Showing posts with label Marinduque. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Marinduque. Show all posts

Round Up: Marinduque Trip

It pays to travel to the not so obvious places, to the tough ones, it’s always an opportunity to discover and learn new things. A Marinduque trip is one of such. To make a long story short – a long story that involves experiencing the gift of nature in different range and forms, but shortly cursing the stars with a sojourn so quick to end – I’m doing this round up. 

Early May this year, we sped along that long drive from Calamba Laguna to Dalahican Port in Lucena intensely hoping to catch the 10:30 pm RoRo trip towards that heart-shaped island trivially known to be the center of the Philippines. We were six in the group, all in hurry running late. Unfortunately, dust of devils seemed to swirl around our way as we rode that hopeless bus fingers-crossed to catch the last trip. And in an instant, there they were – the anger, paranoia, heartbreak, and bitterness that raced against each other as we’re welcomed with such a bad news: we didn’t make it. Instead, we ended up waiting for the first trip to come later at around 4 am the following day. Right then, two of my main expectations were dispelled. One, that my first long ride across the sea will memorably be a good one, and two, that I may have my much-needed sleep at that time. Obviously, I haven’t had a nice sleep the whole time and aboard. It was a painstaking wait compounded by the delayed voyage and the long drift itself. But the good heavens soon presented the first wave of surprise with the breathtaking sunrise right before our eyes. And the skies were blanketed by a bloody rosy blend that slowly broke into positively uplifting hues suggesting a good day ahead. And good day it was.

We made it safely to Balanacan Port eventually after four sleepless hours. From there, we took lift to Sta. Cruz where we’re supposed to stay. We were dropped to the city proper alongside Sta. Cruz Cathedral before finally proceeding to Bancuangan. The good day officially started with a mouth-watering breakfast meal courtesy of our hosts. Indeed, the best foods in life are free. Then by 10 am, we pushed through with our first stop: Bagumbungan Cave at Brgy. San Isidro, Sta Cruz.

We then started walking back to where we have entered; eventually giving us a view of that much coveted light once more, as we finally reached the mouth of the cave, and generously gave a final sight of such sarcophagus we just came out from.  We traveled back to Bancuangan at around 1 PM. On our way back, we had this little mission, accomplished:

It was almost 2 PM already when we reached Bancuangan for lunch, keeping in mind that in a few minutes, we’re heading to our next destination: Maniwaya Island. We took a quick rest before packing up and further our way to that island.

We spent the night over the island. And before finally leaving hours before lunchtime the next day, we were able to experience the refreshing island taste through their buko at very affordable prices.

We then travelled back to the mainland and arrived just in time for lunch. We took the liberty of exploring Marinduque food through the infamous Rico’s Inn strategically located at the city proper. We did kill a substantial amount of good time there before deciding to further explore the city and buy some mandatory pasalubong. Few walks from there and we were able to find a stall that fulfilled our aim. Marinduque is known for its local delicacies such as uraro, ube jam, and banana chips, among others. After the swift shopping, we decided to go back to our base to take another break in preparation for our next trek.

It was already 4 PM when we resume with our itinerary. From where we were, Kawa Kawa Falls was an hour walk away so we wasted no time for us not to catch by the dark.

It was franticly getting dusky when we get on our feet and leave the darkling woods. And it took us just the right time to walk and manage to spare school supplies to the children along the way. It was yet another good time extending a little help to them. It’s always a wonderful feeling just seeing those wide smiles.

We took a good sleep that night, enough to prepare ourselves for the most exigent stint of this trip yet: the extra challenging climb to a hill in Hinanggayon where The Luzon Datum of 1911 is located, the wicked center of the Philippines. Within minutes, we find ourselves hitting the road again.

Running late and hugely conscious about time, we rushed our way down at around 1 PM. We were largely scarce with water at hand which made the descent even hard. But to a much shorter time than we expect, we safely arrived at the jump-off. The first thing to look for was a cold drink, but much to our surprise, there was more there is than we crave for. Coincidentally, it was there barangay fiesta that time so the locals unselfishly offered us the best food there is on their plates, all for free. Unlike the water scarce we experienced earlier, good people are still all around the place, and they do come when we least expect them. Even after treating us with a satisfying meal, their kindness didn’t end just yet. They even escorted us to where we could rent a boat for our way back to Balanacan Port.

In thirty minutes, we boarded the RoRo again, and the sad truth presented itself – we’re definitely going back to reality once more.

