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Exploring Santa Cruz, Marinduque

Exploring Santa Cruz, Marinduque

This heart-shaped province had been on top of my bucket list for quite a while. I was eluding it for the longest time but I knew deep down that a weekend getaway will not suffice. Then the right time came after the wedding of one my closest friends.

Our main purpose was to visit and enjoy the amenities of Marikit-Na Beach Resort in Maniwaya Island. But the rest of Marinduque is much more beautiful that just curling up in our room means wasting precious exploration time.

Left: A Roman soldier of the Moriones Festival. Right: An elderly woman lights up a candle as she watches the ongoing Santacruzan

Before we headed to Marikit-na Beach Resort, we spent one night in the municipality of Sta. Cruz after arriving from Manila. This sleepy town has its own share of treasures worth appreciating and our one night stopover was definitely not put to waste.

Santa Cruz Church

To our surprise, a Santacruzan was held that afternoon and we watched this already fading cultural tradition come to life. The parade began at the church after the afternoon mass. The townsfolk patiently waited along the streets. It circled the main thoroughfares of the town proper before going back within the church complex.


Me at the old convent. Yay!

As the locals were busy watching the parade, my friend and I went up to the old convent turned function hall and took some quick shots of ourselves. This was one of my favorite parts of the trip. As you can see, I am an old house fanatic!
Santa Cruz Old HousesSo Marinduque did not fail me in my love of old houses. Though the houses we found here were few and not as grand as in the other old towns I have visited, it still left me in wonder since some were well-preserved and still being lived in.

The old houses were concentrated along the main street directing towards the church. After checking in to Dewey Hotel, we rested for a while, freshened up and went out in search of a place to eat.

Me in front of the oldest ancestral home standing in town

Maniwaya Island
Maniwaya Island rests in between Sta. Cruz and Mongpong islands and is as rural as an island can get. Though several resorts have sprung up here, the island’s ambience still boasts of lazy afternoons and long mornings. On a clear day, the landscape of mainland Marinduque can be seen from the shore. Karl also shared that during rainy or cold season, the atmosphere is almost Europe-like, complete with cloud-covered mountaintops.

Me, Paolo and Karl before retiring for bed

Palo Maria Beach
The other side of Maniwaya Island boasts of semi-fine, creamy white sand. 

While we spent most of our day within the confines of Marikit-Na Beach Resort, we made sure to spend several hours each day swimming in the surrounding waters. 

The Missing Palad Sand Bar

We were not given the privilege of admiring the beauty of the vanishing Palad Sand Bar. Our boatman told us that it is visible during full moon or perhaps during low tide. We still went to the shallow waters and swam to our heart’s content! The water was calm and clear. Karl commented we were just like in a giant swimming pool.

Ungab Rock Formation
(Mongpong Island)

As we went up back to our boat, I had the picture of this gorgeous rock formation at the back of my mind just before our boatman asked us where our next destination is. Since our stay was compliments to the hotel, I got shy in asking if we can visit Ungab Rock Formation. I guess he read my mind since we visited Mongpong Island too where this bridge-like rock formation is located.

Mongpong Island from the sea. It looks like an elongated lizard.

The waves hitting the shore were a bit rough but the local kids did not seem to mind. We joined them for a few minutes before calling it a day as it was already past our lunch hour. 
There are other towns and beaches I would like to see in Marinduque. But due to our limited time, I had to save it for later. Though my visit was slow and steady, it was not boring. It was just the way I wanted it.

How To Get To Marinduque
Marinduque is most accessible by land via Dalahican Port in Lucena City, Quezon. Roros (ferry) and fast craft ply to the island on a daily basis. Fare is at Php 260 during our trip. Travel time approximately three hours or less.

Once alighted in Balanacan Port in Mogpog town, trikes, jeepneys and vans of different routes are abound. We chose to ride in a van towards our destination which was Santa Cruz. Santa Cruz’s Buyabod Port also leads to Maniwaya Island’s Marikit-Na Beach Resort.

Once in Maniwaya Island, you can go back to mainland Luzon via Gen. Luna, Quezon by boat. The voyage is around an hour and fare is at 150 pesos. The passengers are picked up from the island between 6:30 to 7:00 in the morning. From Gen. Luna, you can take a trike towards the van terminal which in turn will take you to Lucena Grand Terminal in two hours. Buses and other modes of transport to Manila and nearby provinces can be hailed from here.

Travel Tips

* There are carinderias (small eateries) and food stalls at the port but I suggest you buy your food elsewhere if you want more variety. There is also a bar at the ferry where basic commodities are sold like cup noodles, coffee and soda drinks but at a much higher price.
* Always make sure to check the weather before embarking on a sea voyage. It is best to be sure than to guess as we don’t want any life endangerment.
* Cash is always handy as Marinduque province is still very rural. Though major banks are found in towns, I suggest loading up on cash. 
* Be street smart and kind toward strangers. Always.
* Take nothing but pictures. Leave nothing but footprints.  Kill nothing but time. Keep nothing but memories.

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