The only way to get to Malapascua is by boat. This tiny island is a 45 minute boat ride from the pier on the northern tip of Cebu island.
Instead of hiring a driver we opted to take the 4 1/2 hour bus ride. Originally we were going to ride a comfortable air-conditioned bus with a company called Cirus. This company was highly recommended by the hotel’s concierge. Upon arrival to the bus terminal at 8am we were told the air-conditioned bus leaves at 10am. None of the buses at the terminal were air-conditioned and none of them spelled out luxury.
White Stallion was the company we chose to ride with. They were pulling off immediately and we were ready to go. This was a true local’s bus. We were the only foreigners on the bus and our luggage was securely put under the bus in a small compartment.
It wasn’t until we took off that we realized this bus made stops along the entire route. Picking up and dropping off locals. Our destination was the very last stop on the route, hence the 4 1/2 hour ride. This ride through the island of Cebu was one of the highlights of this entire journey. Between the blaring music and the horn honking every five minutes I couldn’t stop smiling the entire ride.
Not to mention a drunk lady seated in front of me dancing in her seat the entire ride. When we stopped for a break she got off the bus and danced while buying more beer which she requested to be poured out of the bottle and into a plastic bag.
During the ride we got to really see the island of Cebu. Outside of the city area were beautiful countrysides and lots of local life.
Some of the homes were poverty stricken and some were upscale. The various neighborhoods were all built along the coast of the ocean.
After four and a half hours of riding on the bus we arrived at the pier to take a boat to the island of Malapascua.
The Ocean Vida resort was the nicest property and landscaping on the entire island. Malapascua isn’t built up like other islands. Most of the island is untouched by tourism leaving only a few places to stay and even fewer guesthouses. The local economy is based on tourism and fishing. Speaking to the hotel manager he explained that the attitudes of the locals is very relaxed and they are not driven by money. He said a fisherman would sell his fish to the restaurant, collect the cash and then not work for the rest of the week.
The typhoon Yolanda storm ruined 80% of the vegetation on Malapascua leaving large open areas and palm trees cut off at the tops. Luckily no one died as a result of this tragic storm which was the strongest recorded in history.
Children roamed the beach on the shoreline in front of the resort. Some of them just wanted to play with the tourists while swimming in the ocean. These were the younger ones.
There was also a group of 12-13 year olds that sang songs, sold bracelets and key chains in the name of raising money for school. These pre teens wanted money. When they would get close to the resort chairs, a security guard would shoo them off. This resulted in the kids screaming funny insults and mocking the adult employees.
None of the roads are paved and a narrow maze like sandy path snakes throughout the village into open areas of sand.
One thing that stood out is people owned roosters and kept them chained by the foot on a perch. It was unclear why they were tied up but it made me sad to see. There were so many like that I started to wonder if they were for fighting. They had little room to move if any and no chickens to socialize with.
Seeing the town in Malapascua was a big difference than the resort area on Bounty Beach. This was like an isolated village of locals that live peacefully and in harmony.
Walking through the town I realized that sometimes less is more. The locals here are rich in family, loyalty, caring for the children and spending time together. These are things that get lost when people become driven by making money. It’s very hard to balance the two. Now I understand the phrase in the bible that reads “it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the Kingdom of God!” or maybe it was “Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth.” Not that I’m a bible fanatic but those phrases have constantly popped in my mind and are making more sense after seeing the poverty-stricken places throughout Southeast Asia. Not to mention the love and respect people have for each other and the loyalty towards family in these places.