Romblon, Romblon, Romblon!

Trip Start Feb 10, 2013
Trip End Sep 18, 2013

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Flag of Philippines  , Visayas,
Thursday, March 21, 2013

So our craziness over and a relatively early ferry we were out of San Augustin and on our way to Romblon town. This is described as one of the most attractive towns in the Philippines, seeming to feel a few centuries behind the rest of the country..after a cheeky ferry across the gap between Tablas and Romblon we arrived in what seemed to be a town that was very similar to every other town in the Philippines..maybe a tiny bit prettier! It was an interesting town, set on a lovely port that opened out into a beautiful bay, surrounded by jungled hills and a scattering of white beaches. The small island has some German expats settled there but it seemed there were few western tourists in Romblon town itself. So as always, we seemed to attract a lot of interest although all of it friendly and some slightly entertaining locals!

Our visit was due to two points of interest in the town itself; the first was the 17th century Spanish cathedral set in a beautiful plaza and towering above the town. We had arrived very early in the morning and so a visit around 10am to the cathedral meant we could get some really nice shots while it was relatively quiet, during the evening most of the town attend mass so we tried to see it while it wasn't chaotic. We were interested in getting inside to see the architecture however it was unfortunately closed due to some recent thefts but we were invited to come back around 1pm, when it would be open for a funeral....funnily enough we decided against this as it would have been a little uncomfortable wondering in to someone funeral service just to take pictures! So we mooched off to find the other point of interest in the town.

During the 1600s the town was constantly attacked by pirates seeking to get their hands on the local and beautiful marble which is mined on the island. Romblon is still a name in the marble industry although mining has seemed to slow down in recent years to preserve the islands natural state. Anyways, during these pirate attacks, a fort was built overlooking the bay to defend the town against aforementioned bandits. A lovely climb up some steps implanted with marble designs of various scenes from underwater and on land and we were at a small stone ruin set atop a hill overlooking the port. This fort was built in the 1600s and proved to be a useful tool in repelling the pirate attacks. There was still one of the small canons pointing out over the bay and we sat to look at the beautiful view, thinking what it must have been like to see a huge pirate galleon cruising around the headland and having to scramble the defences to ensure they could not anchor and get on land (sometimes a daydream a lot!) As it was getting quite warm by now we headed back down the steps and wandered through the town to take in some atmosphere.

The town is a very bustling port town and weirdly had a lot of what seemed to be tourist shops but with Philippino prices. We mooched around and came across a small area that was shops solely dedicated to the sale, sculpture and carving of the local marble. As previously mentioned, the island is world famous for its marble. It is favoured by rich Manilans and is comparable, apparently, to some of the finest marble in Italy. There were some truly stunning sculptures for sale from the smallest keyring to large naked ladies and huge headstones. The locals were carving as we watched, showing traditional techniques and impressive artistic skills. Really fascinating, but we were done. That was essentially Romblon Town done in one long morning and we decided that a late lunch and a relaxing afternoon would prove enough for this interesting little town.

During the afternoon we were interested to know where some loud music was coming from, so we sat on the balcony around 2pm and listened to the graduation ceremony that was happening on the public stage. The song was Congratulations (I forget who by) and was played on loop, for well over an hour. Rather funny, until I remembered what was happening at the cathedral, which was set right next to the public stage. Some poor family had sat through their beloved family members funeral, whilst in the background the song Congratulations was playing on loop...the entire time! Well, only in the Philippines!

One day was enough to see what we came for and so we hit the sack, ready for our 7am ferry across the water again to the next Island in the group, Sibuyan. An interesting town but not much more than what we saw so we were quite content to leave it behind :-)

Til next time peeps

Ari Na Ko

Da Perkins
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