One of the islands that I have been wanting to visit just for the sake of being there is
Masbate. I haven’t heard of any good beaches in the island. But since it just lies north of Biliran island and west of Samar, places that I frequent, why not visit the place and find out what the island could offer. Since there just seems no compelling reason to visit the place and opportunities haven’t presented at all, the wish just remained just a wishful thinking. That all changed in May when I met a contractor who had projects in Masbate. When I told her that I had long wanted to visit the place, she right away offered to host us there anytime we wanted to come, just inform her at least a week before. She said she would be very glad to host us as she just purchased a barge which we could use in going there. She said to invite as many priests so that it would be fun. I right away contacted all the beach-loving priests in the archdiocese for the appointed date in July. Since it coincided with the World Youth Day in , there were a good number who were not able to make it. There were at least 20 of us who joined. Initially the plan of our host was to take lunch at an island near Cataingan, then take overnight at the Khokak Beach Resort. The following day we could go around the island and visit the city of Australia and then take overnight either at the resort or at the place of our host and then go back home on the third day. Masbate
We left from an improvised wharf in a barrio in Kawayan, Biliran as we were told the pier in Naval was under repair. We brought along our cars with us on the barge. The barge we used was not the new one. The owner informed us that it had to undergo some repair since it got impaired during a recent typhoon. While on board we were told that the congressman was waiting for us at his resort. I at first thought that the congressman she was referring to was her father-in-law, only to find out later that it was Cong. Antonio Kho, the owner of the Khokak Beach Resort. Since the congressman was already waiting in his resort, instead of docking in her private port near Cataingan, we proceeded to the resort. We were picked up from the barge by a rubber boat and jetski. On shore to meet us was the young Mayor of Cataingan, Wilton Kho, the son of the congressman. Food was waiting for us after a four hour ride on the barge.
Congressman Kho explained that the resort which he named as Khokak is not officially opened yet. There are already ten two-storey guest houses that have been built. The plan is that there will still be a hotel, a golf course, a wedding gazebo, shooting range, club house among others in the vicinity of the beach. He envisions it as a tourist haven in the near future. The beach is actually man-made. Aside from flattening the side of the hill where the resort now lies, he also employed sand trapping devices so that sand will accumulate and increase the beach front. It is a four kilometer stretch beach. Development of the place is going on. However, the idea of the resort is that it will be a four in one destination: the beach, a forest trekking, a visit to a ranch and an island trip to Sibugay and some small islets near it. Sibugay is a small island in front of Tagapul-an island which belongs already to
Samar but which is just almost an hour away by boat from Cataingan. Tagapul-an is much nearer to Masbate than to the mainland of Samar. However, he says that it is a back to nature kind of outing. Only the basic amenities will be provided for.
Early the following day we were treated by the congressman with a tour around his property. We rode on a 4x4 pick up van and went to the mountain forest resort which was just near beach. These were planted with coconuts (where we saw one with seven branches), mangoes, and mahogany and other trees. However, there was a web of roads cutting through the forest that riding on the van was like having a mountain safari. We had no time though to visit the ranch.
By noontime we took the boat to go to Sibugay island where we had a picnic. It is a 20 hectare island that the congressman bought. He said it took him about two years to persuade the people there to vacate the island. He had the houses demolished so that it will be just nature around. As a nature reserve, he also made the surrounding waters as a sanctuary off limits to fishing. Everyday he feeds the fish around the island. Corals have come back to life.
On the waters just by the beach there are already plenty of fishes. They are fed daily, hence they have become a common site.
Taking a souvenir shot with Mayor Wilton Kho, the mayor of Cataingan who welcomed us on shore and Violy Codilla who invited us.
From the resort one can see at the background the islands of Tagapul-an and Sibugay, the smaller island on the left.
Sibugay island. A cottage was hastily made just a month ago as GMA visited the place very recently.
One of the islets which now belongs to the congressman near Sibugay.
These are just some of the corals that have sprung to life around the island of Sibugay.
Some of the priests who joined the vacation.
We also got the chance to go to the city of Masbate and visit the Cathedral.