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sumilon discovery: a trip to the island getway

A tranquil island that gives you a feeling of utmost privacy, a getaway from the hassle and bustle of the urban jungle and a place where nature is in harmony with all the life forms inhabiting in it. The island is called Sumilon – a 24-hectare coral island lying in the southeastern tip of Cebu mainland and plays host to the world-class Sumilon Bluewater Island Resort.


THE urban Cebu City gradually dissolved into memories of a fast-paced life as the Ceres bus trudged along the length of the national highway heading towards the southern town of Oslob where the island getaway of Sumilon is nestled. Bucolic landscapes unfolded as we passed along the towns of San Fernando, Car-car, Sibonga, Argao and so on (the places before the ones mentioned are already urbanized and the sight is something I am used to having been an urbanite since childhood).

We had the first stop at the old town of Argao (Pueblo de Argao during the Spanish times, circa 1600) where we had mid-morning snacks at Alex Kafe at the center of the old town. Owner and Argao Tourism Commissioner Alex Kintanar Gonzales disclosed that the structure they are occupying now has been a property of the Kintanar clan since 1927. “The place has a history for itself. This has been abandoned a lot of times and has been used for several purposes like a bodega for kerosene and a salon for the Japanese soldiers during the war. Now it has become my therapy place for about four years now and it helped me become a servant of the municipality of Argao,” Alex related on a short chat after a hearty platter of Torta (the town’s famous delicacy), bud-bud (sticky rice rolled and wrapped in banana leaves) and puto (another delicacy made from sticky rice) paired with hot chocolate and some fresh ripe mango. Later, I earned the title “Best in Interview Portion” courtesy of ABS-CBN Cebu’s Jud Morning host, my Kapamilya and good friend Jude Aparri Bacalso.

An urbanite on a sojourn, I spent the remainder of the bus trip napping.

At the time I woke up, I was greeted by the scenic vista of the blue seas meeting the azure skies in the horizon. At last, we are on the drop-off point for Sumilon Bluewater Island Resort at Bangcongon in Oslob town. Every guest were embraced by the warmth of the place that has nothing to do with the mid-day temperature but with the luminous and genuine smiles sported by the usherettes as they welcome the guests. Refreshments (bokarillo, chicharon, banana chips, tuna sandwich, juices, water, sodas, etc.) were offered at the spacious and open-air facility, which served as our reception while waiting for the barge that is to take us to the island.

I must admit that the long travel got me groggy but upon stepping foot at the island’s shifting white sand bar, I felt totally refreshed and invigorated. What greeted us in the island itself is a breath-taking sight – the crystal clear waters, the sun-kissed pristine white sand, the sound of the waves rushing to the shore of powdery sand and the Sinulog dance performance of a cultural ensemble performing on the sand bar – a perfect subject for artists who want to depict in their art pieces the wonderful harmony of nature and the life it hosts. By the way, they call it “shifting white sand bar” because, “Its changes shape and shifts location around the island depending on the season,” explains the amiable Margie Munsayac, the resort’s VP for Sales and Marketing on a chat before we boarded the barge off to the island.

Again, refreshments are offered at the beginning of the trail towards the resort’s reception area.

A little walk and we reached the reception area – the Island Pavilion, which houses the library, gift shop and the restaurant. It was lunchtime and the crowd was divided into cliques. Others opted to stay at the Island Pavilion while the bulk went straight to the picnic groove where lechon baka and lechon baboy laid waiting.
I shared a table with companions and dive enthusiasts Ms Tina (Poblador), this paper’s Advertising Manager; Mats (Galicano); and Rotarians Benjie and Mars. My favorite Third String (an acoustic band playing at Tequila Joe’s every Thursday and Saturday) serenaded us during the lunch of the ocean’s bounty. After partaking the gastronomic pleasures of mixed seafood (freshly cooked crabs, shrimps, squids, etc.), we registered for the free services like Kayaking, massage, diving and snorkeling.

The first that we did was kayaking (paddle boating) at the natural lagoon rested at the picnic groove. ‘Twas actually my second time to do the paddles, the first one at Rio de Cagayan (whitewater rafting!) which requires strength and presence of mind. This time, I don’t need to paddle vigorously. In a relaxed manner, I paddled to the end of the lagoon on my pink kayak, getting lost in my daydreams. The high mangroves surrounding the lagoon obstructed the wind from the open sea and the resulting current of air is a cool breeze, ideal for the much-needed relaxation.
We did snorkeling next at the marine sanctuary near Nikki’s Wall – dive site that plays host to, according to the handout, Jack, Tuna, Reef Fishes, Anduhaw, Snapper and Puffer Trigger among others. But before we reached the site, we traipsed along the footpath of white pebbles under the canopy of verdant trees. Nothing can be heard except the rustling of the foliage against the gentle breeze and the twittering of the birds and of course the snapping dried twigs that fell on the pathway.

A view of mainland Cebu’s southern part and a greenish blue silhouette of the nearby Negros Oriental spread out before us as the end of the trail fell to the aquamarine waters. We boarded the motorized banca and off we went to the dive site.

While Ms Tina and Mats went down for a dive together with a couple of divers, me together with Benjie and Mars were just at the surface taking a bird’s eye view of the enthralling marine world lying about 17 feet beneath us. My snorkeling companions were thrilled to find Nemo (some clown fishes) playing on their playground of sea anemone that swaying to the direction of the surface current. The underwater scenery captivated my sense that I lost track of time. After spending half an hour, we bid goodbye to the colorful corals and the vibrant marine life dwelling in the peaceful sanctuary down under.

When we returned, the picnic groove was showered with the soft orange glow of the late afternoon sunlight and the area was cleared of the buffet tables and refreshment stations – a sign that suggests we are about to leave. After taking my shower and while waiting for the Ms Tina and Mats, I settled at the cushioned duyan anchored on the trunks of two trees by the shore.

Moments later, we were schlepping back to the motorized banca that is to take us back to mainland Cebu. After negotiating the not-so-nice waters, I was jolted back to the present world, back to the metropolis, back to urban living inside the city of concrete jungle.

I have no regrets except that I was never able to check out the Yamashita Caves, the Tree Park, the Parola and the Balwarte. Then I promised to myself to be back and check out the pursuits I left for the simple reason that I wasn’t blest with more time to explore more of Sumilon and the resort it houses – the Sumilon Bluewater Island Resort.
I felt nostalgic as the Ceres bus left for the city. Nevertheless, I have been thankful to God for sculpting such a blissful island blest with sun-drenched beaches and natural landscapes.

- - - G e t t i n g T h e r e - - -

From Dumaguete City
There are direct flights between Manila and Dumaguete City. From Dumaguete City, the resort can arrange pumpboats (small fast crafts) to bring guests directly to Sumilon Island. if weather conditions do not allow travel via pump boat, then ferry rides to the port of Bato, Oslob and trasportation to the resort can be set up.
From Cebu City
There are daily flights between Manila and Cebu City. From Cebu City, guests can take a scenic drive through the southern coastal towns of mainland Cebu. The ride offers glimpses of both Filipino urban and rural life, as well as its historical past that help form the local culture. Once outside the city limits, a relaxing trip begins through a tree-canopied highway with breath-taking views of the eastern seashores.

Posted by bondabe 02:35

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