Mindoro: the home of the fierce tamaraw; the site of the ferocious Halcon; the dwelling of the ultimate beach-next-door, Puerto Galera. It’s famous for many things, which is why we decided to fully explore this island. This time, we did it in two-wheels, riding in tandem style.
We made the decision of exploring the island on the busiest week possible, the holy week. It’s not the best move (I know), but it’s the only week we could have several days to really make the trip, so we went for it anyway.
We left Taguig at around 1:30 AM and arrived at Batangas port at around 4:00 AM. We were hopeful that we’d be able to catch the 5 AM ferry to Mindoro, but we were sooooo wrong. We couldn’t believe our eyes when we saw the number of cars in line to get to the ferry. A hundred other riders decided to go to Mindoro on that day as well:
So, instead of getting off at 5AM, we were able to leave Batangas Port at 7:00 AM. This is unexpectedly still okay, considering the number of people who were waiting with us. If you’re curious about what are the steps to get your motorcycle (or any vehicle) on the ferry, here are the steps:
To keep it more simple, here’s the summary based on experience:
1. Get your vehicle inspected at Gate II.
2. Pay the terminal fee (we paid 95 pesos).
3. Have your stuff in the vehicle inspected, either through an x-ray machine or manually by an on-site inspector. After checking your things, they should give you a stub, which you have to present at the loading dock.
4. Proceed to the marshaling station. Wait in line (if there’s any), and a marshal will approach you to have your name written in the manifest and to collect your payment and provide you your ticket.
They should tell you when you’re ready to get on the ferry.
Our trip took around 2 hours.
We were hoping to eat at Lola Ineng’s, but it was closed, possibly because of the holiday. We ate at the nearest McDonalds and went to our first stop: Infinity Farm.
To our utter dismay, it was also closed. Instead, we went to another resort nearby. It’s a partially man-made resort with makeshift slides and cottages. We paid 100 each for the entrance and stayed there for about 2 hours.
We left and continued our journey around Oriental Mindoro.
We were surprised to see several people who were in penitensya, a Filipino tradition wherein people would commemorate the sufferings of Christ by hitting their backs with bamboo sticks until it bleeds. In some cases, volunteers would also get crucified.
I also found that Oriental Mindoro also has a Moriones festival during the holy week. Originally celebrated in Marinduque, Moriones entails locals to replicate the appearance of Roman soldiers, as depicted in the Passion of the Christ, through wearing colorful costumes and masks. When we passed by Pinamalayan, the festival hasn’t quite started yet, but several participants were already in their costumes.
We took some pictures and went ahead with your journey. It was a long ride, but this particular site in Bongabong made us stop to look and breathe the fresh air:
It was breathtaking. It’s quite like the famous Instagrammable palm-surrounded roads in Siargao. The picturesque view made us want to stay. I just hope that when we come back, this beauty still stands.
We continued our journey and tried to find a hotel to stay for the night. It was getting dark, and we got panicky as there were no signs of nearby towns that could have hotels or Airbnb homes. We did not lose hope and continued our journey. We traveled for a good 1 hour until we reached San Jose.
San Jose is the nearest Poblacion that almost separates Oriental and Occidental Mindoro. It’s got the major fast foods, banks, and gas stations. We stayed at Sikatuna Hotel and left the town first thing in the morning to head to one of our main destinations: Pandan Island.
Pandal Island is situated in Sablayan, Occidental Mindoro. If you’re planning to backpack to the island, you can ride a ferry to Abra De Ilog port, take a van to Sablayan, and then take a 15-minute boat ride to Pandan. Pandan is famous for its generous waters and white sand. What I love about this place is the lack of good cellular reception and room electricity. It allows one to be away from all the internet noise and just be with nature.
Here are their rates:
The entrance fees are quite reasonable (not to mention, fair), considering the ambience of the place. While the island’s electricity relies on generators, it’s got just enough facilities to have a decent vacation by the beach. There are rooms good for 2 or more people, there’s a restaurant that offers breakfast for those who paid for an overnight stay (day tour visitors can order meals), and the shower rooms are plenty enough for everyone. There are no air-conditioned rooms, but the small electric fan (palm-sized, to be exact) and the ocean breeze provide enough wind to make the stay comfortable. The cabanas do not have bathrooms; visitors may bathe in the shared bathrooms. The water, though, is brackish, so it’s salty.
I was told that the Pandan Island waters used to be rich in diverse fish species. Unfortunately, they were only a few when we snorkeled. It’s famous for pawikans, but we did not see any. Unfortunately, we don’t know how to scuba dive. The island was said to be a scuba diver’s haven.
It’s also close to the famous Apo Reef, so one can actually take a boat from Pandan to Apo Reef and dive. Once I learn how to swim (and scuba dive), I’ll definitely go back to see if the rumors are true!
Nevertheless, the calm waters, the fine sand, and the cold breeze made the trip worth it. You may check out Pandan Island’s website here for more details.
We continued our journey around Occidental Mindoro. The roads are a rider’s dream. We almost felt like we are not in the Philippines anymore.
Panikian Lake, Sablayan, Occidental Mindoro
We also passed by Panikian Lake, but it was closed at the time. Still, the view was awesome, even from afar.
There are almost no other motorists in the roads, so you can maximize your motorcycle’s speed capacity in these roads! Of course, caution will still have to be exercised.
For the rest of our trip, we stayed with a relative. It made us appreciate nature even more. We spent the weekend swinging by the duyan, looking at the pigs in the piggery, and admiring the sea, and just really appreciating the province life.
Sidenote: Pigs are adorable! Why do we even eat them? They’d make a good pet!
On our fourth day, we took our trip back to Manila. To be honest, we didn’t even want to go back! We took a RoRo at Abra De Ilog Port (we waited for 6 hours just to get on the ferry), and got off at Batangas Port.
We were dead tired when we got home. But we will never forget our journey to Mindoro. It is an awesome place to explore, and this trip is definitely one for the books!