The Island Mango: A Quick Tour in Guimaras Island

/ November 18, 2017

Every time I hear the place Guimaras, there's only one thing that comes into my mind and that is the fruit mango. Guimaras Island is coined as the Mango Capital in the Philippines because of its more that 50,000 mango trees that are planted in the island. Guimaras is located on the southeastern section of the West Visayas region. It was only a 15 minute ride by a motor boat or a 25 minute ride by a RoRo departing from Iloilo City which amazed me on how you can hop to one island if you want to have a quick getaway.

THE SMALLEST PLAZA

Since we were having a short vacation in Iloilo City, we didn't miss the opportunity to have a quick tour in this small island. And our first destination was their famous The Smallest Plaza. True to its name, it was really small. This was actually earned a title in the Guiness Book of World Records and it only measures 200-300 square meters. It looks like a small play ground for kids if you'll imagine it with swings, seesaws and slides.
Aside from the stage, it features a small statue of our national hero, Dr. Jose Rizal. Well, everything was really small. Well, maybe they'll have small chairs, small tables and small set up during programs.

TRAPPIST MONASTERY

Our next stop was the Trappist Monastery which is run by the monks who follow the rule of St. Benedict and are best known for the extreme strictness that characterizes their discipline. They sell souvenir items and processed foods with mango as their main ingredient. It could be in a form of jellies, jams, candies, piyaya and more which are sold within the monastery grounds. It was also said that their products are heartily made by the monks and nuns.
The place is very cozy and peaceful. You can tour around the monastery grounds and visit their prayer areas. We were encouraged to talk with the monks and nuns for they are very friendly and accommodating. However, during our visit, there were only few of them I can see around and I was too shy to approach them. This Monastery is located in Brhy. San Miguel, Jordan which is approximately 20-30 minutes from the port.

GUIMARAS ISLAND HOPPING
Alubihod Motor Banca Owners Association (AMBOA) booth or the Island Hopping Station

Since we only allot a half day tour in Guimaras, our tour guide dropped us in a near beach resort which is called Alubihod Beach. This resort is one of the jump off points for island hopping. The sea was very inviting that time however we didn't bring any swimming attires and it wasn't really in our plan.
Credits to: Iloilo Travel Guide
Here are the rates for the island hopping:
10 pax/500php for the first houw plus 150php per succeeding hour
15 pax/700php for the first hour plus 300php per succeeding hour
20 pax/1000pphp for the first hour plus 300php per hour

One of the divers told me that you can actually haggle the price if you come less than 10. He also added that you can visit the islands for a total of 3 hours since they are just near from each other. I heard great reviews about the island hopping and every peso your spend will be worth it.

MANGOES AND MORE MANGOES


There are a lot of stories I have read about the legend of the mango but I here is my favorite one. It is a boy who has a golden heart who was kind and a helpful lad who was nurtured well by his parents. However, one day, the boy got ill and he eventually died. One day, a fairy came to his parents and asked for his heart. His parents agreed and his heart was buried in the faraway mountain which then turned into a fruit-bearing tree and tasted so sweet.
As you can see, the shape of the mango is shape like a human heart. Maybe that is how the legend was crafted into a heartwarming story. Maybe that faraway mountain was one of the mountains of the Guimaras, right? Because their mangoes taste so sweet that it makes me want to get some more. They also had different products made of mango which I recommend for all the tourists to try.
There's a lot to visit in Guimaras but unfortunately, we only had half of the day to go around because we need to catch the fast craft in the afternoon. Nevertheless, it didn't compromised the fun we had during the tour because Guimaras is such a wonderful place to visit. And before I forget, you should grab their sweet mango shake that can be bought on the roadside stalls. I assure you that it is different from the other mango shakes you have tasted in your entire life!

Every time I hear the place Guimaras, there's only one thing that comes into my mind and that is the fruit mango. Guimaras Island is coined as the Mango Capital in the Philippines because of its more that 50,000 mango trees that are planted in the island. Guimaras is located on the southeastern section of the West Visayas region. It was only a 15 minute ride by a motor boat or a 25 minute ride by a RoRo departing from Iloilo City which amazed me on how you can hop to one island if you want to have a quick getaway.

