Sunday, 22 July 2018

PHILIPPINES: Guimaras Island A Beacon For Bliss

Known for their sweet mangos, Guimaras is a province island in Western Visayas that is favorite tourist destination because of its many attractions.

Having many Islets surrounding the main island, it is no wonder why Guimaras has so many beautiful white sand beaches which captivates the hearts of many of its guests. Jordan is the capital of Guimaras

The Navalas Church built in 1880 to 1885 is the oldest existing Catholic Church in Guimaras Island. It is said that the church used to have a four feet tall bell but was taken and dumped into the sea near the area of Siete Pecados.

To date, the interior and other parts of the church are already modern but the old facade made of coral stones and stone fence remain untouched.

You might get curious about some buzz about Roca Encantada or Enchanted Rock. The place is the summer vacation house of the Lopez Clan. Built atop a rock but since some landscaping was made the appearance of the rock cannot be noticed anymore.

Constructed in 1910, despite its modern architectural design, the mansion was declared by the National Heritage Institute as a heritage house.

The place offers an amazing vista and the famed Islas de Siete Pecados which can be seen from the balcony.

SAN LORENZO WIND FARM (GUIMARAS WINDMILLS)

Another added attraction on the Island of Guimaras is the 27 windmills constructed in San Lorenzo Guimaras.

Just like the windmills in Bangui, Ilocos, these windmills also attracts tourists visiting the island.

The windmills are sporadically constructed atop the hills of the place giving the tourists nice vistas.

HOLY FAMILY HILLS


The Holy Family Hills is a religious site which also attracts various tourists visiting Guimaras Island. Numerous life-size statues are dotting the place with the big statue of the Holy Family being the focal point as you enter the place.

LifeSize station of the cross statues are spread along the area which caused pilgrims to visit the place, especially during the Lenten season. The place has a Chapel and a Prayer room.

NATIONAL MANGO RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT CENTER

Located in Guimaras Circumferential Rd, Jordan, Guimaras, the National Mango Research and Development Center is specializing in Research Extension and Production of Mango. The place has 8.87 hectares of planted mango used for production and research.

Guests visiting the place can buy seedlings or grafted mango at PHP 50/pc.

TRAPPIST MONASTERY

Founded in 1972, the Trappist Monastery in Guimaras is the only Trappist monastery in the Philippines. Many visitors visit the place because they have a pasalubong center selling their own food products such as mango jam, polvoron, mango tarts and much more. The place is also available for retreats.

GUISI LIGHTHOUSE AND BEACH AREAS

The Guisi lighthouse completed in 1896 is said to the be the 3rd oldest lighthouse in the country.

Made of metal, the Guisi lighthouse is already rusty and the new one is already installed adjacent to it. The place offers an amazing view of the sea, especially during sunset.

TAKLONG ISLAND NATIONAL MARINE RESERVE

Taklong Island National Marine Reserve located in Nueva Valencia, Guimaras. Covering a total area of 1,143.45 hectares (has.), with 46 islands and islets and 963.45 has. of marine waters which are home to various species of flora and fauna, including corals and seagrasses.

Tourists are usually brought by thebangkeros during the Island Hopping to the Floating Cottage found in the Area. The floating cottage duly operated by San Roque Coastal Environment Program Association (SARCEPA). While at the place you can enjoy swimming while enjoying the sceneries of the place.

MANGGAHAN FESTIVAL

Guimaras Island is known for its sweet mangos, because of this the festival of the Province known as Manggahan Festival held every month of May was created.

Of course, apart from mango this festival also shows the culture of the people of Guimaras. Street and Arena Dance Competition are just one of the highlights of the said festival.

Here’s the link to the Manggahan Festival Schedule. We are updating this regularly so don’t forget to bookmark this page.

The tourist packed island paradise of Boracay off the northern coast of Panay has been given half a year off to recover on the order of Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte, to the south temptingly dangles mango shaped Guimaras, and a waterworld ripe with possibilities.

Natago Beach – Hiding Beach – lives up to its name with a sparseness of visitors, subtly delighting in ways reflective of intriguing Guimaras, which quietly produces some of the tastiest mangoes found in the central Philippines.

While never approaching the epic grandeur of Koh Phi Phi Leh’s Maya Bay, Natago’s tempting alcoves can still trigger recollections of the enchanting spot popularised by the film - The Beach - before the Thai idyll, like Boracay, recently temporarily closed to visitors, a victim of its own beauty.

