Masbate. So Beautiful. So Underrated. Updated Version

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This edit includes my recent visits. Including a camping experience atop a hill at Sese Brahmans in Mandaon, a visit to an ancestral home within the city center, and a hilltop viewpoint in Mobo.

Mayong Payong is accessed via an unpaved uphill road. It is advised, until the roads are paved, to bring only 4X4 SUVs. A friend of mine managed to go up on his sturdy Toyota Grandia, but it had to take an excellent driver like him to manage the rough, slippery road. Locals without transportation go up via habal habal, or backriding on single motorbikes.

Overnight accommodations can be arranged in huts that cost only P200 per night, but you will need to bring all your provisions because the kubos are rented out bare. A couple sells coffee and light snacks.

Mayong Payong

Mayong Payong

 

Buntod is probably the most famous Masbate destination. But it is best viewed from Mayong Payong.

Buntod is probably the most famous Masbate destination. But it is best viewed from Mayong Payong.

 

VILLA BAYOT

Villa Bayot is the home of what locals call Santo Entierro, actually the image of Jesus Christ enclosed in a glass case. It is a destination among the religious. But those wanting to merely appreciate the grandeur of this old ancestral house can make arrangements, like we did when we did a photoshoot.

A beautiful lass in period costume. She is actually one of the descendants of the old family.

A beautiful lass in period costume. She is actually one of the descendants of the old family.

 

NEARBY ISLANDS

If you can, try to arrange for island hopping from the port at Mandaon. In fact, one can go to Sibuyan and on to Boracay from this port. As this was a side trip for one day, we visited two islands most Masbatenos have never even heard of, much less seen,

Majaba is home to probaly only 5 families. Beautiful beach all around.

Majaba is home to probaly only 5 families. Beautiful beach all around.

 

Nabuktut is a sandbar. Here I met an old man that reminded of the story of The Old Man and the Sea.

Nabuktut is a sandbar. Here I met an old man that reminded of the story of The Old Man and the Sea.

 

TICAO ISLAND

I made a separate visit to Ticao and one may refer to the sights within this island. I thought that to complete a Masbate feature, I needed to show at least the most popular destinations.

Matang Tubig is the most famous local destination. It is a bathing pool from a natural spring. Refreshing.

Matang Tubig is the most famous local destination. It is a bathing pool from a natural spring. Refreshing.

 

This beautiful house is where the Bishop stays when in Ticao

This beautiful house is where the Bishop stays when in Ticao

 

There are many old, weather-beaten homes in Ticao. This one is in Monreal.

There are many old, weather-beaten homes in Ticao. This one is in Monreal.

 

MASBATE RANCH LIFE

The Rodeo Masbateno, Inc. has recently opened to the public, locals and visitors alike, an opportunity to experience Ranch Life. Stay on a tent on the hilltop overnight and gaze at the stars. Ride a horse down the meadow. Make your coffee cowboy-style. But the difference from a rough camping experience is that the venue has hotel-standard toilets and baths.

Be a cowboy or a cowgirl at the Rodeo Masbateno, Inc Ranch Life offer

Be a cowboy or a cowgirl at the Rodeo Masbateno, Inc Ranch Life offer

 

Our ranch life experience was highlighted by a bonfire on the hilltop with only the stars above us.

Our ranch life experience was highlighted by a bonfire on the hilltop with only the stars above us.

 

Rodeo Masbateno, Inc also hosts the Rodeo Festival, scheduled April 12-17 this year (2016). In photo is the Cattle Drive which ushers the start of the rodeo season.

Rodeo Masbateno, Inc also hosts the Rodeo Festival, scheduled April 12-17 this year (2016). In photo is the Cattle Drive which ushers the start of the rodeo season.

Come to Masbate. I am probably the only non-Masbateno who has traveled the most number of times and covered most of the province. Only because #MasbateProvince is beautiful, and the people are nice.

LAKWATSA

I first went to Masbate in 1978. I remember Masbate to be a very poor province. I always tell my friends that I then checked in at Crown Hotel near the pier and, when it was time for shower, the hotel staff would fetch me a huge pail of water – – brought to my second floor room from a pulley at the end of the hall.

