Madness and Chaos Getting to the Moriones Festival in Marinduque, Philippines

2:00:00 PM Jerik De Guzman 23 Comments


ALL-TIME FAVORITE POST FROM 2010 RE-BLOGGED: I left the comforts of my dear home and off to an island south of Manila. The night before i left, my father asked me where i was going. To sorta give him a more safe answer, i just said Quezon. But to be honest, it is maybe four hours by boat to this island province called Marinduque. A few hours later, he finally found out where i was heading. He told me that he was there before, with my my grandfather who used to perform with his orchestra in the town plaza. 

A few hours before i left, i was still halfway my work but i manage to pull off a few articles and decided to continue the rest of the remaining stuff i needed to write in Marinduque. With no sleep at all, i took a shower and started to pack my things. No amount of delay can sway my mind to not go. I am going to brave this province no matter what it takes.

Looking back, this trip would be so memorable because it paved the way for many things i needed to realize for myself.

For those of you who are unfamiliar with Marinduque, except maybe Bellaroca which is also called "Elephant Island", here's a travel guide on how to get to Marinduque.  
Get informed.
Marinduque a tiny little heart-shaped like province off the coast of Quezon. This island province is sometimes called the "heart of the philippines" because of its location in the middle of the country. Marinduque is a very poor province, with mostly coconuts and fishing in the coastal town as means of livelihood. Relatively, during the holy week is when the province gains its most number of tourists. The rest of the year, its a sleepy and quiet province. The chances of you bumping into a traveler in this side of the country is very slim, unless of course they are headed to the luxury island of Bellaroca formerly known as Elephant Island.
It was during the holy week, when i went to the province of Marinduque where the people celebrate the Moriones festival. The people i saw traveling were natives of Marinduque who are now living in Manila. Some, were just tourists visiting the province for the festival. 

Before this trip was planned, i was looking at my map asking myself where i want to go next. I had a few suggested destinations from Catanduanes to Ilocos Norte to even Romblon. But due to the limited time and budget, i decided i have to go to Marinduque. It's the easiest destination to go to from Manila that i haven't been yet. Or so i thought.

How to go Marinduque?
Three ways to go to Marinduque from Manila:

If you're willing to splurge: You can fly direct from Manila to Marinduque via the airport located in between Gasan and Boac, Zest Air flies this route. I also found out Seair flies direct from Manila to Sta. Cruz on scheduled dates. The trip will roughly cost you less than $100 round trip.

There's no middle class, it's either you're flying which is what the rich people do or you're doing cheap which is a bus-boat/ferry combination.

If you're a cheapo: You ride a bus (Jam Liner, Jac Liner, etc) from Manila to Dalahican Ferry port in Quezon. The trip is about less than P200 or $4 and will take you to a fair enough good ride of about four hours. There a few stops along the way getting more passenger. From there, you catch a ferry which will course the sea for about four hours or the fast ferry about half that time. Some of the popular ferry boats are White Horse and Montenegro Shipping lines. 

During the holy week when i was there, imagine chaos rockin' at the ferry port of Dalahican. Everyone wanted to get on board to head to Marinduque but the boats are always full of passengers already. When i arrived, some people were waiting as chance passengers since last night. The line was very long and disorderly. The ticket booths weren't closed. The sun was so hot. This is one problem posing Marinduque Tourism. 

Transportation System
With about three or four dubious ferries traveling from Quezon to Marinduque on random hours, how in the world will tourists, travelers, everyone go there during this time of the year? Locals say when it's not holy week, there's also an awful chance of catching another ferry when one leaves because no one goes to Marinduque then. 

I really want to address the Marinduque officials regarding this. There's such a lot of waste because of this mismanagement. Oh well. If you can brave it, go for it. That's what i did.

Chaos at Dalahican Port
When i arrived in Dalahican port, which was roughly four hours bus ride from Quezon City, i found out how hard it was to buy a ticket bound for Marinduque. Another problem posed is as much as i want to be responsible and book everything ahead, you can't do it going to Marinduque. Unlike in Thailand where everything is possible, in Marinduque, you have to book everything yourself. No early reservations. Nothing.

