Aka The One Where We Experienced Signal #3 in Romblon
Romblon has always been one of my dream destinations, because of its beautiful beaches. It was supposed to be part of our 1-month multi-city trip in the end of 2018, but flights to Tablas are always so expensive. I finally saw a ticket for sale back in June for PHP1050 each. We booked a trip for 4 days, but then when I was researching, I realized that it wasn’t enough because everything is timed and there are several islands to visit. Anyway, we decided to just visit Tablas and Romblon Island this time around. We’ll have to do Carabao Island and Sibuyan next time.
A few days before our trip, we knew that there’s a typhoon coming but our flight was not cancelled, so we decided to still go. The weather was still okay in Manila and there was no rain yet. We still stayed positive that we’ll be able to travel to Romblon Island the next day.
We spent our first night in the Looc area, at Cummings Highland. From the airport, we took a tricycle going there, which set us back to PHP400. In as much as we would want to wait for the jeepney, we actually didn’t see any jeepney during the entire tricycle ride to Cummings. Our room was only PHP1000 and we paid it in cash to the lady at the resort. I think we were the only ones who stayed there overnight. There was a family who was staying at the pool area when we arrived, but they left when it turned dark. It’s a good thing we decided to stay here because at least we had a pool and we were able to take some good photos. It’s probably more beautiful during peak season when there are more visitors.
As for dinner, we didn’t have to go out because there’s a restaurant nearby that delivers to Cummings. We called the number and asked for our food to be delivered at 6pm. We ordered so much food, we ate it until breakfast. LOL. Our little hut was super cute, we had a hammock in front, and it’s just a couple of steps to the pool. We also had a table right outside, but we decided to eat inside because the doggies want to eat with us. Normally, I would not mind but they were getting a bit aggressive, so we thought it was best to go inside.
Our room was small, but it was cute and had everything. We had a fridge and TV. Oh well, except bathroom. It didn’t have a bathroom inside, we used a shared bathroom but it’s also not so far from where out hut was. I think it really helped that we had a television, because at least we were able to update ourselves with the typhoon. It was homey and I love that there are so many trees around us.
Our main goal for the trip was to get to Romblon Island, but since our flight arrived in the afternoon, we had no choice but to stay for one night in Tablas, before crossing to Romblon Island the next day. Which might be a bit difficult that time because of the typhoon. It has been declared Signal #1, and they have already suspended all sea travel. We have also asked the receptionist if it will be possible to do sea travel the next day, but she said, classes were already suspended and it’s possible that they will resume sea travel on Tuesday. (We arrived on Sunday.) Even then, we still kept our fingers crossed. We went to bed hopeful, and it started raining in the evening as we slept. We could hear it so clearly on the roof of our hut.
We woke up really early, because we had nothing to do anyway. Our tricycle will pick us up at 7am because the receptionist told us that the first ride to San Agustin was at 8am. The tricycle arrived at around 7:30am and they said the first ride will be at 9am anyway, not 8am. While waiting for the tricycle, I communicated with our hotel in Romblon via text, who then informed us that sea travel is still prohibited and there won’t be any ferries or pump boats going from San Agustin to Romblon. We were really sad, but we have decided to leave Cummings Highland anyway. We wanted to be at the port, so that in case of any news, we are closer. This turned out to be a good idea later on because that hut wouldn’t have survived that strong typhoon anyway. Or maybe it will but we would be so freaked out inside, probably, because you could hear everything so clearly. So from Cummings, the tricycle took us to Looc Poblacion, where there are jeeps going to San Agustin. We were an hour early so we looked for a cafeteria nearby, because I wanted to have coffee. Dave went to eat as well.
The jeepney ride from Looc to San Agustin took 2 ½ hours. On Google Maps, it only takes less than an hour and a half by car, but since there are passengers getting on and off, it takes longer. Also, the jeepney driver sort of acts like a Lalamove biker. LOL. Literally, people would ask him to buy stuff for them when he reaches Poblacion and then he gives the stuff to them when he passes by their house. So yeah, we arrived at San Agustin at around 11:30am and it has been raining nonstop since we left Looc. I chatted up a woman at the terminal where we were dropped off, who introduced us to a man who owns a lodge across the street. It is called East Harbor Inn (this is their number: 09105975667) and we’re so lucky we decided to stay here. We have a reservation in Romblon Island, which obviously we can’t use so we were just looking for a cheap room. We were hoping to stay just for a night so we only paid for one night. We had a fan room and literally just a bed and a desk. The house has a bathroom and living room on the same floor so it was convenient. We were comfortable, and since we were at the port area, there were a lot of carinderias around. We were able to go around a bit after lunch, and we were planning to go to Kambaye Coffee House during sunset. But lo and behold, the typhoon started to hit our area at around 4pm that afternoon. Despite the rain, we were still able to have dinner at a carinderia near the port. Super bait nung ate sa carinderia, cause they even bought coffee for us and pointed us to a grocery. We bought some snacks from a store in the neighborhood so we had something to eat overnight. We were fine until 10pm, we were still watching TV in the living room, and then the lights went out. It was brownout ☹ Not too long after, we ran out of water. Wet wipes became my best friend, and good thing I didn’t really feel the need to poop. LOL.
