In my country, the Philippines, we have 7000+ islands, countless festivals held in even more countless barangays, municipalities, towns and cities. How many of them have you already visited?
A good news to those planning on a trip to Marinduque, especially this Holy Week!
You do not have to take the long and gruelling 8-hour bus and ferry ride from Manila just to reach this beautiful heart-shaped island in Luzon, the home of Moriones Festival. Cebu Pacific now flies direct from Manila to Marinduque, and the flight will only take ONE HOUR! 😍
Cebgo is using their brand-new ATR 72-600 aircraft 3x a week for this new route, from Ninoy Aquino International Airport Terminal 4 direct to the Marinduque Airport.
The new route just started last April 1, where I was invited along with other travel writers to join and explore Marinduque. It was my first time! I had no plans and expectations, but to just go with the flow of this organized tour. But I tell you, this island is not only named the HEART of the Philippines for its shape, but also for its wonderful sites and people!
To celebrate the first Manila to Marinduque flight, Cebu Pacific awarded a round trip ticket to the first passenger who checked in. Ang swerte ni sir!
I felt nothing but good vibes and excitement as we boarded Cebu Pacific flight DG 6007. Everyone's buzzing, majority of the passengers felt like they know each other. There was a photo wall right before exiting the boarding gate which we of course quickly availed, and all the passengers were handed Cebu Pacific freebies (a yellow pouch).
We barely took a bite of our inflight food when the pilot announced preparation for landing! Ganun kabilis! 😂 When our aircraft touched the ground, the whole plane clapped and cheered, what a joy to be there with this happy crowd!
Water salute! It was my first time to witness this airport tradition for new airline service.
The welcoming committee does not end there! As we walked toward the arrival section, Marinduqueños showed us how they treat their guests: With warmth, smiles, gifts, and music!
Roman soldiers for Moriones Festival were also at the Marinduque Airport arrival section to welcome the first Cebu Pacific passengers to arrive in their island.
They also handed us Marinduque art fans, necklaces with the Morion, and sweet drinks as we snaked our way to our checked-in bags.
After the airport festivities, we hopped in our service van, and stopped by the Amana Resort or Marinduque's Little Secret. It was our first attempt to catch Marinduque's sunset.
DINNER AT CASA DE DON EMILIO
We were a little too late for the sunset, but it was a nice ice breaker for the group! We also met with our guides for the rest of the trip here, and were directed to our next stop: Dinner in Casa De Don Emilio!
Casa de Don Emilio is located along Mercader St. in Boac. It was already nighttime, so the roads were quiet and most establishments were already closed. I like the peace and quiet of being in a province, especially at night! We weren't done yet with the day's itinerary, but I was already thinking of how good our sleep will be here in this small town.
Btw, it was also a treat that our dinner place is a Spanish ancestral house filled with stories and details! It's like hitting two birds with one stone: a tourist spot and a restaurant in one. For our dinner, they served us authentic Marinduque cuisines--mostly saucy viands that went well with warm white rice.
If you're heading to Marinduque, then you must dine here! You can also visit the Marinduque Museum during the day, which is just across the Casa de Don Emilio.
Nightcap: Coffee, tea, and sweets at the 10y.o Cafe, right next to our hotel.
PUTONG: MARINDUQUE'S WARM WELCOME
This is something new to me! I've visited several of our cities and provinces here in the Philippines, but the Southern Tagalog province of Marinduque has a unique traditional ceremony for their guests (especially for first time visitors) that they call Putong.
Also known as tubong, the putong is a kind of ceremony performed for visitors of Marinduque to honor and make the guests feel like kings and queens. We all gathered and sat in front of the women. They were all wearing kimono and saya, carrying baskets of flowers, palm leaves, and coins.
Putong starts with a slow song and simple dance, accompanied by a guitarist. It's their way of praying for your happiness, blessings, and safety. Then the song picks up the tempo, as the women approached us -- placing wooden crowns on our heads. They showered us with coins (for good luck) and candies which we all picked up, and then danced with them too!
It was a fun tradition, and a festive night! What a welcome on my first night here in Marinduque, thank you!
WHERE WE STAYED
And finally, after that long day, we finally checked-in our hotel for two nights. Balar Hotel and Spa is located in Boac, a fairly new accommodation here in Marinduque. They only opened last year (2018), but our stay was already pretty much comfortable since they have everything you'll need in a hotel.
Balar Hotel and Spa offers air conditioned rooms, breakfast buffet, a spa, free WiFi, 24-hour front desk, and a garden and private beach area.
I also love the design of the hotel, very modern and artsy!
With a long day (coming from my flight from Bohol, and then hopping to the plane for Marinduque) I felt so grateful to get a solo room! Here's a tour of my Queen Room with Balcony (around Php 2970 / night).
Very spacious, the open closet is very industrial and modern:
Toilet and bath, complete with hot and cold shower, toiletries, hair dryer, and a bidet!
A little close-up: Above my bed is a blow-up photo of a site in Marinduque. I like this touch! It's a foresight of how I will get to know the people of this island in the coming days: People who are very proud of their roots, and very welcoming to their guests! Excited to write about our Day 2, or our one full day of exploring Marinduque's highlights!
Balar Hotel and Spa
Brgy. Balaring Boac, Marinduque 4900
Call 0917 882 2527
To be continued.
Special thanks to Cebu Pacific Air, Stratworks Inc, Michelle and Erika, Romeo Mataac of Marinduque News, and to the kindest Sir Nelson and Ms. Susan Nace of Dream Favor Travel and Tours!
Curious about Marinduque? Checked the price for next month's flights, and estimate cost of ROUNDTRIP tickets is about Php 4000+ base fare. Visit https://www.cebupacificair.com to check and book your flight to Marinduque!