The Province of Masbate, pronounced as Mas-ba-te not Mas-beyt, is located in Southern Luzon and part of Region 5 or the Bicol region. Not that famous to tourists but offers adventures to everyone who wants to discover some off-the-beaten-path trips.
I really dont know anything about this part of the country apart from my general knowledge that this province is the poorest in the Philippines. So I really took the time to visit this province as part of my 100-day journey around the Philippines. Let me share you some of the experiences I had while exploring Masbate for 3 days. Hope this would serve as a guide for everyone who wants to pay a visit here. I also included some history to make this guide more interesting.
Where is Masbate in the Philippine map?
Masbate province has three major islands: Masbate, Ticao and Burias and has 20 municipalities, the capital is Masbate City. I was able to set foot on Masbate and Ticao islands only so don’t ask me about Burias. 😉
How to Get there?
From Pilar, Sorsogon (via ferry). I took the 3-hour ferry boat from Pilar, Sorsogon to Masbate City (Fare: Php250, terminal fee: Php15) at 1:00pm. It was a scenic voyage, seeing islands with rolling hills left and right, a lighthouse and the sea breeze was energizing. I got excited to finally ticking off this from my list. I am happy that the sea was not bumpy during the odyssey and I was able to take a nap, I guess I was dreaming that I am at Cumbria Cruise Holidays. Methinks that cruise is way better.
From Bulan, Sorsogon (via big banca). I took this route when I left Ticao island going back to Bulan, Sorsogon (Fare: Php90). From Monreal, I hired a habal-habal/motorbike to bring me to San Jacinto port. This time the trip was tumultuous. More than an hour of roller coaster ride on the sea plus it was raining hard that time. It was crazy! But I was surprise that kids can still sleep with all this. I guess they are used to this route. Thank God the boatmen are skillful enough and we arrive at Bulan safe and sound.
These boatmen must have learn the skill from the early Chinese traders in the islands, able to navigate the turbulent seas of Masbate. Yes, long before the Spanish anchored here, the people of Masbate has a flourishing trade with Chinese and Indians.
Please note that there are boats that ply the route Masbate City to Lagundi, Batuan, Ticao Island and vice-versa. I took the 8:00am boat to Batuan and paid Php80.
I believe AirPhilippines and ZestAir has daily flights to Masbate City from Manila. So if sea trip is not your thing, you should take this option.
Activities You Can Do
I walked around the city. They have this stretch BBQ stalls in downtown Masbate City. I ordered as much as I can eat. Spend like Php75 for 2 cups of rice, porks bbqs and lumpia.
I visited Brgy. Lasala, on the east coast where I watched kids flying kites. I brought back childhood memories when we make kites from plastic bags and use my mom’s thread for it. hahaha Good times!
I wish I can visit back to see what they are proud of- Rodeo Masbateno Festival that happens every 2nd week of April.
Batuan (Ticao Island)
I checked out the biggest mangove tree in the Philippines. This can be found in Bongsalay Mangrove Forest Reserve, Bgry. Royroy in Batuan, Masbate. This mangrove tree is said to be 125-year old, stands 50ft and need 3 adults to hug it. Its a Piapi, scientifically called Avicennia lanata. It was really big, bigger than the mango trees we usually see and even taller to common coconut trees.
You can hire a motorbike and then a banca to take you here, please coordinate with the local tourism officer. The boat rental was shouldered by Batuan tourism office. Then I went to Monreal on a motorbike.
Monreal (Ticao Island).
I visited Halea Nature Park. This is the place where I said “I’m in an island where I don’t want to blog about. I want to keep it a secret.Fishes as many as the stars,as colorful as the rainbow.” I also met some divers that are planning to see the Giant Manta Rays. How I wish I have the money to dive with them that time. Oh well, maybe next time.
Boat rental is Php500 good for 4-6 pax. Rent a bigger boat as waves become bigger when going back to Monreal town proper. Please prepare to get wet. Bring an underwater camera to document the baby sharks in Halea Nature Park.
I also checked out Matangtubig Spring. A place where locals go to take a bath and wash clothes.
Accommodations and Rates:
Rancher’s Hotel: I stayed here and paid Php300. I should have stayed in Sampaguita Inn but because of the earthquake the inn is under recontruction. So I ended up here as most of the guesthouses are full. This hotel is for short-timers, not that clean.
Sampaguita Inn: Cheapest they got is Php225.
St. Anthony Hotel and Restaurant:
Victoria DU Hotel:
You can also check this site for more options: http://www.masbatehotels.com/
Ticao Island- Monreal, Masbate: I stayed in Monreal Lodging House owned by Vice Mayor Romeo Grona. Thanks for the free accommodation. If you want to stay here, contact the tourism officer of Monreal. Php500/night good for 2 pax.
Sir Edwin De Lara (Masbate Tourism Officer): 0908-949-9598
Sir Abner Bocboc (Batuan Tourism): 0947-325-9981
Sir Renante Letada (Monreal Tourism): 0908-406-7877
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This trip happened during Days 37 to 39 of ISANG DAAN Journey in Masbate Province. Thanks to Sir Edwin De Lara (Masbate Tourism Officer) for referring me to Sir Abner Bocboc (Batuan Tourism) and Sir Renante Letada (Monreal Tourism). Thanks Sir Abner for bringing me to the biggest mangrove in the Philippines. Grateful for your help Sir Renante for accompanying me in Halea Nature Park.
#ISANGDAAN is a personal journey and challenge to backpack around the Philippines the cheapest way possible for 100 days.
If you want to follow my steps, I have an interactive map- ISANGDAAN Journey map.