Let nature engulf you
A visit at Nagarao can really confirm all the good things heard about the place. There is indeed still such a thing as nature at its best, a paradise worth experiencing.
Nagarao island is a small tropical island with an area of about 100 square meters. This privately owned place is surrounded by the Visayan Sea, with clear placid water and located at the tip of Guimaras Island, thereby placing it between Panay and Negros.
ITS BEAUTY, YOUR REFUGE
The expanse of the island is covered with verdance and the beach with white sand.
At the entrance, one will find two statues in welcome. These images are Philippine folklore-inspired, with the Amorokpok as one best feature. Indeed, these things about kapres, white ladies, amorokpok and other creatures of the night called tamawos in Ilonggo or maligno in Tagalog are very much a part of our culture. At night, they serve as our guardians when the dark finally envelops the place.
There are cottages lined up along the way. They are made of native and sturdy materials. And when it rains, you could really feel as if you're right in the middle of nowhere. You feel lost but at the same time, seem to have found a piece of yourself that you really feel good most. So tropical. So naturesque. No words can aptly describe the feelings that are being culled out by this beautiful island.
Some cottages are spread out like mushrooms growing just about anywhere. There are walks that lead to these cottages, mostly are roofed with bougainvillea-covered pergolas. And once you take this walk within, you feel like you're in a forest, alone. Trees surround you and you have this feeling of inner peace. It's an adventure you can't have in the city, believe me.
The conquest of Columbus of the new world comes to mind from this experience. It's like seeing the place for the first time and there's the yearning to experience what's hidden amidst those verdance that awaits you keeps tugging at your heartstrings.
IT'S A FAMILY AFFAIR
One good thing about staying in Nagarao is its family-thing. Lunch and dinner are served in one big hall where guests can partake of the feast together. Different cultural orientations meet in this hall. This is where you learn things about other countries, indulge in traumerei about far away lands, make friends and forge good relationships.
But then, meals can also be taken just about anywhere. Under shady trees or on the beach where you can enjoy a refreshing breeze. All the food comes from the sea or the gardens. An ice cold beer is highly esteemed just like everywhere else.
After lunch, the family can go island-hopping and snorkeling. The corals in their colorful grandeur serve as a hideaway of fishes of different kinds, colors and sizes which one can see underwater. In fact, these are visible above water because of its crystal clear quality.
After dinner, the family or friends can play a game of billiards, or swim at the cool, round pool. There are drinks available near it so you can indulge in interesting conversations with other guests. The pool is open round-the-clock and the most enjoyable would be a midnight bath under the stars.
The meals in Nagarao are genuinely Filipino and are strictly of the home-cooked quality. There are plenty of fish and marvelous fruit that could complete a sumptuous meal. Every bite is a delight that mustn't be missed.
Tourists will also learn to use the machete and drink coconut milk from its very fruit. It takes a little practice, but it's all worth it.
Even though Nagarao's trust is into "soft tourism," it doesn't mean that you have to experience a totally primitive kind of living. The cottages are equipped with running freshwater, tiled showers and sanitary facilities. All sewage at Nagarao runs into ecological purification plants.
The cottage, as spread over the whole island, offers a panoramic view of the ocean or direct access to the beach. Each cottage provides sufficient place for two people or for the whole family.
The cottages are made of indigenous materials at Nagarao - no metal sheets, no plastics. The roofs are covered with palm branches to give it a special charm.
Martin and Helen Stummer, owners of this famous island made sure that Nagarao island remains an unspoiled place. They banned radios (gets in the way of nature's sounds), hunting and fishing around the island, and the removal of corrals and shells for souvenirs.
Not only the island's environment is safe but also the innocence and unspoiled quality of its people. "We want to keep the bad elements away," Stummer was quoted as saying in one newspaper.
The Stummers also created a park where a tropical deer resides, Philippine monkeys dance and play, and non-poisonous snakes that inhabit the lush vegetation.
Plantings of monodiptocarp, a tree which could last more than a hundred years can be seen as one enters the island.
A Nagarao experience is something worth aspiring for. So come and commune with nature. You might find yourself here, and feel that you are finally home. (Text by Kathy Villalon Cinco, Sunstar Iloilo Horizons)