July 18, 2016

Buktot Beach: Mansalay’s Hidden Gem

Solitude is a wonderful kind of freedom. It feels like that Bible passage “the time is coming when you will be scattered, each to his own home, and will leave me alone. Yet I am not alone”. And it could be found just an island away from Manila.

Being a frequent Ro-ro traveler during my younger years, I became quite familiar about the surroundings of Southern Mindoro. I’ve heard a lot from the locals about Buktot Beach but it was only lately that I was able to set foot on Mansalay’s hidden gem.

Buktot is a Bisaya word for hunchback. Locals said that the beach was named Buktot mainly because of the curvy road going to the beach. Others, on the other hand, attribute it to the curvy shoreline of the beach.

After a tiring land and sea travel of eight hours, I was dropped by the van driver on the highway of Manaul, leading to Buktot. It’s just a five-minute drive by habal-habal from the highway to the beach. But since I didn’t see any motorcycle or tricycle, I just decided to walk.

Natural sceneries along the way, including the mountainous backdrop of Mansalay, cows on the rice field, and the field of periwinkles, are simply bucolic and spectacular.

It took me 15 minutes to reach… paradise.         

With its fine white sand and crystal-clear waters, the beach looks gorgeous and almost deserted. Ate Lisa and her family have a small house by the beach. They have constructed nipa huts and cottages for day-trippers. Entrance fee is P10 per person and day use of cottage is P100 (overnight use is P200). Originally, I intend to stay overnight in a resort far from the beach. But upon seeing the spell-binding beauty of Buktot, I abandoned my plan and simply settled in one of the cottages. I didn’t mind the lack of electricity, the not so comfortable CR, and the maalat-alat na tubig from the poso. After all, it’s not everyday that I get to see this kind of virginal beauty staring right in front of me.

There are aroma trees on the beachfront, which provide a good shade during a sunny day. But one particular plant caught my attention - the beautiful and bushy pencil cactus. I hope they grow more of this plant on the beach.  

I spent most of the day just swimming in the cool waters, as if I didn't have a care in the world. The rock formations and the coastal erosion add more charm to the beach.   

I climbed a hill overlooking the beach.

I visited the mangrove areas on both the rear ends of the beach.

After all the people left, at ako na lang mag-isa ang natira, look who (or what) took over the beach – goats and peacocks.   

The moment I found out I forgot my camera charger and extra battery pack, I almost cried hehe. Papaano na ang gusto ko na mag-selfie sa bawat sulok ng Buktot?

But maybe there is something better than what we leave behind.

The dusk and dawn in Buktot are picturesque and signal another new day.

Somehow, it’s a proof that there will always be something left to love.

How to get to Buktot Beach and tips:
1. From Manila, take a bus bound for Batangas Pier (better leave Manila between 8 pm – 12 midnight to arrive in Buktot early morning).
2. From the pier take ferry, roro or fast craft going to Calapan (fast craft usually takes 45 minutes to one hour only).
3. From Calapan port, take a van bound for San Jose and get off at Manaul (Buktot) in Mansalay. Travel time usually takes 3 ½ to 4 hours. (Take note that vans will only proceed to San Jose if there is a minimum of seven passengers going to San Jose, otherwise its last stop would only be Roxas. Mansalay is still around 30 minutes-away from Roxas. In case this happens, you still have the option to ride a van going to San Jose, jeepney going to Bulalacao, or multi-cab going to Mansalay from Roxas, and get off at Manaul.
4. From Manaul highway, either rent a habal-habal or tricycle going to the beach (P20) or you could just walk.
5. Bring lots of food and water. Ate Lisa has only a small sari-sari store with chips and softdrinks. There are other sari-sari stores nearby (Pwede magpaluto or makikain hehe. Just like what I did.)
6. Pwede magluto sa beach.
7. For those staying overnight, bring tent, mosquito repellant, and power bank.
8. For those who want a more comfortable lodging, you could stay at RC Farm and Resort which is located on the highway of Manaul and just a few minutes away from Buktot. 
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