“Are we there yet?”
“Beshy, we’ll arrive there by 12 midnight.”
“Yes, I know. It just feels like we’re not moving at all.”
We both laughed because many of the passengers were sound asleep, while we were stressing ourselves about getting to our destination fast.
So we slept like locals did, sans our bodies occupying the whole seat.
There are several hotels and inns in downtown Masbate where you can stay. There is Novotel where you can check out the same time you had checked in.
There’s also a newer bayfront resort next to Rendezvous Resort where we stayed. The latter you would appreciate because of the owner (and for several more reasons enumerated later on this blog). Mr. Cokie Medina knows the ins and outs of local tourism in Masbate.
What some hotel’s desk officers/security guards couldn’t help you with, he could. He knew the ferry schedule and would extend help by calling the office himself. These must be part of basic services by hotels in an island province like Masbate.
Even the lady attendant at a laundry shop gave us this answer: “I’m not from here so I can give you limited information regarding direction and what not.” Meh.
He also knew the culture, that he could delight you with stories from Rodeo to Lapay – two highlight festivals in the province.
“You two should come back during Rodeo Festival in April. You’ll see the regulars and the tradition, of course.”
That sounds interesting, indeed. Yet, I felt like I would return for Lapay Bantigue Dance Festival in September. According to Sir Cokie, it is a cultural dance where students learned the steps during grade school. Interestingly, his daughter was one of the Lapay queens.
Our conversations went on, including the Caucasian-managed Ticao Island to Masbate longganisa which was our breakfast together with egg and rice. Little did I know that the best-tasting binut-ong used to be found in my hometown, Tiwi.
All those stories and his graciousness as a host made me see the difference it can make in local tourism.
Buntod Reef and Marine Sanctuary
Activities: Snorkeling, scuba diving, swimming, kayaking
Boat Rental: P500
Contact Number: 0917-927-7660/0920-433-8512
SESE Brahmans Ranch
Day hike, camping, stargazing, horse riding
Entrance Fee: P50/pax
Fazenda de Esperanca
Activities: Visit the farm and production site for fresh milk and cookies that this rehabilitation center sells at the Cathedral in downtown Masbate.
No entrance fee.
We spent the rest of our stay napping on this grass-covered ground. And the habal-habal ride for downtown, with drizzle and all, spiced up our afternoon adventure.
The Rendezvous resort can provide packed meals for your lunch at SESE Brahmans Ranch picnic-style. This may include homegrown meals with seafood ingredients, as well as specialty dishes like hardinera and ham (must be ordered 7 days advanced) and dessert all prepared by the owner himself.
The folks at Buntod Reef Marine Sanctuary can also prepare your lunch. Castle Kaunan SUTUKIL (popularly known as SUTUKIL) is a must-visit in Masbate, as well as Alben’s Food House (Brgy. Tara) for bulalo, Minlan along Osmena st. for filling, value meals and Tio Jose Bar & Grill for steak.
The milk candy Carmelado is made in Milagros and also available in stores near the port. Add the delicious cookies from Fazenda in your bags of pasalubong.
There’s also a Bigg’s Diner branch with a rodeo theme for its interiors.
Room rates at Rendezvous Hotel and Resort
P800/2 pax – First Ground
P1000/2 pax – Second Floor
What you’ll like about Rendezvous Hotel and Resort is you’ve got an affordable place to stay. Their rates are the most budget-friendly in Punta Nursery, the gateway to Buntod Reef Marine Sanctuary.
The rooms have basic facilities. One room on the second floor has a refrigerator and a PC, and some are under renovation during our November visit.
The meals are also a deal, especially they are homegrown, with rates from P180-350 good for four persons. Rice is P45 good for sharing.
8:00 PM -Departure, Pilar Pier, Sorsogon
12:00 Midnight – Arrival, Masbate Pier
12:00-12:15 AM – To Rendezvous Resort via tricycle
12:15-12:30 AM – Check-in
12:30-5:00 AM – Sleep
5:00-5:30 AM – Freshen up
5:30-6:00 AM – Breakfast
6:00-6:15 AM – To Buntod Reef
6:15-9:00 AM – Snorkel, swim, kayak
9:00-9:15 AM – Depart for Rendezvous Resort
9:15-9:45 AM Freshen up
9:45-10:00 AM -Off to the central terminal
10:00-11:15 AM – Off to SESE Brahmans Ranch via Balud-bound UV
11:15-11:25 AM – Walk from the entrance to the house at the middle of the ranch
11:25-11:30 AM – Pay the entrance fee
11:30-11:45 AM – Short hike to the hilltop
11:45-12:00 PM – Rest
12:00-12:30 PM – Lunch Picnic-like (Packed lunch)
12:30-1:00 PM – Siesta
1:00-1:15 PM – Walk back to the caretaker’s house
1:15-1:30 PM – Walk back to the main road where habal-habal is waiting
1:30-1:40 PM – To Fazenda de Esperanca
1:40-2:30 PM – Visit
2:30-2:35 PM – To UV “terminal”.
2:35-4:30 PM – To downtown via habal-habal (We didn’t catch the last trip via UV)
4:30-5:30 PM – Early dinner at SUTUKIL (SUgba, TUla, KILaw)
5:30-5:50 PM – Back to Rendezvous
5:50-6:30 PM – Sunset watching
6:30-7:00 PM – Freshen up
7:00-10:00 PM – Rest
10:00-10:30 PM – Pack up
10:30-10:45 PM – Check out
10:45-11:00 PM – Off to the pier
11:00-12:00 AM – Aboard the fast craft
12:00-2:00 AM – To Pilar Pier
0909-793-0466 – Habal-habal driver from Balud, Milagros
0920-852-3996 – Jose Cokie Medina/Rendezvous Resort
Photos: Laurie Gucilatar, Renato Jao