Tag Archives: san jose


Think back to your favorite parts of summer from your childhood…perhaps a summer cookout, ice cream shops, family trip to the beach, watermelon, swimming pools.

It’s summertime in the Philippines! For the months of April and May school is out and children enjoy playing in the ocean and eating halo-halo (this dessert translates to mean mix-mix and contains a wide variety of ingredients including but not limited to shaved ice, sweet milk, jello, bananas, corn, fruit, ube jam, peanut butter, beans, sweet potato).

Carabao Island is named after the Philippine water buffalo used in rice fields. Notice the animal’s head drawn on the sign above.

San Jose Island, better known as Carabao Island, launches the summer season with its annual fiesta!

Parades with street dancers and elaborate costumes are a characteristic part of fiesta.

As an unbiased foreigner, I was asked to serve as a judge for the fiesta competition. We thought we were judging the numerous groups of costume-clad dance teams…really they wanted us to judge the carabao!!

The carabao on the left was my favorite! I also participated in their annual fiesta mountain bike race. Don’t left the beautiful scenary fool you, a beach start over loose sand gave way to mountains so steep all contestants had to get off and walk. And the race started at 2pm in the afternoon (you don’t truly understand the meaning of the phrase ‘heat of the day’ until you have experienced summer in the Philippines and then try to do a bike race in it).

As we raced through each village on Carabao Island all the children came out to cheer us on, particularly me, the only female contestant!


32km Mountain Bike Race on Carabao Island


Just south of Tablas Island is Carabao Island, only 8.5 sq miles (22 sq km) in size, I competed in their fiesta Bike-a-Thon: a 32km race around the island.


About 40 participants competed in the event coming from various regions throughout Romblon and the Philippines. Biking is a growing sport here, although mostly among wealthy communities, because a mountain bike is an expensive pre-requisite to joining.

Notice all the bikes on the top of the boat!
Notice all the bikes on the top of the boat!

Transport to and from Carabao was via banka, boats loaded to the brim with people, bikes, and beer for the event and the upcoming weeklong fiesta. The race course was super intense with extreme vertical climbs, requiring a dismount from the saddle to make it to the top, but the views were worth it! White sand beaches, remote communities and my favorite part: a downhill single track on the ridge top of the mountain with bright red dirt flying beneath our tires.

Relaxing after the race!
Relaxing after the race!


The day definitely lived up to the national slogan: “Everything is more fun in the Philippines!”