This is Sambawan Island – could be 1.5 hours to where I live, by boat, wala nga lang public utility pumpboat. Easiest take off point to this island is via Kawayan town (malapit lang ito sa Naval, ang capital at sentro ng Biliran). From Kawayan, madami na maliliit na boat na pwede arkilahin for 500 pesos to Maripipi town, 30 to 40 minutes lang. Then hire a motorcycle to Barangay Ol-og, nearest area para tumawid sa maliit na island ng Sambawan. Maghire din ng boat, 150 pesos, papuntang sambawan; will take you about 15 minutes to reach the island. Same boat could be hired in your return. Madami boat doon, kaya wala problema. Problema mo lang ang alon. Kaya timing timing lang. Summer talaga maganda pumunta don. Pag gusto makamura, take the regular pumpboat trip from Naval to Maripipi, mga 10am ang alis, kaso mga 1.5 hours kang nasa dagat.
Bago pumunta ng isla, magdala ng mga pagkain at inuming tubig. Pwede mong irequest ang head steward sa isla na magluto para sa inyo.
Ang sarap ng simpleng buhay sa isla. Pampagulo lang ang internet kung may dala kang tablet o pad kasi may signal doon. If you want a little adventure, pwede kang “magrock hike” para marating mo ang ibang islet. Connected naman sila ng mga boulders, makikita pag low tide. Feeling ko, dead volcano ang lugar, kasi ang daming bato na di pangkaraniwan. May hill part din ang island kung saan kita mo ang biliran island, maripipi island at sunset. Saan ka pa? May exclusivity ang lugar, tahimik at ang ganda ng dagat. May corals, pwede diving, kaso sabi ni Mayor, may mga pating din. Ang pinakapanalo, ang babait ng mga tao.
Bakit kaya pinagpala ang Biliran? Bakit kaya ganon kaganda ang Sambawan? Di ko man masagot yan, hayaan ko nalang ang welcome tarpaulin na nakasabit sa puno doon sa isla ang magsabi: SAMBAWAN DIVE CAMP AND BEACH RESORT - preserved by God for you to witness the beauty of His creation; lovingly kept by Maripipin-ons for you to explore and enjoy; to God alone be the glory and praise!
Planning for this trip was a breeze. We have a great team. Sharon does the budgeting and itinerary, Jordan and I do the picture taking. Seriously, Sharon is our financial guru who knows exactly how much budget we need and how to spend it. Jordan and I? Okay, we just know how to take pictures at 4am. It was more difficult, huh?
What made this trip very memorable and smooth was the support of colleagues. Foremost, thanks to Ritchie Penaflor, productive MLGOO of Maripipi, who arranged almost everything, and even had his wife grilled fish for us. And the shells! SB Julianito Atiga, Chair, Committee on Tourism, happily escorted us. Because of Manong Jess, Head Steward of the island, we survived; otherwise, we could have died from hunger. Biko welcome us in Maripipi where we had our courtesy call with Mayor Uldarico Macorol whose vision for tourism development will soon be reality. We couldn’t have swam in the cold spring water at 12 noon had it not been for ex-SB member Teofilo (dondon) Gaviola who drove us around.
Friends from Biliran, who knew our going, prepared our breakfast in Naval, even if it was already 10:30 in the morning. Carol and Homer, plus my inaanak Carlo, really set the good vibes for this trip. Joy Montuerto spared a table for our lunch, too, on our way home. Hayy friends. I must thank God for all of you – and I must pray for the preservation and protection of this environmental wonder in my neighborhood.