Photos by Jericho Carrillo
It’s a town often eclipsed by its more popular neighbor, Baliuag. But while it’s still relatively undiscovered, the municipality of Bustos, Bulacan definitely has its own unique attractions that shouldn’t be missed. Here are 8 reasons why you should visit this side of Bulacan:
Making Bicho Bicho
Hang out at the town’s Heritage Plaza while enjoying the town’s unique take on bicho-bicho.
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The plaza is where most trips to Bustos begin and end. Located in front of the municipal hall, the plaza is home to Letras Y Figuras landmark spelling out the town’s name. You can also find the town’s library here, and behind it are a number of commercial establishments such as a convenience store.
If you’re hankering for a quick snack, try the town’s take on bicho-bicho. This treat is basically a fried bread roll stuffed with cheese, sprinkled with sugar and powdered milk. It is sold at a stall in front of the convenience store.
Mercado Mansion in Bustos
Check out the town’s numerous heritage houses.
Mostly located near the town center, these houses have not only survived World War II. They are also known for their unique architectural features. These include the quaint Lopez Ancestral House, which showcases ornate woodwork; and the impressive Mercado Mansion, a large Bahay na Bato or stone house.
Then there’s the so-called Black House, another Bahay na Bato that was originally constructed as a mausoleum. Impressive or creepy? You decide.
Try the town’s delicacies: minasa, lengua de gato, and barquillos.
Travelers with a sweet tooth, rejoice! Make sure to grab the town’s specialty, minasa. This cookie made out of cassava flour is similar to uraro. Also try the town’s version of lengua de gato, a milk-based cookie; and barquillos, which are rolled-up sweet wafers.
To buy all of these treats, head to Zeny’s, which is located just near the town’s municipal hall.
Visit Asia’s second largest rubber dam.
Officially known as the Angat Afterbay Regulator Dam, the Bustos Dam is 79 meters long, making it second only to China’s Xiaobudong Rubber Dam in size. A vital part of the Angat dam system, it helps provide water to a number of provinces, such as Pampanga and Rizal. You can view this magnificent dam from two angles: up above, from the viewing deck; or go down and see it up close.
San Martin De Porres Retreat Center
Spend a day of quiet contemplation or make a kid’s day at the Bahay at Yaman ni San Martin De Porres Retreat Center.
If you’re looking for some peace and quiet outside the metro, then head here. This sprawling retreat center not only features several Ivatan houses that solitude-seekers can rent. It also serves as an orphanage, housing children of different ages that were rescued from the streets of Manila.
Bustos Travel Itinerary
Celebrate the Minasa Festival.
If you wish to celebrate a fiesta for the Sto. Nino outside of Manila, but not go too far for Sinulog or Dinagyang, then the Minasa Festival is for you. Also celebrated in January, this feast is named after the town’s popular cassava cookies.
San Martin de Porres
It’s only around an hour away from Manila.
If you’re driving, simply take the Balagtas Exit from NLEX and just follow the signs to the town proper. For commuters, simply take a bus bound for the Baliwag city center. From there, take a jeep or tricycle to Bustos town proper and it will drop you off at the Heritage Plaza/municipal hall.
Bustos Heritage Park
It’s a great way to encourage the town to continue their efforts in preserving and promoting their heritage.
Let’s face it—there’s a misconception in the Philippines that for a place to be prosperous, it should have new buildings and shopping malls. Because of that way of thinking, a lot of towns and municipalities have lost their ancestral homes and historical sites. This is why it’s important to visit Bustos and support their initiatives to preserve their built heritage. After all, if a town’s heritage helps boost their tourism industry and provides an alternative form of livelihood for residents, they will strive to protect it.
For more information, please contact June Santos, Municipal Tourism Officer, of the Bustos Tourism Office at (44) 617-1234 or (44) 766-2543.