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This blog is an amateur photographer's attempt to show how beautiful the world really is. He is drawn to the colors of nature like a moth to a candle light. What are showcased here are nature's grand display of colors at sunrise and sunset, beautiful beaches and off-the-beaten track locations in his beloved Philippines, waterfalls and some of nature's great sculptures, architectural gems, and other views from around SE Asia that he was fortunate to see at one point.

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October 21, 2010

iloilo: concepcion's bolobadiangan island (bulubadiangan)

Bolobadiangan Welcome Lounge
welcome lounge

With a super typhoon threatening central and northern Luzon (and expected to bring heavy rains to Manila as well), I hopped on a early morning flight to Iloilo city. My tentative destination: Bolobadiangan island (name is also spelled as Bulubadiangan) in Concepcion, a quiet fishing town on Panay's north eastern coast, some 2-3 hours away from Iloilo City.

You're probably wondering why I stated "tentative". My trip coincided with the Masskara festival in Bacolod, just 45 minutes away by fast craft. If the weather turns sour by the time I land in Iloilo city, I'll head to Bacolod for the festival instead (I'm not very fond of festivals though). Its one of the perks of traveling alone, destination can be anywhere.

HPQ bus
HPQ buses are the only ones with direct route to Concepcion

Thankfully it was nice and sunny in Iloilo. So I proceeded to Tagbak terminal in Jaro district and boarded an HPQ bus to Concepcion. It was an interesting 3 hour bus ride passing through quaint coastal towns (we passed by Barotac Nuevo, my dad's ancestral town. I know I have lots of relatives there but I don't know anyone). Every few kilometers the bus would stop, pick up some farm produce like rice grains and livestock. I chatted with some of the passengers since I know the local dialect (they would notice how my accent is different) and before I knew it 3 hours have passed and we are already in Concepcion.

Unlike the island of Guimaras where transportation and tourism are well established, Concepcion is as untouristy as it can get. Boat trips to the nearby islands don't really have schedules. You can either have someone from the island you are visiting fetch you (if you have contacts there) or you can hitch a ride with locals returning home after they are finished with their business in town. I was planning to do the former but the contact number I was given was not answering, so after buying supplies I proceeded to the port area and asked around for boats that may pass by Bolobadiangan. There were a few who offered, but they were not sure what time they would leave. Dark rain clouds are beginning to form and I'm desperate for a ride. Luckily a man with a small outrigger boat offered, he is returning home, its out of the way but he'll drop me off if I reimburse him for his gasoline. I asked him how much, and he replied: "what ever you think is fair".

Bolobadiangan Sand bar 1
Bolobadiangan's sand bar after a brief downpour

It was 30 minute boat ride to the sand bar that juts out some 200 meters out to the sea (maybe longer at low-tide) at the northern end of Bolobadiangan island. Its a small island with only about 7 families there. The northern part is owned by the Eusala family, relatively well off by island standards with their concrete houses (and electricity provided by a solar panel and generator). They built several (open) cottages and aptly named the place "Sandbar Island Beach resort".

Bolobadiangan Cottage
spartan accommodations

I was met by Mang Sonny (the family's patriarch) and he helped me settle in one of the cottages. Its off season and they are not expecting more visitors so I had the place all to myself. Rain started to fall, the sea breeze was cool, soon I was snoozing.

Bolobadiangan Mangroves View
view from mangroves area

The rain stopped as quickly as it started and the skies cleared. I still have 4 hours till sunset so I decided to have a look around the nearby islands.

Pan de Azucar
Pan de Azucar (Mt. Manaphag) can be seen from anywhere in Concepcion

We went to Agho island but found it in a state of disarray, the beach area was littered with garbage brought in by the sea and the small cottages needs some serious repair work.

Agho Beach head
beach head in Agho Island

Dropped by Malangabang for a few minutes (most populated island, with stores where you can buy food and supplies) but I decided to forego Pan de Azucar island and head back to Bolobadiangan as the sun is getting low. I plan to scout vantage points for sunset but I think I was more inserted in getting back to my hammock.

Bolobadiangan Muted Sunset
epitome of serenity

Sunset that day had muted colors, but I did not really care. I spent more time enjoying the place rather taking photos of every nook and cranny. Dinner was steamed "kasag" (blue crabs) and grilled fish I bought from two kids earlier. (Mang Sonny pointed out to me where I should stand and wave to small boats going to a specific direction if I want to buy fresh catch). We exchanged ideas about environment conservation over our simple dinner. Mang Sonny's family is quite passionate about it. They have a coral garden and a protected area for giant clams at the western side of the island and visitors can see these clams at low-tide. The area around the northern part of the island is also declared a no-fishing zone.

It was hammock time again after dinner. No drinking crowds, no blaring music.

