Degustacion and Tertulia

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The heritage town of Taal, Batangas, celebrated Philippine Independence Day with a weekend Art, Food and Fashion Festival.

The old homes were decorated with Philippine flags and the atmosphere was festive.

Villa Tortuga

Villa Tortuga

 

An art exhibit was nearby, with artists from UST on a reunion.

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Meanwhile, preparations for a fashion show were were being done at Paradores, the town’s premier hotel. A degustacion at Casa Feliza appealed to me the most so I went, having booked well ahead as there were limited seats.

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Why was it a must-go?

The menu is a mouthwatering version of dishes served during the Malolos Convention, prepared by Chef Giney Villar.

Researched by, and presented by Chef Giney

Researched by, and presented by Chef Giney

 

The event host was Elizabeth Angsioco, resplendent in a gown re-created from old gowns.

Beth with media person Howie Severino

Beth with media person Howie Severino

The town’s historian Dindo regaled the visitors with stories from the past, how Taal was also nominated for inclusion in the UNESCO Heritage list, about the festivals in Taal, all in his interesting Batangueno accent.

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To highlist history and the link to the Malolos Convention, a delegation from that Bulacan town was present, headed by their vice mayor.

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The guests included actors playing guardia civil, General Luna, and then president General Emilio Aguinaldo.

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Casa Feliza was home to Feliza Diokno, then the secretary of President Emilio Aguinaldo. Today, it is open as a taverna at the ground floor, and B&B at the second floor. For the degustacion, the table setting was nothing less than impressive.

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I was lost in the bliss of this culinary experience that I forgot to take photos of the dishes. So I instead took a photo of the dessert corner.

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Towards the end, a friend of the hosts recited a poem in Spanish. His original composition in English that he translated to Filipino and Spanish.

An event to look forward to in 2017.

Rodeo Festival 2016 Masbate, Philippines

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I have written about the Masbate Rodeo extensively for three years. For the 2016 rodeo, I will let photos tell the story. Like you were just there.

BARN DANCE: from the streets to the arena:

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MY FAVORITE CATTLE EVENTS

Bull Riding

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Carambola

 

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Wrestling from Horseback

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WATCH OUT FOR  MASBATE RODEO 2017. APRIL 18- 22, 2017

 

LAKWATSA

The 2016 Festival Logo The 2016 Festival Logo

The most exciting National Rodeo Finals is ongoing at the Masbate Grand Arena, with Awards night on the 16th.

I have been attending the festival for three years in a row, and I have booked my flight and my hotel for this year, too. Some friends are saying they will be in Masbate for up to 3 weeks, finding the rodeo week a rather short period to truly enjoy Masbate. Yes, Masbate is the Rodeo Capital of the Philippines, and hosts the biggest rodeo event in the Philippines. maybe even the biggest in all of Asia.  And on top of the rodeo, visitors will find side-trips to be so rewarding, seeing waterfalls, white sand beaches, centuries-old lighthouses, and many more attractions.

First of all, the Rodeo.

Masbate has the only proper rodeo arena in the country. Whereas all the rodeos I have visited make do with…

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Vigan Rodeo at Kannawidan

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Vigan celebrated a week-long fiesta highlighted by an invitational rodeo February 5-6, 2016.

the audience gallery

the audience gallery

 

the improvised rodeo arena

the improvised rodeo arena

Since this is an amateur rodeo competition with students from agri, animal science, and vet med schools from around Vigan were invited to compete. The organizers invited the country’s premier rodeo organization, the Volunteer Rodeo Officials of Masbate, known as VROoM, the technical group of the Rodeo Masbateno, Inc. For perspective, Masbate hosts the biggest rodeo event in the country, in the National Rodeo Finals held for one week in April every year. VROoM handled the Vigan rodeo as guest officers, practically running the event – – from briefing the participants on the rules, to managing the stockyard, to managing the scoring, to managing the sequence of events and competing teams, to performing functions as timers, and to actual officiating and judging on all the events.

Volunteer Rodeo Officials of Masbate (VROoM)

Volunteer Rodeo Officials of Masbate (VROoM)

The event started with a parade around the city, starting from the provincial capitol, and ending at the makeshift rodeo arena right beside the capitol. Opening ceremonies were held, with the singing of the national anthem, the oath of sportsmanship, the introduction of the participating schools, and the talk by the rodeo organizers. An intermission number ensued, courtesy of the office of the governor.