Fast forward to 2013. Friends piqued my interest to watch the Masbate Rodeo and I thought it was an excellent subject for photography.

Image Bull riding

Image Barn dance at the Rodeo opening ceremonies

In between the rodeo events, my friends and I would go to “tourist destinations” but I did not have enough material then to write about Masbate. This year, I attended Rodeo 2014 and booked myself a much longer stay. In the process, I was able to explore more of Masbate.

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Beautiful Masbate. Beautiful Masbateñas

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The long Metro Manila holiday due to the APEC Summit found me, once again, in beautiful Masbate.

the second Masbate signature (the big one is at the Capitol Building). This one is at the Safe House at Himomoro Boulevard, Masbate City. Interestingly, the famous Buntod Reef is the backdrop of this I Love Masbate signage.

the second Masbate signature (the big one is at the Capitol Building). This one is at the Safe House at Himomoro Boulevard, Masbate City. Interestingly, the famous Buntod Reef (towards the left) is the backdrop of this I Love Masbate signage.

Seven (7) photographer-friends from FUNtastic Philippines Fun Group joined me on a roadtrip starting from Manila at 4am. Estimated departure of the roll-on-roll-off (roro) boat from the pio Duran port in Ligao, Albay was 1 am the next day.

We settled at the hilltop campsite of the cattle ranch of a friend, the president of Rodeo Masbateño, Inc. After pitching our tents, two beautiful Masbateñas arrived for our scheduled photo-shoot at the Sese Brahmans Ranch in Mandaon.

A cowgirl-model on horseback near one of the tents in our camp

A cowgirl-model on horseback beside one of the tents in our camp

 

 

 

 

 

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Our friends gamely posed as extras for our model whom we shot atop the wagon attached to the tractor used in the ranch

The next day, we drove up  Mayong Payong, a scenic mountaintop in the town of Mobo, in time for the sunrise. The scenery reminds one of Tagaytay. Another beautiful Masbateña was there, prearranged by a friend, for a photoshoot of this mountain park.

Mayong Payong has native huts that rent out for P200 per night.

Mayong Payong has native huts that rent out for P200 per night.

 

We got there to catch the sunrise. All we got was  a few seconds and fog enveloped the mountaintop,

We got there to catch the sunrise. All we got was a few seconds and fog enveloped the mountaintop,

 

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At Mayong Payong, one can see the view of the city center, the distant Mayon Volcano, and the famous Buntod Reef which looks like a really tiny speck of sand when viewed from Mayong Payong

From Mayong Payong, Buntod Reef looks like only 3 people can stand on the tiny island

From Mayong Payong, Buntod Reef looks like only 3 people can stand on the tiny island

From Mayong Payong, we rode a boat at a wharf at Rendezvous Hotel for Buntod Reef and Marine Sanctuary, probably the most beautiful and the most photographed spot in Masbate, Our featured model was Masbate’s Miss Tourism.

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On our third and last day shooting Masbate, we went to the Provincial Capitol Building as our location, On its grounds we also shot with the now-famous huge “Province of Masbate” sign.

Masbate is the Rodeo Capital of the Philippines

Masbate is the Rodeo Capital of the Philippines

 

Location: the stairs at the Capitol Building

Location: the stairs at the Capitol Building

 

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Cowboys and the cowgirl 

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After lunch, we trooped to Villa Bayot, the oldest, well-preserved mansion in Masbate City. For this location, our models wore period Filipiniana.

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I have been to Masbate many times and have featured other significant tourist spots: the beaches at Palani, the Bugui Point Lighthouse in Aroroy, the old lighthouse in the island of Jintotolo, the towns and churches in the second largest Masbate island of Ticao, and the games at the Masbate Rodeo – – – for the past 3 years.  But never have I thought of juxtaposing the beauty of Masbate Province with the beauty of the Masbate ladies.

