One destination that is slowly gaining popularity among local and foreign tourists is Kalanggaman Island in Palompon town, Leyte.
Known as “paradise island,” Kalanggaman boasts of pristine waters and powdery white-sand beach with long sandbars stretching on both sides of the island. It is found in the middle of the sea between Bogo City in northern Cebu and Palompon.
Tourists—some even coming from Malapascua Island in northern Cebu—reach Kalanggaman by motorboat and go swimming, kayaking or snorkeling the whole day before departing by sundown.
Today, the influx of visitors is being regulated by the municipal government, which has jurisdiction over the 9-hectare island.
Two international luxury cruise ships had already made stopovers there. Close to 400 tourists and crew members of the MS Europa came on March 20 and stayed for 12 hours to swim, sunbathe and stroll on the white-sand beach.
On May 1, the MS Bremen arrived with about 100 European tourists.
Tourism Undersecretary Maria Victoria Jasmin, who visited Kalanggaman in April, lauded the efforts of Palompon Mayor Ramon Oñate to make tourism sustainable in his town.
“We feel that this is going to be a big attraction soon, and we hope that the mayor and his staff will continue to maintain and sustain whatever they are doing,” Jasmin said.
“The thing is the mayor has considered the potential, but at the same time, he is looking at the capacity [of the island],” she added.
Usually, Jasmin pointed out, when a locality would show tourism potential, local officials tended to accommodate all tourists regardless of its capacity. “We should also consider, how many can be accommodated at one given time,” she said.
In the case of Kalanggaman, Jasmin said Mayor Oñate did not want to rush development on the island to maintain the quality of the beach sand.
“Kalanggaman is a very beautiful fine-sand islet. It is an attraction by itself. It is not as big as other islands like Boracay [Island in Aklan],” she said. “There are several interventions that are needed but they (local tourism office) strongly await what the plan of the mayor is in the next few years.”
Asked to elaborate, the tourism official said the island needed a water supply, as well as a sewage system.
The town proper of Palompon can be reached by a two-hour boat ride from Cebu and a three-hour travel by van from Tacloban City, the capital city of Leyte.
From there, visitors can take a motorboat for a trip of about one hour to Kalanggaman. Fare is P3,000 for a maximum of
20 passengers, including four containers of freshwater for bathing.
A P125 entrance fee to the island is collected. For tourists who plan to stay overnight, the fee is P250 per head. They may occupy several huts or pitch their own tents since there are no hotels or resorts.
Fresh catch can be bought from local fishermen. There are grilling stations available, as well as wooden tables.
Those planning to take a trip to Kalanggaman are advised to contact Palompon Ecotours Office (053-555-9010) or view their website (www.palompon-leyte.gov.ph) for more details.