“Your life is an island separated from all other islands and continents. Regardless of how many boats you send to other shores or how many ships arrive your shores, you yourself are an island separated by its own pains, secluded in its happiness.” ~ Kahlil Gibram
When people hear the word island, the image of a wide stretched beach, the turquoise water, and the fine white sand surely comes to our mind first. We forget that this is not what an island is all about.
The island is the people, their way of living and their laid-back life.
Today, let us take you to Sipaway Island — a small island in San Carlos City, Negros Occidental. This is also geographically known as Refugio Island.
Sipaway can be reached by a bangka (an outriggered boat) from San Carlos City for about 10 minutes. The bangka will dock in any of the five ports in the island depending on the majority of the passengers’ destination. (Yes, you’ve read it right. The island has five ports in different area but the most used are the Dap-dap and Ermita ports.)
Since the hubby’s relatives who are living in Negros wanted to meet me, we decided to pay them a short visit. When his family learned that we will be coming, they thought of having a mini-reunion in Sipaway.
Hubby toured me around the place on our second day.
Sipaway Island has a land area that only stretches 7 kilometers in length and 1.5 kilometers wide. It only consists of two barangays (district), San Juan and Ermita. These two barangays are connected with well-paved concrete roads.
The mode of transportation in the area are tricycles and motorcycles. But there are private resorts in the area that offer bicycles for rent. Hubby and I rented a motorbike to tour the whole place because our body were not in good condition to cycle. I personally thought it was a good choice knowing that it was a Sunday and we will be going back to Cebu in the afternoon because we have to work on the next day. It really saved us time and energy. 😀
Our first stop was the oldest Balete Tree in the island. The last time Ace visited Sipaway was 10 years ago, so he was also surprised that the tree is now fenced inside San Juan Elementary School. The school was closed so we were not able to get inside.
As we continued our tour to the tip of the island, I chanced upon this couple who came from fishing something for lunch. How sweet is that?
Sipaway island has a population of about 4000 people. The primary source of living is fishing and extracting oil from coconut’s dried meat (locally called copra).
Recently, the place already have a 24-hour supply of electricity. They also have a supply of clean drinking water from the mainland San Carlos City, although not all households have their own faucets yet. So some have to wait in line to fetch water from a public faucet in designated areas. At least, now they don’t have to go to the mainland to fetch for water.
We also learned that there is a resort in the island which is frequented by visitors. It is the Whispering Palms Island Resort. We dropped by here to supposedly just eat our lunch but we had to pay an entrance fee apart from our food. We were not going stay in the resort for long due to time constraints so we aborted our plan to have lunch inside.
As we continued our tour, I saw the idyllic life of Sipawaynons. Actually, there was this part of me which envied their simple living. In every eyes of the people there, I saw contentment, I saw happiness.
I witnessed how peaceful this little community is. I saw how they do things that I’m pretty sure they’d been doing everyday but I did not see boredom.
They don’t have the luxury to buy expensive things but they have time, precious time. Everybody knows almost everyone in this 7-kilometer community. I love that! I love how they know the people in the other side of the island contrary to not knowing your ‘roommate’ in city.
They have narrow streets but there is no traffic. The kids have no expensive gadgets but they’re happily playing hide and seek and other traditional games.
Basically, the people in this island don’t have the modernities that we people in the big cities have. But, look how they are happy and contented with their laid back life.
Look how rich the kids with childhood fun, look how rich the people with peace and tranquility, look how rich they are with love and smiles.
Our short sojourn in the island taught us to appreciate the life we have. It taught us contentment. It taught us to value our work, the people around us, the precious time we have for each other.
We may be a small island, but we are not a small people. ~Edward Heath