It was my uncle, architect Romeo Salgado, who first took me and my brother to Olango Island. He designed the cottages and facilities at Sta. Rosa By the Sea Resort on the island. When opening day arrived during the ‘80s—a time when tourism in Cebu took off in leaps and bounds—we hopped on a pump boat and took part as special guests to partake in experiencing the charms of the resort.
I recall it was still very difficult to ferry passengers to the wharf when it was low tide. One would have to wade in to get to the island. Then transportation around the island was scarce too. But we chanced upon a truck delivering water to the resort and rode shotgun atop the water tank on the way to the resort.
The sun setting on the Cebu and Mactan islands and shimmering with orange glows over the Hilutungan channel was one of the most poignant scenes that first time.
Five kilometers away from Lapu Lapu City, Olango’s eight barangays are under its jurisdiction. The island lies between Bohol Strait to the South and Camotes sea to the North. The Danajon Barrier Reef and Olango Channel also merge in the East. From the instant our pumpboat arrived at the Sta. Rosa Wharf, one could see the hundreds of bancas and pump boats lining up along the beach. Most of them were for island hopping and bringing in drinking water as the island’s water is salty.
Nowadays, a long and well built wharf services seacraft from Mactan and other neighboring islets which constantly ply the route. Barges and big ferry boats and fast crafts launch from two ports in Angasil, Mactan. Fare is P25 to 30. Bicycles can be brought in free. Most arriving passengers avail of the tricycle or habal-habal to get to their destinations in the island.
I just rode off and pedalled to the Olango Island Wildlife Sanctuary (OIWS) as my first stop. On the way there, I noticed that the cement road was smooth and there were many bike rental shops along the way with a line-up selection of uniformed designed shiny looking bikes for rent at P20 per hour. Camping sites along the beach also cater to overnight stays. You or your group can bring tents. Likewise, cottages and tents are there for rent. Small cafeteria/canteen/fast food stalls are plenty and finer restaurants in fancier lodging houses also welcome guests. One would never become thirsty touring the spots here as fresh coconut stalls (lamaw) dot the roadside.
Maam Elna, the OIWS personnel who greeted me, briefed me about OIWS being the biggest bird and wildlife sanctuary in the Philippines. This ecotourism attraction and nature land with 1,030 hectares of sand flats and mangroves. November and February are the migration months, though there are still the Asian Curlew, Torek and tall legged Chinese Egret that scrounge the wetland. Some of these migratory bird species are endangered or vulnerable, and strict observance against the harming of these birds is implemented.
By mid-afternoon, I biked the southern part of the island and looped San Vicente and Sabang where hectares of mangroves cover the shoreline. A fast-flowing channel also paves the way for seawater to enter into the mudflats and wetlands during hightide. Next time, I’ll explore the areas of Sta. Rosa, Talima, Tinggo and Tungasan. I had to catch the ferry back to Angasil, Port in Mactan by 4 p.m, which is the last scheduled trip.