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SUMMER IS NOW ALMOST at its halfway point yet people still troop to the beach to enjoy the full splendor of the tropics, bask along corridors of white beaches and to submerge in the coolness of the archipelago’s emerald waters.
Here in Cebu, the province has a lot of these sandy white beaches along its shorelines and there are more of it found among some of its outlying islands like Bantayan, Mactan, Malapascua, Badian and Sumilon and these have gained recognition by themselves and could almost be compared with famous Boracay Island.
While these islands have reached the most coveted status of being chosen as premier tourist destinations, there are, however, some smaller ones that could also stand on its own by possessing unique natural land features, beautiful landscapes, bountiful resources and very hospitable inhabitants.
One of these is Guintarcan Island. Known by the locals as Kinatarkan, this island belongs to the Municipality of Santa Fe and sits at the southern part of the Visayan Sea nearest to Bantayan. It is about nine kilometers long and about two kilometers at its widest breadth. It is accessible from Sta. Fe and from the mainland through Daanbantayan.
It has three main villages: Bito-on, Hagdan and Langub. All three are connected with each other by a circumferential road. The highest point, which is 62 meters above sea level, is located at Hagdan which is also the location of the island’s only power plant and supplies all the electricity needs of the islanders from 6:00 in the evening to 12:00 midnight. The oldest settlement is found at Bito-on where the only cemetery and public school on the island are found. Langub is known for its limestone caves and for a solar-powered lighthouse situated on a hill. There are no surface fresh-water sources except rainwater or water ferried from the mainland. Main livelihood of people here are fishing, farming and seaweed culture.
The island is composed of rocky cliffs facing the north and by long strips of white sand on its eastern and western side. Aside those, there are remote small beaches nestled among the rocks and the most unique of which is the ones located at La-aw Cove where a small inlet is partially blocked by a rock from the sea and the beach is covered overhead by a rock canopy. From the sea, a tunnel-like passage lead you to two hidden lagoons located inland. The lagoon area is thickly forested and is quite removed from the nearest community.
The south, meanwhile, hosts Cantingting Cave where it is home to more than a thousand bats and is presently developed by the village of Langub to foster tourism on the island. A smaller one, Cantita Cave, sits on private land but is accessible, nevertheless. A sunken Japanese freighter off Langub is waiting to be re-discovered by diving enthusiasts. Recently, a small production outfit shot a survival reality video made for cable TV where one of the “island castaway” is a true-blue Cebuano.
Guintarcan is undeveloped and there are no commercial resorts. However, there are a few family-run cottages at Pasil and Dapdap that you may wish to rent during your stay or you may bring your own tent. Bring abundant water with you for washing and drinking. If you want to get the maximum view of the island, bring a bicycle and tour around it through its circuit road. Seashells, fish and other marine life are plentiful and quite cheap if you compare it to the other neighboring islands of Bantayan and Malapascua.
How to get to Guintarcan Island? From the North Bus Terminal you ride a bus bound for Daanbantayan, 136 kilometers away, and pay P174.00. Bus fares are adjustable depending on global fuel prices. When you reach the town terminal, you may opt to ride either a tricycle (P10) or a trisikad (P5) and tell the driver to bring you to the municipal abattoir where there is a wharf. There are small motor boats with outriggers for hire from P1,500 (15 pax) to P2,500 (25 pax) or if you want to join the hoi polloi, it is P40 per ride.
The island is a virtual goldmine for adventure seekers. You could move freely there as long as you notify first the village councils of either Langub, Hagdan or Bito-on. For a fresh start, you may contact Mr. Taddy Rosos at 09321793057 as your source of information and will guide you on everything concerning appointments, billeting, food, water and transportation for a small fee.
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About the Writer:
PinoyApache is a regular visitor of Guintarcan Island and recently starred in a survival video shot there. He teaches survival and primitive-living skills to mountaineers and other interested people under Snakehawk Wilderness Skills School. He is owner of a blog called Warrior Pilgrimage and is an article contributor for iSTORYA.NET and Pinoy Mountaineer.