Sometimes you have to escape the demands of living in an atrophy inducing environment. Immobility of one’s life is a tragedy. You have to get out of that spinning quicksand that is called responsibility, even just for twelve hours. Spare yourself from being sucked in by the world’s limitations. And what would be a better getaway than sand, shore and salt water? Joined by my adventure starved friends and our impulses we indulged ourselves in an unplanned trip to the hidden gorgeousness of Guimaras islands.
Destination Nowhere. When we got off of the boat at about six thirty, the cold morning island breeze greeted us along with the port people asking where we were going. We enthusiastically answer we don’t know yet. It’s customary for every place’s port of entry to at least have a map so the debate of what resort to choose begun with the Guimaras tourism map posted at the pier’s entrance. And the locals’ didn’t help by adding side comments about each place that we mentioned.
Destination Guisi, Nueva Valencia. First impression really lasts and sometimes a lovely place can be damaged by ugly memories. Most of the time when you look back you must look again. And it won’t be a crime if I take a second look at this tempting place. The magnificent white sand, the lucid blue water and the charming lighthouse is too much inviting to resist. If people deserve second chances places too, especially a naturally beautiful one.
The Road. A destination’s impact is mostly amplified by how you get there. We decided to take a forty five minute tricycle ride to the northern edge of the island. The tour will guarantee to blow the negative city vibes off of your mind. Mango trees shade the seaside mountain road while the cool gentle wind kisses your face. By the moment you get off the vehicle you’ll close your eyes to what stress means.
Shore and Salt Water Splendour. Guisi might appear as the dead end of civilization but veiled below the coconut confined cliff is a little piece of heaven. The sea cliff is a mineral rock growing to outline a freewheeling sculpture that would cast a shadow to the coast. The thin shoreline is a five hundred meters of coral smithereens washed away by the sea to add a captivating charm. The crystal clear blue water is alluring. It’s more like a lagoons beach where it’s perfectly harmless for non swimmers like me. The place is nature’s work of architecture at it’s best, it’s almost mystical.
The Story of the Lighthouse. On top of the point of what appears a miniature gulf, situated on a cliff is a fascinating century old lighthouse. Folks said that it was built in 1894 by a rich family to designate their land ownership which as far as where the light could reach. The ruins surrounding the lighthouse used to be a house. It might give the impression of a romantic scene from afar, but it feels eerie closing in. Something tells me that the owners don’t want their property to be disturbed. Anyhow it is still a photo shoot perfect place.
Riding the Waves. For a decent price you can enjoy a boat ride that would take you as far as you want to go. The sea looks welcoming and friendly it erased my fear of open water. When you look down, it’s as if you’re staring at a postcard, the corals burst alive with sea grasses and starfishes and other sea beings. The little islands of stones that sprouted in the sea hide each their own secret. Some have rest houses on them, one has a cemetery but each of them endured the everyday crashing of the waves.
An Unnamed Cave. If somebody tells you you’re going to a cave beside the sea, it’s fairly interesting but when they tell you there’s a waterfall inside, it’s relatively exciting. It doesn’t look more of a cave but just a huge crack in a seaside mineral rock, so the waterfall is technically mineral water being filtered by the rock. The water seem to glisten tempting you to have drink, it might just be the fountain of youth. According to our guide, during summer the locals actually fetch drinking water from there. Anyhow, I’m still not brave enough for amoeba to taste it. The cave is still unnamed but people who came there left their names on its walls, maybe hoping that when they name the cave they’ll just pick a name on the wall.
Stars Amongst Starfishes. Our guide dropped us on an island that appeared so isolated that being there means being nowhere. We swam with small and colorful fishes on the knee deep chilly seawater. But the highlight of it all is lying on the sand surrounded by the starfishes. Those beings are not only full of spikes but also with cuteness. I figured it might be difficult living as a starfish; it would take all your energy to go ashore only for a curious tourist to pick you up and bring you home and most especially there’s no contact during procreation.
How To Get There. Guimaras is an island province, west of Iloilo City. It would take a fifteen minute boat ride to access the island from Iloilo City. If you have fear of riding a small boat, you dont have much choice because it seems that its the only way to get there. But thats just perfect, right? You travel, you conquer your fear and get to get a glimpse of a paradise.
The shore of Nueva Valencia is definitely a paradise lurking behind a developing province. Hopefully the government and the locals would protect it from fatal commercialism. The place itself have endured a lot, including a disastrous oil spill back in 2008, still they we’re able to revive its beauty and bounty so I’m trusting that when I go back it would still be the same lovely and almost untouched as it is the first time I came.
It is the closest to the Caribbean you can get if you’re in the Philippines. It’s so beautiful; I fear a lot of tourist would one day swarm it.
Photos: Jan Michael Yap