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cowboys and cowgirls dancing on the arena

Intermission: cowboys and cowgirls dancing on the arena

The Events

The rodeo events consisted of carambola (2-men, 2-women, 4-men, 4-women) wherein competing teams run to take possession of a cattle – – – the team to get a hold of a cattle’s neck “owns” it and so the other team will just have to chase the other cattle. They will then wrestle with the cattle and bring it to the ground and tie up the cattle’s feet. A good play is when the cattle is unable to get up from the ground in 10 seconds.

There is also casting down where players use a lasso to catch the cattle, and pulling the cattle until it falls, and finally tie down its feet.

There are also lassoing events where players need to be able to successfully lasso a cattle within a maximum of three throws.

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There were exhibition events of things normally done on the farm, like bull whipping, load carrying,  and log cutting. Plus fun games like egg carrying, and the Miss Rodeo competition where the team’s muses were scored on beauty and personality, talent, and intelligence.

Egg Throw/Catch

Egg Throw/Catch

The event ended with a big party on the second night, complete with catered dinner and entertainment. Overall champion was the Central Luzon State University (CLSU) Rodeo team, the same team that was champion last year.

Overall, the rodeo event was a success and, if Vigan continues to run the rodeo as professionally as Masbate’s VROoM officiated, they could well be on their way to becoming the Amateur Rodeo Capital of the Philippines, an expressed wish of the organizers.

VROoM Rodeo Director briefing the competing teams before an event

VROoM Rodeo Director briefing the competing teams before an event

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VROoM to the rescue when a cow jumped out of the arena and could cause great damage to people and property around the arena

VROoM to the rescue when a cow jumped out of the arena and could cause great damage to people and property around the arena

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Hotel Luna in Vigan

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I did not imagine Vigan will ever have a four-storey luxury hotel. And yet Hotel Luna blends with the heritage village perfectly.

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An old mansion has been converted into Hotel Luna, complete with a grand staircase leading to a spacious upstairs living room that has been turned into a museum. The rooms, typical of old-world mansions, are big. Mine was a Loft Suite (P11,000 per night) with probably 50+ square meters of floor area. It had a comfortable living room with an L-type soft cushioned lounge set, a desk, the coffee and tea bar, plus the wardrobe that came with a room safe. On the same level is a huge bathroom, the size of a room in budget hotels. It had a bathtub reminiscent of the old days, a bath tub with “feet”. The shower stall is separate from the tub. The lavatory is wide and came with a complete set of amenities. The toilet seat is high-tech, with all those buttons for the various functionalities, including warming the seat cover. They also have regular and de-luxe rooms. Please check the website listed below, where you can make inquiries on room rates.

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Breakfast was served at the COMEDOR, a lovely restaurant. The buffet  was sumptuous, and the choices were as varied as when I have buffet breakfasts in high-end Makati hotels. And artwork  enhanced the setting.

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A Ramon Orlina piece at the breakfast/dining area

 

 

The Museum

I first saw a hotel that had artwork by masters in a Baguio Hotel, and I found out Hotel Luna is also from the same group that owns and runs Le Monet in Baguio. The museum is at the second floor of the heritage building, from the grand staircase.

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La Mandolinera by Juan Luna, Year 1800

Lovers of art and culture will spend good time appreciating paintings and sculpture by national artists. Amorsolo. Vicente Manansala. Federico Alcuaz, Ramon Orlina.  BenCab. Eduardo Castrillo. Guillermo Tolentino. Arturo Luz.  Abdulmari Asia Imao. Malang. And even 1800s works by Juan Luna, plus a reproduction of his Spoliarium.

 

Sarimanok series by Abdulmari

Sarimanok series by Abdulmari Imao

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an Arturo Luz

an Arturo Luz

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Dos Marias by Federico Alcuaz

Dos Marias by Federico Alcuaz

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Guillermo Tolentino

Guillermo Tolentino, an untitled 1957 work

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BenCab

BenCab

 

Malang

Malang

 

a reproduction of Juan Luna's Spoliarium

a reproduction of Juan Luna’s Spoliarium

 

FOUR-STOREY HOTEL

Surely there were no tall structures in those days. The 4-storey structure must have been a beautiful addition beside the old heritage mansion. At the center of the 4-storey hotel area is a swimming pool with tables around for drinks and casual dining. On top of the     fourth-level , accessed via a scenic elevator, is the Azotea, the rooftop deck where my friends and I had drinks and bar chow.

