Yancas set sail
Over at Puerto Galera, resort owners Mel and Mercy Agudo have built a boat unique to Philippine shores: a yanca.
A yanca, explains Mel Agudo, owner of Marco Vincent Dive Resort at White Beach, is a banca morphed into a yacht, hence the combination name “yanca.”
The resort’s yanca is made of fiberglass and not just wood; and stretches a full 82 feet or 25 meters, allowing it to accommodate as many as 30 guests/passengers/divers.
“Back in the day, we used to have only bancas (or bankas; a dugout canoe often with outriggers and a roof of bamboo). Divers would use a banca for dives. But (a lot of) divers now are not young anymore.
They want to eat on the boat because they don’t have the energy to go back to the resort again,” Agudo observes. “When you’re in the boat, you just want to dive, then eat, then sleep, then dive, eat and sleep again.”
So as a resort owner with a dive facility, Agudo and wife Mercy decided to have yancas built.
With the yanca, divers can go to the best dive sites, such as Apo Reef, and stay there for as long as four days because of the yanca’s complete facilities.
Big Beth, Marco Vincent’s 82-foot fiberglass safari yanca, has two cabins that serve as air-conditioned bedrooms, as well as four shower stations. It also has an upper deck that can be converted into a party site at night and a spacious lower deck that can house a buffet station and even a dance floor.
At this time, Big Beth uses its own chef. But I am also writing this to persuade the owners to allow personal chefs or guest chefs to cook aboard the yanca.
My last boat ride, prior to this one on Big Beth, was on board the yacht of Resorts World that sailed off into the Manila Bay sunset with Impressions’ Chef Cyrille Soenen whipping up a menu of French hors d’oeuvres and grills to match their offerings of champagne and French wines.
I can just imagine sailing off into the Puerto Galera sunset in this 82-foot yanca with champagne and Chef Cyrille’s (or your own favorite chef’s) most delectable menu.
In the meantime, one can order from either Marco Vincent Dive Resort or Aqua Bar, a beach front restaurant that the resort also owns. The resort offers a great tanguige sinigang and chop suey with coconut sauce.
“We make sure to use and promote our local cuisine. We believe Mindoro has great ingredients,” Agudo stresses.
This is true. Gina Navarro of Estrel’s, who also hails from Mindoro, is very proud of the province’s Maliputo fish. The Hon. Harry Jaminola also exposed us to the very succulent coconut crabs from Pola, Mindoro Oriental. These are the ingredients that I hope Galera resort owners, who are at the forefront of Mindoro tourism, will highlight to visitors from all over the world.
Aside from Big Beth, the resort also has another yanca named Lady Mercy, clearly named after Mrs. Agudo; as well as a few speedboats. The yancas offer a sunset cruise complete with a “harana” (a hired guitarist can serenade guests) and a midnight cruise for parties.
“We want to help change the misconception that Puerto Galera is the poor man’s Boracay,” Agudo stresses. He is also very proud of what Galera has to offer in terms of diving: “You go to Boracay for pictures; you go to Puerto Galera for adventure. We have 45 dive sites. One of the dive sites here, The Canyons, is among the Top 50 best dive sites in the world. There is also Verde Island.”
Verde Island is known as the “Center of the Center of Marine Shorefish Biodiversity.”
The yancas of Marco Vincent Dive Resort also take guests to Apo Reef—the second largest coral reef in the world next to Australia’s Great Barrier Reef—almost every week, staying for as long as four days.
With these yancas now in Puerto Galera, it is no longer necessary to “rough it” when you want to dive or nature trip.
Now it can all be done with the comforts of a clean shower, air-conditioned cabins and even a champagne bar during a midnight cruise.
Whoever said Puerto Galera is the poor man’s Boracay must now stand corrected. Seems it is well on its way to becoming truly first class!
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Marco Vincent Dive Resort
White Beach, Puerto Galera, Mindoro Oriental.
From Manila, you will need to take the Ro-Ro (roll on-roll off boat) from Batangas to Calapan, then drive to Puerto Galera.
Other means of transportation can be recommended by the resort.
For more info on the resort and yanca/yanka rides such as the Sunset Cruise and other activities, visit marcovincent.com.
Note: The boat is not built to accommodate persons with disabilities. But I have witnessed how the amazing crew of Marco Vincent assisted and carried a 200-pound wheelchair-bound man up the 10-foot 45-degree-plank to join the festivities on the boat. Exceptional service!
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