Guisi Beach: Simply Breathtaking

guisi beach

I first learned about Guisi Beach when I was planning for a getaway with my best friends two weeks ago. As a host, I wanted to bring my friends to a very special place; a place that doesn’t have any trace of mass tourism and that if when we upload our pictures in social networking sites like Facebook, no one can claim that they have been there too.

unspiled scenery of Guimaras
unspoiled scenery of Guimaras

We have decided to take a holiday in Guimaras Island,Guimaras Island a very green and lush island worldly famous for having the sweetest mango on earth. lies just off the coast of Iloilo City of the Visayas group of islands in the Philippines. The island is itself still a well-preserved landscape; most tourists opt for Boracay Island, though undeniably one of the best beaches in the country is already a mass-tourism infested destination in the Philippines. But there are few people mostly local tourists from neighboring places like Iloilo and Bacolod who have been in this island.

As I googled some interesting places to see in Guimaras, I stumbled upon Guisi Beach. Most people who have been in Guimaras often stay in resorts along Alubihod Cove, a white-sand beach in the island but I want something different this time for my friends and this beach is the right one. The instant I saw some photos of Guisi beach in a travel blog, I felt the immediate attraction. I wanted to pack my bags and head off to the beach right away. I was seduced by this beach and so are my friends. When I sent some links about Guisi Beach to my photographer friend he was tempted to buy a new lens for his camera to capture every inch of the beach.

Though there are some destinations that are only good in photos, I was very confident with Guisi Beach – what you see, you’ll get more and I didn’t fail me.

Journey to Guisi Beach

guisi beach
wanderlusts

The beach is located in Barangay Dolores (barangay is a local political unit in the Philippines like a county) in the town of Nueva Valencia of Guimaras Island. From the main port of the island, Jordan (pronounced as “Hur-dan”) it would take more than an hour. From the center of Nueva Valencia where most resorts are located, it would take more than 30 minutes. It is facing Panay Gulf and is on the southern end of Guimaras.

We went to the beach from our resort in Villa Igang which is located in the town center of Nueva Valencia at exactly 1 o’clock in the afternoon. From our resort, we have to walk to the popular resort of Raymen’s Beach Resort where there are many tricycles or side-car motorcycles which are common modes of transportation in the Philippines. We hired one for 300 pesos (less than $7) for a round trip journey to Guisi; the driver will also wait for us from one until five in the afternoon.

We traveled from muddy to rocky roads to Guisi Beach especially when we already pass the national roads. There was even one point that we have to traverse an uphill and the motorcycle can’t carry us all. Hence, we have to hop out of the motorcycle and catch our breath as we walk uphill.

Finally, after more than 30 minutes we heard a loud yet relaxing splashing of the waves. It turns out that from our stop, we have to walk down on slippery stepping stones going to the beach. It was drizzling when we came due to a low pressure that hit the Philippines during that time that caused scattered rains.

Every step I made, though very uncomfortable with my wet and slippery flip flops, my heart was throbbing with too much glee. Closer and closer I can see the big waves and the icy blue color of the beach. And finally, there she is — Guisi Beach.

Guisi Beach

Life is a Beach

The weather that day explained the big waves when we arrived but it didn’t deter me and my friends from admiring Guisi Beach. In fact, the big waves added more drama to whole place.

The moment we settled in our cottage which we rented out for 300 pesos, I grabbed my pen and started writing. Isaac, the official photographer of the group was like a hyperactive child walking around clicking his camera catching the waves and the surf. He was totally taken away by the beach; he can’t rest his hands and eyes for getting the best shots or even get his photographic masterpiece. My girlfriends, Pitch, Joanne and Cyril went straight to the beach and enjoy strolling in their bikinis that made the jaws of the locals drop.

Guisi Beachguisi beach

The first word that came to me when I first saw the beach was “marvelous” and I said it to myself the moment I laid my eyes on Guisi Beach. All of us were totally awestruck like avid fans seeing their idols for the first time in flesh. It is extremely breathtaking with its virginal state, totally untouched by tourism. I can say that this beach is a traveler’s paradise that can put many known beaches into shame.

Guisi Beach

I have been to many white-sand beaches in the Philippines and I didn’t expect that the sand to be soft since it is not powdery white. It has this faint golden hue that blends with the cliffs and the limestone origin of Guimaras Island. I love walking along the beach barefoot and was mesmerized with its exotic charm. All you need a cold drink and just lie down on the beach for hours.

Guisi beach has the clearest water I have seen in my entire life. Clear with no single trace of trash or debris floating. Even along the shore, you can see some marine animals like fishes, starfish along with some weeds and sea moss. Even in deeper part of the beach, you can still see the bottom with some small fishes swarming around your feet.

