I got sidetracked by all my activities this summer resulting in a sluggishness that prevented me from continuing my Marinduque blogs. Right now, aside from finishing this Marinduque series, I also have my Mt. Pinatubo, Taal Volcano, Pahiyas Festival and Mt. Pulag blogs in my blog backlog. And so, before I forget important details, I will now finish the Marinduque series.
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The previous day was a particularly tiring one, what with going back and forth between Gasan and Boac. For Day 3, we were slated to go island hopping at the Tres Reyes island chain off the coast of Gasan. As the name suggests, they were named after the biblical three wise men – Melchor, Gaspar and Baltazar. We had to wake up in order to be able to rent a good boat.
So to make a long story short, our group was able to hire two boats to tour the island with and we got to see each of the three islands up close. The boats were unfortunately small enough that any water splash found its way in the passenger area, making it very risky to take out photography equipment. As a result, I was not able to take pictures of the majestically steep cliffs of each island.
There was apparently some miscommunication when negotiating the exact itinerary with the boatmen. We were expecting that we’d be able to get off Baltazar island and hike up towards its lighthouse but the boatmen just went past it that we had to signal them to stop just to ask them what was going on. From what we gathered, they said that the passage to the lighthouse was very difficult and it would take too much time. In addition, we might lose valuable beach space if we arrive late at Gaspar Island – the only one among the three islands that has beaches.
So after some clarificatory exchanges between the two boats in the middle of the sea, we went straight to Gaspar Island’s southern coast, where there were small pockets of white sand beach. And as if to prove the boatmen right, we found that there were already people in those small pockets of beach. Fortunately, we found a way to dock and claim a parcel of beach area for ourselves.
Since I did not plan on swimming (I dislike swimming in saltwater) I agonized over not bringing any swimming attire. It did seem that the clear waters were inviting enough for me to temporarily set aside my freshwater-only preference as far as swimming goes. So I just concentrated on taking pictures of the surroundings while most in our group took a dip. Fung, in particular, even went snorkeling.
Thankfully, my non-swimming time was at least productive as Boyet was helpful enough to enable me to shoot nice looking pictures in an impromptu fashion shoot. With the youthful Sheryl Uy, I was able to shoot nice enough pictures that I didn’t know my camera could make. (Of course, what is nice-looking is a matter of opinion. Rico did point out some areas where my pictures could have been improved.) Here’s a sample:
Before we knew it the tide was rising and we had to pack up our stuff and move to the other side of the island where the shore was bigger and wider. There was a period of mild panic as our boats seemingly took their sweet time before returning for us. I got into the first boat and saw the worried faces of the ones left behind. Thankfully, they didn’t have to wait long as it turns out our second boat was just 10 minutes behind the first one.
The other side of Gaspar Island was indeed wider and unfortunately, it was also a mass destination of Marinduqueños. It wasn’t that bad though, as the place still looks nice enough. If you can stand the lack of a proper restroom, then you’d find that there are other conveniences available, chief of which is the presence of a sari-sari store that sells cold drinks.
We stayed a while here and took more pictures under the blazing sun. By this time my exposed arms were already so burnt that I’m thankful I wear a wide brimmed had that saved my face from the same fate. Our group was a conspicuous lot as we lugged around very visible camera equipment. Some of the locals even started speculating whether we were professional photographers or whether Sheryl or Poms were models or actresses in Manila. (We know this because Mrs. Belinda Uy actually heard people talk about Sheryl, to which she had to reply, “Anak ko yan!”)
Lunch was apparenly going to be in Club Marinduque in Gasan. So before long, we again boarded our boats to get back to Marinduque proper. Club Marinduque turned out to be a nice place. Not first class, but definitely a big, big improvement from our lodgings in A&A Beach Resort back in Boac. It seemed a nice enough place that I wish we stayed here instead. The owners are related to Boyet, from what I gathered, and I’d really wish that if we’re returning the next year, TF would make arrangements with this resort.
We had two more destinations to cover before calling it a day. So after having lunch, we were on the road towards Poctoy. We were still supposed to pass by Malbog Hot springs, but I guess we were fast running out of time, so we made for Poctoy White Beach in Torrijos. Along the way, on the road between Buenavista and Torrijos, a slight delay due to a soft tire enabled one of us, Nica, to be reunited with an aunt she has not seen in years. It’s one of those stories that enables one to think that there are no coincidences in the world.
