In our previous post, we specified that our main goal of visiting Roxas City in the province of Capiz is to visit Olotayan, an island just off the coast of the city. From what we had seen in an episode aired by Kapuso Mo, Jessica Soho (or more popularly known by its acronym KMJS), the island is home to long stretches of white sand beaches and of course an abundance of seafood.
From Banica Port, we took a 30-minute boat ride from mainland Roxas City to the island of Olotayan. Through the help of Capiz Tourism Office, we secured a go-to person in the island who was one of the respected barangay officials. We arranged a back and forth boat transfer to and from the island including the transportation for island hopping.
Arriving at the island late in the afternoon, we found ourselves staring at the horizon and holding our breath for quite some time. Why? Because in there, we had the opportunity to witness one of the most glorious and breathtaking sunsets we have every witnessed in our entire lives.
Until now, we couldn’t find the right words to say to describe the beauty of the sunset we saw there. We’ve seen the sun setting in other places, for sure, but that place offers by the far the best view to behold the magnificent beauty of the sun bidding goodbye after a long day.
Sunsets don’t last very long so if you happen to visit Olotayan Island, keep your phones off and take the view in as much as you heart and soul can hold.
As darkness fell over the island, we pitched our tent on the beach and decided to walk around the island using our phone’s flashlight. The walk gave us the time and privacy to talk about some things that we wanted to just talk among ourselves. We didn’t help but notice the deafening silence enveloping the place, the beach. All we heard are the soft lapping of the waves, the shrill cries of nocturnal birds, and far distant laughter of children.
When we went back to where we had pitched our tent, our go-to person introduced as to our official tour guide, Nanay Leny, and encouraged us to enjoy our island experience as much as we could.
Nanay Leny, we came to know, was born and raised in the island and has several children and grandchildren. She works as one of the Barangay Health Volunteers or also known as BHW (Barangay Health Workers) in the island, which render primary care services in their community after undergoing basic training program initiated by accredited government or non-government organizations.
With Nanay Leny taking care of us, we were in safe hands. She treated us like her own sons and provided every possible assistance she could give. One of those was, of course, where to get fresh seafoods in the island.
During the night, we gathered woods and lighted a bonfire. One of the most exhilarating experiences you’ll ever have in Olotayan Island is having a bonfire on the beach together with your friends (and perhaps with a bit of drinking session) and watch the stars move and fall (yes, falling stars are very visible there!) above the sky. And if you’ll wait long enough, you will also get the chance to see the Milky Way for as long as you want, that is if you don’t get wasted from hours of drinking and chatting with your friends.
You may also swim (even skinny dipping) on the beach. You can be sure of that because there’s nobody but you and your friends are only there to enjoy a night of relaxation and togetherness. And when you start feel that your eyes are too heavy to resist, fall asleep to the sound of the waves a meter away from you and the crackling of the fire, cuddle beside the warmth of your bonfire and let the sky and the stars watch you sleep. What else could you ask for or complain about?
As the first lights of the day came to shine, we found ourselves feeling refreshed and ready to spend another day in paradise. After having a cup of coffee, we started exploring the other side of the island. Nanay Leny’s grandsons became our tour guide in exploring the hilly portions of the island and in introducing us to some locals. Some even offered us breakfast.
When we got tired of exploring the hills and beaches in the island, we went back to our base and enjoyed freshly-caught and cooked seafood. One of the best things that the island can offer without a sweat is its wealth of seafood including all sorts of fish, crabs, lobster, squid, seaweed, and many others. And all these can be enjoyed at a very cheap price considering that are free from markups from middlemen.
Without a doubt, the island of Olotayan is a paradise in its right and simplicity.
However, one thing that you will surely notice the moment you step on the islands beach is the underdevelopment of the community. Most of the houses are made of very light materials instead of sturdier ones that could withstand perennial strong winds and rain. Electricity is produced by a generator that runs only 5 in the afternoon until 11 in the evening. And the community leaders assigned collectors to go house to house to collect every household’s share in the collective use of electrical power. The money collected will be used to maintain the function of the generator every day of the year. We couldn’t imagine the tediousness and intricacies of such a setup.
Before we left the island, we came to know that the local government has been doing all they can to ensure that before this year ends, residents of the island will be able to have electricity in their homes by installing underwater cables hat would transport electricity from the mainland to the island. Something that is welcomed by residents with hope and excitement. When it happens, they don’t need to wait until 5 in the afternoon to watch their favorite TV shows, charge their mobile phones, or make use of their refrigerators.
All these things somehow lead us to think that the island of Olotayan is now catching up with the development that is usually first enjoyed by the mainland. It is only our hope and prayer that as the island catches up with the latest lifestyle changes in the bigger cities, its people will not forget and will continue to preserve the sublime beauty of the island, its wealth, its culture, and its potential. Change is almost on the horizon in Olotayan Island but it should never forget to protect its natural beauty that captured our hearts and the hearts of those who set foot in that slice of paradise here on earth, in the land we call our home.