Off The Beaten Path: Biliran Island

Matet: This province off the northern tip of the Eastern Visayas region is, without a doubt, my happy place.

The resort on Agta beach in Brgy. Almeria faces the island named Dalutan, a quaint island bordered by coarse white sand, bat caves, and marine sanctuaries. It is a perfect venue to commune with nature. The marine sanctuary is also an ideal spot for shore-entry intro diving.

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Southwest from Dalutan Island is Higatangan Island, where the late Ferdinand Marcos is said to have taken refuge when his boat capsized during the World War II. He was rescued by a local fisherman named Fidel Limpiado, Sr., father-in-law of Agta Beach Resort’s founder Clemencio “Mesyong” Sabitsana, Sr. When Marcos became president of the Republic, he went back to Higatangan with his wife Imelda and daughter Irene to visit Limpiado. Grateful as he was to Limpiado for saving his life, he had given the island infrastructures such as a school, a nine-kilometer circumferential road, post office, clinic and four windmill-powered water systems.

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To date, a hill on the island is still called “Marcos Hill.” The island also features a shifting sand bar that changes its shape depending on the wind direction and water current. The shore extends up to 180 meters into the sea. Bordering the island are breathtaking rock formations, tropical palms, and at its topmost point is an old lighthouse.

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The highlight of every Biliran trip is, in my own opinion, basking in the sun and swimming in the waters of Sambawan Island. From the port of Kawayan (the barangay next to Almeria where Agta beach is), a typical fishing boat brought us to this island in an hour and a half or so. It is a sub-island of Maripipi, the smallest and least populous municipality in Biliran. With the beautiful rock formations, azure waters, and verdant hills…we couldn’t help but utter, “Man this is paradise!”

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Biliran is also famous for its rice terraces in Iyusan and the majestic Ulan-Ulan, Recoletos, and Tinago Waterfalls.  From Almeria, it took us half an hour to get to Iyusan rice terraces and to the entrance to Ulan-Ulan Falls. The waterfalls can be reached via an hour trek on cliffs and plains. From there, another trail leads to Recoletos Falls, which has a cold, freshwater natural pool. Tinago Falls on the other hand, is right on the highlands of Caibiran.

 

Matet Garcia-Reyes writes to travel and travels to write. An AB Communications Arts graduate from the University of Santo Tomas, she gave up her six-year career in Marketing Communications and Public Relations to fulfill her dreams of becoming a travel, food, and lifestyle writer. Her works have been published both online and in print, locally and internationally. She advocates promotion of local tourism and supports initiatives on sustainability of indigenous communities.

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