A glimpse of heaven in Danjugan Island

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Monday, May 12, 2014


DANJUGAN Island, a wildlife and marine reserve located in the town of Cauayan in the southern part of Negros Occidental is a dreamland for every nature lover.

For a wanderlust like me, it has been in my list for quite some time. Until finally, I and my travel buddies decided to visit the island this summer.

It was a long road trip. We immediately set sail towards the island. My heart throbbed with excitement when I saw the island from the horizon. We were ferried to the Typhoon Beach where Tatay Ruben, the island warden, briefed us. He is an indefatigable reef ranger whose love for the sea is as infectious. I told him being a reef ranger is my dream job. He chuckled and hugged me.

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Marine biologist Terence Dacles was already there with his friends and greeted us. He shared that “the island holds an incredible biodiversity given its size. At least 72 bird species, 10 bat species, 22 butterfly species, 17 species of mangroves, 572 fish species with 244 species of hard corals and an endangered coconut crab, etc. have been recorded. The western beaches have been nesting sites of hawksbill and green sea turtles.” These all points to one thing – Danjugan Island is a paradise in its pristine form and should be protected.

Not to waste time, we plunged into the water and snorkeled through the reefs to our hearts’ content. We saw giant clams, corals in different shapes and color - massive, in an incredible breadth. We also saw sea grasses, crabs, moray eel, fishes and other marine life. Snorkeling gives me such serenity and bliss whenever I peeped through the mask beholding in awe at the underwater paradise beneath.

We explored the island more and trekked through the limestone forest, passed by the bat cave, walked on the bamboo bridge, the lagoons and the mangrove forest. Like survivors, we emerged at the long expanse of a white sand beach with picturesque rock formations.

The sun was about to set with magnificent hues of tangerine, red and mauve while its radiant rays gleamed through the water. We were all silent, looking intently at the glorious sight. This is how I imagined heaven would be like.

After we freshened up, the kitchen ladies prepared another gastronomic delight. We slept in an open-air cabana with a five-star view – nature at its best. Unmindful of the sound of the bats, birds and crickets, our tired bodies immediately gave in to the comforts of cushioned beds, the crisp, white linen and the sea breeze. The next day, we kayaked in pairs through the emerald-green lagoon and had one last snorkel before we leave.

I am amazed at how the island was preserved – pure, pristine and protected. It takes so much love and passion to sustain the effort by the men and women of the Philippine Reef and Rainforest Conservation Foundation Inc. in order to maintain the island’s rich bio-diversity. I hope the communities living nearby appreciate the importance of this island, value its contribution to food security and that they will have more avenues to participate in the protection.

We also find fulfillment in knowing that by supporting an eco-tourism destination such as Danjugan Island, we are also helping in its continued protection.

For more details about the island, you may check their website at http://www.prrcf.org/danjugan-island. (Helen Cutillar)

Published in the Sun.Star Bacolod newspaper on May 12, 2014.

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