Dinagyang Festival 2011, Iloilo – January 22, 2011

Similar to the Ati-Atihan and Sinulog Festivals of Kalibo and Cebu respectively, the DInagyang Festival of Iloilo is in celebration of the Sto. Niño (Infant Jesus) and held on the weekend of the 4th Sunday of January. The Dinagyang Festival started out as a small parish devotion in 1967, but became a full-blown annual Festival for Iloilo in 1977 after then President Marcos ordered the promotion of local Festivals as a means to boost tourism (pretty much like what the Aquino Government has started this year as well),   Similar to the other two Festivals, Dinagyang is about street dancing, several contests, and street food!

This would be my second trip to Iloilo in less than a month. In late December, I went to Guimaras Island.

The day started out at around 3am as we checked-into Cebu Pacific’s 4:55am flight to Iloilo City.

Dinagyang Festival, Iloilo

My lakwatsa kaladkarins for this trip, Kent Macatangay and Ralph Sarmiento.

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Arriving at the Iloilo Airport quite early, barely even 6am, we made the decision to make a small side trip to the Miagao Church around an hour away.

More on this iconic Iloilo landmark in a separate post (here)

Dinagyang Festival, Iloilo

From Miagao Church, we proceeded to Iloilo City, arriving quite early, so we had ourselves dropped of at Robison’s then stopped at Ted’s for some La Paz Batchoy.

Dinagyang Festival, Iloilo

By around 9am, we wandered off to the Festival Area itself. It was pretty easy enough to find, We headed off to the areas where the streets were closed off to regular traffic. We then the followed the music.

After walking around for a few minutes we encountered a “special” intersection to which were erected special grandstands.

Dinagyang Festival, Iloilo

A little later some parade people showed up…

Dinagyang Festival, Iloilo

A few minutes a group started performing. I then realized that this was your typical street-dancing-contest performance, and I noted that at that grandstand were a group of judges. It was great, though we realized that were at the “back” of the performers and our vantage point wasn’t ideal.

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But that didn’t mean the performance wasn’t interesting. This particular group had a theme of Catfish (“Hito”).

Dinagyang Festival, Iloilo

Dinagyang Festival, Iloilo

After this particular group, we went walking around the streets of Iloilo investigating the rest of the Festival.

Soon after, we encountered streets lined with the best of Festivals… STREET FOOD! Yum.

Dinagyang Festival, Iloilo

And of course the standard Festival-ware…

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The streets were packed with all sorts of people.

Dinagyang Festival, Iloilo

And a lot of people getting into the action. Even a simple cigarette vendor…

Dinagyang Festival, Iloilo

This looks like a black ginger bread man.

Dinagyang Festival, Iloilo

We engaged in a lot of eating of street food.

Street performers proceeding through the streets…

Dinagyang Festival, Iloilo

And doing their thing!

Dinagyang Festival, Iloilo

Dinagyang Festival, Iloilo

Dinagyang Festival, Iloilo

Dinagyang Festival, Iloilo

Dinagyang Festival, Iloilo

Dinagyang Festival, Iloilo

As you can see…the streets are filled with photo-taking festival revelers… a lot of foreigners too!

Dinagyang Festival, Iloilo

Dinagyang Festival, Iloilo

Ah, amidst the bunting-decorated streets… two iconic symbols… SM and McDonald’s.

Dinagyang Festival, Iloilo

By lunch time, we were headed to Deco’s but we decided to take advantage of the street food lining the streets.

Dinagyang Festival, Iloilo

Dinagyang Festival, Iloilo

Our selection consisted of a grilled assortment of chicken, pork barbeque, dried pusit, chicken liver, and isaw.

Dinagyang Festival, Iloilo

We did reach Deco’s, initially for dessert, but we just ended up buying pasalubong. I took advantage a this standee outside.

Dinagyang Festival, Iloilo

This ends for me the January Sto. Nino Festivals for this year.