Ace at work
Ace at his best

Likewise, it is sheltered with big rocky corals that made the whole place very picturesque especially when the waves begin to hit the rocks. Isaac captured these images and they are simply stunning! There are cliffs and caves nearby made of limestone; at the left end of the beach is an 18th century Spanish Lighthouse, Guisi Lighthouse which is another attraction of the place.

Cottage for 300 pesos per day
Cottage for 300 pesos per day

There are 6 cottages along the beach which are made of native materials like coconut lumber and leaves as its roof. Hence, the place is still in its primitive stage in terms of attracting tourists. But I guess, it made the beach more alluring to me. There is also a small store that sells food but it is best to bring your own food and drinks since the supplies are not very complete.

Things to do

Aside from swimming, relaxing and admiring the whole place; there are plenty of activities that you can enjoy by yourself or with your friends while in Guisi Beach.

guisi beach

If you are a photography buff,Guimaras this place will leave you restless. The scenery, views and total landscape are worth capturing in your lenses. And when you have your photos, you don’t have to take time to edit them for they are all stunning. Boating trips are very common activities in that usually bring visitors to different islands and caves in Guimaras. Since the wind was so strong when we came, we skipped boating. But on a clear day, you can hire a local fisherman to bring you to nearby caves and admire the high cliffs close to the beach. If you want snorkeling, bring your own snorkeling gears because you can’t rent one in the beach. Guisi Beach is rich in marine animals and you don’t have to go far to see these creatures. In shallow waters close to smooth rocks, there are many fishes that will surely catch your fancy.

The locals

shell-hunting

Guisi Beach is patronized by the locals who live nearby and they are very conservative. If you happen to arrive with some locals drinking and singing in the cottages, it is a typical Filipino way of relaxing and hanging out. They may seem aloof towards foreign visitors but don’t be bothered with the locals’ shyness.

Also, don’t expect them to speak or understand English very well. Filipinos are known to be very friendly and can easily converse in English but in this part of the country, only few people can understand and speak English. If you want and need to talk to them, talk slowly and make some gestures. Locals can understand you but might find it hard to talk to you.

Furthermore, since they are very conservative they are not used to seeing people wearing swimwear so it is best to just skip your bikini. You can wear the more covered swimwear like a tank top and a beach shorts if you want to avoid the locals ogling at you. And please don’t sunbathe along the beach topless or else you will start a commotion.

Last words

As much as I wanted to promote the beach, I still wish to visit it in succeeding years just the same as I first saw it. I don’t want it to have the same fate as those of other paradise islands turned into a party place filled with rowdy tourists. This beach is really a tropical Eden, a perfect venue for another Survivor series. I want travelers not tourists to visit Guisi Beach, people who have a high regard for its natural beauty.

I feel proud to have “discovered” this beach all by myself– well with the help of Goggle and to belong to some of the chosen few to have visited this well-kept secret. And selfish as it may seem, I desire that it would remain a “secret” particularly in terms of mass tourism where tourists don’t appreciate and respect the real essence of a certain destination. Guisi Beach is the perfect place to chill, relax and unwind and I hope it will stay that way for the longest time possible.

All photos courtesy of Cyril Cabilao and Ace Francisco

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Villa Igang Beach Resort

Update: It has been four years since our visit and stay at Villa Igang Resort. Unfortunately, I receive more negative feedbacks lately especially  on the facilities. The beach is still a good one though. I hope they can improve their system and some of their rooms.

Likewise, one of my readers left a comment that the number is no longer working. If you are associated with Villa Igang, I would appreciate it if you can give your new number. Thank you..

Villa Igang

For our Guimaras Island Getaway, I opted to reserve a room in Villa Igang Beach Resort in the town of Nueva Valencia. It was my fourth time in the island and it was my first time to stay in that place; I have stayed in the same resort for my last visits. And I wanted something different – for me and for my friends to stay in Guimaras.

I googled about this resort and I got some nice review especially the comparison between that popular resort where I often stayed. And true to their words, it was perfect choice.

The resort is very small but it gives this homey feeling. I suggest choosing Villa Igang as the place to stay in Guimaras during off-peak like weekdays or not during summer vacation.  When we arrive, they were only few other guests and we even hardly saw each other. In short, it seems that we own the whole resort. And this particular feeling is what most travelers want from any resort.

Another important thing is their service. It felt like a home for us. They were many workers and they are not even the typically hotel and resort staff–gardeners and laborers ( think the resort is expanding) but they were all courteous and very nice. The main staff were very accommodating, letting us get some supplies in their own kitchen in wee hours of the morning!