So the story is that Nica and her aunt have not seen each other in years, and that even though the latter was informed through relatives that Nica is visiting Marinduque, there was still almost no chance that they will see each other because: (1) TF had it’s own schedule; and (2) Nica and her aunt were not directly communicating with each other. As our jeepney was passing through the town where the aunt lives, some bystanders signaled to the driver that one of our tires is close to flat. This necessitated us to stop and have the jeepney fixed.
Now here’s the fun part: Nica’s aunt actually set out to wait by the road that afternoon with slimmest of hopes that our jeepney will somehow stop to enable them to see each other. (Just think about it for a moment. It’s just like waiting for people to give you money because it would be so nice if they did. That’s how slim the chance was.) When our jeep stalled, it coincidentally stopped just a few meters away from where the aunt was standing. It’s crazy!
So seeing that we stopped and tourist-looking people got out one by one, the aunt approached one of us and asked whether we were the group that Nica belonged to, and the reunion that followed will forever be part of TF’s Marinduque lore (just like Rico’s encounter with the Sagrada Corazon cult leader.)
Along the way, we once again got sidetracked as we arrived at the perfect vantage point to view Elephant Island, nowadays known as where Bella Roca Resort is located. Bella Roca is being marketed as the Philippines’ version of Santorini. As making reservations in this island resort would have cost an arm and a leg, we were only able to enjoy it from afar.
So we finally arrived in Poctoy White Beach. I don’t know why this was called white beach. The sand was not particularly white and I did not see anything that warranted calling this beach white at all. This was apparently a public beach and so we had to fight for space with at least 500 other people. While some of us still had the energy to do more picture taking, I actually wanted to take it easy and followed Sheryl and her mom while the looked for a Halo-halo stand.
(Now, while we were enjoying our halo-halo, Poms and the guys doing a photoshoot in the beach encountered an obnoxious character who boorishly demanded that they take a picture of him with Poms for no other reason than, “taga-Chicago ako.” Seriously.)
Before long, we were on the road again, and this time we experienced our seemingly longest drive on board our smoke-belching jeepney on the way to Buenavista. We were to have dinner in a bar/restaurant named Curba Grill. (Just to give you an idea of how much smoke our jeepney belched, people actually howled in disgust whenever our jeepney passed by. I don’t know if the others noticed this.)
Curba Grill turned out to be the best restaurant/bar we ever visited. The ambeance was certainly classy and the tunes played in the sound system was pleasant. It had a rodeo/wild west theme that was not overdone so as to appear ridiculous. We certainly had fun having dinner here while recounting the day’s activities.
There was, however, another surprise before the Day 3 officially ended. The owners of Club Marinduque (the Cortezes) invited us for a few rounds of drinks back at their place. Some of us, like the Uy family and Fung wanted to call it a day and so they went back to the resort. The rest of us however thought that since this would be our last night, we might as well make the most out of it and went ahead to Club Marinduque.
Now, I don’t really want to recall the events that occurred that night during the drinking session. Suffice to say, I made a complete ass of myself because I overestimated my tolerance for alcohol that evening, this despite the graciousness shown by our hosts in serving the best drinks and the best pulutan. He even drove us back to A&A Beach Resort, which was one town away. In the process, we ran over a cat. I don’t know why of all things I remember that. Damn alcohol!
So we finally reached our home base very early in the morning of Day 4 and somehow managed to wash up and find our way to our respective beds. What a day.
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This entry is part of the Marinduque I series dated April 1-4, 2010:
1. Marinduque Day 1: Boac, Kabugsakan Falls and a bit of Gasan
2. Marinduque Day 2 (morning): Morion Parade in Gasan, Via Crucis in Boac
3. Marinduque Day 2 (afternoon): Back to Gasan, Back to Boac….with a boy genius and a lot of blood in between
4. Marinduque Day 3: Tres Reyes, Gaspar Island, Buenavista, Torrijos, etc.
5. Marinduque Day 4: The long goodbye