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.
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.
Setting off to a distant island across rough seas and under intermittent weather in the wee hours of the morning aboard a large fishing vessel may sound like a romanticized adventure. But that’s exactly how our journey to Seco Island began. Well not exactly, it’s actually a clumsy ride on a flat boat that held everyone’s breath as we grope for balance to transfer from the shore to the big boat. I’ve only seen flat boats used here heavily in Antique, but these outrigger-less, flat surfaced geometrical boat is a challenge to balance on water especially with a number of people inside. But it did wake us up under the starry night sky and kept us alert as we boarded the shipping vessel for a 2-3 hour ride.
Like the Isla Gigantes in Carles, Iloilo, Mararison Island, got under the tourist radar after Typhoon Haiyan. This little known island just 15 minutes off the mainland of Culasi, Antique used to be enjoyed exclusively by the locals and a few tourist. But soon, word got out, or simply, photos of picturesque hills and an alluring sandbar found in just one island went viral across the net. Being highly accessible from the mainland, the once quiet fishing community now welcomes visitors at their tropical island home.
There’s more to Oriental Mindoro than the famed white beach of Puerto Galera. At the southern tip of the province is the municipality of Bulalacao. A place locals used to fondly call “Bula-layo” (layo means far) due to its remoteness from the rest of the towns in the province. It was a time when the roads were rough and people had to bear almost a day’s travel to get to Bulalacao. Now with paved roads, sea ports and nearby airport, Bulalacao opened up a set of islands and beaches sans the tourist crowd. A place still with provincial feel, less commercial and genuinely laid back good time.
It took me three visits to Tawi-tawi before I finally set foot on the famed Panampangan Island. It’s not an easy island to reach like most of the islands in the region. Hiring boats have a hefty cost especially for independent travelers. An invitation to cover the Kamahardikaan 2017 festivity includes a visit to the island. It was an opportunity that’s hard to pass. Panampangan Island is considered the longest sandbar in the country.
We could see the long strip of the white sandy shores of Alibijaban Island from the port. We arrived just in time for the sunrise after a long six-hour drive from Manila. I was in the company of my fellow officemates from the university I currently work with and we’re on an outing trip. But it seems, we won’t be alone on the island as we were expecting. The newly built port already had a few vehicles parked, probably heading to the same island. Alibijaban Island has garnered quite a popularity in the past couple of years, and I had to blame my friends, Dong Ho and Allan of Lantaw for that somehow. I had some laughs when I recount Dong Ho’s story of being mistaken as an NPA when he first set foot on the island. He had to seek comfort and security under the baranggay captain since no tourist comes to their island. Now visitors here picked up especially on weekends. What drives people on this southern region of Quezon province?