Iloilo’s Dinagyang Festival is not as extravagant as Cebu’s Sinulog, but that does not make the Festival any less fun. The people of Iloilo sure know how to throw a street party.

Ati-Atihan 2011, Kalibo, Aklan – Jan 15, 2011

Long ago. Before you heard about the festivals Sinulog, Masskara, Kadayawan, and Dinagyang, there was The Ati-Atihan held every January in Kalibo, Aklan in honor of the Sto. Niño which had its origins in the 13th Century. In fact, when I was growing up, I could remember the Ati-Atihan as THE Festival to attend in the Philippines… the others did not exist yet. In recent years, Sinulog — which only started in 1980 — with marketing and promotions from Cebu has made it the biggest and most popular of the Philippines’ Festivals overshadowing the Ati-Atihan. Adding insult to injury… both festivals honoring the Sto. Niño fall on the same week.

In 2009 and 2010, I visited the Sinulog Festival (post here) in Cebu which was actually my first festival experience as The Lakwatsero. This year, I flew to Kalibo to finally experience the famous Ati-Atihan.

View Kalibo, Aklan in a larger map

On this trip, I took along my two Nieces, Leia and Kitkat. These two have been asking to join me on one of my lakwatsas all through 2010. So after teasing them about joining during family Christmas dinner, I asked them a few weeks ago if they would like to join my trio Kalibo. Of course I did offer the trip as all-expenses-paid.

We took the 8:55am flight on PAL.

Landing in Kalibo our plane was greeted with full military honors. It wasn’t for us obviously, rather it was for my seatmate. Until 30 min into the flight I hadn’t realized that I was seated beside Senator Loren Legarda. It was only after she spoke to the flight attendant that I recognized that very characteristic voice. Realizing that she valued her privacy and her space, I didn’t make a fuss. I just said “hi” and she asked me if I was attending the Ati-Atihan.

Leaving the airport, we ventured to acquire transportation to the town proper of Kalibo. As one would expect of any airport to which tourists frequent (Kalibo is one option to get to Boracay), you can always expect all sorts of transportation outside. We opted for a Tricycle.

It was a comfortable short trip from the airport to the town proper. The tricycle driver brought us as close to the town plaza as he could as many of the streets were closed of due to the Festival.

After just walking for a few minutes, we encountered our first group that was making its way through the streets.

From this point on, we were on Festival mode. Everywhere we looked we’d see an array of street dancers parade around the streets near the town plaza. The streets were full of Townsfolk, Tourists, and Photographers taking pictures with the characters on the street.

I had read on the Mabuhay Magazine on the plane that one of the characteristics which differentiates the Ati-Atihan with other festivals is “audience participation.” In Sinlog, for example, people are left to watch the parade from behind cordoned-off areas on the street as the parades pass through. At the “Ati-Atihan", everyone is invited to be part of the parade and dance along.

At this point I began to appreciate the Ati-Atihan Spirit.

For the Ati-Atihan purists, the costumes are made from indigenous materials. And of course the distinctive blackening make-up of either charcoal, oil, or shoe-polish.

My two nieces attending their first street festival ever.

And one thing you get a lot of… smiles Smile

The streets were full of people taking pictures of each others weaving through the parade.

So… who am I not to join in on the tradition? (Me and Leia)

After a while, we decided to make our way to the Kalibo Cathedral for a change of scene.

We passed through the Pastrana Park

The Kalibo Cathedral

Inside the Cathedral was the “Blessing of Children” as Children of different ages gather for the traditional blessing to honor the Holy Child officiated by the Parish Priest.

From the Cathedral, at around 11:30am I thought that we should start foraging for food.

We stopped at a little street side diner which served an array of typical Filipino food.

After lunch we realized that the streets were quiet and there were significantly less people. We decided to take a break from the Festival and we asked a tricycle drive to take us to the town of New Washington where we went to a place known as Sampaguita Guardens Restort (But that is another post)

After a brief visit to Sampaguita Gardens, we proceed back to Kalibo for the afternoon scene. It was more lively in the afternoon than it was in the morning. I got to notice a number of things. After a while you get to realize that the groups really went around the city in a long route… if you waited long enough you would see the group again… and again. Every now and then I would think to myself…wait, I’ve seen this kid before.