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Masbate is beautiful. And so are the Masbateñas. And, in fact, my friends and I are one in saying that we return to Masbate because of its wonderful people.

Legacy Suites Masbate

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Masbate is the venue for the  Grand National Rodeo Finals, with cowboys and cowgirls from all over the Philippines competing. Participants are students taking up Animal Science, or Veterinary Medicine, or Animal Husbandry etc. Professional cowboys from the different cattle ranches around the country compete in the professional category. Events  include bull riding, carambola, lassoing, etc. I have been attending the event since 2013. This year was my third.

Rodeo Event: Carambola

Rodeo Event: Carambola

 

 

Last year, I stayed in a hotel reputed to be the best — – even President Aquino was supposed to have stayed there when the search and rescue operation for Secretary Robredo was being done. I found that hotel inadequate, and actually lacked proper sanitation. The lavatory was leaking, and from indications it has been forever leaking and not being fixed. A very dirty rug was placed underneath to keep the water from spreading throughout the toilet floor.  Wet and dirty turned out to be smelly. Thus, the search for my Year 3 hotel.

I saw Legacy Suites last year when my FUNtastic Philippines Fun Group friends and I were having a bulalo dinner at the Boulevard by the Circumferential Road. It looked good, and I thought getting a room facing the ocean would be a good idea.

The hotel faces the ocean.

The hotel faces the ocean.

the view from the hotel

the view from the hotel

Early this year, I googled the hotel, looked at the photos of the rooms, and saw their contact details. They have single rooms and family rooms with 2 big beds. I thought that if they only took away one bed from the family room and added a sofa instead, plus a breakfast table where I could also work on my computer, that would be good. I sent a message through their website asking if my idea of reconfiguring the room would be acceptable. To my pleasant surprise, the lady owner (they are a hands-on husband and wife team) said she will. So I promptly booked the room for the Rodeo week which was 3 months away.

I arrived in Masbate April 14 early in the morning. And another pleasant surprise came in: the owner, Basil, was at the airport to pick me up. Had coffee as my luggage was being brought up to my second-floor room.

the coffee shop

the coffee shop

When I went up the room, I was happy to see the room with the sofa and the coffee table. And the room had two verandas, albeit small. One opened to the farm view at the back, the bigger one opened to a view of the ocean.

Room 8: my room, reconfigured following my request by email.

Room 8: my room, reconfigured following my request by email.

 

the sliding glass dorr opens to a small veranda facing the ocean

the sliding glass dorr opens to a small veranda facing the ocean

The rodeo took up most of my days. But I had the occasion to have lunch and dinner at the hotel. Basil, as it turns out, also cooks, and did my fish sinigang lunch and my steamed fish dinner the following day. How hands-on can an owner get?

Legacy Suites has a small function room that I figure is booked for meetings and private dinners.

Function Room

Function Room

 

My favorite spot is the row of al fresco seats outside the coffee shop, at the front of the hotel. A perfect spot to enjoy coffee. The area is also where the Souvenir Shop stands (at the far end). Realizing I forgot my shades, I was happy to buy one for P500.

my favorite spot for coffee or a refreshing bottle of beer

my favorite spot for coffee or a refreshing bottle of beer

I checked out after 6 days happy that I had a clean hotel room in a hotel with welcoming and attentive owners and staff.  Back in Manila, the lady owner emailed to thank me, and said they are open to suggestions, in case I have some. I suggested that they could build a clothes cabinet  – – – my clothes were piled up on top of my luggage on a luggage rack. I also suggested that a solid spring mattress would be more comfortable than the foam mattress I slept in. And some other small details. I figure the owners would heed my request, if my requests prior to my first stay is an indication. And Legacy Suites will then be the undisputed best hotel in Masbate when that happens.

Legacy Suites:

https://www.facebook.com/legacy.suites.masbate/?fref=ts

Phone: (056) 582 0210

Masbate, Once Again

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My third Rodeo trip to Masbate. This is addicting. Masbate, I mean – – – not just the rodeo.

