Alubihod Beach in Nueva Valencia town, Guimaras province. ALVIN I. DACANAY

Guimaras: Where faith and fun come together

Guimaras may be known for its mangoes—said to be the sweetest in the world—but this Western Visayan island-province, which is only a 15-minute boat ride from Iloilo City, Iloilo province, is turning out to be a perfect tourist destination to go to this summer, particular this Holy Week. 

Guimaras offers many activities and sceneries that tourists of all types can choose from. From island-hopping and snorkeling to trekking and going on a pilgrimage, or from visiting beaches and mountains to reflecting on one’s faith and history at religious and historical sites, the island appears to have practually everything.

Among its beaches, Alubihod Beach in Nueva Valencia town is probably the most well-known, for it’s the most common jump-off point for island-hopping. From there, you can go to Turtle Island; the Baras beach and cave; Natago beach; and the Ave Maria and Naburot islets.

Another jump-off point Guisi Beach, which is less crowded than Alubihod and boasts of a white shoreline. So-called Magic Island, the Floating Cottage, White Sand Cave, rock formations, and a sandbar are accessible from the area.

While in Guisi, visit the century-old Guisi Point Lighthouse, which has a 38-foot, rust-covered iron tower that one can climb to the top and watch the sunset.

Boat rentals for island-hopping cost P500 for the first hour, and an additional P150 to P200 for the succeeding hours.

(From left) The interior of the Balaan Bukid Shrine in Jordan town, the rust-covered iron tower at the Guisi Point Lighthouse ruins, and Our Lady of the Philippines Church inside the Trappist Monastery grounds in Jordan. GUIMARAS PROVINCIAL TOURISM OFFICE; ILOILO WANDERER (CC BY-SA 3.0) VIA WIKIMEDIA COMMONS
(From left) The interior of the Balaan Bukid Shrine in Jordan town, the rust-covered iron tower at the Guisi Point Lighthouse ruins, and Our Lady of the Philippines Church inside the Trappist Monastery grounds in Jordan. GUIMARAS PROVINCIAL TOURISM OFFICE; ILOILO WANDERER (CC BY-SA 3.0) VIA WIKIMEDIA COMMONS

North of Guimaras is the municipality of Buenavista, which is blessed with a breathtaking, visit-worthy view; cool and fresh spring water; a beautiful beach; and places with historical and religious significance.

For those looking to go on a spiritual journey this Holy Week, one place they could go to is the Balaan Bukid Shrine in Jordan town. Regarded as a Roman Catholic pilgrimage site, the mountain shrine has a large cross and a chapel on top of it. If you reach the top, the shrine offers a terrific view of Iloilo City.

Another is the Shrine of Our Lady of Mediatrix, also known as Mama Mary’s Mount, in Buenavista’s Barangay Montpelier.

For a deeper spiritual retreat, visitors can stay for at least a day in Our Lady of the Philippines Trappist Monastery in Jordan. They can join the contemplative Trappist monks as they pray seven times a day.

The monks start their day with a vigil prayer at 2:30 a.m. This is followed by a daybreak prayer called Lauds at 5:30 a.m., a mid-morning prayer called Terce at 6:45 a.m., a sixth-hour prayer called Sext at 11:30 a.m., a mid-afternoon prayer called None at 1:45 p.m., the day’s end prayer called Vespers at 5 p.m., and Compline, the last common prayer before retiring for the night at 6:45 p.m.

Before going home, buy some souvenirs and the mango biscocho prepared by the monks. They are cheaper than those in Iloilo City and the Iloilo International Airport. PNA 

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