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May 13, 2018

Islas de Higantes: My First Taste of Wasay-Wasay & The Lesson of The Lagoon

by Pangga Gen

There are available versions online of the legend of Islas de Higantes that you can read. For the version of our tour guides, this is the one-sentence summary: There was once a giant who stole cabugao fruits from Negros and when chased and caught he dropped them and these became this group of islands now called Islas de Higantes. It is also known as Higantes Islands, or simply Higantes, in the town of Carles in the northernmost part of Iloilo. My sister and I first visited this early May. It was an hour of banca ride from Sicogon Island, from Balay Kogon where we stayed. It was a day-tour of four islands: the most Instagrammed Cabugao Gamay Island, Bantique Island for its sandbar, Antonia Island for snorkeling and swimming and lunch, and the Tangke Salwater Lagoon. Cabugao Gamay Island: “Cabugao” is a variety of native pomelo, though I have not seen it there either as a tree or as a fruit sold in stalls. “Gamay” means “small” in both Kinaray-a and Hiligaynon, two major Visayan languages in Panay region. Obviously, there’s Cabugao Daku, or the bigger island nearby. It was not included in our itinerary. This means Cabugao Gamay is more special: look at this view. We were also welcomed by baskets of Wasay-Wasay, a variety of shell shaped like an axe, thus its local name. This was my first encounter with Wasay-Wasay, and I loved it! Nanam, tasty and meaty.We had a basket for P200.00. We finished it, to full satisfaction and amazement, without getting sick! Antonia Island fascinated me: How did it become Antonia? No one was able to tell me. It has a wide powdery-white beach and big rock formations. We had fair weather: look at the sea reflecting the sky, look at the coconut trees!This is the designated snorkeling and swimming area.There are sari-sari stores and carinderias here for lunch. You can also bring your baon or picnic spread with family and friends. As for us, we had another basket of Wasay-Wasay, and scallops equally abundant here. And grilled squid and fish shared by our two newfound friends. “Tangke” means “tank.” I will remember the Tangke Saltwater Lagoon for my fear to swim in it, in contrast to my sister’s boldness and courage. I was enchanted that it is a lagoon, that it has towering heights of rocks with depths that I cannot measure from its greenish and bluish waters. Its beauty terrified me. My swimming pool lessons did not prepare me for it. I saved myself from cowardice by climbing a side of rocks encasing it.This encounter strengthened my resolve to get to know more about water: befriend it, have a constant relationship with it through swimming, to conquer my fear and to be able to enjoy more of our seas, rivers, lakes and lagoons.

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