agutayatown02

A few hours in Agutaya town

The bright and welcoming arch of the local school

The bright and welcoming arch of the local school

The Cuyo Loop
Cuyo is in blue
In October of 2006, I visited the remote islands of Cuyo and Culion in Palawan for a photography assignment and passed Negros and Iloilo in transit. This is my account of that journey.

This is the 10th of a series Agutaya town is a small place. Within less than an hour, you would have toured around the town center. After taking photos of the fortress church that dominates the town, I just went around. Typical provincial area: an elementary school with bright welcoming gates, a large clearing serving as softball field with grandstand at one side, a basketball court and at one end is the concrete town hall. At its periphery are wooden and stone houses. Its quite surprising that I haven’t seen a tricycle here but motorbikes and bicycles that are the main transport.

A round of softball

A round of softball

As it was a class week, students were playing softball at the grass field. I guess, with not too many tourists coming to the area, a tall, camera toting visitor would be instant celebrity with their eyes fixed on you, calling and posing for pictures or see them whispering and laughing coupled with quick glances at you. But this kids were game and were just too happy that I took photos of them playing.

Drawing water from the well

Drawing water from the well

Deep wells are the sourcesof potable water in the area. As for the source of power, unfortunately I wasn’t able to ask but I think that, like other remote island places I have visited, Homonhon in Samar is an example, these towns are run with solar energy.

Cleaning ladies

Cleaning ladies

Early in the morning, these townsfolk were sweeping the streets. Really, the place is clean and quite and I haven’t seen much people outside except children playing.

The pumpboat I took the afternoon before.

The pumpboat, left, I took the afternoon before.

Having taken photos of the fortress church of Agutaya*, and a short walk around the small town, it was time to leave for Cuyo. This time, the pumpboat I rode in the previous day was ashore. There were no trips as these are scheduled only on specific days. What I did was to hire a smaller open pumpboat where you’re at the mercy of the sun and seawater. But then, the views are stunning, beautiful beach, the air fresh and you get to ply one of the richest and pristine waters in the country.

Will I come back? Of course! If I will have the opportunity again. My time in Agutaya is just too brief to know more of the place and its people. I’m sure, that this island has its own beauty for a traveler to discover.

*the fortress churches of Agutaya, Cuyo and Culion will be tackled separately

Estan Cabigas is freelance photographer, blogger and writer based in Makati City, the Philippines. A true blue Cebuano, he makes stunning images and meaningful photo stories. His work has been published in local and international publications including National Geographic Magazine, Geo (Germany), Sunday Times Magazine (London) and other publications.

He is also a peripatetic traveler and has traveled to all 81 Philippines provinces.

I’m open for work, collaborations and inquiries, including hotel, restaurant and site features and reviews.

15 Comments

  1. The Islander
    July 29, 2008 @ 9:58

    the photos are really great. very sharp. nice!

  2. tutubi
    July 29, 2008 @ 23:08

    island life…tahimik and simple lang…nasa wishlist ko yan

  3. wanderer
    August 2, 2008 @ 15:29

    very very interesting… i am really surprised to know all of these about the country., thanks dude!

  4. estan
    August 19, 2008 @ 14:54

    wanderer, there’s just too many places outside tourists’ radar that still needs to be explored.

  5. Ma. Nilda
    September 4, 2008 @ 11:49

    gud day, estan cn i grab the picture of agutaya? tnx..

    Ma. Nilda

  6. estan
    September 4, 2008 @ 18:51

    Nilda, why and where will you use it for?

  7. End of the Cuyo Loop | langyaw
    October 2, 2008 @ 11:12

    […] wonder of Cabatuan church. After many years of yearning, I have finally visited Cuyo, discovered Agutaya, endured a scary boat trip going there, took MV Catalyn D eight months before her sinking and […]

  8. lei camiling
    October 29, 2008 @ 17:17

    hi! this is one of the few sites on agutaya i’ve found. great! 🙂 i’ll be staying in the island for 2 years as a doctor, im a “doctor to the barrio” of the philippine department of health. i really cried when i found out how isolated i’m gonna be from the world, but seeing your pictures, makes it all the more easier for me to go and serve this small island. thanks! stunning shore 🙂

  9. Liezeil
    November 10, 2008 @ 14:55

    Nice photos and a good review. Thanks Estan.

    A few hours of stay in the island would not really be enough to know the people, the place, and explore its innate beauty. One should really stay longer to appreciate the people and the place. For us who lived and grew up there, nothing in the world could match up to it. There’s really no place like home, as the cliche goes.

    Of course, people would have impressions of what they see at first glance, and fortunately, you were right in most of them, except that the large clearing being used as a softball field when you passed by was actually the town plaza absent the usual amenities of a park; the grandstand you were referring to, we call it a public “stage”. If you saw Jose Rizal’s monument in the the middle portion of the quadrangle across the stage, you would have had the idea that it was a plaza. It cannot be developed fully into a park because it has become a multi-purpose field – a softball field, a tracking field, a basketball court, a venue for programs, graduation ceremonies, public meetings and assemblies, etc., and most importantly, it was our playground after classes during our elementary years. It was a silent testament of our mischievous and innocent childhood.

    The presence of a stranger would easily call the attention of the townfolks especially children. They will stare and probably snoop around until they find out who this stranger is and why he is there. But the moment their curiosity has been satisfied, you’ll feel safe and relaxed and can even walk around its streets alone at night. The place is probably one of the most quiet and peaceful places in the country. Only petty quarrels are recorded in the police station. Offenses committed that are usually brought to court are mostly illegal fishing activities conducted by non-residents, mostly fishermen from the Visayas region.

    By the way, the source of power in mainland Agutaya is a NAPOCOR generator that operates from 4 pm to 12 midnight only.

    So there. Since this is one of the very few sites that has an article about Agutaya, Dr. Lei Camiling would have an idea of the place where she will be staying for the next two years.

    I’ve been following through your articles since I read the “scary transit to agutaya” article. Your compositions are great, very instructive and enlightening. Reading them is a respite amidst a strenuous day. Keep it up!

  10. estan
    November 27, 2008 @ 12:03

    Hello Liezeil, yes, you’re right about it. That’s why I would want to go back and spend more time. Thanx for the info 🙂

  11. Liezeil
    December 1, 2008 @ 17:23

    my pleasure 🙂

  12. Planning at trip to Cuyo, Palawan Speedlinking – 04/10
    April 3, 2010 @ 12:02

    […] A few hours in Agutaya town […]

  13. Ronilo Acabo
    April 28, 2011 @ 21:14

    Hi Estan,

    Thank you very much for posting about my 2nd home town. I’ve been to Agutaya for 4 years on a self imposed exile (apparently to be out of touch) but fortunately enough, I found Ms. right and got married there. Surprised? Here’s more: Being a stranger I got no less wedding sponsors than the former vice mayor Madamm Medilyn Abon Davatos, municipal civil registrar Ms. Mercy N. Badon and many more I cannot memorize they filled up all the vacant space at the lower portion of the marriage contract.

  14. estan
    April 29, 2011 @ 5:35

    That’s good Ronilo. I plan to go there again soon. Thanx for dropping by.

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    March 5, 2014 @ 8:56

    […] far, so remote, Agutaya is right smack in the middle of the north Sulu Sea. It’s actually a municipality with a […]

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