Despite looking tired, it didn’t seem like people were  less into it…

And as the day went on… the kodakan continued…

Everyone was getting in on the act… the foreigners were loving it. I actually realized that the foreigners were into the scene even more than the locals… which was great!

… and same with us. (Me and Kitkat)

There was no shortage of characters…


After a while, we took a short break from the heat and the crowds and when we came back to the same spot… the crowd had ballooned in size and energy!

Here are some scenes from festival…

a few scenes from Ati-Atihan 2011 showing the sound and the atmosphere of the festival.

One of the last floats we saw was rather… strange. It had characters from DC Comics’ Justice League. Green Lantern, Robin, Batman, and Super boy were in front of a truck which had Wonder Woman, Supergirl, Spider Woman, and Superman. Behind was Catwoman, Bat Girl, and a female Robin.

What they say about Ati-Atihan is true. Everyone really gets into. People dancing on the streets and just having a great time. It’s definitely different from the more commercial aspect of Sinulog.

I guess the original is still the best!

Final Observation: From year’s past, I always thought the the slogan for Ati-Atihan was “Hala Bira!” and that it is chanted on the streets. I did see the words on few banners on the streets, but I saw more “Viva Sto. Niño”. And as for chanting? I didn’t hear the phrase shouted out at all.

Next week, I am off to Iloilo for The Dinagyang Festival

Sinulog Festival 2009 and 2010, Cebu

Looking through my photos folder on my home PC, I realized that I have not blogged about any of the Sinulog Festivals I have been to. Considering Sinulog 2009 was the 3rd trip I had gone on a after turning into The Lakwatsero (right after my trips to Taal in December 2008 and Pinatubo in early January 2009). The trips predate my blog. While the 2009 SInulog is explainable, I am not even sure why I never posted on the 2010 Sinulog.

As the 2011 Sinulog is now underway, I think in honor of the anniversary of my two trips in years past I should do this post. I am not going to Sinulog this year. Next week I am going to Kalibo for the Ati-Atihan which happens at the same time as Sinulog in Cebu.

The Sinulog Festival is an annual festival which takes place in Cebu in honor of the Sto. Niño. It lasts from 9 days and ends on the third Sunday of January. For two years, I have attended the concluding ceremonies on the final Sunday which is the parade through the streets of Cebu.

[ For more info on the Festival itself, read up on this article from WikiPilipinas. ]


With me on this trip was Dru Leonardo, Kent Macatangay, and Jasper Jugan…

Sinulog, Cebu

… and our hosts and guides, George and Dana Parilla

George was able to get us these special Photographer’s IDs which allowed us to navigate through the streets outside the barriers and through the street dancers.

Sinulog, Cebu

We started with breakfast at Larsian… then proceeded to the parade…

Sinulog, Cebu

This being my first festival, I was just fascinated by the color and the energy of the performances.

Sinulog, Cebu

Sinulog, Cebu

Here we realized that the shade of Jasper’s shirt blended in with this group!

Sinulog, Cebu

We made our way into the grandstand where we watched a number of performances before going back into the street again.

Sinulog, Cebu

Sinulog, Cebu

Sinulog, Cebu

Personally… this is one of the cutest groups to perform…

Sinulog, Cebu

we then when back to the streets…

Sinulog, Cebu

Sinulog, Cebu

While a photographer myself, I would have to say one of the more annoying sights during the Festival were the number of Photographers who seem to overpower the festival. For my part, I try to be unobtrusive… I stay by the side… not to get in the way. But then again, I realized my efforts were all for naught as all the photographers battled to get their best shots by bullying their way and positioning themselves when the could. Naturally, if you were a passive photog, you would get some annoying one step in front of you without the courtesy of an “excuse me.” Sigh…

Sinulog, Cebu

Sinulog, Cebu

Double Take

While on watching the show from the grandstand, we did some cam-whoring using the Sony Cybershot…

Sinulog, Cebu

While George, from ground level was taking us…

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SInulog 2009 was a fun experience for me. It was my first Lakwatsero Festival, and again, on my third Lakwatsa out.


