My mystery island identified

Mystery island captured in 2007 from plane © Jojie Alcantara

Mystery island captured in 2007 from plane © Jojie Alcantara

“I have my books
And my poetry to protect me;
I am shielded in my armor,
Hiding in my room, safe within my womb.
I touch no one and no one touches me.
I am a rock,
I am an island.”
― Simon and Garfunkel, Greatest Hits

In 2007, on an assignment to shoot Boracay, my country’s top beach destination, I boarded the small Seair plane and we were cruising down a low altitude. Weather was gorgeous. At that time my camera was a Canon 400D.

Suddenly, I spotted this beautiful island, lying in the middle of the blue ocean, far apart from the rest of islets sprinkled around. A tuft of clouds nestled just above it, but not fully covering it.  It looked like a chubby starfish or a blob from above, with white sand fringes.  Capturing it, I posted it on my Pbase gallery with a title “unknown island”.  I’ve gotten several inquiries as to what the island was, but I hadn’t the slightest idea.

Fast forward to today.  I have been informed that the mystery island is Sibale Island (or exotically Maestro de Campo, the name given during the Spanish times), a remote enchanted paradise which can only be reached via boat, with only one municipality nestled within its circular shaped land filled with slopes, coconut trees and steep shores.  Thank you, Miss Amor, for the information.  She wanted to borrow my photo for the island’s Facebook (they finally have one!).  Through her I’ve found out I wasn’t the only one who took photos from the air and was drawn mysteriously to it as well.  :-)

Google map of Sibale Island

Google map of Sibale Island

But to get to this remote island is not as easy as it looks. Information tells me I have to ride from Manila to Batangas, get to Batangas pier to Calapan pier via RORO (ship), ride to Calapan to Pinamalayan by van, and finally from Pinamalayan to the island via motor boat. That sounds like 48 years to me, since I am from Davao down South.  Okay, I exaggerate, but that’s a long, tough journey.

To reach the island, I have read this information here and here. It seems that the island is teeming with beautiful dive sites, so a dive resort called Maestro de Campo Dive Resort is on hand to provide accommodation and tours.

Oh well, I hope in a way, I am contributing a little to their tourism industry through this small piece of promotion.

If I had the chance, though, I would visit it and tour the island extensively.  Same as I plan to with Siquijor, Batanes and Tawi-tawi.

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