Holy island hopping – Guimaras

15 Dec

Mango ketchup! from Guimaras - Mango capital

We were in Iloilo and besides shopping and having a private cinema session (read here), there wasn’t much to do or to see. But we did go for a stroll along the port… and decided impulsively to jump on a boat to Guimaras – the mango capital of the Philippines (they even had mango ketchup!!! See pic).

  • What we hadn’t counted on either was the adventist missionary who had decided to convert us…
  • And when we arrived we just got on the first jeepney we saw and with the help of all the people in it, we ended up in an unexpected mangrove resort
  • Pics below

A holy boat ride following the path of the lord

Transport to Iloilo port

We were a bit stuck for things to see or visit in Iloilo (capital of Panay Island, Western Visayas, Philippines), so we thought to have a look at the port, overlooking the sea, boats big and small coming and going… (relatively non-descriptive though). When we saw the passenger terminal for Guimaras island, just a 15 minute hop away, we decided on the spur of the moment to get on the next bangka boat.

  • It’s great to be spontaneous in life.

Those adventist missionaries come in beautiful wrappings

So we started to chat spontaneously to a good-looking woman plus child sitting next to us on the boat. She started off politely asking our names and where we were from. Ok, a little chit chat, why not? But half a minute into the conversation, she said she was an adventist missionary and how great it was to follow the path of the lord.

  • Oh Jezus (literally ;-), alarm bells starting to ring in my head.

She went on asking about our jobs and inevitably fishing for our ‘family situation’: “Are you married?” (as if I would have time or money for a hobby like that!?) And it wasn’t long before the questions “How do you like the Filipino people?” and “Did you meet a nice Filipina girlfriend yet?” followed in one breath.

  • OK, shall we play theatre? or give her a chance to evolve?

Me & the special one - being under adventist siege

Yes, I’ve met someone special in the Philippines.” – “Really?” That got her curiosity going. “Why are you not travelling together with her?” – “Where is she now?” Well, she asked for it: “HE’s sitting next to me!” As expected, she started whaling that it was wrong and “How could we live in sin? We should follow the way of god!” I turned to my lover and gave him a big long kiss (as we practiced in the bubble gum photo-shoot) – that shut her up alright.

  • Although she couldn’t resist giving me her address and I should find her a Belgian boyfriend. Hm, is that more like the way of the lord? Marrying a rich white guy?

The tourist catchers – holy and less holy

Arriving in Buena Vista port

As soon as we set foot on land in Buena Vista port we faced similar scenes or even worse than in Caticlan/Boracay (read here). We were literally under siege by the tricycle and minivan drivers, asking us where we were going. The first problem was that we didn’t know ourselves. The second problem was that we didn’t even know what the options were – what was there to see & visit?

  • And of course the army of touts were all offering us rides for 600 Pesos and more (10€ which is a lot for Phils standards).
  • And the adventist woman swarming around us and ushering us towards her friend minicab-driver “who’s also adventist” – as if this was a sales argument – more of the contrary by then.

Squeezed together in a jeepney

The ‘nice’ thing was that I wasn’t the only one attacked, but also my Filipino friend. So now he could experience what it was to be white (or tourist at least) in the Philippines (or Asia in general).

A little mangrove surprise near the sea

Instead of letting ourselves being harassed by the touts or adventists, we just got on the first jeepney that was leaving (when full) – for 20 pesos instead of the ludicrous 600 pesos! We just didn’t know where they jeepney was going, nor whether there was anything to see where it was heading.

Well hidden gem - a mangrove resort

But travelling down the countryside in Philippines you are bound to bump into nice people, so it didn’t take long before the whole content of the jeepney was discussing where we should go best to enjoy Guimaras. There were several options, the debates were fierce, but in the end the jeepney dropped us at a mangrove resort.

Citibirds arriving in the countryside mangrove

The resort was completely built of wood. There was a sort of a wooden/bamboo main house with a terrace (used as restaurant & karaoke place – of course) overlooking the water. At regular intervals there were trees sticking out from the water (so it couldn’t have been salty water, could it? Even though it was at the sea shore). Between the trees they had constructed wooden wobbly bridges/walkways, so you could actually walk over the water, from tree to tree. In each tree they had made a little tree house, with a lamp, an improvised electricity plug and a sink – so you could have your party or your meal hovering above the mangrove…

  • It made for some nice moments and great pictures (more below) – there was even a Korean couple getting their wedding pictures shot there (maaaany Koreans in the Philippines apparently).

Some fresh seafood from the freezer

Great seafood lunch (and I'm usually not into fishy things!)

At the entrance of the resort a sign said they ‘specialised in fresh seafood’, so we decided to have some lunch there. However when we asked if we could have lunch, they reluctantly stopped playing cards (obviously they were not expecting (m)any customers). But finally one of the daughters got up and had a look in the freezer to see which seafood they could offer to us. But it was superb to have lunch in a bamboo hut overlooking the mangrove…

  • To get back to the port, we flagged down a motorbike (3, even 5 on a motorbike is quite common ;-) and raced the one hour stretch back to civilisation (pics below).



2 Responses to “Holy island hopping – Guimaras”

  1. gaylord encarnacion 12 June 2010 at 17:27 #

    where to buy mango ketchop in manila?

  2. Tony Geudens 13 June 2010 at 09:36 #

    in Manila they have many philippino products in ‘Kultura’ – the ethnic souvenir shop of Philippines – there is a big one in Megamall (upper ground floor – section A) – see also http://www.sm-megamall.com – but not sure if they would have the mango ketchup…

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