Showing posts with label San Agustin. Show all posts
Showing posts with label San Agustin. Show all posts

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Romblon: Aglicay Beach and Trangkalan Falls in Tablas

First order of business for the day was to take the ferry from Romblon back to Tablas. Since the SEAIR flight from Tablas back to Manila is early in the morning, you have to be in Tablas a day before departure. The only morning ferry trip back to Tablas was at 8 a.m. so I made sure to get some quality rest the night before. After munching on the pizza leftover from my dinner at Romblon Deli, I made my way to the pier to catch the ferry.

Back in San Agustin, I went back to the Madrona Residence in Brgy. Bachawan where I was to stay for the night. About three kilometers from the place is Trangkalan Falls which I decided to visit before lunch. On the way to the falls, I passed by three large bronze sculptures by the late Florante Caedo depicting the crucifixion, the pieta and the resurrection. Indeed, who would expect to find these works of arts tucked in the middle of nowhere?

Finally reaching Trangkalan Falls, I immediately noticed its aquamarine catch basin which was most definitely enticing for a swim. My guide explained to me that during the rainy season, the falls raged down the rocks. But in the summer, it was reduced to a near trickle.

The hike back got me really hungry and I was at the Madrona Residence in time for lunch. I took a quick siesta after lunch before proceeding to the Aglicay Beach Resort in Alcantara for a swim. Aglicay Beach is one of the best resorts in Tablas Island. Since I was really hungry, I had some snacks at their restaurant before heading over to the water.

The marine life was alive and kicking since I spotted a lot of fish, starfishes and sea urchins in the water. But a sad note is how you'd find the occasional snack wrapper stuck in the sea grass. Some tourists are so inconsiderate and think that everywhere is a garbage can.

Aglicay also offers tours to the nearby Looc Marine Sactuary, the Battle of Sibuyan Sea Marker and Memorial which we passed by on the way back to San Agustin, and the enchanted Kalatong Hill of Guimbirayan.

Aglicay Beach Resort
Fan rooms start at PHP600 while air-conditioned rooms start at PHP900. You can arrange airport pick-ups with them for PHP400 one-way.
+63 2 9375064
+63 915 4256898
+63 919 6346708
+63 906 4813470

Part 1: Romblon is more than marble
Part 2: Romblon, Romblon is a heritage town
Part 3: Romblon's food surprises

Monday, April 07, 2008

Romblon is more than marble

Romblon has always been synonymous with deposits of high quality marble that are reputed to be among the best in the world. But I would discover that Romblon is more than that. Gone are the days of tiresome ferry travel since Manila to Romblon flights are now available with regular SEAIR trips to Tablas three times a week.

For this route, SEAIR uses their 19-seater Let 410 UVP-E plane. But for the flight to Tablas last Saturday, I was on a fully-booked proving flight of SEAIR's Dornier 328 since they will be using this larger plane in the future given the high demand for flights to Romblon. Flights to Tablas are usually an hour but since we were using the Dornier, it was just 30 minutes.

At the Tablas Airport, I was met by Romblon Congressman Eleandro Madrona who was on his way to Manila. But he was kind to assign people to take me around his district. Our first stop for the day was the town of Odiongan where the Kanidugan Festival was being held. On the way, we stopped to check out the port in Looc where a regular ferry service to and from Caticlan leaves four times a week.

In Odiongan, we arrived just in time as the street parade was moving out of the central school. Kanidugan means kaniyogan and celebrates the abundant coconut produce of the town. As in most festivals in the country, the highlight of the Kanidugan Festival is the competition of various "tribes" or performing teams during the street parade.

After taking a few photos, we proceeded to the town of San Agustin to have lunch at the Madrona Residence in Brgy. Bachawan. Our plan was to take the 1 p.m. pump-boat ferry service for Romblon island which leaves from the port of San Agustin.

How to get there
SEAIR flies to Tablas three times a week. Flights leave Manila at 7:20 a.m. every Monday and Saturday and arrive at 8:25 a.m. On Thursdays, flights leave at 10:50 a.m. and arrive at 11:55 a.m. Call SEAIR at (02) 8490100 for booking.

The M/V Aikho from Caticlan arrives in Looc four times a week. It leaves Caticlan at 9:45 a.m. every Sunday, Wedenesday and Friday and arrives in Looc at 12 noon; and on Mondays at 8:00 p.m. arriving in Looc at 10:00 p.m. The two-hour ferry costs PHP200 one-way. SEAIR has regular flights to Caticlan.

There are also regular ferry services from Manila and Batangas to Odiongan, and from Batangas and Lucena to San Agustin.

Getting around
Jeeps are scarce in Tablas and there are a limited number of trips a day between major port towns. From the Tablas Airport in Tugdan, you can walk over to the National Highway to wait for a jeep to pass by. But this will need a lot a patience and jeeps are usually jam-packed like a can of sardines. If you have already pre-booked with a resort, it's best to arrange airport transfers with them.

