White House Safari Lodge, 45 minutes away by plane from Manila, is a good place to start discovering Occidental Mindoro, a region that has remained untamed and exceptionally beautiful.
David Anthony “Tony” Parkinson, an Englishman who lived 28 years in Kenya, built his small hotel. He came to the Philippines when the Calait Animal Reserve in Palawan was created in 1977. If you ask him, he will surely tell you stories about the translocation of eight species of big Kenyan mammals to a Philippine Island. He perfectly knows the region around San Jose that curiously resembles the Kenyan countryside in certain areas. No wonder he settled here. Tony can also organize activities for you if you advise him of your plans well in advance.
White House Safari Lodge is perfectly maintained two-story house with a casual atmosphere. It is surrounded by a smal flower garden on a black sand beach, in a quiet community of San Jose.
The rooms are quite comfortable with marble bathrooms. Some of them have a terrace overlooking the sea. Meals are taken downstairs in a small dining room with a lounging corner. Whitewashed walls with picture frames of birds and sailboats, well polished parquet floors, wood furniture ad the flower-printed material covering the beds and sofas given an English touch — surprising in this remote place. You can either rent a jeepney or a motorbike to discover the countryside’s mountain scenery, notably the Insulman Mountains with their reddish fairy-cone forms contrasting with the green plains dotted with acacia trees. If you have a few days, the owner can organize a trek for you to the National Park if Iglit/Baco to see the Mangyan tribe and, if you are lucky, he rare tamaraws
You can likewise rent a banca for a day for island hopping, coasting along deserted islets, mangrove-filled bays and shores with cycad trees. You can go snorkeling at White Island, a mere 20-minute ride by banca or around Ambulong Island, an hour away.
How to get there
By air and land, 55-minute daily flights on Asian Spirit or Air Philippines from Manila to San Jose City. 5 minutes by tricycle from San Jose airport to the lodge.