Sibale Island... a paradise I called home!

Monday, June 30, 2014

There are several posts about Philippines that I wrote but this entry is one of the best since I will talk about my mother’s birthplace… Sibale Island.

It was in 2010 that the whole family last visited the Philippines and most of us to see the grandparents. I visit manila like every year now for shopping than in Singapore and Kuala Lumpur. Nevertheless, this trip was dedicated to my mother who has been more than 25 years not seeing her beloved birthplace, Sibale Island.

We were supposed to fly there in April but due to some inevitable events we had to reschedule it. My mom was worried too much if we were going in May, the tide and the weather is not favourable as it coincides with the rainy month “Habagat” in the Philippines. I try to be positive all the time and keep checking the weather forecast every day. There is no weather forecast for Sibale Island but I can get the nearest weather information from Pinamalayan station. Most of the time it shows sunny and clear weather for the whole week. Bless!

We were very busy packing stuff and foods before going there. A member of the family is a Muslim and very particular with the food. I don’t eat pig too. Phew! You have to believe it. My cousin, Jamie, did give some insight about the island and after looking at her pictures, I told my family they should be mentally and physically prepare. LOL.

Before departure
We arrived at the airport 2 hours before our departure time at 12pm. My mother felt a bit dizzy, as she didn’t take any food that morning. We are very worry about her health especially after the incident in April when she was treated in hospital for an irregular heartbeat. We departed from the Brunei International airport 10 minutes before 12pm and the whole journey was smooth. We landed at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport at 2:10pm.

Aunty Remy and RB welcomed us at the arrival gate. She introduced the driver, Onad, who we already booked in advance for transport from airport to Pinamalayan, which cost PHP9000 one-way.

We went from the airport at 3:30pm to Batangas Pier and had a short quick break at Jollibee. I don’t know the name of the place but it is in the middle of the highway to Batangas Pier. My brother and I ordered 10 set meals that come with burger, fries and coke. The situation inside the restaurant was busy at that time and we had to wait for 12 minutes for our burger to be ready. When the lady handed us our food I didn’t check it thoroughly as we were racing against time. Half way when we were already on the road and they eat fries, I realized I made a mistake…. ALL THE 10 BURGERS NOT THERE! Pff! Keep calm and just eat.

Awesome sunset at Batangas Pier
We reached Batangas Pier at 6:30pm. We were the last car accepted to go inside the Roll-on/Roll-off (RORO) ship. How lucky! We went up to the upper deck and wandering the place. There were a lot of people and I didn’t manage to find a place to sit. I went to the top most area and the view is pleasant to see at night. Full moon and lots of stars in the sky! The sea amazingly very calm and I enjoyed myself listening to my Sony Walkman.
RORO boat
Night view from the top deck
It took us 2 hours to reach Calapan port. I could see our driver looked very tired and he stopped for a while to take coffee. It usually takes 1.5 hours by car to reach Pinamalayan but our driver took a few stops. We had our late dinner by the roadside and ate the traditional food. I really like the ginger tea.

I didn’t book any place to stay at Pinamalayan and the driver offered his house for us to stay overnight. Everyone was physically exhausted and some of them sleep soon after landing on the couch.

Pinamalayan Town
The family already woke up early at 6am and I didn’t have a good sleep. My father and the brother went to the town to buy things to bring to Sibale. I followed them soon afterward because I don’t like to miss to explore the place. The town is small but you can find most of things like clothes, jeans, groceries, electronics and etc.

We went to Pinamalayan port at 9:30am and apparently there is only ONE boat going back and forth to Sibale. It costs PHP150 per person for one-way. The boat only goes at 11am and I’m not sure if that is fixed or what. I was waiting outside and I could see all the seats have been taken and they still keep accepting people and goods.

It was almost 11am when I went inside and there was no seat for me. Yikes! Then, one of the boatmen gave a small piece of wood for us to sit. Wohoo! In my mind… okay this will be an interesting journey! The boat was fully loaded. I can tell safety is the least they look into. There is no life jacket. There is no maximum number of people. I buried all those negativities and enjoy the boat ride. Fortunately that day it was sunny, clear sky and calm sea for the whole journey.
Calm sea and nice weather

One of the best things I saw was flying fish. At first I thought it was a bird but then I imagined it was far from any nearest land, so I waited for another magical flying fish. I was lucky to see another one and it flew very far this time. AMAZING!
We reached Port of Concepcion at 1:30pm. My uncles and relatives were there and helping with our stuffs, they tied it on the motorcycles. Yes. The only mode of transportation on the whole island. The road is small and narrow especially at every corner around the hills. No two motorcycles can pass at any one time, so one has to take turns.
Safely arrived at Port of Concepcion

My brother and I were the first one to reach the grandparent house. My grandmother was crying upon seeing us. I cried inside but still maintain to look cool. Haha! Then one by one our family members came. Each time my grandmother sees us, she cried. It has been 4 years since the last time we see each other. I don’t have any grandparents here in Brunei and to see them both healthy put smile on my face. Glad to see them again.

