Claveria, Masbate's Best Hospitality Bets
by Vladimir Rom Matias, LLB
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Here are the top ten reasons why you need to start packing your bags now for an all-important summer vacation in Claveria.
1. BEST SEASCAPE. San Isidro Beach, mainly in Brgy. San Isidro. If Miami Beach is to Florida, USA and Cancun to Mexico, then San Isidro is to Claveria, Masbate. Considered as one of the world's finest beaches, San Isidro beach is a portrait of timeless exquisiteness and youthful exuberance. Lacing the southern strip of the island beginning from the outskirts of Mababang-Baybay to Mabiton to the easternmost tip of the island, spanning more than 10 kilometers of pure white sand and turquoise water, and boasting of diverse marine ecosystem that houses endemic species of sea plants and animals, San Isidro may not be a regular item in everyone's itinerary as this beach is more of a sanctuary for the fairies that dwell on it, for those searching souls severely bruised and beaten by the intricacies of urban living, and for those introverts trying to avoid the din that originates from bars and entertainment houses. Its entire length occasionally interrupted by few thrusts which serve to decorate it for more effects, the beach is an enchanting paradise not only for the local fishermen who rely on it to support a family but also for the living coral reefs and crustaceans that outnumber the people residing alongside the shores. Simply put, this beach is not commercially developed, and no star-rated hotels and restaurants do business here.
2. BEST SKYSCAPE. Mt. Enganoso, mainly in Brgy. Boca Engano and Brgy. Mabiton. The country's 111th highest mountain and Masbate's tallest, Mt. Enganoso, standing at 428 meters, is a favorite rendezvous of sweethearts, young and old alike, trying to savor all that nature has to offer to lovers. The cool breezes, the easterly and westerly winds, the radiant moonlit, the summer heat, and the thunderstorms - to name a few - all converged on the top of this mountain any time of the year as if the place become a sort of a town hall serving as a venue for an important meeting of the earth's defense forces. Its name derived from Boca Engano, the barangay that inhabits its foot, the mountain is also a sacred temple for mountaineers from the four corners of the globe who come in to the area to experience the feeling of being able to see Claveria's picturesque beaches on both sides of the diamond-shaped island, the gently rolling terrain guarded by a troop of coconut trees whose lines descend all the way to the shorelines, and the splendid view of the downtown pier busily loading and unloading passengers and cargoes coming in and out of the island. So, before you dream of the near-to-impossible dream of conquering the Everest, try summiting Enganoso first so as to get the best shot of the river valleys, sea bodies, the august but fiery Mt. Mayon in the neighboring province, and the domestic and migratory birds which flew from Russia WITH LOVE to pay a visit to Claveria.
3. BEST ICON. Nuestra Senora de Salvacion, Brgy. Nonoc. If Mexico has Nuestra Senora de Guadalupe - Lupe for short - as its national patroness whose annual feast day is celebrated all over Mexico, do the Philippines have the same national icon? The obvious answer is No. But if you happen to be a devout Catholic who believes in the loving grace of the Virgin Mary, then Nuestra Senora de Salvacion in Nonoc can be your refuge. Since Nonoc is considered the oldest barangay in Claveria, "Salve", as the Nuestra Senora is fondly called, is believed to be the town's oldest image of the Blessed Virgin and is said to be miraculous. Some couples who had wished their marriage be as durable as a diamond booked their wedding here in Salve's chapel which has always been a special place to say "I DO" during peak wedding season from April to June. Even though you are not yet prepared to tie the knot or you just want to remain single for the next 10 years, it is still worth visiting Salve and offering her flowers and at least 10 Hail Marys to ask for more blessings, guidance, good riddance, rewarding career and more. Or, if you think you are already happily married, why not take another vow of commitment with Salve's benediction so as to make the marriage bond even stronger as days go by.
Once you leave her Chapel, you will feel lighthearted as if there is some spiritual cleansing that transpired inside.
