Marinduque, the Heart of the Philippines [2020.03.11-13]

Aka the Trip That Got Cut Short

I’m writing this on the first day of Metro Manila’s community quarantine, and supposedly, the last day of our Marinduque trip. What’s originally a 5-day trip was cut to 2. We went home on the 3rd day and pretty much spent the entire day travelling back home. But let’s go back to the beginning.

Since my trip to Korea has been canceled, my friend Mayne and I started planning a replacement trip. After choosing from other nearby islands, we decided on Marinduque! This was done less than two weeks prior – which I have never done before. Most of my trips take months of planning, LOL. So, we decided to do this trip for 5 days, and that was enough to visit every town of Marinduque. I have not been to this province before so I was really excited to plan and I’m happy that it’s pretty straightforward and it looks like there would be no issues with jeepneys, unlike Romblon, which had a schedule and were not very frequent.

DAY 1: MANIWAYA ISLAND, MARINDUQUE

We left for Marinduque on Wednesday at 2am from Cubao. After considering several options, we decided to go with the bus-van-boat route to Maniwaya Island via General Luna Port in Quezon. The first bus from Cubao to Lucena Grand Terminal is at 2am so we took that. Travel time is 3 hours, and the fare was PHP257. Note that it’s an early morning trip so there’s no traffic, but it may take 4 hours with traffic (which is what I encountered on my way back from Dalahican Port to Alabang, but more on that later). At the Grand Terminal, there are vans going to General Luna in Quezon, this terminal is in front of Chowking. Travel time is 2 hours, and the fare was PHP160. This was at around 5:30-7:30am so again, note that it can be longer if you don’t leave early. Why am I saying this? Because there is only one boat schedule going from General Luna Port to Maniwaya Island, which is at 10am. You also need to consider the time it takes to wait for the van to fill up. We were lucky that we didn’t have to wait long. You will get off in a rotunda where you will see a sign that the right road is going to General Luna. When people got off at that spot, we didn’t know that we were supposed to get off, too, because the driver didn’t even say anything. LOL. We only figured it out when the van turned left to go to the next town, which is Catanauan. So, we asked to get off there and then just crossed to the other side to take a tricycle to the población, where the port is. We were already at General Luna Port before 8am, which is 2 hours early. I guess, the perfect time to leave Cubao is at 3am but it’s better to be early than late, especially if you are going on a weekend or during peak season.

Puto bumbong! YUM!

We had two hours, so we had time for breakfast, and I had time to look for a type C charger cable because stupid me left mine at home. We literally stayed at the carinderia for 2 hours, but they didn’t seem to mind. They were also selling these yummy puto bumbong, I had 5 of that and 1 puto. I love rice cakes. Unfortunately, we didn’t leave at 10am, because it was still low tide and the boat can’t get close to the port. At this point, I’m no longer surprised that these boats don’t leave on time after our Boracay x Romblon trip last month, LOL. I think we left at around 11pm and arrived at Maniwaya Port at around 12:30pm.

Our accommodation at Maniwaya Island is 3 Brothers Beach, which is actually pretty close to the port. We can walk on the beach to get there, but we decided to take a habal-habal because it was noon and was freaking hot. We had lunch right away. I think we made a wise decision booking here because they take care of your meals and they have a sari-sari store, where you can buy snacks and beer. They also have halo-halo, and mais con yelo, which I stayed away from since I didn’t want to get a sore throat. We ate most of our meals here, except for dinner on our first day. They also took care of our hired boat for the island hopping. It was convenient, and they just listed all our expenses, which we settled prior to checking out.

We were planning to do the island hopping in the afternoon, but the owner of the resort suggested to do it in the morning instead. We were worried because the only boat schedule going to Buyabod Port in Sta. Cruz is at 6am, so if we don’t do it that afternoon, then we can no longer do it. But things worked out for us, because they have guests to pick up the next day at Buyabod Port, so we can take the boat going there. Also, it turns out that the boat from General Luna can also take passengers to Buyabod Port, after dropping off people at Maniwaya. That would be around noon, depending on what time it left General Luna Port. My advice is to maybe get the boatman’s number to confirm if they can take passengers to Buyabod Port that day. Or else, you’d have to hire a boat as a special trip to take you to Buyabod Port.

