Whenever people ask me how I fell in love with traveling, I always tell them I got inspired by Jack Kerouac’s On the Road, an autobiographical narrative of the writer’s post-war road trip across the United States amid a background of poetry, jazz and the emerging beat culture.
Thinking back now, I realize the birth of my wanderlust occurred during my college years.
This was a time when my friends and I journeyed to the province of Marinduque every Holy Week to partake of the island’s iconic revelry, the Moriones Festival.
After witnessing the street parade of masked Romans and penitents culminating in the ceremonial “beheading” of Longinus, we would cap Easter Sunday with a picnic at Ulong beach in the town of Mogpog.
Years before I first read the pages of Kerouac’s novel, the travel bug had already bitten me in the island of Marinduque.
Since then, I have been to many places and returning to the island never came to mind, until now.
Short and sweet
I was fortunate to be part of the maiden Cebu Pacific Air flight to Marinduque last 1 April 2019 (flights from NAIA Terminal 4 to Marinduque are every Monday, Wednesday and Saturday).
Through CebPac’s subsidiary Cebgo, the inaugural flight also signaled the return of commercial flights to the province after a six-year absence.
For the local airline, it was the first time to offer the route.
Aside from boosting commerce and tourism, travel time to the island has been lessened to an hour at the most when it would take eight hours by land and ferry.
For two days, we simply rode a van and circled the island stopping at various fascinating places of interest. The experience was more than enough to remind me of the distinctive lure of Marinduque.
The night of our arrival, I was introduced to a cultural practice indigenous to the province: the putong ceremony.
Putong means “to crown,” and the ritual performed by elderly women is composed of a song of hope climaxing in a crescendo and a thanksgiving prayer for a blessed life. The rite ends with the performers tossing coins and flower petals to the guests before crowning them with a handcrafted crown made from nito (local vine).
The next day, we started our roundabout at the heritage town of Boac. Despite a fire that ravaged a number of heritage houses last year, a number of old homes still remains in Boac, which include decades-old family-run restaurants that serve some of the island’s known cuisines such as the kari-kari.
The main road of Marinduque which almost circles the entirety of this heart-shaped island took us to a series of picturesque landscapes — the Tres Islands of Baltazar, Gaspar and Melchor whose surrounding sandbars radiate with a golden sheen from afar.
We also saw the popular high-end Bellaroca Island Resort. It closed operations around the same time commercial flights stopped flying to Marinduque in 2013. Because of the new Cebu Pacific flights, the resort is now attracting numerous investors interested in reopening it.
Other places we visited during our day-long road trip were the white beach of Poctoy; the heritage churches in Sta Cruz, Boac and Gasan; the Marl Butterfly Garden; Malbog Sulfuric Resort; and a charming roadside spot where we viewed Mount Malindig.
We concluded our eventful Marinduque loop at the summit of Mataas na Bundok, a 220-meter peak where the Luzon Datum of 1911 is located. Established by the US Coast and Geodetic Survey in 1911 as the center of Philippine geodetic triangulations, Luzon Datum represents the 0.0 reference point of any mappings done in the country.
Because we only spent a couple of days exploring, we missed out on the other mesmerizing attractions in Marinduque.
From my earlier travels to this island, I recall numerous cave systems, the splendid Maniway Island and Palad Sandbar, countless waterfalls, the Ungab Rock formation and the list goes on — all the reasons for me to hasten my next return to Marinduque.
Text and photos by Marky Ramone Go