4. BEST CULTURAL EXPERIENCE. Underground Cave, Brgy. Boca Engano. If you are a man or woman of the arts and sciences, then try becoming an archaeologist for some moments in time by diving your way to the underground cave in Boca Engano where caskets with human remains believed to be more than 500 years of age exist. Yes, you have to dive your way to get inside because the entrance to the cave is the open sea. This means that you have to prepare yourself to get wet in order to get a glimpse of the glorious past of your might-be great-great-great grandparents. But before you attempt to whiz yourself inside, make sure it is low tide to afford yourself the opportunity to bring in your favorite camera, backpack, and flashlight to make your trip a truly memorable one. But if you are up to a challenge of going there during high tide when mobility is difficult, then the barangay folks will be glad to see you showcase to the highest level, your diving and swimming skills you might have learned from a Chinese Olympic gold medalist in diving.
5. BEST DIVING AND SNORKELING EXPERIENCE. Ki-Albay River and Beach, town proper to Brgy. Canomay. Not as magnificent as the San Isidro Beach because of its thin shoreline, Ki-Albay, its name derived from "Albay" as Masbate was Albay's former municipality during 19th century, is a very popular and homey attraction to every family who flock to it to either spend a picnic or have a good time. A beach system that characterizes the northern strip of the island, it is fully occupied on San Juan Day during the third week of June as boys and girls, men and women spend a whole day frolicking in its waters, constructing sand castles and jumping from the branches of the mangrove trees into the colorless liquid. And, you are not a downtowner if you are not cognizant of the sultry Lemoncito Beach in Intramuros which is a part of this long strip of powdery substance that shines even under the evening sun. In May, try donning your sea goggles and have an encounter with a cousin of the goldfish, the three-inch long silverfish. Isn't it true that all fishes, whether big or small silvery in color? No, the silverfish is not your gigi, galunggong or tulingan that you buy for lunch from the fish vendor in the market. It might be an edible fish that can only be found in Burias.
6. BEST SUNRISE. Brgy. Canomay - "The Dawn Mist". A song in the movie Lion King says: " That the twisting kaleidoscope moves us all in turn. There's a rhyme and reason to the wild outdoors." Exactly, Simba, the lion cub, will definitely love waking up early in the morning along the watersheds of Canomay while rays of the rising sun dance like a twisting kaleidoscope that emits various colors when reflected on the surface of a moving water. Nope, it is not your familiar rainbow that warns you to prepare for the rain. But, is it not that this sight is also readily available in other barangays in the town facing the East? Yes, that is correct. Roses and peonies exuding exotic fragrances, a whirlpool at the sea too dangerous for the ships to pass by and the lush greenery captive of the dawn mist all spell the difference. It is nice to start your day wholly inspired by the first song sung by an early birdie looking for food for his cute babies.
7. BEST SUNSET. Brgy. Pasig - "The Coconut Garden". Imagine yourself strolling along the kilometric stretch of Manila Bay on a cool Sunday afternoon, not minding the bay's highly-polluted and poisonous water. Instead, replace that murky water with a clear, crystalline one that is home to the salmons, tunas, matang-baka, octopuses, and even the whale sharks. And then suddenly a horse enters the scene and let's you ride its back to roam the place under the backdrop of the fading sun. Whoa! not a farfetched idea. Brgy. Pasig is simply the place where your imagination comes to life. A part of the several-miles-long span of the San Isidro beach system, Brgy. Pasig offers an unparalleled view of the setting sun painted into perfection by the numerous boating activities being undertaken by a number of shipping lines that go on a fishing expedition in the vast Sibuyan Sea. The next summer you come to this place, never let this rare privilege of seeing the photogenic sunset pass because availability of this attraction is subject to change without prior notice.
