Marinduque is a small heart-shaped island which, coincidentally, is also in the center of the Philippines. Rich in culture and wide range of unspoiled beaches, caves and forest, this tiny island in Southern Tagalog offers interesting places still waiting to be explored and discovered. Below is a special Holy Week Itinerary to the “Lent Capital of the Philippines,” Marinduque.
Note: Itinerary is still applicable even though it’s not Holy Week
By Air: Only Cebu Pacific travels to Marinduque and they only have one flight schedule everyday, which is usually in the morning. Flight from Manila to Marinduque only takes 30 minutes and since plane is very small, expect bumpy plane landing. (Update: since the pandemic started, flight to Marinduque has been halted)
By land-sea travel: Coming from Manila, take the bus going to Dalahican or Talao-Talao port, in Lucena, Quezon. Different bus companies travel from Manila to Dalahican so you have various options.
Direct bus or car travel: If you feel not going on and off the bus and ferry. You have the option of riding a bus or a door to door van that will take you all the way from Manila to Marinduque. The bus or van will ride the Roll-On, Roll-Off (RO-RO) and will take you to the city capital of the province or right directly at your doorstep if you choose the door to door. This also goes if you have a car and wants to bring it with you on your trip.
Note: JAC Liner plies a direct Manila-Marinduque route. The bus usually leaves at 8:00 p.m. daily or you may call (02) 404-2073 for more inquiries and reservation.
THINGS YOU NEED TO KNOW
Accommodation: There are no posh hotels or big resorts in Marinduque unlike major provinces like Cebu, Davao and Palawan. Below is a list of inns, hotels and resorts you might want to try, though it’s highly suggested to check in at the capital city Boac, or near it, so watching the Senakulo and going to Boac Cathedral is easy.
- Balar Hotel and Spa
- Hotel Zenturia (near Boac Market)
- Tahanan sa Isok (near Boac Market)
- East Point Hotel
- Amsterdam Palace AirBnB
- Adi’s Resort Hotel and Restaurant
- Boac Hotel (located in front of the Boac Cathedral)
- Tahanan Sa Isok (located near Boac Market)
- Poctoy White Beach Rest House
- Rendezvous Beach Resort (located in the famous Poctoy White Beach) – 0928-602-3260
- Marinduque Hot Spring Resort
Meal: There’s no fast food chain in any town of Marinduque even in its capital city Boac. However, one can have variation of choices among the restaurants and eateries at the town proper of Boac, Mogpog, Sta. Cruz or Gasan. One of the famous eateries in the town of Boac are Goodchow and Kusina sa Plaza, which are located beside Boac Plaza.
Touring: You don’t need a pre-arranged tour to visit the different places in Marinduque. As long as you know how to ask directions from the locals, then you will be perfectly okay. However, sites like Mt. Malindig and Bathala Caves would really require tour guides so better ask hotel and resort administrations if they know a person who can tour you. If you want a tried and tested guide, you can also inquire at the Marinduque Provincial Capital, Tourism Department, to ask for their recommended tour guides. Some tricycle drivers in the town of Boac can also serve as tour guides since most of them are familiar with the province’s tourist spots. Upon reaching the starting point of the Bathala Caves, there’s already an available guide there so checking out the caves won’t really be a problem.
Budget. There are several ATM machines in the town of Marinduque so withdrawing cash is not a problem but still bring extra cash with you always because banks are limited there. Only BDO, PNB, Landbank and Allied Bank are available.
- Good for one person only (the costing below is just a rough estimate)
- Fare: Php 1,500 (fast craft only. This price will vary when you’ll take an airplane)
- Accommodation: Php 3,000
- Food: Php 1,500
- Tour: Php1,500
- Pasalubong: Php 100
You need to have: Php 8,500/person is the safest budget one can have in order for him/her to travel the towns of Marinduque. If you want to save up, you can opt not to visit Mt. Malindig and Bathala Caves or better yet, travel in big groups.
