Jac Liner Terminal
Being the praning person I am, I was two hours early for the bus ride. Cuz it’s first come first serve basis, so I want to make sure I have a seat. The bus arrived 8:30pm, and we left round 9:20pm. That’s worth Php 550 (manila to Boac, Marinduque). A scrawny teenage boy sat beside me. I was thankful I purchased a malong which became my blanket, dressing room, and in case of emergency, my dress.
We stopped over a carinderia in the Laguna area. I bought piping hot chicken mami with egg.
Lucena, Quezon Province
We arrived at the port round 12 midnight. I thought we will be sitting inside the bus while it is being carried by the ferry. But I noticed everyone was going down the bus, so I followed the other passengers. It turns out during the ferry ride you can sleep on the ferry seats… which were monobloc benches. I scoured for other seats and found a door leading to the aircon section (which you will have to pay additional Php 31). So I slept (or tried to sleep) in the aircon section.
(I think I may have permanently flattened my butt with all the sitting that I did!)
Again, we waited for all the vehicles on board to be registered, for all the passengers to trickle in. Then I felt the ferry move round 2:00AM.
Passengers sleepin on the ferry benches
Bus coming out of the ferry
I got up and hung by the rails of the ferry and got my first glimpse of Marinduque.. a black giant sleeping in the dark sea. It was almost 5am and the sky is still inky ebony. I took photos of the huge statue of Mama Mary that loomed in the port. I went back to my bus seat and it was around 6:30am when I got to Boac, the capital of Marinduque.
The bus passed Boac Hotel without me noticing. Good thing the place I went down to was just a few blocks away from the hotel. The hotel is more like a two star inn than a hotel. For Php700 (for 24 hours) I have a simple, small room with aircon and CR. It was good enough for me because I won’t be staying in the room long. I mean, I did get to Marinduque to explore and not to laze about in the room.
I slept a bit and by 7:00AM I had tapsilog breakfast in the hotel, with a Nescafe 3 in 1 sachet cup of coffee, a total of Php 75. I asked the hotel staff how to commute to the white beach at Torrijos (another municipality). So I had to ride two jeeps and they told me the jeep comes in every 30 minutes, and that I better hurry back because the last jeep going to Boac leaves by 4pm. And ofcrourse I don’t want to rush my beach time.
8am I am already on a jeep bound for Sta. Cruz (another municipality). The driver, let’s call him Feeling-Chick-Boy, waited for the jeep to be filled with passengers, from the seats, to the aisle, and almost to the roof. He kept prancing about the jeep, with pomade dripping on his Elvis-style hair, kept talking to his cellphone.. taking his sweet old time before driving. By 9am he finally drove, with lots of stop overs and letting more passengers on the roof, on the drivers seat (there were like four of them at the driver’s bench). 11am we arrive at Sta. Cruz and I frantically looked for a jeep bound for Torrijos. Thank God the driver didn’t waste a minute and drove right away.
Saktong 12noon, the sun is white hot, blazing.. my spf 70 sunblock was fast melting… I arrive at the entrance of the resort.
The thing is, I was at the entrance and I still had to walk a long pathway before I reach the beach. Kinapalan ko na mukha ko. Between dying of heat stroke or being shameless, guess what I chose?
I waved to a passing jeep (the words “Family Use” didn’t go unnoticed). And, as politely as I can, I asked if I could hitch a ride going to the beach. They let me, ofcourse. I seated beside a tub full of cooked prawns and smiled to the kind family (and it seemed all their relatives).
When I got down the beach, most of the nipa cottages are occupied already, and I needed shade. The heat was tremendous. Again, I approached a family occupying a nipa cottage (rent was Php 150 per hour) and asked, “Pwede po makisilong?”
So I did, and I kept thinking where should I change into my bathing suit. The restroom was already occupied. I took photos first, had lunch at the nearby carinderia. Then I decided to go to a secluded area, where there I can put my stuff under the shade of a coconut tree. My malong came in handy cuz that’s where I changed costume (I was wearing my bathing suit underneath). I left my belt bag (containing the digi-cam and my wallet) under the coconut shade and swam. I glance every once in a while if my bag was still there. Eventually I relaxed.
The clear water was soothing to my parched skin. Even as the sun sizzled overhead, it feels nice to swim in water as clear as that. The water wasn’t salty I was able to open my eyes underwater and it didn’t hurt, nor make my hair too stringy.
Unfortunately I forgot to re-apply sun block on my body (I just kept re-applying to my face).. so when I got home my back was red, itchy, and slightly toasted.
