Friday, September 4, 2009

Island Tour Malapascua

This is just a single island. After asking around and reviewing what is there to read on the web, I debated on how best to roam it. Going around by land emerged winner! How? Via a habal habal ride.

I got choices on where to get my habal-habal ride. Should it be from Robin (I met at the volleyball area and his uncle has both boat and habal habal) or contacts of the hippocampus girls or contacts of the sunsplash girls?! The prices were just about the same or a few pesos different. The latter was best choice since Daylin (a wait staff) said she will come with us on her own motorbike as tour guide. Whoa!

They were late. But off we went immediately upon fetching me. Hey, I noticed that though Malapascua is rather small (if you bike around), the roads are not straightforward like in other islands where these generally parallel to the coastal area. Plus, main road, minor road, feeder road or private road generally looks the same as Malapascua is not generally well trodden and has no concrete roads or highways! I guess the choice of riding piggy back on a driven motorbike was definitely better than doing it alone. I could have been lost on those roads!

Okay, they fetched me at the back-entrance of Exotic. Oh, if I have not said it in my previous blogs, am saying it now. Exotic Dive Resort has a back entrance (also guarded) and their guard house is right inside the fence on the side of the road/path. Employees of this resort do their time-in and out at that guard house where their bundy clock is – if that means anything to you hehe. They toured me around the houses, resorts and things at the back streets of the beach front resorts. I said fine enough.

Next we moved to various left-and-right turns on narrow in-between houses at the main enclave of Logon. I could sense that we were heading west and northwards. Hey, be careful and watch out for those electrical wires and laundry wires, they’re mostly hung very low that even if you’re sitting on a motorbike, they still could get your neck! Am serious, I had two near-misses and one where the wire scraped my forehead a bit! Again, by Malapascua standards, those we were passing through were/are streets but they are all at about 2 meters width the widest with a lot of blind corners (e.g., you turn at the very corner of a house’s walls! Again too, without a tour guide, I could have easily gotten lost there.

Being too small a barrio with very narrow streets though afforded me with good views of their daily lives, like we saw a man scraping flesh from fish which was to become kinilaw. At another “backyard” (which is no different from a “frontyard”) was a woman arranging fish on a bamboo tray to dry out in the sun later to become danggit.

We made a fly-by at Mangrove Oriental Resort. A nice, even luxurious place, I must say. Though looking a bit unattended (it was very lean season) it is easy to discern this is a pretty place even romantic. And that is why its not for me! Its out in a secluded part of the western side of the island, away from the beach front action on bounty beach. To my romantic friends who prefer going in pairs, I may dare say, that is your place. Just don’t crave for a night out as its some distance.

Then Pilar’s Residence By The Sea. Even further north (of the western seaboard) is this place purportedly owned by the famous Pilar Pilapil. We hopped into the main receiving area, cum restaurant, cum view deck with a souvenir shoppe. It has very picturesque views of the sea and the western horizon. I could just imagine sunsets must be truly splendid if not spectacular at that verandah. Oh, this place is perched on a rocky part of the island. But they have made concrete stairs going down to the white sandy beach that they/you can call “private” to Pilar’s. The main accommodations though are across the raod perched on an even higher elevation for that similarly grand views of the sea and the western sun.

After Pilar’s we descended upon a peninsular beach area where both sides of the narrow grassy land are bodies of water. Interesting! You can push a banca over to the other side if you wish to pass this place without skirting the rocky end of the land. Coolness! And the grass is like a Bermuda carpet. Well, head there now as folks seemed to have started fencing it off – I learned it is privately owned and about to be developed or spruced up into another resort or similar.

Guide parked our bike on what seemed to be an hinterland area with just two houses and their livestock around. I asked what we were there for. The lighthouse, I was told. Oh, alright. I followed them up a hill where we stumbled upon a neglected but supposedly luxurious nipa hut. Daylin and my driver told me it was also owned by Exotic but has been left to rot with the elements as no one was using it. They say maybe during summer the owners will spruce it up again.

And now… we descend from that dilapidating house via a rocky/stony path not easy to recognize due to overgrowth of shrubberies, trees, gass and other plants. There is a part where the path turns towards the edge of the cliff and I saw natural stairs going down to the waters. But we decided not to venture down. We did not have knives or sticks to clear the untrodden path. We instead headed the other way and up to where the lighthouse stands tall. OMG! OMG what? Well, the path smells a mixture of foresty smell and whiffs of human excretions wet and solid. I asked why it was so. They both told me, they also wonder why people have to climb high up to that area just to “unload” when they could do it down at plains.

But the lighthouse beckons! Oh, there was Charlie, his girl and their guide already leaving the area as we approached it. We said high amidst the bushes and he joked that I was tailing them. I just laughed but actually thought, I might if I wanted to do a documentary of your “interesting tours” and have it published by your company hehe! Who is Charlie? Ah, a journalist from afar who loves coming back to Malapascua. The last time he came though (sez the exotic resort crews) it was an older Filipina with him and not that girl in her early twenties obviously innocent of worldly affairs but acting and dressing as if she’s older than her age. I’d say she’s probably below 20 and got her make-up and dressing skills from her older/elder peers hehe. Good for ye old Charlie!

