Saturday, September 2, 2017

Masbate City in Four Hours

I only had very limited time left for Masbate City as I spent for time spending time with relatives in Mandaon. I tried to make use of the few hours I had before my flight left for Manila to try and see what the city has to offer. Fortunately, the province’s capital is quite compact and can even be explored by foot. This is a mini guide for some of the well-known landmarks and tourist spots that you can see if you only have 3-5 hours like me!


There are couple of ways you can do it. The quickest and most hassle-free is by plane with companies like Cebu Pacific and Philippine Airlines. Luckily, I was able to score dirt-cheap tickets on Cebu Pacific’s introductory sale. You can also try doing the more tedious way which is by bus, most of these buses you can find along Cubao. There are also several buses from Sorsogon. Ferries are also pretty common especially if you are coming from Cebu.

As I mentioned, the city is quite small and most places of interest are either within walking distance or can be covered by a quick tricycle ride, which is the main mode of transportation.
If going to nearby towns, non-AC buses plus FX services are available in the terminal.

There are a couple of options you could choose from if you are on a very tight budget too. I didn’t even have any reservation so I tried my luck with these inns. I personally would have wanted to stay at Sampaguita since we have stayed at one of their branches in Naga, but unfortunately they were fully booked. I had no choice but to choose Victoria Du. I had troubles sleeping there as the walls were very thin so you could hear every noise coming from your neighbors, TV and even their snoring. I’m a light sleeper so it was a fistful sleep for sure. There was also loud music until 9-10pm which might bother others that sleep early.

Sampaguita Inn – luckily they have a branch in Masbate (I guess they all over the Bicol region now)
Single fan 300, AC 500
Double 400, AC 650
Triple fan 500, AC 750
Family 1200
Contact number address

St Anthony Hotel
Single fan 300

Victoria Du Hotel
Single fan 350-400

old house philippines
another old house in the city

Since I had to be at the airport before 10.30 in the morning, I decided to start early with places that are located nearby the place I was staying at. I opted to walk to Masbate Cathedral, also called as Saint Anthony of Padua Church in Quezon Street. The structure looks pretty new but it has been founded in 1578. As it was a weekday morning, it was pretty deserted with only of few worshipers. I made my wish, a tradition that most Filipinos practice when they visit a church for the first time, and headed for another spot recommended in the travel pamphlet I snatched from the hotel.

masbate cathedral

masbate church

I made lots of turns and got lost looking for Villa Bayot because apparently, locals are not aware of its existence, I assume? Or that old houses are just a common sight that they pointed me to different places when I asked where Villa Bayot was. Anyway, this is located behind Masbate Cathedral. They weren’t open yet so I just looked at the faรงade from afar. I’m happy that some families try to preserve these wonderful houses despite the cost of maintaining it and the practicality of most Filipinos choosing a modern design.

villa bayot masbate
one of the well-preserved ancestral houses in Masbate

I finally hopped on a tricycle going to Rendezvous Hotel which is the pick-up point for my next destination, one of Masbate’s gems, Buntod Reef Marine Sanctuary. It was about 7 in the morning when I arrived and the place was also empty except for the hotel owners taking their breakfast. After the 10-peso entrance fee was collected, I was told that I need to contact the SAMAPUSI head, Jojo to pick me up as the boats are docked at the ‘island’ and not at the hotel. If you are in a hurry, I suggest calling Kuya Jojo instead of texting him as he takes long to respond and he sometimes don’t get even the most direct hints. It was only after 40 minutes that I met with the tour guide/boat operator. As for the price, I went there alone so I had to pay the 500 pesos fee only for myself. Honestly, if you look at it, the distance is not that far! I would walk if I could walk on water. The boat ride lasted for about 15 minutes but if you think about it, the money is used for maintenance fees of the island and the salary of its caretakers, so it’s still worth it.

buntod reef marine sanctuary
zoom in for more details
Mr. Jojo Soria 09204338512, 09179277660 

I have confessed this a couple of times here, I am not the biggest fan of beaches and sands. However, I know how to appreciate a gorgeous sight such as this sandbar. First, you can frolic along this long stretch of white sand, some parts may be rough but I noticed that as you get closer to the edge, the texture changes and would you believe it, may compare to the fine quality of the sand in Boracay! Anyhow, on the other side of the “island” is a collection of mangrove trees, it’s amazing how they looked like they popped out in the ocean.

masbate sandbar


I was supposed to bring my mother here the previous day but it rained hard so I really regret not having shown her this view personally. No doubt she will enjoy swimming in the clear blue water of Buntod, and aside from that, the most important thing I have discovered about this place is that it’s also a Marine Sanctuary. You could see large schools of tiny fishes looking for food to eat. They also have available snorkeling gear for rent for 50 pesos, you could go scuba diving as well!

I was told by Kuya that if I had more time, I could have done this itinerary: Pick up at Rendezvous Inn, go to Buntod Reef then head for Mt. Mayong Payong, I would have hit two birds with one stone, and I would still pay the same fee! However I only had an hour before my flight so I wish I knew about it sooner! Kuya really recommended going to the top of this hill because you could get a bird’s eye view of the sandbar. If you’re worried about the hike, he also told me that there are habal habals waiting to fetch you from the jump-off point.

Another place that I missed was the Pawa Mangrove Ecosystem and Wildlife Park which I only saw when my tricycle left from Rendezvous Inn. I was told by the driver that it is famous for its long bridges that might be popular with photographers and selfie lovers.

As I make my countdown, I went on a round to some of the city’s relevant landmarks, which I had no trouble locating. First off is this old building nearby city hall called Coastal Resource Management Interpretive Center, then the Masbate Capitol Building where this huge ‘Masbate’ sign can be found. I also went to the Rodeo Arena where the action happens during the Rodeo Festival held every April. To complete the whole Masbate experience, I bought some carmelado to share with family and friends, if you’re in a hurry, you can buy this at the airport.

My TL;DR Masbate City Itinerary
6:40 Masbate Cathedral, Villa Bayot
7:00 breakfast, tricycle to Rendezvous Hotel
7:40 Pickup for Buntod
9:40 Left Buntod, explore Capitol area
10:20 Bye Bye Masbate!

Tricycle – 8
Breakfast - 50
Entrance – 10
Boat – 500
Tricycle – 8
Tricycle - 8
Carmelado - 150 (3 containers)
Total: 734 pesos
rodeo masbateno

If you have more time to discover the entire province, might I recommend some more beautiful sights? :)
Top of my list is my “hometown”, Mandaon. Sure, not much to do and see here aside from swimming and eating good seafood. Uhm, but do I need to say more? You could also try going to Bat-ongan Cave which is famous with locals as well.
Balud is another famous area for beaches!
From the city, Ticao Island is also a well-known destination known nowadays for its unique waterfall and has been featured in several travel shows.
So near yet so far is Burias Island, which might be actually closer from Sorsogon, so I hope I can go here during a long weekend.

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