My Island-hopping with a Banca

Adventure is worthwhile.” ―  Aesop

 

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“Every man should pull a boat over a mountain once in his life..”.{ Werner Herzog}

I grew up in the second largest archipelago in the world, and with 7,107 islands with 36,289 kilometers of coastline,the sight of Banca ( Banka in Tagalog , pumpboat or  canoe ) is as common as hundreds of  typhoon-visits I’ve seen in my whole life! Although, we didn’t live near the sea, my childhood is filled with family swimming trips and beach getaways with friends. A country with tropical climate and abundance of water sports, it is very easy to indulge in the beach and explore nature through a tiny fishermen’s boat. The banca, also known as ‘pumpboat‘, which has 2 large outriggers which are usually made of ‘Bamboo‘to give the necessary stability.

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Accidentally we found another beautiful island…

Just like any firsts,  my first Island hopping experience was unforgettable, at the same time, liberating.  I said this because when you ride a banca, you will lost all your inhibitions, your sea & motion sickness , tensions, and fear of the waters will be gone. ( At least it works for me! )  Thoughts like ; ‘Is it strong enough? Will I reach alive in my destination?  or what if it suddenly sinks? ‘. Totally morbid thoughts!

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Sitting at the dock of the Bay { Soundtrack of my Life}

When you go on an adventure boat ride, it seems that the boat absorbs all your worries and transport you into another world, literally. Every move, the roaring motor sound it makes, the way that the boatman pull and start the engine, every push of the paddle and waves creates a magical nostalgia. This is how every island trip becomes special to me.Imagine owning an island for a day? Or sleeping under the stars, endless bonfires and the beach as your backdrop!

As each banca has its own personality, so as the journey. There is something so raw, exciting, and at the same time exhilarating about sitting in a wooden rugged ,slim boat where you can see the  fishes swimming, your face get wet from the splashes of the tides, and the open view of the sea that makes your horizon like  blue infinity.

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Our rental Banca during  Island hopping 

The banca is as typical as the colorful Jeepney, but  only 20 % of about a million bancas are registered. Uniquely, all of them have a name. Yes,you can recognize them in their flamboyant writing such as ‘Princess of Coron‘, Poseidon, Madonna or Seahawk. Most bancas are normally named after their owners, like the name of the hotel and resort, their son, or daughter. Isn’t nice to have a boat named after you?

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Waiting for the next destination…

I have boarded the largest sailing ‘Dhow’, the Al-Hashemi in Kuwait and explored nearby islands through a modern Catamaran, but my excitement can never surpass  the time when the wind blew over my face when I am on board in the little,skimpy, noisy, and colorful Banca. Have you ever wondered how a banca is made? If you watch the Secret Life of a Banca then you will realize how special it is.

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Unique cone-shaped bancas we used to explore the craters of a volcano

After the devastating  typhoon Haiyan, around 30, 000 bancas were destroyed, debilitating  the poor fisherman’s source of income in the Philippines. The old Banca  is being honed and re-engineered from the old model with the new through the use of fiberglass boat technology.Aside from its touristic usage, the Philippine bancas are now being built better, to empower the local livelihood and to weather the storms of the future. They are not just for photo shoots and having some fun in the islands, for the locals in the coastal areas, the banca  is the way of life and a way to live.

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Our rental banca in the midst of limestone rock mountains

If you’ve never ridden a boat, maybe the sight of a banca might intimidate you. But trust me, they are the  most reliable mode of transport to cross the sea, river, and lakes and wander through the mountains into the best-kept hidden paradise. Bancas are relatively robust if they run to ground since they have no deep-set keel or a centre board (sailing boat). But their maneuverability is relatively limited due to the flow resistance of the outriggers and the small oar blade. They are only partially ocean-going. Bancas can differ in degree of motorization, forms, sizes and colors.

