It used to be a laidback, sleepy town in a province better known for cattle-raising and sometimes referred to as the “Rodeo Capital of the Philippines.” But once word spread around about a group of six islets with pristine white-sand beaches and stunning rock formations lying just offshore, San Pascual in Burias Island, Masbate soon burst into the tourism scene. Although we’ve first read about this town and its island gems 5 years ago it was only last March that we finally got to organize a visit along with a friend and our nephew.
When Francis Ford Coppola shot the epic Vietnam War film Apocalypse Now in the sleepy coastal town of Baler, Aurora, he could not have imagined the ripple effects he and his production crew would have on this town and on the country. The film included a bizarre surf scene in the middle of a full-blown battle highlighted by napalm bombing (and the memorable Robert Duvall line “Charlie don’t surf”). After shooting ended, some of the movie crew left behind their surfboards for the curious locals – surfing was practically non-existent in the Philippines during that time – who then proceeded to teach themselves the sport. So was born the surfing culture in the Philippines.
The first time we came to this city we considered it merely a transit point to the island province of Siquijor. On our return trip to Sibulan Airport we had to wait out our return flight to Manila for a few hours at Dumaguete. After a limited exploration of the city we soon realized we had been missing out on a travel destination in itself.
Visitors traveling to the Philippine province of Pangasinan often head straight for the Hundred Islands in Alaminos or to Patar Beach in Bolinao. Even the previously unheard-of destinations of Tambobong Beach and Colibra Island in Dasol, Cabongaoan Beach in Burgos and Tondol Beach in Anda are quietly gaining popularity thanks to social media and travel bloggers. But just a few days after Easter Sunday, we found ourselves chilling in an unlikely part of Pangasinan – namely the eastern Pangasinan towns of Tayug, San Nicolas and Natividad.
It was one of those cities that suffered most from Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan). While fortunately not suffering as many casualties as Tacloban and other municipalities on the eastern side of Leyte, Ormoc was nevertheless devastated. Practically all its structures were either damaged or totally destroyed. More than a year later we would visit an old friend from college who had retired to his home city. We were very interested to see how Ormoc was faring more than a year after the disaster. Continue reading Ormoc’s Sunsets
Nina and I had taken far worst rides before but to get packed like sardines with fellow passengers while cradling a heavy backpack on your lap doesn’t help when you’re just recovering from a bout with lower back pain. To top it all the van we were riding wasn’t air-conditioned. But as we began to drive farther away from Koronadal, fields of verdant green began to sooth our eyes and take our minds off our cramped sitting arrangement. In less than an hour we were feeling the cool highland air as the van made its way to the outer fringes of Lake Sebu town. We did not really need air-conditioning on this ride after all, we thought.