 15 biogeographic zones here in the Philippines.

There are also displays of tadpole and ant species that are unique to the area. There were also pictures of the plants that were also endemic in the area. And there were also a lot interactive displays such as the display for the Philippine eagle, etc.



This part of the museum allows its visitors to take in the wonders and beauty of the forest and diverse biological life of the Mt. Hamiguitan Range.

Parts of this area also showcased the elegance of the famous Aliwagwag falls, its beaches, caves, etc.

But as great as this museum looks to most people, it sure had to go through a lot before it became what it is today.

Upon its construction, one dreadful typhoon caused so much destruction to the province and it left so much devastation amongst the people. Typhoon Pablo struck the Philippines, but it struck Davao Oriental harder than most places. Destroyed homes, hunger, thirst, and lack of proper sanitation, clothing and medicine, became rampant after Typhoon Pablo. It was a painful experience for them. But despite this huge and dreadful hurdle, the people of Davao Oriental were still able to see the light of the situation and even pursued to continue to build Subangan Museum.

And that is why a part of the museum is allotted for the stories, videos and photographs of the people and the province during and after Typhoon Pablo. It is to remind them, and also to let those who visit Davao Oriental know, the trials they have faced but as well as the trials they were able to overcome.

Beautiful Beaches in Davao Oriental
Beautiful Beaches in Davao Oriental

It is one thing to see a place with your own eyes, but it also another thing when you get to discover more about how and why it is as beautiful as how you see it.

AirAsia now flies to Davao from Cebu, Palawan, Caticlan, Clark, Manila and Vice Versa. Keep up-to-date with AirAsia’s latest promotion and activities via Twitter (@AirAsiaPH), Facebook (facebook.com/AirAsiaPhilippines), Instagram (@AirAsiaPh), and on Viber public chat (@AirAsiaPh).

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