Islands and Beaches

The Galapagos of Asia: Sibuyan Island

Romblon

Enzo Lacap | Apr 16, 2013

By: ABS-CBN Foundation

Located literally at the heart of the Philippine archipelago, Sibuyan in Romblon province is an island blessed with a uniquely rich biodiversity and unparalleled beauty. It’s commonly dubbed as the Galapagos of Asia but in truth, Sibuyan has even more to offer than the Galapagos. It’s an island that’s lived in isolation since its birth, and because of that there are nine mammals, seven lizards, two amphibians, three birds and 112 vascular plants that can be found nowhere else in the world but Sibuyan. Even roadside plants turn out to be new species! Within the island are five forest formations with unique ecosystems, namely tropical lowland evergreen rainforest, forest over limestone, forest over ultramific rocks, beach forest, and mangrove forest. Sibuyan Island is actually known to have the world’s densest forest. It still has 75% of its uninterrupted forest cover, a surprisingly high percentage compared to other islands which barely amount to 20%. What’s especially unique about Sibuyan is that much of the island still remains undiscovered to this day. Mt. Guiting-guiting, located at the center of the island is famous to mountaineers as one of the most difficult mountains to climb in the country. It’s a level 4 technical climb, and due to its inaccessibility the variation and distinctiveness of its flora and fauna are highly sought after by researchers from around the world. On a clear day, the cloudless view of the mountain just right before sunset, with its knife-edged ridges emphasized by the orange hue of the sun is magical, and totally enchanting. Another main feature of the island that sets it apart is the quality of its bodies of water. Its rivers, streams and even the surrounding sea are unanimous in their clarity. Sibuyan is home to the country’s cleanest inland body of water, the Cantingas river. The island is also known to have 34 discovered waterfalls, meaning there may even be more in its unexplored areas. Sibuyan Island is an extremely valuable jewel of the Philippines that needs to be preserved and protected.

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