Event: Carambola

Event: Carambola

For starters, I have become a member of VROoM, the Volunteer Rodeo Officers of Masbate, the implementing arm of Rodeo Masbateno, Inc. VROoM men and women are on the ground, at the arena, running the events as jusges, timers, stockyard managers, tabulators, etc. I have been designated as timer for Rodeo 2015, a duty I failed to perform due to a doctor’s order for me to stay out of the sun for hours.

A cowboy must stay on top of the bull for 8 seconds to qualify. Very vew do. And all of them eventually fall off the bull.

A cowboy must stay on top of the bull for 8 seconds to qualify. Very vew do. And all of them eventually fall off the bull.

 

And sometimes the bull gets to ride the cowboy

And sometimes the bull gets to ride the cowboy

 

action can start right on the streets, when  a cow decides to be "pasawy" on the cattle drive

action can start right on the streets, when a cow decides to be “pasawy” on the cattle drive

Secondly, every trip to Masbate is a discovery of some new place. And a return to familiar places that one would not want to miss when in town. Like the Buntod Marine Sanctuary and SUTUKIL, that restaurant I blogged about for having delicious food at unbelievably low prices.

the reef staff

the reef staff house

 

the reef is also a mangrove preserve

the reef is also a mangrove preserve

 

We also visited majaba, an island southwest of Masbate City, and never been visited by probably 99% of Masbatenos

We also visited majaba, an island southwest of Masbate City, and never been visited by probably 99% of Masbatenos

the Majaba island is sizeable, and boys use the paragos to transport stuff

the Majaba island is sizeable, and boys use the paragos to transport stuff

close to Majaba is Nabuktut, an island that is essentially a sandbar

close to Majaba is Nabuktut, an island that is essentially a sandbar

Bugui Point lighthouse revisited. In Aroroy, Masbate

Bugui Point lighthouse revisited. In Aroroy, Masbate

Bugui

Mandaon

The Masbatenos have become friends. I am invited to the brainstorm for Rodeo 2015. And as I write this, cowboys from Masbate are on the road, coming to my Tagaytay home to wish me happy birthday. And participate in a canao I planned for tomorrow.

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Masbate will make you want to visit, again and again.

Iloilo : Dinagyang

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Iloilo is one of the oldest cities in the Philippines, and is home to the most colorful festival honoring the child Jesus, known as the Sto. Nino.

Tribu Obreros

Tribu Obreros

I went there last weekend to join the festivities and to capture the colors and the soul of the event wherein “tribes” from the different towns and cities in Iloilo participate. If one did not know, he will think that the warriors are real tribesmen, what with their bodies painted either black or very dark brown.

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Each contingent is well funded, and donations from the different businesses in their localities fund the elaborate costumes and props. Each of the participating tribes are  made up of more or less 500 participants, including the warriors and the ladies, the chieftains and the religious leaders, the musicians on their eardrums-assaulting drums, the propsmen, the barangay officials on parade, and the choreographers and costume designers.

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If one has not been to Dinagyang, he will never really appreciate the spectacle, and the scale of the event. The props are huge and mechanized, much like crude versions of props in Broadway productions. And each presentation includes a lot of huge props, one setting for every phase of the 6-minute presentation.

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Each of the tribes perform in front of 5 sets of judges on 5 different stages. Thus, photographers and spectators do not have to squeeze into one location and crane their necks. In my years of covering all festivals in the Philippines, Dinagyang stands aout as the most organized. Tribes are given an hour to set up, 6 minutes to perform, and another one minute to exit and proceed to the next stage.

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For photography hobbyists, Dinagyang is a must-go-to event. The performers are in their elements, their mouths are wide open when they shout, and their faces tell the story the tribe wants to impart.

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Dinagyang happens every third weekend of January. I strongly urge everyone to go. Book a seat on any one stage for a good view. More importantly, book your hotel as early as 2 months ahead, or one month ahead at the latest. And make sure you book your flight or your boat trip ahead, too.

A good way of not missing the trip is to book well ahead and visit the ancestral homes and old churches around Iloilo. The three most notable churches one should not miss are Miag-ao, the church in Molo, and the church in Jaro. Visit, too, the Balay nga Bato where your entrance fee includes a biscocho snack with hot thick chocolates.