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Bancas in front of the houses in the local neighborhood in Negros Oriental

I have seen smaller paddle-bancas. Children who lives along the coast  uses these boats as their playground. At an early age, they are taught to swim and  join their parents to go fishing.Poorer fishermen have only a paddle-banca but at night, they join the bigger motorized boats to catch more fish. The sailing-banca are seldom used but can only be seen in the southern regions of Sulu, especially used by Badjeros. They are famous for their colorful sails. In Boracay island, I saw bancas with blue sails docked on a bay during sunset. They look spectacular in summer!

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A beautiful day to sail

During island-hopping, the banca is usually provided and arranged by the hotel we are staying. They have their own boatman, with a guide and they are all experienced in sailing. They provide life jackets and are very flexible to our needs.While exploring the island, snorkeling, and swimming, our rented banca is just there, waiting  patiently . Everytime we hop on back to the banca, I know that the next adventure awaits.

“The sea is the same as it has been,since before men ever went on it in boats”

{ Ernest Hemingway}

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Until then…we shall sail together again.

 

Have you ever ride a small boat like the banca?

How was your experience?

If you love reading this post, share it with your friends and leave your comments. Thank you once again for stopping by and see you in my next island hopping adventure!

 

 

Solitary crystal clear waters

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Solitary crystal clear waters

I am a self- confessed nature and beach lover, and I find true solitude in island hopping and discovering rugged virgin lakes and beaches. I just find natural beauty of bodies of water to be totally de-stressing. I am not a savvy traveler, I am just a normal girl who wants to be refreshed, away from the busy-ness of the city, and going to place like this, leaves me both satisfaction and awe without blowing a budget.

Solitude” for me is a personal business.

It takes your whole being to be in tune with yourself. It is not the absence of noise, it’s actually the absence of distraction, and when you found yourself floating in the clear waters of the claimed ‘ cleanest lake in Asia’, it is guaranteed that you’ll find zen and calmness, naturally. Your mind gets clear. Your senses becomes alive. Literally unplugging from all negative vibes. Kayangan Lake in Coron, Palawan is a picture of no filters, and crystal clear waters seemed to washed away all  the toxins in my mind. When you can actually see the bottom of the lake especially when the sun is up,you can feel the good aura of the place vibrating. Visiting this place is one of the most memorable holidays I have in my life.

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Revisiting the same spot, even in a bit gloomy weather, the waters still as clear as it can be.

I have enjoyed swimming in this lake, exploring the cool, azure waters as far as I can. There is so much serenity in this place that you might think you are in another dimension. Surrounded with limestone mountains, you don’t have the right  to be ungrateful about life. I have tried snorkeling as well and seeing colorful marine life, it was a dream to see the world down there. I explored the whole surroundings by  boating,cruising through the native tribe’s area,the Tagbanuas, in between of the tiny islands and looking into their culture. There is an adjacent lake, the Barracuda,which is less commercialized in the sense that only a few visit the lake and most are armed with tanks and diving suits, making it a haven for professional divers.  Locals nearly discourage visitors to visit the place as the depth of the lake is unknown and is recommended only for professional divers.

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A fantasy island that actually exists

The surrounding mountains will leave you in awe. Everything is so calm and I felt  so secure.There’s an old tale I’ve heard that they are growing an inch every year. I haven’t tried climbing these mountains yet, but its on my list.  Large area is composed of Karst formations where swiftlets  or the Philippine Cockatoo, dwell and build their nest (edible birds nest). There are vertical limestone cliffs that reach up to 600 meters above sea level and eight (8) brackish lakes and three (3) smaller one’s that have underground connections to the sea.This place is on Tentative list in Unesco World Heritage List.

When you are in a place where there is a deafening silence, it’s  so uncomfortable and yet you never get tired of it. I still can’t believe that this fantasy island really exists. Claiming that it’s the cleanest lake in Asia or not–just look at the waters and you’ll know what I mean.

Do you love water-fun activities?

What is your ideal place of relaxation?

You might want to check out these posts if you want some inspiration from the tropical beaches and destinations I personally love. There are still so many beautiful beaches that I have been to but I haven’t made a post for them.

Coron, a fantasy island that actually exists.

What real summer looks like in Coco Beach.

Malcapuya Island : Accidentally in-love!

This post is in response to this week’s Daily Post Photo Challenge |Solitude