Wednesday, December 18, 2013

In search of La Manok Island in Cawayan, Masbate

As I have written in several blogs, google maps is enough entertainment whenever i get overly bored. Zooming and sliding through map's images of coasts, I came across an island that had real wide sand off the coast of Milagros masbate.

There was no label in google maps, nor in Wikimapia.

I set an email, with a placemark holder and screenshot image to Masbate Tourism, and got a quik reply just a day later. I was told the island is within Milagros, Masbate. Then, I asked for contact details for the LGU there, and sent them the same files. I was given the instructions on how to get there.

We left thursday thru the 5:30pm trip trip to Sorsogon. 19hours later, we were sitting in the van for cawayan, masbate. The ride was around an hour away. First thing first was to have our late lunch in the barbeque stalls at the drop off.

We asked the bbq vendors how we can get to La Manok, and we were told, we should've gotten off in Mactan (midway through Cawayan from Masbate City).

At this time, there is no more available van/jeep bound for city. Tricycle drivers and some locals were saying our options were only to hire a trike, which would probably cost us P600. A shock for this is normally something you pay for a bus, or a car rental or something, and rarely a trike.

We walked away and tried to do hitchhike.

There was a trike driver standing close to where we were waiting. He initially asked for P600 to Malbug, or P300 to Mactan, but I said our budget's only P150 to Mactan (i could estimate it at less than 20kms thus that bargain).

It took a while before we got him convinced on P150. Even the habal driver, whom after all we still wont resort too for theres three of us, won't give in to our budget.

It was actually more than 20kms away. If I recall it right, probably 24.

Luckily, upon reaching the Mactan diversion, there was a jeep and some passengers will offload.

There were a number of students too who seemed to have waited for a while (and do not opt to take the more expensive habal habal); besides, we prefer to do topload (and again, i am so fulfilled).

Up in the topload, we met kuya abring who has been very friendly and informed about our target destination. He lives in brgy Pena, which is an island barangay off the coast of malbug. Kuya abring was offering his boat and house to us.. And who are we to refuse (although we told him we'll check out with the brgy Kaptain first just as a matter of courtesy).

At the drop off, kuya abring was asking us to go with him in the passenger boat to brgy Pena. We told him we'll meet the captainfirst and will meet him there inthe brgy later.

Apparently, the people are clueless as to why all of a sudden there are unfamiliar faces in their place. We asked for the house of the Captain, and were surpised at the answer (in a cold voice).. Why are you asking for Kapitan?

We told him we are travellers. He walked us through to their house. Not that we were expecting, and not too that we didn't feel welcomed, but we didn't feel necessary to ask anymore if there is a place to stay overnight. And since she (kapitana)mentioned that Pena have their own kapitan (and not that it is a sitio or just an island of Malbug), we said we'll go ahead and meet with brgy pena's captain too.

We walked towards exactly where we saw the other passengers go to. We had the company of a number of students coming home for the weekend. There is no school in the island so students go and board in the mainland for schooling.

We asked for the house of the barangay captain and one of the students gladly escorted us towards the house; Luckily, captain and her wife were both home.
We told them what we were there for, and had to answer a number of questions (which by now am already used to). We asked if there's a barangay hall where we can spend the night, and he offered a spare room in their house.

Since we have been asking if there's anywhere we can buy crabs, even though it was relatively late to be scouting crabs, we were surprised somebody walked in with a bagful: Kap had asked someone to look for crabs.

We woke up early 7am the next day so we'll have ample time to roam around. Breakfast was ready even before we woke up.

Soon after we finished the breakfast, we walked around the community to look for Kuya Abring’s Residence. Apart from offering his house for accommodation, he has also offered boat service to the island. As it is a fairly small community, it did not take a while to spot his house – just 2 askings in fact.
He smiled at his sight of us and introduced his 2 kids. He knew we were going to ask him for the boat, so asked us if we are going ahead to the islands; He was even more excited I guess and we tagged the 2 kids in the trip.
 Our first stop was a sandbar (which the people would refer to as “pasil” or probably puzzle since a sandbar would resemble a puzzle piece). Abring kept referring to this sandbar when we were talking to him in the jeep, but as I could not see it from the maps, didn’t know exactly where it was. It was only when we were probably 500meters close that we got sight of this piece. Birds flocked at one end, and flew as we approached.

Soon after we’ve taken all the pictures we thought we’d want, we asked to move to La Manok Island. From the sandbar, it was just some 20 mins ride. Abring got off first so he can talk to the island caretakers; My other travel buddy Jane accompanied him;

It took a while before they got back; All the while we thought they were having a hard time getting permission from the caretakers; Then they walked right back in with 2 bags of fish. They’ve gone shopping. The caretaker seems to be a fish dealer. Smaller fishing boats dock to the island to sell him their catch. He then deals these to the market.

Meantime, we docked the boat and decided to have lunch in the island. Kuya abring prepared our lunch, while, since there was really no remaining work for us, we walked around the island. The “head” part of this seemingly chicken shaped island was a wide plane of sand and the skies were even more great.

After the luncheon we asked that we move so we could explore some more. We wanted to dock to the florenciana island, but Abring won’t agree. He was saying the reef is too rough (due to big rocks) for the boat.
He was about to drive us back to Brgy Pena when we asked to go to the sandbar (Pasil) of Pena. This is the one that’s visible in the map. It was about 30mins-1hour ride from Florenciana.

The sandbar was amazingly long. At one end are a few houses, while the rest remains to be just a sandbar. As per Abring, these settlers were originally from the mountains who sought settlement in this sandbar. On my estimate, this sandbar is probably more than 2kms long. The sand isn’t white though but brown.

How to go to La Manok and other islands in Cawayan, Masbate:
From Manila, make your way to Masbate City. You can either book a flight, or travel to either Pio Duran in Albay or Pilar port in Sorsogon. The trips through Pilar Port as more frequent than those in Pio Duran though. In case you don't find a bus that goes direct to Pilar, You can take any bus going Matnog, and other towns in Sorsogon. Just ask and make sure that they pass by brgy Potiao. In Potiao, there will be jeeps going to Pilar Port. Fare is P25. From Pilar port, take either fast craft or RORO to Masbate City. RORO fare is P230. Fastcraft (Student Fare) is P337. From Masbate City, at the port, take trike to Terminal; Fare is P8/pax.
At the terminal, ask for the jeeps to Malbug; Fare shall be P100/pax. There are also vans and buses that go straight to Cawayan, where you can get off in Mactan, and then take habal (P50/head) to Malbug. In Malbug, take the passenger boat to Brgy Pena Island (Fare is P30/head).

Below is a summary of our expenses in this trip compiled by travel bud Ron

Masbate Expenses: Nov 29-Dec 2, 2013

December 4, 2013 at 11:27am

Day 0: Nov 28=915php
FARE to:


Day 1: Nov 29=905.66php
FARE to:
pilar port-25


terminal fee-15

Day 2: Nov 30=836.31php
FARE to:
buenavista-133.33 (400/3)
lodge- 24.66

snacks- 40 (120/3)
lunch- 150 (50/3)

boat rental- 266.66 (800/3)
room-166.66 (500/3)

Day 3: Dec 1=914.98
FARE to:
pilar port-230
1st colonial grill-8
sampaguita inn-9
alfredo's-16.66 (50/3)
sampaguita inn-16.66 (50/3)

ice cream/burger-138

boat rental-166.66 (500/3)

Day 0: Dec 2=651php


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