24.04.2018 - 28.09.2018
My trip to Masbate was 3 years in the making
For this trip I was able to visit Ticao Island, check: https://neena329-cab.travellerspoint.com/17/, Masbate City and surrounds, camp under the stars at the Sese Ranch in Mandaon and run crazy on that little white beach in Balud. Of course this Masbate trip wouldn't have been complete without witnessing the Rodeo Masbateño!
Masbate is considered to be one of the poorest provinces in the Philippines. It is not that popular to local tourists and if people hear you taking a trip there, they would say that there is nothing to see there. Au contraire! I found Masbate to be a gem, a cool green gem of a province with a heart of fire! A fiery emerald!
I loved every minute I spent there despite going home browner than a pili nut! Hahahaha!
Admittedly, there's still a need for massive work to have tourism organized to the level of, say, Puerto Princesa. But, I think the charm of Masbate's disorganized tourism is that it forced me to interact with the Masbateños more. Oftentimes a backpacker finds it daunting to find oneself at a loss as to how to get from one point to the other without an established guide. But the locals are very easy going, accommodating and very warm so that I found it easy to ask them about how to get from point A to point B. Some of them even gave me their numbers so that I can call them if ever got into a spot of trouble.
Below is an example of the helpful info I got from a chance met local in a restaurant in a mall
MASBATE CITY AND NEARBY AREAS
Aside from the Rodeo Masbateno which kept us hopping, we also had a chance to visit several MUST SEE places which made this trip to Masbate so special.
1. Mayong Payong Peak
My friends and I drove up the peak in the ungodly hour of 4:30am to catch the sunrise. A drive which was an adventure in itself. The road was challenging and required concentration or you'll end up in a bit of trouble. If you have to, you can hire a tricycle from the turn off for Mayong Payong or you can walk/ hike up to the peak (1hr or more depending on how fast you walk). they do have overnight accommodations there.
2. Buntod Reef
This is a to go to weekend destination for both locals and tourists. Buntod Reef is a well maintained "resort" which is part of the Buntod Reef Marine Sanctuary. The sandbar is made of fine, white sand and has a mangrove stand on one end and a clear sand beach on the other. It has several floating huts where visitors can rent tables and have their fresh seafood cooked for a reasonable fee. The local government manages the place and a flat rate of P200/pax is collected before you step into the boat which will take you to the sandbar. Needless to say, its popularity makes it crowded during weekends and holidays. One can rent, transparent canoes and paddle around to see the marine life, or rent a snorkel to swim in the shallows. Sunset is very dramatic on Buntod.
3. Judge Sese's Brahman Ranch in Mandaon
This vast ranch is located in Barangay San Juan, Mandaon, Masbate. It is a great way to see and try a slice of ranch life. Sleeping under the stars and talking around a bonfire is a great way to bond with family and friends.
4. White Beach in Balud
This is quite a drive (around 2 hrs) from Masbate City to Balud. But it is worth it!!! The beach is fine white sand stretching to forever. It was virtually untouched and uncrowded. In fact we were the only group of people there except for some kids and their pet dog. I heard that vans ply the route from Masbate City to Balud, v.v.
What to buy when in Masbate
1. Beef tapa and corned beef
2. dried fish
6. fresh milk and mozzarella cheese from Fazenda da Esperanca (they have a store near the San Antonio de Padua Cathedral). Fazenda also sells pasta, pancit palabok and cookies.