Rambling On In Romblon

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In the Philippines, if you happen to miss your boat to one of the smaller islands, it’s a long wait for another one. We missed our bangka by 20 minutes, so had to wait 23 hours 40 minutes for the next one. We spent the day in the dusty town of Roxas, eating peanut butter biscuits, listening to very bad karaoke and getting a 70 pence haircut from a lady boy.

Romblon province is awkward to reach and a less explored region by foreign travellers, a place I was eager to visit to see the real Philippines and escape the ‘Sexpats’ of Sabang. Tablas island is the largest in the province of Romblon, and is known for its beautiful waterfalls. Garing falls was a mission to get to, we asked a local woman in the town of Odiongan how to find it so she managed to drag her nephew out of bed to take us on his motorbike. After the sweaty trek through the jungle, we arrived at the waterfall to find a large group of locals, sporting camouflage clothes and AK-47s fooling around on a vine swing. It happened to be the entire local police force having a skive. I don’t suppose there’s much crime on the island so I don’t blame the friendly bobbys.

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Romblon town, on Romblon Island, the capital of Romblon province, is so good they named it thrice. The small town shows signs of Spanish colonialism in its architecture and in my opinion, would not look out of place in rural Mexico. Over looking the town is the 17th century San Andreas fort. I expected the crumbling Spanish building to be a huge defensive masterpiece, I fort wrong…

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Local kids love their picture taken

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A short drive away from the town is Bon Bon beach. The crystal clear waters were perfect for swimming, and we were the only people there. It brought back memories of the strange role play game I used to play in primary school with a friend of mine which went by the name of ‘Andy Cole and Barry Venison, stranded on a desert island’…

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With Romblon island being so small, it felt essential to circumnavigate, and the only way to do this was by motorbike. We drove through many barangays, along remote beaches, through the marble carving centre and eventually back to Romblon town. There was nothing like the Sea breeze in my face and lush views of the surrounding islands. During the ride I found out that Romblon is home to a rare species of invisible bird, that sits on your shoulder and tries to tell you how to drive a motorbike while squawking in your ear the whole time, strange that…

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San Pedro Beach

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The third main island of the Romblon group we were to visit, Sibuyan, is nicknamed the ‘Galapagos’ of the Philippines, for its diverse range of flora and fauna. They say Sibuyan has more unique species of plants and animals than any other island of its size, this is largely due to the fact that it has been cut off from the rest of the archipelago since the beginning of time. Sometimes this still felt like the case, I wouldn’t call it ‘off the beaten track’ as there was no track to get off in the first place as Sibuyan doesn’t have a proper road, it was hard work even just finding the most basic amenities in the town of Magdiwang…

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San Fernando (can you hear Paddy Mcguiness’ voice from Take Me Out, ‘you’re off to, the isle of, Fernando!’) was the last port of call in Romblon. We got a lift from a local man to the mighty Cantingas river where we spent an hour or so jumping into the refreshing water from one of its platforms. We were then invited along to the local cockfighting rally, a very different way to spend my Sunday afternoon, sucking on ice pops and watching two chickens destroy each other. For the record, this is not the first time I have seen this, as anyone will know if you want to see some cocks fighting, just nip down to Sunderland on a Saturday night…

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Where’s Wally?

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