When you hear the word Lobo, you probably think of a balloon or wolf. But as you read this, remember that Lobo is a third class municipality in the province of Batangas, about 145 kilometers from Manila. It is bounded by Batangas City to the west, the municipalities of Taysan and Rosario to the north, the municipality of San Juan to the east, and Verde Island Passage to the south. If you are considering a quiet, charmingly simple vacation spot with beaches and underwater wonders as well as a side trip to a historical landmark, you might consider trekking to this place.
I went to Lobo last week with a companion primarily to take a look at the century-old Malabrigo Lighthouse built during the Spanish period. We first dropped by at the Tourism Office and Pasalubong Center at the heart of the town plaza to buy some local delicacies.
We were glad we stopped by that office first because the tourism staff members were friendly and eager to help us get to our destination. We didn’t have a private vehicle so a staff member hailed a tricycle for us. One of their interns even accompanied us to the historical site. From the town plaza, we passed by the barangays of Olo-Olo, Mabilog na Bundok, Sawang, Soloc, and finally Malabrigo.
After an uphill ride, the 19th century lighthouse and pavilion came into view in the middle of a big lot. The grounds of Malabrigo Lighthouse is open to the public but visitors are not allowed inside the tower, adjacent pavilion, and machine room because the structures are already very fragile. But the cylindrical brick lighthouse still actively guides international and local seafarers passing through the Verde Island Passage. Solar panels provide power to the 56 ft Spanish lighthouse also known as Faro de Punta de Malabrigo. Locals call it the parola.
From the hill, we saw a panoramic view of the Verde Island Passage with Isla Verde and the island of Mindoro on the background. Farther out into the sea, the island of Marinduque can also be seen. We went down to the beach using the cemented stairs. According to our tricycle driver, the stairs were built by Olympic swimmer Akiko Thomson and her group which advocates the preservation of the lighthouse.
|A view of the Verde Island Passage|
Compared to other beaches in Batangas, the beaches of Malabrigo are not sandy, but littered with pebbles. Rock formations are also common. And the water is so clear. Underneath, one can also see colorful corals and different marine life. This makes Malabrigo and the surrounding areas a haven for scuba diving and snorkelling. We also visited a nearby resort which was chosen as the shooting site for a TV series.
When you visit Lobo, be ready to navigate through winding roads amidst mountains. At the moment, accommodations are limited to beach resorts. There are no hotels, inns, or pension houses. There are no fastfood restaurants but you can savor local food at any of the eateries in the market. The municipal tourism officer, Mrs. Lota Manalo, has high hopes for tourism in this town. She shares to us of her department’s plan to actively promote Lobo’s other natural wonders like their water falls, mangrove swamp, peat forest, rice terraces, pawikan (sea turtle) nestling area, and of course, the historical Malabrigo Lighthouse. That is something we can all look forward to.
To get to Lobo by private vehicle, head to the South Luzon Expressway (SLEX), straight to ACTEX then to the the Southern Tagalog Arterial Road (STAR) Tollway. Exit at the end of the expressway at Balagtas, Batangas City. Turn left onto National Road and follow the signs leading to SM Batangas. From that area, continue onto Gov. Antonio Carpio Road (14.7 km) then Taysan-Lobo Road (16.7 km).
By commute, take any bus from Manila going to Batangas City. Get off at the Grand Terminal, hop into a jeep going to Batangas City. Get into another jeep plying the Libjo-Batangas City route and ask the driver to drop you at the Lobo jeep terminal. Alternatively, from the poblacion, you can take a jeep going to SM Batangas and get off at the department store. From there you can walk a few meters to the Lobo jeep terminal.