Romblon: The Marble Capital of the Philippines
We have heard a lot of good things about Romblon, the scenery, the beaches, and the places that other people talk about. We planned this trip way ahead in advance where we would take the bus heading for Batangas Port and take the 2GO Travel, and head first to the Island of Romblon, then transfer to Tablas Island, where we would be staying in Looc, then transfer to Odiongan for the night and take the 2GO Travel back to Batangas Port and take the Bus heading for either Lipa City and back to Manila. But what, we did not factor in, was the weather.
Having a strong tropical depression across the archipelago less than a week ago, it was likely to rain when we left Manila taking the Jam Liner, heading for the port of Batangas and arriving at the port with a long line of people trying to buy a ticket for a ride home for the holiday vacation. As time passed by, we were soon at the check-in counter and then waited at the lounge for the boarding, which was at least 2 hours more. The announcement came at around 1850hrs that they were opening the gate for boarding, heading over at the pier, we were told to line up and drop all our bags to the ground, where the K-9 sniffed them for any drugs or explosives. We were then allowed to enter the ship after checking our tickets and then ushered to our bunks by the friendly crew. We were bunked at the tourist class and rented linens for the beds and tried to settle in, then walked around to check the ship.
We left the port of Batangas at around 2000hrs and was scheduled to arrive in the port of Romblon at around 0600hrs, as we settled in our bunks and ate the food that we brought along for dinner which we ordered from Falafel Elijah, We tried to rest for the night, but since the bunks were too close together, it was hard for me to rest for the night because the guy beside me snored so loudly like a freight train. Early the next morning, there was a food cart going around selling Champorado or sweet rice porridge for Php30, and by 0700hrs, we were docking at the port of Romblon
Arriving at the port of Romblon, on a cloudy morning, with a drum ensemble greeting the passengers at the port. We started walking through town and was about to take the tricycle going to where we would stay and was told that it was just a few meters away and decided to just walk and see the food stalls along the way. Arriving at Parc Bay Mansion, we were greeted by Ritchie, who was waiting at the road and showed us in the lodging to check-in and then led us to where our room was. After a brief rest, we walked around town looking for a place to eat for breakfast. We found a food stall, who agreed to cook pancit without any meat products and we ate it with the vegan longganisa that we brought with us. Having our fill, we then walked around the plaza to look at the marble items they are selling, then while going around. Carol felt a bit ill and had to go back to our lodging, while I decided to visit San Andres Fort.
Climbing up the 200 steps to reach 373 year old Fort San Andres, with an elevation of 1500 feet, paying the visitors fee of Php20, I entered the fort and started to take photos. Fort San Andres was built to guard the Romblon town, against pirates and also to reinforce the dominance of Spaniards on the common folk during those days. It overlooks the town as well as the sea, which made it perfect to notice any intruders coming towards Romblon; either by sea or through land.
One could see this fort looming over the hilltop. After the restoration, the steps have been a depiction of sea life, as well as the on-goings in the locality. Though, there are no vaults inside anymore, the feeling that one would get once inside the fort is very similar to being in a vault. The numerous massive columns in square structures are made to withstand any attack or siege; perhaps even local revolt.
The tower that this fort has gives complete and spectacular view of an entire harbour. This was meant to watch over the crucial junctions of logistics, as well as any susceptible movement around the harbour.
Since 2012, when a massive restoration project got over, the place was more accessible and beautiful than the ruins before pre-restoration. The fort attracts a lot of archaeological experts, architects and historians, as well as students who are interested in 15th century Spaniard history and architecture. Photographers gather here very often because they can get a panoramic view of the entire town and the Romblon port. This part is exponentially in favor of the trigger happy photographers.
After Fort San Andres, I headed for the center of town and headed for St. Joseph Cathedral, One of the oldest Roman Catholic Church, which was located in barrio Poblacion. It was constructed for the Recollect Fathers between 1640 and 1726 by talented local artisans using coral blocks and bricks. Since the church was still locked, I went around the vicinity to take some photos and went back when the doors of the church were opened.
Next spot to visit is the Fort Santiago, which is on the other side of the harbour from Fort San Andres. Fort Santiago is a good hike along Calvary Hill, asking directions to my destination, I was adviced to take the shorter route but decided to take the longer but scenic route, passing along a cemetery, and stations of the cross which took me to the top.
Upon reaching Fort Santiago where only the ruins could be seen was a tall tamarind tree. They have started clearing the area so as to show where the foundation of the fort was, and had another view of the harbour from here.
Going back down, I decided to take the shorter route and saw the danger involved because of the slippery rocks and the sheer drop on the side of the cliff.
Reaching the main road, I decided to walk along the highway and thought of going to Bon Bon Beach and look at the sand bar. After passing the 1.3 MW power barge of the National Power Corporation along the way, I decided to head back into town because the skies became gloomy. When I arrived at the lodging, I took a bath and decided to rest.
