Guimaras Island: An Afternoon Delight
24.11.2013 - 24.11.2013 31 °C
I have been to Iloilo City for so many times starting in the year 2003 when I had an opportunity to do some tours. While it always been my wish to pay even a short visit to Guimaras Island since, I had been failing to do so. Maybe because I was alone then, that I planned it alone myself, so I lacked guts to venture it on my own.
It was only this November of 2013 that when I visited Iloilo City with a colleague and friend, Marisa Dahan, whose interest in travel is at par with mine, that the idea of reaching Guimaras Island was revived and revitalized. We arrived early one afternoon at the city for an official business the following days. We were ushered at a beach resort located at the outskirts of the city. So the way to reach at the dock to board an outriggered boat, the sole means of transport to and from the island, entailed much effort. We immediately deposited our baggage at the reception counter and left for Guimaras. Fortunately, the driver of the vehicle that fetched us at the airport offered to ferry us to the port area.
I later learned that there are two docking points for passenger boats to and from Guimaras. I cannot point however where they were situated, but I remembered passing through a street with crowding shanties on our way out while the return trip docked at a wharf close to the lighthouse. Both trips cost us 14 pesos each.
The 50+ seater passenger boats leave Iloilo docks every 15 to 30 minutes every day. The ride across the sea dividing the Panay from Guimaras usually takes only around 15 minutes. On our way in, Marisa and I arrived at Jordan wharf and greeted by tour fixers. We approached the tourism information kiosk instead and inquired on the route, transport, and cost of a half-day tour.
It was told that motorela (motorcycle with sidecar) is available any time of the day as transport for less than 4 person-groups. There are other means of transport but motorela is good for the two of us. The lady asked our itinerary and informed us that our route will cost 1,200 pesos. Given only around 3 hours to make the island tour, because we reached Guimaras at 2pm and have to leave before the last boat trip back to Iloilo at 6pm, the thousand bucks-half-day tour is expensive and no cost-wise.
We left the kiosk and decided to find the transport on our own. One tricycle driver followed us and agreed to our bargain at 700 pesos. That price is reasonable to reach just 3 tourist destinations in the island, the Trappist Monastery, then Kapelya na Bato, and the Lopez's Mansion.
Trappist Monastery was our agreed first stop considering that the spot is in Jordan. Then we dropped by the smallest park in the whole country as it is along the way to the monastery. The monks' monastery was undergoing improvements, so we concentrated our time in checking the souvenir items in their tourist shop, took some souvenir photos and then headed towards the other destinations in the itinerary.
Buenavista is the location for the 2 important tourist destinations. It was a long ride from Jordan. We reached the Kapelya na Bato (English translation: Stone Chapel) at sundown, known as Navalas Church. It has this welcoming fortress made of concrete, which the entrance hole looked like a cave's entrance. It appeared to have undergone curation and/or several renovation. The chapel resembles a usual chapel, it only has unique facade and ambiance that epitomized its heritage.
The sunset has amplified the beauty of the Lopez's Mansion, known to be the Roca Encantada. Since it is painted in white, the orange-red afternoon hue has exemplified the grandoisity of the 3-story heritage house. Situated on top of the hill in one corner of the Guimaras Island, the stunning view consisted the pebbled beach on one side and the tiny little isles on the other.
Being on top of the hill, living that kind of lush life even just for a day is beyond my imagination. I am fond of house in posh designs but such simple but elegant, located in a one of a kind spot, is something that left me awed and dreamy.
Just the right timing, we arrived at Buenavista wharf at around 6pm, then boarded right away in the leaving boat. After a couple of hours in Guimaras, my day (I am sure, Marisa's too) was filled with fun and adventures. Defraying a total of a thousand all in all, the half-day tour around (though not covering the whole island, which offers more tourist spots) was definitely an afternoon delight.