THE SMALLEST PLAZA

Since we were having a short vacation in Iloilo City, we didn't miss the opportunity to have a quick tour in this small island. And our first destination was their famous The Smallest Plaza. True to its name, it was really small. This was actually earned a title in the Guiness Book of World Records and it only measures 200-300 square meters. It looks like a small play ground for kids if you'll imagine it with swings, seesaws and slides.
Aside from the stage, it features a small statue of our national hero, Dr. Jose Rizal. Well, everything was really small. Well, maybe they'll have small chairs, small tables and small set up during programs.

TRAPPIST MONASTERY

Our next stop was the Trappist Monastery which is run by the monks who follow the rule of St. Benedict and are best known for the extreme strictness that characterizes their discipline. They sell souvenir items and processed foods with mango as their main ingredient. It could be in a form of jellies, jams, candies, piyaya and more which are sold within the monastery grounds. It was also said that their products are heartily made by the monks and nuns.
The place is very cozy and peaceful. You can tour around the monastery grounds and visit their prayer areas. We were encouraged to talk with the monks and nuns for they are very friendly and accommodating. However, during our visit, there were only few of them I can see around and I was too shy to approach them. This Monastery is located in Brhy. San Miguel, Jordan which is approximately 20-30 minutes from the port.

GUIMARAS ISLAND HOPPING
Alubihod Motor Banca Owners Association (AMBOA) booth or the Island Hopping Station

Since we only allot a half day tour in Guimaras, our tour guide dropped us in a near beach resort which is called Alubihod Beach. This resort is one of the jump off points for island hopping. The sea was very inviting that time however we didn't bring any swimming attires and it wasn't really in our plan.
Credits to: Iloilo Travel Guide
Here are the rates for the island hopping:
10 pax/500php for the first houw plus 150php per succeeding hour
15 pax/700php for the first hour plus 300php per succeeding hour
20 pax/1000pphp for the first hour plus 300php per hour

One of the divers told me that you can actually haggle the price if you come less than 10. He also added that you can visit the islands for a total of 3 hours since they are just near from each other. I heard great reviews about the island hopping and every peso your spend will be worth it.

MANGOES AND MORE MANGOES


There are a lot of stories I have read about the legend of the mango but I here is my favorite one. It is a boy who has a golden heart who was kind and a helpful lad who was nurtured well by his parents. However, one day, the boy got ill and he eventually died. One day, a fairy came to his parents and asked for his heart. His parents agreed and his heart was buried in the faraway mountain which then turned into a fruit-bearing tree and tasted so sweet.
As you can see, the shape of the mango is shape like a human heart. Maybe that is how the legend was crafted into a heartwarming story. Maybe that faraway mountain was one of the mountains of the Guimaras, right? Because their mangoes taste so sweet that it makes me want to get some more. They also had different products made of mango which I recommend for all the tourists to try.
There's a lot to visit in Guimaras but unfortunately, we only had half of the day to go around because we need to catch the fast craft in the afternoon. Nevertheless, it didn't compromised the fun we had during the tour because Guimaras is such a wonderful place to visit. And before I forget, you should grab their sweet mango shake that can be bought on the roadside stalls. I assure you that it is different from the other mango shakes you have tasted in your entire life!
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Ever since senior clerkship started, my social life has slowly vanished as days go by. I could barely enjoy my whole meal without the feeling of exhaustion from duty. My meet ups with my old friends are constantly being rescheduled from next week to next month until it becomes impossible. I have missed a lot of gatherings, birthday celebrations and a lot more. I guess they were right that if your are Medical School, you got to know your priorities. I thought my personal life will be affected most especially that I am in a Long Distance Relationship with my boyfriend. And oh, speaking of my boyfriend, our travel plans have been postponed until next year. As you can see, we don't have any recent travel posts because of senior clerkship.


But I am lucky enough to have a man like him who would travel from one island to another and spend less than 48 hours just to spend quality time with me. We are almost four years now but I still get butterflies in my stomach the same thing I had the first time we went for a date. The start of our love story wasn't the same in the movies but we started smoothly which makes smile every time I think of it. I never thought that I would fall hard for a person who was once a stranger in my life. 