Note: Excuse the induced self-plagiarism


How it felt, before I forget

Apparently, our Marinduque Trip wasn’t solely about us. In between those escapes were some shiningly proud moments I barely consider the crux-of-the-matter. One of which is this tiny mission of sharing a few of what we have to the locals, in return to the joy the place is bestowing us. Yet lurking just below that thought lies a swath of comically practical deficit – we lack enough funds to sustain such deed. But definitely, that wasn’t a valid excuse not to be able to extend a little help. 

Nevertheless, we managed to raise and collect a few school supplies from generous donors. And thus, while driving back through that dusty dirt road fresh from our Bagumbungan Cave Adventure, we took the opportunity to enact our cause as we passed by a flock of joyful children playing under the intensely raging noontime heat. After being asked with some friendly questions about them, one by one we handed our simple gifts. Instantly, the glows in their eyes were largely evident after having new school supplies, drawing some deeply familiar looks of gratitude I have rarely seen.

I have at least experienced being deprived of the basic materials I chiefly need, thus I know how it feels to be in such a receiving end. By just looking at them, I saw myself the struggle of having less once again, the same way those young people feel. 


Kawa Kawa Falls

It’s probably not as grand compared to the other hyped, more-loved, and well-established falls in the country but Marinduque’s less-travelled gem called Kawa-Kawa Falls, has its fair share of those best-of-nature’s-works, which I think makes it as a worthy side trip once your feet lands on the historic home of the Moriones. Situated at the remote and forested area in Bancuangan, Sta. Cruz, it would surely take a few calories to burn to reach it, noting the slightly uphill trudge of that long hard road. But fret not because all the efforts await an end that’s satisfaction-guaranteed. (For further falls details, read: here)

The trek started after a few moments of rest freshly from the Maniuaya Island jaunt. We pushed through with this third nature destination in our itinerary despite the lack of previous night’s good sleep which cues for a very timid and lazy Sunday afternoon. But then we had to move forward and stick to the plan, and soon enough we made our way there. Despite the disappointingly drop-wise flow of the water during that time (since it was summer season) and the uninviting feel out of tiredness, my nerves that long for a refreshing plunge still prevailed to have a test on the waters. Surprisingly it’s deep, in simple ways. Summing the pluses and the negatives up, the falls still has a lot to boast about.

For one, the falls is blessed being inhabited by a school of fishes that offers an instant foot spa. Upon dipping on to the ice-cold water, these fish species promptly feasted on our feet’s dead and callused skin like there’s no tomorrow, nature’s own brand of luxurious pedicure so to say. And the tickling sensations they bring are way too relaxing in effect. In turn, they are getting food from what’s supposed to be our body’s garbage. Mutualism defined.

Yet another majestic feature of this falls is its intimately-private feel. Usually, there were practically not much visitors around the area. Though during our visit there was that one group who were there before we came. The lush green shrubs and tall trees extending around it effortlessly give the shady atmosphere. The indulging rivulet, the natural cleanness, and the refreshing coolness, all count to its being a wondrous get away. Really, seldom do people go to that place, which practically preserves the next point which is..

Peace, serenity, and freedom in the wild. The calmness and quietness of the place is such a music to the ears – from the birds’ joyous chirps that echoes, to the insects’ rhythmic screeches, and the whistles of the swaying trees that graciously dances, everything’s just in perfect harmony, suggesting a pretty good eargasm for me. The detachment from noise and buzz of the busy streets in such a strangely feral scene is one of my nature engrossments, being one totally obsessed with the idea of solitude in such exquisite settings.

It was franticly getting dusky when we decided to get on our feet and leave the darkling woods. And it took us just the right time to walk to where we’ll stay the night before everything turned to a complete gloom.


Exploring Bagumbungan Cave

Before our Maniuaya Island spree, we had this short spelunking course to a lesser popular destination in Marinduque called Bagumbungan Cave located at Brgy. San Isidro, Sta. Cruz. And by less popular, I simply mean it’s not yet fully known to public as a tourist destination. According to the local guides, the cave was discovered five years ago, and since then the local government has been doing efforts to protect it and at the same time promote it as a tourist attraction. Out of stress and tiredness from the long overnight bus-and-boat-combo-ride from Los Banos to Marinduque, we hopelessly hopped to our first destination few ticks after the much-needed brunch. The sun was radiating sultrily matching the excitement we feel while going through that long bumpy, arid, and dusty ride. It took us at least an hour before finally greeted by the cave’s welcome sign.

The cave is under the protection of DENR and the local government’s tourism office, thus environmental and guide fees (totaling 150 PhP per head) were collected prior to the drill, with a considerable discount for students, and inclusive of the much needed protective hard hat with built-in flashlights (headlamps). There was also another option to do a longer cave course which will lead to the other end of the cave (sort of traverse), however, we opted to avail the shorter trail due to time constraint. After all, there will always be another chance for that next time.