Since we had the afternoon free, we were able to just relax, have a beer, swim, and go around a bit. We walked to Wawie’s Beach Resort, because we wanted to go to the #MANIWAYA sign and to watch the sunset. The cook at 3 Brothers also mentioned a restaurant beside Wawie’s called Rico’s, where we ended up having dinner.

Love sunsets!
LOL this is the only photo we have from Rico’s! But this chicken in a basket is just so cute!

We walked going home by the beach, there were no lights – we used our phones as flashlights. The guy at Rico’s offered to take us home but we were okay with walking. Marinduque has zero crime rate (we kept saying this during the entire trip LOL), so I felt really safe walking even in a dark evening. I was out after shower, and it was not even 8pm. LOL. That was how my night ended.

DAY 2: MANIWAYA ISLAND -> TORRIJOS, MARINDUQUE

Since I slept early, I also woke up early. It was not even 5am yet. I killed time by the beach, waiting for the sunrise. I was not alone, the owner was awake, too who asked if we wanted to have breakfast before leaving for island hopping.

Ok, I thought we were only going to Palad Sandbar and Mongpong Island, and I didn’t know that there’s a snorkeling + fish feeding activity! I brought goggles and nose clip, but I didn’t bring my action cam! Huhu! Anyway, so we left at 7am, and what I thought would only last 2 hours, lasted 4.5 hours.

Our schedule changed but it still worked!
More more payapang tubig moments 🙂

First stop was Palad Sandbar, because it only appears during low tide. OK, honestly, we spent most of our time taking photos HAHAHA. We barely did any swimming because we were gonna go snorkeling after. There is an entrance fee here, but there was no one collecting so we didn’t pay.

Second stop was snorkeling + fish feeding time! I took this seriously, haha. The life vest was not so good, so I was holding it with one hand. I was more prepared this time, because I had my goggles, but didn’t have my action cam. Too bad. Seriously, I don’t think I read that in any of the blogs! We were also alone there so I guess everybody else went straight from the sandbar to Mongpong Island.

Obviously, our last stop is Mongpong Island, where you can see the Ungab Rock Formation. It is pretty majestic! There is a person collecting the entrance fee here, so we paid. It’s PHP25 per person. We had some snacks (our leftover from dinner the previous night), before going back to Maniwaya Island. We arrived at around 11:30am.

I don’t know where I got these!
Last photo at 3 Brothers before leaving. Hammock life is the best!

We leave Maniwaya to go to Buyabod Port at 2pm so we had plenty of time, for lunch, to take a shower, and pack up. From Buyabod Port, we took a tricycle to Sta. Cruz town proper, which set us back to PHP100 – expensive, but it’s a special trip. There’s no one else at the port but us. Also, it’s about 5kms from the port to the town proper, so that’s a bit far. You can get off at the main road and wait for a jeep passing by, but I think it’s better to go to the terminal at the town proper. From the terminal, we took a jeepney going to Torrijos, our stop was before the town proper, so we had to watch out for Cagpo Elementary School, since it’s right in front of that. I didn’t know how much the fare was, there’s a fare matrix but it was too far, I couldn’t read it. So, we just paid when we got off, and turns out, it’s PHP35 from Sta. Cruz to Cagpo. There’s a really beautiful row of trees in the pathway going to Beach Club Cagpo, our accommodation.  

Weee~

We got there at around 3:30pm, checked in and then went out again to go to Poctoy White Beach. Poctoy White Beach is 3kms away from our accommodation. We were expecting that there would be a tricycle that can take us to the beach, but we couldn’t find any for about 20 minutes that we have been walking. Sometimes, it pays to talk to strangers, we passed by a construction site, where one kuya was willing to take us to the beach using his motorcycle. As soon as we found someone to take us, a jeepney and an empty tricycle passed by. Of course, we went with kuya instead, anyway, he only asked for PHP20 as payment.