There are many hotel in Iloilo. My top 3 choices are Amigo Terrace (refurbished) at the city center, the good old Sarabia Manor, and the very clean Grand Dame (if you don’t mind a public market right by your doorsteps).

I shall write about these churches and other destinations and show photos and contact details of these hotels on another day on this same blog page.

Masbate. So Beautiful. So Underrated.

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I first went to Masbate in 1978. I remember Masbate to be a very poor province. I always tell my friends that I then checked in at Crown Hotel near the pier and, when it was time for shower, the hotel staff would fetch me a huge pail of water – – brought to my second floor room from a pulley at the end of the hall.

Fast forward to 2013. Friends piqued my interest to watch the Masbate Rodeo and I thought it was an excellent subject for photography.

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Bull riding

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Barn dance at the Rodeo opening ceremonies

In between the rodeo events, my friends and I would go to “tourist destinations” but I did not have enough material then to write about Masbate. This year, I attended Rodeo 2014 and booked myself a much longer stay. In the process, I was able to explore more of Masbate.

From wikipedia:

“Masbate lies roughly at the center of the Philippine archipelago … bounded on the north by Burias and Ticao Pass, east by San Bernardino Strait, south by the Visayan Sea, and west by the Sibuyan Sea. Relative to mainland Bicol, the province faces the southwestern coasts of Camarines Sur, Albay, and Sorsogon areas.

The general surface configuration of the province ranges from slightly undulating to rolling and from hilly to mountainous. In each island, the rugged topography is concentrated in the northeastern portion and gradually recedes to blunt hills and rolling areas in the south, southeast, and southwest.”

Above description of Masbate’s topography reminds me of it’s similarities to the hills of Batanes. In fact, I tell my friends while we were on the road that, if they haven’t been to Batanes, they could shoot some hills and pass them off as Batanes shots. Of course I could be exaggerating.

 

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Yet, Masbate is beautiful in its own right. And depending on how deeply you explore its nooks and crannies and the islands that form part of the province, you might even say it is more beautiful. Minus the stone houses that make Batanes unique.

All promotions of Masbate that I have seen in recent years say Masbate is the Rodeo Capital of the Philippines. I can only agree that the rodeo is the one big draw. Otherwise, I would not have made visits to watch the rodeo for two consecutive years.

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Rodeo is big in Masbate, complete with the only proper rodeo arena in the country, and in Asia

But I submit that Masbate is much more than rodeo. It’s natural beauty is more than enough to lure visitors. The centuries-old lighthouses are another major reason and, for some, could be sufficient enough reason to go. And I am not even talking about the wonderful people of this province that made my visits both comfortable and memorable.

I shall show Masbate in photos on this blog. On some, I will share anecdotes. But for most, I the photos should speak for themselves. As it is sad, a picture paints a thousand words.

 

BUNTOD REEF
Buntod is a marine sanctuary that is most likely the most popular destination. It is accessed from right at the city, at the wharf of Rendezvous Hotel. On our frist trip to Buntod, we went to still another destination, a cove about 30 minutes away.

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mangroves were planted and maintained/preserved in this marine sanctuary

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CATANDAYAGAN FALLS

The only waterfalls I have seen that empties its waters straight into the sea. Accessible by boat, the falls is actually part of the nearby Ticao Island, in the town of San Jacinto.

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PALANI BEACH

Palani is a rather new development. When I visied in 2013, resorts were just being set up. Excellent swimming on crystal clear waters on powdery sand. In the town of Balud.

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AROROY LIGHTHOUSE

Took a 1 1/2 hour ride on a van from the Masbate Transport Terminal. Van fare was P80. From Aroroy, took a boat to Punta Bugui, at P50 per person. This centuries-old lighthouse is a short walk up the hill.

