Foreigners from different countries visit the Philippines to witness the beauty of our country.
I happen to meet some of them (mostly from Europe) and they immediately ask me for what places to visit. Tourists always like the famous touristic places but I always give them another option if they want a memorable experience from my country.
Instead of them going to El Nido, I tell them to stay in Port Barton instead.
If they want Boracay, I give them an alternative itinerary that is outside the norm of the regular tourist.
Up north, I advised them to take Batad rather than Banaue.
Having traveled to most of these places, I make it a point that these tourists will enjoy what I encountered during my past trips.
Then came another tourist from Belgium. He visited me in Manila for a few days and said that he will go to Pampanga to see the local tribes. Then go up to the mountains of Batad after.
I was impressed that this guy did his research. He is one of the few tourists that didn’t really need my advice. After a few weeks, Damien (whom I call the Baloon guy since he loves to makes air toy balloons for the kids) went back to my place.
I asked him then “What’s next”? and he said that he is going to Pamilacan.
Pamilacan? Where the hell is that?
This was the first time that I was ashamed of myself. Being a Filipino but being humbled and overpowered by a foreigner who lives 10,000 kilometers away.
Damien showed me the island of Pamilacan through Google Maps and that is when the foreigner started educating the local.
Situated 12 kilometers south of Bohol is the island of Pamilican that has the moniker of the “Resting Place of the Mantas”.
Its rich waters supporting marine megafauna including whales and dolphins, manta rays and sharks. In 1993 Sulliman University recorded 30 whale sharks landing in Pamilacan in just 44 days.
If you visited the island in the mid-1990s, lanes would be full of shark and manta meat drying in the sun.
Finally, in 1998, whale shark and manta hunting were officially banned.
Up to this day, you will see bleached whale bones decorating some houses in Pamilican.
What I like about this island is that it is not well known by both foreign and local tourists. Therefore making you one of the few tourists on the island. There are no banks or ATMs and no cars as well making it the right location for your vacation.
With only a population of 1,400 locals, the place is probably what you can call your “Next Sanctuary”.
About 240 families whose main livelihoods now concentrate on dolphin and whale watching tours. Fishermen still fully rely primarily on fishing but every now and then they get to show tourists like Damien other sea creatures like the black-white banded sea snakes, sea turtles, moray eels, nudibranchs, and bucket sponges.
My friend from Belgium went to that island 2 years ago.
And just recently, he went back to the Philippines again. This time he spent both his Christmas and New Year in the quiet and serene Pamilacan island.
According to this guy who is an expert in making air balloons and also happens to be a firefighter back in his country, that the thing he like the most in the island of Pamilacan is not the whale shark nor the white sand beaches.
It’s the people from the island is what Damien treasured the most. According to the foreigner, the locals there has no stress. There, people live simply day by day and are happy.
Sure, he went and toured other provinces in the Philippines but it became obvious that Pamilacan island has become his 2nd home.
Pamilacan is just one of the Philippines hidden gems. There are other islands and places that we, the locals, should visit.
We must also protect and preserve these beauties and wonders or else there won’t be any places that tourist can go to.
Without Damien, I could have not properly known the island of Pamilacan.
And now that I am fully aware of it and heard wonderful stories from a guy who’ve been there twice… I am now adding that island as one of my next target trips in the future.
And based on the pictures that Damien showed me, I’m definitely sure that I will have a “Grand Time” from the island of the beautiful creatures…… both sea and land!