A MARBLE-OUS ISLAND

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Romblon, known as the capital of marble, is home to a mesmerising marine life, picturesque beaches, a historic fort and over 38,000 people that are all but rude. It being one of the few islands with an actual tourist office, standing lonesome on the main square near the harbour, it is actually welcoming. Welcoming in the sense that a friendly – and chatty – woman awaits you with with advice on all surrounding islands, but also that wherever you venture off to, you are met with the smiles and waves of the friendly locals. Though the globetrotters come in scarce here, there are a plenty foreign, usually European entrepreneurs, having their business here. Therefore, even those that get overwhelmed by other cultures can find their peace here and enter a restaurant for a chewy German schnitzel or have a chat with the friendly Brit and Italian next door. If you wish to do a bit more than amble from diner to diner, worry not as this tiny island will surprise you with the beauties it beholds.

Now, aside from a presence in the cuisine, Europe has wiggled its roots in the history of many a island including Romblon, leaving various historical and heritage structures after Spain’s reign. The historic fort San Andres stands out the most as it looms over the city and sea, making it the absolute perfect spot for a sunset view. Since the climb there is on a set of tall, steep steps, the time the sun sheds its final lights is indeed best, as these steps paired with the Asian heat can be more than harsh. Expect to be met by the head of the organisation for reparation and maintenance, aka the guard and his friendly pup. This man, indubitably, will welcome you and if the place is not too hectic give you a free tour – but do tip. He will show and tell you all about the crumbling fortress that due to the massive and diligent restoration with the help of copious local as well as foreign volunteers remains to be a highlight of the petite island.

Of course, one does not go to these parts of the Philippines to solely admire the remainders of European influence. Though we did not get to experience the outer islands or any water-based activities due to harsh weather, we did get to tour around the island. On this ride-around, we came upon what in my opinion is, after Cresta de Gallo, the allurement of these waters; Bon-bon beach and Bang-ug island. Depending on which way you go around the island, this is either the final or immediate stop being close to the main city Poblacion. After stalling the scooter we rented for the day, we arrived on a long stretch of glistening, white sand. Sauntering along the water, the two of us headed for the island. Since the stretch is a fair walk, a ton of sunscreen is necessary to leave unscathed. Because the sun shone bright, at times feeling like a scourging whip of heat, but adding to the picturesque view that was sand, sea and sky. As if it was not enough, a rocky island of greenery fills the view with a breathtaking walkway of sand leading you through the sea at the right tidal. To our surprise it had been us, and us alone to admire the piece of art and without a queue or wait we took some of my favourite pictures before continuing.

Though this visit will leave the stops to follow in the dust, it is worthy to follow the not-so descriptive map and try to navigate yourself around the island in the search for the competing beaches, a lighthouse, a waterfall and to pass by the quarries before making your way back to the city or your accommodation. Romblon, of the Romblon province is a challenge alone to get to, but aside from dismaying the mass, has got an arsenal of sights. And upon departure, there is a world of souvenirs to take with, as the islet brings a strong game in the marble universe with competitive quality and for a reasonable price. Time to stuff your bag with gifts for the family!

How much effort would you put in to getting somewhere lovely but hard to get to? Or are you one that would put in effort not to have to go there and rather relax at the beach of your hotel?