The scenic elevator that leads to the AZOTEA

The scenic elevator that leads to the AZOTEA

Truly, Vigan has turned world-class with Hotel Luna.

portion of the ground floor lobby

portion of the ground floor lobby

Website: http://hotelluna.ph/

 

Subic: Ocean Adventure & Zoobic Safari and Convention Center

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Subic has consistently been one of my most-viewed blog posts. I guess it is because this R&R destination keeps on improving itself. The AdSummit #ADSUMMITPH2016 is actually being held now at the Subic Bay Exhibition and Convention Center (SBECC) which was built for these huge ad industry events many advertising congresses ago.

Direk Joey Reyes was a hit

Direk Joey Reyes was a hit. He also said “Think like a fruit. When you mellow, you will start to rot”. How true.

 

words of wisdom

words of wisdom

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Thousands of ad men and women attend the Ad Summit. Many freebies, including Krispy Kreme where delegates queue for this free treat

Thousands of ad men and women attend the Ad Summit. Many freebies, including Krispy Kreme where delegates queue for this free treat

The hotels have also mushroomed. The Mansion Garden Hotel where I am staying is one of the sought-after accommodations. Nice, clean, and most of all it is the closest hotel to Meat Plus, Subic’s most popular restaurant.

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my suite

my suite

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LAKWATSA

I have been to Subic a lot. In one of my trips, with my wife, my daughter and her nanny, plus my driver, I won so much in the casino that the cost of the entire trip was more than paid for. As I checked out, I was given a promo stub to fill up. Apparently, all guests were entitled to a raffle stub with a trip to Malaysia for 2 as grand prize. I won that, too. Tubong lugaw.

Ocean Adventure

This is my daughter’s favorite. Within the park, visitors can watch a seal show, a dolphin show, a whale show, and actually swim with the whales. And ride the whales. The handlers took my daughter from the shore to the raft in what I thought was not possible. The whales were beached on the shore, and my daughter was asked to ride it and hold on to the…

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Masbate: Big City

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I have always been wondering how others who have not been to Masbate think of this place. To confess, I also had images of my 1978 visit ( small, backward, very very provincial)  when I returned in 2013. Back in 1978 there was only one hotel, located near the pier, where hotel staff delivered to my room a pail of water when I took a bath.

MASBATE PROVINCE

Masbate Province has a booming population estimated at 950,000 in 2016. Made up of 20 municipalities and 1 city. Two big islands, Ticao and Burias form the province’s First District. Masbate City and the towns around it, including the province’s biggest town of Aroroy form District 2. The Third district includes the big towns of Placer and Cawayan, the two most populated towns after Masbate City, and Cataingan, the farthest town that is close enough to Iloilo.

Ticao Island Resort is within the First District

Ticao Island  is within the First District

 

Most of the hotels, B&Bs and resorts are in the Second District

Most of the hotels, B&Bs and resorts are in the Second District

 

the Third District hosts more beaches and island resorts

the Third District hosts more beaches and island resorts

Around 80% of land in the province is used for farms and ranches, making Masbate a cowboy country, and officially the Rodeo Capital of the Philippines.

Get to visit a farm and watch how cattle is herded

Get to visit a farm and watch how cattle is herded

 

THE CITY OF MASBATE

Masbate today looks like any provincial city. No, not like the premier cities of Cebu, Bacolod, Iloilo and Davao. It is the capital city of the province of Masbate, and the center of commerce. It is big and at the same time small. No traffic typical of the big cities. But has all the comforts – – it has malls and department stores, as well as the fast food joints that “define” how cities and towns have progressed. There are banks and other financial institutions that visitors will need to withdraw cash from ATM, or transfer/receive funds thru any of the “pera padala” centers.

