At about 8 in the evening, the streets of Boac in Marinduque are already peaceful. The busy capital town by daytime transforms back into its usual stillness by night. From the hotel’s veranda, my cigarette smoke illuminates against the dark background, joining the faint strumming of the guitar from a distance. I could feel the rural wind chills and the gentle whispers of the crickets in this wonderful state of nothingness.
Marinduque is a small island that lies on the southwest side of the Province of Quezon and east of Oriental Mindoro. It is only composed of 6 towns with roughly 240,000 population. Boac is the center of trade, governance and academics. It only gets filled during the season of lent when it stages the famous Moriones Festival. It is easy to go around the entire island and each town offers a different kind of adventure from caving to spelunking.
There is really nothing special about Boac. No posh hotels, no theme parks, no glitzy bars. But this quaint town is charming, clean and peaceful. Being here is like being trapped in a time warp with all the art-deco houses that are reminiscent of late 19th-century Philippines. These heritage homes are traces of how this tiny island formed a big part in the Philippine revolutionary history. Along the narrow streets are old-world calesas gently clip-clopping in an unhurried world. Everyone here just walks around the downtown and occasionally chit-chats with friends they meet on the street. Its people are warm and religious.
The Boac Cathedral, in reverence to the Blessed Virgin of Immediate Succor on the hill of Mataas na Bayan, overlooks the town of Boac. It has served as a citadel to this small island on the Sibuyan Sea since 1792. The church is built with clay, lime and sand bricks, supported by massive solid earth buttresses, a characteristic of earthquake baroque architecture. It still keeps the old huge doors with intricate bas-relief sculptures of saints that reflect the grandeur and splendor of the church. The gilded wood retablo rising behind the altar is elaborate and laden with age-old devotional images. The adorned pulpit along the side of the church are reminders of how the frailes in the Spanish era preached the words of the Divine Law.
In Boac, the day is short and the night is long. Just before the break of dawn, the locals are already up, sipping hot coffee by the veranda listening to the morning news on the AM radio. Then they go out to sweep their surroundings and chat with the neighbors while they wait for “mamang pandesal” to pass by on his old-school bicycle. It is business as usual for the rest of the day. At around 5PM, they all converge in the town plaza for all sorts of activities. Boys from school challenge each other over a game of basketball while the girls scream for their crushes. The little ones flip through the Chinese garter on barefoot and some just line up for a stick of fishball. Dinner is served at around 6:30PM, then they start to gather for the telenovela marathon. At about 9:30 or 10, the lights in the houses start to flicker and go off one-by-one, until the entire town comes to a still.
Marinduque is known for its Moriones Festival which takes place in time for the Lenten week celebration. It is at this time of the year when the whole province is converted into a live theater, with townsfolk dressed in Roman costumes re-enacting the life of Jesus. This is highlighted by the story of Longinus, the one-eyed soldier miraculously healed by the blood of Christ that spurted from His wound. This little island is also becoming famous for Bellaroca Island Resort and Spa, a Santorini-inspired playground for the rich and international tourists. Marinduque is the only province that practices the “putong” or the crowning of guests with flowers and scepters made of stemmed plants. It is their way of welcoming visitors like no other.
I love Boac. It is the destination for nothing but a laid-back weekend get-away. The town’s quaint character, the people’s warmth and their simple ways of life add to my bag of definitions for the word vacation.
HOW TO GET THERE
By Bus (via Lucena City)
Terminals are located in Cubao & Buendia, Pasay. Travel time is approximately 3 hours.
Take the bus w/ the signage Dalahican. It brings you straight to Talao-Talao Port. But if you wish to disembark at the Grand Terminal, jeepneys are availble to shuttle you to the pier.
Manila-Lucena fare is about P200.
From Lucena, take the barge or ferry to Marinduque. The port of Balanacan in Mogpog is bigger and with more sailing schedules. If you take via Cawit, it docks straight in Boac but sailing time options may be limited.
From the port in Balanacan (Mogpog), tricycles, vans, jeepneys will bring you to Boac through the winding coastal road.
Barge & Ferry sailing schedules vary according to season. It is recommended to arrive early in Lucena. Sailing time is approximately 3 hours.
If you wish to bring your car on a barge, fare is about P2,800 with free pass for 2 passengers only.
Recommended boats are Montenegro Shipping Lines and Star Horse Shipping Company.
Flights are also available via Zest Air. Visit http://www.flyzest.com for flight schedules and tariffs.
WHERE TO STAY
Hotels in Boac are a little over Spartan level. But nonetheless, these hotels provide the basic comforts. Recommended are:
Poblacion Area – Boac Hotel (San Miguel Street, +63423322065)
Seaside Area – Chateau du Mer (Brgy.Amoingon, +63423321338)
WHERE TO EAT
There are not too many options for restaurants in Boac and they close early at night.
The Boac Hotel
Good Chow Food Express
Must-bring from Boac are its Arrow Root cookies or popularly known as Uraro. Best place to buy is at The Boac Hotel.
Betwixt and between the arthritic 40 and a horrendous body mass index of positive 30, escapism and yummyeology are my real-life double post-graduate degrees conferred with the highest honors.
I lived nearly half of my life in fancy suitcases, jetsetting between reality and fantasy... read more