It has been almost two years, so to speak, since I got the chance to hop on my slippers and temporarily enjoy a travel escapade to my considered home province of Masbate during the Christmas season. As someone who has been cracking their bones enough to at least finish his degree in Biology, all I could do for now at least is recall those stitched memories I had with my Masbate travelogues.
For a bit of clarification, albeit my family members are purely Batangueño (except for my Mom; she is a Negrense), we moved out to Masbate way back 2007 primarily to convert ourselves in a minority group so-called Filipino Marian Catholics that basically believe in the inclusion of Mother Mary as part of the Holy Trinity. For the past years until 2014, when I graduated high school, I slowly fell in love with the province’s simplicity. For some reason, I always feel sad when people had always this connotation that Masbate is realistically a poor province. Sure, perhaps I could say that, but Masbate is rich in terms of greenery landscapes, including rolling hills, azure seas, and don’t be fooled: Batangas’ bulalo comes from raised cows in the pastures of Masbate!
Kidding aside, allow me to recall the last time I got the chance to visit Masbate, specifically in the Municipality of Baleno.
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Travel To the Island Province: Endurance or Enjoyment?
For travelers with light luggage like me (I usually only bring a sling bag, a small backpack, and a middle-sized suitcase), riding the provincial bus is very fun to say at least, but hey, if you’re complaining about the longevity of the ride, then prepare yourselves for a treat.
There are several provincial bus liners that do travel from Manila to Pio Duran in Albay, and Isarog Liners and Raymond Transport are two of those bus liners that majorly offer air-conditioned buses equipped with free WiFi on board. Some of these buses even have a built-in toilet for your personal needs and business-class style chairs that can be extended. Ticket prices range from the PHP 1,100 to PHP 2,500 range, depending on the type of bus you choose to hop on. Yes, I was not kidding about the long trip: it encompasses almost 12 hours of travel that traverses Laguna, Quezon, Camarines Norte, Camarines Sur and Albay. Fortunately, buses offer three stopovers, namely in Lucban, Quezon; Canlubang, Quezon and Naga City, Camarines Norte.
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Once the bus reaches the port of Pio Duran, Albay; ships on port hailing from Masbate offer RoRo Rides for the buses. From there, sea travel takes about three hours.
Whilst taking that sea trip, perhaps you could enjoy the mild tranquility of the sea, with the island of Masbate in the foreground
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One could enjoy in this endeavor the variations of the sea breeze: a fresh breath of air when you find yourself glancing at the deep blue sea, or sea breeze in the sea near the islands, where you could actually smell a waft of saltiness and enjoy the sighting of iliw (dialect term for flying fish) gliding through the light blue waters.
Upon arrival at Masbate City Port, setting aside the obnoxious sight of the port itself packed with ambulant vendors, not far from it is a small community of Masbateños living near a mangrove plantation.
A mangrove plantation just a kilometer away from the Masbate City Port
Baleno: The Unscathed Nature’s Definition of Simplicity
As a ‘long time’ resident of the municipality, the Municipality of Baleno is just a few of the manifestations of the island for offering its unscathed natural beauty.
A day upon arrival, I decided to take a small hike on one of the numerous hills in our municipality. One of them is actually at the back of our religious compound, so I wouldn’t have that much problem getting back home as quickly as possible. Armed with ample amount of endurance and the cheap smartphone I had back then, I slowly ascended the hill, only to find out that several kids had followed my trail, perhaps beginning their quest for rummaging guavas out of the trees, and some would aggressively snatch unripe ones.
The author’s selfie on top of one of the many green hills in Baleno, Masbate
Once I assumingly reached the pinnacle of the hill, I took the time to glance and highly appreciate the panoramic view I had. On the north side, I could see the silhouette of the Mayon Volcano amidst a Pacific Sea, on the east are more rolling hills, the nearby Ticao Island, and a silhouette of the Bulusan Volcano, and on the south is an unnamed mountain, often nicknamed as “Tower Mountain” due to the communications tower erected on the top of it.
As I sat on the hill, I couldn’t help but feel a wave of nostalgia, as if the winds every time make me want to snooze for a bit, wait for the sun rays kiss my forehead in its heatiness, and slightly complain at the itchiness of my back due to laying on the grass.
Perhaps it will take me again some long time to get my foot once again back at Masbate. Maybe a nighttime story about it on the star-studded sky will suffice the satisfaction of this traveler.
A Biology student by daylight, a diversified writer by free time. Author of 12:01-Random Poems and Literaries Written in Slumber.