Marinduque, the island province

Marinduque Travel Blog

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At daybreak, photo of the ferry boat about to leave for Lucena City in the big island of Luzon.
We had planned this trip for a few weeks, when Ma'am CR, a retired colleague, had invited several of us to spend the Holy week in Marinduque, which is famous for its Moriones festival. A week before the trip, I had learned that the other guests had backed out, leaving only the hostess and myself.

Ma'am CR has a house in the island. Several colleagues had been there before and they all enjoyed it. I was a little hesitant when I learned that I was going alone with Ma'am CR, but what the heck, I told myself.

So I went to the old domestic airport at 5 AM. It was awhile before Ma'am CR arrived, and when she did, it turned out that her cousins were there too, bound for Marinduque as well.
Flowers of the guava tree.
  This was going to be interesting. Ma'am CR chatted with the oldest cousin all the time, but she had inroduced me to three others in their group.

A bit later, Kuya Nanding and Ate Sarah arrived as well. Ate Sarah is Ma'am CR's niece, and Kuya Nanding is her husband.

Ma'am CR had told me about the accomodations. There were two houses, one near the beach, and the other about 50 meters away, near the highway. I was asked to choose where to stay, and being the adventurous type, I choose the house near the beach.

It turned out that the house I had chosen to stay was Ate Sarah and Kuya Nanding's house, and not Ma'am CR's. Hahahahaha. This is crazy, but I want to stay there, and not in the house near the highway!

When we got to the Marinduque airport in the town of Gasan, there was a van waiting for us.
I tried to take a photo of the full moon, with macabre effect.
Apparently Ma'am CR had coordinated everything with military precision. And for good reason; Ma'am CR retired as colonel, hahaha.

Their place was near the airport.

I fell in love with the beach house. The beach was a bit gravelly and was not white, but it didn't matter. The beach was clean, the water very clear, and the seabed had no trace of trash, anywhere. Somehow squeamish me look for this every time, hehehe.

We deposited our things and went out shortly, to the Gasan town market to shop for produce. Fresh fish was cheap. Fruits were slightly cheaper than Manila prices, but the fish was about half their Manila prices.

The four days that we spent there were a blur. I think I bathed in the beach three times in all. During those times, Ate Isa was with me. Ate Isa had gone to Marinduque ahead of us, because she was not able to get her plane ticket immediately, and had to take the bus-ferry route, and she arrived the night before we got there.
At dusk, on the beach near the house we stayed in.

She works as a senior researcher at the main campus of the university where I also teach ( a smaller and older campus, for health sciences).  She was the eldest sibling of Ate Sarah, they have a brother between them (in birth order). To say that the three of us had bonded very well during those times was perhaps accurate. Before I left for Manila, I knew so much of their family lore, hahaha. (They also invited me to Kuya Ding's 60th birthday celebration in a posh country club two weeks ago).

Their section of the beachfront was heavenly. The timing was perfect; these days were sunny and the sea was calm. Just perfect for swimming. Except that I don't know how to swim, lol. I spent many hours soaking in the very clear water, in the late afternoons when the water was warm. It was very soothing, and made me sleep very soundly afterward.
Butterfly cocoons exported to the USA.

It was Thursday when we went to Boac. A procession with Moriones was scheduled later in the day. Before that, we dropped by the provincial fair. Boac is the provincial capital, and the Boac church was the biggest in the island.

It turned out that my host family is a prominent family. They have an ancestral house near the downtown of Boac. Before we went there we dropped by the old Chinese pancit place across the street to savor the pancit canton that Ma'am CR had for merienda almost everyday when she was a kid, lol....

They make their own noodles. Otherwise, I rate it an 8.5 out of 10. I would have rated it higher had Ma'am CR allowed me breathing space from eating.
Photo of the cruise ship docked near the house.
lol.... I guess Ma'am CR's comfort food comforted a lot of other people, too. The place was a mess, in the old dilapidated way. But not dirty; just a mess. Like many people's houses when they don't throw away anything, so you would find receipts dating from 1965 on their bursting wallets, hahaha.

Marinduque was hot, muggy, and humid that day. The ceiling fan was inadequate and I could't eat very well from fanning myself constantly. And, from stuffing myself and the heat, I was so sleepy, lol.

I was jolted from my semi comatose state as we were walking to their house, when Ate Isa slipped and fell in the steep cement gutter of the sidewalk ( I am not sure of the correct term for the structure). I thought she had broken her ankle. Jesus Christ...

Too bad it was already dark when the procession came by.
The mouth of the Cathedral cave.
We had the best viewing space, in the balcony of the ancestral house, but my camera wasn't able to get the best photo due to inadequate lighting. I digress was the cameraman, me, who was inadequate, hahaha.

On the way back to the beach house, Ma'am CR pointed out the ancestral house of a famous personality currently imbroiled in a video controversy, lol. His mom is Ma'am CR's first cousin!!