Gaisano Mall

Gaisano Mall

Buy things for your gadgets in case you left them at home

Buy things for your gadgets in case you left them at home

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LCC, the largets chain of malls, supermarkets and express stores in the Bicol region is present in Masbate

LCC, the largets chain of malls, supermarkets and express stores in the Bicol region is present in Masbate

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as the provincial capital, Masbate City is where the universities and colleges in Masbate are found

as the provincial capital, Masbate City is where the universities and colleges in Masbate are found

The Grand Rodeo Arena is within the city

The Grand Rodeo Arena is within the city

 

FINANCIAL INSTITUTIONS

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FASTFOODS AND LOCAL RESTOS

Sutukil is the best local restaurant, good food, very low prices

Sutukil is the best local restaurant, good food, very low prices

 

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WHAT TO VISIT WITHIN THE CITY LIMITS

Masbate is not just the Rodeo Capital of the Philippines. Within the city are tourist attractions, resorts, and resort hotels. Transport within the city is via tricycles and fare is only P8 per person.

Buntod Reef is a few minutes boat ride. White sands.

Buntod Reef is a few minutes boat ride. White sands.

 

Visit the Santo Entierro at the heritage house called Villa Bayot

Visit the Santo Entierro at the heritage house called Villa Bayot

 

a mangrove park at the Boulevard, near the hotels

a mangrove park at the Boulevard, near the hotels

 

the famous cowboy monument - - - this is rodeo country

the famous cowboy monument – – – this is rodeo country

 

the cathedral, at the city center

the cathedral, at the city center

 

Tricyles are easy to find, or are on queue in malls, fastfoods, and in many parts of the main street

Tricyles are easy to find, or are on queue in malls, fastfoods, and in many parts of the main street

 

The people are nice, and I have returned many times because of the many friends I have made. They have accompanied me to the different spots around Masbate and have had drinks with them in bars or in a “tambayan” at a friend’s carport.

One of the many bars and restaurants dotting the BOULEVARD area. This one is called "Kuya Nathan".

One of the many bars and restaurants dotting the BOULEVARD area. This one is called “Kuya Nathan”.

Another friend says he returns to Masbate every year not just for the rodeo, but to be with friends we have made. I personally truly believe that visitors go to a place to see interesting sights for the first time, and return to be with friends they made. Masbatenos are truly a wonderful breed of people, contrary to the image created in people’s minds resulting from the past. This is a New Masbate. Come visit.

Buy interesting pasalubong at Fazenda, found on the cathedral grounds

Buy interesting pasalubong at Fazenda, found on the cathedral grounds

 

WHERE CAN I STAY?

I recently wrote about accommodations options, to guide anyone wishing to see this beautiful island province.

20 Masbate Hotels and Other Accommodations Options

 

HOW TO GET TO MASBATE

Philippine Airlines flies daily to Masbate, leaving Terminal 3 at 5:05 am. Visitors will have one full day when they get to the city.

You can also travel by land. Buses leave Cubao and are loaded onto roll-on-roll-off boats between Pilar in Sorsogon and Masbate City such that visitors can travel direct from Quezon City to Masbate City. Travel time is from 16 to 18 hours. Visitors can also bring their cars and take the roro so they can travel around Masbate in their own cars.

Masbate is interesting year round. A bonus when you visit mid April is the Rodeo National Finals

Masbate is interesting year round. A bonus when you visit mid April is the Rodeo National Finals

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

20 Masbate Hotels and Other Accommodations Options

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As I keep returning to Masbate to attend the annual National Rodeo Finals, I find that more and more hotels have opened, and more are opening. In contrast with my first visit to Masbate in 1978 when the only hotel then was one near the pier, and is not anymore operational.

In 2013, I was happy to return with some room choices. And after many more visits, I am ready to share with fellow travelers the accommodations options on this beautiful island. As a Top Contributor on TripAdvisor, I find it strange that only the older, and rather decaying ones, are listed and reviewed. Last week, I caused the listing of a hotel that I thought should be there, so that fellow travelers can likewise share their experiences and prospective visitors will be better guided.

This blog is definitely the most comprehensive listing and review of Masbate hotels to date.

1. RANCHELLE BEACH RESORT AND HOTEL

I stayed at Ranchelle two weeks ago and was so impressed, making me conclude it is the best hotel within the city,  that I immediately wrote a TripAdvisor review, only to find out it was not yet listed. Probably because I am a tripadvisor  Top Contributor, they eventually included Ranchelle in their listing, publishing my review.

Nice clean room, crisp linen, 4 pillows, clean blanket, bottled water, white clean towels.

Nice clean room, crisp linen, 4 pillows, clean blanket, bottled water, white clean towels.