San Agustin has daily pump-boat services to Romblon and Sibuyan. Aside from public transportation, another option to get there from the airport is to hire a motorcycle. But a trip from the airport to the port in San Agustin is said to cots about PHP800. For groups, a van or pick-up truck charter to the port would cost about PHP2000. Pump-boats leave San Agustin for Romblon twice daily at 8 a.m. and 1 p.m. and cost PHP85.

Part 2: Romblon, Romblon is a heritage town
Part 3: Romblon's food surprises
Part 4: Aglicay Beach and Trangkalan Falls in Tablas

Friday, September 29, 2006

Isabela: Nuang Festival in San Agustin, Isabela

I just came back from a trip to Isabela where I attended the 2nd Nuang Festival in the town of San Agustin upon the invitation of my SSEAYP batchmate Vice-Mayor Jules Lamug, whom I heard is currently the youngest vice-mayor in the country. San Agustin is the southernmost town of Isabela. But to get to it, you have to pass by Santiago City and the towns of Echague and Jones.

Although the roads to Echague and Jones are well-paved, once you leave the poblacion of Jones, you will have to drive through rough and muddy roads going to the town. Good thing there are new bridges being constructed since the current ones are too low and are easily susceptible to bridge closures when the waters of the Cagayan River overflow.

San Agustin is the top producer of Murrah buffaloes in the entire country which is why every September 27, a day before their foundation day or town fiesta, they hold the Nuang Festival, nuang is Ilocano for buffalo, to celebrate this feat.

This was not anything like the lavish city and provincial festivals that have become by-words of Philippine tourism. I guess it was a chance for me to experience a small town fiesta since the activities planned were the way most towns in the country celebrated their fiesta in the good old days.

The morning started with street dancing and a parade of buffaloes around the town. Each buffalo had a number since there were competitions to determine the best bred F1, as the Murrah buffalo is referred to. This was followed by native games for the kids such as sack races with bags of groceries at stake, as well as a pig catching contest, the prize being the poor greased piglet which the kids tried to catch. There was also a buffalo talent contest with the buffalo which could do the most tricks winning the competition. To break the tie, the buffalos were asked to sit down with the fastest being declared the winner.

Like in most small towns, the afternoon was reserved for the siesta which is what I did. Hehe! And a small town fiesta would not be complete without basketball games in the town plaza.

I was surprised that an old pre-war tradition was still being done in San Agustin. Unlike the current fiestas were we hold beauty pageants, San Agustin still organizes a carnival queen or popularity contest. Jules and I were kidding about it since they reverted back to the “dark ages.” Haha! The winner of the competition was the candidate who got the most number of votes, with each vote being purchased. And the coronation night was simply that since the winners were already pre-determined.

The entire town was literally there to watch the event. Traditional dances performed by the various schools of San Agustin opened the coronation night. Then each of the winners was called to march together with their consorts and entourage of flower girls, angels, as well as crown, scepter and sash bearers all in complete carnival queen regalia, up stage where their thrones were waiting for them. This is how pageants used to be done in the old days.

Anyway, the next day, the town fiesta, was marked by a grand parade with the queen and her court paraded around town on decorated floats. I didn’t stay too long since Milenyo was soon to unleash its wrath and I wanted to be back in Pampanga before it did.

And of course, since I was up north, I made it a point to eat tupig, their native kakanin, which is glutinous rice and other ingredients rolled up in a banana leaf and roasted over a metal plate on top of charcoal. So I ate some at stopovers on the way to Isabela and back home.

Cabanatuan tricycles are cheats!
As an aside to my story, here is a warning to travelers who may by chance find themselves in Cabanatuan City… beware of the tricycle drivers because they are cheats! On my way to Isabela, the tricycle I rode charged me PHP120 for a ride from the terminal to some point in the national highway! I tried to argue with him about it. But my mistake was I didn’t ask the price before I boarded so I had to settle for PHP80. The bastard!

I thought it was an isolated incident but on my way back to Pampanga, I took another tricycle in Cabanatuan from McDonald’s to the bus terminal which was about a kilometer or two away. This time, I asked how much. When he said PHP30, I frowned and walked away. Then he shouted PHP20 so I said yes. When I got off at the terminal, I gave him a PHP50 bill and he said I still lacked ten pesos. When I protested, he said it’s PHP20 but I had to pay for three people since I was alone in the tricycle!

This time I didn’t allow it and protested until he gave me the right change. Imagine, they charge even more than what an air-conditioned taxi would charge for the same distance. The nerve!

These incidents also show how remiss the local government in Cabanatuan City is in regulating and disciplining the tricycles there. Lest they forget they are notorious for having the most number of tricycles in the entire country, the City Government of Cabanatuan should then ensure that incidents like these would not happen by (1) requiring every tricycle to have a fare schedule posted for passengers to see and refer to, (2) posting fare schedules on billboards in tricycle terminals, (3) creating a hotline for complaints with contact numbers conspicuously posted inside the tricycles beside their registration number, and (4) imposing strict disciplinary measures for erring drivers and the associations they are part of (imposing measures on the associations will ensure that members will regulate their ranks).
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