Somewhere in the northern part of Cebu, lies a town that has enjoyed pastoral peace; idyllic, as some travelers would describe it, for so long so that the rush of tourists to the town sometimes makes people wonder why they come.
|Tricycles are the common means of transportation in Medellin|
With a population of more than 50 thousand in a 73-square kilometre area, the municipality is basically open and wide and surely not crowded.
Medellin’s main product is sugar as evidenced by the hectares upon hectares of sugarcane when you arrive at the place. But since the sugar industry in the Philippines suffered a slow and devastating crunch, the town has to make up for what has been its main industry.
They opted for ecotourism, now a visible alternative that actually propel the municipality to fame.
Some fishermen also collected washed out seaweed/sea grass to be sold to the city as a plasticware ingredient, an unorthodox way to have extra money but very viable especially in an island like Gibitngil.
One very popular destination in Medellin is the barangay (village) Kawit where the white sands of its beaches glaringly stare back at you while the blue-green sea cools you down.
Kawit is also the starting point to the very famous tourism-related activity in the municipality- the Funtastic Gibitngil Island, as they call it.
From Kawit, going to the nearby Gibitngil Island is never a problem. In fact hordes of barkers would shout PANTASTIK SIR? PANTASTIK MAM? upon your arrival. You have options for 2 persons or a group of 10. Be sure to haggle around instead of hopping on a boat without asking. For safety reasons, I would like to recommend the pumpboats operated by the municipality/LGU. They are reasonably priced and have life vests for passengers.
The way to a funtastic island is a bit rough even during normal days. Normal days mean no strong winds, no monsoons.
Stories of shrewd tourists who chose a small craft for lesser rentals send them swimming in the rough seas just a few meters from the beaches of Kawit. It is an unfortunate event that should not happen to you. Prioritize safety above a small sum of money.
Funtastic Gibitngil is an outcrop of isles that is connected by concrete foot bridges. The water around the area is unbelievable blue and green with some parts several meters deep. Activities are introduced for the tourists’ enjoyment, among them kayaking, swimming, ziplining or just relaxing in the tiered huts around the isles that makes it a popular destination.
Overcrowding however is a problem. If you go there to have peace and enjoy the serenity of the srroundings, you are out of place. The beach area is covered with tarpaulin shades to shelter tourists who would like to sit and eat at the beach. Some irresponsible tourists have thrown a plastic in the sea and it’s an ugly sight. The people staying at the cottages way up were washing their fish from above and water flows along the concrete steps. Yuck. Not counting those who are throwing a barbecue and the smoke creates an artificial fog.
With a 10-peso entrance fee, I didn’t stay for more than 30 minutes in that condition. Sayang. What a waste.
BAR, SAND BAR
Always ask the boat operator to bring you to the sandbar! I did and was truly mesmerized.
For people who are used to the toxic city life, an isolated sand bar is heaven on earth. No amenities except a few docked fishermen’s boats and a drying area for salted fish, the sand bar give me peace and comfort.
We stayed there for several hours swimming and snorkelling and remained there all to ourselves like we have claimed stake to it.
NICE SUNSET WITH THE KIDS
We stayed at Manreza Beach House, an exclusive rest house in Kawit. Built to cater to the owner’s guests, the whole resort came out cheap and cheerful and as if we own the place.
The beachfront is an amazing presentation of life in the seaside towns.
During sundown, the village folks, especially children, come to converge at the beach and play. Several families also came and had their snacks, and perhaps, dinner there, waiting for the setting of the sun.
It was a joyful confusion of children shrieking with joy and drunken laughs of men and women sitting by the beach. Lovely!
I would surely come back.
Hitch a Ceres Liner at Cebu North Bus Terminal when you want to go to Medellin. It’s about 130 kilometres from Cebu City and would take about 3 hours in going there. But don’t worry if it will take that long. A stopover at Carmen town gives you time to stretch, go to the comfort rooms and eat a good barbecue. The fare is about 150 pesos going straight to Kawit, or 130 pesos if you stop in the poblacion.
Resorts in Kawit tend to be full during the month of April due to the approaching fiesta of the town. Price ranges from 1,500 to 5,000 pesos depending on the choice of room and location of the resort.
We stayed at Manreza Beach House, known in the area as Ligaya Beach Resort (unbelievably just a 1,000 pesos a night) with four of us sharing an airconditioned room with a bathroom that occupied almost one-third of the room space. This is a private rest house so pray they do not have guests when you are going there. We actually send one of us to the poblacion to request for rooms (the gates of the beach house are always closed). If the owner trusts you, you are asked to pay in advance at the Manreza Store. And stay trusted in return.
We brought our own food and drinks and let the caretaker cook for us for just a reasonable pay.