Eight of us converged on the orienteer’s seats for instructions and cave rules. After the quick and informative laying of directions, we eagerly geared up and walked a few meters before reaching the cave’s opening. I knew the course is not for faint-hearted, I would admit I have claustrophobic tendencies, plus I ignorantly associate caves with ghouls and goblins, so I needed to set those fears aside for that mean time. And before getting lost on that dark hole, we took some mandatory shots

The sight and feel was a sinister mix of dark and cold and filth the moment we sat our feet down the steep ravine of laddered entrance pitch. The pungent smells of the stinky trogloxenes and troglobites guano, I mean bat poop, were all over the place. Add up their annoying screeches but eventually turn into music to my ears. For the next few moments, we were just some tiny creatures of the earth spending the day on what seems to be holes beneath the ground, dilating pupils to a quarter size. Few more walks and we’re greeted by such famously amazing caving things called stalactites and stalagmites.

And the journey continues with those body-wrecking stunts and long dry crawls needed to fit ourselves on those unbelievably narrow and scrotty passages made of stockpiled large stones. There were parts of the trail where every step should be as careful as the other not to miss the right one or else something untoward will happen. There were pointy rocks as well as slippery ones, thus, it’s best to be in the best shoes. In my case I only had a pair of slippers with me so things went a little bit harder than what I expected. Mea culpa, on that account.

Crossing the cold, waist-deep frosty water was the next obstacle. Within seconds, my toes and knees were but a numb zombified flesh. To add more, there was that tingly sensation of what seems to be dump mud underfeet as we walked our way across it due to coconut husks allegedly from the residential areas. Though, that was not terrifying as it sounds. We barely made through it anyway. There were also moments when the trails were sandy and grainy. Talk about diversity.

A few cracks towards our protracted endpoint, the rocks started to become very slippery with ceilings that are relatively low characterized by pointy vertical ridges, quite looking weird for me. After further cascades, with moments of flat-out crawlings, and awkward letterbox climbs – we finally reached our turning point they markedly call as falls. Sadly I forgot the exact name.

And then we were there. Just before we finally decided to return, we rested for a while, admired the eerily-shaped rocks in front of us, and fondly did a surprise activity (courtesy of our dear tour guides), which I refuse to share details here. You have to experience it yourself. Their goal was to let us appreciate little things around us – which is the real cherry on top of this cake. It's one of the many perks of travelling, being educated beyond the four corners of our classrooms, beyond the limits of what our textbooks has to offer. 

We then started walking back to where we have entered; eventually giving us a view of that much coveted light once more, as we finally reached the mouth of the cave, and generously gave a final sight of such sarcophagus we just came out from. 


Maniwaya Island: Beach Please

Truth be told, paradise do exist. 

Situated at the far north-eastern part of Marinduque is Maniuaya Island, the paradise at large that is ironically small in the map. Saying it’s underrated is prolly an understatement; I’m afraid I could not give justice picking the proper adjectives there is upon writing this, thus, it’s still best if you’ll see it yourself and give it the praise it deserves, as doing such is way too out of my expertise. However, to put things in their simplest forms, let's get to a common notion on it's main asset: the beach.

Fresh from a tiring cave stretch we previously had, we jumped our way to this haven with a boat chartered exclusively for the group, at late past noontime. Since I never had any overnight island experience prior to this, I have nothing to compare the experience with. But my hopes were sky-high that this would be an excellent one merely by considering the distance we had to travel just to reach this one. We were practically miles away from the busy city streets and I could help but imagine the raw beauty waiting for us at the end of the stride. Perhaps. I wasn't mistaken.

As soon as the boat pulled off, the vibe was great with clear skies decorated with the searing sun and the breeze leaving a cooling skin touch. The waves were awesomely cool and occasionally challenging at the same time gracing us a bumpy but perfect ride. I was too restless and sleepy at that moment out of tiredness but the ride was too good to lose a glance at. So I was practically all-eyes all throughout the voyage merrily feasting my eyes with the amazingly clear turquoise waters, keeping in mind we were venturing a beaten path, in which, where my heart is. We were merrily feeling the breeze and unbelievably praising the crystal clear waters as we stride and in about an hour, our feet were finally chasing the island’s mix of fine and sugary but white sands.

We arrived at the unspoiled, obscured, rugged destination just in the nick of time. The sun was still up but was fast approaching the horizon in nearly less than an hour. We took a few minutes appreciating the entire scene before capturing some moments as the sun was also ghastly leaving. The plan was to leave this island the next day before the clock’s hands strike the top of the hour, thus we made it to the point not to miss the grand sunset before our very eyes. Well enough, we did get one hell of a good shoot, and it’s a proud feeling to present these ones. Credits go to the respective photographers who took these shots.

