The Ultimate Masasa Beach Guide for Non-Millennials
Preface: This post is what I would consider a semi-recall post. The first 700 words were written immediately after our trip, which was on March 18-19, 2017. The rest, I wrote 15 months after the fact, so forgive me if some of my specifics are outdated.
Disclaimer: This is, by all means, a personal account of my experience in Masasa Beach. I’m not here to sell you on anything, nor to please anyone (institutions included) not worth pleasing. This is also not a guide—although you will find some very cool ninja tips here—so use with your own discretion.
Ang daming sinabi. Article starts below.
When it comes to vacations, I am at a point in my life wherein I would seriously reconsider if one of these is missing: aircon, heated shower, decent internet connection, duvet-covered bed (okay, maybe not the last one).
So, yes, basically anything that starts with “cam” and ends with “ping” is a definite NO. Don’t get me wrong, I am not high maintenance, I’m just done with that cowboy shit. I realize, I didn’t really enjoy it much during my younger years, so why bother now? In other words, I came to my senses and became real (naks).
Kaya ko, pero ayaw ko.
And so, when asked why I chose not to go to a recent one-day hiking adventure with my wife and her cousins, I crassly said, “Ang sarap-sarap sa bahay, eh.”
But because married life is all about compromises—and because all I could come up with was a Family Computer reissue for her last birthday gift—I knew a sacrifice was up and about.
I then asked, “Anong gusto mo sa birthday mo?” To which she replied, “Ewan ko, pero gusto kong bumalik sa Masasa.”
Of course, I couldn’t say no. Not that I wanted to, mind you, and to be honest, the thought of having a mini adventure without parental responsibility actually excited me.
Me, her, Batangas. #justliketheolddays
(Okay, there were actually five of us. But heck, the more the merrier, right? Plus, I can afford to sit pretty all the more because I can delegate tasks to others. #waysofthetito)
Let’s start with a mini travel guide, shall we?
How to go to Masasa Beach (from Alabang)
- Ride a bus from South Station Alabang to Batangas Grand Terminal (less than Php 200)
- Take a jeep from Batangas Grand Terminal to Anilao Port (less than Php 50)
- Ride the boat going to Tingloy (less than Php 150 including environmental fee)
For the rest of you non-Alabangers, simply figure out a way to get to Anilao Port—the one with the palengke and the small Petron.
One hell of a port
Anilao Port is a small, very unorganized port. If you want to bring a car, this is where you’ll have to leave it. However, the chances of getting a good parking slot here is minimal at best, unless you want to arrive before the sun rises. So, yes, we’d rather commute. #justliketheolddaysagain
Now, here’s where it gets hellish. Once you reach the port, be prepared for battle. Because Masasa has been trending for quite some time now, Anilao Port—the only starting point to get there—gets really crowded. The waiting time? For us, 3 fucking hours. We arrived at around 11:00 AM; we literally first set foot on the boat at around 2:30 PM. No kidding. That 3 hours includes the time you will have to fall in line to reserve a seat (or seats if you’re the representative in your group) under the burning sun. Yes, zero shade sa pila. After that, some more waiting for your boat to arrive until you finally board.
Major rant alert
Motherfucking maraming sumisingit sa pila dito. Be prepared to be brave. Try your best to say or shout something if someone cuts in, even if parinig lang. The people will back you up. Always be aware of who’s in front of you. There are many “fixers” there as the locals have found a way to profit by “lining up” for the travelers.
On your way to Tingloy
If you haven’t figured out by now, Masasa Beach is on a separate island. It’s called Tingloy and it’s between the Batangas mainland and Mindoro, albeit significantly closer to the mainland. The boat ride will take about 45 minutes, maybe 1 hour tops. The boats are your typical 60-to-80-capacity dual-katig wooden boats with super smoke-belching diesel truck engines.
Fact: These boats will either drop you off at Tingloy port or on Masasa Beach itself (if you’re lucky). You cannot choose the final destination even if you wanted to. It’s on a rotation system known only to them, so you’d have to deal with whichever boat you chance upon.