 

native picnic huts near or facing the beach

native picnic huts near or facing the beach

The only downside is that the place can get so busy with weekend outings of local families. I was out most of the day anyway, and the place was blissfully quiet at night.

Room Rates: De Luxe P1,800, Family P2,300, Premier P2,600, Suite P3,300. When I was there, they had a P400 promo discount on the rooms. Includes breakfast, free wifi, and free use of gym. Contact: 056 5780929/09487165915
FB page:Ranchelle Beach resort Kainan sa Tabing Dagat
Website: http://www.ranchelle.com.ph

 

2. LEGACY SUITES

This hotel surprised me when they accommodated my request for a reconfiguration of a family room when I was deciding on which hotel to stay in when I attended Rodeo 2015. The owners (whenever around, as they are in the USA a good part of the year) are very hands on and quite friendly. The location is a plus, having drinks at the front of the hotel while watching the ocean.

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My room, reconfigured to my wishes. Room 8.

My room, reconfigured to my wishes. Room 8. With verandas, albeit small, on both sides.

 

Nice to have drinks or coffee here, front of the hotel, facing the road and the ocean

Nice to have drinks or coffee here, front of the hotel, facing the road and the ocean

Address: Purok 8, Boulevard, Barangay Ibingay
Contact : (056) 582 0210, (056) 588 0423, 0917 600 9372

Rates: Single P1,350, Twin P1,600, Family 1,65o – P3,000

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/legacysuites.masbate

Website : http://www.legacysuites.net

 

3. NOVO HOTEL

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Novo Hotel is the only high-rise hotel in downtown Masbate, right smack at the city center. It is extremely popular because of its location and inexpensive pricing. Aircondtioned rooms go for P900 for 24 hours, and check out is dependent on the guest’s check in. The presidential suite goes for a mere P1,400, (but was racked up to P1,700 on the week of the city’s most popular event, the Rodeo festival. All room rates actually go up during this peak season). The bigger family room is just slightly more expensive.

Presidential Suite

Presidential Suite

Telephone number +63 56 578 0687. Call to check if they have a room: this hotel does not accept reservations.

 

4. GREENVIEW HOTEL

I stayed at Greenview on my first rodeo in 2013. The top floor of the unit burned the other year, but the hotel has since been fully restored. Pretty nice hotel, nothing luxurious but good value.

The room at the structure before the main building is nice.

The room at the structure before the main building is nice.

Breakfast/coffee/drinks spot

Breakfast/coffee/drinks spot

Address: Nursery Street

Contact: (056) 33 6241, 0920 611 9650

Rates: My room was P1,500.

 

5. SAFE HOUSE

This is a new option, tucked away in Himomoro, within Masbate City. Best reference is Gagay Resort, right beside the new Safe House. Safe House at the moment only has two airconditioned rooms but accommodations for each room can go as many as 6 pax, with extra mattresses provided by the owner. Presently under construction is an events venue, plus two more rooms.

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Safe House has become a destination. It has the “I Love (heart) Masbate” sign with the very famous Buntod Reef on the background. Even the province’s Vice Governor went to safe House for that beautiful photo op.

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Another attraction is the steel railing where lovers can seal their love for each other with pad locks, inspired by how lovers seal their loves with pad locks on bridges in Paris.

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Contact: Cliffords 111, phone number 09287786888

Rate: P1,200 per day

 

6. BALAY VALENCIA

This is a preferred accommodation by sensible, budget-conscious travelers, including foreign backpackers and local executives who want local flavor in an old provincial home. No fuzz, just comfortable accommodations. Flowing coffee, mineral water, cheap wifi, free breakfast.

tucked along quiet Ibanez Street, at the city center

tucked along quiet Ibanez Street, at the city center

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feel at home

feel at home

Contact: (056) 333 6530

Contact: (056) 333 6530

7.  7-AR  RESORT

I instantly liked 7-AR when I saw this resort-hotel. Only, I was told by a friend that the rooms are small. And I personally like spacious rooms, so I have not stayed here yet. But I checked out the rooms two weeks ago and, while the rooms are not big, they I thought were good enough. The plus is the hotel’s location, and the beautiful swimming pool by the beach-side.

