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Burias island town fast becoming new tourist destination

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Tales about the hidden wonders of this municipality are starting to be told as local government leaders find it fitting for the place to be among Bicol’s tourist havens.

San Pascual is a 4th-class municipality which is one of the two townships occupying Burias, one of the three major islands of the province of Masbate aside from the mainland and Ticao.

Mayor Job Willard Rivera said they do not want to be left behind by other places in the region “that has been economically growing owing to the impressive development and promotion being initiated in favor of their tourism industry”.

According to Wikipedia, the island of Masbate is considered as the center of the Philippines located between latitudes 11°43’ north and 123°09’ east and 124°5’ east. It is bounded on the north by Burias and Ticao Pass, east by San Bernardino Strait, south by the Visayan Sea, and west by the Sibuyan Sea. Relative to mainland Bicol, the province faces the southwestern coasts of Camarines Sur, Albay, and Sorsogon.

Tourists wanting to discover Burias Island may opt to take the easier route using the Masbate City airport. Mayor Rivera said the travel, particularly for those who love nature, history and culture, will surely be very rewarding.

For those who want some pieces of history, this municipality, according to Rivera is home to the St. Paschal Baylon Parish Church which is reputed to be among the oldest churches in the Philippines.

While no extant record of its construction date is known, the mayor said it is believed that the church’s original structure was built in 1571, about the same time as that of San Agustin Church in Intramuros, Manila – a UNESCO( United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) World Heritage Site title holder.

The municipal hall is also a historical landmark as its original structure, particularly the façade which is being preserved in respect of the town’s glorious past, dates back in the 1930s.

“We also have the Laurente Ancient Burial Ground where rare archaeological artifacts were unearthed in Barangay Laurente a few years ago,” he said.

A good number of primary and secondary burial jars which contained chinaware, ceramics, beads and other antiques were among the find, the mayor added.

Next is the Guindoyanan Point Sunken Galleon which serves as the heart or geographic center of the Philippine archipelago.

“One need not take pains to see why as a closer look at the center of a quartered Philippine map will point you to this exact place. This is just one side of it as when we talk of sunken galleon, it will sound more interesting,” he said.

Galleons are huge cargo ships built in the Philippines by Spaniards from 1565 until 1815 during Spain’s colonial rule in the country. These ships sailed between Manila and Acapulco for 300 years packed with precious cargo from the marketplaces of Manila and Mexico.

These loaded galleons always took the same route through the narrow, treacherous straits of the east-central Philippines and most likely struck coral reefs and sank off the coast of the Philippine island near Samar. Burias Island is not far from Samar.

This town also boasts of its Mapanique Creek Flying Fox Sanctuary.

Living up to its name, Barangay Mapanique plays host to a number of species of flying foxes, (a kind of big fruit eating bats) which are mostly seen hanging on branches of “calumpang” trees during the day and start their flying and feeding activities at the evening twilight.

Rivera said their fascinating wild life also features the “tabon” or scrubfowl, a rare and endangered species of bird which can be found in the idyllic part of the town.

The municipality also has Tinalisayan Islets and Sandbar for nature tripping or island hoping.

This chain of islets, Rivera said, offers the best getaway for nature-trippers who could watch migratory birds going about in one of the islets’ sandbar as well as for sports enthusiasts who indulge in activities like scuba diving, snorkeling, jet skiing, kayaking and rock-climbing, among others.

Put the features of Boracay and Tawi-Tawi’s Turtle Island into one and you have Sombrero Island Sea Turtle Sanctuary, which has pristine white sand beach sans the urban hustle, and the ecological attraction of sea turtles coming offshore to lay eggs.

Sombrero is a hat-shaped (thus the name) islet at the middle of Burias Pass that belongs to the political jurisdiction of this town.

“This is a must visit place for tourists because its rich biodiversity of marine ecosystem that offers a once in a lifetime experience to those who love to commune with nature. The secrets of Sombrero and its neighboring islets are exciting to discover,” according to Rivera.

Near Sombrero is the Animasola Island, described by the mayor as an exotic skin diving spot shrouded in mystery.

“Right in the middle of sparkling blue water bestrewn with odd-shaped, even bizarre-looking, rocks makes this island seem surreal. Discovering how enchanting this island is would be a once-in-a-lifetime experience,” he said.

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