What amazes me most is his never ending efforts on making me happy. He has his simple ways and grandiose ways on making me feel love and safe under his spell. I would often tease him that he sneaked in some love potion on one of my drinks which made me say "yes" to him. We love going on formal romantic dates most especially during special occasions like birthdays, monthsaries or anniversaries. During my 25th birthday, we spent our dinner in Scap Skydeck. We got a taste of Mactan Cebu's premier sky lounge and roof deck restaurant. We used to spend the night with a bottle of beer but the place was perfect for a glass of wine. The perfect view of the city lights, the flickering Mactan Bridge and the cold breeze completed our dining experience.


The food was a bit pricey but it was definitely worth it because you don't usually spend a night with this kind of view and dining experience in your work place. Scape Skydeck is a quick escape from the busy life we have in the city. I could say that this was one of my favorite dates we had together and we would love to go back for another glass of wine.


Falling in love is one of the most magical feelings you'll ever encounter in your whole existence. Every little thing turns out to be more meaningful. Simple messages like hi, hello and good morning are like sun rays that brightens up your day. However, staying in love isn't easy as one two three because in a relationship, there are ups an downs. What makes it worth it is that you both are fighting and keeping everything up together.


I have been in a long distance relationship for almost three years. My boyfriend is working in Negros Island while I am here in Cebu, studying Medicine. It has always been a notion that when you are in Medical School, you can't afford to have a time for your partner. But hey! I am already in my fourth year yet we are still going stronger and fatter. It is just a mixture of understanding, patience and time management.


Last February, my boyfriend and I decided to celebrate the love month at Sirao Garden which is also known as The Little Amsterdam in Cebu. I have heard about this place for almost a couple of years and been seeing pictures in the social media. I thought that this place would be perfect for couples out there to go on a date and I was definitely right about it!


The Sirao Garden is filled with these colorful ornamental plants, the Celosia flowers. Celosia is derived from an ancient Greek word, "burning" because of its flame-like flower heads. These flowers come from the Netherlands, that is why it is coined as The Little Amsterdam and has become an official flower for Sinulog.


We were fortunate enough that the habal-habal driver we got was actually a good photographer. He was directing us where to stand and at what angle should we pose. He was also like a paparazzi because he got us great candid shots when we browsed through the gallery. Plus we really look cute with our mickey and minnie mouse couple shirts. You see, I am not fond of these sappy things but there's no harm in adding spice in our relationship.



Sirao Garden is really a cute picturesque spot even though some flowers are not yet full grown. There is also a hammock hanged under the tree where you can chill or wander through the sky. When you visit the place, I recommend bringing bug spray, dress light breezy fabrics and umbrella because it's might rain or it can be scorching hot.


Since we went to the place around noon, we spent our lunch in a little karinderya located near the garden. We both had bopis, corn rice and soft drinks and it was very delicious. It is fun discover new things spontaneously especially when you are with your special someone. This made me fall in love with my partner even more. The view, the simple lunch and the companionship during the trip? I consider it as a romantic date.


HOW TO GET THERE:

If you have your own vehicle, you can drive up the Transcentral Highway or drive up the Busay road until Ayala Heights. You can see a road to the right beside the Nature Park and follow the signs. Well, you can also have GPS if you are having a hard time.

Another option is that you can go to JY Square in Lahug and hire a habal-habal. They charge about 150-200 pesos for a round trip and you can even add 50 pesos if you want to pass by Temple of Leah. You can opt a cab going uphill but the driver will charge you 1,200 pesos for round trip.

or you can have your own alternative transport of choice from CK and J Car Rental.


I have visited some of the islands in the archipelago already but Bantayan Island is making on the top of my list. I never thought that I would be able to call myself as an Island Girl when in fact I don't know how to swim in deep waters. But living the island life in a short span of time makes me think I am home.

As I was counting the remaining weeks and days before I offer myself to slavery in internship, I was thinking of giving myself a reward for passing third year. So, I choose the Island Therapy!

The Bantayan Island comes from the Cebuano term which means "A Place to Watch" because during the 16th century, the Moros or the Muslim marauders were able to find a way up from Mindanao to Visayas invading the Christian settlements. Since, Bantayan Island served as a natural barrier for entrance ubti the Visayas there were small watchtowers around the island as a lookout post for the invaders.

Amidst the bipolar weather during our stay, we had an amazing three days and two nights in the island.