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Not big, but I thought this is comfortable

Not big, but I thought this is comfortable

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8. MG HOTEL

MG Hotel is described in old reviews as the best hotel in Masbate. Indeed, I was told that President PNoy stayed there when the plane carrying Secretary Robredo crashed, and the president and his cabinet trooped to Masbate. When i stayed there last, I noticed that the hotel was not well maintained, and I noted this poor maintenance in my review. Not really that bad, maybe it was just my room. But after seeing the other hotels, MG can not lay claim to being the best.

My third floor room

My third floor room

MG Restaurant, coffee shop

MG Restaurant, coffee shop

a kiddie pool?

a kiddie pool?

 

9. BAMBI HOTEL

Bambi Hotel used to be Sea Blick, then managed by MG Hotel. As a stand alone hotel, they now have their own coffee shop. Room rates include breakfast, hot and cold showers, cable TV, wifi, transfers to and from the airport or pier, and they have a stand by generator. A pleasant surprise is that they accept all major credit cards, in very sharp contrast with most Masbate hotels.

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10. RENDEZVOUS RESORT

Rendezvous is one of the earlier hotels in the city, and has been home to many famous personalities. However, with the opening of newer hotels, Rendevous has become a mid-range hotel. It was also a most visited destination when the wharf going to the famous Buntod Reef was still operational, but the wharf has gone down because of a recent typhoon. I chose to have lunch here on my last visit. The al fresco setting by the beach is always a nice lunch or dinner experience. A major plus is the amiable owner/manager of the resort hotel, an active community personality and a warm host.

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Testimonials from past guests

Testimonials from past guests

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Address: Punta, Nursery, Masbate City

Contact : (056) 333 4751, 0905 327 2778

Rates: P800 – P1,500. Breakfast not included. Wifi in Restaurant.

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/rendezvousresortph

 

11. ST. ANTHONY HOTEL

I have been seeing this hotel on my past visits and so I decided to check this out two weeks ago. It is right smack at the city center, along Quezon Street, the city’s main road.  The entrance to the hotel is a narrow hallway from the road, beside a restaurant. The hotel signage is prominent, and can not be missed.

the mosy expensive room of the hotel has a good orthopedic bed and high quality beddings. P2,500.

the most expensive room of the hotel has a good orthopedic bed and high quality beddings. P2,500.

the typical aircon room

the typical aircon room

Rates:

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Contact St Anthony Hotel at (056) 333 2180, 0946 821 2580

12. GV HOTEL

I once stayed at GV Hotel so that, as a blogger, I can share hotel standards and services from the best hotel to the least. I rate GV the least, until I come across a lesser hotel. Strange that this hotel which is part of a chain does not even have a coffee shop, nor a store. I had to go out of the hotel to buy biscuits, bread, and drinks tto tide me over when I get hunger pangs at night. The hotel’s maintenance also needs improvement. I asked to be transfered to another room because of the stink in the room originally assigned to me. For travelers on a budget, GV can be an acceptable accommodation. as long as you know how to cope. And make sure you get a clean room.

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Address: Danao Street, Masbate City

Contact : (056) 333 6844

Rates: Fan Room P1,050, Standard AC P1,440, De Luxe P1,800, De Luxe family (4pax) P2,800. The hotel runs promo rates with 50% discount on some months.
Website: http://www.gvhotels.com.ph/masbate/masbate.hotel

 

13. BACH COTTAGES

When I visited, the signage was not even up yet. So if you go right now, you may not find it. The one in charge just mentioned that the name of the whole property will be Bach Cottages. In case you visit and not see the sign, look for the cluster of cottages beside the Magrovetum on the Boulevard, in between the mangroves and the activity hall of the Masons, before Rendezvous Resort.

country-style cottages

country-style cottages

not a hotel, and not run by skilled hotel housekeeping staff. Backpacker-type accommodations in a lovely setting

not a hotel, and not run by skilled hotel housekeeping staff. Backpacker-type accommodations in a lovely setting

Address: Robredo Boulevard, near mangroves (Mangrovetum)

Contact: Nathaniel Guadayo, phone 0915 5006330

Rates: P750 for 2 pax, aircon, P500 for non-aircon room

 

 

AROUND MASBATE CITY

 

14. BITUON BEACH RESORT

Bituon is 10 kms east of Masbate, in the town of Mobo. It is an extremely popular resort, with more than one kilometer of white sand beach. There are huts and tables for picnickers, as well as non-aircon and aircon cottages facing the beach. Yet there are cozy, well-appointed rooms that cater to the more discriminating. A popular TV personality who visited and taped for his travel show stayed at Bituon.

