Occidental Mindoro’s Scenic Gateway
Text by GELYKA RUTH R. DUMARAOS
Photos by RAMIR G. CAMBIADO
WHEN WE SAY OCCIDENTAL Mindoro, most may likely associate the province with the famous Apo Reef and Pandan Island in Sablayan, when it comes to tourist spots. To get there–and in different towns in the province—is the unassuming yet promising town of Abra de Ilog.
Abra de Ilog, which simply means “opening of a river,” is a serene and quiet town that serves as the only gateway to Occidental Mindoro. Probably what makes the town busy and noisy in a day is when a RORO ship docks in its port, carrying with it hundreds of locals and tourists alike eager to visit what Occidental Mindoro has to offer.
But one needs not to look farther. Abra de Ilog is an emerging destination tourists can add to their travel destinations.
BIKING AROUND TOWN
Abra de Ilog is an emerging place for bike enthusiasts. Recently, it has opened trails around town, through the initiative Padyak Tamaraw Bike Ride, where locals and visiting bikers can marvel on the raw beauty of the town in two wheels. Indeed, what more could be more enjoying than biking around town and getting fit while being in a place so scenic and peaceful?
There are the two trails that are now open for mountain biking for beginners and intermediate bikers. The first one will lead you towards the Puerto Galera side, consisting of uphill and downhill ride. However, the road to Oriental Mindoro is still not yet finished. Cemented pavements good for biking is only within Abra de Ilog. Nevertheless, bikers still get a pleasant view of the town’s array of mountains, its port, and the sea, as well as get to pass by Mangyan villages located in the hillside.
The second trail, meanwhile, showcases three waterfalls that can be explored in a day—Papali, Agbalala, and Apyas Falls. See below for sample Day Trip Itinerary.
Abra de Ilog boasts of several waterfalls that surrounds the town. As written earlier, the most popular of which are Papali, Agbalala, and Apyas.
According to locals, there are still unexplored falls which are yet to be opened to the public.
As for the sea, Abra de Ilog has Munting Buhangin beach in Barangay Udalo, which is a 20-minute boat ride away from the port. Pick-ups from the port to the beach need to be pre-arranged. There is an array of resorts to choose from there.
This white beach boasts of rock formations displayed by the seaside that is partnered with the vibrant calmness that is offered by the sun, the sand and the waves, and the sea.
It has been said that 40 percent of the population of Abra de Ilog are the Mangyan, specifically the Iraya group.
Iraya-Mangyans have adopted the lowland people’s way of living, especially through the way they dress. They are also skilled in weaving and handicrafts.
In the town, one of the most evident villages of the ethnic group is located in Barangay Lumang Bayan, located near the port.
Aside from Abra de Ilog, Iraya-Mangyans live in other towns in Occidental Mindoro like Palaun, Sta. Cruz, and Mamburao, as well as in some places in Oriental Mindoro.
IRAYA HOTEL AND RESTAURANT
Iraya Hotel, named to pay tribute to Iraya-Mangyans, is the only hotel in Abra de Ilog. A 24-hour stay costs PhP 1,500.00. Rooms are clean and comfortable with a single bed, good for two persons only. It also has TV, built in telephone and side table. Bathrooms have heater.
At the port, there are a bunch of eateries to choose from. But I suggest you try Iraya Restaurant for its big lomi serving as well as other food options like bulalo, silog orders, and pancit at a very affordable price. TP