Sightseeing in Olango

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Things to do


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February, 2018

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Whilst staying on the Philippine island of “Mactan”:, we had a day’s sightseeing on the small neighbouring island of Olango.

As the tide was out, Mae, our guide for the day, arranged for us to be transferred to our larger boat in a small dingy pulled by jet ski. The 5km trip was breezy but not too choppy. At Olango, once again, we had to be transferred to another small boat to get us on to the island due to the low tide.

At the jetty we were met by a local guide, Lilian. We negotiated 500 steps along a floating, rickety bamboo and planked walkway, whilst paying attention to our footing and what was said, stopping often to look at the various mangroves that had been planted.

On terra- firma, we met ‘biker lady’ and her tricycle which can take four slim Filipinos inside (two perching on postage stamp sized seats facing the others like a black cab) or two largish Westerners. Roy and I climbed inside the trike, which was much higher than others we’d experienced, with Mae and Lilian sat behind biker lady.

The ride to Santa Rosa took 15 minutes along a track and having got stuck in sand at one point, everyone dismounted, apart from lazy me, and pushed. At Santa Rosa we strolled around the village where we looked at the fish on market stalls, rice being sold in hanging coconut leaves (like boil in the bag for rice) and inside the sari-sari (a type of corner shop). We were introduced to the “water ATM” – Mae demonstrated putting in a 1 Peso coin into the machine and filling a plastic bag with water from the tap, tying the bag, breaking a corner with your teeth and drinking the chilled water. It looked easy and I put in my peso but didn’t realise the bag needed to be ready and the water went all over. On my second attempt I filled he bag and knotted it but couldn’t break the corner with my teeth and it ended up sprouting water from various holes. The large Catholic church had a separate bell tower with solar light at the top and various statues in the grounds. Mae asked whether we were Catholics and Roy gave her an abridged version of antidisestablishmentarianism: she probably wished she’d not asked!

Back on and in the tricycle, it was another 10 minutes to a coconut grove where ‘Mr and Mrs Coconut’ were waiting for us. Mr C quickly shimmied up a large tree with a long piece of bamboo and a hessian sieve on top. We thought he was going to bring down a coconut, but he was collecting the drippings from a cut branch which he trimmed again, to provide a further flow. The liquid was emptied via the sieve into his bamboo container. He was up for a while and brought down thin young coconut leaves. Back on the ground we tasted three versions: the fresh liquid, liquid that had been collected the previous day which had started to ferment and was around 5% volume in alcohol (called tuba) and a final older liquid which had turned to vinegar. We were then shown how to make the hanging rice parcels seen earlier, but struggled, not helped because Mrs C was left handed. Lilian made glasses, a bracelet and ring, and we had lots of fun and photographs.

Back to the trike again, we saw where they make shell decorations and necklaces but unfortunately it was lunch time and the workers had downed tools.

At the Olango Wildlife Bird Sanctuary we were greeted by Mrs Coconut bearing huge coconuts for us to drink before a briefing about the volumes and types of migratory birds. We walked through the mangroves along a long path made of un-joined stone blocks to the hide. We were the only ones there, but we were about an hour early for the huge numbers of birds which arrive along with the tide. We stayed a while observing a few comings and goings but when a large group of people hove into view coming along the path we departed.

Our sightseeing over, it was time to get back on the boat which this time was able to come right up to the jetty. It was difficult to get up and on, so they brought out a gangplank but had to hold the bamboo rail in place by hand. Once on it was a wave goodbye to Lilian and we were off.

After 10 minutes, we moored up for a late lunch which was a feast of grilled skewers of prawns, fish, chicken, pork and a crab with sticky rice and a very good dip with soy sauce and vinegar followed by a large fruit platter of beautifully cut banana, mango and pineapple.

Whilst we didn’t see anything spectacular we both agreed it had been a fascinating and fun day.

Helen Jackson

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