Thursday, April 30, 2015

LakbayLoyd Lighthouse Series 25: EL FARO DE ISLA GINTOTOLO, Balud, Masbate

Brief History

El Faro De Isla Gintotolo belonged to the original 27 major lighthouses initially erected by the Spanish Colonial Government in the Philippines. Built in 1895, the project was designed by Ramon De Ros and later on modified by Primitivo Lluelmo. It is located in Jintotolo Island, as it is now spelled, just off the town of Balud at the southwest corner of Masbate. Its primary function is to light the body of water that connects the Sibuyan Sea with the Visayan Sea, a very important shipping route not only during the Spanish era but during the present time.

The design of the lighthouse follows the traditional arrangement of living quarters, tower, service buildings and courtyard. Gintotolo Lighthouse has been restored. The granite masonry tower of Gintotolo Lighthouse has been retrofitted and the square tower, which is still in its admirable condition and functioning. However, the rest of the facility badly need repairs.

How Did I Get There

Following my Masbate agenda, next to El Faro De Punta Bugui is the Faro De Gintotolo. Located on the extreme southern point of of the Masbate Province, me and my official guide, Sir Edwin, headed towards Balud where the lighthouse is situated.

The 87 kilometer distance took us four hours to travel from Aroroy town proper, passed through Milagros town, to Balud town proper. It would only take two hours to drive straight without making stopovers to Masbate attractions that every tourist must see and appreciate.


The zigzag road located in Milagros town is a perfect stopover to take a rest in between that long and tiring habalhabal ride. The magnificent landscape viewed from the top is truly refreshing and calming.

The Fazenda De Esperanca is also worth visiting. Fazenda, also located in Milagros,  is a rehabilitation center for drug and alcohol dependents run by a non-profit organization headed by Fr. Pierino. Noticeably, the entire facility look like a resort and living quarters look like vacation houses of the rich and famous. Indeed, I confirmed that these patients are members of the rich and famous families.

Balud Proper

We reached Balud shortly before sundown and was immediately assisted by Ms.Aida Berunio, Balud's Tourism Officer. After a little familiarization on the town's humble beginnings, Ms Aida then took the initiative to introduce me to the town's Mayor, Hon. Ruben Jude (RJ) Lim. I was indeed an honor to be welcomed by Mayor RJ,
With Ms. Aida Berunio, DOT Officer of balud

With Hon. Mayor RJ Lim, Balud
We stayed for the night in Paraiso De Palani Beach Resort, probably one of the finest resorts in Balud. Palani beach is a long 10-km stretch of un-commercialized white sand beach. The almost-undisturbed and quiet paradise is now fast-becoming a tourist attraction in the province.

Depending on the capacity or number of guests, room rates in Paraiso De Palani starts at P800 for double occupancy. The resort offers spacious area for various activities like meetings and conventions, team building, or simply relaxing at the beach.

For reservations, contact Paraiso De Palani at 09175476888 / 09985776818.


Our jump-off point to Jintotolo Island is the community port of Calumpang, a barangay location far south of Balud town proper and is about an hour ride via habal-habal. Passenger boats en route Calumpang-Roxas City are available for those traveling to Panay Island (Iloilo, Antique, Aklan) with Roxas City as entry point.

We asked some advise from the Coast Guard officials on duty upon arrival and was cordially assisted by Commander Renei Apuya and his staff, Ofc. Mark Rey Caballero, both from Philippine Coast Guard.

Our trip to Jintotolo Island was made very convenient as Com. Apuya made a special arrangement with the passenger boat owner to bring us to the island and back at any time of our convenience.

Normally, there are about only two or three scheduled trips to Cantil from Calumpang - but this one was carried out for us on special request. Thank you Com. Apuya for making my Jintotolo Island trip a lot easier.

Jintotolo Island

Ofc. Mark Rey was my official Jintotolo guide in Bgy. Cantil in Jintotolo Island. We were welcomed by the Barangay Captain's wife as the Kapitan was away on an official business. We arrived in time for their preparation for the annual Pangumagat Festival, an annual celebration held every 2nd week of April in Balud, Being a festival aficionado, I put on one of the festival costumes to get the feel of the festivity.

 Jintotolo Island Lighthouse

Keeping the lighthouse has been passed down from generation to generation. I was able to meet Mr. Anghel Tambal, the present and the family's third-generation lightkeeper. Mang Anghel guided us up the highest point of the island where the lighthouse stands. He also gave us permission to climb the tower and enjoy that awesome Jintotolo panorama.

Travel Tips

Balud can be reached from Masbate City via airconditioned GT Express vans daily on a regular basis.

