Tag Archives: Guimaras accommodations

Guimaras: Isla Naburot, the Island with a Soul

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Isla Naburot is a small private island in Jordan, Guimaras.  We stayed here on our second night in the Mango Capital of the Philippines and it was the best part of our Guimaras vacation.

Getting here
The island is most accessible via Iloilo and loilo airport to Iloilo pier transfers cost Php 1,600.  Boat transfers from Iloilo pier to and from Isla Naburot is Php 5,500.  Since we were already in Guimaras, we asked to be picked up from Guimaras pier ((while the owners were fine with us doing away with the Iloilo airport transfers, they declined our request for our own boat to bring us to the island since they do not allow other boats to dock there).  Travel time was about an hour, with scenic sea and island views as detailed in this post.

Upon arrival
The island’s private dock has this old house, which set the simple but charming ambience of the island and the resort itself.

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After taking the above photo, the boat crew asked us to follow them to the main hall.  I was the last one to arrive because I got sidetracked by views like this.

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Beautiful, and seeing this set my expectations about this piece of paradise.

Isla Naburot had only 6 villas.  Why 6?  Because it was originally developed as the owner’s private piece of heaven, and each of their 6 children were assigned a villa each.   While they opened  the other villas to guests, they kept this lovely villa closest to the beach private.

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Check-in was done at the main hall.  The owners themselves warmly welcomed us.  It turned out my friend and the owners had common friends.

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Afterwards, we were led to our rustic accommodations, which looked more like a bahay kubo than a typical resort room.

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By the way, the reason why they had a mosquito net is because there is no electricity in the island, though they do have solar power, but use is minimal, like in a day, we had power only from 8 AM to 5 PM.  Still, there was a stand fan and an abaniko (native fan made of buri), which we didn’t even get to use because the sea breeze and our room’s thatched roof and wooden materials were enough to keep us cool.  It rained too on the night of our stay , and it was delightful to be lulled to sleep by the sound of the rain sloshing against the roof.

This was how our bathroom looked like, with separate toilet and shower.

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The modern shower looked off, though,and I thought a bamboo shower head would look nicer.   And the toilet, while clean, had a yellowish seat cover.

The balcony is my favorite part in our bahay kubo and you can easily see why.

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It was the perfect spot for a chat with my friend and it also afforded us an amazing view of Isla Naburot’s main hall and private beachfront, including its neighboring islets.

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Isn’t it lovely?  It’s especially beautiful in the morning, before lunch because the surface of the water was glistening (lower right of the succeeding photo).

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I find it thoughtful that the owners had these reminders in our room.

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The photo below (upper right) is how our bahay kubo looked like from the main hall/beachfront.  Ours is the native house, which is not enveloped in flame tree flowers.

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The photo on the lower right is the bahay kubo/room nearest to the dock, while the one with the hammock was higher up in the forested part of the island.  While it had no lovely views of the sea, it was the most private.

Aren’t each villa lovely?  I loved the attention to detail, including the hammocks, and the unique wheel accents.

The food was the highlight of our stay. We were treated to a feast of the freshest seafood (fish, mussels, crabs, squid, etc), salads, and fruits. And the mangoes were divine!  Meals were served at the main hall, where the owners would join us and regale us with the history of the island.

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the main hall, with its dining tables and unlimited supply of seasonal fruits

Here’s a teaser photo of my lunch, which consisted of chicken inasal, grilled fish, and tomato salad.

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It was an amazing lunch, especially since we had these tropical views to enjoy.

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Because our dining experience in Isla Naburot was so very good, I intend to write a separate detailed post about it, so stay tuned.

The Garden
While obviously not landscaped, I loved how everything looked natural flora-wise. There was no order on how hibiscus in different colors, frangipani, and flame tree were grown around the islands, so it was a pleasant surprise to chance upon them during my walks.

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The above is one of my favorites.  It’s a pink hibiscus, which I rarely see these days.