8. BEST CUISINE. Brgy. Poblacion Dos - "The River Valley". Mothers in this locality have never grew tired of learning new tricks and techniques on how to perfectly bake a cake or a macaroni, prepare the maja blanca, pancit bihon or spaghetti, or marinate pork, beef, or chicken meat to be served for the town fiesta, or a birthday celebration or simply a graduation party. Many times the local government acted as an accomplice in this kitchen skirmish by sponsoring plenty of culinary trainings and seminars aimed at improving the mothers' cooking talents. This modus operandi has proved to be very successful as many brides and grooms prefer to leave to the mothers the taste, smell and appearance of the foods to be served in the reception. Talented as they are, these mothers act not only as cooks during get-together but also as dishwashers or even entertainers when their client is on a tight budget or is short of money to hire more people.
9. BEST FRONTIER. Brgy. Quezon - "The Oceanfront". Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) returning from abroad know that they have safely landed home in the country when the airplane carrying them has set foot in the runway in the NAIA. Similarly, the motorboat that takes you off from the main island will signal that you have entered Claveria's territorial jurisdiction once you see the signage: "Brgy. Quezon, Claveria." It is like the placard flashed by your father, mother or brother bearing the message: "Welcome Home, Val" when they see you coming out of airport premises after undergoing routine security checks. But this locality will do more than that. As the serpentine beach system starts at this point to dazzle your suspecting eyes, you will be reminded of the Great Wall of China that not only represents the only visible structure on earth seen in the moon but also serves to tie or unify all of China. Later, you will learn that this beach system envelopes the entire island, seemingly unifying the people into one basketball team and acting as a shield against possible pirates or looters of the riches and treasures that can be found here. Actually, natives say the island is a treasure by itself.
10. BEST BARANGAY/BEST SMILE. Brgy. San Ramon - "The Green Gables". If Lupe is "La Reyna De Mexico" (Queen of Mexico), then the men and women in this locality are kings and queens of hearts. A welcoming smile is one of their many secret ways of helping you alleviate the pain of losing a dear cat that was run over by a speeding automobile in the city. And if you are a stranger and this is your first time to visit this idyll, chances are you will initially be impressed by its relative bliss reflected in the face of its people, and the serenity of a picture of a "karabaw" (water buffalo) traversing a shallow river to transport the natives' important fresh produce from farm to the market. During the early hours of the midmorning, you will be awestruck by the adrenaline that immediately rushes into the veins of eager farm workers as they assemble all the necessary equipments to be used in grooming ricefields and preparing sacks of copra to be sold to the local merchants or exported to Pio Duran or Masbate City. In the afternoon, watch a lovely lady - she calls herself Dalagang Bukid - traipsed through the main road, selling home-made meriendas such as cassava cakes, linupak and suman. During nighttime, have a leisurely walk with a local dog in the streets to experience a tranquil evening or better yet, have a seat in the sand and spend quality time with your newly found friends or your special someone. Let your emotions flow from the depths of your soul, and the night is yours.
These are just 10 of the many reasons why you have to plan your vacation trip to Claveria as early as now. When the time comes that you finally decided to go on a trip, do not forget to shoot a la Michael Jordan a printout of this travel guide into your travel baggages. It is a great disservice if you will allot yourself only two or three days to explore the island. Why not spend a week enjoying the benevolence of the people and the coolness of the sands. Do not hesitate to ask the local barangay chieftains about directions to these sceneries as they are more than willing to help you know more on Claveria. Have a HAPPY TRIP.
Abat, Tony. Municipality of Claveria S.l. : s.n., 1969.
Claveria, Masbate, Philippines. Manila : Board of Technical Surveys and Maps, 1961.
LIST OF MOUNTAINS IN THE PHILIPPINES BY HEIGHT. http://geociti.es/TheTropics/1030/philmnt.htm
Mercedita E. Tia. Masbate in focus : its demographics and socio-economic profile Manila : National Statistics Office, 1999.
Wedding Destinations. http://www.kasal.ph/wedding-destination/masbate-weddings.php
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