For the time being, like one of its fat, juicy carabao mangoes, Guimaras hits the traveller’s sweet spot engaging vibes and precious few visitors.

Laid-back locals, convenient proximity to vibrant Iloilo City, a range of water sports and ample opportunities for solitude help make this emerald isle a perfect place to disappear for awhile.

While other local mangoes suffer from smallness and imperfections, the best Guimaras mangoes are second to none in the world. The matrix of rigging lashed to the ferries plying the short, exhilarating Iloilo-Jordan route show their readiness for the times of the year when mangoes aren’t in season.

This is when gusting winds and monsoon rains are busy nourishing the fruit’s goodness towards another triumphant harvest.

This central Philippines islands group is known as the Visayas, a name etymologically linked to the English word victory but more particularly to the Indian-inspired Sri Vijaya Empire.

Malay migrants from the culture based in what is now Malaysia, southern Thailand and western Indonesia settled here, bequeathing their name to the islands.

A bracing 15-minute ferry ride from Iloilo, the isle of Guimaras is most easily entered from the port of Jordan, the main jumping-off point to its multiple attractions.

Among these are an 18th-century lighthouse, countless beaches, unique rock formations, tours of the mango groves and sampling anything and everything made from Guimaras’ famous fruit, including biscuits, biscotti, drinks and chips, as well as shopping for souvenirs bearing its likeness.

Bouncy jeepney rides spiral out from Jordan to all parts of Guimaras. One road passes restaurants advertising mango-topped pizza on the way to Alubinod Beach, which looks like something waiting at the end of the world and is a popular spot to embark on island-hopping tours.

The summer monsoon wind, the habagat, blows strong, but not so strongly as to dismay the fun-loving residents who’ve endured Indian, Spanish, American and Japanese colonisation.

The skies over Guimaras lash out more juicily during summer and winter typhoons, darkened by storm clouds lending mood to the otherwise brightly coloured seascape, a dazzling array of aquamarine, turquoise and the like.

Flanked to the north and south by two island groups named after their biggest islands – Luzon and Mindanao – the Visayas, like much of the archipelago, are an outpost of raw natural beauty.

With towns named in Spanish superlatives, Buena Vista and Nueva Valencia with most residents adept at English thanks to the US occupation, Guimaras most deeply delights with its natural scenery.

It is blissfully far beyond the great sweep of influences of conquerors and travellers who left behind remnants of cultural flotsam.

Raymen Beach offers an ideal spot for bobbing in the wild but accommodating sea, as well as journeying off for an exciting island hop with any of the many tour operators.

Besides the mango sweetness of this idyll and of Natago Beach, made for quiet romantic moments also within reach are abandoned nunneries with epic sea views and countless under-appreciated attractions and surprises that only the locals know about.

Particularly deserving a look is Buho Ramirez Cave, well worth a few hours’ exploring by boat. Also known as Baras Cave, this darkened environment unveils vistas that are likely to stay with visitors for a lifetime.

As the boatman silently guides guests past fruit bats in their perches, the sunlight fades and then disappears, only to return at the end of the ride, which can be as short or as long as desired.

It’s a mysterious place that gradually transitions into a beautiful seascape of colours, now all the more radiant as you emerge from the gloom.

Getting to Guimaras is easy via the short flight from Manila, touching down in nearby Iloilo, a small city offering excellent seafood, bustling malls and opportunities for dancing and gambling. There are Spanish-era delights like Jaro Cathedral and colonial mansions.

The extraordinary Esplanade walkway lining both banks of the beautified Iloilo River is an amazing testament to the public’s will to restore areas previously pockmarked by industrial blight.

The colonisation of the Philippines has been likened to spending three centuries in a convent, followed by 50 years in Hollywood. Many Spanish-era sights in the region go under-appreciated and show signs of physical neglect.

Similarly, American-era mega-malls offer far too many cheap thrills. But the intrinsic beauty of less-discovered spots, well developed but not overdeveloped, like those that dot Guimaras reflect the timeless quality of the Philippines’ smaller islands, which seem ideally designed for capturing flavours previously undiscovered.

ISLAND HOPPING

One of the best things to do when visiting Guimaras is to do Island Hopping. Island Hopping will enable any guests to beautiful Island and islets as well as various white beaches around the island.


Tourism Observer