Olango Island: Not Just A Bird Sanctuary. It is Home.

Sometime in my mid-20's, I happened to read a blog about things to do before reaching 30. One of them was to stay in the island. It was a pleasing idea but a passing one. Not until I found myself literally living in the island that I grasped the whole bunch. 
Two years ago, I decided to take a great shift in my career - almost a year as a healthcare provider, a Special Educator, an English Instructor and finally, a Science teacher. Back then, I went all the way from filing of requirements, application, demonstration and interview. The odd was on my favor that on June, 2014, I was happily assigned in the island. 
For two years in Olango Island, I was both making a living and a life. I was able to befriend local islanders, spent time harvesting corns, fishing with the fisher folks, cooking and eating some exotic sea creatures, biking Olango from point-to-point and had been stranded in the island where I could have been home in the mainland. I encountered great waves - high enough to swallow the out-triggered boat as a whole. The entire two-year wrapped me up both in comfort and adventure.
I did not know Olango Island that much before. I only knew that it was a wetland for migratory birds. But staying here for years opened my senses that there is a place called "Kamalig" where students across Sta. Rosa National High School flock during their free time. I knew that the best place to rent a bike is to head to Erwin's house in Candagsao. I finally discovered where I could order fresh and cheap scallops and spider shellfish. Basically, I opened up to this island more than any others. 
The island gave me a lot of opportunities and could you believe it? I was one of the festival queens and won 2nd for it. It was one great memory! I couldn't even forget the first time my friends and I did an outreach program in Candagsao Elementary School. Together with Volunteers in Cebu, we made every pupil paint a smile on his/her face days before Christmas of 2014. Just last 2015, we braved a storm warning signal just to get through Olango Island for the World Food Day. With my friends and volunteers, we were able to reach out to the children of San Vicente Day Care Center. 
My stay in the island was not all fun and happiness. I admit there were tears. There were moments of sadness, and of defeats. There were times when I missed my family so much, moments when I wanted to eat the usual restaurant menus but I couldn't because I was stuck in Olango Island. 

Eventually, I saw myself transformed both body and spirit. The harsh sunlight turned my skin even darker. Whenever I look at the mirror, I could see the developing wrinkles around my eyes and forehead. The scorching heat and the sea breeze blowing some salt residues made me look even older (I am approaching 30's, by the way.) The transformation did not end there. The reality showed up that there were people who weren't happy with my doings. I accepted that and I learned to forgive.
Simply, I left Olango Island with a heavy heart, with disappoints and frustration. I left because I was hurt. I left because the island which I considered my home turned out to be an island that abandoned me. Somehow, I was seeking for acceptance but none was reciprocated. However, I still loved the island. And I still believe that it was not just a bird sanctuary but it is home. Someday, Olango Island, we will meet again and I will be back crossing the trench, hugging your sands, kissing the seawater and be comforted by your bossom. 'Til then...

“Perfer et obdura, dolor hic tibi proderit olim.”
  “Someday this pain will be useful to you.” 
-  and I believed that...a lesson learned...
Note: This post is not to discourage you. With strong conviction, Olango Island is a paradise with so much to offer. It has a potential to become a tourist destination in the future. I hope that the DOT (Department of Tourism - Lapu-Lapu) will promote the island even more. There are so many things to improve and there are so many places to visit. If I were a tourist visiting Olango Island right now, I will never regret it. It still has the best sunrise and sunset!
It possesses the innocence of the islanders. The article is written based from my own experience - from being a tourist up to being an islander - who loved and got hurt and who is still patching up. Thanks to this island, that I learned to fight my own battles and became even sturdier before I was assigned here. The two-year teaching experience toughened me up and made me stronger! 

Going there:
1. If you are coming from Cebu City or Mandaue City, take a multicab ride with "Soong/Maribago" signage. Tell the driver to drop you off in Mactan Newtown or Angasil Junction in Mactan, Lapu-Lapu City. Fare is 'round 12 to 13 pesos.
2. From Angasil Junction, ride a trike or a "habal-habal"  that will take you to Angasil Wharf. Trike's fare is 8 pesos while habal-habal costs 10 pesos if you are riding with a pair or 20 pesos if you prefer riding alone. 
3. Buy a boat ticket at the wharf for 12 pesos. It will take you to Sta. Rosa Wharf. The only known decent port in Olango Island. 

What to do:
1. Most tourist knew Olango Island as a Wildlife Bird Sanctuary. It is located in Barangay San Vicente. Regular fare is 20 pesos. It is up to driver and you to negotiate about the price.
2. Bike Olango Island if you want to experience being a local. Erwin's bike in Brgy. Candagsao is a reliable one. Bike rental starts at 10 pesos per hour for a folding bike and 20 pesos for a mountain bike.
3. Eat some seafood and order a spider shellfish at Bantigue, Tingo (northern part of Olango Island). 
4. Beach bum until you want it!
5. Buy some fresh buko juice, eat sea urchins, and even the renowned "Pan Bisaya". If you are the daring type, try the poisonous but super delicious "blowfish" or "boriring". I just knew where to find the best cook in the island! 
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About Marie Angelique Villamor

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  1. This one melted me. I share the same sentiments when I worked for Talima back in 2010. I found the island as a second home and I was able to marvel at how the seas changed their colors and currents with the direction of the wind. :) I really missed Olango. And I am hoping to get back there, soon.



    1. The same sentiment here, JL. I love Olango Island and I also treat it as my second home. Let us travel back to Olango someday...

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