Marinduque, the heart-shaped island of the Philippines, beats through vast pastoral lands, soaring peaks, lush wilderness and immaculate beaches. This unassuming province is part of MIMAROPA region in Luzon and best known for its grand celebration of the Moriones Festival during the Holy Week. Despite its erratic ferry schedule, this is one charming destination that will surely pique your interest.
The commercial center of Boac, the capital of Marinduque is clad by well-preserved old colonial houses and buildings. Most of them are converted into shops, stores, cafes and restaurants. Even Casa Narvas that is declared as a heritage house by the National Historical Institute in 2007 houses a bakery. The Boac Museum beside the town plaza exposes visitors to in-depth information on the rich history of the province. The baroque inspired Boac Cathedral constructed in 1580 and completed in 1792 is believed to be the site where the Katipunan flag carried by Canuto Vargas in 1899 was baptized.
The heart of the Philippines has such an irresistible raw appeal that beckons adventurers and nature lovers. In Boac, you can chase the refreshing Kabugsakan Falls at Brgy. Tugos, Ginaras waterfall in Brgy. Duyay, and Hinulugan falls of Brgy. Sabong. For mountaineers, hike up Mt.Malindig, the highest peak in the province which is home to endemic animals, wild orchids and mossy jungles. At the base of this dormant volcano, you can take a dip at the therapeutic Malbog Sulfur Spring. If you are searching for more adventures, experience spelunking at the enchanting Bathala Caves in Sta. Cruz, and Talamban Caves and Duyay Cave in Boac.
The shoreline of Boac to Cawit is hugged by clear brown and gray sand beaches. At the neighboring town of Gasan, take a leisurely stroll at the Baywalk and catch the stunning sunset. Charter a boat to take you around Tres Reyes Islands, named after the Three Kings; Gaspar, Melchor and Baltazar. Marvel at the clear cerulean waters surrounding the dramatic rock formations that have been etched into the islands by eon of wind and pounding waves.
Poctoy Beach, the increasingly popular weekend break destination in Torrijos seduces picnickers. It is dotted with a few humble resorts, and inhabited by locals that thrive on fishing. The majestic Mt. Malindig looms over its powdery cream sand and alluring turquoise waters.
To get to Marinduque you can fly via Zest Air from Manila, board a ferry from Lucena City (Quezon Province) to Balanacan port or Cawit, or ride an outrigger boat from Pinamalayan (Mindoro Oriental) to Gasan. Despite the rise of commercialization here, their lifestyle remains modest and the crime rate is one of the lowest in the country.
Gael Hilotin traveled around the Philippines for 7 months. She blogs at The Pinay Solo Backpacker.