It’s Holy Week of 2014. A very long weekend is seen ahead.
The Pinoy Adventure Riders are itching to hit the open road again and search for new adventures.
I could stay home and watch cartoons all week with my 6 year old daughter Sam, but the team is cooking up a new ride on another island, Mindoro.
It’s time to temporarily leave my comfort zone and ride.
This is our duty, our calling, to inspire people and ignite their thirst for a little adventure and soul-searching.
Mindoro is the 7th largest island in the Philippines.
It is well-known for its white sand beaches at Puerto Galera, Mt. Halcon, the Tamaraw Falls, the Mangyans and the wide biodiversity of its underwater.
Puerto Galera White Beach
Our road trip takes us to Batangas port 121 kms away.
It took us 2 hours of riding. We reached the port at around 3 am, good thing there is a RORO [roll on roll off boat] leaving at 4 am.
It’s our first time riding a big vessel like this. We were scared and excited at the same time. The boat is huge, you can move around.
Daddy Igna as we call him, was born in Mindoro and just moved to Manila when he was 13 years old.
Ignacio “Igna” Magnaye – our host and guide in this Mindoro Adventure
His brother is still residing in Bongabong, Mindoro 100 kilometers away from Calapan where our boat will port .
Kuya Tiboy,the elder brother of Igna [right] and former Barangay Captain of Sigange, Bongabong, Oriental Mindoro
Our itinerary is to ride the entire Oriental Mindoro.
Pinoy Adventure Riders Daddy Igna on a loaded Mio, Nino on Sniper, Bert on Mio, Raffy on Honda Dash with back rider Manny and me on my trustee Honda CB110.
Off we go.
Our first target barangay is the bgy. of Sigange, Bongabong, Oriental Mindoro.
All Igna’s 9 siblings still live here, 7 kilometers away from the main highway onto rough road and into the jungle.
Its nice here. I love it. I really do.
The non-pretentious welcome of the people is truly warm.
I also love the natural formation of the land.
On our day 1 arrival, after riding 220 kms. From Marikina to Bongabong, we rested for 2 hours.
With the adrenalin pumping, 2 hours would be sufficient enough to do some mountain climbing, right?
True enough, it’s 4 pm.
Daddy Igna wants to show us his childhood house up the mountains about 400 feet above sea level.
He told us it’s not hard climbing the mountain.
I have to believe him, he is 58. With pants and slippers , we climbed up.
Manny who is 67 years old is with us. I was a bit worried.
Up and up we go.
On the way up the mountain, we saw some wet clothes on the grass, animals and livestock, abandoned houses, and no people. We later found out that the Mangyans ran away when they saw us.
Up we go. The views are stunning.
There were fruit trees beside the path.
A baby cow even chased us.
We finally arrived at Daddy Igna’s old home. Not much was left of it.
Our target destination today is the Port of Roxas further south of Mindoro about 20 kms. away.
We just want to investigate the port where, if we decide to jump to other islands next year, we can board another RORO here .
We also need to buy a farm goat for our food today and tomorrow.
We road on the beautiful, cemented road and the amazing landscape. We had to stop from time to time because the views are breath-taking.
We reached the Roxas Market place where we got some fresh fish, condiments and veggies.
After shooting some photos and talking to some people, we road on.
We bought some fruits.
After that, we road to Bongabong River for a little swim as promised by Daddy Igna.
Bike and rider bashed in the clear, river water. It is so refreshing having a quick dip. I collected some rocks for souvenir.
After an hour, we rode as our goat meal will be ready. It’s 12 pm. Lunch time.
Kalderetang Kambing [goat meat stewed in tomato sauce, potatoes,peanut butter and spices], Kilawin Kambing [sliced and smoked goat skin and insides] and Sinampalukang Ulo ng Kambing [goat’s head boiled in tamarind].
We like them all.
We rested in the afternoon for about 4 hours. At around 6pm, we roamed the barangay Sigange and visited some elders who happily shared stories with us.
One story is about insurgents roaming the mountains years before and how the local people battled them. No wonder the Mangyans hid upon seeing strangers roaming the mountains.
Another story is about the ” MYTH OF THE TOURIST POISONING”.
Remember in our MATNOG, SORSOGON trip, a Barangay Captain confirmed that the “Tourist poisoning is not a myth”.
Now that we are here on another island Mindoro, do they know about this?
I was shocked and saddened that the elders confirmed this and it is still happening today. That even they, when invited to banquets, would rather not eat at the buffet tables and would eat at the kitchen directly just to avoid being poisoned.
I was told that the poison used is the burnt filament of a lantern. It will cause headaches, vomiting, nausea and loose bowel movement but seldom kills as it can be cured by over-the-counter medication.
6 AM. Off to Puerto Galera approximately 150 kms. away.
It’s raining. But it always rain here so off we go.
We road the cemented NAUTICAL HIGHWAY as it is called. We passed by the town arches.
One is shaped like a banana and one is a tamaraw.
We also passed by a “WET” Moriones Festival Parade.
The costumes are so grand and well thought-off. A local told me that the best Moriones costume may win Php 50k.
One arch is shaped like a banana because…you guessed it! Their major product is banana. Lots of it.
We passed by a banana chips factory and shop. This is the ground zero for the banana chips so it should be good, right?
Well you know what, it is absolutely delicious.
None of those briny, chemical after taste. It is because they are fresh.
If banana chips all taste like this, I won’t trade my banana chips for french fries.
After all that banana, we rode on. Roads are clear and the ride is smooth.
We reached the town of Puerto Galera at around 12 PM.
Time for lunch. It is our first time here, all of us. Even our local boy Daddy Igna who was born in Mindoro.
My Garmin GPS really helped us this time as we are looking for the famous Puerto Galera Tamaraw Falls and White Beach.
We followed the little machine and showed us the wonderland.
We sure hoped we can afford the lodging here because this week is peak season. Bum as we are, we are cheap travelers, bottom dwellers.
Upon reaching the busy center of the beach action, the parking boy told me that the lodging has become expensive today, Php 8,000 for the 6 of us. NO Way!
My budget is Php 2k and I am looking for a Home-Stay [it is a cheap way of lodging for travelers as you will stay in an actual home].
Then another booker told me Php 5k for the 6 of us. Still no way!
We don’t need a fancy place, just a place to chill and use the bathroom.
Finally, a 3rd booker for Php 1,700 for the 6 of us. We got it!
It’s happening now. Time to hit the beach!
At the Puerto Galera White Beach,there are shops were you can buy stuff.
Just like in Boracay, the beach crowd is wild and fun.
You can do so many water sports.
Everything is here. Banana boat, flying fish, jet ski, kayaking, wall climbing, beach volleyball, sun bathing or just chillin’.
Vendors come and go to bring all types of food, drinks, souvenirs, hats, garments, goggles and even credit cards.
It is also nice just to watch the people having fun and living the life.
At night, Puerto Galera is transformed.
Tables and chairs are brought to the beach and stages are set.
Fire dancers, stand up comedy performers, acoustic bands, the crowd goes wild…
We like it here. It is like a Boracay, only nearer and smaller.
Like all good things in this world, everything must come to an end.
It is time to say goodbye to Mindoro.
At 4 am, we prepared to ride to Calapan port. We rode out at 6am.
We love you and we will miss you Mindoro. We will be back!
[from left: Igna, nanay Berta, ate Saling, kuya Tiboy]
This is Pinoy Adventure Rider reporting.