“Masadyang Pag-Abot” reads Banton Island’s welcoming portal. Translated it means, we are glad of your arrival, and I was indeed glad to be welcomed in this quaint town in Romblon.
Banton is a 5th class municipality in the province of Romblon. It is located on the upper portion of the Romblon Group of Islands, which is at the southernmost portion of Luzon. Only Banton Island, one of the four islands of Banton, is populated. The rest, Bantoncillo, Carlota and Isabel are uninhabited.
Poblacion, which is the center of Banton Island, is where we were dropped off the night before and was where we were currently staying.
The town is actually quite modern and doesn’t look provincial at all. The streets are paved, there are parks, sari-sari stores, church, and even a covered basketball court similar to those found on any other locale in the metro.
The houses in Poblacion also doesn’t look too far off from those found in Manila. Luckily, there are still some interesting houses that represents Banton’s past. These are mostly made of weathered unpainted wood with corrugated iron roofing (which were originally thatched cogon roofs, D says).
Some of these houses are even reminiscent of the classic Bahay na Bato; concrete on the ground floor, wood on the second storey. The windows though are somewhat different since they don’t sport the quintessential capiz (mother of pearl) windows but instead are made of sliding wood panels. There are also no wind vents on the lower and upper side of the second storey walls, unlike those of its Spanish counterparts.
Banton also had its share of World War II as evident with the fort built near its church. I was unable to photograph this though.
From the main streets, which are found mostly near the pier, the succeeding roads become narrower as you go farther inland. I wasn’t able to explore too much though since these alleyways are almost mazelike and I might get lost, my iPhone’s map is no use at all since the streets here are totally undocumented.
Another interesting thing about Poblacion is the number of crow-like birds that flock its trees and electric wires (yes, there is electricity in the island, albeit only on a scheduled basis, 5am to 6am in the morning and 6pm to 12am in the evening). It turns out that these are not crows though, but asian glossy starlings. What gave them away was their bloodshot almost-bulging red eyes, they’re quite scary and mean looking, if you ask me.
There are quite a few more unusual birds in the area; ravens, smaller black birds, and colorful yellow ones, but I have no idea what they’re called.
After some minutes of walking around, I totally forgot where D’s aunt’s house was. The narrow streets all looked similar and I was in too much of a hurry earlier to catch the sunrise that I was unable to take note of the landmarks I passed. Stupid me, thinking I won’t ever get lost had also not listed the house’s address so asking around was out of the question. I was totally lost and had to ask D to fetch me, haha.
Address: Banton Island, Banton, Romblon
Banton Official Website