Into the Realm of Sugba Lagoon
Ida Damo | December 20, 2018
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Siargao inspite of its popularity still keeps secrets that travelers can unravel. But for the locals, they want to keep some areas of the island pristine, free from trash that irresponsible tourists leave, and a haven for marine and forest inhabitants.
Proclamation 902, ser. 1996 under President Fidel V. Ramos declared the whole island of Siargao into a protected landscapes and seascapes area “to protect and conserve the biological diversity and unique scenic features of the area for public enjoyment and sustainable development.”
My first visit in 2011 to the 4,000-hectare sanctuary that is Sugba Lagoon left a lasting impression of emerald clean and clear waters from which one can swim and kayak. A makeshift platform and hut stood at the center of interlocking lagoons where we had a feast of fresh pamontaha (sea mantis), lapu-lapu, lipti or sea urchin, and sa-ang (shell) and all around us was a verdant forest from which birds flew.
It was a mystical experience due to the drizzle over the water, the mist rising from the lagoon and the sea and the low-lying clouds. It was what made the locals call the lagoon, sugba, or appearance of the smoke that rises from grilling.
This year, on my first time to fly over Siargao, there was an area of sparkling water that stood out among the lush greens. Since Sayak airport is located in Del Carmen where the biggest mangrove forest is located, I assumed it was one of those lagoons that Siarganons are keeping secret. Later, our guide Ryan told us that from the air, Sugba Lagoon is recognizable.
Upon dropping off our bags in General Luna, we hopped on a multi cab and headed to Sugba. I was excited to revisit what was a mystical place for me.
The way to the lagoon is still a maze of mangroves rising from bluish green waters. Tourists come in droves but are advised not to bring food, plastic bottles, and spray on sunblock/sunscreen. If they do bring in their water in plastic bottles, they have to bring it back with them when they exit from the lagoon.
There is a diving platform on the small “island” in the middle of the lagoon from which thousands have had their pictures taken from, regardless if they do dive or not, with trembling knees or adrenaline-pumped bravado.
The small hut in the “island” has turned into a two-storey wooden structure to accommodate more guests, and lagoon “patrols” are everywhere to answer your questions or guide you.
The water is still greenish and its depths mysterious, and kayaks can now be rented to navigate the lagoon. The bamboo raft is still a favorite as it gently floats on the water.
The feeling of enchantment is still there even with the cacophony of voices and shouts from the tourists. You can still find a quiet refuge in spite of the noise and the large number of people visiting Sugba.
You can still see birds fly over, fishes surfacing to break the stillness of the water, and catch glimpses of corals and sea weeds and grasses swaying with the undercurrents.
The restrictions imposed on tourists has helped in maintaining the serenity that one gets from Sugba. Let this remain.
How to get there:
Major airlines now fly from Manila, Cebu, and Davao to Sayak Airport in Siargao.
From General Luna, rent a motorcycle/van/multicab to get to Del Carmen for Sugba Lagoon.