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BALUD LIGHTHOUSE

P150 fare on a van to Calumpang in the town of Balud. Approximately 2 hours, with the last 45 minutes on bumpy, rather dusty road. Good thing the van is air-conditioned. Transfered to a boat to the island of Jintotolo, landing on the Barabgay Cantil shores. A short hike up, or an easy “habal-habal” (back-ride on a motorbike) to this other centuries-old lighthouse.

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SUTUKIL RESTAURANT

I rate this restaurant as another tourist destination. Our group of 25 persons ordered food more than enough for us. Malasuge fish cooked three ways – – – – grilled, broth, and sashimi-style. Plus scallops and seafood kare-kare. And generous servings of rice, plus softdrinks. In the end, we split the bill and each one of us had to fork out only P200 each as our share.

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LASALA BEACH
Lasala Beach was used as “command post” when Secretary Robredo’s plane crashed and President Noy Aquino took cahrge of the failed rescue operations. A small picnic hut has been called “Little Malacanang” by the locals since it is from this small hut where the President met with his cabinet who were with him.

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Little Malacanang

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view from Little Malacanang – – an ocean going vessel

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RANCH LIFE
I had the privilege of a preview of a tourism package that is to be a major draw of Masbate, RANCH LIFE. We were guests in the ranch of the president od Rodeo Masbateno, Inc, an amiable gentleman everyone calls Judge Sese.

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FAZENDA DE ESPERANCA

Fazenda is a rehabilitation center for drug and alcohol dependents in the town of Milagros, run by the religious.. The community of Fazenda Masbate has established different working sectors: Dairy, Rice, Bakery, Vegetable Garden, T-Shirt Printing etc. Through this, the community is earning the money for the daily operations.

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SIGSAG

Locals call the zigzag road SIGSAG. It is a beautiful winding road with a view of the hills and plains.

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BAT-ONGAN CAVE

Located 1.5 kilometers inland in the town of Mandaon, near Masbate City. It is said that the caves were used as burial grounds in the old days. Within the area, a hike will lead visitors to an underground waterfalls. We were so tired we skipped the waterfalls and just saw another falls from up the hill. Our knees were trembling after traversing two hills we couldn’t muster the strength to go down the falls.

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Bat-ongan Cave from a distance. The cave is what looks like a mound

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THE STREETS OF MASBATE

Stroll around and discover some old houses, see the Masbate Church, and soak in the feel of a provincial city unknown to most travelers

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a view while going around the coastal city of Masbate

 

WHERE TO STAY IN MASBATE CITY

I have stayed at both Greenview Hotel and MG Hotel. Both are comfortable, but nothing de luxe. I have also visited popular hotels Rendezvous, 7 AR, and GV.

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my room at MG Hotel, at P2,400 per night

 

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a small pool at MG Hotel

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the coffee shop at MG Hotel

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Greenview Hotel, where I stayed in 2013, at I think P1,500 per room per night

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the outdoor section of the coffee shop at Greenview

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Rendezvous Hotel, where the wharf to Buntod is

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I snapped this photo of the room rates at Rendezvous in April 2013

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I almost wanted to stay at 7 AR because it looks most beautiful. But I am told the rooms are rather small

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7 AR looks more like a resort

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and because I did not stay here, I thought I’d just have lunch. Not bad, but not memorable either. I just liked the ambience

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GV is at the heart of downtown Masbate, near the Masbate Cathedral. It is part of a local hotel chain. I understand the rates are very reasonable

 

Another accommodations worth mentioning is Balai Valencia, also in downtown Masbate. I don’t have photos but suffice it to say that some of our friends who attended the 2014 Rodeo stayed in this budget hotel, and did not complain. Rates are very inexpensive:

Airconditioned rooms:

Single 650 1room

Double 800 2rooms

Triple 950 2rooms

 

Fan rooms:

Single 450 1room

Double 550 1room

Triple 650 1room

Extra person per rm 150

 

 

HOW TO GO TO MASBATE

1.  By Land:    RORO bus at Araneta Center

The roro bus (roro bus of Montenegro and Isarog bus line) in Araneta terminal (the old Rustan’s) leaves for Masbate between 1 pm to 6 pm. The bus fare is P1,200.00. Travel time is approximately 11 hours.