There are stores at the parking lot, but there are also stores when you go down to the beach. I didn’t know that there is an accommodation at Poctoy White Beach. I think this would be a good option next time. We didn’t really get to swim, but we had a nice view of Mt. Malindig from here.

But we were initially at the lifeguard’s chair

We had our dinner at Brendon Lomi and Restaurant (I saw it on the way from Sta. Cruz that afternoon). It’s really not so bad! The pancit was plentiful, we also had fries and beer. Not really a good combination. LOL. There was no public transpo on the way back to Beach Club Cagpo, so walked for about 10 minutes in the dark. It’s not really scary, Marinduque has zero crime rate (ok, or maybe low crime rate LOL).

Hindi namin naubos yung pancit 🙁

I was up until about 10pm, not knowing what was going to happen the next day.  Or more like, what was happening while I was sleeping.

DAY 3: GOING HOME

We planned to hike Mt. Malindig on the morning of the 13th, but we ended up leaving in haste at 6am after the previous night’s announcement. First decision to make was, do we go home now or not? Actually, we can still hike in the morning and leave in the evening or the next morning, but the closer it is to the day of the lockdown, the more difficult it will be to travel back. There will be more movements in the next 48 hours, that’s for sure. My thoughts before I went to sleep at around 10pm the previous night was how to get to Brgy. Sihi in Buenavista, but that morning, we had to figure out the best way to get back home. Do we book flights? Is there even a flight out of Marinduque? (We didn’t even get to check this anymore because the signal was quite bad from where we were.) Do we get out via Sta. Cruz or Balanacan Port? After sending text messages to Montenegro Shipping Lines, who has ROROs on both ports, we figured it was a better decision to go to Balanacan Port.

Good morning and goodbye, Cagpo!

We were out of our accommodation by 6:20am, we just left the key outside the employee quarters and sent them messages on every portal possible. We waited out front for a jeepney, but the first jeep we saw was full, so we decided to wait for a trike to take us to the Torrijos town proper and wait for a jeepney there. Our tricycle driver flagged a jeepney for us, and we got on immediately. After about an hour, we arrived at the Sta. Cruz town proper. We initially got off at the jeepney terminal where we took to a jeepney to Torrijos, but turns out, the vans going to Balanacan Port are stationed at the Sta. Cruz Church, located in front of the municipal hall. We got on the same jeepney to take us to the church. Like most vans, they wait for it to get filled before leaving so we had some time to go around town a bit. We were able to buy Rejano’s famous arrowroot cookies (uraro), buy coffee from a small mart, and take photos in front of Mr. Moriones at the municipal hall. (I was able to buy ice cream, too. It was delicious!)

A trike, a jeepney and a van ride later, we arrived a few minutes before 9:30am, where a RORO from Starhorse Shipping was about to leave. We were on our way out of Marinduque a few minutes after getting on the RORO. In fairness, it was quite comfy. Even if it was just a monoblock chair, it was the lounger / relax chair type so I was just chilling for the whole 3 hours. I went to pee once before the ship started sailing, and I never got up once. Also, the mobile data out in the sea was strong, so I kept up with the news on social media.

We arrived on time – 12:30pm. From Dalahican Port, there are buses waiting to take you to the metro. This is where Mayne and I parted because she boarded a bus to Cubao, while I boarded a bus to Alabang. The bus ride took 4 hours, instead of the usual 3 hours. There was heavy traffic on the way to San Pablo, Laguna. From Alabang, I boarded a P2P bus to Market Market. There was traffic in the beginning, but that last bus ride only took an hour – at least. So there you go, took me 11 hours to get home from Marinduque to Manila, compared to the 6.5 hours that it took us to get to Maniwaya Island. But at least we were safe and home way before the community quarantine started. I’m pretty sure we would have had a worse time if we waited longer.

Once all of this is over, I would definitely want to go back and finish our Marinduque itinerary. We still have to visit 4 more municipalities – Gasan, Buenavista, Boac, and Mogpog. That’s in the parking lot for now.

This is our list of expenses in Marinduque (food excluded):

Talk to me~