No cellphone signal, no internet connection and not even a TV set; for some it might be a disaster but for me, Onuk Island is a paradise!
Our main target was to check out Onuk Island which apparently is privately owned by the mayor and his family. With the permission to stay on the island for a night or maybe two (no fees or whatsoever was collected from us, including the meals), we headed to Onuk Island the next day.
|Kuya Benjie rocks!|
The gloomy weather (with some occasional showers) didn’t stop us to hop on our outrigger boat with our very friendly boatman, Kuya Benjie. After 40 minutes we reached the island. We were gasping for air as we were getting near the island. The clear turquoise, cobalt (and all the shades of blue) waters and sky were all in perfect harmony. Everything was flawless and no words can truly describe its beauty.
We ran off the shore and jumped for joy as we docked on the island. The caretakers of the island just watched as we collapsed helplessly into the blindingly ivory-white sand. It took an hour before it all sank in. The sun was nowhere to be found but it was all perfect.
The brouhaha ended when Kuya Benjie invited us for lunch. All of our meals were served on the common area (on stilts) overlooking the sea. Fresh fish cooked in different ways was our standard meal. What stood out was the grilled fish. It was yummy!
We noticed how some of the structures were on stilts. Apparently, when the tide gets high the sandbar vanishes leaving the structures ‘floating’. We did nothing but chill and forget about everything on the outside world. We had the island at that moment and I couldn’t ask for more.
A few more hours and the sun started to set on the mountain ranges of Balabac. It was a serene moment.
|Uy Julius may Egret! |
Egret ba 'yan?
Stars dotted the sky as it turned grey to dark. More stories were shared as we lay on ourbanig mat and gazed upon the stars. I wanted to just settle there and doze off but Kuya Benjie rejected the idea for I will be floating any moment when the tides get high.
|Handheld, effortless Milky Way!|
Waking up in the morning was just as amazing as the island itself. The cloudy skies brought a very intense sunrise. And then rainfall.
|Show us the sun c'mon!|
It was raining all throughout that morning. We didn’t see it as a bummer but a chance to just relax and enjoy the moment. If this isn’t Onuk Island, I would be grumpy all day and forever sing the Rain, rain, go away song but I didn’t. I didn’t fret because even at its gloomy state, Onuk Island still stands out. This is, by far, the best island for me in the country.
The rain exhausted all its energy and decided to take a breather around noontime. This allowed us to roam around the whole island and check out what’s beyond the sandbar we’re stationed at.
Baby pawikans are such a common sight here. Being the breeding ground for the old-timer pawikans, the caretakers look out for some newly-hatched pawikans for a few weeks and eventually release them when their shells are hard enough. This is to prevent some predators to feast on them when they’re really young.
|Come here babies...|
We circled around the island and checked out its raw and rugged state. Old structures, boats and dead trees covered the island. This certain roughness exudes the beauty of the island in its purest form. I never wished that any part of the island will be cleared out of the debris. It’s nice the way it is.
We didn’t fail to check out the underwater scene. Armed with our gear, we didn’t go that far to snorkel. Corals in its healthiest state and some schools of fish swarming all over are such a sight to see. Nemo was also there.
Just before we head back to
Balabac, Kuya Benjie asked us to hop on the boat for we’re going somewhere. I
generally hate surprises but this time I was quite thrilled about this certain
surprise. After a few minutes on the paddle boat, we docked at a sandbar quite
near the island. It is the sandbar that we’ve been eyeing forever. Kuya Benjie
was so sweet that he took note of our conversation the day before and thought
of bringing us here. He’s the sweetest I’m telling you.
Jumping off the boat, we, again, ran off the shore and checked out the sandbar. It still is a part of Onuk Island and it’s much longer and wider than I thought it’d be. We stayed there for a while and just viewed Onuk Island from that standpoint. If I could just have one, just one, material possession in this world I really wanna have something like this. Ok, dream on. Haha.
|Sandbar is love!|
The surprise didn’t just end there. Kuya Benjie was yet prepping up for another surprise. He was slowly and quietly paddling into the waters when he suddenly whispered something and pointed somewhere. And then we saw a huge pawikan swimming around our boat. And then another one. And then a bunch of them. We didn’t quite know where to look at anymore for they were really surrounding us at that moment.
|Just swimming around|
And then the giant clams and the corals. As we were cruising back to our basecamp, we saw numerous giant clams and corals. No need for some goggles and underwater cameras for the water was so clear that we just snapped some photos from the boat.
|No need for underwater cameras|
Onuk Island is really a gorgeous place. Everything you wanted is here. Clear, blue waters, white sandy beach, a sandbar, the pawikans, the giant clams and the corals and the nicest caretakers. Ahh… The place where you just wanna surrender. Then it was time to leave.
Seriously, we didn’t wanna leave the island. We were contemplating on whether to check out some islands nearby or just stay on the island for the next days. We were sad when we decided to leave the island to explore more of Balabac islands. We’re pretty sure that we’ll be coming back here soon. And yes, we are so coming back to my favorite island.
|And I will be back... Soon...|
Thank you so much Hon. Mayor Shuaib Astami and Ma’am Lorna Gapilango for all the help. Special shout out to the Onuk Boys especially to Kuya Benjie. Ikaw na talaga!
*Contact updated February 2017*
Balabac, Palawan, Philippines
Point Person - Ronald Astami
Contact Number: (+63) 935.155.6264