Wanderlust for Guimaras

I am a schedule- and itinerary-driven traveler. I map things out in advance before I start packing things up. Somehow, there are just times when the “adventurous” in me wants to try something new especially when an unreflective urge to travel suddenly pops up. . .but since I am physically incapacitated and intellectually disqualified to be the Man Versus Wild fit enough for a daring experience, let’s just say the “complacent” in me is presuming it’s gonna be painless.

Come what may” was obviously the slogan of our trip to the sought-after Guimaras last February. The ever-naughty Tita Jo started the day by intentionally not bringing her mobile phone to meet with us at the passenger terminal. Well okay, the size of the terminal made it a no-brainer to find somebody anyway, but just to give you the gist of the day.

On the way to Pulupandan at around 5 in the morning, we shivered convulsed to the dawn’s cold breeze in the jeepney. We were heading for the beach for goodness’ sake! We forgot we were in shorts, summer shirts and flip-flops before sunrise!

We didn’t know how to proceed to the seaport upon reaching Pulupandan town proper. Good thing was, a lot of teens were heading to Guimaras for camping, so we just had to go “wherever” they might be heading. Happenstance was really our guide.

Let’s skip the dull 1-hour barge ride across the sea so we could fast forward to Sibunag seaport where everything started to get exciting dreadfully exciting. There was no public transportation! Well, the kind that I was used to back home. I was expecting for jeepneys and motorized tricycles, but none was there! Not even water buffalos! (In the Philippines, they are locally known as carabao. They do not only aid in plowing rice fields, they also pull transporation carts).

Anyway, moving on, everybody else’s got their own private vehicle. Under the searing 10AM heat, we stood there jaw-dropped (more of disbelief rather than amazement) seeing everybody leaving. At the other end of the quay, parked motorcycles that served as motor-taxis we locally call “habal-habal“. Each could transport 2 persons maximum at P250 per head to our “destination” that we had know idea of – practically and desperately any beach would do just for the sake that we “set foot on Guimaras soils”.

We couldn’t afford a long travel to the beach because we only had a 4-hour window to enjoy the pristine waters and shop for souvenir items and the renowned Guimaras mangoes! Spending the night in Guimaras was not an option since we had to be back in Bacolod for the next day’s (Sunday) church service. The barge’s last trip was leaving at 3PM for Pulupandan.

We nearly lost the impetus to proceed to the beach because of the habal-habal drivers’ supposed marketing strategies that we otherwise took as discouraging statements, telling us that the nearest beach was 1 hour away from the port and there was no other mode of transportation available. Even my father on the phone told me to just board the barge again to return to Pulupandan. Seriously? I was standing on Guimaras soils! Might as well jump and swim on the harbor than turn our efforts futile! Returning ahora mismo was neither an acceptable option!

Thankfully, the driver of a ramshackled L300 van (that’s surprisingly still working!) carrying vegetables from Negros Island offered to drive us to our destination (should be the nearest beach). It was the only rational choice than divide ourselves into two groups for the bumpy habal-habal ride. So there we were in our summer outfits sitting beside the sacks of onions, potatoes, garlics and eggplants!

We departed at last, bound for Rayman Beach Resort in the municipality of Nueva Valencia. The first stretch of the trip was the climax of paranioa. The road was unpaved and all you could see were trees and fields. Civilization, where wert thou? I should warn you that it’s not the right time to recall all those thriller and horror movies you’ve watched. Wrong Turn, anyone? I was travelling with my 7-year-old niece for goodness’ sake! She could not endure a hostage situation, how much more a saw-torture!

The horrifying half-hour first stretch ended when we started to see some homes, concrete pavement, and finally the town of Jordan. After eating in a cafeteria, we hopped in for the rather peaceful second stretch. For umteen miles, both sides of the road were filled with mango trees!
When we arrived at the resort after all those misadventures, the feeling of finally stepping on the white sands was. . . .how should I even describe it?. . .priceless and glorious! The majesty of an UNSPOILED Guimaras beach was way more stunning than I expected! We had a reasonably priced island-hopping experience, more practical than the other expensive destinations of the country. I had this urge to roll on the sands or root like a pig if I only had a snout, and drink the crystal clear waters, jump and heavy splash, LOL. Too much ineffable happiness there was! My sister and niece fell asleep on our way home. We were bone-tired and ultra exhausted but it was overcome by the amaaaeeeeeeeezing experience. It sure will be on next year’s bucket list.