Sicogon Island poised as Western Visayas's next top attraction

Carla N. Canet

AYALA Land Inc., through its Ayala Land Hotels and Resorts in partnership Sicogon Development Corp., (Sideco) formed a joint venture company, the Sicogon Island Tourism Estate Corp. (Site), which started working on the revival of Sicogon Island, formerly known as the playground of the rich and famous in the 70s.

Located at Carles town in northwest Iloilo Province, Sicogon is envisioned to become the tourism mecca in Western Visayas.

Rita Ritz Sembrano Cristobal, marketing and sales senior associate of Ayala Land Inc., said that Ayala has started to build Balay Kogon, a cluster of quaint accommodations nestled between the beach and mountains of Sicogon Island, which forms part of the overall development plan for Sicogon.

The total area comprises 1,092 hectares - 382 hectares will be utilized for the development of world-class resorts, residential developments, retail/shops, forest trails, diving spots, airport and jetty port, and 1.3-kilometer airstrip to accommodate commercial and chartered flights. The rest of the area will remain devoted to flora and fauna.

Balay Kogon sits in an idyllic coastline with picture-perfect seascape, mountains, and neighboring islands.

There is a casa comprising two quaint cottages designed with tasteful local flair, inspired by the traditional Filipino architecture, open to the calming views of Mt. Opao, Tomaquin Island, and Molo-Polo rock formation; and casitas, which are made of row-type huts lined up along the pristine Buaya beach and complemented by a backdrop of Mt. Opao.

One can enjoy inter-island hopping, snorkeling, private picnic by the beach, kayaking, trek to Mt. Opao, and Sicogon Island tour.

Kogon 1A, comprising six rooms, was completed in 2016. Kogon 1B which will house 20 rooms and Kogon 2 with 30 rooms will all be completed by fourth quarter of the year.

Sicogon Island is accessible by air, land, sea and other modes of transport.

It is a 45-minute boat ride from Estancia port going to Sicogon, said resort manager Jess Abelard Ercilla.

With this development, Site has employed 178 locals for both formal and informal employment; 86 working for construction; five for Balay Kogon; 16 for landscaping and nursery; five boatmen; five for I-Serve; 34 security guards; and 21 for Uswagon HOA Livelihood.