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.
There is no shortage of spectacular beaches in Romblon. While “good beaches” vary to taste on a personal level, for me the qualifications comes down to the sand quality, the surrounding environment, the waters and awe factor. Strip off any establishments or fancy gimmicks, it always comes down to the bare nature of it all. That’s why I’m loving Bonbon Beach (sometimes spelled as Bon Bon) in Romblon. About 5km from Romblon Island, Poblacion. Privately owned, but open to the public. Stretches of gorgeous coastal white sand beaches leading up to a panoramic sandbar. Oh boy I envy Romblon for having this.
The day following the Tonton ng Sto Niño de Romblon, the Biniray Festival continues with a street dance parade. The festival re-enacts how the Señor Sto Niño was attempted to be taken away from Romblon Island en route to Madrid but was averted by storms. Only the image to be returned back to its place. A colorful parade of atis, similar to Ati-atihan adds color to the revelry. This time each baranggay trying to best each other in costume and performance.
The idyll coastal poblacion in Romblon Island, Romblon becomes festive beginning the 2nd Friday of January as revelers flock at the 400-year old St Joseph Cathedral. Devotees gather in front of the church to observe the spiritual practice of the Tonton ng Sto Niño de Romblon. The Tonton, a Romblomanon word meaning to lower the image of the Sto Niño down the pedestal. This practice usher’s the official opening of Biniray Festival which last for a week.
I was looking at the map and was quite surprised there are many islands and islets surrounding the huge main island of Culion. Pastor Hermie, our guide, pointed to the map and showed our path going westward then south to this snaking river opening up to the a large bay with islets which then exits to the sea. We were going to Cabulihan Mangroves instead of the original plan to Balanga Falls and Mangroves which he honestly says is now in a really bad state. We followed his recommendation to discover the southwest side of the island.
There are two sides in every story, and for an island like Culion, that held the stigma of the long-gone leprosy, there’s the view from the people who lived in the island and those who look upon it from the outside like me. I have this lingering fascination and curiosity with Culion Island that beheld me ever since I’ve heard about it. I wanted delve deeper and see for myself, hear for myself the stories of struggles, perseverance, hope and healing. I know there’s a lot more to Culion Island than what people perceive of it, so I made sure when I returned to Coron, I made a trip to this island used to be known as the “Island of the living dead” and “Island of no return”.