The jeep ride back, which is mostly zig-zag, I noticed that the drivers, when going down a steep incline, would put the vehicle into neutral, turn the engine off, and free-wheel downward the spiraling road…
I wanted to screech to the driver.. Dangerous yan ginagawa niyo!!! Cuz since the engine is not in gear, there is no control with how fast we are spiraling down…
Sharp left, sharp right… I was sitting at the driver’s side, I clung on to anything I could find… but somehow, eventually.. I had fun zig-zagging the island this way.
Back at Boac
When I got back to the room I showered and slept. Then I walked across the hotel and went online for a while (only P20 per hour!). Then I ate at a nearby restaurant and asked for their specialty. I also made arrangements with the hotel staff to find me a tricycle I could hire the next day to go to Bathala Cave, it was a bit far and I am learning that if I am pressed for time, I better hire my own vehicle.
Sta. Cruz, Marinduque
The tricycle I hired cost me Php 1,000. There were dirt rocky paths so parts of me hurt from the jiggling and being tossed up and down. Should’ve worn sports bra. My Big Mak breakfast threatened to escape. But all is well, I arrived safely.
The cave guide cost P200. But since I want to come out of the caves alive, I hired him.
And Manong Alex, who is the descendant of the owner of the land (which includes the caves) knows his stuff. And the way he talked about Bathala caves, how he spent years cleaning it up from vines and thick foliages, fending away graffiti-makers, I knew he was a genuine nature-lover.
He knew the history. Mount Bathala has 20 caves, and only 7 are declared explorable, a lot of the caves have tunnels leading into each other. Alex has seen six of the seven, while most tourists explore two or three caves.
Already we were trekking up Mount Bathala while Alex was giving a trivia here and there, I couldn’t absorb the information properly cuz I was busy from panting. I used rocks as footholds, stretched my legs, my arms to grab on the rocks to push me up and the Guide was like easily taking his time like a monkey effortlessly swinging from rock to rock…
When we arrived at the mouth of Simabahan cave I was amazed about it’s width and height. Alex said that a cult named Kultong Gunaw, who believed that the world would end in 2000, hid in the cave. The rock formations inside they gave religious significance, they had an altar, the Nazareno, three angels..
The floor was full of bat droppings (which is excellent fertilizer) and good thing I was wearing my cap to protect my head from bat souvenirs.
The way to Python Cave was longer. More sharp rocks to clamber up on (yes, my tongue was hanging out from exhaustion, think Odie from Garfield). My sweat trickled down my face like profuse tears. And I made it clear to Alex I don’t want too see any Pythons… and guess what I found?
Alex said I was lucky cuz last Holy Week hundreds of tourists wanted to see the pythons, but they were disappointed. And Alex mentioned that there is also superstition involved, that whoever the python shows itself to, gets lucky. Yes I already know I’m lucky without a sneek preview of the snake. Anyway, so I wave to the snake.. thanks for showing your scaly self! I am honored!
Hahaaa. The python was nice, it grew on me. Nope, I don’t speak parseltongue but we got along well as long as it maintains it’s 20 feet distance from me.
Next, the guide asked if I want the more challenging caves… there’s the Cemetery Cave further up, though I still want to explore, my legs were already a bit fatigued. Kinda what I felt after trying wall climbing.
So we rested a bit, then descended the mountain.
Again, zig-zag downward on the way home. Even the tricycle turned off it’s engine, making it like a side-care bicycle trundling downward.
Back to Boac Hotel
I showered and slept, I turned the alarm on cuz the bus (Jac Liner) leaving for Manila leaves at exactly 7PM, they don’t wait for passengers to fill the bus.
I checked out the hotel around 5PM. I paid my half day accommodation at Php 350. I walked around the area, bought bibingka at the palengke, and prayed at the Boac Cathedral. I feel grateful that I had the freedom to do this. To roam at will, at whim. The feeling of not being tied to work, family, and other things. I feel good.
The ride back
Since I know my butt has somehow flattened a bit from the prolonged sitting on the bus, when I rode the ferry back I didn’t sit or sleep. I spent my time by the rails, staring at the foams and ripples the ferry made as we slid through the sea… the foams looked like fireworks of white, spreading across the ebony waters… I could make out patterns, and watch huge ripples wane into small curls of current…
I also went to the hull of the ship, the front, and sat there… the wind whipped my hair back.. but it is calming to see the distant lights ahead.. the lights of ports awaiting our return. I watched as the pin pricks of light steadily became the size of baseballs, until we are just a few miles away from the port of Dalahican, Lucena.
I arrived at Jac Liner, Cubao around 3:00AM. My parents were there, parked and sleepy. I hug them.
It’s good to be home.