And while I can’t picture myself locked on my work area for the whole summer, I made plans although unsure – to visit my home in Mindoro for the Holy Week or just get lost somewhere – just to reboot my system.
Also, I guess I already clocked enough work overtime and deserve an island holiday. Fortunately I was able to join some of my officemates on a trip to Marinduque.
The trip gave me an amazing discovery that even though you are at a different place, you can still feel at home.
I mean, there’s that distinct qualities of Marinduque that makes me think of Mindoro - the people, the ambience, the feeling of it being cozy and warm. Of course I know that those two islands are geographically and historically connected, but still every town and every place in the Philippines has its own character and it’s rare, at least for me, to feel “home” at a totally new and different place.
To give you reasons why you should also visit Marinduque, let me share here a quick recap of our trip, which of course I will feature each adventure on a separate dedicated post (if I have time.)
Feel the rush
This pre-summer Semana Santa long weekend break tends to be a signal to a dead-heat race to summer – something to rush toward, hopefully to experience as-many-as-possible awesome out-of-town breaks.
Hence, even if we know all about that avalanche of Metro Manila people, escaping the city going to the provinces like crazy prisoners - causing mad traffic, travel stress, anxiety and everything else - we still go for it. Well that’s part of the adventure right?
We took a bus from Kamias, Cubao going to Lucena and from there we boarded a RORO (ferry) going to Balanacan Port in Marinduque.
It was a long and tiring night but at the break of dawn I saw picturesque islets as we approached the port and confirmed that it was well worth the trip.
|Colorful sunrise at the Balanacan Pier|
At the Balanacan Port, we immediately took a jeepney going to Buenavista, our first destination.
Exclusive resort beach-crashing
Ever heard of Bellarocca Resort? Yeah, that super luxurious and expensive, Santorini inspired exclusive resort in Marinduque.
With their cheapest room rate at around 30K Pesos per night? Well, that’s luxury honey.
And all we want are some pictures! So, what we did (and it still makes me smile whenever I remember this) is we plan some commando island-espionage style boat trip around the island. While our motor banca sailed near and around the small island we took pictures here and there like certified paparazzi.
But what’s the use of those pictures without us in there?
So, all of us thinking about some Bellarocca photos to brag back there at the office and on Facebook of course, we did something out of the ordinary – dangerous and a little bit scandalous perhaps.
My first time resort-crashing adventure!! I will tell you more about it on a separate post soon.
Hot springing on a summer?
Well, this part makes us the certified travel nerds. With the scorching summer heat we still managed to enjoy a dip in a hot spring!
After enjoying the hot pool, we immediately look for some refreshing cold water at the shower rooms to wash ourselves but… water at the shower rooms is even hotter!
So yes, we all had our share of the penitential activity for this season of Lent.
Antique dinner at the Casa de Don Emilio
After our skin-blistering hot spring encounter, we traveled going to Boac, Marinduque’s Capital, to do some food tripping and souvenir shopping.
I immediately notice the old Spanish houses around Boac and I instantly feel that old Calle Crisologo effect on some street corners.
Appropriately, we end up dining at the old Casa de Don Emilio, an old Spanish style ancestral house turned into a restaurant and café.
Although the ambiance is old, their menu is not. They are serving cordon bleu, beef stroganoff, salpicao, nachos, tacos etc. probably to cater to foreigners.
We ordered pancit and pizza from the Kusina sa Plaza, the carinderia-type restaurant and café at the ground floor – or called “silong” as part of an old Colonial Spanish house. I also ordered halo-halo but to my dismay it is not available – or ice isn’t available daw.
We don’t have enough sleep yet from the previous night’s travel, so to kick our system with some caffeine, we ordered some coffee blends such as Java Chip Frappe, Wild Tribe Mocha etc. (Yes, it is an antique-house resto serving Starbucks-type coffee blends.)
But to our dismay, it took them few decades to serve. It’s like we ordered it during the Spanish Colonial period and it was already the American liberation but our precious coffee blends are still not served.
So we cancelled all our other pending orders and left. It happens yes, but it’s really frustrating considering it’s our first time dining there.
Well at least, without the caffeine, we all had a good night sleep.
Hamos na Kayo sa Torrijos
Our next stop – the lovely and quaint town of Torrijos.
Marinduque offers awesome beaches and fun but it is more known for its colorful staging of the Moriones Festival, the trademark revelry and a tourist attraction of the island.
In Torrijos, we were able to witness the re-enactment of the crucifixion, with one participant portraying the role of Jesus, had his palms actually nailed into a cross. According to a tarpaulin announcement I saw during the procession later in the evening, this is the first time that an actual crucifixion was held in Torrijos. Well, that is cool because it is also my first time to witness such event.
In the afternoon, we visited the Freedom Park, formerly known as the Luneta Park of Torrijos. It’s a park on a beachfront with outstanding view of Mt. Malindig. It is like the smaller and cleaner version of Roxas Boulevard.
Before sundown, we proceed at the parish church to join the annual Lent procession. This is also the event when meet what we are looking for, the Morion.
It’s time for beach hopping!
It’s Sabado de Gloria, our third day in Marinduque and a perfect day for beach hopping.
Our first stop, the vanishing Palad Sandbar near Maniwaya Island in Sta. Cruz, Marinduque. What makes this site more exciting is not only because of its crystal clear waters but the fact that this very small sandbar formation is in the middle of the sea, which only appears at around 4 p.m. during low tide.
It took us almost 2-hour sailing via a motorized banca from Torrijos to reach this site. Unfortunately, it was not yet a full low tide when we reached the Palad sandbar so we just took a quick dive and head to Maniwaya Island to check some beaches there.
|Maniwaya Beaches - beachfront of Residencia de Palo Maria Resort|
|Residencia de Palo Maria resort entrance|
We took our lunch at the boat then go to Residencia de Palo Maria, a hotel and beach resort in Maniwaya Island, for a quick rest.
Hoping to fit in more adventures on this short day, we left Maniwaya Island and head to another beach in Brgy. Mongpong Sta. Cruz, this time to search for a nice halo-halo.
Unfortunately, there was no halo-halo vendor on the area so we just enjoy taking pictures of the beautiful but abandoned long stretch of Mongpong beach.
Since our beach craving is insatiable, we returned to Palad island sandbar hoping that it will be visible by now. Lots of other tourists are already swimming at the sandbar when we arrived, so we just took a quick dip then head back to Torrijos.
In the evening, we tried attending a beach party in Poctoy White Beach but we can’t find a tricycle going there.
Being dead tired and our skin-burns tingling, we just decided to return home and rest. This is what I call beach-overdose.
I’m sure I will always remember, very vividly, this quick three-day getaway to Marinduque, especially that feeling of being beach-overdosed – too much sun and fun!
Ako ngani ay mapunta ulit!