Balut Island of the ‘Other Sarangani’
Balut Island was a mystery to me when I heard its name for the first time from one of our farm workers over two decades ago. I imagined it to be an island full of balut (duck embryo) and its various versions, penoy and matra. I have also heard of stories about the difficulty of transportation going there–stories of huge waves that sea vessels have to brave in order to reach the island. For many years, I had never seen any photo of the island, which made me even more curious about it. Yes, it was that curiosity about the island’s mystery that sent me on my way to Balut Island not so long ago.
Taking advantage of the holidays, I, with three of my friends, set forth on a journey to Balut Island. It wasn’t really a clueless adventure since I was going with a friend I met a few years ago who grew up in the island. Also, prior to the trip, I was able to see photos of the sights on the island. But having to go there, myself, was definitely a very exciting idea.
Balut Island is a volcanic island in the Municipality of Sarangani in Davao Occidental.Yes, it confuses many people. There is a municipality in Davao Occidental that is named Sarangani. This is not the same Sarangani where Manny Pacquiao is the congressional representative. Pacquiao’s Sarangani is a province in Region XII, while the Sarangani, where Balut Island is part of, is a municipality in Davao Occidental Region XI. Although it is in another region, Balut Island is closer to Sarangani Province than to the province of Davao Occidental. If you still find that confusing, go visit these places.
Going to Balut Island
There used to be a passenger ferry that carries people to Balut Island from General Santos City. It was called MV Song of Dolly. But its operations were halted for some reasons. So, the best way for us to go to Balut Island was to ride a small cargo vessel from Puting Bato, General Santos City. I don’t think I am brave enough to choose the motorized banca from Batulaki in Glan, Sarangani Province.
There is no formal port for cargo vessels that ply the General Santos City – Balut Island since the terminal at the Paulino Santos landing site was closed due to the rumored sinkhole. Trips to Balut Island are usually scheduled at midnight to avoid the huge waves (yes, the stories are real!). Our vessel left behind schedule as the loading of the cargoes took too long. The kid stevedores — sadly, the bags of cement, metal bars, sacks of rice, boxes of groceries, cases of sofdrinks are being loaded on to the boat by very young workers — did not finish their jobs until about past one o’clock in the morning.
For the rest of the eight hours of the journey from Sarangani Bay to Celebes Sea, were slept among the goods from the city. We were awoken by sudden jolts caused by the movement of the vessel as it crosses the Sarangani strait. Despite the beautiful view of the sunrise, I felt seasick. It felt like the ferry was jumping on the water. After an hour of that ordeal, we were welcomes by a beautiful sight of the island. I could wait to get out of the boat and hop into the island.
I was about to the unlock the mystery of Balut Island.
Frequently Asked Questions
- Fare from General Santos City to Balut Island: P350.00, plus terminal fee (P30.00)
- Travel Time: 7-8 hours (depending on the boat and the weather)
- Mode of Transportation: Cargo Vessel/Ferry
- Insider Tip: You might need to book your tickets ahead, especially during summer.
Next Up: Our adventures on the island