Weekend Backpacking Trip in Malapascua Island
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Where to Stay in Malapascua Island: Villa Sandra Guesthouse
(Malapascua Island, Philippines) First impression upon arriving at Villa Sandra Guesthouse was that it was full of colors with everything made out of kawayan and bamboo, creative artworks displayed on walls, the porch, and the common areas. You’ll also notice the laid-back island vibe with reggae music playing on the background.
There is healthy communication and mutual respect among the guests even while they’re busy doing their own thing like reading books at the hammocks, playing musical instruments, painting shells, doing online work, updating social media accounts, sharing diving adventures and travel tips all around the world or basically just horsing around like brothers and sisters.
We met the big boss Joseph and his wingman Gen at the nipa house at the back. They told us that we were more than welcome to stay and that we could pitch our tent by the hammocks under the shade of a Talisay tree. They also shared to us the story of the place, how it came to be, and its growth as a community up to what it is now, a family willing to help Malapascua by hosting a meal every weekend for underprivileged children and for any given problem of the community that needs attention.
Villa Sandra is also affiliated with Delamano Por El Mundo, an international organization of travelers that aim to make the world a better place by helping schools and developing communities. Donations are accepted in any kind. You can also buy a customized reggae bracelet, necklace or any accessory to support the movement.
If you’re not a picky traveler and would love to socialize with other travelers then Villa Sandra Guesthouse is perfect for you. It is by far one of the most affordable places to stay in the island and is just a walking distance of about 200 meters from the docking area of the pump boats at the barrio.
Since we brought our own tent, one person could pay as low as PHP 150 pesos a night. It was worth it since they provided each of us with our own mattress and pillow as a cushion against the rough ground surface. You’ll also feel safe since you’re camping inside a gated compound between the hammock station and the big boss’ house.
If you’re comfortable sleeping on a hammock then you can do that for only PHP 200 a night. Their hammocks are made of black resilient linen that could carry the weight of two people and is wide enough to provide a comfortable sleep for someone who’s more than six feet tall. Because the hammock station is located outside, there’s enough sun to dry out the linen during the day which makes its smell bearable.
They also have dormitory-type fan rooms with wooden bunk beds with usually 6 to 8 person room capacity at PHP 300 per person per night. If you’d like a little privacy, then a twin room is available at PHP 650 per night which is also practical if you’re travelling with a friend.
All guests are entitled to use the kitchen, living room, public toilet and shower rooms and the common areas such as the hammocks during the day. There’s also free purified drinking water and also stable WIFI connection. Since we were hungry for lunch, Gen actually offered to cook for us as long as we will buy the ingredients ourselves. It was actually quite convenient since there’s a meat shop outside the guesthouse. A few more steps and you’ll see a sari-sari store with vegetables and spices for sale along with other day to day items. We gave Gen all the ingredients and some time to do the magic. After a few minutes, voila, Gen showed us his ground pork with potato, carrots and cucumber masterpiece. It was divine. Hunger solved for these three kids.
Gen also organizes dinner parties for all the guests where he cooks any cuisine the guests choose and also for a chance for everyone to get to know each other over food.
From magic card tricks inspired by David Blaine, playing the guitar, telling jokes and cooking resort-quality dishes, there’s nothing Gen cannot do. He is indeed a jack of all trades.
Now I understand why Joseph chose him to be his second in command when he’s not around.
One thing that the big boss Joseph does not appreciate is seeing his guests staying the whole day at Villa Sandra. What he wants is for everyone to experience everything the island has to offer. Once in a while he organizes excursions for all the guests such as snorkeling and diving at the Japanese Shipwreck, trips to Kalanggaman Island and overnight camping at Carnaza Island. But most of the time, he wants the guests to explore the island on their own. As for us, we went with our new found friends swimming at Bantigue Cove, hiked up to the Lighthouse, explored the abandoned Los Bambos Resort and danced the night out at local disco parties organized by the barangay. The three of us also visited my dear friend Dennis, a local canvasser, who invited us over for dinner at his humble home.
Overall, the King of Sinulog with his travel buddies had a fun time getting to know new people from all over the world, doing fun and free activities on the island, eating at cheap restaurants, dancing at local discos and getting drunk while at it. The weekend was surely not enough and we will surely be back for more.
This time around, we would surely experience everything the island has to offer, avail of Villa Sandra’s island excursions, sharing new memories and making a story out of it. As for you dear readers, see you in Malapascua. Later!