Unfortunately, we got the former so we disembarked on Tingloy port. Because of this, we had to do an additional tricycle ride, plus a 1-, maybe 1.5-kilometer trek to reach the actual beach.
The Tito perspective
Did you know that electricity in Masasa is in shifting mode? I’m not sure if this goes for the whole of Tingloy, but electricity is automatically cut off at 12:00 AM and goes back 12:00 PM. During our stay, it was cut off at around 11:30 PM. So, what happens after 12:00 AM? Pretty much the same. Masasa-goers are the type who don’t need electricity to have a good time. Inuman sa beach, night swimming, kung anu-anong ka-millenial-an, etc.
Masasa is not commercialized (as of 2017). As in not at all. There are no resorts, no bars, no restaurants. Lodging is done by way of finding locals willing to lend their houses, so rates vary invariably. Tents are allowed and we did see many happy campers, but I’m not sure where the designated areas are (if any), and how the whole bathroom situation is dealt with.
By the way, yes, we were able to rent a small family’s entire house. It had a bathroom, a kitchen area, and an elevated sleeping/living area. It was alright because we had it to ourselves. Because in my opinion, privacy is the only buyable (is that a word?) luxury here. Where did the owners sleep, you ask? Oh, we kicked them out. But that’s how it really works.
Virgin beach and how to survive
Like I said, Masasa is not commercialized so I guess you can brand it as fresh, virgin, untapped, Boracay noon, etc. Okay, I wouldn’t go as far as saying it’s Boracay pre-exploitation, just maybe Puerto Galera White Beach at best. (Hey, that’s saying a lot because PG was really beautiful back then.) So, I guess it would be wise to sum it up as an outstanding addition to the list of accessible, no-plane-ride-needed beaches from Metro Manila.
Food and drinks (eating, drinking) are somewhat of an inconvenience. Don’t think for a second that you can survive here so long as you have some spare cash in your pocket Manila-style. Meals are something that you have to prepare for. There are sari-sari stores, though, so if you’re fine with pansit everything, be my guest. And because this was the missus’ second time, we came prepared with frozen meats, canned goods, and even bigas.
Side story: I saw a barkada (all boys) lug a full-sized cooler filled with beers from the mainland to Tingloy. And mind you, this is not of the Coleman type—think Coke coolers used in food markets/bazaars. As for us, I was tasked to carry a 5-liter mineral water . Tanggal-kamay sarap.
Recent update/addition (08/04/18): I was able to find data signal that’s good enough for some must-do work, but it was such a pain.
The beach and the mini lagoon
You can walk the entire length of the beach from end to end. On the far right (if you’re on the ocean and looking at the shore) is another beach that is rockier. On the far left, well, that’s where Mother Nature came to play. Here you’ll find intricate rock formations that gave rise to a breathtaking mini lagoon. A short trek is needed to reach the place, but I will go insofar as saying that it’s safe even for kids.
Unfortunately, we weren’t able to go snorkeling so I have nothing to say about the corals. However, this is Batangas-Mindoro so I’m guessing it’s world class. The water is helluva clear, though, and the gradient of the descent is very mild and swimming friendly.
Going back home, another battle
Let’s just say the most
unforgettable forgettable moments of this trip all happened during the waiting-for-the-boat times. The port and whoever’s in charge of boat traffic (coast guard?) are simply not ready for the influx of travelers who crowd the docks on season, much like an H&M store opening. It’s scary because people get anxious and become unruly, and it’s always at the brink of getting all out of control—add to that that it all happens under the piercing heat of direct sunlight.
As much as I want Masasa Beach to stay virgin forever, I’d be fine if it were the last time I see it. As the title says, I’m (already a) corny tito and I’ve had my fair share of anything-goes, walang-kinabukasan adventures. Masasa is good for that; it’s also good for off-the-grid escapes or if you want to take a break from the internet and social media, and simply enjoy nature for a while.
As for its future, I’d honestly be surprised if it doesn’t get commercialized anytime soon. Let’s just hope the developers or would-be small business owners do it in a tasteful manner.
Masasa Beach is excellent for the young ones, but not the young once. I would not even recommend it for a family vacation (with kids, elders), but that’s just me. Not in its current virgin state, at least.