Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Guimaras, Philippines

Guimaras is a small island-province, has only 5 municipalities. Aside from beaches (being an island), it's also known for its sweet mangos. The province is generally green, covered by various vegetations -- fruit tree plantations (mango, coconut, bananas), some rice, and pockets of forest tree plantation, mainly mahogany trees. No buses, only jeepeneys and tricycles for public transportation. Trucks are few since many cargos can be transported by jeepneys. Thus, since there are no heavy vehicles, the road infrastructure is generally fine and not dilapidated.

Boat fare from Iloilo to Jordan, Guimaras' provincial capital, is only P10 per person, quiet affordable for a 15 minutes trip. It's good that there are no terminal fee or security fee or VAT or other government-imposed fees and taxes that often distort fares and prices upwards. As a result of this affordable fare, movement of people and goods between the two islands is quiet fast. On a regular weekday, there's a boat carrying around 45 passengers that leaves every 5-7 minutes, I think.

Among the famous beach resorts in the province is Raymen resort in Alobijod, municipality of Nueva Valencia. White sand, the facilities are ok and cottages are plenty, but it can be crowded especially on weekends. It can be reached by jeepney, fare about P20 per head, then tricycle, fare P10 per head. Someone told us to check Baras beach resort, so we went there. From Raymen, we rented a boat (P350 first hour, P120/hour succeeding hours) since Baras is not accessible by land travel, only by boat.

Baras resort is a beautiful place to see and swim. White sand, not rocky swimming area, protected from open sea by huge rock formations and hence, the waves are small. Being inaccessible by land travel, not too many people go there, so it's not crowded. There's a half-court basketball area, a grass volleyball court, a billiard table, a kayak, and other facilities which one can enjoy for free, inclusive of the P50 per head entrance fee. Electricity is supplied by a generator, so electric lights are available only from 5-11pm.

From Baras resort, we asked our boatman to tour us. This part of the province has a number of small, white sand beaches, about 150 meters long on average, but not close to one another. What fascinated me further were the many small islands and islets or detached rock formations. This is definitely a minor version of the Hundred Islands of Alaminos, Pangasinan.

One can reach this and neighboring resorts by boat. We rented a 45-passenger (max) boat for P3,500 to bring us from Iloilo city to Baras resort and back. Travel time is more than 1 hour each way, and one can enjoy seeing the rocky sides of the island, the several white sand beaches fishing villages. I think it won't be long and those white sand fishing villages will become beach resorts too.

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