Masbate: Cowboys, cattle and more Edit

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Bernard Supetran  • Contributor
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Masbate: Cowboys, cattle and more

The province of Masbate in the Bicol region is regarded as the Philippines’ cowboy land with its vast cattle ranches and cowboys who tame the herd. But beyond this local version of the “Wild Wild West”, Masbate is a beguiling tourism frontier, off the beaten path in the archipelago’s central portion.

Rodeo Masbateno. The province is the country’s “Rodeo Capital” where ranchers showcase their skills in cowboy skills such as lassoing, bull riding, whipping and carambola, among others. 

This April 12-16, cowboys and cowgirls from all over the Philippines will gather here to show off their wares in the one-of-a-kind festival. Spectators can get a feel of the Western fever by dressing up in checkered long sleeves, leather vests, jeans, boots, and wide-brimmed hats.

 A sought-after event is the Cattle Drive where scores of cows are let loose in the streets of Masbate City to chase the townsfolk, akin to the Bull Run of San Ferminez in Pamplona, Spain.

Cattle Ranches. Masbate offers a unique tour circuit where visitors are brought to the sprawling ranches. Be a cowboy even for a few fleeting moments by learning how to ride a horse, lasso a cow and other skills of the trade.

Ticao Island. Separated from Masbate mainland, this is a promising island with its unspoiled and unexplored tourist attractions. It takes pride in the postcard-pretty. 

Catanyagan Falls


Photo by Bernard Supetran

Catandayagan Falls which emanates from a cliff and drops directly into the sea, perhaps the only one of its kind in the country. Nearby is Burubangcaso Islet which boasts of talcum fine sand, crystalline water and a huge monolithic rock. 

On the other side of the island is the Manta Bowl of Ticao Pass, the habitat of the manta rays and where butandings or whale sharks occasionally stray, and Haleya Nature Park, a cove known for its rich marine biodiversity.

 The island is superb for scuba diving and kayaking offered by Ticao Island Resort and Alta Mar.

Buntod Sandbar


Photo by Bernard Supetran

Buntod Sandbar. A 251-hectare reef marine sanctuary just off the mainland, Buntod is a 200-meter stretch of white sand and mangrove forest.

 Managed by the Masbate City government and a fisherfolk organization, it has been awarded the Para El Mar Best Marine Sanctuary by the Marine Science Network. You can snorkel in the glassy sea, paddle a native banca or kayak around the sandbar.

Palani Beach


Photo by Bernard Supetran

Palani Beach. Situated in the southern town of Balud, this expansive cove is one of many secluded sleepy shores reminiscent of Boracay’s in the raw. 

With only a handful of resorts, you play beach volleyball, go bamboo rafting, row the home-made dug-out canoe, gaze at the sunset or simply laze on the beach cabanas minus the madding crowd.

Tinalisayan Island


Photo by Bernard Supetran

Sombrero Island. So-called because of its hat shape, it is the favorite getaway in Burias Island. An uninhabited islet, its tourist magnet is its fine sand and clear waters which lure beach bums who want to laze on an island in the sun. It can be reached from San Pascual town proper or via chartered pump boat the port of Pio Duran, Albay.

Fazenda de Esperanza


Photo by Bernard Supetran

Fazenda de Esperanza. Literally meaning “farms of hope”, it is an agricultural retreat in Milagros town where victims of substance abuse undergo a wholistic rehabilitation to prepare them for reintegration into mainstream society. Run by a Spanish-based international institution, the farm is the home away from home for wayward souls who are in the process of contrition.

 Refresh yourself with locally-produced flavored cow’s milk or take home organically-grown farm produce as a way of supporting the institution. With the undulating mountain ranges in the backdrop, Fazenda’s chapel and residences conjure of pastoral images in the Alps.

Getting There. From Manila, it can be reached via a daily flight of Pal Express to Masbate City or weekly voyages of 2Go. From Cebu City, there are nightly boat trips to Masbate. Ticao Island can be reached via pump boats from the ports of Pilar and Bulan in Sorsogon.

Where to Stay and Eat. You can lay your head at the Rendezvous Resort, one of the pioneer lodgings in the area which exudes a homey and Old World feel. Situated by shores of Masbate Bay, it is one of the boardings to Buntod Sandbar. For dining, the Rodeo-themed resto Food Trip offers the signature boodle fight ideal for group meals.

With photos from Robert Detera

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