Wednesday, February 21, 2007

The Marine Sanctuary of Tabuk, Palompon

Tabuk island, just adjacent to the town proper of Palompon, Leyte boasts of a marine sanctuary that is fast becoming a destination for tourists and environmentalists. It has a three storey viewing tower and is the entrance to a boardwalk through its mangrove forest. Large number of fishes can be seen freely swimming by around the mangroves. Wild ducks and other migratory birds make this place as their home and stopover point. One can get to see them if you visit the place early in the morning. In one place of the mangroves, one can wade through a waist deep water to see thousands of giant bats (kabug) hanging upside down from the top of the trees.

The 3-storey watch-tower of Tabuk island, Palompon is a perfect place to see the sunset and the migratory birds coming in. From here one starts the tour through the mangrove forests on its boardwalk.

Frs. Bong Tiu, Ric Marpa and John Paul Pedrera enjoying their walk through the mangroves.

The view of the town proper of Palompon as one approaches the town from the marine sanctuary of Tabuk.

Wading through the mangroves to get to see the giant bats nearby: (l-r) Frs. Aaron, Ric, John Paul and Roy.

Just near the marine sanctuary are cottages right on the sea where one can go for picnics and swimming.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Tugas, Daram, Samar

We had a unique experience when the community of Barangay Tugas, Daram, Samar led by their barangay chairman invited Brod. Fernan Precillas and the priests of Sto. Niño Church in Tacloban to visit their community. The people of Tugas were avid listeners of the radio program "Lamrag han Catolico nga Pagtoo" anchored by Brod. Fernan. Since Brod Fernan resides in Sto. Niño and the priests there are also regular guests of the radio program, we were then invited to visit them for a day of picnic. It was the whole barangay which prepared the food and were there in their "Lamrag han Catolico nga Pagtoo" shirts to welcome us. We took the boat from Babatngon, Leyte to go to Tugas and it took us about an hour of boat ride.

Brod Fernan, (standing middle with dark glasses) and company from Sto. Niño Church posing with his "fans' from Tugas, Daram.
Yours truly with Ate Dolly, Susan, Fr. Randy and Msgr. Ben posing for posterity in front of the abundant food prepared for us.

The community of the Barangay Tugas, Daram led by the barangay chairman prepared a makeshift tent for the sumptuous feast that they tendered for us.Msgr. Ben and Fr. Oscar (2nd and 3rd from left) enjoying the hospitality of the people of Tugas, led by the barangay chairman (4th from left).

Below, Brod Fernan joining in the impromptu dancing after lunch.

Fr. Erby taking a nap after a heavy lunch.

The sea was very calm and clear and I had a great time swimming and snorkeling.

San Remegio, Cebu

San Remegio is a town in the northwestern part of Cebu, which is 109 km from the capital city. We were invited by Mar and Jane, the shepherd couple of the Bukas Loob ng Diyos in Ormoc, to visit their beachouse there named Villa Elisea. With us were Frs. Allen and Benz and Brod Ben Lagado and his wife. After a long travel from Cebu we had such a very restful stay in the tranquil white beach of San Remegio.

You can have all the beach to yourself in this very peaceful part of San Remegio

I had the grand time of kayaking through the calm waters of the sea.

Frs. Benz and Allen doing a paseo along the beach of San Remegio.
Brod Ben, Mar, Frs. Allen and Benz having a quiet conversation by the beach (below). Just above is the Villa Elisea beach house.
During low tides, the sea becomes a great expanse of shallow water. Sea urchins, shells and other sea creatures become ready for the picking. A girl, above, with a plastic bucket in tow searches for sea shells. The sunset in San Remegio is spectacular. Here fishermen on a boat are getting ready to go out fishing.
From the balcony of Villa Elisea we had a wonderful view of the sea.

Friday, February 16, 2007

Shoe Island, Capoocan (Calumpihan Island)

View of Sapatos island from Kasabangan Falls in Cabucgayan, Biliran

Shoe Island or Sapatos island in the vernacular is called so because from afar it indeed looks like a shoe. Officially, the island is called Calumpihan. The island can be seen from the Biliran bridge. We have been planning for sometime already to visit Shoe island because looking at it from Google Earth, we noticed that one part of the island had white sand on it. Although part of the town of Capoocan, Leyte, we had to go first to Cabucgayan town in Biliran to get to Shoe island. It was about 20 minutes by boat to the island. We were quite lucky when we went there as there were a number of dolphins which accompanied us part of the way. We had planned to have our lunch at the Cabucgayan Boardwalk before going to the island, only to find out that they were not able to catch any crabs, nor was there fish as it had been too windy the past few days and the fisher folks didn’t venture to go fishing. Luckily, I learned that the parish priest of Cabucgayan was a classmate. Fr. Jessie Sentina happened to have visitors that day so that when I called him up he readily invited us for lunch as he still had plenty of leftover. So we had lechon as our baon to the island, courtesy of Fr. Jessie. There were six of us who went to the island that afternoon: Ronnie and two friends of his: Antonio Naboya and Victor Avila, a seaman, Fr. Monie Calubid and Elnor, my driver. We pitched camped for an overnight stay at the island. We discovered that the beach was composed of rough coral stones, not fine white sand. We had a good time anyway whiling away the night over tuba and lechon. Rain started to pour at midnight as we took to our tents. The following morning after breakfast, two of my classmates in Biliran: Fr. Jessie and Fr. Tony Sevilla from Caibiran, together with the Mayor of Cabucgayan, Engr. Arnelito Garing arrived. We had another meal as they brought with them another lechon.

The view of Sapatos island as we approached it coming from Cabucgayan.

Fr. Mony, below, having a grand time taking in the view of the sea and the mainland of Leyte in front of him. One can faintly see, at the right, the bridge connecting Leyte and Biliran.

The mayor of Cabucgayan, Arnelito Garing with Fr. Jessie Sentina, the parish priest of Cabucgayan and Fr. Tony Sevilla, both classmates arriving by speed boat.

The Mayor and the parish priest of Cabucgayan practicing shooting on the beach.
A close-up view of the coral stones on the beach.
Antonio, Victor and Ronnie looking on as Elnor prepares our breakfast.

 Victor on a pensive mood contemplating the sight of the sea.

Cabucgayan Boardwalk

The town of Cabucgayan in the island province of Biliran boasts of a new tourist spot which is a boardwalk through its mangrove forests. Picnics can be made on the boardwalk. Crabs which are raised in its mudflats can be ordered in advance. (When we visited the place, though, they were not able to catch crabs so we had to look somewhere for our lunch).
The government of Biliran is actually developing its many natural sites like waterfalls, hotsprings and beaches for ecotourism. Access roads to these sites are being built and billboards are prominently displayed announcing to everyone the sites to be visited.