Thursday, September 17, 2009

Puerto Galera Unplugged

BELOW is my final draft of an article I wrote about a newly-relaunched resort in Puerto Galera for the Manila Bulletin. Because another writer from the same paper was invited during the weekend of the launch, I ended up sharing my byline with another writer from the same paper who rewrote the piece to add his own insights.

I would later write a totally different piece on the resort again for One Philippines, a newsmagazine for OFW's. But since the published version in Manila Bulletin is not in any way how I would have written the story on my own, I am now posting a slightly updated version of my original draft, a Director's Cut (or in this case, Writer's Cut) of sorts, if you please:

“IT has many facets. Quiet, loud, serene, girlie, messy, windy and many more. It’s vast and everywhere you go, they have something different to offer. We have places here to play music and to party here so people won’t get bored.”

No, Stephen Lu is not exactly talking about Boracay, most people’s favored summer destination. Instead, the frontman of the now defunct alternative band, Rizal Underground (yes, that was him singing the big hit, “Sabado Nights”) is actually waxing poetry about the charms of Puerto Galera, where he has taken refuge in recent years and is in fact, managing a new beachfront and dive resort there called Dolphin Bay.

Located in the comparatively more private part of the island (think Station 1 if you’re in Bora), DolphinBay is owned by Austrian expatriate Manfred Tauber who himself was taken captive by the many facets of the Oriental Mindoro-based tourist spot in general and its Barangay Palangan in particular, one of the remaining places in the area that has remained largely untouched by progress.

“Manfred was looking for a place that was accessible to land his sea plane with a nice looking beach,” Lu fondly recalls. “It was an empty lot when he bought this property but quiet and windy, which in my opinion is part of its appeal. The name was chosen by his wife, Annaliza because of the many dolphins they would see here during their regular sailing trips abroad.”

With only 19 rooms scattered over four storeys that offer more than just a panoramic view of the breathtaking scenery, guests are assured of personalized service from DolphinBay’s very able staff. It’s amazing what you can do in a resort located in a spot that is quite far from the madding crowds of the more popular Sabang and White Beach areas.

“We have airconditioned rooms, cable TV, hot and cold shower, intercom and wifi,” Lu says. “We have swimming pools, pool table, diving and other related equipment. We have jetski, seaplane, banana boat, island hopping, hobie cat and sailing trips in Manfred’s Catamaran yacht. In fact, we are trying to angle the catamaran diving safaris and diving in general. We also have land tour packages or picnic in waterfalls and other beaches.”

The food ain’t so bad, either. Lu says the menu fare consist of popular Italian and Filipino cusine. “Ours is not fine dining but we do have the basics covered. We aim to improve this even more in the future by offering a more extensive wine selection and more food specials or specialties. We will also have monthly beach barbecue buffet parties so we can receive guests from other establishments as well.”

At night time, the possibility of live entertainment was nicely explored as our group was treated to spirited, old school rock and roll sets courtesy of guest performers, the Bembol Rockers as well as jamming numbers from Lu himself and legendary rock guitarist Jun Lopito, who has also taken up residence in Galera as of late.

During our Catamaran sailing trip the following day, we were treated to a glimpse of the majestic coves, reefs, and pocket beaches that are living proof why Puerto Galera is also listed among the elite “Club of the Most Beautiful Bays in the World.” Well, whoever labelled Puerto Galera a “poor man’s Boracay” because of its accessibility and comparatively affordable rates has certainly not seen a side of the island that offers so much more.

“Working here at DolphinBay has been quite a privilege,” Lu beams. “It has given me a chance to learn to dive, sail and as you’ve seen, I saw Puerto Galera from the air last Sunday from here. You know, that was really special.”

For reservations and more information on Dolphinbay Beachfront & Dive Resort, please visit Special thanks to Bryan Quesada for the photos.

Puerto Galera today:

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