I was in the main island of Masbate province last 18-22 July for a research work. The field work turned out to be an eye-opener not only on the exotic beauty of the island but a lot more on the people of this distant province of the Bicol Region. I venture then to offer an outsider's experience of Masbate Province.
The Place. Masbate Province is a paradise. Composed of three islands, Masbate City is the commercial hub of the province. The rolling hills, fine beaches, clean sea, as well as the cool and fresh breeze is a wonderful experience for anyone who is looking for respite from the pollution of the urban centers.
Mabate City is a curious mix of the urban and rural features. However, the city has managed to retain the placid and peaceful way of life characteristic of Philippine countryside.
Surprisingly, the breath-taking inland mountains and forested areas of the province has managed to survive in the limited land area through the years.
The People. Generally cordial, the kind and gentle people of Masbate can be assertive of their convictions (including political affiliations). It is also noted that the level of familiarity among the residents is hight, providing a prevalent sense of "community" among the people.
The Economy. The main economic sector of the province is agriculture. Fishing, farming, corn-raising, coconut production are the major activities. In the service sector, food shops and repair shops are prominent. Trading and retail is also brisk.
The Politics. The island's political environment may be described by the prevalence of dominant political clans in the various municipalities of the province. Young and old generation of leaders from the same political clans are distributed all throughout the province. Also, violence is sometimes a very real political phenomenon in this island province.
A brief stay in the province has provided so much data on the life of Masbatenos. Social realities observed herein are but the tip of the iceberg. But these initial observations simply inspire more effort to learn about the province and its people. The kindness and solidarity so unselfishly displayed amidst economic difficulties and poor infrastructure says a lot about the people of Masbate. Its neighboring provinces surely have a lot to learn from this phenomenon!