I love this tiny green island surrounded by the sea! That’s all I can say about Guimaras Island in Western Visayas, Philippines. It’s only a stone’s throw away from where I live, an hour away in fact, and another 20 minutes by boat. So my little family visited again after Christmas, and stayed at our friend’s Vegetarian Bed and Breakfast place called ‘Balay Bato’. We had collective meditation after a glorious kiirtan. Then we binged on their lovely indigenous vegan dishes and watched Play for Change videos. The kids played their Magic Cards and goofed around with the cat and dog who we befriended on our last visit.
I first visited Guimaras in 2011, when I did eight climate presentations in three days in Iloilo including one in the island. The municipal employees of Nueva Valencia attended that Guimaras talk, and the venue was the JB Lacson Ecology Center, a wonder in itself. (See the DENR coffee table book that featured that climate presentation series here. Just scroll down the page and click on the book cover to get a free download.)
The next day, we went to the Wind Farm to catch a glimpse of the green technology there that is sparking local tourism. It was an awesome sight composed of 27 wind turbines producing 54 megawatts of green renewable energy. The first time I ever got close to a wind turbine was in Melbourne in 2011. The community owned project only had two turbines and they were going through so much challenges to get permits to install more. In only a few years renewable energy is gaining momentum worldwide. Guimaras is lucky to have 96% of their energy being produced by the turbines since December last year.
Riding only a tricycle, we then went round the island to Alubihud for island hopping. There were some jaw-dropping sights. Kim and Toni made sand pyramids went swimming in Natago Beach. We had the entire beach to ourselves which was such a bonus as we didn’t expect a beautiful white beach to be without visitors on a holiday season. But maybe that is for the best. I certainly don’t want such a pristine place to be spoiled by conventional tourism.
Although we only stayed a while, we enjoyed every minute of it. We took photos and explored the hills. I can really say that the Philippines is so blessed with the beauty of nature.
There is still so much to discover and rediscover in Guimaras. There is (arguably) the sweetest mango in the world, the Trappist Monastery where a beautiful chapel sits, other islets and beaches, and the great sweet smiling people who keep us coming back.
Will let you know on our next visit.