HOLY WEEK ITINERARY
(Note: Make sure to call the offices of the shipping ferries’ first for updated schedule)
Catch the last day of trip to Marinduque on Holy Thursday or better yet try to catch the Holy Wednesday trip. Earliest trip to Lucena is 12:30 a.m. so it is expected that you will arrive at the town of Lucena by 3:30-4:00 am. Ride a jeepney or tricycle to Dalahican or Talao-Talao port. Other buses also drop passengers directly at Talao-Talao Port.
Secure your tickets right away and wait for the ferry or the RO-RO. The two crafts usually let the passengers in by 6:00-7:00 a.m or even earlier. It is highly recommended to be at the port very early during peak seasons like Holy Week so you won’t be stranded and forced to celebrate the Lenten season at the port. While waiting for the boarding, you can take your breakfast first at a nearby canteen, restaurant or waiting area that’s already open during that wee hour of the morning. If the craft will depart on time, your estimated time of arrival in the island of Marinduque is around 10:00-10:30 am.
Take a jeepney to the place of your destination. There are lots of dispatchers there so you won’t go wrong in riding the right jeepney. Just be sure to ask so you won’t end up in Sta. Cruz instead of Boac. During holy week, tourists are welcomed at the port by the Morions, or the masked Roman Soldiers, to give an instant feel of the Moriones Festival of the province.
Upon arrival to you resort or hotel, unpack your things, take your lunch and have along rest because night of Holy Thursday is going to be a busy one
Night of Holy Thursday
Leave your hotel or resort at around 6:00 pm to go to the town of Boac through a jeepney or tricycle. If your hotel is located within the city proper, then you’re in luck because you can just walk up to the Senakulo site. While waiting for the 2nd day of the Senakulo, (first day is Holy Wednesday) take your dinner first at a small canteen or restaurant in the town proper or at the expo (being set up only during Holy Week) few steps away from the actual theater site. You may also kill time first by taking a walk in the park and visiting some bazaars in the town plaza. The Senakulo presentation during Holy Thursday is one of the most awaited ones since it’ll be the night when Judas Iscariote will hang himself. The show usually starts at 8:00 p.m.
After viewing the crucifixion, head to the bazaar, usually near the place, where the Senakulo and crucifixion is being held. If there’s one, you may opt to join the “Paint a Morion Mask” that’s usually being held in the town plaza.
In the afternoon, after taking a rest in your hotel or resort, prepare again your feet for a long walk for the Good Friday procession at 5:00 pm. This time, you will be able to visit Boac Cathedral and actually attend the mass there. Boac Cathedral was built in the late 18th century in honor of the province patroness Blessed Virgin of Biglang-awa. This church also served as a fortress and refuge from pirate attacks during the Spanish colonization years. To catch the mass, be at the church as early as 3:00 p.m. There’s no Senakulo during Good Fridays so you can buy more pasalubongs and head home early for a rest.
There are less happening at the town plaza during Black Saturday so it’s the perfect time to explore the other towns of the province. Start as early as 8:00 a.m. to be able to visit more places. But just to be sure, make sure you have inquired ahead of time if some sites or attractions are open during Black Saturday,
1st stop: Jumpstart the tour by visiting the Bathala Caves in Sta. Cruz, Marinduque, 1.5-2hrs. away from the town of Boac. Bathala Caves is a complex network of seven caves, however only four of which have so far been explored. One of the biggest is called “Simbahan.” “Kay Coke” cave, on the other hand, is occasionally guarded by pythons. The third cave has an underground river and the fourth one houses human bones believed to be the remains of World War II soldiers. Exploring one cave, which of course includes the hike, would eat up at least 1-1.5 hours so decide first whether you want to check out all the caves or even visit Bathala Caves. You may opt to visit the four caves or just tell the tour guide which caves you only prefer to visit. Cave touring fee is Php200.00 per head and this comes with a guide already. One word of advise, wear comfortable clothes and shoes because you need to climb rocks and enter narrow cave entrances for the exploration. Also, when going down the Simbahan Cave (one of the caves of Bathala Caves), you NEED, yes you REALLY NEED to hold on to the big rocks with bat wastes or poop all over it. If you are not okay with it, prepare to fall.
