While most people radiate towards white sand beaches for a quick escape, the small sleepy seaside town of Lobo in Batangas breaks out from the norm. Its beaches are not the usual fare. It is equally beautiful with its rugged and rough seascape.
A Spanish period lighthouse was Lobo's eyecandy to me. It took months of finding the right time to go out and explore this side of Batangas. And when I finally did one lazy Saturday, I packed my stuff to endure the 4-hour travel capped by its winding roads that cut through the steep mountain terrains that border Batangas City and Lobo.
Welcome to Lobo, Batangas
Dubbed as the "Atis Capital of the Philippines", Lobo sits along the southern shore of the province facing Isla Verde and Mindoro. The town was abuzz at the time of our visit because it coincided with their town fiesta. So the streets were garbed with colorful buntings, parade floats were zooming past, and the locals were in a more festive mood. But I reckon that its laidback atmosphere dominates most of its 365-days.
Exploring the town is relatively easy. At the heart of the town is the community multi-purpose hall, a small leisure park, and its pasalubong center. The Lobo Municipal Hall sits right across the multi-purpose hall while the public market is on the opposite side. Fresh produce are the best finds in Lobo.
Foodstop: Pasalubong Center and Cafe
The Pasalubong Center and Cafe in the town of Lobo is more than just a hub for pasalubong. It is an IG worthy spot and a great place to eat in Lobo.
The wooden interior, the wooden swing, and the 180-degree view of the town center is creatively appealing to guests of Lobo. It is very cozy and homey as you enjoy watching the daily grind of locals. The design is enough to spark your creativity for that IG worthy shot.
But the beyond the art in its interiors, the food offerings is also worth checking out. A must-try is the adobong tulingan - a skipjack tuna viand cooked in soy and vinegar. It is so yummy that the dish alone makes the 4-hour trip worth it. Of course, there is also the suman and ripe mangoes dipped in tsokolate to cap off a great lunch.
The center is also a one-stop shop for pasalubongs. They have a wide selection of souvenir items and local products - from coffee grains to honey.
A short ride away from the Poblacion is the Lobo River. The water of the river flows down from the mountains downstream and exits to the Verde Passage. The river is also believed to be one of the possible root of the name of the town.
A good vantage point to view the river is the bridge that connects Poblacion and Malabrigo. It gives you a panoramic view of the river with the mountain ranges in its background or the river at it runs towards the sea.
Malabrigo View Deck
Located along the national road, the viewing deck offers a 180-degree view of Malabrigo's rugged coastline.
The park was developed by the local government for visitors to have a quick overview of Malabrigo's famed rocky shoreline. The park was landscaped with concrete benches that one can sit on and admire the view. A staircase leads down to the beach for easier access to those who want to explore the beach below the deck.
Faro de Punta de Malabrigo
At the heart of Lobo's tourism is a Spanish-period lighthouse - the Malabrigo Lighthouse. Declared as a National Historical Landmark in 2006, the Faro de Punta de Malabrigo is one of two Spanish-period lighthouses in the province of Batangas. It was designed by Guillermo Brockman and was built by Jose Garcia in 1896. It guides ships navigating through the Isla Verde Passage.
Its cylindrical light tower and the adjacent pavilion is one of the most preserved Spanish-period structure that I have ever checked on. My mind was fluttering through images of how the compound became a mute witness to the pains and gains of the Philippines as a nation. How many famous people walked through its corridors? I am really not sure but it was a nice thought as I sat in one of its corners and admired its structure and its history.
The Malabrigo Lighthouse is one structure where you don't only get to admire it from afar. It is one historical structure that you can walk its hallways, touch its walls, or sit in one of its corners. Its well-preserved structure allows you to romanticize history while enjoying the peaceful ambiance that the sea and nature offers.
Malabrigo Rock Beaches
Lobo has a very odd way of standing out. While most beaches in Batangas offer sandy beachfronts ranging from white sand to darker shades, its clear and azure waters break on rounded rocks or pebbles along the shores of Malabrigo.
A trail from the Malabrigo Lighthouse leads down to its popular rocky shoreline. Rounded rocks of different sizes are the stars of its shore so wearing protective footwear is a must. The sound of water breaking on the shoreline and the rustling sound of leaves dancing with the blowing wind is enough to relax the mind and the soul. For those intending to stay a little longer, there are huts for rent in the area and it costs Php500 for a day's use. But if you are staying for just a short while, the caretakers are kind enough to use for free provided that there are no other paying guests.
The rocky shoreline is a staple in Lobo. It is the kind of beach that requires a different kind of appreciation. One benefit of its rocky shores is that the beach does not have much guests. It is a good beach spot for those who just wants to get their dose of vitamin sea without the usual crowd.
POST TRAVEL NOTES
Two things stand out for me in Lobo - its rustic and tranquil ambiance and the hospitality of its locals. The locals are very accomodating and that they are not afraid to strike a conversation with their guests. They don't try to take advantage of tourists but are more than willing to give information that helped us out while out exploring their place.
Lobo is not the usual kind of beach destination. Like what I've said, it is a destination that require a different kind of appreciation. It is not the top-of-the-mind beach spot unless you have preference for history or off-beat destinations. Its tranquil atmosphere really stuck out for me. I like how time slowly churned while we were out exploring.
With the combination of its tranquil atmosphere and the local's overflowing hospitality, it’s a destination that is worth visiting but this time for weekend.
Getting there: You can take a bus bound for Batangas Grand Terminal in Cubao or Buendia, preferably with the CALABARZON signage (Fare is around Php170 from Cubao). You take a jeep that is headed to Bayan and ask the driver to drop you off at Don Ramos (Fare is at Php9). At Don Ramos, cross the street and take the jeep for SM Batangas. Ask the driver to drop you off at the Most Holy Trinity Parish which is just beside SM City Batangas (Fare is at Php8). Take the jeepney to Lobo Town Proper (Fare is at Php57). The transport terminal for Lobo is located behind the church.
Once in Lobo, you can hire a Malabrigo tricycle to get to the Malabrigo Lighthouse. Fare is at Php120 one-way, special trip.
Sample Day Trip Itinerary:
7.00a - ETD from Cubao to Batangas Grand Terminal
9.00a - ETA at Batangas Grand Terminal
10.00a - ETD to Lobo Town Proper
11.00a - ETA in Lobo Town Proper
- Lunch at Pasalubong Center and Café
12.30p - Explore the town / Lobo River
2.00p - Malabrigo View Deck
2.30p - Faro de Punta de Malabrigo
3.15p - Malabrigo Beach
4.00p - Head back to Poblacion
5.00p - ETD for Batangas City (Last Trip)
Marc del Rosario
I believe in education, entrepreneurship, and caring for the environment.