- Posted June 1, 2014 by
Sibuyan Island, Romblon, Philippines
This iReport is part of an assignment:
Travel photo of the day
Journey to Sibuyan Island, Romblon
Sibuyan Island: home to the jagged-peaked Mt. Guiting-Guiting, rich flora and fauna, forests, rivers and waterfalls, and various natural resources. It is accessible by boat either from the provincial capital, which is the Romblon town in Romblon Island, or from Tablas, the largest island in Romblon province. The province itself can be reached through shipping vessels at about 14 hours from Manila or seven to eight hours from Batangas port.
Sibuyan Island is also considered by experts as the Galapagos of Asia as research and studies showed that it has never been connected to any island in the Philippine archipelago since its formation. Its remote location has kept the island removed from the rest of the country. It may have allowed Sibuyan to be untouched by too much commercialization; yet, its seclusion also hampered opportunities for development in the island. Notwithstanding its remoteness, Sibuyan is still under threat by those who long to take advantage of its rich natural resources, particularly with the presence of essential minerals in its land.
Recently, ABS-CBN Foundation, under its Green Initiative, organized eco-tourism trips to Sibuyan called “Journey to the Heart of the Philippines” referring to Romblon’s geographic location as the center of the archipelago, consists of 7,107 islands. The journey provided participants an opportunity to know Sibuyan Island better and support the communities in protecting their environment and promoting the beauty of their island.
Mangrove trees were at the forefront of the coast of Magdiwang town where the port is located. The beating of drums from a youth band provided a festive ambiance to the arrival of the guests. Their temporary home in the island was the relaxing Sanctuary Garden Resort with its cottages built atop hills surrounded by trees. The sound of the river near the resort and the view of Mt. Guiting-Guiting made Sanctuary Garden Resort an idyllic place to retreat from the hustle and bustle in urban cities.
Because of its dense forest and the elevation of its mountains, Sibuyan has several waterfalls located in its three municipalities. The tour brought the participants inland to Lambingan Falls in Magdiwang, Dagubdob Falls in San Fernando, and Bila-Bila Falls in Cajidiocan. Along its rivers are boulders and large rocks with a touch of something that glittered under the sun. Various trees and plants thrive everywhere, providing lush green scenery as one would ride around the island. The breathtaking views compensate for the unfinished circumferential highway where patches of rough roads and unpaved avenues come every now and then.
A resident who is passionate about his place shared how progress has been slow in their island due to lack of infrastructure. Similarly, he expressed his fear for his fellow residents due to the presence of mining in the island where the use of mercury poses threats to Sibuyan’s biodiversity and to the health of its people.
The local communities now endeavor to protect their environment. Dynamite fishing is discouraged as this has damaged its coral reefs. As fisher folks strive to guard its shores and marine sanctuaries, corals of varying size and colors as well as schools of fishes now abound in Sibuyan’s sea bed.
Apart from its natural resources, communities also promote their local culture, especially their music using indigenous materials. The locals are also trained how to become effective tour guides and hosts to visitors who ply their area. Guests enjoyed the local food and the experience of communing with nature as they jumped off waterfalls, dipped in its cold pools of water, snorkeled in the fish sanctuary and enjoyed various activities such as biking and boating.
Sibuyan is a paradise at the heart of the Philippines. Its residents hope that more travelers will come to their place; visitors who will not only help their economy but also join them in safeguarding their environment.