5 Reasons Why You Should Visit Marinduque Now
Holy Week is here, and it’s going to be a week-long reflection and repentance. But for some, it’s going to be a very long weekend of quality time with parents, relatives, and friends. It’s one of those few times of the year that we get to go back to our hometowns, do Visita Iglesia, or even plan for a summer kick-starter. But where outside Metro Manila can one best spend Holy Week without diverting from the very essence of it and yet be able to go to the beach and have fun under the March sun? It’s in Marinduque.
Dubbed as the Heart of the Philippines, Marinduque celebrates Holy Week in each of its municipality—a celebration that is more popular known as the Moriones Festival. If witnessing the festival isn’t enough to convince you, the province is also rich of long stretch of beaches, pristine islets by the sea, and other beautiful sights.
Let me give you five good reasons to visit Marinduque.
Marinduque is famous for its religious and colorful event known as the Moriones Festival. This well-attended festival during Lenten season starts on Palm Sunday and ends on Easter Sunday. Street acting and stage plays are the attractions of the event, as the parishioners portray the Crucifixion in the segment called Via Crucis (The Way of the Cross), and the students participate through the evening’s Senakulo (Passion Play) and Pugutan (Beheading) in the Moriones Arena.
The word “morion” refers to the helmet or masks Roman soldiers used to wear to conceal their identities while the word “moriones” refers to the penitents wearing the colorful Roman costumes marching along the streets in search for the Roman centurion Longinus. The reenactment highlight is when the Roman soldiers found Longinus and beheaded him because of his conversion to Christianity.
One can easily spot moriones or penitents because of their costumes—wooden masks, full gear, capes, a spear or a whip on one hand. I have seen, for the first time, a costumed local from the moment I stepped out of the boat in Dalahican port.
The festivity isn’t complete without visiting one of the grandiose century-old brick-walled churches found all over the province. Each town boasts its own church, and each church has its own share of activities for the Moriones Festival. You can even make your own itinerary. Witness the senakulo in the capital town of Boac, while the Via Crucis in Torrijos. Pabasa ng Pasyon (religious ritual of chanting the Pasyon) is held in Gasan, Paglilibot ng mga Moryon in Mogpog, Kristo ang Tagapagligtas (Christ the Savior) in Sta. Cruz, and Paghuhugas ng Paa (The Washing of the Feet) in Buenavista.
3Beaches and Islands
Being a heart-shaped island, Marinduque is bounded by its long stretch of beaches, be it white-sand or pebbled. The province has an expanse of blue seas dotted with small islands and blessed with coral reef and marine fauna. Marinduque’s version of Santorini called Bellarocca Island Resort and Spa tops the list of must-visits.
Maniwaya Island and its long sand bar in Sta. Cruz is also a must. Go early in the morning, around 6 a.m., as the tide easily goes up covering the whole stretch of the sand bar. Also, don’t forget to visit Poctoy White Beach in Torrijos, a one-kilometer stretch of white-sand beach and perhaps the most popular one in the province. It is a public beach, but there is an entrance fee of around PHP 25, just pay more to rent a cottage.
Hot springs are manifestations of a nearby volcano, either dormant or active, which is very true to most of the islands in the archipelago that are formed due to volcanic eruptions. Just in Marinduque, tourists can choose from several accessible hot springs. Two of which are called Marinduque Hot Spring Resort and Molbog Sulfur Spring, both located in Buenavista. I prefer the former because it feels like a relaxing swim or dip in a hot tub sans the pungent odor of the sulfur. But both are still good destinations.
Do you want to experience a movie-like scene where you wish with your eyes closed and afterward free a beautiful butterfly in a blossoming garden? You can do that in Marinduque! I bought one butterfly and released it in the garden of Marinduque Hot Spring, which was very movie-like and dramatic, to be honest. In Marinduque Lepidoptera Farm located in Gasan, you can even learn about metamorphosis. The caretaker will be your teacher for a day and tell you about the different lifestyles and lifespan of this beautiful insect.
How to Get to Marinduque
From Metro Manila, take a three-hour bus ride from EDSA terminal in Cubao to Batangas Port. The travel time depends on the day you travel. From the port, board a ferry boat that will take you to Marinduque. You’re free to choose which port in Marinduque is more convenient for you. I arrived in Dalahican Port in Mogpog and took the jeepney to Boac. Remember to verify bus schedules and boat schedules before your trip.
How to Get around Marinduque
A large group may opt to avail a 16-seater air-conditioned van for PHP 4,000 good for one whole day. The tour includes the Our Lady of Good Voyage in Mogpog, churches in all six towns, Poctoy White Beach in Torrijos, and butterfly sanctuary in Gasan. You may also hail a tricycle that will take you to a nearby town for PHP 50 per person. If you’re traveling solo, you may just ride a jeepney from one tourist site to another.
Holy Week is the peak season for all tourist destinations. Expect huge crowd everywhere and consider this when planning your trip to Marinduque. I don’t recommend going on Holy Wednesday and Holy Thursday, and try to extend your trip until Monday after Easter.
Ask your hotel or homestay personnel to try to book for you a boat ticket back to Batangas port. They usually have partner agents who provide advance booking.
Have you attended the Moriones Festival? Have you been to Marinduque? Share your experiences through the comments box below.