I needed to reset after this very divisive National Elections. Like most people, I am jubilant with the outcome but I cannot deny that I have been served some toxicity and judgement from other people because of my candidate preference. I needed a break to release the tension that I have kept for so long and traveling is my primary outlet. I had to get wowed and then there was Sambawan.
Sambawan Island is a group of islets off the coast of Maripipi in the province of Biliran. It is largely uninhabited except for a small diving resort that offer basic amenities. It is the tourism icon of the province, owing it to having one of the most photogenic spots in the country.
Back To Basics
The road to Sambawan was not a walk in the park. The longer route would entail taking an hour flight from to Tacloban, a four hour land trip to Kawayan in Biliran, and, finally an hour of boat ride to the island. It was physically tiring but it was the kind that excites me because it gives you that feeling as if you are a contestant in an amazing race game.
The east side of the island is where you could find the sandy coves where the diving resort is located. However, do not expect much from the resort apart from the very basic amenities and, by basic, I mean sleeping on papag. I did not expect this as I had no prior contact with them. I came in unprepared except for the usual malong that I had with me. Sleeping on a hard bamboo flooring wasn’t really the most comfortable experience but it was humbling.
The caretaker shared with me that they had just acquired the island from the original hosts. Most of the basic amenities were stripped off. Fresh water can be bought for Php40 per small drum. Electricity only run until 10pm. There’s only a small “canteen” but supplies are limited. You need to either buy food from the Kawayan or bring food to cook in the island.
A Perfect View From The Top
After settling down and getting over the initial shock, I prepped to head up the highest peak of Sambawan Island. This is the spot that you would often see from those who have already been to the island. A three-minute of huffing and puffing along the cemented trails will bring you to this famous spot in the island.
The view from the top was just jaw-dropping. The view deck gives you two amazing views of two sides of the islets. The north side gives you a scenic trail of islets with Maripipi looming on the background. The south side gives you a relaxing view of two large islets with the sea as it background. The north view is the most photographed view of Sambawan. The vantage point also gives you the ruggedness of Sambawan’s landscape and the turquoise waters surrounding it.
The view gets even better as the sun sets on the horizon as the golden rays hits the island. The glowing yellow-orange color give the landscape a dramatic glow that stands out against the blue waters and sky. It was just magical that had me getting another round of pictures. The island has a good view of the sunrise and the sunset. Unfortunately, the sunrise was not as good as the sunset as rainclouds covered the mountain top of Maripipi the next morning.
A small elevated kubo was installed atop the hill where you can rest while enjoying the views and the feel of the sea breeze on your skin. I enjoyed getting a much-needed summer tan while getting immersed with nature. The breeze was just refreshing. The views and the fresh air was a welcome break from all the toxicity of the city and the recently concluded national elections.
Back On The Ground
You can access two sandy coves on the island. The bigger cove has the basic camping facilities. You can find a cozy spot by the beach where you can enjoy enjoy the sun, sand, and sea. You can enjoy the view while sipping hot coffee in the morning or go for a drink with friends in the afternoon or evening.
If you are up for a more quiet spot, a wooden bridge snakes through the rock edge of the island that leads to the smaller cover. Take extra precaution when you climb down from the bridge onto its rocks. An even smaller cove is found adjacent to it. I was not able to explore the area since it was already getting pretty dark when I attempted to explore it.
You also get to enjoy a cool dip under the sun in the turquoise waters of Sambawan. The sand is a combination of white sand, shells, and corals so walking barefoot can be quite uncomfortable. Take extra precaution when swimming as water gets deep a few meters from the shoreline. I enjoyed just floating and letting the salt water energize me.
You can still see traces of how the island was damaged by the typhoon - a destroyed hut needing repairs and a destroyed cemented docking station (I think). The owners of the island is still re-building from what was left. It was good that tourists are starting to explore the island which helps them in their efforts.
POST TRAVEL NOTES
Sambawan Island gave me my much-needed reset from all the toxicity of the current events. It made me stop and breathe. It energized me by grounding me back through nature’s beauty and getting me back to the basics. The trip was not a comfortable one and, neither, was the overnight stay. There were blind curve balls through the experience. But it did remind me that whatever the circumstances that we face, we should always choose to accept, adjust, and move on. That is how we live and enjoy life.
Find time to go for a reset. We all need one to break the monotony of our daily lives or to break the pandemic stress or to shut off the toxicity of the national elections. Go to your favorite corner and just shut down. Get yourself connected and grounded with nature. Release the stress and let the earth recharge you. Exploring is my form of reset. Go and find your reset.
Getting there: If you are planning to go to Sambawan Island, you need to take a flight to Tacloban City from any major hub in the country. You then take a van from Tacloban City to Naval in Biliran. You then take a public jeep/bus or hire a tricycle or habal-habal to Kawayan Port. You then need to hire a boat 9 (round trip) for the hour-long trip to Sambawan Island. Make sure that you make the pick-up arrangement with your bangkero.
For ease of travel, you can contact Sambawan Island at (0965) 427 9035.
Marc del Rosario
I believe in education, entrepreneurship, and caring for the environment.