WHERE WE STAYED:

1. Budyong Beach Resort, Sta. Fe


Since we are frugal travelers, we always opted on the resorts with good reviews in Trip Advisor as long it is within our budget. On the first day, we checked in at Budyong Resort and it is really perfect for those who wants to travel cheap. But I am giving a 2.5/5 rating because their cheapest room (P800) has a poor ventilation. Good thing our itinerary on the first day was to tour around the island the whole day. And in the evening, it rained cats and dogs so it wasn't that really hot in our room.


The only reason why I will recommend Budyong Beach Resort to others is that it has a captivating beachfront view with powdery white sand and it was well maintained. It is less crowded and it's quiet and very relaxing.

2. Kota Beach Resort, Sta. Fe


On the second day, we stayed at the famous beach resort in Bantayan Island which is the Kota Beach Resort or also known as the Camp Sawi. Since the first day we stepped on this island, the locals were always mentioning the places that were shot by the movie, Camp Sawi which was starred by Sam Milby and the other five female celebrities. Camp Sawi is said to be the place where the brokenhearted people go and redeem themselves from an awful break up. Well, that was the movie tried to convey.


Kota Beach is just located next to the Budyong Beach Resort but it is more expensive and rooms are very cozy. We got the deluxe room on the third row which is very cozy.

WHERE WE WENT:

Supposedly, this 3D/2N stay in the Bantayan Island was just a plain "staycation" but I realized that we'd miss out a lot of awesomeness if we just stay in one resort and be a potato. So, we rented a scooter for only 300 pesos/day and toured around the island.

1. Ogtong Cave



Our first stop was the Ogtong Cave Resort and I really thought that it would be the same like we saw in Camotes Island which is well lit, wide and less crowded. But this underground cave is an exact opposite. There was a full pack of one family and another bunch of circle of friends dipping in the freshwater. We paid 100 pesos each for the entrance fee. The Ogtong Cave Resort is actually an annex of Santa Fe Beach Club which is the pioneer resort in the island.

2. The Cliff


This is still part of the municipality of Sta. Fe and as I have remembered, this is the place where Sam Milby and and.. I forgot the name of the female actress, jumped off the waters. There is an instagrammable ruins beside this cliff which I wasn't able to take a photo.

3. Fort of Kota Park



Kota means fort and this park is an old Spanish Fort in Barangay Lawis, Madridejos. This is located in the northernmost edge of Bantayan Island which served as a camp and a watch tower to protect the place and its people from the Muslim invaders. It was said that the fort was turned into a cemetery until 1950's which gives an eerie ambiance when your walk through the walls.

4. Madridejos Man-Made Forest


As you enter the Municipality of Madridejos, you'll be greeted by their stunning man made forest. This reminds me of the man made forest we encountered in Bohol.

5. MJ Square, Sta. Fe



MJ Square is our go to place and I tell you, your Bantayan Island experience won't be complete if you haven't tried Panyangs. We were surprised when we ordered the buy 1 take 1 back ribs and the native chicken tinola because after consuming everything, we were in a 5 second food coma. It was very delicious. This is also the place if your want to chill and grab a bottle of beer for a night.

The means of transportation going to the island is by taking a bus from North Bus Terminal in Cebu which heads to Hagnaya Port in San Remigio with 4 hours travel time. From the port, there is a Roro going to Sta. Fe with a travel time of 1.5 hours.

There are still a lot of things to do in the island like island hopping, sky diving and other places to visit. But since our main purpose in the island is to rest and relax, I believe we will be having a part two anytime in the near future.

This banana-shaped island off the coast of Cadiz City has been another popular destination for both local and foreign tourists. The term Lakawon is derived from a Cebuano word "lakaw", or "to walk". It was said that it may have gotten its name because during low tide, you can literally walk a long distance to or from the main island. You can even walk around the island within half a day for this only measures around 16-hectares.



Lakawon Island is 48 kilometers north of the City of Smiles, Bacolod City with an hour and a half travel time. It is located along the Guimaras Strait and it can be accessible by a 15-20 minute boat ride from the port of Brgy. Cadiz Viejo, Cadiz City.


 There are sari-sari stores and stalls around the port for the tourists to freshen up or go snacking while they prep up for their short ride to the island. And of course, coconuts or "butong" are abundant in this tropical
country.


The waves during the ride were a bit rough and I suggest bringing waterproof bags because there are times that you next blink is a big splash of sea water. After the 20 minute ride, you will be greeted with the famous boardwalk of the Lakawon Island and its crystalline, pristine blue waters. 


