Cruiser Notes: Anchor in the lagoon, 13 32.2N; 121 51.9E
The next morning we made a short trip to anchor off the town of Bantan on Bantan Island. Bantan is on the E side of the island and very open to any easterlies. Our original plan was to go to the W side and anchor in Mainit Bay but then we read that it was volcanic, with hot water at low tide and we weren't too crazy about the possibility of having the galvanizing removed from our anchor and chain (which happened once before off the Island of Vulcano in the Aeolians, Italy). The weather was very settled so it was possible then to anchor off Bantan town and we were glad we did. This town is practically untouched by tourism. The people here are excited to have guests and show you around. There are no supermarkets, fuel stations, nothing here (except a cell phone tower), not even running water. We were first greeted by a police officer who asked us to sign in their book and then took our picture. Next, Lorenz offered to take us around the island on his motorcycle. We made arrangements to meet him and his friend, Alnie, the next morning.
In the meantime another resident, Raffi, began guiding us around the town, taking us to the little fort from Spanish times and then to his home to give us some water and bananas.
The main industies are fishing and harvesting coconuts.
My favorite part of this trip was seeing the villagers in their natural setting just going about their daily lives. We saw a woman chipping rocks, copra being weighed, a man building a new banca and shopkeepers by their stores.
Bantan will probably remain as one my favorite stops ever, due to the friendly people, the simplicity of life and the awesome beauty of the place.
Cruiser notes: Anchor 12 56.760N; 122 05.886E. No facilities, no fuel. Anchor only in settled weather but don't miss this place if at all possible.
Romblon Island was just 20 miles from Bantan. We were there early and while approaching the harbor, Dennis Shepherd, an ex pat Aussie, came zipping out in his dinghy to let us know there was a mooring available if we wanted it. Anchoring in Romblon can be a little tough due to the depth. The mooring belongs to a de facto yacht club, still being formed, which consists of...... this mooring!!! They charge only 100 pesos a day to be on it and they save the money for future moorings. The mooring is held in place by a 2 ton slab of marble. This picture looks back at Bantan with its very own cloud.
Romblon is known for its marble and marble is its major industry. We met Oscar, a tricycle taxi owner and hired him to take us on a little ride around the area. We basically just saw the views, local homes along the road and marble sculptors at work.
Romblon is actually off the tourist trail for the most part. It does serve as home for a number of ex pats who have found Romblon to still be a part of genuine Philippine life. Most of the ex pats are familiar with the Republika restaurant and the 5 o'clock happy hour.
The church dates back to the 1700's and is the centerpiece of the town. While we were eating ice cream in the town square a priest and his taxi driver friends came up and surrounded us and we had a nice chat. The priest told us all his ailments. Then he asked how long we had been married. We told him nearly 40 years, and the priest looked at Jim and said, "God will reward you in heaven for sticking with her." I think he meant it a little differently but we got a chuckle out of that one.
While we were on the waterfront, a banca came up with a squealing pig tied across it. On its way to the market (the slaughterhouse was just down the road).
Other than that, it was mostly just life in a small town.
Cruiser notes: Mooring at 12 34.813N; 122 15.843E. PO, fuel by tricycle taxi. Market in town. Bank often runs out of cash and will only exchange dollars, no other currency. Laundry at the W corner of the town square next to the marble shopping center. Good fresh bread can be bought at the Deli on the corner of the waterfront street and Republika and at Republika restaurant.