ISLA CULION : A Place for Meaningful JourneysPosted by Tracey on Dec 1, 2011 in Uncategorized | 0 comments
Culion Island, home of the country’s indigenous people called Tagbanwa, is located in the Northern part of Palawan as part of the Calamianes group of Islands. The island served as the world’s largest leper colony for almost a century. But since 2006, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared Culion to be leprosy-free and is now being considered as a tourist destination because of its pristine waters and rich flora and fauna.
There are several ways you can enjoy the beautiful island. Jun Tibi of Kawil Tours in Culion writes about 10 meaningful activities you can do in Isla Culion.
1. Attend a mass in the La Imaculada Concepcion Church
- Does this sound meaningful enough? Yes. But the mass and the church itself make it more meaningful. The church is a 17th century structure built by the Augustinians, then passed on to the Jesuits. And here’s the catch, its walls are carved out from corals! Now for the mass, this is where you will surely be inspired to sing mass songs with passion, make your responses vocally sincere, and participate in the mass as if you’re having a one-on-one Eucharistic celebration with the priest. (For non-Catholics, need not to worry. I’m sure with Culion’s holistic ambiance, you’ll find a place for your spiritual nourishment.)
2. Visit the Culion Museum
- This may appear very ordinary. Most of us, except for the disciples of the Arts, think that museums are kinda boring. Believe me, been there done that. But the predictability of museum visits will fade away when you start watching the 40-min. video documentary about Culion’s painful history. And more than that, be prepared to see actual testaments of the legacy of this scarred island.
3. Take a dip at the Crowning Glory Reef
- The locals are somehow struggling to believe what all visitors had said – that this is one, world-class reef. Of course, they’ve been dipping here for nearly the rest of their lives with not much benchmark on how other reefs look like. You’ll see here a wonderful underwater creation of fields of rainbow corals and interesting creatures, without even putting on your oxygen tanks for a serious scuba diving. Best time to visit the reef is when the sun is high and the tide is low.
4. Stay at San Ignacio Farm and Spirituality Center
- If Baguio has Mirador Hill or Tagaytay has The Chapel on the Hill, Culion also feats a gateway for deep retreat with the nature and your personal Divine. San Ignacio Farm and Spirituality Center sits atop a hill overlooking a quaint view of Culion’s countryside – a combination of green hills and woodlands, and the azure waters of a cove part of Culion bay. At night, you’ll be serenaded by choirs of cicadas accompanied by the drumming of woodpeckers and occasional howling of owls.
5. Look for a spot and quiet down.
- This is one of my personal favourites in Culion. Just look for a comfortable spot, like a veranda overlooking Culion bay and stare into eternity. Let your senses succumb to the beauty that nature beholds. Be hypnotized by the tiny dots of fisherman boats in the sea and relaxing brush of tropical air.
6. Mingle with the locals and make friends
The people of Culion are the island’s greatest asset. And so, take time to be with them. Hear their stories, share your dreams (and even problems in life) with them, and learn how to speak the widely-used Bisaya language or the local dialect Cuyunin. Just simply feel their warm acceptance for visitors. Authentic Filipino hospitality at its finest!
7. Make sure you’ll have crabs and shrimps at your dinner plate
-Believe me, your jaws will drop once you see how big (their sizes) and low (their prices) are! Culion is a good place to give your gastric juices a treat. For a few days, set aside your calorie count and blood pressure. Unless you’re a vegan, missing this opportunity is more like missing more than half of your Culion trip. Just count and compare the number of times you’ll face the dining table with stepping on a white sand beach. So upon checking-in (whether in a hotel or a transient/friend’s house), make your intentions clear – crabs for dinner. But wait, there’s more! If you’re still looking for more exotic food, try eating a raw sea urchin. Just ask for assistance from your tour guides or whoever since getting one is a serious task.
8. Burn off those calories (from crabs and shrimps) and take some time for brisk walking or jogging
Imagine this, jogging along the shore with the perfect view of the sun rising, passing through rolling green hills, pausing for a while to catch your breath then do some stretching, and end your lap through a downhill off-road trail. It’s something not available in the metro or even in the gym. So take time for some physical activity, after all a Culion visit is more than just emotional, spiritual, and gastric nourishment. Tip: Make sure to ask some local or your tour guide to join you. Better to be with someone in case you get lost or faint in a dead spot forcing your way up a hill. And as you pass through residential areas, prepare to see people staring and waving at you. They seldom see people in fancy (and sometimes flashy) running clothes.
9. Wait for the 12MN brownout (power supply in Culion runs from 12NN to 12MN only)
Shouldn’t we be sleeping by then? During my first night in Culion, yes, I forced myself to sleep before the electric fan goes sleeping as well. But then I realized the pitch black atmosphere that blankets throughout Culion by midnight is not something that should be ignored or avoided. This is a perfect moment for reflection. The darkness of the entire place is so bright that we finally see our place in the greater scheme of things; the deafening silence makes us hear the tiniest voice deep inside our hearts.
10. Consider doing some random act of kindness before leaving the island
To complete your Isla Culion meaningful journey, do some act of kindness. Think of ways on how to give back. And giving back doesn’t need to be grandeur in scale. It could be a lunch treat to a new found friend, or join the locals in their simple picnics at their ‘community pool’ behind the church. In case you’re looking for more sustainable acts of generosity, consider sponsoring a scholar at the Loyola College of Culion or donate a new keyboard to the church choir. For all of these, there should be one factor – the act comes from your heart. A genuine act of generosity.
Isla Culion is a scarred, scared, and sacred island, as described by a good friend of mine. A simple visit to this place will surely end as a meaningful journey. A journey that doesn’t end in the Isla, rather, begins there.