“Come with me and you’ll be in a world of pure imagination. Take a look and you’ll see, into your imagination… if you want to view paradise, simply look around and view it, anyway you want to, do it…” This Pure Imagination song of Gene Wilder from the Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, is so apt when you visit Puerto Galera. It’s simply paradise.
Let me then transport you to Puerto Galera, Oriental Mindoro, one of the three places in the Philippines recognized by UNESCO as” Man and Biosphere Reserve” in 1973.
The other two are Palawan and Albay. The place is great for diving, snorkeling, kayaking and hiking to waterfalls. As some books mentioned, the place is comparable to Boracay and Palawan. Can you imagine a “tanders” or senior citizen like me being persuaded by my sons and daughters to go snorkeling? It is amazing to see under water schools of fishes, sea cucumbers and coral reefs up close.
But of course, my son had to secure me with a life vest, as a precaution just in case I panicked. He and my daughter gently guided me towards the corals. The place also just started to accept visitors after the pandemic. Puerto Galera’s livelihood is largely dependent on tourism.
We went to Fridays Puerto Galera, a beautiful resort that offered promotional rates as it just opened and the days were limited from Fridays to Sundays. Yes, only three days in a week.
We left Baguio via Victory Liner Bus to Cubao on a Thursday night, so we could catch the 3:00 .am. Friday schedule of the Jam Liner Bus at Buendia. There are other bus lines to take going to the pier. For us, it was the most convenient. It was a four-hour bus ride to a modernized Batangas Pier. Then another hour and a half ferry ride to Balatero Pier.
When we disembarked at the Balatero Pier we took a 10 minute tricycle ride to Muelle Port. But before going to the Port for transfer to Fridays Puerto Galera, we stopped over at Roby’s Place for an early lunch of sumptuous pizza and rice with toppings. Roby’s was a quaint little Italian restaurant whose home made pizzas were delicious. The place offered a variety of wines with prices ranging from seven hundred pesos to forty thousand pesos! We were good with water and soda.
Then it was a five-minute walk to Muelle Port, where a replica of Spanish Galleon sat at bay. We took a smaller boat to go to Fridays Puerto Galera. It took another 10 minutes to reach the place. Voila!
The place was beautiful and enchanting. Because we arrived early for the usual check in time, we stayed at their main Al Fresco dining area for awhile.
The service of the staff was exemplary, from the ones manning the restaurant: Jerome Meniano, John Lloyd Visaya, Mark Harvie Binay, Rocky Glenn Cenize and Jemuel Bunquin to the activity center personnel Darwin Magsino. Boatmen Nilbert Barcasio and Ramsis Cusiwere extremely helpful. Security personnel John Lloyd Bersaba with Roderic Alancado and front desk Marivic Magsino were all accommodating.
That is what one calls in the tourism lingo, “world-class service”. We did not meet General Manager Vincent Santiago, but just the same bravo to his staff for their superb service.
It was indeed such a special experience for our family. For our last night on the island, Jerome and Harvie prepared our table, complete with fairy lights. It made our trip so much more memorable. The Fridays Team was so accommodating, friendly, kind and provided us with the best service. We are sure to come back.
Fridays Puerto Galera has about five cottages. Each cottage has three rooms on different levels. The nearer your cottage is to the beach area, the higher the rate. It had huge beds and the rooms were equipped with air-conditioners, hot and cold showers, wireless Internet, 49-inch cable TVs, coffee and tea making facilities, safety deposit boxes and bathroom amenities. They have a bar and restaurant with al fresco dining and a swimming pool with a kiddie pool area. My apo was not allowed to swim at the beach area so he sparingly used the pool.
We ended our fascination with Puerto Galera with the continuation of Gene Wilder’s song, “There is no life I know, to compare with pure imagination. Living there, you’ll be free, if you truly want to be.”
Yes, every once in awhile, we should plan a getaway that will make us forget our anxieties and worries, whatever they may be. Tara na, byahe nasa Puerto Galera!