Before I start, let me just tell you that this article is not going to contain a single picture from our visit in Bantayan due to the unfortunate events that transpired in our trip. If you want pictures, we can’t give you any, but if you want to read our experience, stay and grieve with us due to our loss, and the story goes..
Bantayan Island is in the Visayan Sea, Philippines, located just west off the northern tip of Cebu Island. The island, politically a part of the Province of Cebu, is about 7 miles (11 km) wide by 10 miles (16 km) long, with a total population of 120,101, as of the 2000 census. It is also the main and largest island of the Bantayan Island Group that is roughly the geographical center of the Philippines.
By land (from cebu). Take a bus or van from the North Bus Terminal bound for Hagnaya. North Bus Terminal is located in Subangdaku, Mandaue City, located near SM Hypermarket. The drive usually takes 3 hours on bus but roughly 2 hours on the van. Upon arriving in Hagnaya wharf, take the RORO bound for Bantayan Island. The trip usually takes 1 hour and 30 minutes.
By air (from Cebu). Midsea Express has direct flights from Cebu to Bantayan and the trip takes 30 minutes (as of the moments, flights from Cebu to Bantayan is currently suspended).
Foreign and local tourist swarm Bantayan Island yearly and it is mostly crowded on summer especially during the Holy Week where events and parties are held to entertain the big crowd day in and day out.
Looking for something to do during the Holy Week of 2011, we opted to go to Bantayann to spend the holidays. Rooms usually go fully booked as early as January, so if you plan to go, always book ahead but if you failed to book ahead, you can always try contacting resorts for room availability. With that in mind, we bought a tent and we know tent cities will be setup is sn some resorts and it is a cheaper alternative.
Upon arriving in Bantayan, we scouted the shoreline in Sugar Beach for tent cities. Most of the tent cities were crowded, so we opted to stay in the city just beside Sugar Beach, a private lot with no security on it but it was not as crowded as the others.
If you are expecting big night parties in Bantayan for Holy Week, you will be disappointed. Event and parties has gone wholesome and to some point boring due to regulations implement by the local government like bans on bikini opens and any other parties, as they want to preserve the solemnity and the holiness of the celebration of the Holy Week. Day events are packed but night events have been minimized to acoustic sessions and firedancers. With beer in hand and a couple of fun-seeking individuals in the group, you really won’t bore to death. This doesn’t seem to change anytime soon, unless of course the next election comes.
When in Bantayan, enjoy the beach and the sand and the sun. You can also go island hopping to nearby island like the Virgin Island . Also, try to visit and swim in the freshwater in Ogtong Cave in Ogtong Cave and Resort.
If you are coming to Bantayan and planning to stay in a tent on peak seasons like the Holy Week, always always always always secure your valuables. Here is what happened to us while we were in Bantayan:
As mentioned, we stayed in a tent in a tent city beside Sugar Beach. We brought with us a padlock to secure our valuables inside the tent. On the say after our first night in Bantayan, our neighbor’s flipflops were stolen as he left it outside the tent. We were thinking, just as long as the valuables are inside the tent, nothing’s going to get stolen. We stranded with DSLR, cellphone and our money on-hand while others are left inside the tent padlocked. On our last day on the island, the tent city and the island were getting more crowded. I noticed this group of people staying beside our tent, drinking their hearts out. We headed to the beach again bringing our valuables with us and padlocked the tent. We headed back to the tent before dark to prepare for a freshwater bath, thinking that I’m not really going to need my DSLR. I left it at the tent as I felt that padlock on the tent was enough to secure the valuables. After taking a bath, we headed back to the tent city and noticed that the group that stayed beside our tents (they were maybe 3-5 meters away) were already gone. It was already dark when we arrived and there are no lights in the tent city we stayed. While Sheena was trying to open the padlock, I noticed a big dark shadow like form on the side of the tent. When I approached slowly, my heart beat faster and I felt like peeing my pants when I saw that the tent there was a tear on the tent, a laceration enough for a human body to go through. When I inspected the inside of the tent, my DSLR was gone! Most of the valuables were there but the DSLR was not. I wanted to shout, cry, punch somebody in the face and slam their head on the concrete wall. I was just discombobulated.
I approached our neighboring tents and told them about the incident but they did not notice anybody approach our tent as they were also busy with what they are doing. We headed the police station to report the incident; they escorted us back to the scene and interrogated some people. Our main suspects were the group of people who stayed beside our tent. The vendor outside the city informed the police officer that the group still owes her money for the beer they ordered and in assurance that they’ll pay it, they left their cellphone with her. The police officer took hold of the cellphone and told the vendor that they’ll take care of the phone until the group comes back to pay.
By that time, I just lost hope that I’ll be able to regain my DSLR. I strolled the shoreline hoping I’ll see somebody using it. I gave up after almost an hour. The incident just changed all our plans as I told Sheena that we will be leaving for Cebu as easly as 5AM.
I woke up at around 4AM and waited for Sheena to wake up. I was still distraught from what happened. I remembered our tent city neighbor losing his slippers the day before the incident so I hurriedly checked ours and good thing it was still there. I laid back and went to sleep again. By 4:30AM, I was awake again, and guess what? I found out that my flipflops and boardshorts are now gone. Sheena’s swimsuit and flipflops were still there but mine wasn’t. I breezily walked barefooted to hopefully catch the culprit but to no avail. With all the unfortunate events, we hurriedly packed the tent and left the area. On the way to the pier, I saw two goon-looking individual that I’m pretty stayed in the same tent city as we were. I saw the other guy bringing a plastic bag with this thick white slippers inside it and there were other slippers inside (my flipflop was a white Ipanema). The two guys saw me staring at them as we passed them by.
Upon arriving at the pier, Sheena purchased tickets while I was thinking of a way to approach these two goon-looking guys while not compromising my safety. When they arrived, you could just see anxiety in the eyes of the guy bringing the plastic bag. They went straight to the ferry without purchasing tickets in the counter and what’s odd is that he is now bringing a plastic bag full of green bananas. When we boarded the ferry, we intentionally looked for the two guys, sat beside them and I stared straight at the face of the other guy. He was uneasy and he looks like his going to shit and pee on his pants anytime soon. The other guy though has got more swagger than Mick Jagger. I wanted to call the police officer and ask for advice or any of the crew of the ferry but I am not sure why I didn’t. We were sitting beside the two guys that stole my slippers and boardshorts and possibly my DSLR. Sheena was encouraging me to approach them but I was thinking of our safety. So I chickened out on the last minute. That time, I just forgot about the incident and told myself in my mind to let them enjoy their new things. Karma’s a bitch. I don’t want to wish ill will to anybody but someday, somebody’s going to poke their eyes with barbed wire, their hands going to get soaked in boiling oil then they are going to be skinned alive and lastly, their scrotums going to get pecked by woodpeckers and it’s going to fall off like dried fruit.
No camera brought home. No pictures but the memory lives on! Not going to visit Bantayan anytime soon.