Saturday, April 17, 2010

Marinduque: From Sta Cruz to Pinggan

After docking in Sta. Cruz port at around four in the afternoon, we rode the jeepney going to Gasan in Marinduque. There were other jeeps heading to Torrijos district but we were thinking of staying in either Boac or Gasan. It was about a two hour journey worth 150 pesos. Expensive, yes, but actually this was the most expensive jeepney fare we ever paid for in Marinduque. What's strange too is that same route going back to the port cost less, which is around 30-60 pesos.

Confession: This was my first DIY travel to an unfamiliar province with the purpose of exploring the island and not just to go to one beach resort to lounge for three days and that's it. This was backpacking local island style. Haha and that included spontaneous hunt for accommodations. Usually locally when I travel it will be among a group of friends in a group travel set-up where accommodations were set up, especially if it was a first time trip.

Originally what I wanted to catch was the Moriones Festival, or just basically to soak on festival vibe of the place. After all Marinduque is famous for the Moriones Festival. I just want to see a real life Morion. Haha. But also, I wanted to check out the islands and the beaches. 

Whenever I travel, I usually make it a point to visit the city, that's how I get to know the country or the place I am visiting. I am the chick from the metro. I was raised in Manila and my province in both Batangas City (mother side) and Vigan (father side) are both city centers of their respective provinces. So imagine my delight and surprise to actually wind up in this very remote island. My first impression...Marinduque is a very laid back island. Greeneries, lots of coconuts. The smell of coconuts from the kopra factories permeated the air from time to time. I saw this dried up river which I presume to be the contaminated river from the Marcoper Mining Accident. It ran parallel with the road. It gave Sta Cruz a bit of a sad vibe. Imagine crossing a bridge with no water on it but just dried up land with weird color.  Other than that the scenery was refreshing and very...remote. 

Marinduque is one of the provinces that are part of Luzon but can be considered as gateways to the Visayas – including Romblon and Masbate. It’s near Batangas and Lucena too, only four hours boatride away ( 2 hours for fast craft). But somehow, the province is left undeveloped…Maybe Marinduque is left somewhere in between. The language is a strange, mysterious mix of Batangueno Tagalog, with bits of Visayas and some Bicolano words. Some locals told me that Marinduque's people are a mix - Tagalogs, Bicolanos and Visayans in one weird mix. Despite the long travel, one will find peace and security because the people are very warm and accommodating like bad vibes are banned in the place.

Some helpful fellows inside the jeep told us to alight in the town of Gasan and ride a tricycle heading to Pinggan where beach resorts abound. These resorts shall serve as our drop off point towards the Tres Reyes Islands.
While on the jeep, we were already passing by the resorts recommended by Lonely Planet. But none of us flagged down the jeep. I don't know why. Maybe all of us were dead tired and hungry and were subconsciously waiting for someone to take the lead, hahah. But maybe well for me, I was still looking forward to where will the jeep take us. Finally the jeepney stopped, and there were only us on the jeep. We alighted at a small town where there was a church and a procession going on. When I say procession, I meant a small gathering of neighbors with candles singing some hymns. It was small. Guess who stood out. That was weird. We bought some hotdogs and bbq and rode another fifteen minute (worth 60 pesos) tricycle to Katala Beach, which was recommended by one of the townsfolk.

While inside the tricycle I passed by long stretch of beach itself peeking behind the trees and houses. And the people, they were either sitting by the window, fanning themselves, or having coffee. By the terrace. Sitting, lounging. Some people passed by carrying big sticks of skewered fresh fish (I believe this was tanguige) about to be grilled. We were in a fishing town. I was positively anticipating, plus the fact that we weren't able to sit down for a meal for the whole duration of the trip made me very tired like my body and mind were begging to rest! And with all the relaxing visuals I saw, the idea of communing with the beach was starting to excite me.

 (the fishes i saw was like this! i just took a photo of this at a local market recently hehe)

So we reached Katala Beach. The room we stayed was 1000 for a non-aircon room for a night, I find it cheap considering we will split it up for three people.

Katala Beach has a very open, serene, relaxing vibe. It does look like a romantic resort of some sort. Bamboo lounges, flags, cottages, couples sitting by the shore. The night already seeping in. The whole set up makes single girls to want to emote on exes. hahaha.

After a dinner of lapulapu fish, free drink and loopy conversations with a German expat named Klaus (more on this on later posts), we had two choices - either off to bed, or off to chill by the beach. I forced my buddies to chill by the beach. And damn, just hearing the waves and feeling the breeze was relaxing. And made me calmer. And more trusting of the sea that I couldn't wait for the trip to the Tres Reyes Islands in the morning.
After waking up, the seven in the morning sky made me see the rustic beauty of Katala beach. 
The sand are actually pebbles but the waters are very clear. I talked to the boatman that we would use the boat to head to Tres Reyes Islands. Here we go!

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