Needless to say, traveling to Marinduque during holy week is all about Luck. It's either you have it or you don't. 

Holy Week in Marinduque
If you think going to Marinduque during holy week was a pain in the butt. Wait when you're about to go back home. I arrived at ferry port of Balanacan at around 6AM and this is the line. I didn't leave Marinduque till tuesday the week after holy week. I was hoping everyone left on Sunday or Monday because there's work already. It's either we're all thinking the same thing or there's just too many people visiting the island. 
There is a very big problem with the order here. Some of the characters i met at the ticket booth and the coast guard were a little bit shady. I mean, it's dubious enough that one man will buy 40 tickets so imagine what's left for those in line. Worse, they won't tell you the tickets are almost sold out. So, you've been falling in line for about two hours and then suddenly you will miss the ferry ride because there ain't anymore tickets. What a bummer.
There's a little spectacle though to the calmness of the people here, apart from the lady who got hysterical. Bet she's not from Marinduque. Everyone was calm, keeping their heads cool and smiling. Although it was scorching outside, everyone seemed to learn how to talk in a nice way. I mean what's the worse thing that could happen, miss a ferry ride? Take it easy.

EXCLUSIVE: If that's not enough, wait, there's more. On my way back, i finally got to buy a ticket, tired and obviously perspiring like there's no more tomorrow, i decided to cool off in the lounge area before the ferry arrives and we're off to Quezon. I fell a sleep for a bit lying down in a not so clean floor. I didn't care. I was just so tired. When i woke up a few minutes before the scheduled arrival of my ferry, i started searching where the ferry will dock so i can just wait for it and get on the boat as soon as possible. 

Lo

and 

Behold...

The Ferry left. ALREADY! 

What???????

Apparently, schedules are just a suggestion here. Because there's too many people and a few ferries arriving. Even if you're scheduled for a later trip, you can ride already the first ferry you see. First come first serve basis.

And what's worse, no one will tell when the ferry arrives or when the ferry will leave. I just laughed at how the management at the ferry terminal are keeping secrets from me.

I don't want to put all the blame on the transportation system of Marinduque. I may have been a little relaxed planning this trip. But mishaps happen like non-stop. 

Stroke of Luck
On the other hand, sometimes the shady transportation in Marinduque worked to my advantage. On my way to Marinduque, i didn't anymore fall in line after a few hours of waiting for nothing. Just a stroke of luck, a man approached me and told me i can get on the ferry without buying the ticket. I just need to buy terminal fee so i can get in. 

And so i did just that. He carried my duffel bag. Saw his ID, so i bet my belongings are safe with him. I hurriedly followed him trying to get as little attention as possible and proceeded riding the ferry. Before the ferry left, i gave him a tip. He said i just have to pay the ticket to the men in uniform after everyone's settled and as the ferry is leaving. 

I paid for about P200 for the ferry ride no hassle at all. There wasn't anymore ferry leaving bound for Boac but there's one bound for Sta. Cruz. I knew i needed to take this ferry or i will be stuck in Dalahican ferry port.
The photo was taken on my way back to Dalahican Port in Quezon. But a similar picture is the case when you're leaving the ferry - madness and chaos. Everyone wanted to go down the soonest possible time no matter what it takes. 
REALIZATIONS: With very poor planning by the government of Marinduque and obviously lack of transportation essentials to promote tourism in the province, i don't think this province will get its much needed to boost for promotion anytime soon. Let's be practical. When not a lot of people go to a destination, everything remains intact. That, i reckon, is the reason why this island province is still untouched by the commercialism. Truth be told, getting to Marinduque is all worth it.

23 Comments:

stressful chaos! tsk, things we sacrifice for the love of travelling.

i know... at first it gets to you but after a while you will realize it will make the experience far lot richer when mishaps like this happen because you discover how much you love so much traveling and how much you're willing to sacrifice to go to the unknown.

marinduque is one of the hardest destinations to go to so far for me because basically its not really a tourist destination other than the moriones festival. but i really enjoyed the trip and proud i made it!

