My Panay islands trip is actually just a side trip to alma maters’s grand alumni homecoming celebrations. Thus, a trip to Taklong Islands in Nueva Valencia Guimaras, my alma matter’s marine reserve and home of UPV Bio Sci, is a fitting cap to this Panay travel.
[note note_color=”#fefec5″]Taklong Island is the main island of the Taklong Island National Marine Reserve located in Nueva Valencia, Guimaras and off southern end of the island of Guimaras, in the West Visayas of the Philippines.[/note]
Bad weather still hounded my solo trip to Guimaras. Boats going to the islands are stranded on the port because of heavy rains and strong waves.
I waited for a while until the coast guard allowed the boats to sail, despite the heavy rain. I took a jeep ride to Nueva Valencia from Guimaras port. At Nueva Valencia, I hired a motorcycle to bring me to the southern tip of the island where we usually ride a small banca towards Taklong Islands, passing the UP Channel.
[spoiler title=”UP Channel”](UP channel is a memorable pass for me, as my banca onced capsized in the middle of this channel. I was enroute to Taklong at that time, doing my undergraduate thesis research on soft corals. There were 3 of us in a small out triggered banca. I was bringing our provisions and research materials that added more weight. The boat capsized eventually as we panicked when the boat danced with the waves. Swimming towards the shore is out of the question, the waves are strong and the shore isn’t visible when your neck deep into the waters. I also dived one by one the thesis stuff that went to the bottom. Microscope, sampling bottles and our canned goods. Luckily for us, there was a fisherman who saw our disaster and he fished us out of the water before our boat slammed into the rocky side of the channel. )[/spoiler]
I was nostalgic while our boat was passing this channel. I think I will not get over my scary experience here somehow. The boatman skillfully maneuvered the boat to anchor in this area, where we usually dock during our days in Taklong.
The area where our boat anchored the night I arrived at Taklong Islands. See the mangroves everywhere? This landing site isn’t here yet back in our days 🙂 Alternative landing site on the island. wasn’t there during our time though.
I logged in, met the caretaker Manang Jona (daughter of Manong Itik the old caretaker I knew) and duty guard there, helped prepare our food and then ate a sumptuous dinner while chitchatting old memories with my island companion. I insisted sleeping on the floor in the sala so I can savor the night sea breeze. I forgot, the station has its own electricity line now! I was at the mangrove areas before sunrise, but no sun showed. So I rushed back to the beachfront and got some more photos there. Station beachfrontwith that iconic curved coralline rock formation shaped like a tree.
The beachfront in different angles:
After that, I said goodbye to manang Jona and the duty guard. The boat fetching me is already waiting for me. Almost teary eyed leaving this place. It’s been ten years since I last visited this place. I’m not sure when again will I be able to come again. 🙁 Taklong Islands on Google maps: See all my Taklong Islands photos on Flickr
(Big thanks to Mam France Nievales my mentor and thesis adviser before, for permitting me to go to this place again. Big thanks also to Dr. Philip Ian Padilla, also a mentor and a fellow UPCM alumni, for facilitating my request. I wasn’t able to meet Dr. Rex Sadaba and Dr. Nestor Yunque, two of the other awesome mentors I had before at UPV. Together with the whole UPV Bio Scie Department, they were responsible for pushing Taklong Island to its present status as a national marine reserve)