Great time at Canigao Island
Pristine. Unspoiled. Breathtaking. These are three words that could interchangeably portray the glory of an islet off Matalom, a quaint town in the fifth district of Leyte.
Canigao Island, a marine sanctuary and resort splendid for nature lovers, has been winning the hearts of thousands of Internet surfers especially swimmers, scuba divers and simple wanderers. Albeit government-run, as it is not openly promoted as business and tourism spot for its being a safe shelter for marine creatures, the local government unit of Matalom limits the freedom of the guests and visiting public who will cross the waters of Canigao Channel for this fascinating escape.
Giving some sort of a re-taste of the Aliguay Island experience that selected local newsmen had the privilege of enjoying about a decade ago through the courtesy of the Dept. of Tourism, the Canigao travel for the Express It At The Park’s Refresher Course on Media Ethics and Media Getaway was equally exciting. Salute to EIATP founding chairman and LSDE publisher Dalmacio Grafil, EIATP Coordinator Gay Gaspay, LSDE writer Ahlette Reyes and all others who worked hard to make this activity a success. Thanks to the sponsors, too.
Aliguay is a pure white sand islet off Dapitan City where members and officers of then Regional Tourism Press Corps were fortunate to have their sumptuous seafood lunch during the all-expense paid familiarization tour during the term of then Tourism Sec. Mina Gabor and Tourism Reg. Director Norma Morantte. Thanks, too, to Trina Dacuycuy of DOT RO-8; she took care of this luxurious five-day trip to some of Mindanao’s top tourist destinations for the press corps.
If Eastern Samar has the Boracay and Siargao-type tourist drawer in the sprawling white-sand land mass called Calicoan Island in Guiuan town, Matalom’s uninhabited Canigao is a place to be for relaxation for adventurers. Canigao Island will surely lure even non-swimmers for a plunge into its turquoise green waters. High-tide, low-tide not even nighttime can stop swimmers to douse in or at least frolic at the shores of Canigao provided they do it within the perimeter site for swimming secured by buoyed nets.
Well, of course, since the island is a marine sanctuary, crushed hardened corals and pebbles abound the water bed. But, lovely as God has created it to be, the swimming area is also visited by fish fries and fingerlings. This doubly makes swimming a tempting experience. Goggles are must-bring friendly gadgets when visiting Canigao Island.
Strolling under the radiant sun through the beachfront of this 28,512.50 square meter islet will give one a peep of the abundance of Canigao’s coral reef without having to dive deeper into the clean cool water. While satisfying curiosity in a 30-minute morning walk around the islet with her family this writer had the chance of almost touching a blue starfish on top of slimy stones a meter from where sea water ebbs and flows. Few steps farther through the rocky shoreline various types of crawling marine creatures were seen finding their hidey-holes.
The sand bar facing the snorkeling site and tidal flat (as perceived from the island zoning map standing at the beach side) beckons transients for a check on shells that could be seen at low tide. Generally, the beachside from the portion designated as sanctuary down the tidal flat up to the snorkeling site are lined with slippery rock formations, mangrove and wild plants. In the north is the diving site. The ambience is not one that can be appreciated only by the eyes. The auditory can also sense the pristine state of Canigao Island.
According to Dario Albero, one of EIATPs contacts in this weekend getaway, although the entire water surrounding the island is Canigao Channel, the shores around it are correspondingly named based on location. In the north is Angalan Big-ot, in the south Kansaro, west is Kilaton and east is Kahauhawlan. He said military men man the fish sanctuary guard house.
To ensure that the marine resources in Canigao will be protected from vandals and litters, a litany of don’ts are imposed with equivalent penalty of fine of at least P2,500 and imprisonment for those proven violating Municipal Ordinance No. 04 series of 2003 of Matalom, Leyte. Extraction even in piecemeal of any marine resources including sand and swimming in areas not designated for such are strictly prohibited.
As info board states, found in the sanctuary are the following inhabitants: pata, solid red, solid green, bolinao, star fish (brown, blue and yellow), lapas, nukos (edible sea weed), tangigi, tabangko, soft coral, sea grasses, sea urchin, sea horse, takubo, daphagan, swaki, anduhao, bawo and bulis.
Whatever amenities Canigao Island offers to the public is an effort of the LGU of Matalom thrus Mayor Eric Pajulio and the Sangguniang Bayan members. All that the government requests from transients is their sense of self-discipline in order to keep the place kempt and inviting and the marine sanctuary teeming with healthy inhabitants.
In another development, in a land trip from Tacloban to Matalom via Southern Leyte, one could likewise enjoy the trip through the majestic Agas-Agas Bridge inaugurated in August last year by then Pres. Gloria Arroyo. The 85-meter tall and 350 linear meter bridge that is worth a little more than P1 billion is innately breathtaking. It is located in Brgy. Kahupian, Sogod, So. Leyte and constructed through the Sumitomo Mitsui Construction Co, Ltd, funded by the Japan Friendship Highway Rehabilitation Project.
Touted to be the tallest bridge in the country, Agas Agas, which connects two mountains and traverses along the Mahaplag-Sogod section of the Daang Maharlika Tacloban-Liloan (So. Leyte) Road, is in itself a tourism site. With its height of 292 feet above the ground, no wonder it has become a must-see place in Southern Leyte, especially those who love to go into extreme sports like bungee jumping, paramotor, downhill skateboarding and zip-line rappelling,
The view deck constructed therein provides a good look for visitors to see the thick forest canopy in the mountains and hills around it and the flowing rivers and streams which give the visitors a feeling of the graciousness of God and nature in this virgin forest. Few meters from the bridge towards Sogod, parking area and extension office of the engineering district are neatly placed.
Beyond these amenities is the comfort that come heavy rains, motorists previously negotiating the winding road in the mountains of that area worry about landslides and road slips. Hope this structure lasts beyond centuries.
By: Eileen Nazareno-Ballesteros
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