ORIENTAL MINDORO | Puerto Galera's White Beach and Two Nights of Mindoro Sling

White Beach, Puerto Galera

In 2015 for a summer get together, my friends from high school decided to take the group to Puerto Galera. I used to be one of the usual architects of those annual trips, but for that year, because I had already rendered my resignation at work to transfer to another, I had to miss the trip to save some bucks. I, nevertheless, involved myself in booking the essentials such as the hotel in White Beach they had spent the night at. In doing so, googling here and there, I came across lists of what Mindoro island's most famous beach-and-party destination has in store.

I'm a sucker for local nightlife (and an in-denial alcoholic). In every town or city I visit, I go to cap a night at local bars, if any, so it didn't come a surprise that Mindoro Sling, a local bar delight, piqued my interest the most from those lists of Puerto Galera's must-try's. But missing that year's trip meant that I had to miss the local cocktail too. Mindoro Sling is easy to concoct — recipes of it are at one's fingertips online — but having the first slug of it at its provenance, for me, makes a difference. Long story short, it took almost five years before I drank down the sling.

I visited Puerto Galera for the first time two weeks before 2019 concluded. Three of my closest pals from high school, whom, most of the time, I get my alcohol or party fix with, came with me following such a short notice. Lucky with Raymond, a Math teacher, schools were already on Christmas vacation; Tope was serving his work suspension and Nico, at work, filed a "sick leave" to join in. Only Bryan, who continues his Engineering studies, didn't make it because of important exams. Four of us hit the road on a Sunday.

White Beach

We touched down Mindoro Island at around dinner time after six hours total of land and sea trips: UV commute from our hometown in Rizal to JAM Liner station in Quezon City, bus trip to Batangas Pier, fast craft across the Verde Island Passage and the liner's L300 van guest pick-up from Muelle Port to White Beach. As soon as we disembarked from the van, Ate Joy found us. She was just passing by; a middle-aged tour guide who, like most ambulant tourism workers around the country, was proactive, approached us new faces before we could even said a word. I asked her the way to the beach and the hotel I had a pencil reservation at and while ushering us, she offered some other hotels whose prices were way lower. We ended up spending our nights in one of her suggestions.

We settled the essentials — paid the two-night stay and arranged a tour around Galera with Ate Joy — then eased the rumbling in our tummies (we hadn't eaten since leaving home) with unlimited rice meals of Food Trip sa Galera, one of the open-air beachfront diners where we had all our meals for the next two days. I could not get enough of their peppery fried chicken wings meal that, on the first serving, comes with a pinch of their savory sisig as rice toppings and a sunny-side up on the side. The meal's called Marco's favorite and it had become my comfort food during our stay.

Having lunch at Food Trip sa Galera

While about a third of White Beach is "undeveloped"—that is, free from any business establishments—contiguous lodgings, pubs, restaurants, souvenir stores and tattoo salons enliven most part of its seaside expanse. We walked across this lively stretch after that hefty dinner for several purposes: for a first-timer to get a "feel" of Puerto Galera, to break down those cups of rice that I lost count of (they say walking after meals aid in digestion) and to scan the bars so we could decide where to finally have our booze.

White Beach, Puerto Galera at night

Business establishments in White Beach stand upon the concrete embankment few meters far from the waters. The saloons fronting the beach abreast had their business spaces extended beyond the embankment, that is, they put up chairs and tables on the sands so they could accommodate more guests. But the sandy expanse of White Beach was already cleared during our trip. A local ordinance had recently taken effect, according to the bar attendant we had a chit-chat with on our second night, limiting the "party space" only upon the paved platform and the "party time" at only around midnight. Apparently, limiting the party space was to prevent trash to end up in the waters or get buried beneath the sands. Those businesses, however, seem not designed for what the ordinance prescribes as it left the owners little spaces to operate in. Some bars even turned out awkwardly narrow. I wonder if they likewise banned the popular fire dance which was usually performed upon the sandy shore, or does the curfew extends beyond midnight come summer time. I forgot to ask.

We went back to the hotel for a shower. Capping our first night ended up at the bar just outside the hotel, with a live band playing Stitches and Burns the moment we arrived. We huddled over a pitcher of Puerto Galera's popular cocktail with my usual jam on background. The sling, finally.

Mindoro Sling

Mindoro Sling's base, its sole alcoholic ingredient, is Tanduay Rhum. Tanduay's logo was allover White Beach—on lamp posts across the embankment, on walls, on copies of bar menus, in pitchers and tower dispensers, even in cocktail stirrers as if Tanduay sponsors White Beach. Or does it? Since even the party destination's flagship drink is Rhum-based. It seems Tanduay Rhum is to Puerto Galera what Emperador Light brandy is to Metro Manila and surrounding towns—the go-to drink whether there's an occasion or just a session.

One of the bars with live band in White Beach

In the now-defunct 80s bar I frequented in Pasig for years or elsewhere, I always prefer to sit at the front bar. When traveling, interesting stories from people you just met—fellow tourists, local drinkers and bartenders—are often exchanged there. Local tapsters also throw in good-faith information about their locality; random facts, or sometimes urban legends, about the very place you're having a good time in. It's fascinating as well when bartenders concoct drinks right before my eyes. Our Mindoro Sling was prepared as we watched: one Tanduay lapad was emptied into the pitcher, then the juices followed—mango, orange, a jigger of calamansi extract, a glass of Sprite (lime soda) and Grenadine syrup; to top it, the slices of unpeeled apple and orange were added, then the ice cubes. Mindoro Sling has a color and taste not far from a four seasons juice with a slight kick of the rum.

"Parang juice lang". That's how most cocktails are often judged at first glass. But after several slugs, there came the dizziness (to some, the euphoria), then a series of throwing up (to some, loud talking or may start confidently singing out of tune). "Traydor", as what it's coined in drinking lingo, Mindoro Sling falls into this type of drink. But getting drunk depends on one's tolerance for what one drinks. We had three pitchers of the sling on our first night and it didn't get us hammered. A pitcher costs PHP 500 and consuming three of it without getting tanked up burned a hole in our pockets. So on our second night, we only had a pitcher of sling and had buckets of Smirnoff Mule and Red Horse Beer to supplement it. That was cheaper and that's when I started singing—in front of a live audience—not once but twice.

Me, singing in front of live audience after a drink or two
Because I sing when I'm drunk.

Puerto Galera's tourist sites by day, White Beach at night—mellow rock and Mindoro Sling on the first, and acoustic reggae and Mindoro Sling et al. on the second. That's how this trip had become.

Water activities in White Beach
Water activities in White Beach


DJ Rivera is an I.T. professional, entrepreneur, travel blogger, writer and the online publisher of PinoyTravelogue.com based in Rizal province, Philippines. Click here to know more.

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