Comes night-time and we’ve had enough of the beach course, but the adventure was totally not over yet. For the night was dark and full of adventures, we celebrated ourselves with a bottle of light, a handful of laughs, and music under the cloudless sky, before finally treating ourselves a very satisfying night’s sleep. The next day came, and we never had enough of the island’s offers yet thus we had another round of beach exploration before packing up.

Despite such short stay, I could say that the island itself was great, much to relaxation and serenity it has purportedly showed me. We could have stayed there a little longer but our itinerary points us to leave before the lunchtime. True enough, we really had no idea what good things are coming our way after that.. to be continued

Journey to the Center of the Philippines

One of the best things about Marinduque is that it offers a bit of everything ‒ from its pristine islets, the raw and unspoiled beaches, the green-fanged outcrop of mountains, roaring falls like skeins of white lawns, and even yet-to-be-discovered caves. And not to mention, it’s geographically positioned at the heart of the archipelago from where the official center marker is located, the Luzon Datum of 1911 (further details here). True enough, we had this awesome chance of setting foot at the center of the Philippines, which pretty well served as the highlight of our weekend Marinduque sojourn.

The journey itself was an ultimate test to begin with. Taking aside the climb proper, the ride to the jump-off was something that should not at all be underestimated. From from where we stayed at Bangcuangan Sta. Cruz, we drove to Mogpog town proper with a free lift courtesy of our hospitable hosts, luckily saving us from the initial hassle of commuting. However, things started to go against our side since then; the stars were not friends of ours for the next instances. Soon enough after dropping ourselves off the public market, we walked and searched for the sole jeepney-on-trip to Hinanggayon, the barangay where the mountain’s jump-off point is located. Little did we know that it was their fiesta that day causing the lone jeepney chartered to travel directly to the jump-off unfortunately unavailable.

We've got no other choice but to find for a second plan. Upon few interrogations with the locals for alternate means, we learned that another ride was actually possible, another jeepney with a route that would pass by the jump-off point. In no time, we grabbed the opportunity fingers-crossed for a positive outcome. And to further intensify the trip and enjoy it the best way possible, we opted to ride on topload instead of having cushion-filled and safe seats inside the jeepney. And we did not fail to get the crazy ride we hoped for. Usually, those built-in railings at the topload are intended for carrying extra baggages, goods, and even people for transport to remote areas to maximize the efficiency of the trip. But more to that, it also showcases the natural inventiveness and creativity of the locals, which is worthy to be recognized as a means of tourist attraction, especially for travelers who seek for spiced-up adventures.

However, the supposed short jeepney ride was extended for  a great deal of time as there were lots of stopovers throughout the trip to give way for picking up goods and commodities such as sacks of rice, lumbers, food items, among others, usually from locals who opts not to drain themselves from the tiring ride by just ordering and making arrangements with the driver to save time and energy. Unfortunately, this move is inversely proportional to our comfort and advantage as the amount of space for us over the topload area went cramped even more. A couple of more steps eventually left us with a very tiny room for ourselves to ride., not to mention it’s butt-numbing, causing us to suffer from every onslaught of bumps and humps, given that it was a rough ride during majority of the ride.

Within minutes, we were hitting the road again. Right on top. The adventure furthered as we had to alertly watch our way and shun from the tree branches that were randomly leaning along the way. But it was all worth it as we crossed those roads winding back and forth on itself seeing those full view of the authentic sceneries passing by range of far-off forests, hedges, and the faint patches of the seas and mountainsides. Top-loading is a must-do I believe; otherwise, you’d be missing half of the fun. The risk is always there, but things are more thrilling outside the comfort zone.

It was almost noontime when we reached the jump-off point and the sun was already at its cruelest state. This mere thought was as deadly as it sounds. With a little over a litre of water, a heavy backpack, and a thirsty soul, we started the trek smoothly, and then the real walk unfolds before eventually taking the death defying march to the peak. All those immeasurable grains of sweats, blurry eyes, gasping breaths, aching knees and more, happened under the scorching sun.

And just in time we found we walking that 267-step stair, that before we realized we were there, I had my feet step at that recognized center of the Ph marker. It took me minutes to regain my senses in awe of the unhindered view up there. I found myself celebrating with the grandiose beauty up there, trying to capture its essence with the aid of lenses. The whole voyage was draining but the mere thought of me standing there, exactly at the deemed center of the Philippines, was no less than a priceless tick. 


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