On Friday we were invited to Ma'am CR's cousins house, the same group at the airport. An important ceremony was to take place, and it was a homecoming of sorts. Just before lunch the governor of the province joined us. The governor is a brother of Ma'am CR's cousins!!! Lordy!!
They were very solicitous and hospitable.

Later that day we watched out for a baranggay procession, also with morion.
Renanthera philippinensis in a farmer's garden outside of Bathala Cave in Sta. Cruz.
It was shorter compared to the one in Boac of course, but we were too tired to go to Boac again. It was also dark, and once more, my photography skills were too inadequate to capture any good images.

On  Saturday we had a trip around the island. We went to Sta. Cruz, to the Bathala caves. There are eight caves in the system, probably interconnected in some dark subterranean alley. We had enough energy for the biggest cave only, they call this the Cathedral Cave because of the large dome. Again, it turned out all of them had gone to the caves before, and the trip there was for me, hahahaha. Kuya Ding went in with me and the guide, though. The bat droppings gave it a powerful stench.

I was not prepared for the cave hike, maybe 30 minutes from where the van was parked. My leather sandals were made for the mall and not for the caves, hahaha.
Renanthera philippinensis closeup.

The village folk organizing the cave hikes were very hospitable. They had managed to maintain the caves, and systematized the trips. The fees were minimal. Ma'am CR paid for everything, hahaha. One of the farmers there sold us a couple of Renanthera philippinensis orchids that he claimed came from up the mountains above the caves. They called it the fire orchid. The first time I heard of this appellation, but it was very apt.

It was too bad that on one side of the cave wall near the entrance, some people from an earlier era had carved their names on stone. Some stalactites and stalagmites have been broken off for souvenirs. That was depressing.

A sortie into the old Marcopper mining area was not allowed by the security guards. No matter that we name-dropped the governor, hahaha.
The beachfront.

The old Marinduque Mining site is closed. Finis. Kaput. I remembered it was a litiginous issue, something about toxic chemicals being dumped into the river? Everything happened in the 60s and the 70s and I cannot reconstruct the issues anymore. I was too young.

We ate lunch that Ate Isa and Ate Sarah prepared, in a waiting shed near the Marcopper site. Perhaps it was among the highest places in the island, and the vista was awesome.

We dropped by a grotto also, earlier in the day. The huge cement figure of the Virgin Mary is on a carefully terraced area, maybe more than 700 meters uphill. I was panting and sweating before I reached the top, hahaha. That I was winded was an understatement.

Let me see....

We also went to a place where we bought large squid for dinner.
The church of Gasan.
Large, as in 3 kilograms a squid, without its guts and head. Thats more than 7 lbs, lol....Surprisingly tender when broiled later in the day. Yum!!!!

In Malbog, Ate Isa went in the sulfur hot springs for a dip. Medicinal, they claimed. I was not too enthusiastic about it, as the water was not clear, and it stank. Seriously, like rotten eggs, hahaha.

About a kilometer from the sulfur hot springs was another resort with hot springs (not sulfurous), and this was where the rest of us went. The manager was a very personable guy. He allowed us private use of one of the swimming pools  (hot spring fed) for maybe four hours, for minimal fees.  I think we were so lucky. Or that Ma'am CR and Kuya Ding knew lots of people???

We also dropped by the church of Gasan. It was being constructed from the old collapsed church (?), but the design was sort of in a baroque style.
The paputong ceremony; mostly young women.

I spent maybe two hours in the beach again, on our last night.  I still miss it. How can one ever forget? On that previous Wednesday afternoon late afternoon, Ma'am CR had organized a paputong, the traditional Marinduque welcome ceremony of prayers for friendship and welcome, and Kuya Ding, Ate Isa, and myself were crowned with flowers at the end.

Maraming salamat, Ma'am Cr. Ate Isa, Ate Sarah, and Kuya Ding. It was one memorable trip.

Just unforgettable.

mightor20 says:
nice blog. im planning to spend holy week in marinduque this year.
Posted on: Jan 02, 2011
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At daybreak, photo of the ferry bo…
At daybreak, photo of the ferry b…
Flowers of the guava tree.
Flowers of the guava tree.
I tried to take a photo of the ful…
I tried to take a photo of the fu…
At dusk, on the beach near the hou…
At dusk, on the beach near the ho…
Butterfly cocoons exported to the …
Butterfly cocoons exported to the…
Photo of the cruise ship docked ne…
Photo of the cruise ship docked n…
The mouth of the Cathedral cave.
The mouth of the Cathedral cave.
Renanthera philippinensis in a far…
Renanthera philippinensis in a fa…
Renanthera philippinensis closeup.
Renanthera philippinensis closeup.
The beachfront.
The beachfront.
The church of Gasan.
The church of Gasan.
The paputong ceremony; mostly youn…
The paputong ceremony; mostly you…
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photo by: Luv