Bucas Grande Forum
Gadget For Sale
Two Seasons Boracay
By Alfred A. Yuson
all heard of how
Why, Cloud 9 has entered the globetrotter’s lexicon as a famous surfing spot in Siargao — certainly an elevation from its original status as a brand name for a local chocolate bar that’s chewy but holds up well in tropical heat. After frequent forays to a sari-sari store that sold Cloud 9, some surfers appropriated the name for the area where they loved the breaking waves.
Siargao takes pride of place in the view of Surigao del Norte’s officialdom. It’s certainly a distinctive tourist come-on, and has only just begun a sunrise industry that also relies on white-sand beaches and a wondrous environment, other than surfing delights that are but seasonal.
is another island that also bids fair to wondrous discovery and
enchantment. Off the northeastern coast of Surigao del Norte, a
two-hour boat ride south of Siargao, lies Bucas Grande Island,
officially under Siargao’s aegis but often overshadowed in
the latter’s favor. Its main town of
From the air, as a promotional poster sports its bird’s-eye-view attractions, Bucas Grande appears as an emerald maze of inlets and verdant forests.
hindrance, keeping visitor volume low, thus far. Come July 21 2008,
PAL Express restores its direct flights to
Last week, we still had to take the afternoon flight to Butuan, then motor for 2.5 hours to Surigao City, where we lodged at the Tavern Inn — still being rehabilitated and expanded, but boasting of a fine restaurant, free WiFi, and capacious rooms that overlook a coastal boulevard with the sea right across, thus privy to splendid views of sunrise and sunset.
until the following morning that we motored back down the highway to
Claver, where a junction marker claims “The World’s
Biggest Iron Mineral Deposit.” It takes 90 minutes by road
As luck would have it, our mid-morn crossing rewarded us with a close encounter with a baby butanding or whale shark that was frolicking lazily along with a school of escort fish. As its fin suddenly came to view, the 10-foot-long gentle giant with the familiar white speckles met our boat headlong. We tried to slow down. It actually grazed the side of our boat, right under the outrigger, giving us a close-up view of its full shape. But the opportunity came too quickly and briefly for any image documentation. The fascinating creature simply moseyed along.
Entering Sohoton Cove, the island’s major attraction, assured us that we were coursing into an idyllic habitat, with forested limestone mounds rising on all sides in a welcome embrace.
greenery were stands of a variety of agoho or casuarina that
I’ve seen only in
Cove has 13 inland lakes, with three of these considered accessible.
They’re all part of the
He tells us how the eco-park’s splendiferous flora meet their match in the endemic exotic fauna, which include tarsiers, two kinds of hornbills or kalaw, the serpent eagle and white-breasted eagle, green sea turtles, and 19 kinds of fruit bats!
Visitors can choose among three types of boat and trek tours. Tour A, for seeing all the lakes and lagoons, costs P1,500. An additional P500 or P700 allows participation in Tours B and C, which include trekking through forest trails.
The prime attraction is the elongated and seemingly endless Sohoton Cove, which leads to a point where a transfer is necessary from the large pumpboat to a smaller, low paddleboat. This allows entrance, but only during low tide, through a cavern opening to get to the Hidden Lagoon.
Primeval is the look and feel of this extended maze of placid waterways that wind around limestone islets and outcroppings, with robust stalactites dropping towards the water’s calm surface. There are caves galore. One allows an intrepid swimmer to barely make it through a low-ceilinged opening and walk up a rocky passageway to a skylight that leads to a wooden platform, right on a ridge cleared of underbrush, for a dive back into the lagoon.
Skimming around the water maze to marvel at crystal-clear waters, subterranean prospects and florid greenery takes about an hour, before the boatman finds another way to the same single entrance at low tide.