My mom, uncle and awesome grandparents
They already prepared lunch for us and we had it on together at 3pm. I like the avocados and mangoes. Freshly hand picked. After lunch, we went to one of the top hills in Sibale. It is one of the must-see when you are here. There are a lot of coconut trees. It’s like everywhere.

This is the ROAD! wow!
The small hut (shop)
From there, we visited Lola Saling, we stayed there for a while and see the surrounding. The place is quiet and peaceful. Most of the houses made of bamboo and leaves. The shop is small and they sell limited items.

They told us that the electricity only available at limited time like 4-5 hours only and only available at night. When there’s electricity, we quickly charge our power banks and mobile phones. Luckily for us that night, the electricity was available until 12am since there was a festival at other area around the island.
Our bedroom! <3

My eldest uncle brought his karaoke box outside and everyone start dancing. Happy hour for everyone! My grandmother was very energetic that night and dancing all night long. My grandfather gave a speech and touched everyone’s heart. My brother, Dicky, was drunk and we forced him to sleep early because he started to pick a fight with anyone. LOL. At one point, I want to punch him in the face so that he could shut up but it didn’t happen. He slept soon after that.

The sun rises very early there. I looked at my time and it was 5:30am but the dark sky slowly turned to bright. Great. I hadn’t slept very well but I’m grateful I’m still healthy and energetic.

We had a quick breakfast and today is the only full day we have to explore the place. I wanted to explore as much as I can especially see the beautiful beach that this island has to offer. Uncle Winhart brought us around the island by foot. We reached a place that is awesome cool to look at. You can see the view of the bay and boats coming in/out. The sea is very calm and when the sky is clear, you can see the sky reflection on the surface of the sea, just like a mirror. Magnificent!

View of the bay
We went home for lunch and got to see how they prepared it. They don’t use gas or stove. The preparation is very basic… using rocks and woods. They don’t use many spices in food. Everything is basic. It really opened my eyes to see how people living their life here. Even they don’t have Internet, limited electricity/water supply, cars, decent jobs and etc, they still smile and happy. I feel really blessed to see them and at the same time to tell myself not to take things for granted.

At 2pm, we went out to the beach. There were 5 of us and it took a while to look for available boat that can bring us to “One Dive”. This is a place where they usually do diving and snorkelling. It took approximately 15minutes to reach the beach. When we arrived, there was literally no one at the beach. I was smiling and took some pictures. The sand is white, lots of corals and clear blue water. This is a paradise beach! my siblings and cousins went swimming and stroll along the beach.

I went to the other side of the beach and told myself… this is better than Boracay! Boracay is heavily populated with tourists but I will still go there since it is well maintained and many water activities. My heart melts every time I see the pictures I took with my phone. Awesomely beautiful.

At 3:40pm, we moved to another beach. The small boat sailed steadily on the open water and there were few times that we got hit by the waves. I was putting their life in danger as we didn’t have life jackets and it was my idea to explore beaches but I know they know how to swim. We didn’t manage to go to the other beach as there are too many corals and the boatman didn’t want to go either. The water is very shallow. Low tide. So we went back to home.

It was still early when we reached home. I said to them let’s go to the beach near to our place. My little cousin, Raisa, leads the way. She said it would take 30 minutes to reach the place. I don’t mind how far the beach is because I really like to walk. The journey is all going downhill. That is not a problem….  The problem is when going uphill. Crazy. The path is rocky and uneven.

We reach the place just after 5pm. The first thing I realize about the place is the beach is full of dead corals. It reminds me of Puka Beach in Boracay. Many boats are out and go for fishing and even several kids playing in a small boat and happily singing “Let it go” song. Hahahaha! Priceless!

At 5:30pm we went home and this is the challenging part. Hiking all the way to the top! Raysa said it will only take us 2 minutes to reach our home…. She lieddddddddd! It took us a good 20 minutes! HAHAHAHAHA! My sister and brother already mad at me for this. HAHAHAHAHAHA

That night we had a big celebration. Many people came especially families and friends from around the island. I saw 2 securities guys with their M16 on their side and I thought we did something wrong but before I jump into conclusion, they said they came with the mayor. I met him and talked with his assistant for a while. Glad to know them.

Mayor sitting on the left and his assistants

My mom and her siblings
We sleep early that night; we need to catch the boat early in the morning.

woke up very early and time to say goodbye to my lovely family there. We reached to the port before 6am and my grandmother was there too. She wanted to see us one last time before we are boarding the boat. We love you all. The boat departed at 6:15am. Nice weather and calm sea. To cut the story short, we reached Manila at 4:30pm.

Awesome sunrise! bless!

Till we meet again!
Enjoy the boat ride! =)

It was one of the best trip I had with the family and surely this will not be last time. See y'all again in Sibale! :)

Credits: Dk Diana

1 comment

  1. its really amazing experience to visit a family far away from home.
    a paraduze island of SIBALE is enthralled with such beauty and calm.
    a great pleasure that you give time and effort to share your exprience and noteworthy to read this humble thoughts of you. thanks DK



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