Discovering Suyak-A A +A
By Mimi Olarga
Saturday, October 19, 2013
THE name may sound foreign but it’s not. It is one local purok in Barangay Taba-ao. Foreign sounding name again? The haven of comely and genteel folks coming from 136 families comprising the small island fishing village, Suyak and Taba-ao are now but by-words in the wonderful world of local eco-tourism.
We were told that the island is worth a visit. So we gave it a try. From Talisay, we took our two hour van ride to Old Sagay. From the wharf of C–Chen Beach Resort where we were billeted, we boarded the motorized boat bound for the island. For around 25 minutes, we traveled smooth sea waters and found the tip of the island abounding in mangrove trees. Such is one wonderful discovery of a real sanctuary.
Knowing the wonderful roles mangroves play in preventing soil erosion and in propagating crab and fish culture, we beheld the luxuriant growth of the phenomenal “bakawan” or “bakhaw” plant a refreshing sight. The lush foliage of green is also a healthy indication of the noble ways of men in preserving the environment.
With a minimal entrance fee of P15.00, and a recording of our identity in the local recording book, we were given a short lecture by Madam Lydia of the dos and don’ts to be observed inside the protected area. Seeing Ma’am Lydia and the rest of the ladies in yellow shirts imprinted with a “be-involved” advocacy of their local government unit in protecting their sea and land territories, we can’t help but admire this group do their active share in preserving their local habitat.
With our unhurried walk in the 400-meter long bamboo bridge which spans the mangrove–sanctuary, we were so amazed with the ways of the local folks in promoting and maintaining their own form of ecotourism. And because the sea water was ebbing into low tide while we were waiting for our lunch in Cottages A and B of the mangrove area, most of us had lots of fun frolicking in the translucent water of the cleared area.
After feasting on grilled fresh fish and squid for our late lunch, and the greens and the peace of the place, we bid the mangroves of Suyak goodbye. Yet, we found another nobling truth. Suyak is more than its mangroves. Its greatest resource are its people. We cannot but forget the wonderful smiles of the yellow ladies who were so gracious and hospitable in welcoming us; who showed us the way through the mangrove’s viewing deck, through to maze of houses in the barangay proper of Taba-ao, told us some worthy details about the place, and brought us back to our waiting boats to bid us goodbye. Transient we may have been there for the precious six hours last October 17, 2013, but our visit to Suyak would always find a nesting place in our hearts.
Published in the Sun.Star Bacolod newspaper on October 19, 2013.