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Things I am Missing in Bantayan Island | Before Super Typhoon Haiyan

Crossing Visayas and Mindanao in the Philippines was the best therapeutic remedy I could think of to cure my pathetic depression.  My addiction to traveling downgraded when I left Mindanao last June 2013, resulting to losing my tongue somewhere in the clouds. This condition left  a lot of blank pages on my personal travel journal.

Pushing myself to return to the world of traveling and blogging, I have wished to start with a clean slate and reborn anew in an inspiring environment. God is so generous that He answered my prayers through my friends after being tagged in a tour across the Visayas Region. I was very glad that I met friends who have helped me along the way to cope up with this stupid depression.

A New Hope

Travel mates from Skyscappercity Cebu in Bantayan Island
(L-R): James, Lovemindanao, Sir Fred and Jarenz
I was in Bacolod in the company of the Cebu SkyscaperCity when the group decided to cross Cebu after the grand celebration of Masskara Festival 2013.

Coming back to Bantayan for the second time gave me a blood rush, reminiscing my very first backpacking trip to this island paradise to seek a little peace of heaven after I had a big argument with my “boss” on a sensitive issue about the Pasig River Dredging Project back in 2010.

My excitement to revisit Bantayan never changed as it  still fascinates me by taking the old route from Cebu Northern Bus Terminal to northernmost mainland town, Hagnaya. As courtesy to our host and friend Sir Fred, we took an overnight stay at their family’s abode in Bogo City, a town before reaching Hagnaya.

Strolling around Bogo, the Parish Church of Sr. San Vicente of  Bogo City captivated me with its majestic look where it retained its original facade since its construction just right after the World War. If we have only arrived earlier on daylight, I could have captured some good pictures of the church. It was sad reality to know that this church wasn't spared when Super Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan) unleashed its power across Visayas.

En route to Bantayan 

On the next day, our voyage to the anticipated island was blessed with a calm sea. We were greeted by the long white sand beach of Sta.Fe, Bantayan to where the main port of the island welcomes all the arriving local and international tourists.

The seaside of  Sta. Fe never failed to mesmerize me with its wide and fine sugary sand  beach that was even made enchanting due to its eye catching turquoise water. We had our accommodation in one of most popular resort in Sta. Fe, The Marlin BeachResort. The air-conditioned room we had was able to accommodate the five of us with much space left to roam around and do cart wheels in between, spacious huh?  

Marlin Beach Resort is an average classy resort in Bantayan with a well maintained beach front.  The food and beverages maybe a little overpriced for a thrifty local backpacker like me. Let’s just take the price of a bottle of beer which will cost you more or less Php 100.00 apiece.  Good to know that I don’t have to carry all the baggage of paying the bills. Thanks Sir Fred for taking care of that.  And since our visit fell on a lean season, the management gave us a huge discount by slashing almost 30 percent on our room accommodation from Php 2700 to Php 2000 a night.

Bantayan Island Nature Park and Resort

The easiest way to roam the island of Bantayan was through a rented tricycle that will cost you around Php 500-800. It will cover the whole day tour, reaching Bantayan proper and Madridejos and back to Sta. Fe.

Our first stop was the 8-hectare Bantayan Island Nature Park and Resort. The two year operating resort have only developed  three hectares of its property and the rest are in progress as of to this writing. 

Infinity pool at Bantayan Island Nature Park and Resort
Paying Php 200.00 as entrance fee, you can already do a day tour inside and use some of the resort’s facility. The management put up some good accommodation that was parallel to the tropical ambiance of the resort. Just be sure that you have at least Php 2700.00 in the pocket to pay for the cheapest room available and Php 6000.00 for the Bungalow type.

The Dream-ing Date with Ritchelle

As we entered this park, we were welcomed by a young and beautiful lady, Ritchelle, whom I thought was one of the guests. This sweet cheerful lady turned out to be the tour guide inside the resort.

She brought out the best story and facts about their resort but I guess we barely heard them all as an all male group, we were enchanted by this mysterious girl, redirecting our focus on the way words slipped from her mouth, how she swayed her soft ivory hands, how she gracefully twist and turn her petite alluring body, how she speaks with glistening eyes and how she projects the true Bantayan beauty.

My comrades have wished to talk more to Ritchelle, but never I have imagined that she have chosen to spend more time with me as we stroll inward to the resort's vicinity and losing my friends inside the maze-like nature park. (ha-ha-ha). She cheerfully showcased their humble yet enticing tropical type of accommodation located on top of the cliff.

