Thursday, April 30, 2015

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

El Faro De Isla Gintotolo

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, my next destination following El Faro De Punta Bugui is the Faro De Gintotolo. Located on the extreme southern point of of Masbate Province, me and my official guide, Sir Edwin Ferro, headed towards the coastal town of 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.

Municipality of Milagros

The zigzag road located in Milagros, a 1st class municipality in Masbate, is a perfect stopover to take a rest in between that long and tiring habal-habal 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. 

Municipality of Balud

About a century before, Balud was virtually a thick and virgin forest, particularly the coast lines where early settlers from the nearby Panay settled. The Poblacion site then, was teeming with forest that wild doves called by the first settlers of the place as “Balud” were abundant. It was the abundance of these wild birds that the natives called the place “Balud”, a derivative native term for the wild doves. The first immigrants of about four families, settled at the bank of the mouth of the Balud River. These early families cleared the forest, planted corn and root crops and engaged in fishing as their way of livelihood.

Balud was originally part of Milagros. With the increase of population, Balud became progressive. People from different places, particularly Panay Island, came to settle. August 19, 1949, it was annexed from Milagros and became an independent municipality.

Sir Edwin and I reached Balud shortly before sundown and was immediately assisted by Ms.Aida Berunio, Balud's Tourism Officer. After a little familiarization about the town, Sir Edwin and Ms. Aida introduced me to the Mayor of Balud,  the Honorable  Ruben Jude (RJ) Lim.

With Ms. Aida Berunio, DOT Officer

With Hon. Mayor RJ Lim

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 uncommercialized 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.

Barangay Calumpang

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 from Palani beach on a 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.

A force of habit, help was easy to find as we approached the Coast Guard personnel on duty upon arrival at the Calumpang port and asked for help. We were cordially assisted by Commandant Renei Apuya and Officer Mark Rey Caballero of Coast Guard Calumpang Sub-Station.

Our trip to Gintotolo Island was made fast and very convenient as Comm. 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 daily - but this out-of-the-scheduled trip was carried out exclusively for us. 

Gintotolo Island

Ofc. Mark Rey of Coast Guard Calumpang Sub-Station became my willing official Gintotolo Island tour guide, always ensuring my safety and comfort during the entire Gintotolo Island expedition.

It was a perfect timing as we arrived Bgy. Cantil in Gintotolo Island. We were able to witness their preparation for the annual Pangumagat Festival, an annual celebration held every 2nd week of April in Balud. Being a festival aficionado, I wouldn't skip trying on one of the festival costumes to get the feel of the festivity.

Gintotolo 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 light housekeeper. Mang Anghel lead our 30 minute hike up the highest point of the island where the historic lighthouse stands. We were joined by other island guests who came for the festival. He also gave us permission to climb the tower and enjoy that awesome Gintotolo panorama.

Adding my 24th lighthouse, the Faro de Isla Gintotolo, in my bucket list was one big accomplishment, which only a few may think of visiting and conquering. It was very exhausting but fulfilling. I was so grateful for all the people of Masbate who rendered their unfaltering assistance, advice and help. 

Some Balud 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 in Balud 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,

1 comment:

John Smith said...

Informative post! I wonder if such lighthouses are present on the beaches offered by Faro District Tourism. I guess I have to find out when I visit Faro next month with my cousins.


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