Travel to Marinduque during Holy Week is always inconvenient because of so many people going to Marinduque within that 2 to 3 days window. But after personally observing the pageantry of the Moriones Festival, most of the inconvenience is forgotten until the next Easter Season. I enjoy reading your article on Marinduque. Have a Good Day!

riding in a ferry in that kind of day,like holy week , x-mass, new year, its normal that theres a lot of tourist or local citezen of marinduque is that are going in that province,...but,..in regular days ,its not like that ...what we called "siksikan sa byahe".
you can try it ,go to marinduque in regular days and you cant experience that kind of hardship just to go to the ISLAND OF MARINDUQUE...
THANK YOU...

@ David B. Katague Thanks for the comment. What's funny is i almost gave up on heading to Marinduque due to the lack of ferry boats going to the island. Was almost on the verge of finding myself stranded in Quezon. good thing, i managed my way to squeeze in to one of the ferries going to the other side of the island. and thank God, i made the choice. Marinduque is so beautiful, its one for the books!

@Stephanie mae, you just read my mind. actually, while i was exploring the southern coast of Torrijos, with all the videokes and teens hanging around in the beach, i was thinking... what would it be like if there's no festival here now, then, it would be so cool to just sit there by the beach in silence. are you from marinduque as well? :)

chiefpipo© said...

@pinoy boy journal
...i guess we Marinduqueños really practice "pinetensya" during the Holy Week starting from the long ride from our destination then to the point of entry which is Talao - Talao pier in Dalahican..^_^ Minsan lang naman ito para sa mga tourist...but what's sad is that, many people especially the native of Marinduque who goes in and out of the province regularly suffers from the inefficiecy of the in-charge office or authority to maintain ease and comfort to the travelers...local or tourist...

but for me....home is where the heart is...so i'm numbed to this situation and of course, as well as my kababayans.

Here i'm still praying that the local government will look into this...not ningas cugon..but to seek the very desired result of having a good, comf'tble, and safe trip...ingress and egress! darating ang time..the tourism will suffer...the economy will suffer...kawawa ang province ko! Wew!

Pipo Nepomuceno po!
facebook.com/ Marinduqueño, Mandin Facebook Group

Nice Blog po! Thanks for sharing ^_^ More power!

This comment has been removed by the author.

Going to Marinduque during peak season is as inconvenient as traffic in Manila. If you want to travel conveniently, try coming by air..or come on a regular day...

Vist us at www.radyomarinduque.com

@chiefpipo© i couldn't agree with you more. Marinduque is one of my most favorite provinces in the Philippines. If only the government would push the tourism industry in the province further, this will help the livelihood of Marinduqueños. When i got at the port, there was nothing the officers-in-charge can do to help solve the problems:lack of boats, erratic schedules, even simply the line of people as they buy their tickets.

I was actually talking to a Tourism officer over the phone when i was in the pier. I was telling him about the situation but he couldn't do anything as it may be the time of the season. But if there's no holiday, i could just imagine the lack of ferry boats sailing to bring to give ride for the passengers.

If there is anything i could do to help solve the issue, i would be more than willing to help. let me know lang if you have plans.

Thank you very much for reading, hope you can come back again! Thanks again!

@Marinduqueno Ako I know there are Seair flights going to Marinduque most probably for those staying in Bellaroca!

But for the ordinary citizens, i still suggest riding the ferry, it's an experience in itself. so that more people will know how badly the province needs assistance to help out the tourism and transporation industry!

If there's anything i can do to help, don't hesitate to let me know. I'll try to draft another post on Marinduque. Or better yet, i might just go back! Thank your very much. Have a lovely evening!

Morning Pinoy and other readers. Travelling to Marinduque on regular days as usual is not as problematic as travelling during the holidays.

Me myself prefer travelling by ferry as to appreciate the beauty of the island and the view of the horizon kissing the blue sea. The view of the islets and the green mountains seem to relieve me of stress from the citylife.

