guimaras wonders

i was in guimaras this last weekend as part of a media junket meant to promote the island province as a place for eco and adventure tourism. the trip coincided with the 3rd guimaras international mountain bike festival. we caught parts of the bike fest where 4 of my friends participated, but the entire 3 days were spent on a tour of parts of iloilo and a huge chunk of guimaras. in that short span of time, we managed to eat at 4 separate restaurants, visit 5 different resorts, walk through at least 2 farms, eat all sorts of local delicacies, and get a glimpse of different species of sea turltles, and a fish farm that had groupers (lapu-lapu) weighing in at 65kg and bangus that was about my age, in human years! i had always thought that guimaras, having only been turned into a province in 1994, was a tiny dot off iloilo, and not much larger than siquijor or camiguin. it turns out to have a bit more land mass, and is closer to the size of marinduque and biliran.

while i felt that the whole experience was more or less too superficial to actually spin into an article since we spent only little time in far too many places, and i wouldn't want to write about fleeting engagements, but worthwhile experiences, i felt that the island clearly had something to offer, particularly to persons of my persuasion. the bike festival was very well attended, and there are all sorts of attractions to see. petron will have us believe that the oil spill has been contained, but the stigma remains to this day: guimaras invokes images of an ugly coast blackened by the negligence of an industry giant. this is not the case, it seems, or we may have been purposely taken far away from the damage.

nevertheless, guimaras does hold wonders of its own, and is a promising venue for some future gallivanting, preferably on my own bike. i can't quite say, however, whether the next time would also be absolutely free.

1. goyo larrazabal's bike, which came in its own samsonite hardcase.
2. first lunch on guimaras was at the pagatpat restaurant, which was a series of cottages on stilts, connected by rickety bridges. when the moon pulls the tide back into the ocean, the mud below the cottages is exposed. the owner -- a carmelite priest -- is replanting the mangrove around the restaurant.

1. rudy fernandez, the one-legged triathlete who was a housemate in pinoy big brother celebrity edition.
2. philippine national team represent!

1. team amcitoda. manila sophistication didn't manage to hold a candle to any of the probinsyano bikers.
2. participants in the women's category.

the first leg of the cross country race.

1. presenting mango ketchup. to quote my singaporean friend, who first encountered UFC a few years back: how can banana be ketchup? i didn't quite know what to make of it, until....
2. i tasted this spaghetti, where, instead of tomato sauce, mango sauce was used. i don't think it would have tasted just as good if they had dried mango toppings instead of hotdogs though.

1. pineapple plantation at guimaras wonders farm. no fruits are allowed to enter guimaras, so all fruits there are locally-grown. notice that the pineapple has two crowns.
2. children playing at a slice of beach in nueva valencia.

1. an olive ridley turtle (Lepidochelys olivacea) is being nursed back to health in a sea turtle hospital in barangay lawi, jordan.
2. experimenting with my nikon D300's ISO 3200 setting. justin of action and fitness magazine surrounded by SMLs.

1. a view of iloilo strait from the balcony of roca encantada, a lopez mansion inscribed in the NHI. rather oddly, it was built about 6 years ago, although the original design and foundation was from way back in 1910. hmmm...
2. at the finish line in the downhill race.

nelly's garden, one of the many lopez mansions in iloilo city.