Having settled our bill the previous night, the only thing left to do was to have breakfast, pack our stuff, and thank the resort staff for their excellent service. Just before leaving, we were treated to a final send-off refreshment of fresh buko juice prepared by Joel and his father. Joel would be joining us on the ferry ride going back to Estancia so we would not be giving him our thanks until much later.
This trip met (and in some cases, exceeded) all our expectations. The beaches are as pristine as they’ve been described by others who have gone before us. The food is truly great and surprisingly cheap. And the islands themselves are very picturesque – just as advertised.
Even though there was a lot more to discover and that we only really stayed one whole day in the Gigantes, we didn’t feel as if we were leaving too soon. We honestly couldn’t wait to get back online and brag about this trip to our friends.
SOME AREAS FOR IMPROVEMENT
As great a place the Gigantes Islands is however, there are aspects of it that are in dire need of improvement if they want to increase tourism in the islands.
Foremost of these is the vandalism done on the rock formations in Tangke, the cave walls in Pawikan Cave and various other spots in the islands. It’s ugly. There’s no other way to describe it. There should be a 2-fold strategy of (1) cleaning up all these sites of the unsightly writings; and (2) educating the locals and visitors of the value of preserving the natural beauty of the islands.
Perhaps nothing can be done anymore about the cultural artifacts that have been plundered in the past years, but an effort must be made to preserve any that remain and those that are still to be discovered. Perhaps a set of procedures to be followed must be established that specifically delinieates areas of responsibility and jurisdiction on matters pertaining to the discovery and maintenance of cultural artifacts found in the Gigantes Islands. I’m not averse to the idea of these being transported to the provincial capital if it has adequate facilities that would both exhibit and best preserve them.
Next, the local government within the Gigantes Islands should come up with a uniform and clear-cut fare matrix for motorcycles taking passengers from one point to another within Gigantes Norte and Gigantes Sur. Right now, the system is so informal that it’s liable to be abused by the more thick-faced motorcyclists, while those who are less-inclined to overcharge but hope to be given more are prone to utter the very annoying, “kayo na po ang bahala.”
There’s also the matter of ferry schedules going to and from Gigantes. Right now, the 2:00 pm ETD from Estancia is more of a guideline and, in practice, is adjusted from time to time for the flimsiest of reasons. During our own trip, the departure was delayed for 1 hour because the boat owner abruptly left the boat near the ETD and ordered the pilot not to leave until she returns. (The reason for her disappearance was that she suddenly thought about going to the market to buy something, and she certainly took her sweet time going about it.) This kind of practice is very counter-productive and not tourism-friendly at all.
Since Estancia is a different municipality, this might be a matter that can be best addressed by municipal officials there, or even by the Iloilo provincial government. It’s simply unacceptable to subject the riding public to the whims and caprices of the operators of public utilities.
On a relatively minor note, I also think something should be done about the discarded scallop shells that abound in areas of the islands settled with people. There are entire mounds of these shells that are bigger than houses and they serve no apparent purpose other than to take up space. In some areas, they are so many that they’ve become the “sand” of the beach. Perhaps they can be cleaned and converted to handicrafts, or crushed and be part of building materials. They’re beginning to look like an eyesore. If they only can be turned into something profitable, it just might help uplift the lives of the islanders because there’s so many of them.
At this point, I’d like to acknowledge two fellow travel bloggers whose help made my Gigantes trip materialize: (1) Gwen Librodo, who first gave me the idea for this Gigantes trip and who helped clarify some details; and (2) Paula Peralejo, who pointed me to the right direction and whose own travel blog to the Gigantes was one I found very informative.
I’d also like to thank my two travel companions for this trip – Gracey Isles and Richie Bulda – for putting their trust in a first-time travel organizer like myself and for being proactive. Richie, in particular, devised a petty cash system that proved to be very convenient for the three of us while we were traveling all around Iloilo. I’m also thankful that they’re much better photographers than I am. (Because the quality of my own photos just pale in comparison to theirs and they’ve both graciously let me use theirs on this series of blogs.)
Finally, my heartfelt thanks also go to Joel Decano and his staff at the Gigantes Hideaway Inn for making our stay in the Gigantes Islands a truly memorable one. These good people arranged everything for us – lodgings, food, tours, transportation, etc. All we had to do was sit back and admire the view (in a manner of speaking.) Special mention goes to Ate Anggay – for destroying any semblance of dieting that we have with her excellent cooking – and Kuya Jingle – for taking us from island-to-island in a manner much more friendlier than most boatmen I’ve come across. This is why I highly recommend that you stay with them when you plan your own Gigantes trip.
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This entry is part of the Iloilo & Guimaras series dated March 23-27, 2012:
1. Looking for Travel Buddies
2. Preview: Tangke Saltwater Lagoon
3. Las Islas de Gigantes (prologue)
4. Las Islas de Gigantes (morning)
5. Las Islas de Gigantes (afternoon)
6. Why are they called the “Gigantes Islands” anyway?
7. Gigantes Islands Sample Itinerary & Budget Estimate
8. Gigantes Islands Travel Guide
9. Las Islas de Gigantes (epilogue)
10. Back to the mainland, back to the city
11. Day Trip to Guimaras (morning)
12. Day Trip to Guimaras (afternoon)