Isla Malipano is an island among several Samal islands, just a 5 minute speedboat ride from the more famous Pearl Farm Resort. But first, you must take the 90 minute flight from Manila to  Davao, then the 1 hour boat ride to Samal Island’s Pearl Farm.   😉

Morning flights to Davao went as early as 6am, but we opted to take the 10am flight.  We landed half an hour before noon and the shuttle took us for a short ride to the Pearl Farm jetty port.  We were served a buffet lunch just before taking the boat that will ferry us to Samal Island.  Pearl Farm is so called because it actually was a Pearl Farm sometime back.  But it is now one of the pricey resorts in the country and appeals mainly to honeymooners, balikbayans (literally meaning back to country Filipinos on holiday), tourists and locals with money to spend, or used as convention or conference venue.  This is my 3rd time here in Pearl Farm , but my first in Isla Malipano.  Now this island is actually a private island right across the resort, used by the family which owns and operates the Pearl Farm Resort whenever they are here or when they entertain their own guests.  The cost of maintaining the place may have compelled them to make available the villas to paying guests too, and that explains how we got here.

 

Our Very Own Island

It was almost 3pm when we checked in. They served fresh pineapple juice as soon as we reached Pearl Farm’s pagoda reception area , complete with a local group playing native music. In this southern part of the Philippines, the Muslim influence manifests itself in the dances and songs. I love the colorful costumes and beadwork too. Then we took the small speedboat to get to our private island. There are only 7 villas in the private island which also has a 3 hole golf course, a small chapel and a good-sized activity center which can be used for parties and conferences. At the time we were there, we occupied 3 of the 7 villas. We were the only ones in the island . 

 


It was surreal to have an island all to yourself. I mean, we were a group occupying 3 villas, but each 3-storey villa has its own beachfront , and we couldn’t even see each other from the balconies or verandahs of our villas.  Everything was so self-contained.  One need only to get down and take hold of any one of a few beach chairs or beds, maybe ask for a massage therapist whilst there, or just sit it out there in his/her own private beach and wait for the sunset. The place is ideal for honeymooners,  as well as families.  Our villa has 3 bedrooms and a verandah cum view deck  jutting out to the sea.  Depending on one’s mood, it is easy to feel either romantic, happy or melancholy here.  The days are long, and unless you want to spend your entire day at the beach, there is nothing much else to do.  Which is fine, if you are spending just a few days here.  Make it a week and I think I’d snap and go crazy.  And make that poor too. I will not even talk about the rates for the villa, as I frankly think it is obscene.  No, I did not pay for it.  I happened to be attending a convention here, which allowed me this luxury at no cost. But I did check out the rates for the day tours , which I find reasonable at 1,500 pesos or about US $30-33.  This day tour rate includes the boat transfers, lunch and use of one of the native houses by the beach for a few hours.

 

The villa is dripping in luxury.  The huge rooms, each with its own private toilet and bath, heavenly beds, bay windows looking out into the sea,  ethnic inspired  local furniture and appointments.  I particularly liked a floor lamp and local vase made of local ropes and cordage. And the huge and comfortable chairs on the verandah. It was also interesting to find a big jar by the gate of each villa. This jar is filled with water , to be used with a dipper made from coconut shell, to wash one’s feet before entering the villa.  Interesting detail.  The only thing I hated is the phone out in the balcony.  The times the phone rang, I wanted to bury my head under the soft pillows. I also found it odd that there were no full length mirrors inside the bedroom and bathroom. Instinctively, I thought the one who decided on the architecture and interior design of the villas must be male.  I cannot imagine anyone of my gender to miss installing a full-length mirror ……….  I mean, every woman just had to check her “total look” before stepping out of the room, right?

I took my Sydney-based niece with me to Isla Malipano (isla actually translates to island.  She doesn’t play golf, jet ski, kayak,  nor scuba-dive, so she didn’t really find much to do in the island.  While she agreed with me about the telephone and full-length mirror, she had to add that all rooms should have hair dryers and television sets.  Only the Master’s bedroom had a tv and dryer. That said, she also added that the bar did not have enough stuff.  I mean, there were 6 of us in the villa and not much chips and nuts and sodas.  This is important since all meals are served in Pearl Farm which we can reach by riding the speedboat each time.  For coffee lovers that we are,  we can easily exhaust the pantry for coffee pods!

 

So, what to do?


I spent the entire day in conference, while my niece checked out all 5 beaches in Isla Malipano and Pearl Farm.  There were 2 lovely swimming pools too, one of which is an infinity pool with a view that stretches out to the sea.  Shelly also discovered the boutique and the Spa. By the afternoon, she was done with her swimming and her pedicure.


In the evening,  one can enjoy dinner while a local song and dance group entertained us.  The leader of the group explained each of the Muslim instruments such as the kulintang,  an ancient instrument composed of gongs in graduated sizes , laid out horizontally to be struck to produce a melody much like a xylophone.  And there’s the kadlong, a 2 stringed guitar or lute shaped like a boat, with 5 small holes on its back. The band leader said the kadlong is played with the 5 holes over the player’s chest so that music emanates from the heart.   The men in our group discovered the Parola bar and the Game Room where one can play chess, billiard, or simply enjoy some karaoke singing.  The following night, we had an al fresco dinner by the beach while the same band played.  To be honest, I was growing tired with the local music by the second day. It was the same repertoire each time.   Thank God someone in our group thought of inviting a local folk singer from another city to entertain us that night.

 

 

Judging by the crowd we met over breakfast, lunch and dinner,  many chose the place for its privacy.  A few were there for some water sports, but I didn’t think that department was nowhere as active as what we found in Boracay just a couple of weeks back. But the buffet spreads were good , and in this part of the Philippines,  local fruits are in abundance.  One can try marang, lanzones, pomelo, papaya, mango, rambutan, etc.

 

 

So, for those of you planning on a bit of luxury, you can try the day tours to Pearl Farm or if you really wish to stay at least a night, go make a reservation for one of the Samal houses right in Pearl Farm.  You don’t need a private island nor a villa.  I have tried the Samal Houses before and at 5,000 pesos a night (about US $100-110), it is sooo much cheaper than renting a villa.

 


Oh, don’t forget to bring a good book with you .  As for the massage,  I frankly think it is expensive at 850 pesos (about US$15) , perhaps because I still have pleasant memories of the same therapy for about a third of the price in Boracay.  In fact, the ones I had in Boracay were better than the massage I paid for here in Isla Malipano.


Privacy, good food,  luxury accompanied by peace and quiet……….these you’d get in this island. But be prepared to burn holes in your pocket.

More photos can be found in my TravelBlog site.