From Balud Town, ride a habalhabal to take you to Paraiso De Palani which is just around 2 km away.

Internet connection is very slow, if not unavailable. Expect delay in posting selfies.

There are no restaurants in Calumpang or Cantil therefore it is advisable to bring food and water if you are planning to visit the lighthouse,

Monday, April 27, 2015

LakbayLoyd Lighthouse Series 24: EL FARO DE PUNTA BUGUI, Aroroy, Masbate

Brief History

Faro De Punta Bugui is located in Bugui Point, Aroroy in the northwest point of the province of Masbate. The lighthouse's location, the route from San Bernardino Strait going to Manila also called as "Southern Passage", was considered a prime spot during the famed Manila-Acapulco Galleon Trade and this lighthouse was the first to be identified as being of great significance. It lighted the channel between Burias Island and Masbate Island and the channel between Burias and Ticao Islands leading to San Bernardino Strait.

Bugui Point Lighthouse was part of the initial plan during that massive construction frenzy during the Spanish colonial era in the Philippines. Work on the light started in 1893 but was stopped in 1896 with the onset of the Philippine Revolution. the Americans later on continued the construction of the entire structure and the light was finally lit in 1902.

Its design, a Victorian style of architecture, was made of masonry of what seemed to look like coral stones cut in accordance to wherever it may fit the solid wall about one meter wide. Decorative metal grilles creatively designed surround the fence, balconies and windows.

As of this writing, the lighthouse's condition is disheartening - considering its historical value and the fact that it is located in one of the most important and beautiful points in the region, or the entire archipelago. Roofs were damaged with recent strong typhoons and the entire structure totally dilapidated.

With Sir Edwin Ferro

How Did I Get There

The day that followed after my Bagatao Island Lighthouse was intended for my visit to San Bernardino Island Lighthouse located in Bulusan, Sorsogon. Shortly before we left for the San Bernardino Strait, the boatman and guide told me that the sea is unsafe for travel due to amihan, and will last for three days. I grabbed my bag and left Bulusan immediately to catch the last trip on board Montenegro Liner, the fastest sea vessel navigating Pilar Port to Masbate Port daily.

I arrived Masbate City after exactly two hours, had a courtesy visit to the Office of the Provincial Tourism Officer of Masbate, the very pleasant and admirable Mr. Gerardo "Butchoy" Presado. He introduced me to Governor Vicente Homer Revil and wife, Vice-Governor Kaye Revil and had a couple of chat. The Governor was equally accommodating and welcomed me with please.

With Gov. Revil and Mr.Butchoy Presado
During my stay in Masbate, Sir Butchoy Presado took care of all I need despite his busy schedule preparing for the Rodeo Festival and my short notice. He arranged my hotel at Greenview  Hotel and dinner that night in Masbate City, and introduced me to Mr. Edwin Ferro, who will be my official guide for the next two days. The plan was to get to Aroroy for the Punta Bugui Lighthouse the next day and to Jintotolo Lighthouse in Balud the following day.

As early as 5am, Sir Edwin and I left Masbate for Aroroy. We reached Aroroy Port after 2 hours riding on his habal-habal. Prior to my visit, I was in contact with Mr. Tony Ferrer, the executive assistant to the mayor of Aroroy, Masbate who negotiated the boat rental. After a few chat with Mr. Ferrer, we headed to Punta Bugui on a boat (on a cute small boat, hehe) he earlier arranged for P1500 (how costly for that size of a boat, wow!). Thank you Mr. Ferrer for all the help.

We met some local fishermen as our boat approached the beach of Bugui Point. Being unfamiliar, we asked a couple of them to walk with us up the hill toward the lighthouse. A group of medical students from Manila also visited the lighthouse that day, with whom I shared and discussed the significance of this lighthouse.

It was shortly after 12 noon when we got back to Port of Aroroy. Tired, starving and dehydrated due to intense heat, I was very satisfied to have seen and observed my 24th visit to a historic Philippine lighthouse. One exciting part of our trip was to see for the first time a school of young dolphins, maybe more than a hundred, jumping up and down moving toward Burias Island.

Tip: If taking a public transport from Masbate City, airconditioned vans going to Aroroy are available daily on regular intervals. From Aroroy Port, a number of fishing boats can be rented for Punta Bugui on cheaper price (P500 round-trip).

Postscript: While in Pilar, Sorsogon, I am indebted to Mr, Joel Navora, the friendly Tourism Officer of the town of Pilar, Sorsogon, who assisted me and bought my ticket before it get sold-out and personally handed me maybe the last ticket available for that trip. Kudos, Sir Joel!
With Sir Joel Navora


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