Tak­long Is­land hop­ping

Sun.Star Cagayan de Oro - - Live - Claire Marie Al­garme Write On the Spot Float­ing Cot­tage

APART from mangoes, Guimaras is also rich in bio­di­ver­sity. With the many is­lands and islets sur­round­ing this tiny is­land­province, it is just right that we leave the main­land and make our way to­wards its coast. Our stay at the Na­ture’s Eye Re­sort in­cluded a three-hour is­land hop­ping at the nearby Tak­long Is­land Na­tional Ma­rine Re­serve (TINMR) in Nueva Va­len­cia, Guimaras.

Be­fore we pro­ceeded to the man­grove for­est in Tak­long Is­land, we made a stopover at the Float­ing Cot­tage on a sand­bar. The sand­bar was sub­merged in the sea and is not vis­i­ble from afar. But upon closer look, it seemed like a huge swim­ming pool that is shal­low enough for chil­dren to swim into. It is cor­doned off by a net and a lad­der makes it easy for guests to get into and out of the water.

The water was en­tic­ing and I im­me­di­ately took a dip in the sea. The sky was clear and the sur­round­ings were just post­card per­fect. The sea was clean and the fine sand felt silky be­neath my feet. Good thing there weren’t too many tourists in the area. There were just our group (there were six of us in the boat) and then a fam­ily of six en­joy­ing the Float­ing Cot­tage.

The small cot­tage, with four pic­nic ta­bles inside, is man­aged by the San Roque Coastal En­vi­ron­ment Pro­gram As­so­ci­a­tion (Sar­cepa). Mem­bers of Sar­cepa who were man­ning the cot­tage at that time told us that this started in De­cem­ber 2015 through the ef­forts of for­mer De­part­ment of En­vi­ron­ment and Nat­u­ral Re­sources (DENR) Sec­re­tary Gina Lopez.

Things to note when you plan to stop by the Float­ing Cot­tage: liquors and smok­ing are not al­lowed in

Cov­er­ing a to­tal of 1,143.45 hectares, in­clud­ing 53 hectares of man­grove plan­ta­tion, the TINMR is a place where var­i­ous plant and an­i­mal species abound. It also has 46 is­lands and islets within its bound­aries. We were able to chat with some per­son­nel from the DENR-Pro­vin­cial En­vi­ron­ment and Nat­u­ral Re­sources Of­fice pa­trolling the area. We went to the beach where their of­fice is lo­cated. The beach was de­serted un­til an­other boat ar­rived. Still, we swam to our heart’s con­tent while oth­ers climbed the look­out struc­tures for a bird’s eye view of the sur­round­ing islets.

As I sat there at the beach and looked around the mag­nif­i­cent raw beauty of na­ture, the more I am con­vinced that we need to pro­tect our en­vi­ron­ment in what­ever way we can – big or small. I am glad that the lo­cal govern­ment agen­cies and the com­mu­ni­ties are do­ing their part to safe­guard the nat­u­ral gems within their ter­ri­to­ries. Af­ter that in­fa­mous oil spill in 2006, the lo­cals are more vig­i­lant that their nat­u­ral re­sources will be pro­tected from dam­age caused by man.

The sun was high and it was time to go back to the re­sort. We passed through the many islets, some of which have in­ter­est­ing shapes, carved and molded by na­ture. There were tiny caves and cav­i­ties, proof that the waves and the wind can cut through the rocks. We also spot­ted a num­ber of iso­lated beaches and felt re­lieved that they have re­mained un­touched. Guimaras has charmed us and its ma­rine re­serve has brought us straight into par­adise. *** All pho­tos are by this au­thor. Claire Marie Al­garme blogs at http://first­time­trav­els.com. Fol­low her as @first­time­travel on Twit­ter and In­sta­gram and like her Face­book page First-time Trav­els.

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