Excited from the 2009 Sinulog, I came back the next year. This time meeting up with George and Dana Parilla with colleagues Bong Rollan and Louie Castaneda.

Sinulog, Cebu

As we did the year before, we had our breakfast at my favorite BBQ place… Larsian.

Sinulog, Cebu

Sinulog, Cebu

From Larsian, we proceeded to walk to the parade route where we caught up with the groups already on performance mode…

Sinulog, Cebu

Sinulog, Cebu

Pit Senyor!

Sinulog, Cebu

Sinulog, Cebu

Sinulog, Cebu


Somewhere along the way to the grandstand, we had to weed through the dense crowds. Then a mishap occurred. We were squeezing our way through when I felt some hands on my shorts pockets… resulting in the theft of my phone from my left pocket. My wallet was in my right pocket, but luckily the bulk of my wallet kept it from slipping out easily. Louie was victimized as well.

Once I realized what had happened So before proceeding, I borrowed Bong’s phone and called Globe to report it stolen.

As a result of this incident… I bought a pair of shorts which I now wear for festivals like this… all the pockets have buttons.

Sinulog, Cebu

Sinulog, Cebu

Despite the pick-pocket incident, I still had fun. This time, I had to skip out earlier than everyone else and proceed to the airport for my trip home.

Sinulog, Cebu

Last year, while at SInulog, I hadn’t realized that the Ati-Atihan was going on at the same time in Kalibo. As such, I will be missing the Sinulog Festivities this year.


Masskara Festival 2010, Bacolod City, October 17, 2010

Going to Bacolod for the Masskara Festival has been one of the items on my Bucket List for 2010 since the start if the year. Several weeks ago, fellow travel blogger Jepoi Ordaniel, a native of Bacolod, reminded me to make sure that I don’t miss this year’s Festival and blogged about it.

Together with travel buddy Patrick Mineses, we made a day trip to Bacolod to experience at least a part of the 3-week long festival. We arrived earlier that day and spent most of the morning taking in the city and eating in a few Bacolod famous foodie sites including Chicken House and Calea.

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Wandering around the city in the early morning was amazing. Vendors lined the streets setting up their various festival paraphernalia.

Masskara Festival 2010

Masskara Festival 2010

Masskara Festival 2010

Walking around, we stopped and paid our respects at the Bacolod Cathedral.

Masskara Festival 2010

Masskara Festival 2010

After lunch, while witnessed some groups preparing for the afternoon parade.

Masskara Festival 2010

Masskara Festival 2010

Photographers are everywhere!

Masskara Festival 2010

The parade that day got started around 3:30pm

Masskara Festival 2010

Masskara Festival 2010

Masskara Festival 2010

Masskara Festival 2010

Masskara Festival 2010

Masskara Festival 2010

Masskara Festival 2010

Masskara Festival 2010

Masskara Festival 2010

One of the more fascinating sights are the horde’s of photographers. This group of 3 was oddly uniformed in camouflage with matching hydration packs.

Masskara Festival 2010

Masskara Festival 2010

Masskara Festival 2010

The Festival was definitely a colorful festival in the same breadth as Cebu’s Sinulog Festival. Definitely one of the “must see” Philippine Festivals.

Pahiyas Festival 2010, Lucban, Quezon – May 15, 2010

One of the items on my 2010 Bucket list was to attend the Pahiyas Festival in Lucban, Quezon. The thing with these festivals of course is they have set dates, so naturally I had make this trip! I had my standard options. I could go to Lucban on my own, or join one of those tour groups. I pretty much usually do DIY trips. I decided to go for option #2 this time.

Friend and Travel Blog God Ivan Henares sent me an invite to a Pahiyas Tours through Ultimate Philippines Tours via Facebook. Hey, I haven’t joined a local tour group lately and was wondering how the experience would be (I will blog separately about this at a future time).

