My motorbike ride roared through the narrow ascending road hugging the side of the hills. It’s always exciting to step on a new island. In this case, my feet, finally grounded on Tablas Island, the largest of the three mjor islands in Romblon province. I flew into the island via PAL and landed in Tugdon airport. My motorbike is taking me to Aglicay Beach Resort in the neighboring town of Alcantara. My eyes were constantly peeled as I absorb the idyllic landscape of this island countryside. We got off the main road and saw a sign “4km to Aglicay Resort”. I’m glad where I’m staying is only less than half an hour from the airport. As the motorbike took its twist and turns entering the distant baranggay of Comod-on, my senses were captivated by the road side view. The ocean vista opening up its glorious view and the cove just ahead. Stunning white sand beach before us hugged by verdant hills. This is going to be an exciting escape, I thought. Aglicay Beach Resort, my home for a couple of nights in Tablas, Romblon.
“San po tayo papunta? Wala na po tayo sa road sa GPS map ko? Kala ko lake tong nasa kaliwa natin. Dagat na pala! (Where are we going? We’re far off the road from my GPS map. I thought this water on our left side was a lake. It turns out we’re near the sea already!)” I excitedly asked Mam Fe, the tourism officer of Sapang Dalaga in Misamis Occidental. Prior to my trip in this province, I never really did any research on the places to see here and just concerned myself with the lecture I did for the 9th Culinary Congress held in La Salle University in Ozamiz City. Since the event was over, we had a few days free to explore the province. The provincial tourism led by Sir Gain and Mam Pretzel, took us around to discover the attractions of the province. I just kept my mind open to what hidden gems they have and one municipality that clearly made a mark for me in terms of natural wonders is Sapang Dalaga. They got wonderful coastal scenery, breathtaking hills view and a beautiful waterfall that would surely attract nature lovers and adventurers.
“Wow! How does one get there?” I asked my companion Norbs while pointing down on a parallel electric line post way down below. It seemed so far and unreachable from where we were at Kamanbaneng Peak or popularly named Marlboro Mountain. After enjoying a wonderful play of billowing clouds after the sunrise, we were set for a long trek southwards of Sagada. It was a beautiful day for a trek but the rains the day before had dampened the ground making it more sticky and on some parts muddy. But after a few hours, we found ourselves below the electric line I was pointing to earlier but standing on the curious hues of the Blue Soil Hills of Sagada.
No doubt the most visited island in Batanes is Batan Island, the landing point for any plane coming in this northernmost region in the country. The provincial capital, Basco is also located in the island making it as a starting point for exploration. I have written extensively about the places in Batan Island already so I won’t be repeating much aside from some updates and new site takes from our recent Backpack Photography 3-Island Hop in Batanes. But don’t get me wrong, even if I’ve been here several times already, the views still never fails to amaze me.
The view of the Pacific Ocean, the deep jagged cliffs from the island where I’m standing and Dinem Island, cutting through the ocean like a knife’s edge was stupendous. Here at the farthest inhabitable, northern island of Itbayat, I’m just lost for words on how I can describe the beauty I’m seeing from Torongan Hills. If I had my way, I can spend an idle afternoon here just looking at the sea and passing clouds. It was one of those moments that I’m so proud of the Philippines for having places like this.
There was still time when I got down from Sagaing Hill. I asked my motorbike driver Tubo, if we got time to visit this one temple I was eyeing. He insists it wasn’t included on what Olsen advised him so he cannot. Insisting further that it’s just a few minutes away, he stood his ground. I wasn’t in the mood to argue so I just asked his suggestion on where we could kill time before going to our sunset spot. He told me we could visit Tupayon Paya just a few yards from Ava Bridge. So off we went.
Morning of Day 9 finds me a little sad realizing my journey in Myanmar is nearing its end in a couple more days. I moved in from my stuffy hotel to my roomarama-sponsored accommodation at Mandalay View Inn. It also gave me time to do a little backpack-keeping and chores. I also realized that I’m up to my last few kyats and needed to use my emergency funds at this time. I didn’t expect the low exchange rate when I came and I was surprised how low it got just from last week (US$1 = 740 from 780 when I arrived) when I changed money. After lunch my motorbike service came. My driver this time was Tubo since Olsen had to accompany a friend who had an accident to a hospital. I hopped on the bike, put on my helmet and we rode on to Sagaing.