Another come-on, this time man-made, officially opens next month. The high-end Club Tara Resort nestles at yet another cove’s end, where a breakwater creates a private blue lagoon. A row of 10 newly-built suite-cottages stand at the lagoon’s edge, with balconies of wooden flooring featuring see-through glass for peering into the waters lapping at the concrete stilt-posts underneath.
go for about P10,000 a night, has a large air-conditioned bedroom that
is elegantly finessed, with a
Joe Baculpo, nicknamed Jojo, is currently the resort’s
all-around facilitator. He serves as a conceptualizer, designer, crafts
artist, and when the resort opens, an entertainer. Influenced by the
Talaandig tribe of Bukidnon, Jojo formed an indigenous percussion group
called Kalsanon (meaning “native wildlife”) that
used to perform at bars in
Where Club Tara now stands used to be the modest resort Kwaknitan (a large bat), which had been set up by Dr. Potenciano Malvar and the Gen. Miguel Malvar Foundation. A friend of the good doctor, Mr. Kang offered to help upgrade the resort into a honeymooners’ getaway, presumably for Korean couples. There are plans to build more modest family cottages that will go for P2,500 a night.
to open a dive center and chart the best diving sites around. A
five-minute boat ride or 20-minute trudge up and down a green hill
We had dinner and a long conversation with Governor Ace Barbers on our second and last night. The young, amiable fellow of striking good looks (nearly a dead-ringer for movie actor Albert Martinez, especially now that he sports more than a shadow), was both earnest and avid in sharing his plans for the province.
Traditionally beholden to mining, Surigao del Norte has now embarked on an environmentalist thrust to promote eco-tourism. How can the two co-exist, we ask Gov. Ace. His answer is forthright. A balance can be struck, he confidently avers, provided that the provincial officials, led by him, do their part.
Siargao and Bucas Grande SUCCULENT SEAFOOD
Marlins, tuna, groupers, crabs … even squids, rays and octopuses can be bought fresh and cheap from the fish vendors and fishermen. Many who have tried game-fishing and spear-fishing were not disappointed by the bountiful seas of Siargao and Bucas Grande. Game-fishing competitions are held every August along the city's coastal waters.
SIARGAO and BUCAS GRANDE SAILING
Part of the fun is island-hopping using any of the available modes of sea transport: motor launches or bancas fitted with sack-cloth sails. A handful of habitues who like to stay for months have their own sailboats built here. Yachts usually operated by Australians are not an unusual sight in Siargao either. There are also a few catamarans and kayaks for rent.
During summer the waters of Siargao Island in General Luna Town (GL) is colorfully dotted with sailboats and sailbancas, especially during its fiesta celebration when the GL annual regatta or sailboat race is held. The coast is conveniently fenced in by several miles of reefs. This natural barrier keeps the inlet waters placid even during bad weather. At high tide only the giant waves from the Pacific can be heard and seen. At low tide, when the reefs are exposed, people can leisurely wade amidst its shallow waters.
These island paradises are famous for their long stretch of sugar-fine beaches, perfect surf, vast mangrove forest, and deep waters teeming with a plethora of marine life.
Deep Ocean Power Philippines (DOPP), a subsidiary of US based Deep Ocean Power has been granted 36 permits by the department of energy (DOE) to explore possible sites in the Philippines that can be harnessed for ocean thermal energy conversion.
Thermal Energy Conversion (OTEC) is different from wave energy as
it uses heat difference as opposed to the latters use of tidal motion
and moving currents. The principle of Ocean thermal energy works by
using a heat engine (usually using a refrigerant fluid) that will
harness the energy from the temperature difference between the hotter
surface waters of the ocean versus the cooler deeper waters.
According to this map from the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, the Philippines is an ideal location to install OTEC because of the prevalence of huge temperature differences between the ocean surface to a depth of about 1000m of water. The eastern part of the Philippines is the best location with the abundance of locations with temperature differences greater than 24C being found. Of course what it fails to mention is that the eastern part of the Visayas is also the entry point of most typhoons entering the country. DOPP would be wise to take that into account when designing their facility considering that the Philippines experiences about 20+ typhoons a year.
According to the DOE the area applied by DOPP covers about 21,450 hectares and is found near the general areas of Laoag, Zambales, Mindoro, Isabela, Panay, Negros and the island of Mindanao. The submitted design proposal of the company consists of a land-based power plant with its pumping station located in the ocean.