What was to follow was a fascinating 22+ hour experience (yes… 22 hours or so).

View Lucban, Quezon in a larger map

Leaving Makati

Meeting place was Starbucks at 6750 Ayala Ave. At 3:30am. With such an early call time, I ended up not sleeping that Friday evening. I took a bath at around 2:30am then left the house by 3am. We assembled and boarded one of two buses each hosted by either Ivan Henares or Ivan Man Dy.

We left Makati at approximately 4:00am… I took advantage and tried to sleep through the trip. As we were on SLEX, I noticed that the flow was oddly slow for 4 in the morning. Later I was awakened by some intense heat. I opened my eyes to see an inferno as the Uratex factory just after the Sucat exit was engulfed in intense flames. I later found out that the fire, along with Saturday morning work on the SLEX, caused quite a traffic jam.

Ugu Bigyan – Tiaong, Quezon

After around 3 hours of travel, we reached Tiaong, Quezon where we were treated to a surprise. Not on our itinerary was a visit to the home of artiste potter, Ugu Bigyan (see separate blog post here)

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Natalio Enriquez Ancestral House – Sariaya, Quezon

Upon arriving at Sariaya, Quezon we headed for our breakfast at the Natalio Enriquez House. Designed by Andres Luna de San Pedro, the 1900s home is a Heritage House declared by the National Historical Institute.

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It was a beautiful old house which reminded me of my grandparents’ homes.

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After breakfast, I walked around the town.

I went next door to the Parish of St. Francis of Assisi (aka the Church of Sariaya). It was a very charming town church also decorated for the Fiesta of San Isidro.

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Tayabas, Quezon

From Sariaya, we headed to the town of Tayabas for… Lunch (yes I know we just ate).

We got to Tayabas at around 11am and had our lunch at Graceland Country Club… yup, so named because the owner is a big Elvis fan. So the restaurant we ate at was called… Memphis Garden…

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From Graceland we went to the town proper and visited the church.

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Lucban, Quezon

By around 2:30pm, we proceeded to the town Lucban for the Pahiyas Festival proper.

All I can say is… boy, was it colorful

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There were of course… lots and lots of people.


A lot of people taking pictures with every variety of camera available. DSLRs, Point and Shoots, Camera Phones.


Amidst all of the walking, I would get thirsty… and hungry. While buying a can of soft drinks, I encountered a Street Food Cart serving just one thing. FRIED CHICKEN SKIN! Whoa! That deserves a separate blog post. HERE.

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The church of Lucban

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We hung out at Cafe San Luis which was closed just for as at this time.

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By around 5pm we made our way back to the Buses. It was so traffic on the way back to the buses outside town, nothing was moving.

Sulyap, San Pablo

We ended the day with dinner in San Pablo at a restaurant called Sulyap


As we walked it, it was a very nice setup.


The food was quite good..I loved to molo soup. The pancit was great! The lumpia was good. And my favorite… the potato salad.


Ivan Man Dy explained to me that the owner collects antiques and collects houses. Yes, houses. The house below is one of the said houses. He buys old houses and has the transferred here. There an unfinished house also on the grounds.



It was definitely one of the most fascinating places I have ever been to. It was like a museum. Rooms decorated in authentic furniture.

Leaving Sulyap at around 9pm, we got back to Makati at around 12:15am. As expected, SLEX was dense with slow moving vehicles.

There you have it. 22+ hours. A day packed with sights, color, and food! What a day.

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Ugu Bigyan, Tiaong, Quezon – May 15, 2010

En route to Lucban, Quezon for the Pahiyas Festival (I took the tour with Ultimate Philippines Tours) we stopped by a place not on the itinerary. We visited Ugu Bigyan. His full name is Augusto Bigyan, a potter, and apparently a one of those secret destinations. From the intro to Ugu by our guide Tina, Ugu is not a formally-trained potter yet has pursued his love for pottery with artistry and creativity.

