Masbate. So Beautiful. So Underrated. Updated Version

1 Comment

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.

From…

View original post 1,366 more words

Masbate. So Beautiful. So Underrated.

66 Comments

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.

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.

 

Image

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.

Image

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.

Image

Image

Image

Image

mangroves were planted and maintained/preserved in this marine sanctuary

Image

 

 

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.

Image

Image

 

 

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.

Image

Image

 

 

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.

Image

 

 

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.

Image

 

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.

Image

Image

Image

Image

 

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.

Image

Little Malacanang

Image

Image

view from Little Malacanang – – an ocean going vessel

Image

Image

 

 

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.

Image

Image

Image

Image

 

 

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.

Image

Image

Image

Image

 

 

SIGSAG

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

Image

 

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.

Image

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

Image

Image

Image

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

Image

Image

Image

Image

Image

Image

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.

Image

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

 

Image

a small pool at MG Hotel

Image

the coffee shop at MG Hotel

Image

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

Image

the outdoor section of the coffee shop at Greenview

Image

Rendezvous Hotel, where the wharf to Buntod is

Image

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

Image

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

Image

7 AR looks more like a resort

Image

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

Image

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.

 

 

BUNTOD REEF

Leave a comment

Image

Buntod Reef is easily the top destination in all of Masbate. And why not? It is so beautiful and is so accessible. The reef is perfect for swimming and snorkeling, or to just hear the sound of the waves if one doesn’t want to be under the sun. It is reached via a short boat ride from Rendezvous Hotel right in the city.

Image

Take off point is a wharf from this hotel

Image

the crystal clear waters on white sands will call you to take a dip

 

The Reef is a marine sanctuary, run by volunteers in coordination with the Department of the Environment & Natural Resources. It used to be that local fishermen engage in dynamite fishing and other destructive methods until the DENR deputized some of them to be the protectors of the reef. Thus they had to stop the destructive methods, and also knew who to watch out for – –  their colleagues in the destructive fishing trade.

Image

The strategy proved successful. Local fishermen now have bountiful harvests from the sea. And us visitors get to appreciate a well-preserved marine sanctuary.

Image