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.
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.
Cool easterly winds blew toward us at the desolate San Fernando beach in Sibaltan, El Nido like a comforting afternoon embrace to what relatively has been a humid summer day. Only a few resort guests from Qi Palawan were at the beach, mostly couples situated spaced apart on some lounge chairs or standing intently. Enjoying intimate moments together while staring into the blue horizon, waiting for the moonrise. And slowly, a wondrous globe pierced through the horizon, the moon looked bigger and closer to Earth in all its golden glow. The moment was inexplicably both fast and slow as we watched in wonder. We always talk about sunsets and sunrises, but moonrises and moonsets remains an underrated beauty. Much like secluded places, like this resort, Qi Palawan, found in the far-flung corner of Northeast El Nido, away from the tourist town proper, exclusivity and closeness to nature can be found.
I try not to travel around during the holiday seasons as the vehicular and human traffic is horrendous at this time of the year. But I decided to make an exception on the 17th of December 2011 to witness this year’s Ligligan Parul 2011 or the Giant Lantern Festival in San Fernando, Pampanga. It’s a grand annual lights and music spectacle featuring the Filipino’s traditional Parol (Christmas Lantern) showcased in a gigantic scale. This year, 10 baranggays (villages) take turns to display their sophisticated light design display on their Giant Lanterns in-sync with their choice of music to give us audiences a feast to our senses.
Surfing has always been attached with La Union. It was great to know that there are other attractions in the area on my recent brief sojourn around the province. I have to thank Thunderbird Poro Point Resort, La Union for sponsoring us on this familiarization trip around the area. This would be a real good guide on what to see and expect when going around La Union, beyond the surfing. Of course our home base was the Santorini-inspired resort.
Its east meets west in La Union as we visit two places of worship from two different faiths. It’s not surprising to see the confluence of culture here as the Filipinos are known to be capable of dual faiths. Say for example, some Chinese homes have both the images of Buddha and Christ side by side. While not near each other we look at to sacred images representing each faith in the Taoist, Macho Temple (or Ma Cho Temple).
After about 6 hours drive from Manila, rains greeted us upon our afternoon arrival in our first day at Thunderbird Poro Point Resort. We didn’t mind really as it gave us time to get acquainted with our lovely rooms and the resort. The rains lingered on the next days but it was fortunate the sun showed itself from morning to mid-afternoon, giving us opportune time to explore several attractions around La Union. Our first two stops were the Pindangan Ruins and La Union’s Botanical Garden.