I highly recommend Villa Igang as one of the resorts to choose and stay in Guimaras. The price is very reasonable, the place is safe, the service is superb and the views are very scenic and picturesque.

For more photos click here

For more information or for room reservation: call (63) 033-336-5507

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Negros Occidental: More than just a Sugarlandia

A freelance writer turned storyteller, this is what I want to achieve every time I’m traveling. And as we travel by land from Iloilo City to my parents’ house in Cebu, we pass through Negros Island, a place famous for its vast sugarcane plantation.

But I love Negros Occidental not just for its grandeur as a sugar depot and home to some of the country’s most riches and affluent families but to what its nature has to offer. There are many adjectives to describe each place we saw while on the road but if I were to choose one, the word is scenic.

Here are some of the interesting places that will leave you awed. And as a freelance writer, I can’t wait to write them in my blog.

Panoramic View of San Carlos City
Overlooking the mountains of San Carlos City

The Panoramic View of San Carlos City.

We traveled uphill to reach high altitude which will make you open your windows to feel the fresh air. We often stop at Jilla’s Cafe for that aromatic native coffee.

Rice Terraces in Negros?
Rice Terraces just outside San Carlos City

Who said you have to go to the Moutain Province in Luzon to see the Rice Terraces?

Finally, the local farmers took advantage of the abundant irrigation system to yield their crops. Years ago, there were only few terraces but now, viola! I wonderful site! This is only a few kilometers away from the town center of San Carlos City.

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The falls is more visible during rainy days..

Malatan-og Falls

It was very sunny that time so the waterfalls was not that visible. Still it is a refreshing site and worth a few shots. You can see this if you are in Don Salvador Benedicto.

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One street lined with sweet-smelling pine trees!

My favorite sight in Negros Occidental!

More than a kilometer of spiny pine trees, who needs to go to Bagiou?

This is still in the municipality of Don Salvador Benedicto  and because of this, the town won an award from the DPWH.

A must see!

So, the next time you want to visit Iloilo, Boracay or Cebu; skip the plane or ship. Take a land trip instead! For those who don’t have their own vehicle, a V-Hire or Ceres Bus pass through this route.

Submit and sell your articles, photos, videos and illustrations here!

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Iwag: Festival of Lights, Pototan Iloilo

Iwag 2008
at the entrance of the town square

Deciding for my a post for my site as a freelance writer, I remembered our short trip to Pototan with my parents. I remember how excited I was to write something about this festival and here I am, sharing “Iwag 2008” and promoting this Philippine festival.

The Visayan word, “Iwag” means, ” to light” or “to put light”…

The Festival of Lights of the municipality of Pototan in Iloilo is an annual showcase of different Christmas lights. The whole town center, from their town plaza and government offices close to the town square is lit up..

The “Belen” with my son
my son with the Nativity scene as his backdrop
FOuntain in the town plaza
The fountain at the heart of the town square
Christmas tree
The tallest Tree filled with little "parols"

Pototan which is a few kilometers from Iloilo is also known as the biggest rice producer in the whole province. But during Christmas season, people from neighboring towns and cities flock to their town square to witness this impressive display of Christmas lights.

The good thing about this occasion is that the decorations are pertaining to Filipino Christmas. You can see different stars, known as “parols” and the traditional nativity scene or “belen“.

It is not surprising why Pototan is called the “Christmas Capital of Western Visayas“.

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the police station was lit up
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another government office lit up
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Pototan's Municipal Town Hall

If you visit this place during night time during the holidays, you will really feel Christmas.. and if you are a freelance writer deciding what post to make during the holidays, Iwag is the one!

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Camiguin Island

Camiguin Islnd is located in Northern Mindanao and known for its hot springs and white sand islands. It’s peak season is during Holy Week ( 1st week of April) where religious devotees and campers alike walk around this small island as a sacrifice or simply for adventure.

Known as the island ” born from fire”, it is quite amazing to know that for a small island, there are many volcanoes in it both active and dormant.

Getting There

The quickest way to Camiguin is to take a boat ride ( for at least 10 hours) from Cebu City or take a plane to Cagayan de Oro and then ride a smaller ship (for 1 hour) to the island.

You can hire a van in advance to take you around the island or have your resort do it for you. For cheaper holidays in the island; you can absolutely hire a tricycle for a much cheaper price to tour the whole island.

Things to do

Upon arrival, the first thing that that you will notice is how unspoiled and tranquil the whole place is. Pacing is so slow and most people rely on fishing. If you love water, Camiguin Island is for you!

Here are some images from Camiguin island…enjoy!

