by: Claire Marie Algarme
Accessible only by sea via pump boats, Sibuyan Island is one of the remote places in the Philippines. The Sibuyan Island ecotourism and rich biodiversity, such as the flora and fauna which have grown abundantly over the years when the island remained isolated from the rest of the world, has earned Sibuyan the moniker as the “Galapagos of Asia”.
Sibuyan is one of the seven islands in the province of Romblon, considered as the heart of the Philippines, geographically speaking. It is covered by forests, which made it a favorite place for exploration and study by scientists who are mapping the various species endemic in the island. It has the densest forest in the country.
The National Museum once conducted a study in Sibuyan and found 1,551 trees within one hectare which contained 123 tree species, 54 of which is unique in this island. There are hundreds and thousands of plant and animal species that are still up for cataloguing. Among the animals that were identified were the Orange-bellied Flowerpecker, Philippine Pygmy-woodpecker, Colasisi Loriculus philippensis bournsi, fruit bat species, and rodents. The pitcher plant, or the Nepenthes sibuyanensis, is one of the popular vascular plants that are endemic to Sibuyan Island.
- Guiting-Guiting: hike towards its jagged peaks
Mountaineers were able to conquer Mt. Guiting-Guiting’s summit for the first time only in 1982. It is one of the most challenging peaks in the Philippines because of its difficult trail and rocky terrain. Covered mostly of forests and rocks, Mt. Guiting-Guiting is one of the favorite ecotourism spots in Sibuyan Island with the many endemic animal and plant species in its National Park.
- Lambingan Falls: dive on its pool of waters
Locals have coined the place as Lambingan Falls because it was where most lovers enjoy a romantic interlude. But more than just a place where couples share some sweet moments, Locals guard the falls to make sure that the surroundings are clean and the biodiversity is not damaged.
- Dagubdob Falls: explore the local plants in the area
Dagubdob is a local word that means “thunder” because of the sound of water rushing downstream that creates a thunder-like resonance. On the way to Dagubdob Falls, look around at the many plants which one can find useful for survival, like plant species that produce water, and another kind that can create fire. A guide will take you through its dense woods to acquaint you with the local plants available around Dagubdob Falls. But be sure to preserve this Sibuyan Island ecotourism haven.
- Bila-Bila Falls: slide down its waterfalls
Bila-Bila is another ecotourism attraction in Sibuyan Island. It got its name from the local dialect that connotes to butterflies, which abound in the area. Thus, travelers are forewarned not to create damage on the flora and fauna in the area, which may also affect the existence of these butterflies and other animals who seek refuge in Bila-Bila’s green environment. Bila-Bila Falls have 11 levels, wherein some of these waterfalls provide adventurers the thrill of riding on its forceful water, while its smooth rocks create a natural water slide.
- Ikaduha Fish Sanctuary: snorkel and see the coral reefs
Previously damaged due to dynamite fishing, Ikaduha is now a protected area which has colorful coral reefs where different fish species find sanctuary. Travelers can view the rich marine life and are encouraged to help this ecotourism site in Sibuyan Island. The gateway to Ikaduha Fish Sanctuary is the Magdiwang Beach which is also a great swimming site.
- Cantingas River: swim in one of the cleanest rivers
The waters in Cantingas River are so clear that you can even see its river bed, it was even declared as one of the cleanest rivers in the country. Swimmers are encouraged to maintain the cleanliness of this ecotourism spot in Sibuyan Island so that the fishes and other living things that depend on this life source will not be threatened.
- Cresta de Gallo: get sun-kissed in this white islet
Off the coast of Sibuyan is an islet with a long stretch of white sand bar. You can lie down on the beach and get a tan while sun-bathing, then dip into the cool water for a relaxing swim. Be awed at the rich underwater life that is also found near Cresta de Gallo. Make sure you don’t step on those corals or scare the fishes when you snorkel within the area.
These are just a few of the ecotourism sites that you can see in Sibuyan Island. Some of them are under threat due to mining and travelers can do their part in helping save the biodiversity of Sibuyan.