The Day I Escaped The Office And Went To These Philippine Islands For 7 Days Edit

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Kristin Dian Mariano  • Contributor
Opinions expressed by Explora.ph Contributors are their own.

I’m sure we all probably felt burnt out in our jobs working daily from 9 to 5. There was a time that I have to drag myself out of bed to work. It all happened one day when I was on my desk staring blankly at the computer screen – a blank word document opened and I cannot seem to make the words flow. Suddenly, I just had an epiphany, it is either I quit my job or take a goddamn break!

I started planning my trip thanks to Instagram and Facebook. I looked for places I have never been before as my adventurous side showed itself. I filed a week-long vacation leave and packed my bags. I volunteered to Explora.ph to write articles in exchange for an all-expense paid travel to Romblon. Like in my first relationship, a lot of firsts happened in this province I was unfamiliar with. Since Explora is partnering with the local tourism office, we were connected to the right people who served as our gracious hosts and assiduous tour guides. They brought us to attractions that are unpopular with tourists and I discovered sights that only locals know.

Like in my first relationship, a lot of firsts happened in this province I was unfamiliar with.

Touchdown in Odiongan, Romblon. The whole Explora team were treated to a "rapsa" meal in Laszaji Grill.

Bountiful of sights of the mountains and the seas, Romblon Islands has a quaint charm. It is not a popular travel destination to Filipinos and foreigners. One of the main reasons of its lack of popularity among travelers is the fact that it is hard to reach. Going to Romblon Islands, I rode a bus at dawn and arrived at the port in Batangas and boarded a ship for six hours before I touched down the port in Odiongan – the province’s point of entry.

Romblon Islands are comprised of three main islands of Tablas, Romblon, and Sibuyan. These three islands lie in the geographical center of the Philippines. Alighting the ship, I was indifferent and wary of the locals offering to carry my luggage unaware the innate generosity and caring nature of Romblomanons.

The Tablas Island is the most urbanized area in the province. It also has that small town charm mixed with nature’s jewels. Arranged in an organized grid, the town fosters a strong sense of camaraderie in the community due to the close-knit ties among residents. The seemingly endless west sea is a few strides on the outskirts of the town and fishing is the primary livelihood in the area due to its incredible location. I explored the following attractions in Tablas Island – an island which felt strangely familiar to me.

First morning in Romblon before Team A and Team B departed to respective assignments.

Top Attractions in Calatrava and San Andres (Tablas Island)

After spending a whole day exploring Tablas island, we hitchhiked a boat ride with BFAR to Romblon Island. The island is most well-known for marble abundant in the mountains. Arriving at Romblon port, tourists are greeted by the town's rustic charm. You will feel like you traveled in time with the old structures such as the centuries-old Catedral de San Jose as well as the Spanish houses and bridges. The island has twin forts - Fort San Andres (Fuerza San Andres) and Fort Santiago (Fuerza Santiago), which are now declared as cultural treasures. In the past, the forts served as watchtowers for both Spanish and American forces against invaders.

Aside from deep-rooted culture and tradition displayed in town, Romblon Island has some of the memorable beaches I have seen in my life. White sand beaches seem common in Romblon. I cannot compare Bonbon Beach and its long sandbar to anything. Climbing the top of an old Apunan lighthouse gave me a bird's eye view of the surrounding waters. The island has a few diving sites thanks to its undisturbed nature.

Sea turtle sanctuary as seen at the Apunan Lighthouse

Decor at Dream Paradise Resort. The long, winding road to it is so worth it! They fed us the tastiest aligue I've ever had. Every corner offers perfec

For only 20php, Tiamban Beach in Romblon offers clear waters, white sand that stretches far out in a gentle slope.

Fort San Andres at sunset is a MUST SEE!

After two days of frolicking the white beaches and sandbars in Romblon island, I boarded a ship at 4 am bound to the island of Sibuyan. Riding ships and boats numerous times to get there, Sibuyan Island is almost unreachable. The overloaded and rusted ship gave me flashbacks of the documentary of the tragedy of Doña Paz, but I chose to stand on the deck to wait for sunrise. When was the last time I saw it? It was a humbling experience to see an orange-reddish ball rising from the sea. Dolphins cut the waves and people looked at me with disdain when I reacted with joy upon seeing them. 

At last, we reached Cajidiocan port and we were greeted by our hosts putting flower necklaces on our necks. You don't get that kind of treatment everyday. I must say that Sibuyan is at a different level compared to Tablas and Romblon islands. Sibuyan caters both to leisure tourists and adventurous travelers. Available activities are also on the opposite side of spectrum. Brave the knife edge of Mt. Guiting-guiting or push your adrenalin while biking. Sibuyan also houses some of the cleanest inland waters and the coldest rivers I have ever seen. 

More than the sights, I am astounded and grateful to the people of Sibuyan. They don't know us yet they offered their food, gifts, and time for us to fully enjoy and experience their island.

Sunrise at the deck while in transit to Sibuyan Island

Knife's edge of Mt. Guiting-guiting

View on top of Marigondon bike trail

Gaong River in Magdiwang at the foothills of G2.

The luscious nature I saw and experienced. I was enthralled, captivated even. These rocks are beneath the water in monsoon months. The air smells like

After seven days of island hopping, food tasting, and souvenir buying, I am back in my old desk at work, but with renewed joy and excitement. After embarking on my much-needed getaway that summer, I have a newfound appreciation for my office job that funded my travel. For now, I will enjoy the photos and memories I gathered until my next escape. 

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