Island Myth

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This rustic paradise in Panay was one of the reason for the return in the town of Anini-y

Catching up summer in this uninhabited island in south of Panay, was purely relaxing and everything was perfectly lackadaisical.  Simple pleasures that feed one’s soul sans superficiality.

Snorkeling for an hour watching in silence the marine life amid turquoise waters, walking along the kalachuchi-lined road towards the lighthouse, climbing the lighthouse, and while on top, watch the giant bats hanging on that big tree. We were accompanied by white kitty-meow, which for me unusual since there are no residents in the island. We capped our hop by circling the island on foot which was bit tricky, we lost a bit but the old giant banyan tree was a surprise yet mystical in a way!

And yes! We dove in its waters the next day.  🙂 Nogas Island is simply replete with hidden beauty…

Siquijor: Pristine Paradise, Surface and Beyond

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The iconic St. Francis of Assissi Church welcomes you to Isla de Fuego!

The pristine waters of this idyllic province which is a come-on for tourists is no doubt one good reason for water enthusiasts to tread its depths. We have been planning to be back not just for a detour but to explore the deeper vista of Isla de Fuego. Five years was long enough for the wait and making most of a long weekend in June, we finally made it. Cherry, Angel and I was looking forward for this passage, my tickets were bought in last November yet!

The heat and humid air suggested for a long summer, the weather perfectly cooperated our cruise from Cebu to Tagbilaran, to Dumaguete and finally to Siquijor. Angel joined us in Dumaguete port to Siquijor under the scorching heat. The low tide perfectly revealed a long stretch of white sand shores as we step on the port. Local kids swam and enjoyed the waters, how alluring that even the port offered an immaculate scene and unspoiled view of the province!

Sandugan Beach

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We lingered over a wide area of colorful corals

Our booking was in Kiwi Dive Resort, a self-contained and homey refuge that offered everything we need – diving facility, lodging, food and friendly staff. The tricycle we hired from the port brought us south of the island in Larena, and later served as our transpo as we went around making most of the remaining hours before dark. We need to show Cherry around, we ended up in Salagdoong Beach passing the picturesque mini-forest already dark, yet in a festive mood which gave us a reason to linger – and munched the pasta, bread and cold cuts we had. We wanted to stay longer until our trike summoned us for our ride home.

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I was inside a small cavern watching the golden cardinals swimming around the entrance

The next morning was gloomy as if a storm was coming, but the waters was perfectly calm for our two dives, our DM Raul had an interesting flair as he briefed us and told about possible sightings. Our first descent was a boat dive, we cruised shortly to Sandugan Canyon which our DM suggested as replete with critters but not with pelagics.

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Look closely, can you see it? 🙂

It was a wall dive and indeed, there were variety of nudis – in different bright colors and sizes. We entered a cavern which housed variety of fishes, the herd of golden cardinals swirling around as if disturbed by our presence, was a sight to behold! I stayed longer feeling the serenity and warmth of the scenery. We found more nudis as we went around, cleaner shrimp and variety of juveniles. We went over a wide coral area, in different colors and assortment. After twelve weeks of lull, it felt good to be back in the depths. We ascend after 65 minutes! 

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The graceful Bedford’s Flatworm surprised us!

After an hour of surface interval back at the resort, we head for our next descent at the  Sanctuary with DM Cedric , it was a sloping sandy area and as soon as we were down, a sea moth was resting mimicking the sand’s color! It was my first sighting of the specie, but it didn’t swim, or fly – the sight of a sea Pegasus flapping its wing-like pectoral fins would be an interesting sight. We sighted also garden eels peeking on the sand but quickly disappear as we got near. There were a lot of nudis again, and swam over a wide coral area. The unspoiled marine environment was inspiring, less exposure to threats could only mean healthy marine life. Less population, less pollutants, and rare disturbance is always an advantage. We ascend after 66 minutes with my air still at 90 bars!

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This striped pyjama nudi gave a colorful touch among the corals

Meeting A Shaman

Until today, the island is still known for shaman and healers, and many anecdotes have been passed around. Some even have reservations visiting Siquijor for this reason. Seeing one is a welcome thought but have never expected we had the opportunity. But our guide cum driver was enthusiastic to suggest we should visit, he knew one who have healed him and provided help when once he lost his wallet. So, we made most of our time as we wait for the last trip boat for Dumaguete. It was a brief encounter but his stories were more than enough to compensate for our long wait as he went out for a patient. Perhaps, beyond what we see on him was some supernatural powers to read our appearance!  He was normal though, like us!

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The balmy sundown at Kagusuan Beach!

Coming again in Siquijor is not impossible, with the wonderful discovery we had on its depths it is another destination in Central Visayas worthy for another visit in the future!

Have you been to this island?

