Malapascua Island (Philippines)

A tiny island at the northern tip of Cebu, Malapascua was our next island stop.  To get to Malapascua, we took a 4 hr. open air public bus from Cebu City to the departure pier with locals, live chickens and bad music blasting so loud we had to put in our earplugs.  When I say loud, I mean like rock concert loud.  And the driver was not pumping up the volume for just one or two of his top tunes, the shit was blasting for 4 straight hours!  I could not even hear the caged chickens crowing on board until the driver stopped for a piss break and shut off the engine.  Strangely, the locals seemed accustomed to this blasting noise and it did not phase them in the least.  I would look over to Barbie and we just smiled at each other and came to the realization, ‘This is Asia’.

So, this 4 hr. bus was the mode of transport to get to the ferry departure point in Maya and onto Malapascua Island.  It would have been a quicker journey had the bus driver and his crack, fare collecting right hand man not stopped to pick up assorted other livestock, passengers and cooked pigs along the way.  This local bus cost a whopping $3 per person for this 4 hr. journey and was quite a bargain considering the entertainment and laughs we garnered enroute.  (See video below of one of the entertaining locals onboard.)

Like many other parts of the Philippines, the Visaya islands have incredible opportunities for divers, with the chance to swim with Thresher sharks which are there almost everyday at Malapascua Island.  Beach wise, people come here to escape the hustle and bustle of Boracay.  The island itself is beautiful and has several beaches, which you’ll probably have all for yourself similar to other Philippine island beaches we have visited.  The Ocean Vida Resort on Bounty Beach is the ‘go to’ place and that is were we shacked up.

After a brief walk around the tiny island, it became apparent that no other resort was comparable.  It is rare to say this, as most Asian islands are absurdly overdeveloped.  Malapascua, on the other hand, is way underdeveloped.  And then I remembered Typhoon Haiyan, known as Super Typhoon Yolanda in the Philippines.  It was one of the strongest tropical cyclones ever recorded, which devastated portions of Southeast Asia, particularly the Philippines in 2013.  It was the deadliest Philippine typhoon on record, killing at least 6,300 people.

The island of Leyte took the brunt of the typhoon but Malapascua was also hit hard.  Upon arrival, I was wondering why the island was particularly sparse, with palm trees and vegetation a fraction of other Philippine islands.  Once I learned from a local that the typhoon also hit Malapascua hard with the island losing about 75% of its vegetation, this explained the lack of development on the island.

Malapascua is a place where you can truly switch off, relax and forget about the real world.  If you are a diver, this place is heaven for you.  Every dinner conversation will be about diving.  Besides diving, the other big activity is chilling on the beach under a palm tree thinking about and doing nothing as there really isn’t much to do here.  Nice problem when you have no real agenda.

Restaurants –
Ocean Vida, Oscar’s

The index has taken a hit but the true strength of a stools focused man is to remain calm and cool and be proactive.  Its time to, ‘man up’,  hunker down and rectify things before things potentially spiral out of control in our remaining time in the Philippines.

For us, the traveling itself is just as important as the destination.  Traveling on local transport is the best way to meet and mingle with the local population.  Some of my favorite moments have come via local transportation.  Sure, it’s not always fun. In fact, most of the time it’s hot, sweaty, smells bad, and you are pretty sure you will die at any moment, not to mention the allure of the nice air conditioned car.  But when you take the A/C car, you are cheating yourself out of the very things we came to see and experience in another land.  I’m not saying we boycotted the nice A/C transport – we upgrade all the time, but we try not to make a habit of it.  So, sometimes we take the shit bumpy train that feels like it is falling off the tracks or the tricycle ride over a dusty potholed road with your head banging against the roof.  Good or bad, it’s always a good story in the end.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s