It's Time To Visit Carles, Iloilo!
“Busog ang tiyan, busog ang puso!”
According to the Bancal Dampa People’s Organization, the way to a tourist’s heart is through his stomach. To everyone’s delight, the members’ dream of having their own restaurant turned into reality upon the completion of the culinary facility. This was made possible by the ABS-CBN Lingkod Kapamilya Foundation, Inc. On the 24th of April, the “Dampa sa Bancal” and Bancal Wharf were officially launched. The celebration was graced by none other than Ms. Regina Lopez and newly elect Mayor Onting Betita of the Municipality of Carles. The presence of a simple yet clean and presentable eating facility is deemed a way to uplift the lives of our beloved communities. This project will provide supplemental income to the families. The members of the association are the wives/dependents of Carles Tourists Boat Association (CATBAS) and Bancal Fishermen’s Association (BFA).
The concept of this “Dampa” was basically founded on the noble intention of the foundation and its partners to alleviate poverty while promoting ecotourism and wellness. The dishes offered are fresh, organic and healthy. It will not only provide food services to tourists who travel to and from the Gigantes Islands, but to everyone else who is up for a refreshing dining experience by the sea.
The wharf, on the other hand was a project to provide ease of access to people departing the wharf or arriving from the islands. This is to serve as the port of embarkation or disembarkation to both fishermen and guests. Safe and resilient railings and platforms were built to also cater to people with disability and senior citizens. The Bantay Kalikasan-donated boat is also to be parked here.
The event was given a more entertaining touch as the Mardi Gras youth group of the Ballesteros National High School of Brgy Gabi Gigantes Isand and the Drum Lyre Corps of Bancal Elementary School performed in front of the guests and project beneficiaries. The youth showcased their impressive talents as they narrated life near and at the sea through dance.
On the second day, April 25, representatives of the ABS-CBN Lingkod Kapamilya Foundation and several guests continued the soft launch in the different islands of Gigantes. The first stop was the Bantigue Sandbar wherein the foundation donated beach umbrellas and foldable beach beds. Bantigue Island is known for its sandbar and the scrumptious scallops and wasay-wasay or axe-shaped shellfish. The view was absolutely stunning, and the waters were very pristine.
The next stop was Cabugao Gamay which is known for the rock formation wherein people climb to have an overlooking view of the whole island. This is a famous picture taking spot for tourists as it covers the entire stretch and the surrounding waters. All picturesque, and paradise-like.
After Cabugao Gamay was the Tangke Saltwater Lagoon. Upon arrival, Ms. Gina Lopez and Ms. Jen Santos, launched the floating wharf which was donated by the Foundation. The floating wharf was donated for the purpose of reducing congestion around the lagoon and for the safer disembarkation of tourists. Railings were also donated for safety purposes as guests enter the lagoon’s vicinity and dive into the cool and clear water. At the lagoon, you can sight monkeys swinging around the walls of the rock formations. It was indeed a marvelous experience. One of the most visited tourist spots in the islands is “Tangke” also known as the enchanted hidden lagoon. Because of the Foundation’s intervention, people could already enter the lagoon securely.
The last stop was the spanish-era Parola Lighthouse. The ruins were restored into a coffee shop where goods offered are also organic in line with the foundation’s health advocacy. An organic farming project is also on its way to sustain the operations in the Lighthouse. A mini museum showcasing the Gigantes Islands’ folktales shall also be established.
The last day, which was on April 26, was capped off with a convergence meeting of several stakeholders. A planning session was made for the betterment of the town of Carles in terms of ecotourism and livelihood. It was indeed a productive 3-day affair which shall bear fruits of love and happiness especially for the communities.