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 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 is within the First District
Most of the hotels, B&Bs and resorts are in the Second District
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
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.
Buy things for your gadgets in case you left them at home
LCC, the largets chain of malls, supermarkets and express stores in the Bicol region is present in Masbate
as the provincial capital, Masbate City is where the universities and colleges in Masbate are found
The Grand Rodeo Arena is within the city
FASTFOODS AND LOCAL RESTOS
Sutukil is the best local restaurant, good food, very low prices
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.
Visit the Santo Entierro at the heritage house called Villa Bayot
a mangrove park at the Boulevard, near the hotels
the famous cowboy monument – – – this is rodeo country
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
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”.
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
WHERE CAN I STAY?
I recently wrote about accommodations options, to guide anyone wishing to see this beautiful island province.
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