It was intensely hot Tuesday morning, power was out and a frustrating slow mobile network service that I needed to put my smartphone atop our main door. While waiting for my fiancée’s text, Mama suddenly wondered what would be my plan for the day, sitting down at our bamboo sofa and joyfully playing candy crush on her old iPad. I took my phone and checked my bucket list only to realize that the most beautiful beach of the Philippines was still unchecked. And so I told her that I might be leaving the following day for Boracay. She gave me a look as if she was about to blurt at me with that are-you-serious? but behind it was a hidden statement “you can’t just leave now”. So, she helpfully and willfully suggested a long list of where to go just within the province. “Bakit di ka na lang pumunta sa Paraiso de Palani sa Balud, maganda doon para ka lang nasa Boracay,” recommending with a poker face. “Thanks Ma pero baka may alam kang magandang puntahan dito lang sa Milagros, ayaw ko na magbiyahe ng malayo,” I said trying to convince her. And she bluntly said “Guinluthangan, try mo!”
The next thing I know, I found myself right in front of Beluso Residence in Masbate City waiting for Ma’am Nora and Ate Ruth to come out. I was to arrange my trip to their family owned island. Their empire! The first was no longer a stranger to me because I meet her countless times with my Lola Edith Rosero during their old days as public school teachers in Milagros East District. While the latter was, presumably, my first meeting or at some point our paths might have crossed already but was never given a chance of proper introduction or whatsoever. Ma’am Nora, as she was fondly called, is a retired principal and currently serving as an elected Brgy. Captain of Guinluthangan. Ate Ruth was very accommodating and won’t leave me until I haven’t devoured every single food that they have ordered from a well-known fast food restaurant. She told me that everyone in the island was informed and all were arranged already and so another adventure for me is totally underway. She promised me that this experience will definitely be worth remembering.
“Guinluthangan” is a Hiligaynon word means “Pinagbarilan.” The island spans 42 hectares of coastlines with 205 households residing on it. The small piece of land was originally owned by Mrs. Emperatris Lim Zafra and Adriano Zafra. The couple then sold the island to Mr. Fermato Medina, former district supervisor of Milagros. About 40 years ago, Mr. Medina decided to sell the island to Mr. Amado Beluso of Roxas City. Before Mr. Amado died, he entrusted Remedios Beluso and Roberto Beluso to take care of the island.
Since then, the Belusos were never ever replaced as ruler for the barangay governance. “May pagkakataon po ba na may lumaban sa family nyo during the election? I asked politely. “So far wala naman, the people know that we own the island and we govern it accordingly,” Mrs. Beluso replied.
Fishing is the islanders’ main source of income, making Guinluthangan as the second biggest supplier of “dried Bolinao” (Dilis) in the municipality of Milagros. Some do business through their sari-sari stores and some prefers planting vegetables at their small backyard.
Annabelle Dadula together with Alex Cedillo willingly hopped in to this rather exciting island adventure to Guinluthangan, all agreed to depart for the island at 7AM. We had our breakfast at a small restaurant in Brgy. Calasuche. There, we rented an outrigger boat for only Php1,000.00 (a whole day trip) and had an eager boat owner Nonoy Mahusay to take us all the way to the island and on our way back to Calasuche. It took us two hours sea travel and was generally smooth and comfortable trip. We arrived at our destination at exactly 9:35AM. The crystal clear sea water along the coastline cannot be ignored as it was apparently noticeable. Such a beauty!!
We went directly to Barangay Hall while we were still enjoying that tickling sensation of the stunning off-white sand of the island under our feet (kind of therapeutic). There we were greeted enthusiastically by a young girl and asked us with hesitation: “Kayo po ba ang bisita ni Kapitan Beluso?” With full excitement, I said, Yes, to our joyful greeter. She instructed us to follow her and brought us to the place where Mrs. Inang M. Beluso was waiting for us. Refreshments were served which we gleefully accepted as we were all thirsty because of the excruciating heat of the sun. We were introduced to some locals who would eventually be responsible of showing us around the island. Mr. Sinadjan, a father of my sister’s friend, came to join us too. Later, Mrs. Erlinda B. Sinadjan came too and asked us where we want to go, “we want to wander around the island,” I replied.
“Our life here is very simple. Everyone is doing their part to make this place very clean. Early in the morning people would start cleaning the backyard, kids after school would help their parents to fix “lambat” used for fishing. Gambling is definitely a big NO NO in the island. As there was no permanent and stable power supply, houses will light up generally from 6:00 PM to 11:00 PM. The garbage dumping site would be strategically located in the middle of the island. Potable water is a bit of an issue but the whole community would have their common place to get water from for daily household usage and they would have to be scheduled in fetching from deep water wheel.” Mrs. Sinadjan enthusiastically explained, as we walk on our way towards IslaBel Resort forgetting the heat of the sun.
Annabelle by then would exclaim: “sosyal kayo dito halos lahat naka cable” she was referring to a prepaid cable network service provider supplied using satellite dishes. At that point, we were already at “IslaBel Beach Resort” and started picking up gorgeous sea shells. We were served with a sumptuous lunch Adobong Baboy, Tinolang Manok, Sweet (sugar coated deep fried) Dilis, steamed crabs and a bountiful fresh sea foods I can’t singularly name, of course all locally produced, all were cooked with a heart by Mrs. Emily Halang.
Around 1:00 PM, we started pacing to our next destination, Puroks 3-7. As we walk, local people gave us a curious look but they would still offer their friendly and genuine smiles. Even kids on their way to school would surprise us with courtesy and politeness, as we were all bade with: “Good afternoon Sir, Good Afternoon Ma’am.” We stopped at a small sari-sari store to have some kind of a ‘soda pit stop.’ The store owner won’t accept payment initially but we insisted otherwise we will not take them, we jokingly told her. In return instead, she offered to give us free dried fish, which I don’t think she should be obliged of doing so but I would assume, it was more of a gesture of being hospitable, a trait which is very organic to us Filipinos. In that short period stay in the island, we were treated with such tenderness and importance. The local people were amazingly generous and honestly kind. Evidently, they were amazingly happy and truthfully contented with their island lifestyle. The smiles were simply organic.
By 2:00 PM, we literally wandered every possible place we have to go, so I guess it was high time to hit that inviting crystal clear turquoise waters. Swimming time!! The water was gorgeous! A stunner! Indeed, an awesome conclusion of our short but exciting island excursion. And of course, actions like these would never be complete without all our poses not properly documented. And there we go with our unli-selfies with our smart phones.
Such a bang, indeed! We were oblivion of the time and realized that it was time to go home. It was 4:00 PM said my watch. With a heavy heart, we need to go and should be back at Calasuche port before nightfall otherwise it would a bit unsafe for us to travel back if it would be dark.
We left with a heavy heart but definitely with a big indelible smile painted on our faces. What an awesome simple experience to cherish. We will never forget this very idyllic place with very warm hearted inhabitants. We will always look forward to live with a community away from a hedonistic lifestyle. We, therefore, claim that Guinluthangan is an island paradise!
And hey now, I truly confer that “Mother knows best”! Like seriously!
Bags already packed with your beach outfit and give IslaBel Resort, Guinluthangan Island, Milagros a try??
Please contact Ms. Ruth Beluso through her personal Facebook account
or PM me for her contact number. Thank you for reading and would be happy to hear your share of story about the island!