“Mura’g lahing kalibutan (It’s like another world),” says 68-year-old Surigaonon Virginia Nunez in the vernacular, smiling toothlessly. She used to be a hilot, a native healer, but now works as a masseuse in an exclusive resort. “Not that it is in any way bad.”
And everyone who has visited can – and probably will – agree with her.
The most popular attraction of Surigao are, of course, its gigantic waves that have been drawing surfers from different parts of the world, particularly during the rainy seasons (May to July and October to December) when they swell to even more humungous proportions.
But not everyone who visit Siargao do so to brave the waves.
Offshore, a different encounter with nature can occur. Men and, on occasion women as well as some children, go deep-sea fishing to slug it out with gigantic tunas or Blue Marlins. For these people, the fun is in catching the game fish – by no means easy, since patience is tested with the waiting for the bite, and even when one does take a bite, reeling it in and getting it on the boat is an exhausting undertaking that can go on for… a long time.
Island hopping is another favorite activity of others. A kayak is usually towed by a bangka (dinghy) to tour nearby islands. Visitors may choose the islands they want to check out – from sand dunes that disappear during high tide, to mangrove-enveloped islands that serve as nurseries to migrating marine life, et cetera.
For the adventurous, lagoon visits may suffice – e.g. a visit to the Sohoton Lagoon will more than satisfy. Over three hours by bangka from Siargao (a little shorter by speedboat), the lagoon is only accessible through a small opening that appears when the tide is low. In so many ways, it is a trapped enchantment, a source of amazement because of the accompanying tall tales of locals, those magic yarns about magical creatues that supposedly dwell there.
But while the adventurous will never run out of things to do in Siargao, Nunez notes that many visitors simply choose to remain idle. “They simply do nothing,” she says.
And this appeal to be at peace is what Nunez says makes people come back to Siargao, “always keep coming back.”
It really isn’t hard to understand why.