THE ISLAND TO WATCH
Dinagyang, Panagbenga, Kadayawan, Masskara. If
you're familiar with Filipino festivals, placing
these names should be a breeze. They're held in
Cebu, Iloilo, Baguio, Davao, Bacolod, respectively,
heard of Palawod? Probably not, but its
venue should ring a bell: Bantayan. For
years, regarded as one of Cebu's best-kept
secrets, the island is gradually finding
its place among the Pacific world-famous
destinations like Boracay.
Located just off
the northern coast of the main island of Cebu, Bantayan
has long lured adventurous sun and sea lovers to its
beaches, with their fine, white sand and clear, shallow
waters stretching as far as one kilometer, making them
ideal for swimming and snorkeling. There are also lagoons
and caves to explore.
The island's tropical
waters are rich in marine resources. The three towns
comprising it - Sta. Fe, Madridejos and Bantayan - are
fringed with reefs and shoals, and are important fishing
centers supplying the Cebu metropolis.
The island of Bantayan
is also the "egg basket of the Visayas," producing
a daily average of more than 100 tons of eggs, which
are distributed to the whole region.
But fishing is
the main industry, and it is this that inspired Palawod,
a festival celebrating the island's marine bounty. The
word palawod means to go farther out to sea, (magpalaot
in Tagalog), where fishermen go for the big haul. The
festival takes place in Bantayan, the largest of the
three towns and the center of trade, arts and culture.
The date coincides with the feast of the town's patron
saints, Peter and Paul, Christ's foremost fishers of
road network makes travel around the barangays
spread out over the one-square-mile island
more convenient. A one-kilometer airport
can also accommodate more flights to and
from Cebu City. The flight takes only about
20 minutes. By land, it takes two to three
hours to get to the port of Hagnaya on the
northern tip of the island, from where one
can take an hour-long ferry ride or 30 minute
fastcraft to Sta. Fe town, the island's
port of entry.
these improvements, cellphone ommunications
has fired up its cellsite in Bantayan town,
connecting the entire island to the rest
of the world. It has also activated its
cellsites in neighboring Daanbantayan Island,
boosting coverage for northern Cebu all
the way up to the northernmost island of
were built around the church and the convent
where the parish of Bantayan was founded
in 1580, the oldest Catholic parish in the
Visayas and Mindanao. The church was the
first to be built by the Spaniards outside
Cebu and is, therefore, one of the oldest
churches in the Philippines. It is the focal
point of Lenten rites, primarily the procession
of life-size religious images and icons,
many of which date back to the 1800s.
In an interesting
aside, Bantayan is probably the only place in the Catholic
world where people are not obliged to observe abstinence
on Good Friday. Two reasons are given to explain this.
One is the special permission granted by the Catholic
Church in recognition of the traditional practice of
fishermen to refrain from fishing on Good Friday in
order to participate in the day's rites. The only alternative
to fishermen's catch is meat.
The other reason is the extraordinarily high consumption
of fish and seafood, the town's specialties, during
the Holy Week as a result of a heavy influx of tourists.
All that's left for the hosts is meat.
Bantayan's town's precious treasures
is many life sixe carrozas,a procession
on HolyThursday and Good Friday which
depict the passion of Christ. It draws
crowd all over the nation. The occasion
is aso a yearly get-together of the
warm and closely-knit family of those
whose roots can be traced to this island
Fourth Generation of the Mabugat clan
who find their home now in different
parts of the world pose in front of
the family's "CARRO" the life
size image of Christ known to have orignated
fromBarcelona, Spain in the 18th century.
tourists, Europeans and Japanese come for
the beaches, "the closest you can get
to paradise," according to one regular
visitor. A Cebu travel magazine is more
specific: "There is much to discover
along the 17.5 kilometers of flat stretches
of white powdery sand and 22.3 kilometers
of rocky cliffs and promontories that open
up to a vista of tranquil blue waters and
distant mysterious islets."
is, indeed, the island to watch. (Source:
PACIFIC HEADLINE NEWS ONLINE)