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Marinduque – April 1 to 3, 2010

This year’s Holy Week, I went to the island province of Marinduque with and at the suggestion of Jasper Jugan. The objective was the Annual Moriones Festival. For years, I have always read about the famous festival which highlights townsfolk dressed up as Christ-era Roman Soldiers wearing a paper-mache mask called the “Morion” while these soldiers are the Moriones.


View Marinduque in a larger map

Getting there

Marinduque refers to itself as “The Heart of the Philippines.” With good reason. It’s location in the country with 7107 islands puts it as the heart of the sitting dog. It is also coincidentally somewhat heart shaped (biologically, not valentinish). As an island we obviously needed to cross some water via Tayabas Bay.

To bring the car… or not? Join a tour or go on our own?

The first option was to join a tour group to the island. I then suggested driving and bringing the car (aka The Lakwatsero Mobile) all the way. Tour groups for me have pros and cons. The pros are of course that someone is there to guide the entire trip so that you don’t get lost and that all the arrangements are done for you so you don’t need to worry about the details. But what I don’t like about joining tour groups is that you are at their mercy and held prisoner to their itinerary. Anyway, so Jasper and I agreed we would drive on our own.

The biggest challenge of course was taking a Ro-Ro (Roll On, Roll Off) or those ferries that allow you to bring your car. The night before we left, Jasper sent me a link to a 10 year old article on the horror in taking a Roro (http://www.travelsmart.net/article/101625/). The experience was NOT anyway near being traumatic and was actually quite pleasant. Needless to say, that was the only stress point for me. By the way, you can take a bus all the way to the Island from Cubao via JAC Liner.

The first half of the trip was quite simple. We just needed to drive from Manila to Lucena City in Quezon province. That meant taking the SLEX to the end and exiting in Calamba. We then just follow the signs towards, Batangas, San Pablo, and finally Lucena. Getting lost wasn’t much of an issue because there are signs all the way… and if not the official signs, just follow the signs to SM Lucena.

We later didn’t realize that SM Lucena was quite a landmark. Every time we asked for directions to the port of Lucena the local folk would always refer to SM. Literally we turn right at SM then go straight from there. It could not be any easier.

On board M/V Lolo Uweng of Landayan

Based on the information we gathered. we were targeting a midnight Ferry to the port at Mogpog. We arrived at the port at around 9:10am of Wed, March 31. When we got through the gates someone asked us if we would want to take the 11:30pm Ferry to Cauit, a port which was actually closer to our destination of Boac.

Now here is where my preconceived RORO stress gets thrown out the door. The same guy who suggested the 11:30pm Ferry quickly asked for a copy of my car’s OR/CR and P300 to process all of the needed paperwork. The guy was obviously a fixer, but for P300, what the hey… that is what they are there for… convenience. I have no idea what the real cost is. There is paperwork for 1) PPA (Philippine Ports Authority) and something for the 2) Philippine Coast Guard. Everything was quickly processed and by 9:30am my car was onboard Boac Ferries, M/V Lolo Uweng of Landayan. (see above pick). We were first on board… which implies that we would last to disembark… but of course we didn’t really mind.

As with all Ferries… it was pretty tight with all the other passengers. I later asked and found out that we could stay in the car the whole time. Which of course was more comfortable.

While this Ferry left earlier, we had no idea that the Cauit port was much farther… 2 hours longer than had we taken the other Ferry to Mogpog. So we arrived at around 4:000am. The trip was fine and we slept most of the way, still… it’s 2 hours.

Disembarking the Ferry 

As we were nearing the port and ready to board, I saw quite an interesting scene. All of the passengers from upstairs started going down and waited for the doors to open to disembark. As in they were all rushing down. It was so reminiscent of the strange behavior of airline passengers to be the first to rush out the door. It was quite amusing… and silly. Hey, it was 4am.

Leaving the port we made our way to the poblacion at Boac. After getting lost through the odd one way streets we found our way to our lodging. Jasper got our booking at Happy Bunny’s Kitchenette and Lodging. Yes, you read it right… Happy Bunny.

Happy Bunny Kitchenette and Lodging

Happy Bunny was a nice home-stay type lodging. No frills. Common bath. No aircon. But still is quite comfortable. It is also strategically located. But then again, the entire poblacion is so small, everything is walking distance.

We arrived here sometime before 5am, so first order of the day was to… sleep. For when we wake up, we search for Moriones.

 

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