This past month of May, I was blessed to visit Tugdan, Romblon, Philippines complete with an abundance of sunny days finishing the summer of the Philippines. Coming in via Cebu Pacific, the rough landing gave me a familiar feeling of the province I had grown fond of.
The Tablas Island of Romblon not only gives me instant thoughts about marble (the island’s very product), but also of Indian mangoes, sihi (a special kind of shellfish), maruya (sliced bananas fried with flour) and baybay (Odionganon term for beach). We went here every summer when I was still in my primary years all the way to high school but seized when I reached college because of working on the side and summer curriculum included in my course.
From clearing out of the airport, my godmother picked us up and gave us a warm welcome by booking a floating seafood restaurant. And it gave me a surge of excitement because there’s a strong sense of home that I felt as I come back in Odiongan.
Patok Sa Bagto kubos (Kubo – Tagalog term for ‘hut’) stand on bamboo foundation set deep into a huge fish pond. Connected by bamboo walkways, each hut could hold a feast for 10 to a dozen people.
We had chopseuy, 4 pots (good for 3-4 people) of rice, 2 servings of sisig, calamari, 2 huge servings of Bulalo soup, pinakbet, fried liempo, fresh serving of mangoes and a jug of iced tea. Overall, it was HK$3,000++ worth and we had a lot to bring still at home. Being an overseas worker in Hong Kong, it was quite cheap for a hearty meal. And fresh sea foods are super expensive in Hong Kong.
It was month of May, so the hot summer breeze was eased by the cold nestea iced tea which seals the feeling of home naturally. My sister’s kids and mine were running around gleefully checking out the fishes. This place being a fish pond usually caters guests who want to have a fishing experience but when we got there, they had put this into a halt because it was still breeding season. They give the fishes time to grow into adults before they’d give the customers a go to fish them out to be cooked.
I loved that I ate with my hands; I loved availability of Mang Tomas sauce; I loved the blessings in front of us that day; I love the people beside us and I loved the love we share in between.
I rate the place with 5 out of 5 stars in terms of service and 5 out of 5 stars for the food and another 5 for the price of the food. The huts could use electric fans for each for a breezier stay because lunch time was unbearable hot. So with ambiance, it’s a 4 out of 5 for me.
So if you’re around the area, don’t miss a chance to visit Patok sa Bagto as you discover the Island of Tablas, Romblon.
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- BUTAO – Their soup of the squid’s black ink could take away the blues of rainy days and Mondays away.