White Beach

P1050291There is some place that we might not set foot again but inside us we are grateful we had the chance to savor its beauty and serenity. Like the White Beach in Malamawi Island in Isabela City, many may not even have heard or imagined it existed. Blue skies that meets the blue sea, cottony white clouds, white sandy shores coupled with sun shining – uncluttered and never rearranged by humans – my kind of place where I can sit and watch the horizons in oblivion.

The dark blue waters beyond held some mystery to me, I wonder what’s in store in the depths.  There could be more, the life underneath, the amazing world beyond. I knew in its bosom held many secrets, secrets to be revealed. Perhaps.

Perhaps, some other time….

Bucas Grande A Drench!

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Talisay was my refuge in my homecoming

Three years. Since I last came in this group of islands I called my second home.  Not really long, but I have promised to be back again.  I have missed its tranquility and stillness. There are so many issues at the back of my mind that needs to be soothed by pure serenity, as if to disconnect. I randomly decided to be home once more.

Coming here is always a wet pursuit but I love the waters, its turquoise and emerald  surroundings always gave me a warm welcome! Again, the hop was just brief but it was some kind of a retreat.

Jellyfish Lagoon

This is my favorite spot and I always come here to visit my jelly friends.  Last time there was none,  it was fortunate they were around, although it was not yet in full season, but its good to see them again. Swimming, floating, pulsating on the emerald waters. 🙂  I can’t help being with them, but you need to be careful not to disturb them. Just float and swim without flinging one’s limbs – the proper way to interact with this invertebrate.  So soft, so gentle – I simply love them!  I scampered up the boat when Brandon (my boatman) begged me to come up when he noticed other guests are coming. Swimming with the jellyfish is not allowed anymore!

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I can’t imagine how our boat maneuvered getting inside Sohoton!

Caving in Sohoton

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Hagukan Cave can only be viewed by swimming down and holding breath for at least 10 seconds!

The two caves inside the cove are worth coming again but you must need to be comfortable in the waters.  It was new moon when I got there, so the waters movement was quite slow and even if it was low tide, the waters are still up but the good thing is,  current was almost non-existent.  🙂  If you have entered Hagukan before, you knew about the rock in the middle of the lagoon, where you could stand to rest from swimming.  Well, it was too deep to stand on, it was floating and swimming all the way!

Magkakakaub Cave is another challenging – rock climbing and that big splash to the Water! I came in here more than five times, in those instances I can walk  inside without soaking my body but this time I was swimming inside. It was amazing how it could change with the moon’s movement!

Beaches

Time was too short but I still managed to hop in Marka A Island, it was swimming and lazing in its small patch of white beach under the noon sun, in the end I took refuge under a cavern from the scorching heat while watching the horizon.  Lastly, I went to Cinnamon Island (my home in my last visit) for my sumptuous lunch with Raffy and Director Bulabong (of DILG). I enjoyed the seafoods, the buko and the home-made biko! Dining al fresco watching the blue horizons was just perfect.  🙂

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The water front of Cinnamon Island!

Nothing much has changed since I knew Bucas Grande in terms of Structures.  Well, there are new Lodging Cottages and Huts, but still of indigenous materials.  The park and its waters have maintained its cleanliness, mainly because the community manage it and everyone takes part in its preservation and protection! 🙂

Home It Is

The community always welcome me even how short the notice was – DA always arrange everything with no fuss. My boat has been waiting several hours before I arrive at Port Hayanggabon. Roldan, Raffy, Renan, Jun-jun, Brandon, Chelyn were just few who would be willing to sit for some leisure talk and dine with me even if they have other chores to do.  Most importantly, I can laze around to all my heart’s content. The wide horizons, the orange sky, the cicadas, the roaring waves and the dark nights. Just immersing myself with simple things that give pure joy.

It was another drenching visit in my home, which was purely cathartic to me.  And I will be back again, it’s a promise.

Travel Notes

1. Vans going to Port Hayanggabon, Claver is available at Bad-as, Placer. Multi-cab/jeep also can be found at Surigao City bus terminal.
2. Last trip boat (public utility) from Port Hayanggabon to Socorro town is 4pm.
3. Consider the Moon cycle when visiting the islands, tide and current movements should not be taken for granted.
4. Lodgings with generator have electricity  6:00pm to 12:00 midnight only.
5. Cellphone signal which is not necessary actually, is almost non-existent!
6. When you visit Bucas Grande, please patronize the community-managed lodgings in Cinnamon Island, SIFAI, Green Cove and Titktikan Lagoon. Always arrange your visit to the island through the local tourism unit.

 

Life in the Islands!

P1050172There is only stillness and serenity.

Orange skies, sound of cicadas and the placid waters reflecting sky hues are simple signs that another day has ended.  I can sit all alone watching the horizons until darkness engulf the scenery.  Then a sparkling light in the distance from fishers going their way or the occasional fireflies in summer nights.

Home. There is only stillness and serenity…