From the waypoints.ph blog:

Augusto “Ugu” Bigyan is a ceramics artist.  Ugu produces dinnerware sets, decorative tiles and accent pieces for finishing walls and flooring. He enjoys great patronage from well-known individuals, up-scale hotels and posh resorts such as Amanpulo, Campo Travieza, Casa Patricia, El Nido, Hidden Valley and Villa Escudero.  His residence cum workshop is located at Lusacan, Tiaong, Quezon.

Aside from artistically displayed clayware, Ugu’s workshop/showcase offers quaint huts with which one can relax and leisurely enjoy a lush garden trimmed with terracotta chimes, fountains and koi ponds.  Meals are served but must be arranged in advance.

It was definitely a fascinating place. We stayed around 30 minutes, time for us to look around and some bought some of the ceramics. I spent most of my time just admiting the place. Looks like and interesting place to come back to, explore more and perhaps trying out one of the famous meals served here,

I could describe the place, but let’s leave the photos do the talking…

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This sure doesn’t look like any potter’s place I have ever seen. This definitely one of the most fascinating places I have ever seen. I am glad we dropped by.

How to get there… directions here.

Moriones Festival 2010, Marinduque – April 2, 2010 (Good Friday)

I woke up early on Good Friday. The fact that I could not sleep to well was one thing, but a rooster outside of our room started crowing at around 4:00am and would do so repeatedly every 30 seconds until 6:00am. Facebook commentators said it was probably symbolic of the denial of St. Peter, but that was only 3 times.

We started on our way just after 7:00am and once again had breakfast at the Cafe Ma Mita. We then roamed the streets looking for the best place to see all the action. We went back to the staging area then decided to stop at an intersection which had all the Morions passing.

Moriones Festival, Good Friday

And here they come…

Moriones Festival, Good Friday

Moriones Festival, Good Friday 

They came in all colors… note the ube colored one…

Moriones Festival, Good Friday  Moriones Festival, Good Friday 

Some came in beads

Moriones Festival, Good Friday  Moriones Festival, Good Friday

Young and old… and some, came from Sparta and didn’t need a mask for he had a natural beard…

Moriones Festival, Good Friday

Big and small…

Moriones Festival, Good Friday

And they posed with tourists.

Moriones Festival, Good Friday

For they were Spartans! errr… Romans

Via Crucis (“The Way of the Cross”)

Moriones Festival, Good Friday

Moriones Festival, Good Friday

Moriones Festival, Good Friday 

Moriones Festival, Good Friday 

Moriones Festival, Good Friday

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Moriones Festival, Good Friday  Moriones Festival, Good Friday

Moriones Festival, Good Friday

The Via Crucis was quite a sight. I colorful sight with all the Moriones. 1 Christ and the 2 Thieves. It was amazing to have finally witnessed the Moriones Festival.

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There were a lot of photographers as well there. Which of course was quite irritating as everyone tried to get in front of you to get the best shot. Honestly, I was trying to be a more considerate photographer by being conscious of everyone and trying not to get into the way.

Moriones Festival, Good Friday

The shot above is one of my favorite shots from the Via Crucis… it would have been perfect except for the annoying campaign posters you see above Christ. Grrr.

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Moriones Festival 2010, Marinduque – April 1, 2010 (Maundy Thursday)

Waking up fresh (from the crowing of a nearby rooster), we took a bath and left Happy Bunny’s at around 7:00am. We went on foot around the town. Our first stop was to hunt for breakfast.

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First impressions of Boac, Marinduque.

Boac is like any other town in the Philippines. The streets bustling with tricycles, motorcycles, and a few jeepneys. What was fascinating though was that there were a lot of stores open… at 7:00am… which was unusual by itself, but during Holy Week? This was true for Maundy Thursday and even Good Friday. Establishments like the local Supermarket, Sari-Sari stores, even Beauty Parlors were open and ready to serve customers.

We had breakfast at Cafe Ma Mita, a quaint little restaurant connected to the Boac Hotel.

