Onok Island: Nature’s gift to man

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If you are the techie-savvy, GPS-toting traveler, you won’t find “Onok” on the map; instead, you’ll find “Roughton Island”.

That is because Roughton Island is the “official name” of Onok, the latter being a local nickname for this wonderful piece of real estate right in the middle of nowhere.

Fronting the main beach of Onok island is a massive reef, rife with a variety of soft and colorful corals that extend towards a sheer drop of about 80 feet, where large pelagic fish swim about — on occasion, you’ll be lucky to encounter a school of yellow fins! The surroundings of this small island is also home to “taklobos” or giant sea clams, and of course, sea turtles! Never have I seen sea turtles — oblivious to our presence — in such quantity!

If I were to go back to Balabac, this is where I would stay longer.

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P.S.

Thank you SB Toto for the hospitality and these mouth-watering dishes!

Notes:
  • The best time to visit Onok and the other islands in the municipality of Balabac is during the summer months of March, April and May, as the waters in and around the islands can be treacherous and rough.
  • Prior arrangements should be made before visiting some islands, particularly Punta Sibaring in Bugsuk Island and Onok Island.
  • Balabac is accessible via 4-hour motorized boat ride from Rio Tuba. There are commuter vans and buses plying the Puerto Prinsesa-Rio Tuba route, which is a 5-hour travel time.
  • A PhP5,000 fee is now collected from each visitor to Onok. This covers the entrance fee, boat transfers from and to  Balabac proper, and meals while on the island. NOTE: There are many boat operators offering Onok trips; however, only a select few are allowed to bring in guests. You may contact SB Toto Astami, Onok administrator, for access to the island and/or to verify if the boatman you hired has permission to enter Onok.
  • IMPORTANT: Waterproof your bags.
  • For a hassle-free Balabac experience, contact +63998 944 7242.
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Ciao 2015! It has been a wonderful ride.

When asked, most people would say that the principal value of traveling is that it breaks the monotony of life and work.

Y’see, life, for many of us, is a mad rush. A dash from home to the office–from one place to the next. A sprint from one client meeting to a waiting company presentation–from one money-making deal to the next career-breaking move. Day-in, day-out we try to accomplish as many stuff as possible. Thus, traveling becomes a form of escape for the likes of us–a time to relax, reflect and ponder. Traveling gives us the opportunity to disconnect from our regular life and, for a fleeting moment, not think of any problems or issues for a few days (or weeks). Being away on a weekend can also afford us the much-needed time to help us figure things out that we would not have understood without the distance traveling can give. We all have crazy schedules, work, and a family to take care of and going away alone or with some friends gives us that break we rightfully deserve.

Very few find a great deal of informative value in traveling. More often than not, our focus centers on the promise of a fun-filled R&R, of selfies and jump shots. This is where I realized that a lot of people don’t seem to share some of my views about traveling. For me, it is very important to see and experience the places I visit from a local resident’s perspective. Traveling is an avenue for me to open my heart and mind to new things and explore different cultures and traditions; thus, experiencing life in new and exciting ways–widening my perspective about life, especially the life I have in relation to how other people live. If viewed with an open mind, it can help us change some of our habits or even create new ones…

Before I totally bid adieu to 2015, indulge me as I look back at the highlights of my adventures and travels:

Got on a road trip from Iloilo City to Cebu City, passing through Bacolod City, Sipalay, Dumaguete City and Badian.

“Traversed” North and South Mindanao, bringing me to Aliwagwag Falls in Cateel, Davao Oriental, Lake Sebu’s Seven Falls in South Cotabato, Asik-asik Falls in North Cotabato; as well as allowed me to revisit the majestic cascades of Maria Cristina, Mimbalot and Tinago in Iligan, and Tinuy-an in Bislig.

Scratched off a few more things from my To-Do list

Brought home these wonderful ‘loot’

 

Had some of my travelogues published

The year 2015 has indeed been one helluva ride!

Hmmmm…. now, where am I in the Lakbayan map:

My Lakbayan grade is A+!

