Charity Rojo grew up by the Lumawig riverside. As a child, she witnessed her late grandfather take the river and their community under his care without anyone asking him to.
In 2019, when the Masbate Tourism Office approached her family and asked their help to develop the river as a tourism site, the Rojos said yes to continue what her grandfather started.
“My mother said that she’s on board if it means our barangay will benefit from it,” Rojo recalls.
This is how the Lumawig Land and Water Adventure was born.
Everything you need to know
The way to Lumawig River is an adventure in itself. It sits on the boundary of Looc, Mandaon, and Balud which is about an hour and a half away from Masbate Airport. Because the province is yet to be developed, the most convenient way to get to Lumawig is to rent a private van or hire a motorcycle.
There’s an entrance fee of Php30 per person. Kids 10 years old and below may enter for free.
Lumawig Land and Water Adventure is a community-driven destination managed by the Lumawig River Cooperative. Once you get there, you’ll be greeted with a refreshing, welcome drink made from Balud’s native fruit, kahil.
From their entrance arc, you’ll see floating cabanas waiting for you by the serene moss green river.
There are, of course, more thrilling pursuits. Kayaking (Php150 per hour), stand-up paddle boarding (Php150 per hour), pedal boating (Php250 per hour), and banana boat riding (Php3,500 per 5 people, for 30 mins) are some of the watersport activities available.
The park is open every day from 7:00 A.M. to 6:00 P.M.
The Lumawig Cruise and Floating Restaurant
The main attraction here remains to be the 30-min river cruise, which takes you on a tour of the 3.5km waterway surrounded by century-old mangrove trees.
A trip to Lumawig will not be complete without trying out their signature seashell dishes. Their bagongon, halaan, and bilaog are prepared by an all-women kitchen crew led by Rojo. Visitors must order in advance so Rojo’s team can ask the community fisherfolk for freshly-sourced shells and get all the ingredients ready a day prior the tour.
They offer 4 packages:
- Package 1: Php3300 (good for 4 to 6 people)
- Package 2: Php6000 (good for 10 people)
- Package 3: Php7000 (good for 15 people)
- Package 4: Php10,500 (good for 20 people)
Packages are inclusive of the floating cabana cruise, food, kayaking, pedal boating, and stand-up paddling. Their standard menu has calamares, balinday, bilaog, bagongon, tinolang manok (chicken stew), sweet & sour lapu-lapu or maya-maya, and buko salad. They also accept seasonal made-to-order dishes like alimango (crab), pasayan (shrimp), and lukon (tiger prawn).
Cottages (Php500) and floating cabanas (Php1500) can also be rented separately.
To book a visit, send a message to Lumawig Land and Water Adventure on Facebook. You may also contact 09101849690 and look for Ruben Banate, President of Lumawig River Cooperative.
A community-driven destination
Banate, an Ilonggo who found a home in Masbate, speaks proudly of the community they’ve built and continue to build together.
“The Lumawig River helped our barangay a lot. Aside from being an additional source of income, it also enhances our hospitality and servicing skills,” he says. “We have 30 members and all of us work together in making sure we serve our guests the best we can.”
Every week, Banate plans the park’s booking schedule as well as the team’s task assignments and income distribution. Each member contributes to the fund they use to keep the place running. As president, he ensures everyone gets a fair share of the profit the park gains.
“The local government helped us with our capital. We used it to build the kitchen and our cabanas,” Banate shares. “Then, we use the cooperative fund to sustain operations and develop our services.”
Local and foreign travelers go to Lumawig to destress. Banate recalls that they used to receive a lot of guests when they opened in 2019. This was put on hold because of the pandemic.
Now that restrictions are easing up, Banate and Rojo look forward to enhancing their amenities and welcoming more tourists.
“When you visit Masbate, you can only find a natural river cruise experience here in Lumawig,” Banate says when asked why people should go here.
To this, Rojo adds, “It’s already beautiful here. But we really make sure to maintain the cleanliness of the place and further improve what we offer.”
By visiting the Lumawig Land and Water Adventure, you help the community and the fisherfolk in this humble town.
More destinations in Balud
Aside from Lumawig Land and Water Adventure, there are other destinations to visit when in Balud, Masbate.
There’s Hintutulo Lighthouse, the town’s historic beacon built in the 18th century. This is where you can enjoy a panoramic view of Balud. You should also not miss the Palani Beach. Accommodations as low as Php1,200 can be found here and it’s just a 30-min drive away from Lumawig. It’s known as “The Healing Paradise of Masbate” for its crystal blue waters and white sand beach.
Another must-try activity is the Panubigan Ranch Tour. It will take you to a dragon fruit plantation and can also be a place for meditation.
Outsource the Planning
For a seamless trip, you may leave the planning to DOT’s accredited tour operators in Bicol. Click on this link for a comprehensive list of agencies.
All tourist destinations in Region V have health and safety protocols in place to protect locals and visitors alike. Everyone is expected to comply by wearing face masks, regularly washing their hands, and practicing physical distancing.
To check out up-to-date information regarding local destinations that are open and the safety protocols and requirements needed for each location, you may visit http://www.philippines.travel/safetrip or download the Travel Philippines app at app.philippines.travel on the Google Playstore.