Beauty will steal your heart

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Tuesday, April 15, 2014

BANTAYAN Island has been the worst hit by super typhoon Yolanda, and is now slowly recovering from the devastation. But no amount of destruction can wipe out the pristine beaches, deep blue waters, magical sunsets, and everything else that Mother Nature has endowed to make this island the essence of paradise—one that is very accessible.

And should people decide to go and see how the island towns are faring now, they will discover that they have moved on pretty well, except for some popular beach resorts in the town of Sta. Fe that are still undergoing rehabilitation. But one particular resort in this town has been left standing, unscathed, because of the owner’s incredible foresight and creative imagination.

Nelson Yuvallos is utilizing recycled shipping container vans for the resort’s bungalows and other structures such as the function room, game room, and restaurant.


Anika Island Resort, one of the newest vacation destinations in Sta. Fe, is everything but pretentious. It is simply trying to live up to its name. Anika (among its many sweet-sounding definitions) means “gorgeous and beautiful or something that is richer and brighter than life.” The resort has found a wonderful niche for people looking for serenity and tranquility in a superb environment. No bars and discos, no huge buffets, no frills, no large crowds—just pure nature and a fantastic beach.

Here, visitors can actually see different kinds of fish swimming around their feet and gaze at reflections of coconut trees on the crystal-clear water.

The moment they step foot on the resort, the lighter blue of the sky that seems to melt into the deep blue ocean will immediately greet them. Then they will discover that the container vans are recognizable but have been designed so well they are very ingeniously transformed and can be considered a work of art.

Visitors would expect these steel structures to be hot, but then these have been properly insulated so they can feel no heat at all. There are balconies all around as large as the bedrooms where people can relax with their favorite drink while watching the sunset as well as the sunrise.

On top of it all, guests are treated like family and sometimes even like royalty by the friendly and cheerful staff who seem to enjoy serving them and catering to their every whim.

“One of the best parts of our job is watching the look of sheer pleasure and satisfaction of our guests when they experience the brand of service and hospitality of Anika,” says Rey Adlaon, the resort’s operations manager.

He added, “The resort is the first of its kind in concept and style, and the ambiance is really something. Also, we can be truly proud of our food. At the restaurant, we offer dishes that are fresh from the garden and the sea. Our seafood are certain to be fresh because they abound in the island.”

Food is mostly Filipino cuisine but visitors can request for their favorite dish but it must be ordered in advance. Anika’s restaurant, Chloe Cafe, serves very delicious food, especially their sinuglaw and tangigue with mixed vegetable salad. Other guests from neighboring resorts even dine here because the restaurant has become well known for its delightful food.

For the more adventurous, side trips can be arranged, like island hopping to the neighboring Virgin Island or Hilantagaan Island. Or to the inland towns like Madridejeos where a beautiful nature park can be found. And of course, to look for the famous danggit and other dried fish in Bantayan town.

The typhoon-ridden towns in Bantayan Island might seem to be getting back on its feet.

But as Nelson Yuvallos pointed out: “There are still so many families that are having a hard time recovering, and still many houses that need to be rebuilt. So I hope that people will come here to make a difference, like building a school or supporting or adopting a family. There is no doubt that the hotel and resort industry are helping the island’s economy, so we are hoping that the government will look into the infrastructure needed to boost tourism so that visitors and tourists who are discouraged to come here will be given easy and fast access to the island. I’m pretty sure by then we will see an exciting time.”

It will take about five hours to get to the island: three and a half by land and more than an hour by ferry boat. But it’s all worth the time and the effort because if you’re looking for some “richer and brighter than life” experience or a “gorgeous and beautiful” vacation, then you are headed in the right direction.

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on April 16, 2014.


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