Our primary purpose on traveling to Negros Oriental was to visit my mom’s brother and his family in the province. It’s been years since the last time they saw each other, and even if I don’t know how “siblings relationship” works (I’m an only child!), I understand how it is to be finally seeing your loved ones again after a long time.
My uncle and his family live in Santa Catalina. My cousins, on the other hand, spends their time either working or studying. We were accompanied by my cousin, Shalom, to visit their place.
Uncle Anacleto is a farmer. He gets up early in the morning, and plants palay everyday. My aunt helps her plant as well, but she’s mostly in-charge of the house. From Zamboanguita, we rode a bus bound to Bayawan and got off the bus at Santa Catalina before 10:00am.
It was nice to finally see the place where my mom grew. It isn’t the exact place and house where my mom and her family used to live, but she told me it looks and feels exactly like my uncle’s place. It was laid-back, simple, and quiet. People knew each other, and their neighbourhood was really a community. Back in the days, they could ask for their neighbour’s onion for free or in exchange for vegetables they grew in their own backyard!
After eating lunch, Shalom (my cousin), and I decided to continue our itinerary. Prior to our plan to visit the sand bar, I contacted Jenn for our boat and transfer arrangement. I was able to get a boat for PHP 1,500.00 for 2 pax since it was only a day tour. My parents, on the other hand, stayed in my uncle’s house, and planned to visit Bayawan to meet other relatives and friends later that evening.
Manjuyod sand bar is located east, and Santa Catalina is located at west of the province. We could ride a bus in Bayawan bound to Tanjay via Pamplona, but Shalom wasn’t sure if we can catch a bus since trips in Negros Oriental are scheduled. In the end, we decided to take the longer route.
By 12:00 pm, we rode a Ceres bus bound to Dumaguete (~PHP 95.00). Travel time is usually 2 hours. From Dumaguete bus terminal, we rode another bus headed to Bacolod (or just ride any bus headed to Bais City), and asked to be dropped off at Bais Terminal (~PHP 65.00).
While waiting for the bus to arrive at Bais, Shalom and I talked about a lot of things, like our hobbies, places we’ve been to, her work career, and about farming. I learned that as a farmer, it takes a lot of effort, money, and time to maintain the rice field. It wasn’t an easy job. It was harder when the government decided to allow other countries to import rice. The local farmers had to sell their products for a much cheaper price since there’s a big competition.
It was past 3:00 pm when we reached Bais. The tricycle driver (PHP 50.00/2pax) Jenn contacted was already waiting at the bus stop, then went to the docking area.
It was already high tide by the time we reached the sand bar. It was expected since it was already late in the afternoon. But what surprised us was that there were no other people around! The weather was quite gloomy, the water in the sandbar is already at thigh-waist deep. We honestly felt scared and hesitant to get out the boat (my imagination can be wild at times LOL) but the bangkeros assured it’s safe.
There was nothing left to do but take pictures and swim. My cousin and I chatted with our bangkeros/guides. One of them was actually the father of Jenn. He was a fisherman before he decided to become a guide. He also shared that he was able to swim with turtles, larger than the ones in Apo Island. They also taught us basic diving techniques.
Before 5:00pm, we decided to go back to the dock. I thought I was going to get bummed since I didn’t see the sandbar during low-tide, but it was still fun! We were able to swim, and share stories with the locals, and we were able to monopolized the sandbar for a few hours, even though it was kinda scary! My first sandbar experience was thrilling, and I’m definitely going back next time.
- Other places to visit or activities: dolphin watching (usually in the morning) and mangrove visit at Bais
- You can contact the tourism office if you want to rent the cottage located on the sandbar itself.
- For boat rental and day tour, contact Miss Jenn (+63 9 358 623 595). They also offer tour for dolphin watching.