If I were a bird…

What a wonderful world!

What a wonderful world!

A piece of paradise IN paradise

An undisturbed piece of paradise, away from the maddening crowd.

An undisturbed piece of paradise, away from the maddening crowd.

The ABC of Summer 2015

After weekend-upon-weekend of hopping from one island to the next, discovering heavens on earth and overdosing on #VitaminSea — satiating the #AQUAholic in me — I finally have a weekend off!

As #Summer2015 begins to wind down, I sit back and take a moment to relive the fun and adventure that I embarked on — each journey made with different groups of people, most of them became dear friends.

I know, I know… we have yet a week to go before #Summer2015 officially ends. Hmmmm…. Do I hear an #endlesssummer cheer from out there? Well, might as well be, as we have 7,107 reasons to want an all-year-round summer extravaganza!

My #Summer2015 was spent exploring, discovering, and revisiting destinations that you seldom hear about… as well as, going back to the basics of travelling and adventurism, where hotel reservations are shunned. Have backpack? Will travel.

Doing so, I uncovered the wonders of ABC: Alibijaban, Balabac and Burias, and Culebra.

Paradise, Lost?
Alibijaban Island, San Andres, Quezon

Paradise, Found.
Balabac, Palawan

Paradise, Regained.
Burias, Masbate

Paradise, Revisited
Culebra Island, Dasol, Pangasinan

Rombo Balabac: Cape Melville and Lighthouse

Cape Melville

The Lighthouse

Declared as a National Historical Landmark by the Philippine National Historical Commission, the Cape Melville Lighthouse is one of few light towers in the country that retains its original first-order lens and mechanisms. Constructed in 1892 by the Spaniards, the Faro de Primer Orden de Cabo Melville soars about 90 feet above sea level and illuminates Balabac Strait up to almost 300 feet. The tower still retains its original clockwork but it is inoperative.

Cape Melville Lighthouse is no longer in service today, replaced  with a white aluminum prefabricated structure with solar-powered light erected by the Philippine Coast Guard.

Voices from the past….

———————-
Notes on my Rombo Balabac Island Safari:
  • The best time to visit Balabac group of islands is during the summer months of March, April and May, as the waters in and around the islands can be treacherous and rough.
  • Prior arrangements should be made before visiting some islands, particularly Punta Sibaring in Bugsuk Island and Onok Island.
  • Balabac is accessible via 3-hour motorized boat ride from Rio Tuba or Buliluyan Port. There are commuter vans and buses plying the Puerto Prinsesa-Rio Tuba route, which is a 5-hour travel time. Buliluyan Port is about 45 minutes away from Rio Tuba proper.
  • For a hassle-free Balabac experience, contact +63 998 944 7242

Rombo Balabac: Onok and Comiaran Islands

Onok Island

Managed by Balabac Mayor Shuaib Astami and family, Onok Island is an epitome of bliss… and perhaps the more popular destination in the Balabac group of islands — well, apart from Punta Sibaring. We owe much of Onok’s “discovery” to famed photographer George Tapan, who captured the essence of this island paradise, earning him the 2011 National Geographic Photo Contest (Category: Places) plume.

Fronting the main beach of Onok island is a massive reef, rife with a variety of soft and colorful corals that extend towards a sheer drop of about 80 feet, where large pelagic fish swim about — on occasion, you’ll be lucky to encounter a school of yellow fins! The surroundings of this small island is also home to “taklobos” or giant sea clams, and of course, sea turtles! Never have I seen sea turtles — oblivious to our presence — in such quantity! Although a family-owned property, no fees are collected when you visit Onok. If I were to go back to Balabac, this is where I would camp.

Comiaran Island

On our way to Cape Melville, the designated campsite for the fourth leg of our Rombo Balabac Island Safari, we made a quick stop in Comiaran Island. The lush vegetation on the island was no match to the scorching heat of the April sun, giving us the impression that we were on a desert island! Well, no sun nor heat could stop us from exploring though, as the pinkish sands of Comiaran was so inviting.

 Next: Cape Melville and Lighthouse >>>

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