Sanctuary Garden Resort, Sibuyan, Philippines
It was my Birthday. I woke very early to make the most of my special day. I had to catch the 08.00 ferry from Romblon, Romblon Island for the short trip over to Ambulong Port, Magdiwang, Sibuyan Island. I had a couple of hours before the ferry arrived so i had one last wander around Romblon town and watched this sleepy town wake up.
I found a small cafe already open and passed the time ” people watching ” while having a coffee and some breakfast. Soon i saw the Montenegro Ferry sail into port and i wandered over to the gate ready to board. I stood on the deck looking out over the railings as we slowly edged toward the open sea, passing small fishing boats, some islets and along the coast where i had been walking just the day before. Things always look different looking back from the sea to the land.
The ferry had an uneventful trip to Magdiwan in Sibuyan and after we docked i walked out along the jetty to the waiting hoards of tricycle drivers. One of them clocked me and quickly made his way over beating his comrades to try and win my fare. He introduced himself as Christian, and recommended I stay at Sanctuary Garden Resort which was a short drive away and since it was my Birthday i decided to go with the flow and kay sara sara !!!!!!
As it turned out I couldn’t have ended up in a better place. There was a pleasant atmosphere about the place which i felt straight away. I treated myself to one of their a/c rooms which overlooked the resort. All the rooms in Sanctuary Garden Resort are built from native materials, wood, bamboo and marble cut from the neighbouring island of Romblon, and is of very high standard and quality.
The gardens have been planted with many different varieties of Hibiscus, in fact several of their cottages are named Hibiscus, and many other rare plants and bushes attracting various species of birds. There are also several hiking trails that may be taken around the area.
Sanctuary Garden Resort Hiking Trails
Start with the trail at the back of the restaurant, where you’ll ascend some stairs, until you reach a grassy slope. Hike a little more passing through trees and if you’re lucky, you’ll be rewarded with a clear view of Mt. Guiting Guiting.
Guiting Guiting means jagged in Romblon dialect. The mountain is so called due to its jagged peak. It’s also considered one of the most difficult mountains to climb in the Philippines. The challenge is not because of the height, but because of the almost vertical hike. Some portions, they say, you had to walk along a narrow ridge, which is sometimes covered with clouds.
I went up here at sunset and again for sunrise in the morning and was lucky to view Mt. Guiting Guiting in the morning light, with the sunrise highlighting the toothed contours of its peak.
After settling into the room i went down to hire one of their bicycles to take a ride around the coastal road. I met Edgar Mayor the owner of Sanctuary Garden in the restaurant, who suggested a few places that i could ride to which were Lambingan Falls, Cataja Falls and a small fishing village along the way which i would recognise as all the houses were painted pink. Edgar even drew me a sketch map of the suggested route.
So off i cycled and returned hours later worn out and ready for my birthday meal. I showered in the immaculate marble lined bathroom and then sat out on the balcony for a while just resting and eating my birthday cake i had bought at a bakery in town. It was so quiet and peaceful sitting there listening to the sounds of nature.
I treated myself to a birthday meal of sizzling tuna and a halo halo for dessert. The food was freshly cooked to order and tasted very good. After dinner i went for a wander round the gardens, and just enjoyed the wonderful environment that Sanctuary Garden Resort offered.
Pawala River and Dam
By the entrance of the resort is trail leading to the river and the Pawala River. I saw some local kids playing by the side of the river. They were using the long vines of one of the trees as a rope swing and having so much fun in the clean, clear water.
Unfortunately Mt Guiting Guiting was covered with cloud so I hadn’t been able to view its saw-like summit. But the next morning waking up with first light i looked out the window and there it was. The cloud cover had disappeared and the summit was visible. I grabbed my camera and walked up the hill to try and get a better view from where to see the sunrise. The sunrise actually took a long time, longer than i thought as the sun had to rise above the summit of Guiting Guiting before it could be seen.
Sanctuary Garden Resort has rooms to suit most budgets and also has bicycles and a jeepney that may be hired for the day.
Sanctuary Garden Resort
Brgy. Tampayan, Magdiwang
Sibuyan Island, Philippines 5511
Mobile : (+63) 920-2174127, (+63) 939-9171635
Tel : (02) 4010647
SBP Recommended Tricycle Driver for Magdiwan
Christian ………………………….. phone number TBA soon
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