The Little Maldives

Buntod Reef Marine Sanctuary and Sandbar at Tugbo, Masbate City

In 1994, during the Miss Universe held in Manila where Charlene Gonzales, a popular talk show host, model and actress represented the country, the judge’s question was, “How many islands do you have in the Philippines?” She asked back whether she would answer if it’s high tide or if it’s low tide. And the host was taken aback by the response, then he laughed. Charlene answered, that if it’s high tide, the Country has 7,107 islands and if low tide, 7, 108 islands. I was thinking then, what is this island that’s being submerged when high tide? Back to the present, the Country has identified at least seven (7) vanishing islands, which are exposed only during low tide. Buntod Reef Marine Sanctuary and Sandbar in Masbate City is an islet that is submerged during high tide, thus the name, Buntod. This photo is the winning entry for the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Region 5 photo contest this June 2020 by Abet Llacer.

The stunning photo of Buntod Reef looks life a bird from afar, when it’s low tide. It’s considered the “Little Maldives” because of its similarity with the beaches in Maldives. It boasts of turquoise waters, powdered beaches, big clams and colorful reefs. You would never go wrong to try snorkeling and/or scuba diving here. The relaxing, peaceful ambience will give you a restful retreat.

How to get here?

Going to Masbate City is very easy now. If coming from Manila, there are regular flights to the island for 2 hours and it will take you for only 20-30 minutes by boat to reach the place. Banca fee ranges from PhP500.00 to PhP1,000.00 or around $10-$20. When your already there, you should try snorkeling and/or scuba diving. Gears may be rented at low price from the only store there. The sand bar at Buntod Reef has some of the finest, powdered beaches in the Country.

Buntod Reef, according to the City Tourism, ranks as the Country’s second most resilient coral reef area in the broad scale local scale factors.

It was in 2018 that our team went to this islet which giant clams and colorful corals thrive. It was a break from work as we visited Masbate City for a 3 day conference.

Rodeo Masbateno  

Masbate Province is also popular for the Rodeo.  “The Rodeo Masbateño Festival is an annual event which takes place in Masbate City that showcases skills in livestock handling, such as lassoing, wrestling, and riding cattle. Also included in the event are a fair and exhibitions and trade of cattle and horses. The event has taken place every summer since 1993 in the province of Masbate, which is traditionally considered as the Cattle Country of the Philippines.” For more details see this link at

Palawan, Philippines as the 2020 World’s Best Island

Before I end, by chance, I read from Travel and Leisure Magazine that Palawan, Philippines has once again accorded the 2020 World’s Best Awards for the Best Islands. It has the most amazing sights and indulging activities such as diving in the World War II wrecks, exploring old-grown rain forests and paddling in one of the world’s longest subterranean rivers at Puerto Princesa.  Congratulations, Palawan! For more details about this, check the link below,

Published by Maria Cristina Gino Baroso

Education advocate and travel lover

18 thoughts on “The Little Maldives

      1. Hope someday, when the pandemic is over you will consider… 🙂 🙂 🙂 Palawan and Boracay are our top destinations and of course my hometown Bicol, where you can have an interaction with the most friendly whale shark. 🙂


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