2nd stop: Before trekking, you should have eaten your lunch already and of course, rested. You can request a special tour guide at the Municipal Hall of Buenavista to take you to the summit of Buenavista’s Mt. Malindig. From Boac, the town of Buenavista will approximately eat up 30 minutes to 1 hour of your travel time. To be sure, make advance arrangements and secure a permit to climb the mountain. Trek usually takes 1.5- 2 hours only depending on your speed and pace and if the weather is okay.
At the summit, you can actually see the nearby provinces and islands of Tres Reyes Island, named after Melchor, Gaspar and Balthazar, Elephant Island, Mindoro, Verde Island,Southern Luzon all the way to Bicol, Romblon, Batangas, Laguna, Quezon and Burias Island. It was said that on a clear day, Mt. Mayon is also visible from Mt. Malindig’s summit although this claim has yet to be verified. Speaking of the Tres Reyes Island, you can also visit the three islands but you need to hire an outrigger boat (fee is approximately Php1,500) to take you there. Since it entails visiting other islands, you may be pressed for time already so you may do this in another other day if you still have time and for you to fully enjoy it. Travel time from the mainland to the island is about 30 minutes. The only inhabited island among the three is the largest one, which is Gaspar.
3rd stop: After the trek, you can pass by at the therapeutic Malbog Sulfuric Springs where it is believed that the water from the spring can cure, skin diseases like acne. The relaxing effect of the spring is a must visit in the town of old Buenavista. Entrance fee is Php20.00.
4th stop: Head to Gasan to see the “Butterfly Capital of the Philippines.” The town contributes 85% of the country’s butterfly and pupa exports. Aside from preserved butterfly souvenirs, shirts and live butterflies for sale, WHS Butterfly Farm also offers a farm tour where you can learn more about butterflies and its habitat. If you want to experience releasing butterflies in the wild, you can fulfill that fantasy at the Butterfly farm while contributing to their preservation at the same time.
5th and last stop: Head back to Boac and take your early dinner because you wouldn’t want to miss the last day of the Senakulo, would you? The last day is the highlight of the reenactment since it’s the night when the crucifixion, death, resurrection of Christ and beheading of Longinus will be staged. There’s also a midnight mass being held at the Boac Cathedral right after the play so after watching the last night of the Senakulo, you might want to proceed to the church to attend the mass, which is actually the “salubong” already for the risen Christ.
Easter Sunday is the day when almost all the town folks and tourists of Marinduque go to the beach for a swim since it’s a belief that it’s also a form of celebration that Christ has finally resurrected. Also, the repeat reenactment of the beheading of Longinus or the “pugutan” is being held early morning of Sunday. Several Morions will be seen roaming around looking for the centurion Longinus.
Longinus, on the other hand, can be seen running, acting as if he’s hiding from someone. The chasing will be held in the city proper of Boac.
You can opt to watch the pugutan or just buy some food at the town market for the swimming. Before going in Torrijos for a swim, you might want to stop by first at the Battle of Pulang Lupa, also located at the said town. The Battle of Pulang Lupa shrine is the place where the battle of the Filipinos against the well-armed Americans was won in 1901. The memorial marker stands on top of the hill. (Battle of Pulang Lupa is actually a long trek up the mountain so this is just optional)
After visiting the shrine, head at the 1-km long, fine white sand white beach of Poctoy, probably one of the best and frequented beaches in Marinduque. It has a magnificent view of Mt. Malindig and the coral reefs and clear water makes it an ideal spot for snorkeling. If you weren’t able to bring some food with you, Poctoy White Beach has a long strip of carinderias where you can make paluto at a very affordable price. They also have picnic tables and beach huts for rent, pricing starts at Php250.
Bask under the sun all day and wait for the sunset which is definitely a sight to behold at the said beach. If you can even stay a little late, late night parties are also being held at the beach. Entrance fee to the white beach is more or less Php20.00.
Monday after Holy Week
Wake up early, take your breakfast and ride the jeepney or tricycle to take you to the terminal of the jeepneys that will go to the Balanacan port. You can secure your ticket port itself so it’s better to leave the town of Boac as early as 6:30-7:00 a.m so you will be at the port at around 8:00 a.m. Although in my opinion, it is better to leave earlier than Easter Sunday, or maybe leave by Tuesday already just to avoid the mass exodus of people going back to Manila.