March 10, 2017

Burias Island, Masbate

Guinduyanan Point is believed to be the very center of the Philippines. It is located in a small coastal barangay of Mabuhay in San Pascual, Burias Island, Masbate. Aside from this interesting trivia, Burias is home to pristine, white sand beaches, gorgeous islands and islets and breathtaking rock formations.

My Burias Island adventure wasn’t an easy one. Coming from Manila, I boarded a Tabaco-bound bus and got off in Naga, 10 hours later. From Naga, I rode a Pasacao-bound van and got off near the port. I was hoping to catch the 7 am first boat trip to San Pascual. Unfortunately, it was a long weekend and there was already a long queue of passengers, mostly locals, the moment I arrived. The trips for the day were almost fully booked. There were three other guys who also plan to visit Burias. We have the same thing in mind – akala namin mahahabol namin ang first trip at makakapag happy-happy kami sa Burias… ang ending pare-pareho kami bumalik sa Naga ng luhaan.

Two days later, I tried my luck again. I returned to Pasacao. Fortunately this time, passengers have dwindled. But still another problem looms - an LPA was brewing in the Pacific, affecting the whole Bicol Region. But as what they say, “if you can’t get it out of your mind, it may be worth taking the risk.” And so I bravely sailed, hoping to see what I’ve come for.

It was one of the best decisions I made. After arriving, I first settled in a homestay, which is a short-walking distance from the port.

There are two must-visit spots in San Pascual main town – the San Pascual Old Church, which is one of the oldest churches in the country. The other is the Balinsasayaw House, a residential house owned by the Espares that became a sanctuary of thousands of swiftlets or balinsasayaw. The best time to go at Balinsasayaw House is during dusk or night time, since during day time almost all of the birds are out flying.

The main and must activity in the island is (of course) island-hopping. I rented a boat at the Local Tourism Office. Hays, it would have been cheaper if I were with a group; but I didn’t see any tourists that day who would be willing to cost-share. There are three small but beautiful islands worth visiting in Burias – Animasola, Sombrero and Tinalisayan.

A Latin word for “lonely soul”, Animasola Island has stunning rock formations carved by waves and mother nature through time.

Sombrero Island resembles a hat or sombrero from afar, has powdery white sand beach. It also offers open hut cottages and rooms for overnight accommodation.

Of all the three islands, I fell in love the most with Tinalisayan because of its crystal clear azure waters, clay rock formations and a beach which looks so pure and gorgeous when smiled upon by sunshine.

After island-hopping, I visited Guinduyanan Point. Aside from having the distinction of being the center of the country, it has coves and lime formations that also look quite spectacular.

Despite the strong waves brought about by the LPA and Hanging Amihan, the constant rain shower, and accidentally dropping my camera’s battery charger in saltwater (na sumabog right after ko i-charge), I had the most fulfilling two days in Burias.

As they say, life’s a beach. Just enjoy the waves.

From Manila, Burias Island can be reached by commuting via Naga-bound bus. Travel time usually takes 10 hours. From the bus terminal of Naga City, ride a tricycle going to the terminal of Pasacao-bound vans. Pasacao is about 45 minutes away and the jump-off point going to Burias. At Pasacao Port, ride a boat for two hours going to Burias (there are three daily boat trips starting at 7 am). For accommodations, there is a hotel (Sunset View Tourist) at the Port of Burias and homestay (MSS Fuentes Lodging House) near the port; and resorts in Virgin and Sombrero Islands.
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