2.  By Air:  PAL/PAL Express direct flight to Masbate. My return ticket cost me P7,000.00. Fares vary depending on the season, and depending on how early or late you book your flight.

3.  By Air, Land and Ferry:  Any flight to Legazpi.  Land travel to Pilar, Sorsogon.  Ferry at Pilar, Sorsogon.

You can supplement whatever I have shared about Masbate by visiting the Masbate City’s website: http://www.masbatecity.gov.ph/

You may also want to visit the facebook community page I created and called MAS-BEYT, a play on the province’s name:
https://www.facebook.com/groups/masbate.is.fun/

SEE YOU IN MASBATE !

Buntod Reef

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

 

 

Masbate Rodeo 2014

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I went to Masbate to attend the National Rodeo Finals for the second time, this time making sure I witness the whole thing – – – from the Grand Parade to the Awards Night.

THE GRAND PARADE: April 8
The Grand Parade officially ushers the opening of the competition, starting with the participants from all over the Philippines and the rodeo officials. The parade ended at the Rodeo Arena where the opening ceremonies were held as soon as all the participants, officials, and guests were in the arena.

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student and professional teams joined the parade

Father Mark

cowboy priest, Father Mark Sese

Gov Joey on foot

guest of honor, Albay Governor Joey Salceda

Judge Sese

El Presidente, Judge Manuel Sese

Libona

Libuna team, with Rodeo King Kenneth Ramunal

Magayon

Magayon Dancers brought in by Governor Joey Salceda from Albay

Maloli

Rodeo Masbateno official Maloli Espinosa

whipcracking on the road

whip cracking demo on the road while on parade

BSU

my favorite Rodeo 2014 team, Benguet State University

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CATTLE DRIVE
Next day, April 9, was the Cattle Drive. Some 140 heads of cattle were released from the city center , tru the streets of Masbate, to the Rodeo Arena. Cowboys on their horses herded the cattle, with some going astray. The events organizers have teams of cowboys assigned to handle cattle that will stray from the herd.

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140 heads of cattle at the city center, prior to the cattle drive

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real-life cowboys herding the cattle thru the city streets

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THE EVENTS

The events consisted of Penning (herding assigned cattle to the pen within 5 minutes), carambola (2 person or 4 person carambola) where cowboys put down a cow and tie them up, Rustling from Horseback, rustling on foot, lassoing, and bullriding.

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Bull riding is the most exciting. Cowboys need only to ride the bull for 8 seconds to qualify. This one obviously didn’t make it, and was lucky he was not harmed

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2-person carambola. Even a rodeo official escapes from a rampaging bull by climbing the fence

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this event is called CASTING DOWN. The cattle must be roped in by the head and by the diaphragm, and must be felled and tied down

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I liked this event last year and decided to support the rodeo this year

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I took this photo on day one, and this guy covering his face would turn out to be the Rodeo King, student division

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This event called PENNING was introduced only this year. Cowboys need to pen in 2 cows, selected at random. No other cow has to be in the pen to qualify and, if an unwanted cow joins, it must be extricated or else the team loses

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THE PARTICIPATING TEAMS

Teams from various schools offering animal husbandry or veterinary medicine from all over the country participated. From as far north as Benguet, to the Visayas and Mindanao. They were joined by professional players, real life cowboys working in ranches.

 

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TAKING CARE OF ANIMALS AND MEN

 

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the cattle were taken care of and well fed throughout the event

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a medical team is always on standy

THE AWARDS NIGHT

Awarding of individual and team prizes happened on a Saturday night, April 12, 2014.

This season roved to be an upset. The perrennial Rodeo King, Kenneth was injured early on, and was prevented by doctors from further competitions. The Rodeo King and Queen, student division, went to Benguet State University and to the Central Mindanao University players, respectively. Perrennial team champion Xavier University from Cagayan de Oro was elevated to the Hall of Fame, and this years champion was my favorite Benguet State University.

