Experience Lubang: One of the Country’s Hidden Gems

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Image: Paul Wenceslao

 

Located off the coast of Occidental Mindoro, in a secluded area surrounded by water, is one of the world’s capitals of marine biodiversity and an island paradise that is home to picturesque coastlines and other remarkable features designed by nature. 150 kilometers from Manila, Lubang is one of the Philippines’ hidden gems and each of its seven islands has something wonderful to offer, mostly unsullied by the overpopulation of tourists.

We decided to visit Lubang and experience some of its offerings. As the site of our model shoots for the September – October 2018 issue, the place did not disappoint, from its myriad of astonishing sites to warmth of the locals, all the way to scrumptious meals served in the resort where we stayed. In the next few years, the province could very well be the next big destination of summer adventurers, and for good reason.

Attractions

Image: Paul Wenceslao

For a place that has only begun development four years ago, Lubang already has countless attractions, starting off with its majestic foreshores and rock formations. Cooling off the summer heat is as easy as riding a tricycle or multicab to the nearest beach. Since the places of interest are scattered throughout several islands, an island-hopping adventure is intrinsically part of any Lubang tour.

 

  • Lubang White Sands Resort

 

Image: Paul Wenceslao

 

We need not stray far from where we stayed to start off this list. Lubang White Sands resort is adorned with an expansive shoal that unearths itself during the low tide. As such, the resort placed two huts near the shore where vacationers can hang out after a swim or use as bunkers in case they’re beach-going bookworms.

Staying in the huts gives you a stellar view of the nearby mountains as well as the rows of coconut trees that make the place a shoo-in for postcards. Trust us, you will need your camera and selfie stick if you choose to stay here.

Take a dip at Lubang White Sands’ swimming pool, which is located near the resort’s collection of function rooms that double up as karaoke lounges. Ask the service crew to prepare meals of your choosing from the day’s fresh catch or grab a plate of the region’s specialty dish, adobado, from any of the nearby eateries.

 

  • Cabra Island

 

Image: Paul Wenceslao

For an island that is only nearly 2 kilometers long, Cabra Island carries a lot of historical significance. It is home to an old lighthouse that was built by the country’s Spanish colonizers in 1885. Serving as a guide to old sea vessels, the light that it used to emit was visible for 25 nautical miles.

A short tricycle ride away from the lighthouse is Apparition Hill, the place where Mother Mary reportedly appeared to groups of people several times from 1966 to 1972. Also in the area is a large silver cross that is said to bend on its own whenever the island is about to face a disaster – the last time it occurred, the locals were able to flee from the sudden buildup of huge waves upon seeing the bent cross and miraculously, there were no casualties. None of the properties were damaged as well.

Another tricycle ride away is a rocky pathway that leads down to a majestic coastline. Characterized by a huge rock wedged near the shore, the beach appears small at the onset, but upon walking towards the right, you’ll be greeted to an expansive sand bed coupled with crystal clear waters. It’s best to wear sandals when going from one point of the beach to another, as the shore is quite rocky.

 

  • Hulagaan Falls and Tagbac Beach

Image: Paul Wenceslao

Accessed through a boat ride to Tagbac beach, Hulagaan Falls is just as well known for its rock formations and enchanting scenery as it is for the actual waterfalls. As you will soon see, the images of Playmate Unica in the Sept-Oct issue are astonishing thanks largely to the woods area of the pathway leading to the falls. Tagbac beach is also a pristine sight – the rock formations are grandiose, especially when taken in with the pastel sky and the deep blue waters. Your Instagram couldn’t thank you more.

 

  • The Boat Rides

 

Image: Paul Wenceslao

For Lubang residents, one of the primary modes of transport is by boat. The same applies for tourists who plan to visit Lubang’s assemblage of islands. Each boat ride can overwhelm the senses as you get to see green and gray masses of land juxtaposed on a spectacular backdrop largely composed of deep blues (water), sky blues (sky), and whites (clouds). We were lucky enough to witness a sea tornado form, which is a thing of beauty.

Food

Photo by Paul Wenceslao

Satiate yourself with the day’s fresh catch as you order a selection of seafood dishes from any of the eateries in Lubang. The squid in the region is particularly soft, making for delectable calamari. Tuna is also abundant, which can be deliciously prepared in more ways than one; grilling the fish is certainly a good idea.

For carnivores, relish a serving or two of the regional specialty in the pork adobado, which is like sweetened menudo sans the umay factor. The dish pairs up well with calamari and a glass of beer, leading to extra orders of rice.

Zero crime rate

Image: Paul Wenceslao

 

Tour guide Woody Pelicano, 43, explains, “everyone in Lubang knows each other, so if there are bad elements, they can easily be identified. Everything is also under control by the barangay. Police are stationed everywhere to ensure the safety and security of everyone.”

As such, people have no qualms leaving their homes unlocked. The locals are also so good-natured that they are known to help out tourists willingly with a lot of things, such as finding their way to a particular location or locating a missing item. There is no phone signal so everyone is forced to interact and get along with all sorts of personalities.

When we visited the vice mayor, Charles Villas, he immediately revealed that Lubang has an impressive zero crime rate, so the safety of tourists from criminal elements was never really a problem.

Lubang has a long way to go before becoming recognized as an official tourist destination, with a lot of places still under development. However, in the four years that the local government has boosted its tourism efforts, the place has already blossomed to be an absolute treat for nature-lovers and vacationers who adore picturesque surroundings. It’s just a matter of time before the Instagram culture deems Lubang as one of the country’s summer havens.

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