We had a late lunch, going back to the food stall where we had breakfast and ordered pancit and lomi all without any meat products, then decided to walk around town again heading back to St Joseph Cathedral and then to the marble shops then back to our lodging and rest. Then the rains came.
It was raining all night, and when morning came, it was still drizzling on and off. We prepared for start of the day, ate breakfast, checked out of our lodging, then headed for the registration center for the trip to San Agustine Port, Tablas Island at 0730hrs, and by 0800hrs, we left the port of Romblon. Since it was a gloomy day, the seas were a bit rough and rocked our boat, good thing the captain knows how to read the waves and slows the boats every time a big wave comes.
Arriving at the Port of San Agustine at 0900hrs and was looking for a ride and then decided to hire a tricycle for the trip to Looc. We loaded all our bags at the back of the tricycle and started our journey to the town of Looc, passing along the coastel road, then the rains came again, good thing the tricycle had a plastic covering so we would not get wet.
Arriving at the town of Looc at 1020hrs where we were dropped of at Looc Hardware, where we were invited to have lunch with them. We were served steamed fish, and dinuguan and some pork innards but politely declined them saying we do not eat any meat products and brought out the food that we had, which was vegan cup noodles and mushrooms. After lunch, we had a chat with the owners, they showed us their other businesses and then we were brought to the place where we would be staying, and it was still raining.
We arrived at Buenavista Paradise Resort, and checked in our lodging, The resort consists of 4 cottages, a main area for eating, a bar and great view of the sea, we then just lazed around because of the rains sipping some coconut juice, and come dinner time, we were served a large plate of mixed vegetables sauteed in oil, along with some vegan tapa, then went back to our cottage and lazed around.
The next morning, the rains stopped and I went down to the beach and had a little walk then headed back to the resort and had breakfast which consists of bread, fruit jam, papaya and vegan noodles. Then it started raining again while we headed back to our cottage and when the rain comes you just have to stay indoors so as not to get wet, which is what we did. Lunch consists of a big plate of mixed vegetable sauteed in oil together with vegan tocino which we brought. Late in the afternoon, the rains has stopped and took photos at the beach but noticed that my filter was a bit dirty and upon checking, the coating got stripped off. Dinner was a platter of pasta cooked with tomatoes and basil with oil and for dessert, green mangoes dipped in salt with chili, then rested for the night.
Waking up early in the morning the next day and the sun finally came out, went down to the beach and took photos, heading back to our cottage and ate breakfast which was fried bananas, then fixed our things took photos with the owner and the caretakers, then our ride to Odiongan arrived, loaded out bags on top of the tricycle and said our goodbyes to the owners and boarded the tricycle heading for Odiongan.
Arriving in Odiongan, we then proceeded to where we booked our stay which was Centro delas Islas Filipinas Hotel, which is just beside the gate of Odiongan Port, eating our lunch which consits of rice and the vegan noodles which we got on our trip to Tokyo. After lunch, I headed out and walked along the roads looking for some interesting places to take photos. Dinner was just rice and tomatoes with soy sauce, then rested for the day.
Morning came and breakfast was mixed vegetables with soy sauce, and the skies became gloomy again, and since our ride back to Batangas port is at 1400hrs, we had nothing to do but to just wait around the hotel, at 1200hrs we entered the port of Odiongan and checked in.
Our ship arrived around 1400hrs and were told again to fall in line for the dogs to sniff the bags and when cleared, we boarded the ship and were ushered to our cabin, which consisted of 4 bunks.There was a couple already there coming from Caticlan, and then settled in our bunks and in short time, we were on our way to Batangas Port. As we had free meals on this trip, we requested if we can have a vegan food and they obliged to do our request, we were served steamed mixed vegetable with rice and had a grand time eating while we were being rocked by the waves. Having our fill, we headed back to our bunk and rested for the duration of the trip. Hearing the announcment that we are nearing the port of Batangas, we fixed our things and then the go signal to depart the ship came, we disembarked and headed for the bus to take us to Lipa city but there was none, so we took the tricycle and headed for the grand terminal in Batangas, where we waited for a bus and spent the new year at the bus terminal together with the crew of a convenience store.
Finally a bus arrived and took it heading for Lipa City and then was picked up by Carol’s sister where we would be staying, by 0300hrs I was fast asleep on the bed for the next day will be traveling early back to Manila.
Since we did not factor in the weather on this trip, and Carol having fever most of the time, we did not get to see the great beaches of Romblon and Tablas Island but we had a grand time relaxing and even spent the new year on the road, just the two of us. Hopefully next time it would be another adventure we would never forget.
Parc Bay Mansion
Buenavista Paradise Resort
Note: I am a vegan and do not condone killing or eating any meat products, photos taken are for documentary purposes only
All photos are owned and copyrighted by Joey Rico (also known under these names: alien_scream).
All Rights Reserved. Unauthorized use, copy, editing, reproduction, publication, duplication and distribution of the digital photos, without his explicit permission, is punishable by law