The awarding was preceded by a beautiful ceremony with candles held by everyone lit one by one, and the ritual seemed magical. When all the candles were lit, the bonfire was lit ablaze. Everyone feasted on catered dinner and a roast calf at the center of the arena. There were fireworks at the start, and beer and dancing at the end.

Fireworks started the awards ceremonies

Fireworks started the awards ceremonies

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the barkers during the events were also the night's emcees

the barkers during the events were also the night’s emcees

The president of Rodeo Masbateno, Inc was there - - Judge Manuel Sese

The president of Rodeo Masbateno, Inc was there – – Judge Manuel Sese

the participants and guests

the participants and guests

photographers and TV networks covered the event from start to finish

photographers and TV networks covered the event from start to finish

live cowboy music

live cowboy music

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(Volunteer Rodeo Officials of Masbate) in a celebratory mood

(Volunteer Rodeo Officials of Masbate) in a celebratory mood

the traditional cowboy cigar, lit to mark the rodeo's success

the traditional cowboy cigar, lit to mark the rodeo’s success

The night was capped by merry making - - drinks and line dancing

The night was capped by merry making – – drinks and line dancing

 

Next year’s rodeo is scheduled April 14-18, 2015. I will again be there.

 

 

Nagcarlan and Liliw, Laguna

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Nagcarlan and Liliw are practically twin towns. Even from childhood, my memories of these two towns are of rivers and streams people visit for a refreshing dip.

From San Pablo, Nagcarlan comes first. Nowadays, the town’s biggest attraction is its Underground Cemetery.

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Liliw, on the other hand, has successfully promoted its Tsinelas Festival. But the allure of a dip is still there. I chanced upon a resort where the pools are filled with spring water. I thought they deserve a visit, even if only for a day or overnight. No great shakes, but then a dip in a pool of spring water is not an everyday experience.

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Lucban and its Pahiyas

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Lucban is a town in Quezon near the Laguna towns of Liliw and Majayjay. Lucban is best known  for Pahiyas, a festival celebrating the feast of their patron saint San Isidro Labrador.During the fiesta, homes are decorated, the church is filled to capacity with the locals thanking the Lord for their bountiful harvests, and marching bands roam the streets. The town’s muses are also paraded in floats throughout the town’s main streets. Thousands of visitors flock to Lucban to join the festivities. .

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During the event, the homes on the major streets of this small town are decked with kiping and other decoration, some including real produce – – – fruits and vegetables from their farms

 

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The Pahiyas Festival happens every 15th of  May to honor the patron saint of farmers, San Isidro Labrador. . This festival showcases a street of houses which are adorned with fruits, vegetables, agricultural products, handicrafts and kiping, a rice-made decoration, which afterwards can be eaten grilled or fried. The houses are judged and the best one is proclaimed the winner. Every year, tourists roam the municipality to witness the decoration of houses. This year, I came with a group of friends from FUNtastic Philippines Fun Group, all toting their cameras to cover the event.

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ORIGINS OF THE PAHIYAS

Many moons ago, the locals brought their produce to the churchyard, as a thanksgiving for a bountiful produce. The produce kept on multiplying in volume year on year and so the parish priest suggested that the farmers just put their thanksgiving materials in front of their homes, and the parish priest was to go around to bless the produce. This led to the farmers assembling their produce such that they became decorative through the years. This post, therefore, is more of a photoblog featuring the decors in the Lucban homes.

Kids also have a great time posing

Kids also have a great time posing

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Next time, I hope to watch from somebody's window

Next time, I hope to watch from somebody’s window

 

DON’T MISS THE EATS

Lucban is famous for its pancit HABHAB, a noddle dish one eats without using utensils. Rather, you eat it straight from a banana leaf, using your mouth. Have fun doing this when you attend a Pahiyas. Make sure, too, you bring home some Lucban longaniza or bottled items like vinegar.

Pancit habhab

Pancit habhab

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If you happen to be hungry,a variety of local delicacies are available on the streets.

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Finally, Laguna is famous for cottage cheese, and vendors roam the town especially during the festival.

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