I did a bit of research on the location before the trip as there has been some confusion as to which town owns sandbar and which tourism office you need to contact to stay in one of the huts. Its located in Bais bay and there was a time when the nearby city of Bais lay claim to it, but officially and geographically, the sandbar belongs to Manjuyod. Aside from the sandbar, the area between the islands of Negros and Cebu, know as Tañon Strait, is a prime ground for dolphin and whale spotting. Boats can be hired from Bais and Manjuyod and the sandbar and its huts are a strategic stopover.
I tried to get in touch with Manjuyod tourism office. Website is down and some of the contact numbers are not working. I was finally able to get in touch with Ma'am Daphne, one of the town’s tourism officer. She told me she was the ‘former’ tourism officer. New administration, new personnel. Tourism initiatives are now in revamp mode.
She recommended I stay in Marina in Manjuyod, a resto-bar by the sea with rooms that can accommodate large groups. It was the jump off point to the sandbar before. The property has been turned over to the barangay of Campuyo right before the new administration took the helm. So technically its not under the town’s tourism office.
off to Manjuyod
It was overcast the day I landed in Dumaguete City. I was not expecting a sunny beach weather for its the typhoon season already. I got on the Ceres bus just outside the airport and was soon on my way. Ma'am Daphne has arrange for Dante, one of the (former) tour guides, to meet me in Manjuyod.
It was a pleasant 45-minute bus ride along a combination of scenic coastal road and highway that cuts through verdant sugarcane fields. It is Negros indeed, the land of haciendas and the “Sugarbowl of the Philippines”.
The Marina is a short tricycle ride from the market. Along the way we picked up a lady with a basketful of fresh squid. After some imploring, she parted with 2 kilos the fresh catch she’s suppose to sell to a fish dealer.
I found out that I was the first visitor since the “turn over”. The former tourism staff still maintains the place and its pretty well kept. Fresh water is available, though in short supply (the barangay currently has a project to improve the water system).
broiled to perfection
After a very late lunch (we had some kitchen troubles), I arranged for a boat to take me to the sandbar. I wanted to do an ocular and take some shots if there’s an opportunity.
enroute to the sandbar
The water was still a few feet deep in some areas when we got there. One of the cottages was occupied, the one was at the northern end was in bad shape but there another one being constructed at the other end.
I took a couple of posterity shots, enjoyed the water, and decided to head back to Marina for the sunset. I planned to go back the next day for the sunrise.
Marina at sundown
Sunset was not very spectacular, but with enough colors to put a smile on my face. Dinner was interesting: barangay captain’s birthday party. But I swore I could never tell if it was a political rally or a birthday bash. Nevertheless food was another reason to smile about. I decided to skip the rest of the entertainment (thank you speeches, song numbers, more thank you speeches, i-decided-to-run-for-barangay-councillor speeches) for I have to wake up very early the next day.
mission: Manjuyod sandbar sunrise
Dante was up before I was the next morning. I wonder if he ever slept. He was preparing food for a large group from Manila (nurses from St. Luke’s) who are going dolphin watching later in the morning. No, they are not dropping by the Marina, instead they will head directly to Tañon strait. Pity!
Got to the sandbar before the sun was up, and found a nice vantage point on top of the unfinished hut. Waited, then waited some more. The sun was late. That's the thing with landscape photography, some days you get lucky, some days you don’t, even if its your birthday. (Yes it was my birthday that day!)
A misty rain ell by the time I decided to head back. I bade good bye to the sandbar. “I’ll come back when its sunny”, I muttered.
this stretches all the way to the main land on low tide
A photographer I look up to asked me how my trip is going so far. Told him the weather’s not great. He replied back: “Is that a problem? Take lots of photos!”. Indeed its not, and I did took some B/W photos I really like while having breakfast back in Marina. But that's for another post :).
I may not have some fiery sunrise/sunset photos of the sandbar but I did enjoy my short stay in Manjuyod. The folks I met were very friendly and I did not really feel like a tourist. Next time I going back to Manjuyod, it won’t be just to see the dolphins or the sandbar, I’ll be visiting friends.
Daphne - +63-919-488-2950
Dante - +63-916-166-4489, +63-943 493 4201