Sunday, July 30, 2017

Back Home in Mandaon, Masbate

I admit it. I was actually born in Manila. For some years now, I have been claiming that I am Bisaya and was born in my mother’s province, Masbate. Growing up, I have always thought I was Masbateno. It is not a rare sight that people from my mother’s hometown of Tumalaytay would visit and often stay at our house that I somehow associated myself with their culture, even picking up Minasbate, the local dialect, unconsciously, which surprised a lot of my relatives. I have only been there once when I was five years old and thanks to seat sales that I was finally able to grab cheap fares to Masbate this year.

mandaon beach

Most of my memories from the last time I visited “my hometown” were vague recollections of different sceneries, my grandmother’s old barong barong, the local festival that is held every January and people intoxicated with the local alcoholic beverage called tuba. This is also where I realized I was meant to get lost and explore at an early age. I remember I asked my mother that I’ll look around town and eventually lost my way along the series of houses and tall trees. I eventually found my way back but was scolded consistently and my aunt blaming the mole in my right feet for being restless (traditional Filipinos would know this superstition). I was absolutely amped up and looking forward to the day of our flight. It is not often that people who work in Manila or abroad get to go home often due to its remote location.


Most of our relatives reside in a secluded municipality in Mandaon, a district located west of the province. There are only few flight carries that has Masbate on their radar such as Cebu Pacific and Philippine Airlines, so most of the time people would take a bus, there is one company called Elavil that has direct trips to Mandaon. From Masbate City, there are FX vans plying to other places such as Milagros, Arorroy and Mandaon. They follow a strict schedule, a van leaves after every 30 minutes and earliest trip departs at around 5 in the morning. I also saw non-air conditioned buses with the same route but my mom was against the idea of us riding it as there is less leg space since most passengers carry a lot of packages on their way, the fare however is only half of what you would pay in an FX.

the whole barangay came to pick us up lol

I remember my mother’s stories of having difficulties reaching Mandaon from Tumalaytay. She would always tell me how long they had to walk from home to school, traversing rough roads and farm lands. However, since there are lots of resident who can now afford motorbikes, it is with great relief that habal habal services are now available, which locals would refer to as back ride.

rough roads of Tumalaytay

the shores of Tumalaytay, Mandaon

If you clicked this link expecting to see tourist attractions of Mandaon, sad to say you came to the wrong place. Tumalaytay is a small quiet fishing village and there is nothing much to do and see there, truth be told. However, if you are up for an experience of a traditional Filipino living in the far flung communities then do read on.

Even though my cousins who lived with us in Manila told me of their living conditions in Masbate, I still didn't believe it 100%. Electricity runs only for four hours, 6-10 in the evening to be exact. Cellphone signal is almost non-existent, with only one provider accessible once you reach the baybay or seashore. Water is also mostly sourced from deep well and services like Maynilad or Nawasa are nowhere to be found. No local clinics established, if you have a health emergency, you would need to go to Mandaon or even at Masbate City. Basic necessities for some but a privilege for many areas in the country up to this date unfortunately.

kids looking at a balon or deep well

Despite the modest way of living, I have observed that many are full of smiles and stories and are proud of their hometown.  Even with vegetables and animal meat being scarce and expensive commodity, seafood are plenty and bountiful! While most of my relatives from my father’s side are seafarers abroad, most men from my mother’s side are local fishermen. (I must have some connection with the ocean? Lol) Daily routine of my uncles and cousins are to set fishnet in the afternoon and check their catch the following morning. I was eating a smorgasbord amount of fresh fish, shellfish and my favorite, crabs!!!

my nephew setting up the net, hopefully, they'll be getting kasag or crabs!
proud to say that all my relatives opt to NOT use dynamites, they are still doing it the traditional way :D

Even though Masbate is not yet well know for its beaches, Mandaon has some of those white sand and clear waters to be proud of. A 30 minute boat ride to the neighboring municipality of Napayawan is a secret beach best for outings with the family and friends. We only had to pay for cottage fees but caretaker did not ask for any entrance fee whatsoever. (P100 for small groups, P200 for bigger ones).

A little bit farther from Tumalaytay is what locals call Buntod, (not really sure what the translation of this is in Tagalog) and what is now referred to as Tumalaytay Sandbar. I was told that it would take about two  hours to get there from our place and unluckily, every time we planned to go there it rained hard so I was not able to see it for myself. Another island not quite far from Tumalaytay is Sibuyan of Romblon. However, I think we shall visit this on a separate time since we have another set of relatives there and might need a longer time for us to get-together.

napayawan beach
Napayawan Beach

 my cousins and nieces enjoying the white sand

not the finest sand, but it will do

this kid thinks that she's a monkey!

it looks like the town of Bugtong is just a few meters walk from where we were.. except that we needed to cross the ocean 

wonderful sunset with Sibuyan Island in the background

As I mentioned, you get to experience the simple life in this rural town. Electricity and signal is intermittent, so you got nothing else to do but socialize with locals. As the daily chores are finished, while some tend to enjoy every last minute they have with the television running, our extended family gathers in my aunt house and guess what they do when you have abundant seafood and free time. Drink of course! (OR at least that’s what I would do). Despite the small space, around 10 to 25 of my relatives would feast on the concoction called tuba added with a Chinese wine called sioktong. Pair this even with the most mundane stories and it still make up for a lively evening! Seriously, I don’t know why but I was just cracking up the whole night.. and I’m not the one to get tipsy that easy.

I only managed to stay for four days but I suppose it is not enough to make up for all those years I have not managed to visit. Despite that however, I think I was able to make the most out of my stay and really get to enjoy the time I spent with my aunts, uncles, cousins, nieces and nephews. Masbate is not yet a hot spot for tourists but it is slowly gaining it’s way up there. I hope when it does, that the district of Mandaon, especially our home, Tumalaytay, would get its fair share of explorers like myself. I think it’s great to have a breather once in a while, to just relax unwind, drink good food and booze and mingle with the nicest people.. and this place might just be perfect for you.

masbate blog
this blogger looks like she enjoyed her stay in Masbate

I hope I got your interest about Tumalaytay! If you are interested to drop by and experience the lovely hospitality and simple yet relaxing way of living of us Masbateno, do drop me an email here so that I can refer you to a home stay and perhaps some men who can tour you around with their pump boat.

No comments :

Post a Comment

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...