Bantayan Island | Cebu

After landing at Mactan Airport, I went straight to Bantayan Island. From the airport I flagged a cab going to North Bus Terminal where I caught a bus going to Hagnaya Port. Finally, I took a ferry boat to Bantayan Island.

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The trip from North Bus Terminal took 3 hours. It sped through the scenic countryside of Cebu passing by sleepy coastal towns.  

The ferry ride from Hagnaya port was calm and uneventful. Watching the open seas, I saw small fishing boats along the way. I sat at the back of the boat where I stretched my feet and rested while anticipating my arrival on the island. I managed to steal some sleep in between waking up from the sound of the water splashing from the back of the ferry boat.

After a total travel time of 6 hours from Manila to Mactan, to North Bus Terminal to Hagnaya Port and culminating in Bantayan Island, I arrived at about 12:25 PM at the port of Bantayan.

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Finding a place to stay is relatively easy. I asked someone where I could get a cheap room for about 500 pesos a night and I was directed to a resort called "Beach Placid" in the town of Sta Fe. I opted for a fan room knowing I'll do more exploration than sleeping.

Despite being tired from the long trip, I put my backpack on the bed, changed my shirt and picked up my camera and I went out to explore the beach. The resort has a long stretch of white sand along the coast with half a dozen and more expensive duplex type rooms situated on the beachfront. It was low tide at that time in the afternoon so the seaweeds are clearly visible from the shore where I was standing. Nevertheless, I really didn't mind as I was in no mood to swim yet, instead, I kept on walking until I ended up on rows of nearby resorts like St. Bernard and the nearby fishing villages.

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After doing much walking I rented a motorcycle to take me around the island. I rode at the back of the driver, Mang Antonio, who was friendly enough to also serve as my tour guide. He explained with rich details the history and informative facts about the places we went to. For 300 pesos plus 100 pesos worth of diesel you can have the motorcycle take you around the island for the whole day. In my case, I spent the remaining afternoon riding with Mang Antonio at a high speed. We rolled along smooth paved roads as the strong wind try to erase my face. Blurred images of sleepy towns, golden rays of sun, poultry houses, corn fields, rice paddies, rolling hills and smiling people became the slideshow view from the motorcycle.

We stopped by the Saints Peter and Paul Church - the oldest parish church in Visayas and Mindanao — which was founded on June 11, 1580 and was built with corals and stones. It is one of the must see places at Bantayan Island and is located near the town plaza, market and town hall.

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Mang Antonio also took me to the town of Madridejos, one of the three municipalities in Bantayan Island where one can also visit the "fort ruins of Madridejos". Actually, Cebu is known for having many "forts" built around the province as it was used to be one of the hot spots of Muslim uprisings in the early 1700 and 1800's. These forts served as the main point of defense not only by the Spanish, but also by the Christian residents and traders from the Muslim invaders who oppose the Christianization of the Philippines that time. A detailed explanation can be read here: (click this link)

We also passed by Ogtong cave, the Bontay baywalk and other beachfronts in the area before heading back to Beach Placid where I took a fulfilling dinner buffet (for only 250 Pesos) at a nearby restaurant.

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Most of the time when I travel to one of the islands in the Philippines, I just sit back and relax at the resort not knowing that the best experience can be attained through exploring a big part of the island. Now I learned that its best to do it either by riding a motorcycle or "habal-habal" (which I also did with my then-girlfriend at Samal Island in Davao and with my friend Jacobsladder at his hometown of Marinduque), or by foot. And also, by hitching a ride on the back of a truck. It doesn't matter as long as you move your feet and try to see as much as your time would allow.

Island experience in the Philippines is most rewarding when you keep in mind that staying in one place is not paramount to making your trip truly worthwhile.