The heart-shaped island of MARINDUQUE (pronounced “mar-in-DOO-kay”) is a great place to get away from it all – work your way slowly around the coastal road to the pretty beaches south of Boac, then across the island to Torrijos and Poctoy White Beach, where you can live cheaply in the shadow of majestic Mount Malinding. There’s some good island-hopping around Marinduque too, with beaches and coves to explore around the Tres Reyes Islands off the southwest coast and the Santa Cruz Islands off the northwest coast. The island is known for its Moriones festival, an animated Easter tradition featuring masked men dressed like Roman soldiers. If you plan to visit during Holy Week then you should book ahead.
For all its geographical closeness to Manila, Marinduque might as well be a world away, with most of the 230,000 residents leading a life of subsistence coconut farming and fishing. When copper mining was begun here in 1969, many thought it was the dawn of a new era for the island. Sadly, the dream ended in disaster and recrimination as on two separate occasions, waste from disused pits flowed into the island’s rivers, destroying agricultural land, the livelihood of the locals and marine life, which is still trying to recover today. More recently a luxury resort opened on a small island off Marinduque, providing jobs – around 80 percent of the staff are locals – but otherwise having little impact on the lives of most islanders.Read More
The capital of Camarines Norte province DAET, 200km southeast of Manila, is overrun with tricycles but the nearby coastline has more than its fair share of unspoiled beaches and islands. Surfers are drawn to the fickle waves at Bagasbas Beach (see p.000) and San Miguel Bay. Daet’s busy little central plaza is a popular meeting place in the evenings. One block north is the 1950s Provincial Capitol, in front of which is Kalayaan (Freedom) Park with the tallest statue of José Rizal outside Manila. Erected in 1899, this was the first monument to Rizal in the country and set the trend for thousands of others in town and barrio plazas across the archipelago.
The Moriones festival celebrates the life of Longinus, the Roman soldier who pierced Christ’s side during the Crucifixion. Blood from the wound spattered Longinus’s blind eye, which was immediately healed. Converted on the spot, he later attested to the Resurrection and, refusing to recant, was executed. The Marinduqueyo version is colourful and bizarre, involving fanciful masked figures dressed as centurions chasing Longinus around town and through nearby fields. Several Moriones pageants are staged in Marinduque during Holy Week, with extra events added in recent years for the benefit of tourists (see whttp://www.marinduque.gov.ph for more information). Although the festival originated in Mogpog, and other towns including Santa Cruz have their own versions, these days the major Moriones festival is in Boac.