|Welcome to Oriental Mindoro|
|SuperCat's St. Laurel|
Last February 6 to 9, the 7th Drive Tourism caravan, with 40 participants in 13 cars, was held at the Cordillera Autonomous Region province of Ifugao and was dubbed as "A Journey From Land to the Sky."
|A warm welcome at Calapan Port|
|Our police escort|
Dubbed the "Oriental Mindoro Cruise Drive Caravan: Escaping the Urban, Sailing the Southwest, Enjoying a Roadtrip Adventure to Paradise," it was sponsored by the Oriental Mindoro provincial government and Petron and 23 participants joined the caravan, some of them veterans of the previous Ifugao caravan.
|Lunch at Benilda ng Bancuro Resort & Restaurant|
|An array of Oriental Mindoro products|
Also with the group were AAP Travel Vice-President Ms. Eva Carmona; AAP Travel staff Ms. Maricel "Cel" C. Quiestas (Project Officer) and Mr. Michael "Mike" Quiterio (Project Assistant); AAP travel writer and photographer Ms. Sheena Ferrer; DOT representative Mr. Gabby Gonzales; and yours truly. At the last minute, AAP Director Ms. Mina Gabor had to back out from the trip due to illness.
|Participants at Simbahan Bato|
|Mr. Orlando Tizon of Provincial Tourism Office|
After a trip of a little over an hour, we safely arrived at Calapan Port and were all welcomed by a marching band, welcome leis and Provincial Tourism officials led by Supervising Tourism Operations Officer Mr. Orlando "Oti" Tizon. Our 6-van caravan was accompanied by a police escort and the route facilitated by members of the Motorcycle Riders Club of Oriental Mindoro. They were to accompany us throughout our 3-day caravan.
|Participants at Bonifacio Monument in Naujan Plaza|
|Naujan Mayor Mark Marcos (left) with participants |
at Naujan Plaza
After a filling repast, we toured its facilities - restaurant, swimming pool, overnight accommodations and a beautiful garden with numerous trees and ornamental plants, a wishing well and huge statues of the Three Wise Monkeys.
|The caravan's arrival at Filipiniana Calapan Hotel|
|Suite at Filipiniana Calapan Hotel|
A small, native-style chapel (literally “a church within a church”) was built within its massive walls.
|Provincial board member Paul Luna|
From Naujan, we made our way back to Calapan City, this time to check in at some of the 50 stylishly-appointed rooms of the 4-storey, 4-star Filipianiana Calapan Hotel, the best in the city. After settling in and freshening up, we left the hotel at 7 PM for dinner at Donnyland Resort. Here, we met up with Mr. Mon Rocamora and Ist District Provincial Board member Mr. Paul Luna.
|With the Pandang Gitab Dance Troupe|
|Clocel hitting the notes with the videoke|
The caravan participants were enjoined to try it, following the graceful, shallow gyrating of the dancers' hips and torso and the gentle, side-to-side swinging of their hands, careful not to drop their candle-on-glass on both palms and on their heads.
|Halcon Bar & Resto|
|Merl's Native Delicacies|
Breakfast, the next day, was served at at the hotel's Halcon Bar & Resto, facing the free-form swimming pool. From the hotel, we made a stopover at Merl's Native Delicacies where we all did some pasalubong shopping (okoy, suman sa lihiya, native coffee, pastillas, yema, banana chips, etc.).
The next two days were to be Puerto Galera, the province’s No. 1 tourist destination but, prior to going there, we were treated to a cool and refreshing swim and a delicious lunch along a developed portion of the Lantuyang River in Baco.
A long picnic table, filled with grilled specialties (pork chops and chicken), vegetable salad, labong (bamboo shoot) salad and salted duck eggs, plus pineapples for dessert, was prepared for us on banana leaves.
|Dining al fresco on boulder tables and chairs|
|Crossing the Lantuyang Hanging Bridge|
After lunch, we all continued on our way to Puerto Galera. Halfway along the road, we made a short stopover at Tamaraw Waterfalls, the largest waterfall in the province, for some photo ops.
We all arrived at the Puerto Galera municipal hall by 2:45 PM and we were supposed to pay a courtesy call on Mayor Hubbert Dolor. However, an unexpected emergency prevented him from meeting up with us.
