Masbate is a largely rural island province, part of Bicol region in the Philippines. It consists of three major islands: Masbate island proper, Ticao and Burias. It is grouped with Bicol administratively, but its local culture and languages are Visayan rather than Bicolano.
- 1 Masbate City - provincial capital
- 2 Cawayan - port town, known for its seafood and natural attractions
Masbate, lying off between the southern tip of Luzon and the islands of the Visayas, is the melting pot of Bicolano and Visayan cultures. Masbate residents are called Masbateños, and while the province is grouped with Bicol, Masbateño culture is more Visayan than Bicolano.
Masbate has the oldest known settlements in the Philippines, being settled at around 4000-3000 BC. The island is colonized in 1569 by Spaniards seeking its gold mines and Masbate (then spelled Masbat) served as a major waypoint for the historic Manila-Acapulco galleons. Until it became its own province, Masbate was part of Albay, and also Sorsogon, for a decade between 1908 and 1917 after being ravaged by a typhoon.
Masbate's economy is reliant on livestock, copra and gold mining, but poverty is widespread across the province, with 33% of the population living below the poverty line in 2018. Most products sold in Masbate have to be imported from other islands.
- Provincial Tourism Center and Cultural Office, Provincial Hospital Rd, Capitol Grounds, Ibangay, Masbate City, ☏ .
The main language in Masbate is Masbatenyo (Minasbate, also spelled Masbateño), a Visayan language with Bikol influence, and forms the so-called Bisakol group. Hiligaynon and Cebuano are also spoken; the former being the native language of residents at the southeastern part of Masbate Island. Masbatenyo and Hiligaynon are mutually intelligible, and both languages have similar vocabularies.
- Daily bus trips via roll-on, roll-off ships are available from Cubao and Alabang to Masbate via the following ports and bus lines:
- Bicol Isarog Bus Lines: route from Cubao via Port of Pio Duran. Rates are: ₱2,200 for deluxe trips, ₱1,250 for regular aircon trips and ₱1,000 for ordinary trips.
- Raymond Transportation: route from Cubao via Port of Pio Duran, Albay.
- Elavil Tours Phil. Inc.: route from Cubao via Port of Pio Duran, Albay
- Superlines, Inc.: newest route from Cubao-Masbate via Port of San Andres, Quezon; one lay-over at Burias Island.
- Montenegro Shipping Lines and RORO Bus from Cebu Province. The Montenegro shipping lines RORO ferry departs from Cataingan port 77 km (48 mi) south of Masbate city going to Bogo on Cebu Island. The ferry departs Cataingan port every day at noon. the trip takes six hours.
- There is an A/C bus which goes to the Montenegro booking office in Masbate City port from Cebu City every day at 8:30AM. The fare is ₱800 to Cebu City and ₱700 to Bogo City.
- From to Pilar in the province of Sorsogon. By fastcraft or RORO ferry, Montengro Shipping lines fastcraft takes 2½ hours, and the Montenegro RORO ferry takes 4½ hours. The fare for the fastcraft is ₱396 + ₱15 port fee. For the RORO ferry the fare is ₱296 + ₱15 port fee from Pilar port gate there are vans from Legazpi City (one hour) with a fare of ₱100.
- From Cebu city Cokaliong Shipping lines, c/o First Choice Travel Agency Masbate port gate, tickets for sale Monday to Saturday 8AM-5PM. Cokaliong has a ferry from Cebu city once a week on Saturday at 7PM. Non-A/C fare: ₱750 each way. The tourist class A/C fare is ₱890 each way.
- From Mandaon port a ₱125 van ride.
- There are pump boats from Roxas in Panay.
Outside of Masbate City, transportation is limited to tricycles for short distances and buses and UV Express vans for longer distances. Buses make stops at various points along the two-lane paved highway that runs from Masbate City to the western and southern points on the island, while UV Express do the route without stopping, though there are also illegal services that stop practically anywhere and must be avoided.
There is a bus station in Masbate City where you can catch a van or buses going to most places in Masbate Island. The van fare from Masbate City to Mandaon is ₱125.
For buses going northbound in the province (i.e. Aroroy, Baleno, Milagros, Mandaon, and Balud), ordinary bus rates will range from ₱40-200, depending on distance covered.
For faster travel, UV Express reach most towns in mainland Masbate, with point-to-point fares starting from ₱108.
- Bituon Beach is a small private beach south of the barangay of Mobo where guests can stay overnight in bungalows.
- Rodeo Masbateño is held annually.
- Magcaraguit island in Dimassalang, Masbate offers white sand beaches.
- Swimming with manta rays. Dive and swim with the manta rays in Ticao Island.
- Buntod Sandbar. A 10-minute boat ride from the city will take you to Buntod Sandbar, which vanishes during high tide.
- The Rodeo Masbateno is held annually every 2nd week of April. Unlike the US rodeo, the Philippine rodeo is more of a ranch practice in handling the cattle that was turned into a game. The events consist of casting down, carambola, steer roping, steer wrestling, bull riding, load carrying and whip cracking. There are two categories for participants: student and professional. Under each category, there are women’s and men’s divisions.
Malls & supermarkets
- Gaisano Capital Mall Masbate, Cagba Street & Central Nautical Highway (400 m south of Masbate airport). 10AM-8PM. Has a Jolibee.
- LCC Department Store and Supermarket, Zurbito street (next to masbate port). 8AM-8PM.
- Novo Department Store, Quezon Street. 9AM-7PM.
- LCC Express Mart Supermarket, Quezon Street.. 8AM-9PM.