“I’ll climb this mountain as long as I still can” Bing exclaims as she gleefully trod the trail on the pasture lands of Ivana, Batanes, as we head to the summit of Mt Matarem. Carlotta Borromeo-Charbonney, or Bing, for short, is a native adventure-loving Ivatan who has learned to be independent from her family early in her life as she studied in Manila during college. Much more when she married her foreign husband who took her around the world and eventually settled in Switzerland. She makes it a point to go home every year in Batanes for family and be rooted to her home. We sure am glad Bing was there to join us for this climb.
Romblon Island is one of the three main islands of Romblon province. The others being Tablas and Sibuyan islands. With an area of 33.54 sq mi, it is the smallest of the three island groups. The town is the capital of the province and is widely known for its marble industry, minerals, Spanish heritage and beautiful beaches.
Aside from Bonbon Beach, the main island of Romblon has some island hopping activities too with its fare share of equally stunning islands and beaches. Since we’re covering the Biniray Festival and Tonton ng Sto Niño that day, we only have the morning to visit one of the three islands at the northwestern side of Romblon island, the Cobrador Island. The island is the farthest of the three and a 45 minute boat ride away from the poblacion.
Isolated to the rest of the world since the ice age, and never connected to any Philippine archipelago since history, Sibuyan Island’s seclusion has kept its pristine state since geological formation. With the seismic forces pushing its jagged mountain peaks up to 2,000 meters above sea, much Sibuyan Island is untouched. Naturalist and scientist around the world were quick to give the island a moniker, “Galapagos if Asia”. The island itself has its own character, having one of the richest concentration of endemic flora and fauna. The island also has the densest forest in the world.
It seems there are several title holders for the “cleanest inland body of water” in the Philippines. Good thing about this is it shows how many natural clean body of water we have. Bugang River in Pandan, Antique was the first I know to have the title through the Gawad Pangulo ng Kapaligiran. There’s also Lake Apo for Northern Mindanao. Cantingas River in San Fernando, Sibuyan Island in Romblon adds to this merry list of clean body of waters in the country.
Found at the southern tip of Sibuyan Island is one of Romblon’s raw gems worth daring the often tempestuous waters of Sibuyan seas for. Cresta de Gallo, named after its shape resembling a rooster’s comb, is an island with fine white sand beach and stunning sandbar. No commercial establishments or structures. Just pure tropical island paradise.
Sibuyan island is one of the most fascinating in the country in terms of biodiversity. Its 445 square meter area is home to more than 123 species of trees (54 are endemic), estimated 700 vascular plants species, 131 species of birds, ten fruit bats and more animals that have yet to be catalogued. A naturalist haven that it wasn’t many are calling this the “Galapagos of Asia”. But Sibuyan Island should be called by its own character, home of the world’s densest forest and rich biodiversity. I was excited to finally step on this island of MIMAROPA and glad to be able to explore the waterfalls of Sibuyan Island. There are around 44 waterfalls but only a number accessible to tourist. Check them out below.