At the moment I for myself, with the help of other kababayans help promote Marinduque as a tourist destination. To show the world where we are; to exhibit the beauty of the island; to demonstrate the culture and tradition and to invite people to come and experience us.

And maybe if there is a positive response, transport improvement may follow. People will not invest in transport or additional ferries if there are no passengers.

Unlike Mindoro, Marinduque is a final destination. In Mindoro, business and products drive to and from Palawan and other neighboring places to Luzon.

I think if we expose and improve tourism, we may improve transport and we may improve local economy.

I believe this is a collective effort. It has to be the government and the people's concern. Two sides must work to get things moving.


If you are willing to help in any way, then we are most happy to hear from you.

Visit us at www.radyomarinduque.com and have a look of what our initiatives are.

happy valentine's!

@Marinduqueno Ako Thank your for your dedication, i love the province too. I am not from there but i have this special concern for the province. for sure, i will visit your site and hope to learn more about the work you do. in the mean time, i will link your site here in this entry! Thank you very much, kindly let your followers know about this blog too. Mabuhay kabayan!

Raymond said...

When traveling to Marinduque, I suggest you plan months in advance. The best way to get there is via Zest Air. SEAir no longer flies to Marinduque. During February & September there is a travel expo here in Manila. Zest Air participates in these events. They offer rock bottom airfares to all their local destinations. However, you must be there by 10AM SHARP. Crowds swell in just under 30 mins. & you could end up waiting in line for several hours.
Bellarocca Resort & Spa is THE place to go right now in Marinduque. However, it's not for the masses. Zest Air offers a 3 days 2 nights package for P50,000 or about $1,160 for 2 people.
Marinduque is a nice place to visit. You just need to plan months in advance when going there, especially during Holy Week.

@Raymond Wow thanks for the tip! I don't think I'll be able to afford a luxury getaway anytime soon. I also prefer living and communing with the local people. I feel more at home staying at the foot of the mountain or a homestay in a fishing village. I love Marinduque so much, it's one of my top three most beautiful provinces in the Philippines!

Ivan said...

grrrr.. kinakabahan na ako sa darating na holy travel to Marinduque this coming holy week.. sana kayanin ko po yung chaotic port experience.

@Ivan just make sure you arrive on time, and grab the ticket agad. once you get to the port, sobrang dami ng tao. walang sumusunod sa line. tip: you can actually ask someone (a porter). what i did was pay for the ticket while i was at the ferry boat already. i have no more time to fall in line pa. i was actually making plan B because i know i won't be able to go to Marinduque na. Kaya mo yan bro! diskartehan mo na lang! Thanks Ivan ha!

Anonymous said...

this is my dad's province..we usually go to general luna quezon port to avoid dalahican wc is super chaotic.one hour boat ride to maniwaya island where my dad grew up. so miss the white sand, the sand bars, snorkeling..aaaaarrrghh thanks for this trip wish iwas there

@Anonymous i am not sure but i think my former boss' family is also from maniwaya. argggg i wished i knew about Maniwaya even before.. I love Marinduque! I've written about it so many times. It's one of my top three best provinces in the Philippines. Thanks for the tip! I'm sure many readers will be thankful.

RoxGSN said...

I enjoyed reading your blog entries, esp. this article about Marinduque. These things really happen. I'm from Marinduque but I'm still not used to this kind of chaos when going to my hometown on holidays. Main reason why I skipped going home on several Christmases, New Years, All Soul's Days and Holy weeks. Sistema ang kailangan. But thanks so much about your concern. I hope our officials hear about this.

@RoxGSN what can i say, Marinduque is my top2 best destination in the Philippines. I love everything about this province and i hope the government does something so tourism will improve, thereby helping the people with their incomes. simple lang naman wish ko for this province.

Ian Limbonis said...

hopping to marinduque this weekend.. joiners welcome 0916x967x8853

Beth said...

I've been to Marinduque before. Went to the capital to watch the Moriones. Marinduque is a beautiful province. Mahirap lang puntahan. :(