Rombo Balabac: An island-hopping safari

Cape Melville Lighthouse

Constructed in 1892, the lighthouse in Cape Melville, Balabac is among the country’s oldest light towers.

The first time I heard about Balabac was when I was commissioned to do a 2012 calendar featuring Philippine lighthouses. That time, my interest in this remote town at the southwestern tip of Palawan was solely on its Cape Melville lighthouse. Little did I know that there is more to Balabac than its ancient light tower!

Balabac: Palawan’s “South Sea Pearl”

The municipality of Balabac is composed of 14 baranggays spread across 33 islands and islets, the largest of which are:

  • Balabac, its socio-economic-political center;
  • Bugsuk, where Jewelmer Joaillerie operates a vast pearl farm;
  • Pandanan, home to various endemic species of birds, including the katala or Philippine cockatoo;
  • Ramos, which — locals say — was the real site of Gen. Douglas McArthur’s first landing after his “I shall return” promise;
  • Bancalan; and
  • Mantangule.
Balabac Municipal Hall

Balabac Municipal Hall

Located about 30 km southwest of the southern tip of Palawan, its Poblacion in the main island of Balabac is roughly twice that distance north of the island of Sabah, Malaysia.

The Molbogs, a Muslim ethnolinguistic group, is concentrated in this island. Their livelihood includes farming, fishing and barter trading with the nearby Sulu, Bangsamoro, and Sabah market centers.

Balabac is blessed with magnificent coral reefs or ‘bahura’ , and is particularly noted for its rare glory-of-the-seas cone shells. Sightings of the elusive dwarf spinner dolphins have also been recorded in the waters of Balabac, as well as Irrawaddy and bottle-nose dolphins. Its waters is also home to several species of marine turtles. It is not uncommon to be swimming with a Hawkbill every now and then.

Many of the straits and passes; coves, beaches and sandbars; caves and caverns; and islets and rock formations are yet to be explored and charted. If Palawan is the Philippines’ last frontier, then hands-down, Balabac is Palawan’s!

Rombo Balabac!

“Rombo” in the dialect of the natives here means: Let’s go!… or in Filipino, Tara!

But first, here’s a teaser:

Next: Punta Sibaring >>>

About Seeing with Brahmin eyes
My sense of humor can be keen, sarcastic, silly or corny -- sometimes all at once. I enjoy meeting new people with no preconceived ideas about what or what is not possible. You get much more out of life by being open minded and willing. I'm an easy going, good-natured person who loves life and loves people. I'm both optimistic and realistic and pretty objective when it comes to assessing situations, events, etc. In general I am a very positive person and you'll usually find we with a smile on my face.

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