Oh the lighthouse! Very nice views of the sea, the beaches below and islands afar. I think I was told by myd river that one of those islands we saw on the north was Carnasa in Masbate. Wow! And the bigger silhouette of an island to the west was Bantayan. Wow wow!

Oh, oh the lighthouse! Alright, it is still a working and newly rehabilateted “major lighthouse” but I don’t know what is minor or if there is ultra-major hehe! See the signage pasted on its door. Oh the door. It is perennially closed – which means you cannot just go inside and up the tower. Permission is needed from the authorites – whosoever, wheresoever that might be I did not anymore ask. I was happy to have sat foot on its base hehe. Ah there are two big solar panels just beside the base – obviously to power the light from atop this lighthouse.

One thing more, there are two dilapidating concrete houses just beyond the solar panels and we actually went in those just for a go-see. Both my driver and Daylin don’t know why they’ve been left to oblivion. This we did know… both are vandalized to the nth degree and stinking foul with human excretions. And this my driver had to add… both condemned structures are a favourite haunt of lovers of all kinds who have no privacy down at the civilized areas of the barrios or who do not want to spend for “proper accommodations” to “do their thing”. As if I didn’t pick what that meant, I still asked “what do they do here?” And the reply was… “maghilawas” ahh hehehe! I like that term. Very deep visayan and very graphic meaning.

Enough of the lighthouse! Out we went into similar narrow paths again, passing via other fishing villages. A place called “guimbitayan” that we passed by had equally more views out to the sea. I squirmed at the thought of how that place was named though hehe. It means where something (usually someone or even more) was hanged. Whoa!

We reached a fine beach at an area called Langob. When I say fine, I mean it to say that it was definitely better than Bounty Beach. Daylin and my driver though said that during summers, Bounty beach is still better. But at that moment of our visit, the beach was incomparable! Wide sandy white beach, long stretch, free of debris and other trash from humans, far from the corals where the tuyom lived, breezy… just splendid. I was just about to sit around this wide expanse of a long white beach (no people save from another tourist walking alone) when Dayllin and the driver motioned for me to follow them.

We reached a rocky part on the right-side end of this beautiful beach. And oh, it is Bantigue Cove! Whoa! It was on my list, but I never thought the resort would be located at this remote an area. Whoa hoa!

Bantigue Cove Beach Resort and Dive Shop is the biggest expanse of a resort I have seen on the island. Its facilities, cottages and gardens are scattered all over two coves with white sandy beaches. You’d be living up in the rocks but the beaches (plural) are just down below the concrete steps. OMG what a place. I however was thankful I did not choose this resort for this visit as indeed I would be far away from civilization hehe! But foy you who would be coming as a group, or for those couples and families who want to be away from it all, this is the place in Malapascua.

Hey, during this visit, there was no guest at Bantigue! Lean season remember?! We ordered lunch and they did have food to cook though limited. All there was to play with was the baby (of the caretaker) and the two lazy sleepy puppies of the caretaker! But oh what a place. Sceneries and activities must be the best here come high season – cuz otherwise its almost like an exile place, like the time of my visit!

Oh, I did not know until Daylin told me… this paradise is actually owned also by Exotic. Whoa!

After that simple but hefty lunch of escabeche and pork chops, our tour finally headed southeastward. I knew we were on the homestretch part. We passed by another white beach that had a few cottages. I was told it was (still) owned by Mariquita and we had been traversing a big expanse of the island that belonged to her! Wow! Who is she?! Ah this one I already knew. She is Mariquita Salimbangon Yong, sister of the existing congressman from this district and a very close friend and ally of the governor (Gwen). Word is that she might even be running for a local post in this northern part of the province. But I did not know she owns a great chunk of Malapascua hehe. Good for her!

On Mariquita's beaches though, the water’s edge is yellow with something that I think is moss or algae with undersea vegetation just feet or even inches away. That would initially look undesirable for the common beach bum but on second thought, I think that only means the waters in that area is actively alive! It will probably change when more feet trod on these parts come high season. Then again, it will they? This is a private property of a politician and who dares go there might be looking for trouble hehe. I dare not! And, that is probably why the yellow algae (or is that moss?) is thriving in splendour! Good for them hehe!

More turns and we were at the vacant lot to the left of exotic dive resort. Wow, what a tour! And I returned to watching the so many white boats of exotic either floating idle out in the waters or ferrying divers and crew!

I loved this tour!


  1. Sounds like Malapascua was fun! We are thinking of staying at Bantigue Cove next week. How much was the food?


  2. not that expensive. a hundred pesos or so can already get you a meal!