The next morning, the rain still didn’t let up and it got so much worse. We couldn’t even go out to have breakfast because it was starting to flood outside, and it got worse for the next few hours. We’re so thankful to the family who owns the lodge because they opened our doors for us and offered us coffee and some biscuits for breakfast and lunch as well. (Their actual house is just beside our room.) Obviously, there was no sea travel still that day, so we’re stuck in San Agustin for another night. Also, there was no signal on any network starting I think 10 or 11am that morning so there we were, no electricity, no water, no network. At this point, we were freaking out. We were safe inside thankfully, but we were at a lost of what our next plans are. There were no open carinderias so we went to the grocery and bought more snacks at the store. It was sad to see the aftermath of the typhoon in that island. I wish I brought my phone to take photos, there were so many uprooted trees and electric posts. We didn’t understand what was going on (everyone was speaking in their language) until one American guy shouted to his Filipina wife, “I think it will take 9 days before we get the electricity back.” I was stunned. It’s so sad that this is the norm for them when typhoons happen here, and I think it happens a lot here. The neighbors and the lodge owner said that this is the strongest they have experienced so far. They prepared so hard for Yolanda a few years ago, but it didn’t hit them so hard like this one. Obviously, still no water and network either. We couldn’t even check our flight status for the next day. We went to sleep that night not knowing what we’ll do the next day.
And some videos… It was scary to observe how strong the typhoon was from inside the house 🙁
We were up early – I mean, there’s really nothing to do except sleep. We were keeping our fingers crossed that sea travel will finally be allowed. It’s our last day in Romblon and we were hoping that we could go to Romblon Island, even just for a few hours. Our plan was to do the first scheduled trip via Montenegro from San Agustin to Romblon, which was at 4am, and then take the 8am pumpboat back from Romblon to San Agustin. 4 hours should be enough to go to Bonbon Beach and go back. We really just wanted to go to Bonbon Beach. Huhu. So I was waiting for signs of life at 3:30am, but there were no ferries in sight. Sea travel is still a no go. We went out during sunrise to check things out at the port and ask around. They were positive that there will be sea travel today so we were hopeful about the 8am pumpboat to Romblon Island.
We had breakfast first at the lugawan – it was the only place open that early and go to Romblon today. Still no idea about our flight, but if there’s no sea travel yet, we wondered if there will be flights today. We weren’t optimistic about it. We had a few hours left so we decided to pack up and go to Kambaye Coffee House while waiting. At least, we got to accomplish something! We took a habal-habal there, it’s around 5kms from the port so it’s not that far, we took photos and went back. This cute house on a rock is actually a cafe. It was closed that morning, I dunno if it was because the typhoon has just passed or because we were too early – we went at 7am. (Excited lumayas, umaraw na eh!) It’s around 5km away from the port so after a quick breakfast at the lugawan, we hopped on a single (that’s what they call habal here), and went to Kambaye Beach. I thought we were going to have a hard time looking for this house, but we already spotted this while on the jeep on the way from Looc to San Agustin and the motorcycle driver instantly got it when we said we wanted to go to Brgy. Binonga-an.
From that trip, we learned that there were road blockages in other areas. About an hour before, we saw the jeepney driver who took us to San Agustin two days before leave San Agustin to do his first trip to Looc. But on our way to Kambaye, we saw him coming back. There was no way he made it that quick back to San Agustin. The habal-habal driver told us that he was not able to make it to Looc because there’s a road blockage in some area (I forgot the name). We asked if that is before or after the airport, he said it’s still miles from the airport. So that’s when we decided that the only way to go is get to the Romblon, there is nothing else for us in Tablas. The only way to go to the airport is take a habal-habal from San Agustin to Tugdan airport for about an hour – I don’t even know how much that will cost, without any assurance that our flight will push through. If there is a flight, then we can go home, but we didn’t really get to do anything. If there isn’t then we are stuck again in Tablas for another night because the last trip is at noon. Our decision to cross over to Romblon has been further cemented, we won’t take our flight and just go back via ferry to Batangas.
We were at the port where others were waiting before 8am. After waiting for almost an hour, we have accepted that there will be no pumpboats coming. Other passengers were leaving to go somewhere so I started asking what’s going on. Apparently, there were boatmen offering to take passengers to Romblon Island. Okay kids, don’t try this at home. This is not legal; the fare is also much more expensive because you’re paying the boat owner directly. If something had happened, there will be no records at the port that you travelled from one island to another. I wasn’t that worried because the sea was already very calm that morning. We took a tricycle to another part of the island, way far from the port so the coast guard won’t see us.
The boat ride only took us 40 minutes and we docked near Bonbon Beach. We were tempted to go straight to Bonbon, but it was almost lunch time, we were hungry, and we needed to charge our phones. We were happy to find out that they had electricity in that island, but still no network. We took a tricycle from that area to the población. We don’t have any rooms yet, and we really just wanted to have lunch first. While having lunch, the Globe network came back! Hallelujah chance! Huhu! We were so freaking happy! We found out that our flight was not cancelled, but really, we can’t go back now after everything we went through. I immediately sent a message to my TL that I can’t go to work that night but will do my best to go back to work the following night.
