The island province of Marinduque is underrated. It deserves so much love for the variety of natural, cultural, and historical treasures it harbors. Located between the Tayabas Bay and the Sibuyan Sea, the place enjoys a host of beautiful beaches and stunning ocean vistas. It’s also where the Luzon Datum – the reference for all geodetic surveys in the country – can be found. Marinduque: The Heart of the Philippines – sounds about right.
With more connectivity, exploring Marinduque has never been easier. If you’re traveling to the province anytime soon, I’ve compiled a list of places to check out in each of its six towns.
From Manila, Cebu Pacific flies every Monday, Wednesday, and Saturday to the Gasan Airport in Marinduque. One-way regular fare is around Ph3,000 to Php4,500. Travel time is just under an hour. You can also get on a bus in Cubao bound for the Dalahican/Talao-talao Port in Lucena (Php280). Jac Liner plies this route. Travel time is 3 to 5 hours, depending on traffic. JAC Liner also has a direct bus/RORO trip from Cubao.
For a hassle-free tour around the province, you may want to check out Dream Favor Travel and Tours – the only DOT-accredited tour operator in the island.
Gasan is where Marinduque’s airport is located so this town is the best jump-off for your adventure. Gasan got its name from gasang-gasang which means “corals” — the towns shores are littered with pieces of broken corals. It’s the second oldest municipality, second to Boac, and faces the Sibuyan Sea.
Nature’s Way Sunflower Garden
Just a few minutes from the airport is this recently-opened sunflower farm. Rows and rows of the tall yellow flowers fill the area, and there are platforms where one could take photos. The place charges a 20-peso entrance fee, and is open from 7AM until dark, everyday.
Marl Insect and Butterfly Garden
St. Joseph the Worker Parish Church
Built in 1609, this church is one of Marinduque’s oldest. It sits on a hill and affords a sweeping view of the Sibuyan Sea. The most distinctive feature of the church is the polished coconut shells embedded on the beams. Outside, there is also a garden where three old church bells are displayed.
Boac is the capital of Marinduque. Its name is said to be derived from the Visayan word “bu-ak” that means divided, attributing to the fact that a river cuts the town in two. Another version is that it’s from “bulwak” which denotes the waves made by the river’s rapids. It’s the best place to make your headquarters as most of the commercial establishments are located here.
Also known as the Immaculate Conception Parish Church, the Boac Cathedral was built in 1792 and rests on a hilltop overlooking the Boac River. Its adobe-fortified walls are believed to have protected the town from pirate attacks in the 18th century. In December 2018, it was declared an Important Cultural Property by the National Museum.
National Museum – Marinduque
In the center of town is a branch of the National Museum. It’s still currently under preparation, but stay tuned for its eventual opening. It will be housing cultural pieces and historical relics from the province.
Mogpog is said to be where the Moriones Festival originated. A Spanish friar by the name of Dionisio Santiago is credited for introducing the morion to the town. Japanese forces occupied Mogpog in 1942, and Fil-Am troops liberated it in 1945.
The Luzon Datum of 1911 in Station Balanacan is the reference for all geodetic surveys in the country. It is the center of the Philippines. Aside from its historic significance, the place also affords a panoramic view of Tayabay Bay.
Photo courtesy of Angelo the Explorer
The town of Santa Cruz is a popular island-hopping destination. Clockwise from Gasan, it is the fourth town. Like its neighbor Mogpog, it was also occupied by the Japanese in 1942 and liberated in 1945.
Located on Santa Cruz’s farthest island of Mongpong, Ungab Rock Formation is a dramatic sea arch located on one end of the island’s shores. The arches can be scaled and those with enough nerve can cliff dive from here. It’s also usually part of an island-hopping tour from Maniwaya.
Torrijos has been the site of a notable battle during the Filipino-American War. Forces of Colonel Maximo Abad, bolstered by bolo-wielding locals, defeated those of Devereux Shields.
This place is where the site of the above mentioned battle took place. It is so named because of the hill’s red soil, but some claim it’s due to the bloody events that occurred here. The shrine also overlooks the entire town.
A length of cream-colored shore make up Poctoy Beach. Aside from swimming, there are also kayaks available for rent. Beachside huts are also installed for those looking to have a picnic.
The next town to Gasan when you go counterclockwise, Buenavista was christened by one Don Cornelio Sadiua. Buenavista literally translates to “a good view”, and good views this town has.
A popular sidetrip after a climb to Malindig is a dip at Malbog Sulfur Springs. The pools are fed by the mountain and are said to have healing powers, especially for skin ailments.
Bellaroca is an island off the coast of Buenavista. It’s an exclusive resort that is currently under renovation, but you can view the island and have some photo ops along the highway.
What’s your favorite tourist spot?