The island of Mindoro is largely known for the Tamaraw bovids and its tourism flagship, the Puerto Galera. With its ease of access from Batangas port, tourists and travellers have well-frequented its northern flank almost year-round at its northwestern shores dotted with commercial developments. With my travel goal of veering away from mainstream hotspots, I targeted my eyes on the southwestern portion of Mindoro Island, which leads me to the town of Mansalay. By looking for satellite images of white beaches via Google Maps, there I saw some promising destinations.
With the usual goal to help these less-frequented spots to have an online presence, I chose the town of Mansalay. Its almost adjoining beaches and the quaint feel led me to book a flight to the island.
HOW DID I GET THERE
It was the year 2019 when we scored a cheap airfare from Clark to San Jose via Philippine Airlines. What a convenient way to reach the place. I have scrapped off the long hours to travel from my city to Manila, or the much longer route via a ferry. When the flight day came, it was a breeze to reach the Clark International Airport via public commute. I remember that day, the airport was indeed busy but the passenger queue is managed properly. After getting to the departure, I hurriedly find a nice spot near the gate while waiting for the boarding announcement.
Upon arriving at San Jose Airport, I hailed a tricycle ride to the town centre and visited their tourism office for a courtesy call. More than the warm welcome, I had a sumptuous lunch and free ride to the public van terminal bound to Mansalay. What a good day to start! The land transit would be about 2-3 hours. Upon reaching Mansalay town, finding the tourism office within the municipal hall grounds is not hard. Meeting the Mansalay Tourism Officer is one of my objectives, he gave me valuable insights about their beloved town. He even gifted me a mug bearing the town’s name. Simple yet means so much to me.
After the meetup, he instructed me to hail a tricycle passing by the junction to Cabalwa, where I can reach Sidell Kite and Beach Resort. Ms. Belen, the resort owner, has already arranged a pick-up vehicle from the highway. It is about less than 15 minutes travel to get to the resort proper.
SIDELL KITE AND BEACH RESORT, Cabalwa, Mansalay
I would highly recommend this family owned and operated resort, even knowing that they are not in full swing operations during my visit. Ms. Belen Sidell did treat me like I was an extended family. She had prepared my native Kubo room ready. I love the airy and spacious rooms with windows on all of its three walls.
She even included me with their family dinner and breakfast – serving fresh seafood that left me craving for days. In the afternoon, I find time sitting near the shore and watching her family enjoying the beach. Soon as the winds caught up with the speed requirement, Ms. Sidell tried to do kite surfing. It was my first time to wit in person
At nightfall, she offered me a mosquito net. I really commend her initiative. She and her husband had decided to leave the beachfront facility spacious. They also have tents should you opt to. I was the lone visitor at that time and enjoyed much of the serenity of the place. They did not let me feel that I was just a mere resort guest but an extended family member.
BUKTOT BEACH, a side trip
She woke me up early morning to join her to hike going to Buktot Beach. Before the hike, she served coffee right outside my hut while watching the sunrise. Their property extends to a hill just at the back of their main resthouse that has a commanding view of the beach and the rolling hills on the other side.
Buktot Beach features a developed area with erected huts for visitors. There is the long creamy sandy beach and a rocky portion at the right far end. IT is about less than an hour short hike from Sidelle Kite and Beach Resort, with the trail that passes by a peaceful Mangyan tribe community. Ms. Belen was also thoughtful to the IP Mangyans. She tends to interact with them along the way and would purchase their product that is available for the day. She shared with me as well her long term plans, and I look forward to the progress of their resort property.
I am forever grateful to Ms. Belen and her family for such hospitality more than I expected.
After checking out, Ms. Belen assisted me back to reach the main highway where I was able to get a ride back to Mansalay proper. Upon arriving at the town center, I immediately looked for the van terminal to reserve a seat back to San Jose. While waiting for the van to fill the seats, I visited a store where I bought trinkets as homecoming gifts. They are local products created by the Mangyans. Soon, the van is filled and we are about to depart Mansalay. I bade goodbye to the place in my mind and smiled. It was another successful trip, praise God!
PHOTOS TAKEN AROUND BARANGAY CABALWA