Travel Diary: Capiz is Definitely Visayas' Hidden Gem
STORY: It has been quite a long time since i last traveled around Visayas. Booking a cheap flight at only P700 months ago, i was off to Capiz - Province #62. Capiz is actually the last province of Visayas for me to visit.
To tell you honestly, my intent to visit Capiz is merely because of my love of seafood, and since this province is called the seafood capital of the country, then it would be a delight to finally visit Capiz. It has been years that i wanted to visit but i always tend to put it in the back of my priority list, for the more popular neighboring provinces.
I arrived at Roxas City Domestic Airport around noon on a Saturday, together with about a hundred locals eager and excited to visit their family. I was there, with no relative or friend, but i was confident that Capiz won't fail me. Of course, i was right.
It didn't take long for me to arrive and found myself checked in at Bahia De Norte Beach Hotel. With an inspiring view of the sea, the room proved to be actually good value for money. Sure, there are newer hotels found within the city but since Capiz, and in Roxas City, it is blessed with a beautiful coast line, you would definitely choose water over busy roads.
A few meters away is the Seafood Boulevard were lunch is definitely on top of my mind. Ordering a generous serving of crabs, seashell clam soup and my all-time favorite - scallops, then, it was time to familiarize myself with the city so i hired a tricycle to take me to the cathedral.
Of course, the church always seems to be the point of reference in small provinces in the Philippines. The Immaculate Concepcion Cathedral is huge and beautiful. So sad though that there's funeral service for a middle aged man. I wondered how he died? Nearby the cathedral is the capitol building, and the historical bridge. Walking around Roxas City is a sight to behold, with crumbling old structures and quiet simple alleyways. The fresh produce sold at the market is just so tempting to buy. And all of a sudden, prices of stuff seem to be a lot cheaper here than in Kalibo or Cebu. It's so easy to navigate Roxas City because everything seems to be too easy to reach. Glenn is this tricycle driver i met in front of the market. He ended up being my driver and guide for days that i traveled around Capiz.
I then went to Sta Monica Church to visit the ruins and climb up to the tower to check out the biggest bell in Asia. The guide is very knowledgeable and spending some time on top was a welcome break from the heat of mid morning. Around the church is a tourism shop where after a week, they finally got to sell stuff because of me. It makes you think how much you're spending back home, and how much people are earning in Capiz.
Going back to Baybay is always something to look forward to because the breeze from the sea, and the tranquil waters are such a relaxing sight to see. And when you live in Manila, places like these seem to be so unforgettable. Later that night, i was off to find a place to drink. Happy hour at the beach hotel lead me to drink about five bottles already. After hitting the shower, drinking continues at Kainan near the roundabout where each stall has an LCD TV where one can sing his hearts out while drinking beer. Gold Eagle seems to be very popular in Capiz, and has quite a following. Quite surprising, since i haven't encountered any bar or restaurant serving the timely beer here in Manila. There, i met friendly chaps like Jhong and Ryan. Jhong is about 18 years old and six feet 2 inches tall. He works at the bar and has been drinking the mix he served for himself and his boss. He loves local OPM bands and we're almost singing the same songs. Ryan works at Robinsons Mall and is earning P278 per day manning the rice department at the supermarket. Good thing he's only paying P500 per month on his room. He's been singing too many heartbreaking songs that's why i asked him if he has a problem. His wife doesn't text him anymore because he can't send home money. Much later, we were already singing Knife and Huwag ka lang Mawawala. Imagine that. Knowing stories like these proved to be the real essence of traveling for me.
The next day, i woke up late as expected. And everyone seems to wake up early in Baybay. That's why waking up at 10AM means i am the sleepy head of the bunch. Breakfast served in front of the beach made me want to enjoy the water even more. I called up Glenn and asked if he could accompany me to Olotayan Island. Paying about P1000 for a boatman nearby, i was off to the island with a huge bottle of Emperador and Coca Cola. The trip started out quite nicely. Although the last few minutes of the boat ride was wild. I was a bit worried about my bag, but never about myself. If you see the boatman relaxing, then there's no problem. However, if you see him sweating and trying to change his shirt other way around, you're in big trouble. Later that day, Olotayan proved to be a magical place. Totally isolated and with no soul in sight except for Glenn and the boatman, this is what my dream is made off. The beach area is made up of sand coursed through crushed corals. The water is clean but swimming is advised at your own risk because a few meters to the water, and it'll be deep already. Half way the bottle, the rain started to kick in. I am not talking about normal rain but thunderstorms and heavy downpour. I asked the boatman if it was okay to leave, and he said maybe it's best to wait a while. I took it as a sign to finish the bottle with my new found friends as the rain continued. Every now and then, i would take a dip at the warm water. But always manage to come back for yet another shot. About an hour or two later, And the dark clouds continue going to the east which means skies are beginning to clear up where were heading. It was unbelievable that the water was way more calm leaving Olotayan than going there.
I arrived with friendly smiles from kids waiting for their parents who went out fishing. This feeling made me realize how fortunate i am to be able to travel around Capiz even in a short while. After docking, i went to Lipunan Market to buy fresh seafood that would be a dinner i will be sharing with Glenn and the boatman's family.
It was a lovely feeling as the locals have been nothing but super nice to me. And welcoming a stranger like me felt good knowing the people of Capiz are extremely hospitable people. While watching a prime time singing search on TV as i enjoy my Adobong Pusit and Steamed Crab and Prawns. The kids by the beach are friendly, too, and never fail to crack a joke and make me laugh.
The next day, after buying dried fish at Banica, i went back home. The airport is nice although construction is still ongoing. I waved goodbye at Glenn and told him i will come back for sure. I may have spent quite a fortune in Capiz as compared to my trips around Visayas but i never regretted anything. As i travel around this province, i have been able to extend my help to locals who earn very little. I did not only enjoy my trip to Capiz, i also became an instrument of God by sharing my blessing to other people. It's through these instances that i feel i am pursuing my passion and being a fellow to Filipinos. I love Capiz!