I never thought that an island named Kalanggaman (Calanggaman) exists. Not until my friend Tatz posted some photos of the place in her Multiply account last year.
To my surprise, the island is part of Palompon in Leyte, the hometown of my mom. When I learned of it, I quickly approached my mom and asked if she knows the island. She answered positively in Cebuano, “atbang sa Palompon” or off the coast of Palompon. Wow!
I excitedly Googled it and found some interesting articles and stories of the place – the contrasting shore of the island from mainland Palompon, the legal battles, ownership issues, the funny folklore, the mapping issue (since it is not in the Philippine map yet), coupled with some low resolution images. Very few are the latest high resolution images of Kalanggaman like those posted by Tatz, nevertheless I was already hooked. I promised my self to visit the place one day.
The day came when my dive buddy Ate Claudia and I went to Malapascua Island for a dive trip. Kalanggaman Island is one of the sites that dive operators in Malapascua frequent, so we requested to schedule a trip there. We were so excited since we both dreamed to visit the place.
Going there from Malapascua is a two hour boat trip as part of the dive package. The package is P1000 per dive for locals, exclusive of the gears and equipments. But they require to have at least eight divers in a boat for a Kalanggaman Island dive trip. If you are coming from Leyte, the island is approximately an hour boat ride from Palompon or Villaba. There are no public transportation going to the island so you need to hire a boat going there, rate ranges from P2,000-P3,500 per boat.
The place was recently declared a marine sanctuary, a P200 fee is collected for every visitor going there. The fee goes to the Municipal Office of Palompon for maintenance and protection of the island.
From afar, one will already notice the two white sandbars on both end of the island. As the sunlight touches its sand, the island shines like a pearl – so beautiful, so tempting. The clear turquoise water surrounding the island is so inviting, that you will want to quickly get off your boat to experience the paradise that is Kalanggaman.
The island is flat and surrounded by white sand with some rocky part. The eastern and western tips are sandbars that blend well with the color of the water. Dwarf coconut trees are scattered in the center, while rich and colorful marine life is resting underneath, unexploited. There’s no resort or hotel in the area but campers are welcome.
This is not the only island of this kind in the country, and this may not be as beautiful as Calaguas or as famous as Caramoan, El Nido or Boracay, but it has distinct charm and I have different connection to the place. Indeed, Kalanggaman is Leyte’s hidden gem.