Everything looked pretty surreal. We all know that Lakawon Island is the talk of the town recently. It was claimed to rival the country's summer capital, Boracay which is a famous island resort off the coast of Aklan in Panay. But basing on my observations, I could say that there is a smaller influx of tourists most especially foreign tourists. Well, maybe because it's a newly discovered summer destination.


There are umbrella huts, canopy tents and family cottage neatly aligned along the shore. They are in different prices and since we opted for a package which only costs 680 pesos/head from a travel agency, we stayed in a canopy tent. It was scorching hot and I suggest that you don't take it! Haha. My mom kept on telling me that the view was better if all were just umbrella huts.


I love that there are bean bags of different colors scattered around the island where you can do you can bask under the sun. You can drag it in your hut if you want to take a nap for a little while and doesn't want to get toasted. They are limited and it's a first come first serve basis, so better yet keep an eye on your favorite color.


There are spots that are very picturesque. The swing, this spot in the picture which looks like you are a princess and the boardwalk are very perfect for your summer ootd and instagram feed. I can sense that there is a touch of millenial taste on this one. 


While we were waiting for our lunch to be served, we strolled around the island and see what it looks like on the other side. There are Tropical Bamboo House along the way which is the cheapest accommodation of the resort. It is a fan room with a private bathroom and it is good for 2-4 people. There were houses that were left open that's why I was able to take a little peek from the inside. 


If you are a frugal traveler and you are with your significant other, this bamboo house is enough for the both of you. I have tried fan rooms in some of my travels and I wasn't sweltering in the inside. 


The other side of the island was an exact opposite from the side where we docked. However, I don't recommend swimming on this part because it wasn't clean and no one would notice you during emergencies. On this part, you are already facing the Panay Island which means I am near to Isla Gigantes! Haha. Or not.


Going back to the more populated portion of the island, we found a starfish! We loved to take it home and preserve it but then I remember that they are living things. The starfish is alive! And one thing I learned back to the days when I was teaching English classes to some Japanese, is that sea creatures or other animals shouldn't be disturbed. You can look but you can't touch. Huhu. I am sorry starfish, I picked you one time.



They said that Lakawon Island is a counterpart of the famous Boracay in Cadiz City but I contradict on that notion. When I was walking along the shore, I realized that this place is somewhat similar to Moalboal. It is another white sand beach in the southern part of Cebu. It also dawned to me that even though I do not know how to swim, beaches and islands fascinate me a lot more than the amusement parks. 

Photo credits: lakawon.com.ph
If there is one reason why I want to come back, it will be this Asia's Largest Floating Bar. The TawHai Floating Bar. TawHai means "relaxed" and I bet this surely lives up to its name. I regret not taking a chance on this during my day trip after reading a lot of relaxing experience from other people. Though the entrance fee 250 pesos was costly for a frugal traveler like me, I think it is worth it. I am planning to go back in the future with my boyfriend and probably spend a night in the island.


Lakawon Island is still on the process of developing new accommodations and new amenities for the tourists who flock in the island. Though my Tita was in charged of this trip and we opted an all-in-package (which includes the food, trasnportation and the canopy tent), I searched for the prices and how you can get to Lakawon Island.

How to get there:

From Bacolod City North Bus terminal, you can hop in a bus going to Cadiz City for only 95pesos AC or 55pesos Non AC. Then tell the driver to drop you off at the Martesan Terminal and take a tricycle going to the Port at Brgy. Cadiz Vielo. A local told us that the tricycle ride costs 120pesos whether you are alone or you are in a group of 4. So you better hitch a ride to some tourist and split the 120 pesos. Then a pumpboat will take you to Lakawon Island, 250 pesos per person (roundtrip). Resorts's Entrance fee is 100 pesos.

TawHai Bar's entrance fee is 250 pesos per person with a free drink of your choice.The family cottage, canopy tent and umbrella hut costs around from 600pesos to 1,500 pesos. Corkage fee is 50 pesos per person but you can opt to order your meals in their restaurant.

I am not really good on this breakdown of expenses or costing whatever. My apologies if your are having a hard time reading the upper part. Anyway, my overall experience in Lakawon Island was excellent and I would love to go back and experience it all over again.