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Four islands and a storm


Limasawa, Homonhon, Dinagat and Samar Islands rocked my year. For a good straight one week, I was sailing to these string of islands, first on an oversized pump boat and a regular one after, reaching as far as Tacloban City and passing and anchoring in Samar.

I would have proceeded to Biliran Island but a typhoon beat me to it, so I retreated back home to Butuan. (And that would be another story.)

The trip to the islands, particularly Limasawa and Homonhon were in a way special because they were the first time. Throw in the accompanying historical perspective that filled the air. I knew it was nothing compared to Magellan’s global voyage but comforted to the idea we traversed or traced  the same route battling rowdy waves once in a while but sailing serenely most times.

I feel in love with Limasawa. Rustic, peaceful with humble coastal barrio folks. It has its ascending park and shrine named after Magellan and perhaps incomparable and relaxing.

If  the ancient navigator had indeed anchored on the island and got attracted to its calming beauty then it’s not surprising. Like other islands nearby shimmering under the sun and teeming with life, it is irresistible to escape, like one is at the edge of the world, and oh, how blissful and satisfying.

When a friendly local asked me where we come from, I hesitatingly replied and she embarrassingly asked where Butuan is. If you must know I initially hesitated thinking they dislike and hostile towards Butuanons for the “honor grab” of the historic “first mass” turned out they were oblivious about it.

Homonhon is both fascinating and disappointing. Fascinating because of its seeming isolation and disappointing being visibly mined and disturbed.

You wonder if there are environment authority protectors there. I focused on the deep blue waters kissing the rugged coastline. The folks in the small coastal village encouraged us to ride up the mountain and see Magellan’s Shrine. This got to be the first land, it is assumed, that he landed after crossing the vast Pacific Ocean.

Dinagat Islands is surrounded with fascinating rock formations, secret coves and white sand beaches, lakes and eye-catching hills shaped like cones and a formidable mountain called Redondo, where one side of the peak is riddled with Bonsai trees while the other side is balding and vanishing, no thanks to mining by giant mining companies.

It was in Dinagat a year earlier, in an isolated beach in the town of Loreto that I saw the contours of Homonhon in the far distance that paved the idea of hopping from one island to the next  like some kind of a bucket list for the year.

With select friends of venturous spirit, we headed to Surigao City to start our voyage to Dinagat and then to Limasawa and so on. The weather was good -until dark clouds began to hover, strong winds followed and heavy rain poured. Our average-size pump boat danced like crazy.

We all had second thoughts to back out. Sure we did but chose to wait and wait and hoping the weather behaved. It did, finally amidst the vengeful noonday sun, we sailed and that’s how it rocked my year.

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