I work in the Finance department of a media company, and someone who dabbles in writing of any genre.
Published March 5th 2013
It could be the holiday that you have been wishing for
For most of us working 5 days a week, sometimes 6 days a week, four weeks of annual holiday is not enough. But unfortunately, that's all we are entitled to. Hence we make sure that we make the most of it. It's the joy of not having to get up early to catch a train or a bus or even both. Or think of the everyday stress that we encounter. Making sure that we save a lot of cash, so we can enjoy the holiday without having to think of finance. We can spend thousands of dollars, even though our destination is only across the border.
The cost of the hotel, lunches, dinner and activities can be costly. Most of the time we use our credit card and realistically we don't bother thinking of the consequences until the holiday is finished and the credit card bills start rolling in. We also tend to re-visit places where we had been before. It's our comfort zone and we don't want to change it.
How about a suggestion? Head to another country where you can enjoy, a warm climate, friendly people, sumptious food, souvenir shopping, cheap airfare, cheap accommodation, opportunity to mingle with the locals, and absorb the culture and step away from your comfort zone. Where would it be you ask?
It's a place called Dangay. Located at Roxas, Oriental Mindoro Philippines, where it had been a pleasure of mine to visit for so many years. Mindoro is one of the hundreds of islands in the Philippines. Roxas is one of the towns that comprise Mindoro. Dangay is one of the Barangay (suburb) of Roxas and is known to be the "Gateway to Paradise", to an island called Boracay. Where the sand is golden, a well known tourist destination and a popular holiday spot for locals and visitors from different countries.
Dangay is about two or three hours away from the capital of Mindoro, Calapan. The capital of the Philippines, Manila is 130 kilometres away from Batangas Port then 45 minutes by ferry or a two and a half an hour by ro-ro boat where you can take your vehicles to the port of Calapan.
Economy in the Philippines is good. The currency is Philippine Peso. Current exchange rate is $1 equals to P40, which obviously fluctuates every day.
You can buy the basic necessities and food at Dangay but the main town called Roxas is only five minutes away by tricycle. A motorbike fitted with a side car. A quick form of transportation. Food is very cheap. The main staple is rice, although you can easily buy loaves of bread at a local bakery. The open market is huge. Different kind of meat, fish and other kind of seafood are abundant.
More than 50 stall sells different kind of fresh fruit and vegetables. A kilo of rice is equivalent to $.70c. A kilo of fish range from $1, a kilo of pork is $4, and much the same with chicken. Beef is a bit more expensive, but I would not recommend it. The place seems to have a shortage of beef and the quality is not good. The prawns are massive! You can buy a kilo for $10. Occasionally there are mud crabs that weigh two kilos by itself. Food galore!
There are various restaurants around Dangay or Roxas. A Mangyan Palace Restaurant at Dangay is popular and can get crowded. In the town of Roxas, De Calidad Restaurant is a good choice among locals. They are located opposite a school so it's quite busy at lunch break. I would not recommend drinking tap water. Most shops sell bottled water. Roxas have a big supermarket called Mega. You can just about buy anything from that shop.
Accommodations vary. Air conditioned room starts from $20 a night, a room with an electric fan for $10 a night. Of course it also fluctuates on the season. Dangay gets very crowded during the summer months which are around April for the Easter break, May and June for the school break. You can negotiate the rate if you plan to stay for a few days.
There are only two seasons. Rainy and dry. It's generally wet during the months of August, September, October November. December is a bit cooler. Although it's still humid. The months of January, February, and March are idyllic. April, May, June and July are the summer months. Philippines gets at least ten typhoons per year, and it's quite ferocious when nature unleashed its anger.
These are typical weather in the Philippines. If you would like further details of the weather pattern, goggle can be of great assistance. It knows everything! Make sure you bring some mosquito repellent and the sunscreen.
If lazing in the sun, eating muddies, prawns, lying on the beach, and having a few drinks become monotonous. Visit the minorities (Mangyans) and check out their hand made necklaces, bracelets, bags and other souvenirs. It's wise to ask for permission before you start taking pictures. They had been exploited in the past, so they are a little bit cautious of foreigners. Some can get cheeky and ask for a payment! But they take it all in your stride. There are also other attractions and beaches that are not too far away. Please refer to this website for more information.
1.Catch an air-conditioned bus from Pasay Terminal Manila and head to the Port of Batangas for P120 or $3. Travel time from the bus terminal to the Port is 2 hours. The alternative would be to catch a bus that will take you all the way to Dangay for P620, or $15.50, although it will take 7 hours to get there. www.phbus.com/fares-and-schedules
From Batangas Port.
2.Catch the supercat ferry which will take 45 minutes to reach Calapan. It cost or P320 or $8. Alternatively, catch the Roll on – Roll off ship which will take two to three hours to Calapan port. In this type of vessel, you can choose to take your vehicle on your trip. Please visit this website for more information. www.supercat.com.ph
3.From Calapan port there are a number of vans that will take you to Roxas. You will not miss it. It cost about P180 or $4.50. The van is quite small and they tend to squeeze more passengers than its capacity. You can always request the seat behind the driver for more leg room. The trip takes about an hour or two.
4.Tell the driver to drop you off to Dangay Port. Once you're there, head towards Darahikan.The locals are quite friendly so dont be shy to ask questions. There are quite a number of resort's to choose from. Be prepared to haggle, and make sure that you don't give in to vendors selling their wares. ( your choice)
This is not for the faint hearted. But, the fun and adventure and the culture that you will learn is tremendous.
Please note that this travel article is merely a guide. Flexibility and patience are the key words.
Getting to Dangay seems to be a daunting task, but once you arrived, you'll be greeted with clear turquoise water. The swaying of the palm trees, friendly locals that do their best to make you feel comfortable, endless view of the ocean, fishing boats swinging to and fro from afar.
I am lucky being here at the time where the moon is full. At night, its reflection shimmers on the ocean that is calm as a lake. The soft sound of the waves lapping into the beach descends me to the oblivion of deep calm and it feels magic. The sand is grey but clean. The water is the colour of turquoise and clear. Dangay have a very busy port. The ferries are en route to different islands.
I woke up this morning to the sight of the fisherman hauling their harvest from the sea. Its awakening as I watched the crowd clamour for their share of the bounty. They caught at least 20 buckets of sardines, but it's more than enough to pay the Captain, his crew and some neighbour's for their help in pulling the net to the shore. The Captain gave me a handful of fish, more than enough for lunch and dinner. It is so fresh, it smells sweet!
As I walk back to my house, the sun is slowly rising on the horizon, peeking from behind the clouds. I sat on the veranda with a coffee in my hand, watching the children go by, frolicking on the sand with a smile and a wave, I felt at ease, and lucky that I have a piece of paradise.