Pamilacan Island:Paradise Found
Archie Modequillo (The Freeman) - September 22, 2019 - 12:00am

CEBU, Philippines — Bohol is, of course, one of the major tourist destinations in the Philippines. It is popular not only among local travelers but with foreign tourists as well. Bohol’s appeal to tourists mainly spring from its many unique features – history, culture, cuisine, natural attractions.

The various tourism infrastructures currently ongoing in Bohol aim to make the central Philippine island at par with the best destinations of the world. These new developments may eventually blur the laid-back, rural character of Bohol but will also boost the local economy to benefit the local people. Where the produce of the local land and sea may come short to support the growing population, the income from tourist spending will compensate.

With all the modern buildings and other structures arising one after the other in many places in Bohol, the island is certainly becoming a vacation hub. And this is going to change the way of life on the island, for sure. Yes, there is going to be change – hopefully positive change.

The waves and waves of tourist arrivals will mean better – and more dependable – income for the local people. Well, not all will be accommodated by the labor requirement of the resorts and other tourist facilities. The others may start small, home-based businesses to further enrich tourist experience on the island: homemade delicacies, handmade souvenir items, services along indigenous traditions like “hilot” etc. 

And yet visitors that crave for the laid-back Bohol may still find it within the fringes of the main island. There are small islands around Bohol that still retain that pristine quality. A good example is Pamilacan Island belonging to the town Baclayon.

It is located in the Bohol Sea, on the other side of Bohol from Cebu. The name “Pamilacan” reportedly comes from the word “pilak,” a large metal hook used by the islanders to capture manta rays. Since Pamilacan Island is so small, the land area cannot provide enough crops and fishing is a more dependable means of livelihood for the islanders.

Pamilacan is a coral island. It’s easy to imagine that this huge coral formation had grown up through thousands of years from under the sea, as fossilized seashells can still be seen preserved on the island’s rocky hill. At many homes in the village, jaws and other bones of marine mammals and whale sharks are used as decorations.

Modern progress has not yet made its way to Pamilacan Island. But it’s obvious that the island once had its share of development, way back during the Spanish times in the country. A commanding rock encampment, made from coral stones and estimated to be more than 200 years old, still stands at a strategic part of the island. It is a small fort that used to protect the islanders from attacks by seafaring marauders.

The clear blue waters around Pamilacan teem with vibrant and colorful marine life. The underwater paradise is visible from the boats that carry visitors who come to witness the sight. There are also dolphin- and whale-watching tours from mainland Bohol that frequently visit the area.

The Bohol seas, in general, is home to several species of dolphins and whales, including the bottle-nose dolphin, Risso’s dolphin, pantropical spotted dolphin, long-snouted dolphin, Fraser’s dolphin, melon-headed whale, short-finned pilot whale, Bryde, and the sperm whales. These playful sea creatures can be seen surfacing during the early part of the day when the sunlight is not yet harsh.

The atmosphere on Pamilacan Island is refreshing. It’s perfect for those wanting peace and quiet. The music of the sea breeze blowing through the palm leaves of the coconut trees is calming, and the feel of the fine sand under one’s feet therapeutic. And, sure, the seawaters are inviting.

To get to Pamilacan Island, visitors from Cebu may take a fastcraft to Tagbilaran City, a trip that takes about one hour and a half. From Tagbilaran, they can take a mini-bus or v-hire to Baclayon town. It’s advisable to visit the town’s tourism office for advice on a boat to hire or if there’s an island hopping tour to Pamilacan Island available.

The boat ride to Pamilacan Island from Baclayon takes almost an hour – actually between 30 to 50 minutes, depending on the weather condition. When already in Pamilacan, visitors shall not miss to order some snacks from the local women; the taste of local delicacies is sure to further heighten their experience on the island.

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