After lunch, we went looking for a room. We went to DRA Hotel because I read about it on blogs before. Obviously, the room I booked on Agoda is already a no no because our reservation is only until Dec 4. Also, more on this later. They didn’t have rooms available at DRA Hotel because they were still cleaning due to the typhoon. They told us to come back at 4pm. It was only around noon at this point so we couldn’t wait that long. Good thing, they recommended another lodge nearby, called Felmar Lodge. It’s actually a hardware but they have a lodge upstairs. Our fan room was only PHP500. It was another good decision on our part because we ended up using that room for only a few hours. Literally, just for charging, changing clothes, and shower. We initially wanted to stay one night but after finishing almost everything that afternoon (except island hopping which obviously we don’t have a budget for anymore LOL), we decided to pack up and leave that night. The room is not so bad, everything is made from marble (Romblon is famous for it! Duh!), we had a balcony and television. The bathroom is outside, on the same floor. Really, we didn’t mind it. Sobrang hindi naman kami choosy ni Dave.
Really, all we wanted was go to Bonbon Beach. The owner of the lodge said that we should go in the afternoon because it’s high tide at that moment, and we won’t see the sandbar. But I checked online and the low tide that day was at 10:47 am, which is right around the time we arrived in the island. So we just charged for a bit and went there at 1pm, which is the perfect time because it was almost gone when we left. Luckily, we were able to take photos with the sandbar, despite the really strong sunlight. It’s still beautiful despite the typhoon. I think we only stayed for about an hour because the sandbar disappeared not too long after we arrived. It literally just waited for us.
Going back is a bit difficult because you need to wait for a tricycle on their way to población. After waiting for some time, we decided to start walking until a tricycle comes. BonBon Beach is almost 4kms away from the port Luckily, we don’t have to walk the whole way because a tricycle arrived at some point. We went straight to our town tour:
In front of the I <3 Romblon sign at the Freedom Park – This was also right in front of the port so we asked about the available ferries for that day. There was one leaving at 5pm – we don’t have enough time for that, so really the only choice was 2go, which leaves at 8pm. We asked about the schedule for the next day, but they said they don’t know yet. So we knew we had to leave that day, because we don’t know what will happen the next day.
The Marble Shopping Center was right next to that so we bought our pasalubongs there. Well, actually, only Dave did. I bought myself a bracelet as a remembrance of this whole Romblon experience.
We had to walk a bit to Fort San Andres, and we got lost because we couldn’t find the entrance. Ok, this was tiring because you had to climb a set of stairs to get to the fort. This is still nothing compared to Mt. Tapyas so I managed. The view from there is amazing, and it was almost sunset when we got there so it was really beautiful.
The St. Joseph Cathedral and Belfry is closer to our lodge so that was our last stop before going back. No time for rest, we showered and packed, then went out to buy our ferry tickets. We also looked for an ATM because we are going low on funds. We are almost out of there, but we wanted to have some extra cash and we were still going to have dinner. So while looking for an ATM, we met this guy named Ronron who was also going to withdraw some cash. The closest ATM was offline so we had to go search for other ones. He had a tricycle so he took us with him around town looking for an ATM. We ended up withdrawing money from an ATM in a grocery, which is the 4th ATM we went to. We offered to pay him when he took us to JD & G Italian Restaurant, but he declined. He told us to promote him instead to our friends for our motorcycle and island hopping needs. I’m keeping my promise so I’m promoting him here, too. I already did on Instagram. This is his info – Ronron: 09484426007.
Our last stop for this trip is JD & G Italian Restaurant. After everything we went through, we deserve some good food. Too bad, we weren’t able to try their famous pizza, they ran out of dough 🙁 And no photos of our food cause we were hungry LOL. Just the cake though. And I had a beer because I wanted to sleep immediately on the ferry.
So we went home via 2go. The ticket office is just right in front of the port. We bought our tickets before dinner so that we no longer had to worry about that. Our ticket cost PHP1,219 each, which is funny because it is even more expensive than our plane tickets. LOL. I was excited though because I have not been on an overnight ferry before. I was happy about the experience. I was also able to sleep for a few hours. When I woke up, we were already near Batangas. We also had time for breakfast. We had coffee and cup noodles from our grocery days in San Agustin so we didn’t have to buy from the store onboard.
After all the mishaps that was brought on by the typhoon, I didn’t have any sour feelings because everyone was super nice to us. Hands down to the kindness of the people of Romblon. I immediately noticed the difference when stepped foot in Manila because the bus we got on from Batangas to Cubao totally pissed me off. Also, I didn’t have a good experience with the hotel we booked in Romblon Island. I ended up giving up the money I paid for that room because it was stressing me out. Surprisingly, I will be going to Romblon again this February. I booked a flight to Caticlan for 5 days. My friend and I will be visiting Carabao Island and I will be back in Looc again. Hopefully, no typhoon! Huhu! I’m keeping my fingers crossed!