A photographer’s paradise
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Isla Naburot is a photographer’s paradise.  It was as enchanting as it was unspoiled and I had a lovely time going on long walks in and around the island, capturing its beauty while discovering its nooks and crannies.

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I just bought my Sony RX 100 II a month before this trip, and I had fun trying out its features like the Richtone Monochrome.

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And this Retro Photo effect.

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I was also amazed at its panoramic capabilities, since it was better than my mobile’s.

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The private beach
Once it wasn’t too sunny, we decided to go swimming and I loved how being in the waters afforded me better views of the islets surrounding Isla Naburot.

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The water was so clean and clear, though the seafloor had some dead corals, which, according to the owners, were brought about by typhoons.  My friend and I were feeling so guilty stepping on the corals so we didn’t linger in the waters, just enough to feel refreshed and for me to snap photos.

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I loved how the waters in the above panoramic shot formed what looked like checkers.

Being in the waters also afforded me a nice view of the main hall.

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Again, I played around with my camera’s settings to get the above shot, including this succeeding Pop Color effect (I had to tone it down a bit though, because it looked too saturated).
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After our swim, we lingered at the main hall.  My friend opted to read a book while I opted to again go on a photo-walk.  By then, the clouds had darkened, and I though it would rain.

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Thankfully it didn’t.  Not until evening, anyway.

When it was almost sunset, I asked the owners and the staff if the sunset would be visible from the main hall, but they said it wouldn’t be since sunsets were best viewed on the other side of the island, and what I would be seeing from our spot would just be the skyline.
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Stunning sunset
Undeterred, I decided to follow the colorful skyline and I was led to Isla Naburot’s private dock.  Since I had nowhere else to go, I did a stake-out to catch the sunset, which paid off.

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I stayed there for half an hour, watching in awe while the sun made the sky its canvass to create the above masterpiece.

It was almost dinner time when I came back to the main hall.  I decided to freshen up and when I came back, dinner was served.  It was another lovely meal (details in a future post), especially since we dined under the stars.

Equally stunning sunrise
I woke up at 5 AM and couldn’t go back to sleep so I opted to catch the sunrise.  This was taken from our room’s balcony.

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It was another amazing sight, definitely worth waking up early to.

Later, the sun finally broke free, and I was mesmerized to see the mountains and seas enveloped in molten gold.

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Breakfast was served at around 7:30 AM.  Afterwards, I borrowed a book then read it in this hammock, one of my favorite spots in the island .

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Later, since this was our last day, I decided to make the most of my stay by doing another photo walk.

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It’s nice that there were many small boats in the island because they made landscape shots like the above more interesting, though the owner said they’re there primarily for guest use if they wish to explore the nearby islets.

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I was also amazed at how tall their coconut trees where.  I was actually lounging when I saw the above, and it was too pretty to pass up so I took my camera and snapped some photos.

Here and there were these little details that made my photo walk interesting – the big windows that dominated some villas, the unique balcony railings, the old cabinets, the capiz blinds, the wood carvings, the imprint of an insect from broken china…
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For a long-time city girl like myself, these were a joy to capture because they reminded me of my childhood (we had a similar cabinet and chinaware when I was a child).

One of the owners sensed my passion in capturing the beauty of the island that he directed me to the main house, which I think is their biggest villa and located behind the main hall.

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It was beautiful, especially on the inside.

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It’s like being transported back in time, and I was amazed at how they were able to preserve most of their furniture.

The main house also had beautiful views of Isla Naburot’s beachfront.

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And framed write-ups about the island.

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If I remember it correctly, one of the owners used to work in Philippines Airlines thus the island was often featured in its in-flight magazine.

In a nutshell, while expensive at Php 12,000 per night (it’s inclusive of lunch, dinner, and breakfast) for a typical Filipino, I found my Isla Naburot experience worth splurging on.

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I travel to connect with that part of me who needs silence and nature’s beauty to recharge, and I’m happy I achieved this here.

We only stayed 2 days, but in that short span of time, I fell in love with Isla Naburot, the beautiful place that an Inquirer Lifestyle feature aptly described as, “the island with a soul.”