Some tips
  • Although HPQ buses are the only ones that go to Concepcion directly from Iloilo, they are not exactly the fastest. They would stop every few kilometers to pick up everyone and everything from livestock to farm produce. Its faster if you ride a Ceres bus, they have 1-stop trips to Sara. From Sara you can take jeeps or the HPQ buses to Concepcion (only 7.5 kilometers away). Your 3-hour trip will take half as long.
  • Get your supplies (water, food stuff, etc) in Concepcion. Prices will double on the islands such as in Malangabang island. Most of the islands don't even have stores.
  • Boat rates vary a lot, some are reasonable, some are not, especially if you really stick out of the crowd. Haggle. You can drop by their "tourism office" (adjacent to their town hall ) but tell them you want to just hitch a ride with one of the locals. If you are with a large group you can hire a whole boat for the trip.
  • Planning to buy some dried pusit (squid) in Iloilo city for pasalubong? Get them in Concepcion instead, they are much cheaper there. Those being sold in pasalubong shops in the city mostly like came from northern towns like Estancia and Concepcion.
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Marites said...

you're one adventurous soul and I really admire you for it, I wish i can do that some day. Your photos are always amazing! I especially love the photo "epitome of serenity", really beautiful!

David B Katague said...

This article makes me nostalgic about my childhood years in Barotac Viejo, Iloilo. Sad to say, the farther North I have been In Iloilo is in Sara. But Conception is the next town, I believe. I heard that one island in Carles( farther north) has beaches comparable if not whiter and better than Boracay.

Lantaw said...

Thanks Marites, masarap mag byahe ng solo :)

David, didn't know ilonggo ka man gali :)

Oman said...

amazing bai. i miss travelin' solo na uli. if i remember it right, last year pa yata. and i agree with you, masarap mag travel solo kasi walang hassle kung bigla ka mag-change ng plan.

Lantaw said...

@lawstude, mag solo ulit tayo next week bai, 3 tayong solo hehehe

thepinaysolobackpacker said...

this is my destination this Nov, ahhh...Concepcion and Carles! But I won't be solo,hmmm..kung d matuloy, pede pala tlga mag-solo.

Suroy Pilipinas said...

wow! yet another unexplored but wonderful destination. thanks for sharing this. hopefully i would set foot on this island someday.

Mark said...

This is what travelling is all about . Beautiful.

dodong flores 도동 플로오리스 said...

Hello, Bai. You know better than me what Iloilo has to offer. In my three-year stint in Iloilo, I didn't hear much about these small islands.
In April 2002, I was bound to Tampisaw festival in Concepcion but was not able to get a boat ride the the island. Many of us would-be spectators were stranded in the mainland. That was just one of my unforgettable experience in Concepcion.
I also have a family friend in Sara, Iloilo who brought me to Isla Gigante in Carles, Iloilo. That was the only island in Iloilo that I ever visited. I shoot my photos there in film (I was using then my film SLR) unfortunately couldn't find the photos now.
As for speaking the local dialect, our Ilonggo in Mindanao is quite different compared to their accent in Iloilo. I found it out when I lived in Iloilo. I even had a hard time "imitating" the accent, unfortunately, I always turned out to be always having that distinctive "outsider" accent. Every region naman has different accent. I prefer the accent in Guimaras and Bacolod. Mas manami man pamation. I also don't speak Karay-a which is being spoken in the hinterland parts of Iloilo and neighboring provinces...

Anonymous said...

glad you made it to Concepcion... Iloilo has more undiscovered beaches. :D wish i could go back there soon....

Try Carles next time:


happy travellin'!

Anonymous said...

I happened to learn this place from one of my co workers recent trip to Iloilo. Your article and amazing photos stirred my desire to visit this sleepy town with hidden explorable treasures. I'm hats off to your sheer determination to unravel the essence of unspoiled beaches. Boracay is dubbed the number one destination but skipping the chance to experience tranquility and communing with mother nature, then it is a must to visit this stunning ground. Thanks for giving us the glimpse what this town can offer to the tourist at heart. Neil from Chicago.

Anonymous said...

hello, your blog helped me a lot on planning our trip. We were able to stay there for 2 nights and really enjoyed the serenity of the place... thanks...

APOL said...

hindi man delikado mag overnyt didto? wala kaw iban pics sang cottage?

Anonymous said...


Bravo, bravo, bravo. With your passion you give idea to other people which place need to visit if they want to look a simple quite place,By the way do you have idea about Barotac Viejo i was born in that place but i never explore my Birth town.

Lantaw said...

@Anonymous, Passed through Barotac but never had the chance to really get to know the place well. My father is from Barotac Nuevo and I'd like to explore Barotac one of these days

Poyt said...

Hello! I'm going on an impromptu trip to Concepcion this weekend and thanks a lot for that Ceres bus recommendation. :) Really helped.

Anonymous said...

Im so excited to visit again in Sand Bar beach resort this coming april. I was there last 2009 but not really develop yet, im hoping i can visit there again for free, And i want to explore all around the island of concepcion specially the cave of Danao Danao Island and guys if you are stranded in concepcion there is Junbee Hotel there they have airconditioning room and its cheap rate...FUNFUNFUN.

Php Tourism said...

Great adventure. I have read that the sandbar is most visited tourist spot in the island? right?
Im just wondering how much you paid when the boatman said "just as what you think is fair." hehe.

Lantaw said...

I think I paid 1,000, which is more than fair for a 30 minute boat ride.

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