Balabac Sojourn: Immersion in Bugsuk Island


It was still dark when we woke up but the sky was starting to clear up, preparing for the customary show of sunrise. We had a convenient view of daybreak right in front of the beach. The sea was surprisingly calm, the wind was also non-existent. It was a promise of another beautiful day in Bugsuk Island.

A beautiful sight to start our day.

The town was quiet in observance of the Good Friday, activities were limited to local fishermen in their small fishing vessels near the shore. Our itinerary for the day was also light, just another day in Sebaring, a total immersion with the island and the locals.

Bagdong brought down some coconuts which we all shared after breakfast. Sweet and natural coconut juice and meat fresh from its tree! Each costs P20 in Manila and as high as P70 in El Nido, but here it’s free!

The towering coconut trees of Sebaring.

We had a lot of free time for the day, a lot of time to enjoy and feel the island. I walked back to the wide beach on the south west, it really is beautiful. There were a lot of birds on the shore, of different sizes and hues. Yellow, gray, black, white and combinations of shining colors. A huge bird with wings widely spread out was also flying from a distant, it was a monkey-eating eagle!

Me, myself and I on the beach.

I sat on the soft sand and just looked around, it was only me in the harmony of nature and the music of the sea. I put down my stuff and gave in to the call of the water. For the very first time in Bugsuk Island, my body felt the cold water of Sulu Sea. I enjoyed the moment, just me swimming in the open sea with the pure white sand on my feet. I walked on the small sandbars and shallow sea bed. The moment was so divine that I didn’t want it to end.

Who wouldn’t want to stay here?

When the ray was starting to get warmer, I went back to the camp to let the midday sun pass. Lunch was served shortly after, Kap Andong and Sir Rene prepared egg salad and adobong alimasag.

Time passed slowly on the island. The wind started to blow from the east making the summer heat tolerable. The beach was perfectly white with the direct sunlight. Without much to do, I took an afternoon nap and when I woke up, the sun was much kinder.

Our home in Sebaring.

We decided to walk south of Sebaring to the house of Mang Lilio Abrice, who has a running generator, so we could charge our gadgets. We passed by the woods to another beach and mangrove area and once again feasted on the scenery. The beach area is dotted by pine trees, with its fine white sand carpeted by dry pine leaves and small pine cones. The water reflects a clear emerald color as the sun touches the surface. Oh what a sight!

The other side of Bugsuk Island.

I have never been so amazed with a place but Bugsuk Island unbelievably impressed me. The place is so diverse, so unique and so beautiful. Every spot is picturesque and awe inspiring.

Mang Lilio’s family welcomed us warmly. They are the typical Balabac family who gets their livelihood in seaweed farming and fishing. They live in a small piece of land fronting the beach that turns into vast exposed seabed at low tide. They have two motor boats – a usual wooden one and one without outrigger which they call “bogo“. Louie and I joined the Mang Lilio’s sons in a ride just to buy soda. Imagine, they have to ride a boat just to reach the store in the next village.

A joyride just to buy some drinks! Fun! :))

They maneuvered the bogo to the shallow green water surrounded by mangroves, carefully turning left and right while balancing the boat. It was their usual mode of transport but for us, their passengers, it was an extraordinary joy ride. Their normal way of life was a simple pleasure for us. We were amaze with the experience.

The mangroves is home to saltwater crocodiles! 🙂

Back at Mang Lilio’s home, they let us taste their dish – clam meat in coconut milk. I am no fan of clam but I still tasted it and in all fairness, it tasted really good. Nothing beats fresh seafoods cooked at home in their own secret recipe.

While waiting for our gadgets to be fully charged, we were entertained by Nonoy, the five year old grandson of Mang Lilio. He was a charming, smart and talented young boy. He showed us his old coloring books and his dance moves, he narrated his short stories and asked questions like where do we live, what are we going to do in the island, where are we going next, how old are we, etcetera and etcetera.

Eventually, he wore his cap and asked me to follow him in the beach, her sister Krea and brother Tutoy tagged along. They brought me to the beach area not far away from their home. As if a kid too, I ran and played and swam with them in their own paradise. It was a priceless moment!

Nonoy and Krea in their playground.

We left shortly after, our gadgets were already full. We thanked Mang Lilio and his entire family and walked back to our camp, the sun was also about to leave. I bid adieu to Nonoy, hoping to see him again soon. We were already in the camp before darkness completely envelope the sky. Our day in Bugsuk Island was about to end, it was a light and relaxing day of immersion with the island and its people. Priceless experience I will forever cherish and remember.

A day of immersion in Bugsuk Island… priceless experience!

Another day in Bugsuk Island has just passed… a day of appreciation of the simple things. I hope to see the Abrices again, I promise Nonoy that I will bring him a lot of coloring books and crayons and candies. I know he is looking forward to my return. Hopefully soon…


  1. Wow! This is great. Such a great scenery. Looking forward to visit this place. Thanks for sharing this.

  2. kumiko tachibana

    Hi angel,

    Iam youre new fan. Balabac island was so beautiful and I want to visit this place. You know my husband and I looking for place like this a place to live so quite, so peaceful etc.

    Looking forward for more info. About balabac island.

    Tks and more power.


    By the way lily is name before I got my citizenship in japan.

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