The view in that side of the park was just breathtaking and seeing the golden sunrise in the morning was just perfect to set you on a inspiring mood. Ritchelle faced me and divulged  her "Love at first sight" moment with me... oppps sorry wrong channel-just dreaming, I mean she divulged that there were about at least seven caves beneath our feet worth exploring. She made my heart beating fast as she held my hands....opppsss sorry again, I mean she took my camera and voluntarily took my pictures and requested to promote their humble resort to the world. And at the end of our journey, she walked in the isle in her beautiful white wedding dress, with tears falling on her cheek, deeply in love with me, the man she prayed to be her husband and ... oppsss kring kring ... my golly something slapped me back to reality!

What happened next? I woke up and found myself seated on the tricycle never realizing that the tour have just ended. Great Lord, I think I was charmed!  I have requested to have my stay in Bantayan  be extended and was wishful thinking to return to the resort the next day, but faith was so cruel that destiny put me in a deep cauma of laziness. Damn! But as of this writing I am still concern on their condition after Super Typhoon Yolanda hit the island. I hope you are safe Ritchelle and your family and friends.... please call me , ahemm.

Continue lang...

The resort has an infinity pool, overlooking the great Visayan Seas. Around the vast nature park you will find a mini zoo that features different birds inside their aviary. The collection of different ornamental plants also  colors  the tropical ambiance of the resort.

But the main attraction of the resort was the huge cave, accessorized with spring-fed pool where guests can actually take a dip to freshen up during the hot days. If only I have brought with me some extra clothes, I could have tasted the crystal cool water of the spring in the cave. Well, we are reserving that for the next trip that would give me a reason to return.

The resort was also equipped with a spa where guests can have a relaxing massage and have the privilege to use other facilities like the sauna and the Jacuzzi for additional fee. Bars and billiard pools are also available for customers enjoyment. Truly, this place is a one stop shop if you wish to have a full relaxation away from the buzz of the metro.

Visiting Kota Park in Madridejos, Bantayan

Our next destination was Kota Park in Madridejos. The park has its sole attraction which was an old fort with high thick coral walls constructed hundreds of years ago during the Spanish colonization. As to size, the fort was quite smaller compared to Fort San Pedro in Cebu City. Taking a tour inside the fort, you will find some relics displayed in each corner that explains the history and culture of the town.

At the seaside of the park there was a long wooden bridge that lead to a port used by local fishermen and island boat operators. This is also a common meeting place and playground among the locals of Madridejos. This is also the perfect spot for you to witness the beautiful sunset of Bantayan while walking hand in hand with your love ones. 

Parish Church of St. Peter and Paul

Moving forward, we headed to Bantayan Proper where we found the old Parish Church of St. Peter and Paul. The church was first constructed dedicated and offered to Nuestra Senora dela Asuncion in 1580. The church was constructed using coral stones in which the island was richly endowed.

The church was destroyed by the Moros and rebuilt in 1839. Fronting the church was their mini park that comes alive in the late afternoon where locals started to hang around and youngsters play basketball at the center of the park.

Bantayan depicts a simple life with small businesses operating  and most of it were bakeshops. It seems Bantayanons are very much fond of bread as I can see people munching on a piece everywhere.

Mangrove Eco-tourism by OMAGIECA

Before the sunset hit the zenith, we took the opportunity to visit the only mangrove conservation site in Bantayan located in Brgy. Oboob and managed by OMAGIECA or the Oboob Mangrove Garden Integrated Ecotourism and Conservation Association.

The association created a long bamboo bridge that cut across the mangrove area where guests can walk through the jungle like environment while watching the wild life nesting inside this protected habitat.

Based on my rapid assessment, the conservation site was in its perfect condition with different species of mangrove growing abundantly.

Mangrove areas play a vital role in filtering the siltation process of the coastal areas and act as wind breaker during typhoons. And most importantly, mangrove forest serves as a habitat for different marine organisms where it establishes a resilient environment to maintain a high level of biodiversity in the community.

Time reached its final hour and the inland tour have drained our energy, leaving us all catching our breath. We could only wish for a good diner which we found at the heart of Sta. Fe. We enjoyed the night with a few bottle of beers and hit the sack early to prepare for a morning beach bumming the next day. Good night!

How to Reach Bantayan ?

Flights bound for Mactan Cebu are available from local carriers like Cebu Pacific and Pal Express. From the airport you can take a taxi to take you to Cebu North Bus Terminal. Take the Ceres bus bound for Hagnaya, fare is Php 130 and the travel time is 3 hours.

At Hagnaya Port, there are ferry boats scheduled every hour bound for Sta. Fe, fare as of to this writing is Php 185.00 (air conditioned). At the port there are tricycle and pedicabs that can take you to your hotel/ resort or better request for the hotel's assistance to pick you up at the port.

Bantayan Island Nature Park and Resort
Landline : 032.514.4420/1 
Mobile: 0928.506.4468 or 0999.884.3088

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