Looc Rediscovering My Hometown Romblon 2012 Series

10 Reasons to Visit Looc

Friday, October 19, 2012Ryan Mach

The town where I grew up is small and languid and everyone knows almost anyone. It's called Looc, which in our dialect means 'strangle'. No, don't judge us just yet. We certainly don't strangle strangers. On the contrary, we smooch and welcome visitors with open arms. In other words, we're loving and friendly people. The name 'Looc' is believed to have originated from a local legend about a giant protector (Talabukon) who saved the town from marauding Moros by strangling them.

You have probably never heard about our town. And that's completely understandable. It's not exactly famous like its neighboring island, Boracay. (I'm sure the mere mention of Boracay somehow sparked a glitter of interest). It doesn't have fine white-sand beaches found in Carabao Island (also a neighboring town) either. I can tell you a few interesting things about our town but they're not enough to make you book a flight and travel down here pronto but I really love my town so I'm pimping it out to anyone who might be interested to visit it. A lot of what our town offers remains unheralded, some hidden, few have yet to be discovered, which can be a perfect avenue for wonderful moments of discovery.

1. Cheap Seafood

Crabs, clams, fish, edible seaweed, shrimp... They're available in the market, which is located near the sea, normally in the morning seven days a week. They're fresh and cheap. Although there's no notable restaurant in town that offers seafood cuisine, you can still buy these fresh sea produce from the wet market or talipapa and have them cooked at the lodging inn you're staying. Best eaten with your bare hands.

2. Interesting Lighthouses

Most lighthouses are found off shore. What makes the lighthouses (yes, plural because there are two!) in Looc unique is their location. Both sit in the middle of the bay! The taller and bigger one is situated between Agojo and Kawit and looks like a sentinel guarding the town. An eerie yet beautiful structure, this old farola has stood the test of time and weathered various storms. Unfortunately, its antiquity is now tantamount to dilapidation and neglect. Visitors are not allowed to come near it because it's gone brittle, it might collapse. The smaller farola located near Manhac is still sturdy and can accommodate a few people.

3. Fish sanctuaries
Our fish sanctuaries are a testament and proof that we care for the sea that feeds our people. Currently, there are two fish sanctuaries in Looc. The more famous one can be found right around the Old Farola. It's maintained and guarded by the local government unit. Even though corals are pretty non-existent in Looc Fish Sanctuary, hundreds of fishes abound the protected site. They're extremely friendly. The other fish sanctuary is located in Buenavista, a small barrio in the western part of the town.

4. Old houses
Take a stroll around Poblacion and you'll see various old houses, some reminiscent of those old residential structures in Calle Crisologo in Ilocos. They're a tangible reminder that the town, just like most towns in the country, was once a flourishing Spanish pueblo. If you stay in Looc for more than a week, you'll notice that our vocabulary is mostly composed of Spanish words.

5. Secluded beaches
They're not as fine and powdery like those white-sand beaches in Carabao Island (2 hours ride from Looc) or Boracay (2.5 hour boat ride), but they're pretty decent. It's the seclusion that makes our beaches charming. Buenavista Beach, for instance, is eerily remote and mystic. Another favorite public beach in town is Aliwanyag, located in Manhac. Getting there is quite exciting, as you need to trek down a slope to reach the beach.

6. The people
We are extremely hospitable. We regard visitor with incredulous reception. When you come to our homes, we prepare the most delicious food. We'll give you the most comfortable bed, even if it means us sleeping on the floor. We don't take no for an answer. If you insist on having it your way, just because you don't want to cause any trouble, then we'll be deeply disappointed and we consider your refusal disrespectful. But no, we won't drive you away despite that.

People in the barrio are more warm and friendly than those who reside in poblacion (town center). It's a personal observation but nonetheless valid.

7. Folklore and legends
During dusk, when our tios and their peers gather round over a bottle of gin or tuba, you'll hear various retelling of favorite legends and folklore like tiktik, aswang and kapre. Whether they're fictional or based on personal experience, they serve as an effective advice for children to come home early.

8. Suman
A variety of suman
We make the best suman (rice cake) in town. Our suman is distinctly sweet but not saccharine, just enough confection to tease your taste buds. They come in delightful variations too - we have suman made of cassava and corn, all perfect for your morning coffee.

9. Talabukon Festival
 A rather new festival started by the local government just a few years ago to somehow bolster local tourism, Talabukon Festival happens during the town's fiesta every second or third week of April. Based on a local legend that recounts the bravery of a giant named Talabukon who strangled marauding Moros, the festival serves as a major event of the fiesta celebration. Some rich family or businessman usually donates an ample amount of money to encourage each barangay to join the Talabukon contest. The group that executes the best Talabukon costume and dance wins 15 to 20 thousand pesos, depending on the generosity of the year's donor.

10. Mountains
Looc has a mountainous and rugged topography, endowed with lush vegetation and possibly mineral resources (a mining company was about to excavate natural minerals in some parts of town, thankfully it wasn't given a go signal). While its mountains are not as famous and towering as Mt. Guiting-guiting, they're still panoramic and worth checking out. Only an adventurous soul who's intent in finding its treasures can find hidden brooks, caves and small waterfalls.

Some interesting trivia about us:
>>We love our food brothed or stewed, spice-free if possible. We cook fish tinola (with fresh veggies and sprinkled with little vinegar or calamansi juice) and drown our rice with its broth. Sometimes, we shower our rice with grated coconut meat (to achieve a yummy taste). That's a normal table affair for us, and don't call us weird.
>>We don't easily get starstruck by celebrities. When famous personalities visit the town during fiesta celebrations, we go to the plaza to see them sing (even if they're not really singers) but that's just it. When we meet them, say in the plaza or on the street, we'll look at them sheepishly but we'll never scream or ask for their photographs. Yeah, you can call us timid folks.

It's a different story altogether when we see tourists in town. Suffice it is to say that we're easily starstruck by new faces who go to our place. So don't feel awkward when we stare at you as you hop down the jeepney during your arrival in Looc.

See you!

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