Apo Island, on the other hand.

May 23, 2011 by

While Mount Apo is the largest and the highest volcanic elevation in the Philippines, Apo Island is a tiny island located in Negros Oriental. Apo Island’s might is not in what it can spew upwards but what it hides underneath. It is a Mecca for divers who wish to explore the unfounded. While Apo Island cannot compete with the Great Barrier Reef and the majestic depths of the Caribbean, it certainly spares you from possible shark attacks.

The boat we took going to the island was small. The kind that would make you suspect about coast guard policies in Philippine seafaring. But if they had been doing this for years and the summer sun assures us of a tamed ocean, then we held our peace. The entry point to Apo Island is through Malatapay Terminal at Zambuanguita, Negros Oriental (30 minutes away from Dumaguete City). We took the Ceres Bus going to the terminal from the city and we paid 25 pesos each. The boat rental to Apo Island is for 2,000 pesos. That’s a small boat that can carry only 4. We asked the boat guys to consider us 5 in a small boat and they agreed. The bigger boat that can carry 8-10 is worth 3,000 pesos.

The terminal going to Apo Island

The really small boat.

Going to the Apo Island from the terminal lasts for 1 hour. Ours was quite uneventful because we were playing with our imagination as to what lies ahead of us in Apo Island. Moniq on the other hand, who suffers sea and motion sickness, was busy concentrating on how not to barf in a small boat.

What greets you upon docking in the island.

For adventurous souls like us, Apo Island awed us with its gigantic rock formations, crystalline sands, glass-clear water (but very high in salinity) and the lush universe of the deep: their Marine Sanctuary. We swam with huge sea turtles, we snorkelled and played with Nemo, and Dory and Sebastienne, and some unnamed sea snakes, all of them moving around in their universe of the deep so freely I felt like I was inside the tube hosting National Geographic. The sensation of being in the water afloat on top of these beautiful creatures was cinematic. Colors were not photoshopped, the sound of my own breathing through the snorkel felt like the movie Abyss, the bubbles coming out from below all add to the total effect of the deep sea immersion. From time to time, we would pop out of the water to say ‘OH MY GOD’ or ‘DID YOU SEE THAT?’ and we sometimes mumbled nonsense in an attempt to exclaim surprise but forgetting we were biting our mouth piece.

Life jackets come in handy to keep you afloat. Since we did not have an underwater cam, I can only show you the view from the top (with me in it). Below the water is one helluva view. Amazing. This is the Marine Sanctuary shoreline.

At the Apo Island Resort.

My groupies: Ew Magbanua, Cristabel Parcon, Gabby Chance and Moniq Muyargas

I admire the locales of Apo Island for maintaining the discipline among themselves in not exploiting the natural reserves of the reef. They have very practical policies that are designed to protect the sanctuary and if they get more funds in the future to sustain their tourism, they can use additional means to highlight their natural treasures.

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