We all love stories – be it real or myths. For me, I would prefer Greek mythology. And because of the unwavering love I have for blue spaces, Poseidon could be considered as one of them.
In mythology, Poseidon is known as the God of the sea and of other waters; of earthquakes and horses; protector of seafarers and Hellinic cities. In his benign aspect, he was said to be creating islands and offering calm waters. If offended, he would be sending chaotic springs, earthquakes, drownings, shipwrecks, or strike the ground with his trident.
They said that he fell in love with Amphitrite, a nymph and an ancient sea-goddess. Even gods do silly things when in love, and creating beautiful islands could be one of his offerings to the goddess. With the 7, 107 islands in the Philippines, I would like to believe that he was feeling extra when he created the Island of Kalanggaman in Palompon, Leyte.
Kalanggaman Island derived its name from the word “langgam” meaning bird in Bisaya, a dialect widely spoken in Central and Southern Philippines. With its two sand bars at its western and eastern tips, when viewed from above it looks like a bird with its wings fully spread out.
It was a beautiful sunny day when my friend, Philip Nino, invited me to join him in his quick out-of-town trip. Upon mentioning the name of this island, I excitedly said, “Payr!” (a Bisaya version of Fire which usually means bring it on). So the next morning, we packed our things and met with other teams as it was a joined day tour package by Sea to Summit Travelers, a tour agency in Cebu. (For Php1,500.00/pax , everything was already arranged.)
We rode a van and arrived at Maya Port by 7am. Since it was low tide at that time, we rode a row boat that will take us to the rented bangca (a type of boat in the Philippines used for fishing and/or transporting passengers) that was waiting for us away from the port. I think we were 15 people and everyone just wanted to be on that boat at the same time, making the little boat appear heavier than the usual. And too many passengers makes you fear not for your life, but for other things inside your bag that do not know how to swim, your phone/purse for example. But we survived! =P
Note that the island is no longer part of Cebu so after more than an hour sailing in the sea, we reached the pristine waters of Leyte. And since the island is northeast, we need to take a detour as left of the island has strong current while the right was calm. Tides can drag you out to the open sea so swimming is also not allowed on the other side of the sand bar. You need to be mindful on this to avoid accidents.
I always have this weird feeling whenever I set foot at a new place for the first time. When my feet touched the powdery white sand of Kalanggaman, I just felt so happy. I stood there for a moment, looked around and smiled, not minding if I have photos already or not. That time, I was already planning to leave the country so I stood there and made sure to savor every moment.
Standing in the crystal clear tranquil waters while facing the island, you will see small cottages and palm trees on the left, and a long stretch of white sand on the right where waves meet at the tip. My friends though were too excited and wouldn’t let a moment pass by without taking photos and I am lucky enough to have friends who take beautiful photos of me.
This island doesn’t have any resort, too. If you are looking for something fancy, you are wrong. Kalanggaman preserves its beauty by not giving in to the calling for industrial improvement. Bringing tents, toiletries, food, and grills will be perfect if you are planning an overnight stay. Once the other tourists leave by afternoon, you’ll have the island all by yourself. Who wouldn’t love sleeping under the stars and the moon, right? And oh, did someone mention skinny dipping?
After lunch, Nikko (Philip’s other friend) mentioned that we will go to Malapascua Island. It was 6.8 kilometers from the Northernmost tip of Cebu, so imagine how far we’ve traveled from Leyte.
After nearly an hour, we reached Malapascua. This island is known for divers as you get to dive with thresher sharks. Giant manta rays and devil rays are also common visitors, and hammerheads, grey reef sharks and white-tip sharks can sometimes be seen. I believe this island has its own beauty so it deserves a separate article. Also when I went there, I was not able to experience everything it offers. Aside from burying my toes in its white sand, I only get to dive in one of the giant rock formations in the sea, a few miles away from the island. The school of fishes there didn’t disappoint me as well as the scary, dark, deep blue sea when I swam too far from the boat.
Going back, I just realized how much Poseidon loved the queen of the sea. Both calm and troubled-waters with a long white sand bar are more than a luxurious gift – a gift we all get to enjoy. I do hope people who are lucky enough to be there wouldn’t abuse this or we will all be facing Poseidon and his fury. We don’t want a curse from him, do we?
For now, a beer in hand on a sandbar wouldn’t be a bad idea. Bring me the drinks, babe!