A Nerd’s View of Sibuyan Island
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Ah yes, Sibuyan – the crescent-shaped and second largest isle belonging to the Romblon group of islands. It’s just teeming with culture and natural wonders, be it flora and fauna.
Allow me to list my 6 compelling and in-depth reasons why you have to add Sibuyan in your bucket list:
1. ‘The Galapagos of Asia’:
Just like the Galapagos islands in Ecuador, Sibuyan island has been detached from the rest of the world since birth and it has never been connected to any part of the Philippine archipelago based on its geographical history. Thus, it has the most exotic sceneries and unclassified species.
2. Mount Guiting-Guiting:
A landmark of Sibuyan, you can see this mountain from almost all sides of the island, towering at 2058 MASL (6,752 ft). This ominous mountain or G2 for most mountaineers is said to be one of the most difficult major climbs in the Philippines due to its steep cliffs and jagged peaks. In Sibuyanon dialect, ‘Guiting’ means saw which aptly describes its saw tooth silhouette. Its original forest remains unmarred like the rest of the island at 140 square kilometers which comprised 33% of the total land area.
Trivia: Mt. Guiting-Guiting has also claimed a few B52 bombers from World War II, some of which is yet to be found. Details from the book Bound for Distant Seas by James Baldwin. Click on the link for the excerpt.
3. The Philippine Iron Wood:
Out of 1,551 trees on a single hectare, 54 can be found endemically in Sibuyan. The Philippine Iron Wood is among those. Called ‘Tiga’ in the Sibuyanon dialect, it’s called as such due to its toughness and density to withstand decay. How tough you say? A 70 cm thick tree normally takes 3 hours using a normal axe to cut down. For a Tiga of the same diameter, it usually takes two to four days using diamond-point saws.
Trivia: That trunk behind the sign is from a Tiga tree. It was unearthed from a dried up river bed. They brought it to The Sanctuary Garden Resort and the owner used it as pillars for their dining hall.
4. The Nepenthes Sibuyanensis:
From 700 vascular plants species exclusive to the island, it includes a carnivorous pitcher plant known by its scientific name. Yes, that’s how things are in Sibuyan, even the scientific name is so cool.
Pretty isn’t it?
5. The Sibuyan waterways are the cleanest:
Be it water crossings, road side streams and rivers, you can always see the bottom – unless it’s too deep of course! From the Cantingas River which is the cleanest river in the Philippines down to the Dagubdob waterfalls, it is pristine and immaculate.
6. Palladium Frenzy:
Palladium is a precious and rare metal used in jewelries, electronics, aircraft and automotive parts. In short, it’s very expensive and highly sought after.
It is abundant here in Sibuyan. As per NASA and the USGS (United States Geological Survey) 3-year study report 8,450 square kilometer of Palladium deposits lying below the seas of Visayan, Sibuyan and Tablas Strait.
Given these, the people of Sibuyan are aware and educated of the impact if mining this mineral will be allowed in their island. They have opposed it and are utilizing tourism as an alternative means of living. This is one trip you will definitely feel a sense of social responsibility with.
With all these, I fervently wish UNESCO would recognize and grant Sibuyan as a protected landscape and heritage site. That way, this island frozen in time will be preserved for generations to come. Watch out for the next article about Sibuyan and how to make your visit there a reality.