Bantayan Paradise

It's called Bantayan Island. But really, Your City Promdi thought, it should be called Bantayan Paradise.

I was able to visit the island for work last year, when I visited Ramon Magsaysay Awardee and environmental lawyer Antonio Oposa, Jr. After landing in Cebu, we went on a land travel for about two hours, then boarded a lantsa that finally took us to the pier at Bantayan Island. The first thing I noted when I got there was the marked difference in water quality--where the port in the Cebu mainland is surrounded by murky, greyish waters, the sea at the Bantayan Port was a clear light blue. So clean was the water, I could see straight to the seaweeds dancing on the seabed.

A most memorable sunrise. (Photo by Your City Promdi)
Sir Tony took us to his solar-powered, beach-side property. I was given a room in a two-storey, semi-concrete, semi-light materials property with wide windows and doors I rarely saw closed, even at night. It was spartan, but comfortable and homey. On the walls are doodles and notes from previous visitors who were eager to contribute to the marine conservation that Sir Tony started around these parts.

There were two rules in the resort: (1) Conserve resources--mostly referring to fresh water and energy, and (2) No watches--let nature dictate the people's actions. For the two days we were there, we lived simple and in tune with nature. We pumped a bit of water for every time we use the restroom or take a bath, to contribute to the communal work of securing water. 

We ate food straight from the garden and the sea. The housekeeper in the resort picked out vegetables from the backyard. In the morning, the fishermen who bank on the beach sell
fresh catch from their night's work.  

We didn't use a lot of electronic gadgets so we don't put too much pressure on the single solar panel servicing the two houses on the resort. During the day, we never needed to turn on the air conditioned or an electric fan--the breeze from the sea and the architecture of our house cooled us all enough. At night, we shared an early dinner, turned off all the lights, then went outside for long conversations while admiring the glowing diamonds of the stars against the velvet-black sky, before we turn in for the night.

The next morning, there was more beauty waiting for us. The sunrise was a fiery red, the breeze was chilly, and it was beautiful just walking and/or jogging by the beach, as the sun slowly lit the surrounding environs.

P.S.: If you're drooling over my beautiful sunrise photo right there at the top, just hop on to a flight or a ferry to Cebu and head for Bantayan. A little caveat, though: Sir Tony's place is not a commercial resort--it's a school for marine conservation. (We were allowed to stay there only because we're so few and our work will ultimately lead to a greater push for the protection and conservation of the seas.) There are other resorts near his place, though, so you can stay there. We met one who built accommodation rooms from old trailers, redecorated to look pretty and to feel comfy. Sir Tony's pretty chummy with these responsible resort-owners. 

P.P.S.: Do try to take more photos of the island, though. And make time to snorkel. I heard the corals there are gorgeous. I didn't have the time to actually snorkel there myself, so I'd like to enjoy the Bantayan corals vicariously through you. I'd love photos, if you can get some and if you can remember to send some to me. :)


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