For inquiries, visit their official Facebook page or call +63918 909 8500.


Guimaras: Our Lady of the Philippines Trappist Abbey and Trappist Monastic Food Products

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The monastery is home to the Contemplative Trappist Catholic Christian Monks of the Philippines and a popular retreat house.  It holds the distinction of being the only trappist monastery in the country.  To tourists, it is a popular destination because of its gift shop that sells what many consider are the best among Guimaras’ products – aside from fresh mangoes, that is.  These include mango-flavored otap, piaya, barquillos, pastry bars, etc.

Because the monastery is also a retreat house, it offers room accommodations at a super affordable price.  This is the building where the accommodations are housed.  It has a common living room and dining area.

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We stayed there for a night and it cost us only Php 800, with meals for 2.   Don’t set you expectations high though, as the amenities are basic.

Because my friend had a miscommunication with her contact, we ended up with a non-air-conditioned room, though it did have a fan.
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The room had 2 single beds with thin mattresses.  While cramped, it was clean, though the bathroom and toilet weren’t so.  I also remember that the wall socket cover was detached and there were scotch tape marks on the walls.

Now this is my favorite part about our stay.  The food was really good.  It’s not something fancy as they serve lutong bahay (home-cooked) food, but this is the reason why their food is special – it will make you remember or yearn for home.

Our dinner consisted of Molo soup (my favorite and an Iloilo specialty dish), Fried Chicken, and Adobong Sitaw.

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I loved everything, especially the sitaw, which I haven’t tasted for years now.  The Molo soup was especially good and the chicken was tasty.

For breakfast, we had egg omelette, longganiza, and banana.  Another simple but good meal.

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The downside in their food?  They serve it in a mess hall where all guests converge for a meal so we had to be mindful that there is enough food for everyone.  Even when I liked the Molo soup, I hesitated in coming back for a second helping since there was no refill (it later arrived, but by then, most were done eating).  Come breakfast, the banana ran out and those who came in late were served papaya.

Trappist Abbey Church
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This is the church inside the monastery grounds.

Here’s another photo, but taken from the side during our early morning walk before check-out.

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The Grounds

The place is ideal for soul-searching because of its peaceful ambience.  There were secluded benches too where one could contemplate, or just be one with nature.

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During my morning walk, I also chanced on this cute cow.

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He just looked so adorable!  We also had to laugh at his antics.  He kept going in circles so he ended up wounded tightly to a tree so I came over and fixed it.  We then continued our walk.  On our way back, he again did the same thing so I again helped him, but the moment I turned my back, he again started going around the same tree!  On a serious note, I pitied him as he should be roaming freely instead of being tied to a tree.

The abbey has a garden too and these are just some of my finds.

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I loved their roses, especially the pink one.  It’s our local rose and the last time I saw it was way back in elementary.  We had the same variety at school and it was my favorite.

Gift Shop
The abbey is self-supporting and primarily does so through its gift shop.  Having stayed there for 2 days, I could attest to how popular their gift shop was as people would go there in droves.  Note its operating hours as I saw tourists leaving the place with dejected looks because when they arrived at 5-6 PM, the shop was already closed.

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Most of the gift shop’s products are mango-flavored as shared in my introduction to this post.  Too bad the jams were not available when we were there, and so were the drinks.

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Aside from mango-flavored delicacies, they also sell crinkles.

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And religious carvings, wooden crosses, books, wind chimes, coin purses made of native materials, wall decor, etc.

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Here’s my loot from there: mango barquillos, mango biscocho, mango bars, and mango empanaditas.

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I gave them out to friends as pasalubong, though I kept a box of mango bars for myself as it was so good.

Our Lady of the Philippines Trappist Abbey is located in Jordan, Guimaras.  Visit their official website or contact them via +63 33 581 3393 or +63 33 581 3385.  During our stay there, the brother in charge of their guest house was Brother Moses and his number is +63918 421 2852.