Sunday, January 25, 2015

Sunday, January 25, 2015
Stunning sunrise over Maniwaya Island



E N N U I 

The tourism cognoscenti has not fully descended upon Maniwaya Island. It is yet to be visited by celebrities and the party crowd that follow them. Tourists from Luzon can either tackle the Lucena jump-off point or ride a passenger boat via a pier in General Luna to reach it. With its remoteness, the location takes some time to reach. The journey from Quezon Province alone can easily be the destination. Marinduque’s other towns can wind up being essential stopovers before reaching one’s target accommodation at the island. Case in point: my recent Christmas Day visit of the island barangay.

It takes an aerial view of the place to see Maniwaya Island to be shaped like a fish enough to find it attractive. To really appreciate its natural beauty, I had to contend with a 4-hour Jacliner bus ride from Metro Manila to Lucena and a 3-hour boarding time for a passenger boat at the Buyabod Port before finally arriving at the beachfront of Marikit-na Beach Resort. Between the bus and boat rides, there was a RORO vessel ride to Balanacan Port of Mogpog and a quaint overnight stay in Sta. Cruz.

Sunset over Maniwaya Island
The view of the island from the abandoned Japanese mansion
The vanishing Palad sandbar near the Marikit-na Beach Resort
The Palad sandbar from a distance

Sleepy Ports

It was December and the ports were subsumed with melancholic mist that seemed to prolong everything. Sight-seeing became convenient as a result. The RORO vessel initially rid me of travel ennui. Packed with lots of passengers in different colourful holiday-inspired outfits that contrasted with the vessel’s damp surface, the vessel was worth the people-viewing I enjoyed for the whole 40 minutes of the ride. Its videoke machine helped with the festive mood on board as passengers tried to outmatch the sound of crashing waves outside.

At the Palad sandbar

Memorable Mogpog Stopover

At the Balanacan Port, I rode a tricycle with two tagged along friends to reach the house of a new acquaintance in Mogpog. Far from being a sleepy town, the place has jeepneys traversing selected routes that feature at least one old but well-maintained house in almost every corner. It was a pleasure seeing patches of heritage during a stroll to see the San Isidro Labrador Parish, the town’s Catholic church. For an hour, we sampled holiday leftovers at a humble home surrounded by endless rows of coconut trees.

My Intoxicated Sta. Cruz Night

By late afternoon, we had to ride another tricycle to finally reach a cottage of a house in Sta. Cruz. The way was rugged most of the time and the village we were heading to looked desolate in some parts. There was a long strip of muddy road that meandered along a closed-down marcopper mining site, a dreary remembrance of the 1996 mining disaster that resulted in flash floods and, as a consequence, a long-term drought in the area.

On our way to the abandoned Japanese mansion; an ant house made of leaves
The abandoned Japanese mansion that's said to be haunted
Sta. Cruz immersion
Scenery at the port of Buyabod
A morning neighbor in Sta. Cruz

At a drinking session with a couple of locals by nightfall, we were introduced to the idea of making a side trip to a nearby cave system called Bathala. Over bottles of malt liquor, the hunched up guy in his mid-40s described the eco-tourism spot as a cave that houses coffins and relics of the island’s ancestors. He also segued about a cult leader that stashed all of his blind minions’ jewelry inside the place after inciting fear among his followers.

Buyabod Port Episode

Since a sidetrip to the Bathala Caves wouldn’t fit in our schedule, we headed out as early as 7:00am to wait at Sta. Cruz’s Buyabod Port before finally boarding the day’s only passenger boat for Maniwaya Island. During the ordeal, I had to contend with more than two hours of watching locals loading carnival paraphernalia before heading out to sea. By lunch time, I was without food aboard a fully-loaded boat. To relax myself, I played the mental picture of beachfront luxury over and over in my mind. Soon, I resorted to cutting my fingernails.

Old houses in Mogpog
The Island, Finally

The melodrama ebbed away as the boat approached the island 40 minutes after. For P20 per head, we rode the habal-habal (a motorbike), the only mode of transportation at the highly vegetated terrain. I noticed that paved ways in the form of cemented strips can pass off as roads at the island. Serving two bike lanes in the middle of the inland forest, I was suddenly reminded of the expression “concrete jungle” except that this case was in reverse.

Reaching The Sandbar

The day after, the consultant at the beach resort took me and my friends to the nearby Palad sandbar. We had to reach it before it vanishes during high tide, so a morning visit was in place. Only after 20 minutes of boat ride from the resort’s beachfront, we reached the pebbled shoal with no other tourists yet, so we had the whole area to ourselves.

Balanacan Port in Mogpog
The queue at the RORO vessel
The San Isidro Labrador Parish of Mogpog
A patch of cornfield inland

Visiting The Abandoned Mansion

We also had an interesting visit of the so-called Japanese House, a cliff-side property that was abandoned by its Japanese builder-owner who was buzzed about to have plundered a buried treasure of gold in the area. The palatial guesthouse is said to be haunted and a stay at its basement may likely make visitors see a floating kettle. I learned from the resort’s consultant that the whole property was boarded up during its construction decades ago as a big ship hauled in all the building materials necessary to erect the development. For the vessel to even dock near it, a portion of the cliff was blown up with dynamite into smithereens, forming a small, rock-filled cove. It was where we docked our boat to check out the dated crumbling mansion.

Locals of Maniwaya Island
A Park, A Perya, and Pitch Darkness

By night time, we took a passionate stroll of the inland forest. Passing by patches of cornfield and massive trees, we finally reached the island’s Lambingan Park where a perya or local carnival was set up next to it. We lingered in the area for the sunset and a few coin-operated videoke machine numbers before walking back to the resort in rural darkness. The excitement of being in a distant terrain a day after Christmas time kicked in.

As the night weaved through the unspoiled shoreline of the island, I stepped out of my booked room and looked blankly into the bleak darkness of the resort’s beachfront. The wind was howling and it did not feel like the holidays, but it was exactly what I needed for a change. At that portion of the island, the attraction was apparent. I needed to be nowhere but there, sans the presence of celebrities and the party people who follow them.

At the pier of the island

Where To Stay on Maniwaya Island?

Choose Marikit-Na Beach Resort.
Check out my post about the island's beachfront luxury of Marikit-na Beach Resort here.
Marikit-na Beach Resort

More Photos Below:

At Lambingan Park for the sunset
Concrete jungle
Pier of Maniwaya Island
Early morning seafood hunting by a young local
The ocean view of the abandoned Japanese mansion
The cove near the abandoned Japanese mansion

At the Palad sandbar


  1. Very nice.. Thanks again for this.. Looking forward for the photos soon

  2. Great posts, sir :) Inquire lang if may contact po ba kayo ng bangka operator to/fro Maniwaya? Thanks, Keep up!

    1. Thanks, Edge. I don't have a boat contact info, but you can contact the habal-habal driver info I indicated as he may know someone in the island for that purpose.


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