With Ms. Aileen N. Bareng (Senior Tourism Operations Officer of Puerto Galera), we next visited the Talipanan Iraya-Mangyan Village where we welcomed by caretaker Fabian "Pabling" de Jesus.
|Puerto Galera Municipal Hall|
|Iraya Mangyan nito weavers|
We also toured the numerous projects covering education, livelihood development, housing management and health that the Ayala Foundation, with the help of Ms. Beatriz “Bea” Zobel (wife of businessman and philanthropist Don Jaime Zobel de Ayala), have been implementing for these Iraya-Mangyans.
|Caravan participants exploring the village|
|Suite at Marco Vincent Resort|
Come evening, we all met up for dinner at the beachfront Aqua Bar & Restaurant where, while dining, we were treated to a fire dance performance.
|Marco Vincent Resort's 75 sq. m. swimming pool|
Come morning of the last caravan day, after breakfast at Marivelles Restaurant at the top floor of Marco Vincent Dive Resort, we were driven to the town’s seaside tourism information office.
|Dinner at the beachfront Aqua Bar & Restaurant|
The boat trip took a little over 30 mins. and we made landfall at the white sand beach fronting the unfinished Friday Boquete Resort. Here, we were to have lunch at one of its picnic sheds.
|Boarding boat for Boquete Island|
|Fridays Boquete Beach Resort|
Of those who availed of the banana boating, half opted for its milder form (no overturning) while Eva, Cel, Mike, Sheena, Gabby and yours truly went extreme and were rewarded with three dunkings, the last one when we were returning to shore.
|Participants riding the banana boat|
|The underwater cave|
Of those who availed of the latter package, only Sheena and I were able to visit the underwater cave because of the long queue to get in. We were also the last boat to return. After a quick lunch, Sheena, Sienna, Gabby and I boarded our boat back to the mainland.
|Sheena posing by the cave's skylight|
Automobile Association Philippines (AAP): 28 EDSA, Greenhills, San Juan City. Tel: (632) 655-5889. Fax: (632) 655-1878. E-mail: email@example.com. Website: www.aap.org.ph.
AAP Travel: G/F, Sea Tower Bldg., 2332 Roxas Blvd. cor. Arnaiz Ave., Pasay City. Tel: (632) 551-0025. Fax: (632) 551-0014. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Website:www.aaptravel.com.ph.
Provincial Tourism Office: Provincial Capitol, Calapan City, Mindoro Oriental. Tel: (043) 286-7046 and (043) 441-0306.
Benilda ng Bancuro Resort & Restaurant: Brgy. Bancuro, Naujan, Oriental Mindoro. Tel: (043) 208-3628 and (043) 208-3218. Mobile number: (0999) 177-8762. E-mail: email@example.com.
Filipiniana Resort Hotel Calapan: M. Roxas St.,Brgy. Sto. Niño, 5200 Calapan City, Oriental Mindoro. Tel: (043) 286-2624 to 25 and (043) 288-2460. Fax: (043) 286-2622. Mobile numbers: (0932) 977-8900 (Sun), (0918) 975-1558 (Smart) and (0916) 677-0184 (Globe). Manila booking office: 7/F, RGV Bldg., 5470 Osmena Highway, 1233 Makati City. Tel: (632) 887-0063, (632) 887-1501, (632) 887-1502, (632) 664-6510 and (632) 843-1279. Mobile number: (0923) 800-6379 (Sun). E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Website: www.filipinianacalapan.com.
Merl's Native Delicacies: 146 Ubas St., Brgy. Lalud 5200, Calapan City, Oriental Mindoro. Tel: (043) 927-4350 and (043) 286-7684. Fax: (043) 426-4784 and (043) 920-2018. Mobile numbers: (0917) 707-4803 and (0922) 847-3458. Open daily, 7:30 AM - 8 PM.
Marco Vincent Dive Resort: White Beach: 5203 Puerto Galera, Mindoro Oriental. Tel: (043) 287-3590. Website: www.marcovincent.com. Calapan City booking office: Marco Vincent Residence Inn, Boniifacio St. Tel: (043) 441-0235. Fax: (043) 441-0239-40. Batangas City booking office: Batangas Pier. Tel: (043) 723-0983. Manila booking office: Unit 503, Cityland 10, Tower II, 156 H.V. De la Costa St., Salcedo Village, Makati City. Tel: (632) 813-6329. Fax: (632) 892-0309. E-mail: email@example.com and firstname.lastname@example.org.