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their best rooms are cozy, with amenities like ref etc

their best rooms are cozy, with amenities like ref etc

 

Address: Bituon Beach Resort, Bagacay, Mobo, Masbate

Contact: (056)3332 2197, 0917 548 3938

Rates: From P800 (duplex, non aircon, single bed) to P3,500 (executive room, aircon, cable TV, Ref, bathtub, hot and cold shower, breakfast for 2

Website: http://www.bituonbeach.com

 

15. TICAO ISLAND RESORT

This accommodation is on another island. I went there by boat from masbate City, and thru a habal habal (backride) on a single motorbike. Ticao Island Resort is popular as a dive resort and clients mostly come by boat from Donsol, Sorsogon. I was the only Filipino when I checked in at Ticao Island Resort. It is  high-end : P7,000 cottage that can accommodate 2 pax,  full board. If you travel solo you still have to pay the full rate of the cottage. It is beautiful, though, and worth the price.

 

 

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the very simple P7,000 a night cottage

the very simple P7,000 a night cottage

Address: Barangay Tacdungan, San Jacinto, Ticao Island, Province of Masbate

Contact Details: 0906 324 3116, 0906 324 3034

Website: http://www.ticao-island-resort.com

 

16, MAYONG PAYONG

This is not a hotel nor a resort. But when I went there I found out that the cottages can be rented for P200 overnight. There are no provisions. The floor is made of bamboo slats. My friends who stayed overnight brought thick blankets and jackets with them as the temperature up this hill can drop in the evenings. A couple sells coffee and other canned goods. Best to bring your provisions. Visitors are not guaranteed of accommodations, and you may want to be ready to pitch a tent. There is a toilet within the premises.

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Mayong Payong is on top of a hill in nearby Mobo. Visitors hire habal habal (back-ride on a single motorbike) from the turn off at the highway. Ask around how to get there.

 

17. COCO VIEW LAGOON

Coco View Lagoon is a picnic destination featuring a series of fresh water pools from a waterfall that flows into the property. sections have been created to manage the depths of the pool such that there are kiddie pools. Picnic huts are rented for P200- P400 depending on size. Overnight accommodations can also be arranged in air-conditioned rooms.

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overnight accommodations

overnight accommodations

Address; Umabay Interior, Mobo, Masbate

Contact : Darlene Torrecampo, phone 09084266077

Rates: P1,000 and P1,200 per room, aircon

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Coco-View-Lagoon-Umabay-Mobo

 

18. BUNTOD REEF

Buntod Reef is a protected marine reserve. A marine sanctuary frequented by visitors during daytime. I have heard of friends who have stayed overnight. Check with the Tourism Office who can coordinate with the Marine sanctuary if you intend to camp overnight on this most beautiful Masbate white sand beach, actually a sand bar. If the authorities would not anymore allow overnight camping on the reef, just then try to visit for the day.

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19. CAMP ON AN ISLAND.

Masbate has many islands with pristine white sand beaches, many of them unknown to most locals. I went one such island then, actually with a long sand bar at low tide. The island is called Nabuktuk and is accessed from the pier of Mandaon. You might yet find your “old man and the sea” story.

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20. RANCH LIFE AT LA FORTALEZA

 

This is a most unique accommodation, and available only in San Juan, Mandaon, around Masbate. Stay overnight on a pitched tent on top of a hill within a working ranch. A package of only P600 per head per day includes a pitched tent, with toilet and shower facilities, horseback trail ride, trekking/hiking within the ranch, opportunity to observe cattle herding, opportunity to try ranch work like grooming and feeding horses, fence repair and replacement etc. Be a cowboy / cowgirl !

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see how cowboys herd cattle

see how cowboys herd cattle

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My friends and I pitched tents then, had bonfire at night, and watched the stars as we enjoyed our drinks.

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Ranch Life/Ranch Tour can be arranged thru  phone # 0906 2481108

 

HOW TO GO TO MASBATE

Philippine Airlines flies to Masbate daily.

Visitors can also take a bus from Cubao and  go straight to Masbate, via ro-ro in either Pilar or Pio Duran ports. Regular buses cost P1,000 one-way, inclusive of the ro-ro. Special Isarog buses with toilets and reclining seats also ply the route at P2,000n fare one way.