The recent remake of the cowboy movie classic “Magnificent Seven” brought back fond memories of the Wild Wild West and the rugged allure of the frontier. But one need not travel to Texas for a taste of cowboy life as Masbate province is the proud bearer of the title: “Home of Philippine Rodeo.”
Here are seven reasons why this unheralded province should be your next getaway.
1. Cattle Ranches
Tour the sprawling ranches around the province for a feel of the ranch life by learning how to feed, ride, and even lasso horses and cattle. Visit the province during summer for the Rodeo Festival where cowboys and cowgirls across the archipelago converge to strut their wares in a one-of-a-kind spectacle.
There’s a horse parade, a cattle drive where you get to see what it’s like to lead a herd, and even bull riding! The best part is feasting on tender beef steak for the duration of the festivity.
2. Buntod Sandbar
A 251-hectare reef marine sanctuary just off Masbate City, Buntod Sandbar is an alluring stretch of white sand and mangrove forest.
It’s also been awarded as the Para El Mar Best Marine Sanctuary by the Marine Science Network. You can snorkel in the clear waters, paddle a banca or kayak around the sandbar, or picnic with family and friends.
3. Palani Beach
Situated in the southern town of Balud, Palani Beach is an expansive cove that makes it one of Masbate’s many secluded sleepy shores reminiscent of Boracay’s splendor decades ago.
With only a handful of resorts in the village, you can play beach volleyball, go bamboo rafting, row the homemade dug-out canoe, gaze at the sunset or simply laze on the beach cabanas minus the madding crowd.
4. Ticao Island
One of the three major islands comprising Masbate, Ticao Island takes pride in the Instagram-worthy Catandayagan Falls whose tall drop emanates from a cliff and falls directly into the sea — perhaps the only one of its kind in the country.
A few minutes away is Burubangcaso Islet which boasts of talcum fine sand, crystalline water and huge monolithic rocks. Punctuated by powdery sands and crystalline coves, Ticao is home to two of the best resorts in Masbate—Altamar and Ticao Island Resort, which are just minutes away from each other.
5. Burias Island
Burias Island (also part of the three major Masbate province islands) is where you can hop around the islands of Animalola, Sombrero, Tinalisayan and Dapa, or relive the glory days of San Pascual town through the Spanish-period structures which have survived the ravages of time.
You can also visit the Balinsasayaw house where some 80,000 swiftlets take refuge, or go on a river cruise at the Mapanique River which is dotted by Mangrove forests, wild ducks, and exotic birds.
6. Scuba Diving
Ticao Island has a rich marine biodiversity and has 12 validated dive spots, including Manta Bowl, habitat of the rare manta rays who get cleaned by smaller aquatic creatures.
It’s an underwater treat when butandings or whale sharks occasionally visit due to its proximity to Donsol, Sorsogon. You can tap Ticao Island Resort, the province’s foremost dive center, for your foray into Neptune’s Kingdom.
7. Fazenda de Esperanza
Fazenda de Esperanza is a farm-themed halfway-house in Milagros town where victims of drug addiction prepare for reintegration into society.
Refresh yourself with locally-produced flavored cow’s milk or take home organically-grown farm produce and souvenirs to help support the charitable institution. Its scenic premises is also ideal for lazy promenades, picnics, pictorials, or flying kites or remote controlled planes.
Getting to Masbate
From Manila, you can fly to Masbate City via PAL Express.
An alternative route is to fly to Legazpi, take a van to Pilar town, and take a fast craft to Masbate. There are also buses that travel directly up to Esperanza town. Ticao Island can be reached via pump boats from the ports of Pilar and Bulan in Sorsogon. Burias can be reached via Pio Duran port in Albay.
Where to Stay and Eat in Masbate
Rendezvous Resort in Masbate City exudes a homey and old-world ambiance by the shores of Masbate Bay. Bituon Beach Resort in Mobo has a vast expanse of beach and good rooms to boot. The cowboy-themed Food Trip Restobar is a cool place to dine and chill out with its signature boodle fight, dart boards, and rodeo photos of owner Al Orlanes.