Cafe Ma Mita, Boac, Marinduque

The Cafe was really nice and very tastefully decorated. The walls had framed pages from old Magazines from the late 60s to the early 70s. There was an old article from The Philippine Panorama dated 1967 featuring the Moriones Festival of that time. There were a few ads for Tide, Magonlia Dairy Products, and such. There were black and white pictures from Student Canteen on the wall (if you don’t know what Student Canteen was, you were not born yet). There was even a working phonograph with LP vinyl records available to be played.

The menu was tempting me to order their famous sausages. I settled for a plate of longsilog. Came with coffee. And all for just P85

Longsilog for Breakfast

YUM! Simple, yet satisfying.

We started walking around Boac and started with the Boac Cathedral which was just across the Cafe. We walked up this little road at the side of the Cathedral.

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The Cathedral is a nice old church, put up in 1792. Well maintained. The church was a buzz with activity. I wasn’t sure what was happening but there were a lot young teenagers coming in with some older ladies.

From the church I took view of my first Moriones roaming the town. I later found out that the Moriones (Roman Soldiers) roam the whole island in the whole week (from Holy Monday) searching for Saint Longinus… the Roman Soldier who thrust his spear into Christ’s side.

As we walked around the town, we found ourselves at the town center into a large covered courts which served as some sort of staging areas for all the Moriones… young and old. We weren’t sure what they were all doing there, but it did seem like the meeting place for all of the Moriones and the 3 associations they belong to. This seemed to be where all the action was. As such, the place was also full of tourists.

Moriones Festival

Jasper and I were talking about how male kids probably look forward for the time when they too can take part of the Moriones Festival. In the above picture, we have what appears to be a father and son team.

Moriones Festival

Here I am with a big mock up of Saint Longinus, the Roman Soldier blind in one eye.

Moriones Festival

Above is the National Museum… with a Morion waiting.

We stuck around waiting for some 9:00am activity to get started… a parade of the Moriones. Well, we later found out that nothing was ever on schedule.

At around 10:00am we decided to go back to the lodge, get the car and go around the island, in a clockwise route. It was when we went underway that we decided to do Bisita Iglesia of 7 churches (this is a separate blog post: http://lakwatsero.me/2010/04/01/bisita-iglesia-in-marinduque-april-1-2010/)

During our quest around the island through the six municipalities, in between stopping at churches, we would stop to take pictures of interesting sights.

Moriones Festival

We came up to a Mangrove restoration site. There were kids swimming them jumping off the mangrove.

Poctoy Beach

By lunchtime we stopped by Poctoy White Beach for lunch. The beach was crowded. The huts were full of partying groups… families… friends. We had “paluto” of inihaw na bangus.

Poctoy is one of the more popular beaches, publicly accessible (you just need to pay P10 per pax). With picnic huts and stores selling all sorts of cooked food, shakes, and you can even rent Karaoke machines… as evidenced by all the sintunado beach-goers.

Poctoy Beach

Moriones Festival

Every now and then we would stop and just take pictures of the breadth taking scenery.

  Moriones Festival  Moriones Festival

As we were going through Gasan, we encounter around a dozen Gigante. We got back to Boac by around 4:00pm. We went back to explore the town and read up on tomorrow’s activities.

Moriones Festival

There was a “festival” area where booths were set up by different participating establishments.

Moriones Festival

We ate dinner at a place just labeled “Cafe” It was a nice cozy little place (the picture above was taken earlier in the morning). The food here was quite good considering. There were a lot of people and I was particularly disgusted by all these Manilenos talking very rudely at the poor local waitresses. One guy was complaining that his french fries never arrived. He later complained that his Royal True Orange – which was the last bottle – was served to someone else. Later some annoying woman was complaining that they didn’t know how to prepare a proper cappuccino. Geez, not everything in Starbucks is proper too. Haay… these tourists are only guests here, they should show more respect to the locals.

We got back to the lodging and proceeded to… Facebook. We planned our activities for Good Friday.

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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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