Caraga is a region in the northeastern corner of Mindanao in the Philippines.
|Agusan del Norte |
Has one officially designated city, and 10 municipalities of various sizes.
|Agusan del Sur |
|Dinagat Islands |
|Surigao del Norte |
|Surigao del Sur |
- 1 Butuan the regional center of the Caraga region, and de facto capital. The city guide also includes places in the nearby towns of Buenavista, Carmen, Las Nieves, and Nasipit.
- 2 Bislig
- 3 Socorro (Surigao del Norte)
- 4 Surigao
- 5 Tandag
- 6 Cabadbaran – Agusan del Norte provincial capital.
- 7 Magallanes
Caraga is a peaceful nature refuge away from the insecurity Mindanao experiences. That said, the region has a relatively relaxed tourism industry, except for Siargao. The region has plenty of undiscovered natural wonders, slowly being uncovered by tourists.
Most of the people in the area are Cebuano speakers, with a minority of indigenous ethnic groups like Surigaonon, Butuanon, and numerous Lumad tribes. Caraga is one of the most impoverished regions in the Philippines, with families having a daily income of ₱220 as of 2001.
The region derives its name from the Cebuano or Surigaonon word kalagan, which means spirits or souls, but the real etymology is shrouded by legends.
Cebuano (Bisaya) is widely spoken throughout Caraga, but there are also languages indigenous to Caraga such as Surigaonon and Butuanon.
- Surigaonon. This is the main local language in both the northern and southern Surigao provinces. It has about a half million native speakers, and is related to Tausug, spoken in the Sulu Islands over 500 km (310 mi) to the southwest. It is not mutually intelligible with Cebuano, but native Cebuano speakers can understand some Surigaonon.
- Butuanon. This is spoken in Butuan, and is closely related to Surigaonon. It may be dying out; had only about 35,000 speakers as of 1990 and few children are learning it. Most Butuanons speak Bisaya instead.
These are also Visayan languages like Cebuano.
Surigao City, Siargao and Butuan have airports receiving domestic flights from Manila, Cebu, or Davao. Surigao City (SUG IATA) has flights from Cebu with Cebgo. Siargao (IAO IATA) receives flights from Manila, Cebu and Davao on Cebgo and PAL Express. Butuan (BXU IATA) is served by daily flights from Cebu on Cebgo and Manila on Cebu Pacific and PAL Express using Airbus A320s. All the other airports with commercial flights are primarily served by turboprop aircraft due to infrastructure limitations.
- Bachelor Express. Bus services from Davao City to Butuan, Surigao City, and Tandag, Cagayan de Oro to Butuan, and Cateel to Bislig.
- Philtranco. Operates deluxe long-distance services between Manila and Davao, stopping at Surigao, Butuan and Bayugan. Buses take the ferry between Liloan (in Leyte Island) and Surigao.
There are ferries connecting Caraga with Leyte, Cebu and Bohol. Except services from Cebu and Manila, all take vehicles on board, and are part of the Nautical Highway system.
- 2Go Travel. Sails from Manila to Butuan, with stop at Cebu City.
- Cokaliong Shipping Lines. Connects Cebu City with Butuan and Surigao, and Maasin with Surigao.
- Lite Ferries. Runs the Jagna-Butuan RORO ferry, part of the Central Nautical Highway.
- Millennium Shipping Lines. RORO ferries between southern Leyte island and Surigao City.
- Trans-Asia Shipping Lines. Also operates the Cebu-Butuan ferry
Highways of decent quality connect Caraga with Davao region and Northern Mindanao. Major highways are the Mindanao leg of the Maharlika Highway (Rte 1/AH26), and the Butuan-Cagayan de Oro-Iligan Rd (Rte 9)
From Manila or the Visayas, cars take the ferry (see shipping line listings above).
Caraga is a sparsely populated region, and most cities, towns, and the barangays separating them are more spread out. Most of the region and forested, and the provinces facing the Pacific are separated by mountains.
There are highways connecting the region's major cities. Maharlika Highway (Asian Highway 26/Rte 1) connects Butuan, Surigao City, and Bayugan, while another highway from Surigao connects the coastal cities of Tandag and Bislig.
Provincial buses connect the major cities, with the bulk of routes run by Bachelor Express, which is based in Butuan. Most cities and towns have at least one bus station or stopover.
There are also UV Express vans that serve as non-stop alternatives to buses, and the only way to reach small towns not served by buses. Beware of unlicensed (colorum) van services, but they has been somehow reduced.
Ferries connect the island of Siargao, as well as the remote Dinagat Islands.
The Islamist insurgency in the rest of Mindanao is not experienced in the region, but communist rebels hide in remote areas. Most likely for the travellers are road accidents, most commonly incidents involving motorcyclists. Wear helmets securely and avoid driving drunk if you rent a motorbike. Driving habits are also dangerously reckless, so beware of other local drivers around.