Katibawasan Falls
Katibawasan Falls
White Island: one of the white-sand beaches of Camiguin
White Island: one of the white-sand beaches of Camiguin
You can drink the water..my fave place
You can drink the water..my fave place
"Sunken Cemetery"
"Sunken Cemetery"
"The way of the Cross"
"The way of the Cross"
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CDO Adventure: White- Water Rafting

my knees were trembling but it was blast!
my knees were trembling but it was blast!

I never had a chance to be active in my entire life. When I was a kid, I detest running and would like to settle in board games or hide and seek games. Blame it to my asthma or just the lack of interest but I was never a sporty person.It changed now that my son is becoming a toddler, I have no choice but to run around and keep on panting. So with my husband for our anniversary tour, we packed and went for some adventurous post honeymoon idea- water rafting.

white water raftingWater rafting is an extreme sports of dealing with rapids caused by big boulders in rivers. In the Philippines, water rafting is synonymous with Cagayan de Oro. It used to be reserved for business tycoons spending at least P10K each but President Gloria tried it herself and paved the way for more operators for water rafting. Now, one can experience this amazing sport for less than P1K each or for the whole team more or less P6-7K.

meeting point
meeting point

We waited for our tour operator in one of the plazas or town squares in CDO and traveled for more then 45 minutes to the river. We passed by rocky roads in higher altitude and going down again. The scenery is nice with green trees along with some plantations like banana.

white water rafting
we did it!

It was raining when we went there and it added some adrenaline rush for the whole group. You can listen to your guide or else you end up swimming in the river. For us, we conquered it all! It was the best adventure experience that I ever had.

I’m hoping to go to CDO again and try the “advanced” level where the rapids are wilder…till next time Cagayan!

white water rafting

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Travel Writing

I love traveling and I love to take photos of where I have been. Add my job as a freelance writer, it’s very nice to share to my audience places that I have visited like telling a story. And as we know, traveling is also costly with me saving for some time to travel to other parts of my country.

By the way, I’m in a mission to explore my country–with more than 7,000 island, I wish to visit all the provinces in the Philippines. I want to explore Luzon like Ilocos, Mountain Province,Batangas and Batanes. Palawan is still in my wishlist. For Mindanao, I wish to visit Davao and Siargao.

With this, I aim to become a travel writer. There was a time that I woke up with an idea of having a travel site- specifically targeting our local tourism. There are many places in my country that I still have to explore and so many things to improve to make my country attractive to other tourists. I’m still getting some information on how to become one.

What I have started though is writing web content articles for a traveling agencies covering European destinations. Also, I’m now a member of an online travel magazine; I still have to start my travel blog in that website as well as submitting my articles.

With this, I have this illusion of getting VIP treatment from a resort that I’m going to feature in my article. If you have any ideas on how to become a travel writer, please share it with me. In my Twitter, I twitted how I’m dying to become a travel writer. It may not be very easy especially that I have a toddler who is going to school this year.

But to have a trip and an assignment to finish once in a while sounds perfect for me…

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Visita Inglesia

A tradition among Catholics in the Philippines during “Holy Week” is to perform “Visita Inglesia” which is to visit nine churches. And for the first time, my family did this tradition and it was a very spiritually satisfying expereince. Here are two of them:

1. San Joaquin Church. It has impressive details like the Miag-ao Church depicting one of the battles between Christians and Muslims…

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2. Miag-ao Church. A World Heritage Church that was used a fortress again invading Moro. This church sits high on a hills and is renowned for its “yellowish-golden” sheen.

Miag-ao Church

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Guimaras Island

Guimaras is a small island in the Visayas known for its white beaches and sweet mangoes. Guimaras is not as commercialized like Boracay Island ( the most famous island in the Philippines) and most of all the rates are way way cheaper.

What can you do there besides swimming?

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Island Hoping for less than $20 you can rent one motor boat that can accommodate 5-6 people for an hour and a half. You can visit many islets like the Turtle Island, Tres Maria ( three Maria’s) and many more. You can also include visiting a fish sanctuary of the University of the Philippines with 20-year old fishes and other marine animals.

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Camping

You can stay overnight in one island for a very cheap price for the ultimate solitude of your life. A small boat will bring you to the small island and fetch you the next day. Make sure to leave nothing but memories…

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Extreme Sports

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Head off to the mountainous area of the island to have some dirty clear fun. This small park have gadgets for AirSoft, pinBall and other war games as well as bungee jumping. A bonus, they can arrange lunch for the rest of your group.

To end up, Guimaras is an island waiting to be explored by tourists. But the lovely view and fresh air will just let you stay in the beach and lie down all day…

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