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Abra de Ilog | A Mindoro Occidental Escapade Part 1

Whenever I travel with a group, I feel like I am little confined and contained to do the worst out of me. Maybe I am just trying to be polite not to steal someone else’s limelight during the trip. Yeah I am like that, a committed party crasher of the year!

Recently, through a friend’s invitation, I have joined the outdoor group "Bangag" for a short visit to Occidental Mindoro. It was the first time to meet some of them and some were virtually known friends.

Pardon the Pardons

I was a little ashamed of myself as I arrived in our meeting place two hours late. It was an embarrassing moment that placed me in my most awkward position and felt like drowning in shadows as if I have committed a heavy crime and must be punished instantly.

Tricycle, local means of transportation in Abra de Ilog
Well, for the glory of adventure, I put that aside and have continued with our journey towards the Port of Batangas City. We left Jam Bus Terminal in Kamuning, Quezon City at 12 midnight, two hours behind the original schedule, well, thanks to me!

We arrived at the port  at 3 in the morning, missing the 2 am RORO. But it seems my best friend Mr. Luck was riding on our trip when we found a 4 am trip through the Besta Shipping Lines that was ready to leave for Abra de Ilog. I was salvaged from the blame of being late and almost missing everything on lost time, yipeeeee!

The RORO trip was so slow that it took us four hours before reaching the port of Abra de Ilog. I’d been to Mindoro before but it was my first time to visit the municipality of Abra de Ilog. It was even the first time I have heard of its name and this place is not even in the list of must-visit places in the Philippines.

It's Started with KFC- Ka-Freddie's Chicken

Ka-Freddie's Chicken (KFC):The best chicken in town
Arriving at the port, we had a glimpse of the morning rays behind the great mountains that added up to our excitement to wander in this mysterious place. We took a tricycle that led us to poblacion and  welcomed by the entrepreneur and outdoor enthusiast Ka-Freddie in his humble home.

Not much of a fancy accommodation, we were so thankful for Ka-Freddie’s hospitality allowing us to ‘break-in’ in his humble abode, utilizing any property  starting from his bed, kitchen and comfort room and anything we can find in his 10x10 meter room. 

But the best part of staying in Ka-Freddie's abode was the homemade chicken he was selling in front of his house. So far, it was the best grilled chicken I have tasted and beating dozens of grilled chicken sold in the Philippine market (goodbye Andok, goodluck Baliwag). Visitors from Manila even come personally  to have a bite of this delectable yum. Truly, Ka-Freddie's chicken will give Andok's and Baliwag a run for their money.

The first thing we did was having our morning breakfast  courtesy of Sir Albert.But after getting stuffed, the idle time just put us all on sleepy mode, wishing to regain the lost  strength and to get prepared for our afternoon adventure.

After a few hours of rest, we immediately hit the road bound for our first destination set by Manong Unyol, the Bisay Waterfalls.

Over looking fields of Abra de Ilog
None of us have been to Bisay so we hired two local tricycle drivers that guided us to Brgy. Lumang Bayan. First we gave a courtesy call to the officers of the barangay and we were surprised that they provided us two barangay police as escorts.

Mangyan of Mindoro, Indigenous People of the Philippines
Tagged with high spirit of discovering something new, we enthusiastically trekked for two hours, unmindful of the scorching heat of the sun. At the top of the hills, we were amused of the lowland’s  patches of rice fields surrounded by mountains.

For a moment I have forgotten that we were in Mindoro until we met the indigenous people known as Mangyan. We were literally stepping in their ancestral domains and as a sign of respect, we gave our courteous smiles and greetings whenever we see them.

My respect for the IP’s are way up to the sky as I have a huge admiration for their pure skills and talent to survive in an environment not so common and not so convenient for most city dwellers. Their ability to live in a harsh environment is my ultimate envy, wishing I could learn some of their survival skills.

Bisay Waterfalls or False Fall?

Jade pool of Bisay Waterfalls

It was a tiring trek with high hopes that finally something new to add up on our discoveries then ...BOOM! We reached Bisay with our jaws almost touching the ground with wrinkles of my comrades’ faces highlighted with disappointment to see a tiny waterfall revealed in front of us. There must be some kind of misunderstanding with the words FALLS and POOLS. Manong Unyol please explain?

Sliding over the drop of Bisay falls
But in all fairness, Bisay has an alluring jade pool with almost freezing mountain water. It was very wrong that we prejudged the site unaware of the fun it can offer to its visitors.

Looking at the local kids jumping and sliding over the runs of the pool, we decided to do the same to feel what it feels like to slide over the drop of the tiny waterfalls. But we were more like of a coward chicken backing out our guts and instead simply made some poses at the top of the falls as a reminder of a shameful memory of our trip.

The hot weather enticed me to dip into the cool water, making me chill to the bone. But after few minutes, the cool water became therapeutic making my trembling muscles finally relaxed and acclimatized to the surrounding water. I was never been in cold water before that made me stay for more than five minutes.

After munching on our sumptuous lunch of roasted chicken (Ka-Freddie's), chicken soup with tamarind and lots and lots of rice, we decided to descend and traced our trail back to the lowland.

With little time left before the sun come down to complete hiding, we had a stopover at Bonita Beach just 500 meters from the port of Abra de Ilog. There, my comrades and our guides had a little drink , emptying two liters of Emperador Light while waiting for the sun to come down at the wrong side of the island. Hahahaha. To be continued ....

How to get to Abra de Ilog?

Coming from Manila, there are bus companies in Buendia and Cubao that transport passengers to Batangas Port. The fare was more or less Php 175.00 with a travel time of 3 hours.

From Batangas Port, there are two shipping companies that operate with the route of Batangas-Abra de Ilog. The one we hopped on was the Besta Shipping lines and the other one is Montenegro Shipping Lines. The fare was more or less Php 260.00 plus terminal fee of Php 30.00.

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