My friend Lloyds and I tried to reach Romblon Island in August 2016 coming from Caticlan. We were hoping to visit our childhood friend Beth who’s been living in Romblon, the marble capital of the Philippines, for almost 30 years.

We flew in from Cebu to Aklan Province the night before and planned to catch an early morning ferry to Looc in Tablas Island. But we were stranded due to heavy rain until we found a local pump boat operator willing to take us across for a chartered fee.

St Augustine Pump boat
8 of us chipped in for this private pump boat trip across to Tablas Island.

And the winds were surely strong. Kinda lucky I was fairly intoxicated, it made me confident with the big waves. I was quick to trust the manoeuvring and navigational skills of these local Visayan seafarers.

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These men were amazing… very calm, confident and skilful.

We had lots of fun in this voyage across to Tablas Island in Romblon Province. We built good rapport with our companions, particularly with Jean and her aunties… we’ve kept in touch with them back in Manila.

Shortly before 5 pm, we reached a remote beach in the town of Santa Fe in Tablas Island. And just after disembarking, the rain poured even more in the horizon, cascading down from the clouds.

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Sand, sea, tiny boat, tiny island and cascading rain… simply breathtaking.

And when the rain stopped, Lloyds and Jean couldn’t resist wading in the water…

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All this time Lloyds was determined to keep us intoxicated… I was amazed he found a small store in this remote town selling Gold Eagle Beer.

The others were heading to nearby destinations so they easily negotiated with the locals to take them for a small fee. For us it took a while but we eventually found this generous man willing to take us for a trek up north to a town called San Agustin.

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So off we went… still intoxicated. I was taking left and right selfies of our trip… in this tiny motorbike with the three of us without helmets. So much for safety…

And in one of our stops for a stretch and a toilet break…

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…and a cigarette break for Lloyds

I, being the triathlete, decided to go for a run ahead of them.

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…the intoxicated runner

I ran for more than a kilometre until they caught up with me.

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…a lot more space without me jammed in the middle.

We then kept on going into the night until it was time for another stretch… and to re-tie our bags which were almost falling off.

We ended up arriving in San Agustin at around 7.30 pm.

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But it was too late to cross the waters of Romblon Pass for the final leg of our mission to Romblon Island. I was exhausted… I was resigned to sleep on this concrete bench.

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This outdoor sleep with the mozzies did not last long as we were lucky to find a small hostel for a proper night sleep.

We were up early the next day excited… but rain forecast was severe again. Ferries were again cancelled. We can’t wait another day cause Lloyds and I had prior commitments in Manila. We couldn’t complete our trip to Romblon Island to meet our friend Beth who was eagerly waiting. Not even the local San Agustin police could help us.

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If we made it to Romblon Island, we were gonna catch a ferry straight back to Batangas Port south of Manila. But since we were stuck in San Agustin, the closest option was through the Port of Odiongan which was 2 hours away by road.

Odiongan Jeepney Terminal
Late breakfast at the jeepney terminal in Odiongan after another epic motorbike journey.

After a quick breakfast upon arrival in Odiongan, we went to buy our 2GO ferry tickets but the ferry was not scheduled to leave until 5 pm. So we left our bags in the waiting area and opted to check out this semi-urban town.

Bags in waiting area

Odiongan is the most populated town in the province but Romblon town, where Beth lives in Romblon Island, is the capital of Romblon Province. Odiongan recently opened a branch of the famous Jollibee hamburger chain of the Philippines. But we were more interested in having our daily serve of alcohol in a local eatery.

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One more beer each after finishing a bottle of Emperador light brandy

I was amazed to see a deep well water pump just outside this local eatery (sorry no photo) and a tiny patch of beach sand at the back where we took this photo…

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Our ferry clearly visible approaching in the background

We headed straight back to the ferry terminal to get our bags and prepare to board…

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A lot of alcohol consumed but we don’t look intoxicated cause we were excited to embark on this 9-hour ferry ride to Batangas.

And upon boarding… lo and behold! Lloyds wanted to drink some more…

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More alcohol? Ayoko na!

Thank you very much Lloyds (aka Toto) for this memorable adventure not only through Tablas Island in Romblon Province but also through the provinces of Cebu and Aklan.

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Shall I open my beer can?

I’m sure we will one day accomplish our mission to see Beth in her hometown as well as travel to the other islands of this archipelagic Province of Romblon such as Banton and Sibuyan… to add more beer stories to our decades of friendship.

But for now I’m off to sleep in this tiny bunk in the common sleeping area of the ferry…

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…no more alcohol for me. Good night!

Thanks also to my good friend Romwell who generously offered to pick us up early morning at 3am from Batangas Port to drop us off back to Manila where I went straight to the airport for my flight to Davao for my first ever trip to Mindanao.

CoachConto – Athlete, Warrior, Statesman, Spirit