Sunday, April 03, 2016


Got a full week of vacation and I decided to spend that time exploring the island of Mindoro. Since I heard that the provinces of Occidental Mindoro and Mindoro Oriental have already good roads, I decided to bring along my car so that we could just go driving around the island.  Aside from visiting the churches in the island and go to some beaches,  the highlight of the trip would be a visit to  the famous Apo Reef in Sablayan, Occidental Mindoro which is considered as Asia’s largest atoll-like reef second only to the Great Barrier reef in Australia and perhaps be able to camp and dive there.  Our plan was to go first to Occidental Mindoro by taking the ferry from Batangas to Abra de Ilog on a Monday. We would go around the province of Occidental Mindoro and end up in Puerto Galera in Oriental Mindoro and take the ferry from Calapan back to Batangas and Manila on a Sunday.

Our trip however  started two days earlier on a Saturday with a diving trip to Anilao in Batangas.  I had read that if one wants to go diving in Apo reef one must first have a predive if one has not dived for more than a year.  We went to the Planet Dive in Brgy. Teodoro, Mabini, Batangas and spent the day there. I had two dives. Stayed overnight in Batangas City and concelebrated the Palm Sunday mass at the Immaculate Conception Church of Batangas City. Since we still had some time to kill, we went around to visit some churches in Batangas that Sunday.

Our ferry to Abra de Ilog left Batangas at 6:00 in the morning.  The boat ride lasted for two and a half hours.  The fare for the car was 1,872 including the driver and 260 for the passengers. The roads in Occidental Mindoro were indeed newly cemented.  We had an enjoyable ride. We met very few cars along the way, a very refreshing sight away from the heavy traffic in Manila.  The first church that we visited was that of Abra de Ilog.  The parish priest was not there as he was still having a station of the cross on the mountain near the town that was newly installed by the local government unit. The staff at the convento said that it takes about four hours to finish the station as the last station is already at the peak of the mountain. We were invited for snacks by the convento staff.  A sight that I saw for the first time was the Pabasa that was being done by the side of the church. Some women were singing and chanting the Pabasa that they were reading from a booklet.  The Pabasa is a poetical rendition of the life and death of our Lord in Tagalog.

After Abra de Ilog, we passed by Mamburao.  We went first to their Capitol which was in the interior part of the town.  Then we passed by their church which was being reconstructed. 
They were making it for two floors the lower portion being offices.

The next church we passed by was  in Sta. Cruz which was just newly built. They had an ongoing solicitation drive to get five million for the ceiling. The old church which has not been demolished was now blocking the view from the road.

By lunchtime, we arrived in Sablayan, our destination for the day. We had lunch at Mylits bar and resto which was near the river by the market side. It would be from here that we will be taking our boat ride for the island of Pandan where we will stay overnight.  Our boat to Pandan, Bblyn was just on standby nearby. After lunch we visited first the church and made also a courtesy call on the parish priest,  Fr Arnel.  Told him we were going to Pandan for overnight and planned to go to Apo reef the following day. Just in case we could not go to Apo reef, I asked if we could stay at the convent the following day which he readily accented.  

Pandan island is a snorkelers paradise with beautiful corals and fishes and sea turtles and even stingrays. (See separate post for Pandan Island here: The following day we were also able to go to the world famous Apo Reef and had the great time snorkeling. We camped there overnight under a bright moonlit night. (See separate post for Apo reef here: )

After coming back from Apo reef we passed by the convento in Sablayan where we took our  showers and some snacks prepared by the parish priest. We bought some souvenir shirts at the town and then we left for San Jose.  About ten kilometers   of the road from Sablayan to San Jose was not yet cemented but construction was already going on.

         We arrived by 7:30 in the evening in San Jose and met our host for the evening, Willy Enriquez who is also a good friend of the bishop of San Jose. Willy called up Bp. Palang who was in his residence. Paid the bishop a visit that night. We were billeted in a studio room owned by Willy Enriquez. He said that the room is also being used by a priest who is assigned in one of the islands when he comes to town. 

The following morning after breakfast we made a courtesy call on the parish priest and Vicar General of the Apostolic Vicariate of San Jose, Fr. Carl Dimaano.  After going around the Cathedral, Willy also toured us around the town. Then we left to continue our journey to Oriental Mindoro where we will spend the Paschal Triduum. The last church of Occidental Mindoro that we passed by was in the town of Magsaysay.

The Ferry boat that we took from Batangas to Abra de Ilog, Occidental Mindoro. 


The parish church of Abra de Ilog.

A simple altar with just a crucifix in the middle. 

There were some women doing the Pabasa by the side of the church. It would be my first time to witness a Pabasa.

A closer look at the book that they would read for the Pabasa. 

Being summer already, there were lots of corn that were being dried out on the highway. 

A few of the rice fields that were being harvested along the way. 

This time the corn were being dried not on the highway itself. 


The church of Mamburao was being totally reconstructed when we passed by. The church had two levels, the lower level being the offices and the church was above. 

Ongoing reconstruction of the parish church of Mamburao. 

We passed by the Capitol of Occidental Mindoro found in Mamburao which is the capital of the province. 


The church of Sta. Cruz was just newly constructed. The old church which was not yet demolished was in front obstructing the view of the new church. 

Inside the church of Sta. Cruz. 

A fund raising campaign was being done to raise five million for the construction of the ceiling. 

The road from Sta. Cruz to Sablayan. 

The Mylits Bar and Grill in Sablayan where we took our lunch. 

An inland body of water just in front of the town poblacion near the market of Sablayan. Just further up the river goes out already to the sea. Only small boats are docked here as the main pier of the town is found in another area. 

A suspension bridge for pedestrians only lets people cross to the other side of the town which is already fronting the sea. 

The parish church of Sablayan. 

Inside the church of Sablayan. 

The Catholic school in Sablayan.

The port area of Sablayan where big boats can dock is found in another part of the town. 

Near the port of Sablayan. 

The Sablayan pier. 

A bas relief mural found near the municipal hall of Sablayan. 


The Cathedral of St. Joseph in San Jose, Occidental Mindoro.

With our host in San Jose, Willy Enriquez. 

Making a courtesy call to the parish priest and Vicar General of  the Apostolate Vicariate of  San Jose,Occidental Mindoro, Fr. Carl Dimaano. 

Inside the Cathedral. 

Ten months later in February 2016, the ceiling of the Cathedral was already gilded with gold.

This was taken during the formal reception of the new Administrator of the Apostolic Vicariate of San Jose, the Most Rev. William Antonio last February 12, 2016. 
A side altar with the tomb of the former bishop of the Apostolic Vicariate. 

The tabernacle is found in the side altar. 
The tomb of Most Rev. Vicente Manuel, the first Apostolic Vicar of San Jose, Occidental Mindoro. 

The Adoration Chapel of the Cathedral. 

The convento of the Cathedral. 


The parish church of Magsayay, Occidental Mindoro.

Inside the church. 

An onion plantation in Mindoro. 

Some ricefields in the Mindoro. 

Another onion plantation. 

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