Friday , May 25, 2018

A fun day in Sagay

AS WE enter the month of June that ushers to the rainy season, we made one last summer hurrah in the City of Sagay in northern Negros. Our Camotes Islands adventure companion, Mr. E, arranged this trip with the Sagay City Tourism Office just days after our Cebu escapade. It was a two-hour drive from Bacolod City and we started our day early so we could fully enjoy the sights and attractions of Sagay.

We first stopped at the Balay Kauswagan and found a number of people decorating the main hall for an upcoming event. Center manager Dana Gensoli received us warmly upon our arrival. Owned and managed by the local government, Balay Kauswagan is a venue for conventions, trade fairs, seminars, and other important occasions. It has meeting rooms as well as private rooms and dormitories where guests and visitors can stay for a night or more at very affordable rates. Within its property are two pools with nipa huts around them where groups can enjoy a picnic or a swimming party.

Then, we proceeded to the Museo Sang Bata sa Negros. It was a place where we can be kids once again as there were areas where visitors can play local Filipino games that many of us have grown up with. At the top floor is the Hampanganan or Toy Room which features thousands of folk toys, musical instruments, and pop-up books that were collected by Ms. Mara Montelibano. But what makes Museo Sang Bata sa Negros more interesting are the children-tour guides who took us through the marine story of Sagay, which includes reminders on how and why we should take care of our marine biodiversity.

To translate what we heard from the children into experiences, we headed to the Sagay Marine Reserve. Since the museum is located right at the Sagay port, we just walked towards our boat, accompanied by Iris Faith Sumpio of the local tourism office, which took us to Carbin Reef. Clear waters and white sand bar welcomed us there. But what I enjoyed most was snorkeling just off the shore of the sand bar where I got to see colorful giant clams, corals, fishes, and other sea creatures.

After the snorkel, we headed to Suyac Island Mangrove Eco-Park where we were greeted by the local community, the Suyac Island Eco Tourism Association (Sietas), which manages the area. After the briefing and some entertainment, they brought us around the mangrove forest and introduced us to the various plant species there, including a 300-year-old mangrove tree. We had lunch in one of the cottages at the fringe of the forest and enjoyed the meal that was specially prepared by the community. As the tide came in and the waters rose, we swam in the warm waters at the eco-park.

Refreshed by the swim and satisfied by our delectable lunch, we went back to port and freshened up at the information center right next to the Museo Sang Bata sa Negros. We made one last stop at Kape Albarako and Syano Artlink, a coffee shop and a gallery at the Margaha Beach, that feature the artworks of Nunelucio Melocoton Alvarado and his kin. They also gather trash and transform them in to pieces of art. His grandson Yqfryd showed us around the place and introduced us to Nunelucio who was seated at the second floor of the colorful bamboo structure, where his art installations at sea are visible by the window.

The sun was setting and we began our way back home. It was a fun and satisfying day in Sagay. I can’t wait to go back to this city and see more of its beautiful treasures.

All photos are by this author. Claire Marie Algarme blogs at Follow her as @firsttimetravel on Twitter and Instagram and like her Facebook page First-time Travels.