Middle row: my nephew at Sunong Bato, rugged coastline of Sunong Bato
Third row: secluded Palomaria beach resort
Our marathon traveling and sightseeing didn't end in Tagaytay. After a relaxing day there, my brother, along with the rest of my family, drove us straight to the Cubao (Quezon City) bus terminal for an overnight bus ride to Lucena, Quezon. From Lucena, the bus along with the passengers, were then ferried off to the island of Marinduque, a beautiful and unspoiled heart-shaped island, where my sister-in-law was born and raised. It's located between Luzon and the Visayas islands, and is famous for the annual Lenten season Moriones festival (depicting the life and suffering of Christ). My husband must have been quite excited about the discovery tour that he was able to tolerate the long hours of bus & ferry travel. The bus was air conditioned, actually on the verge of freezing, but packed with stuff the locals were hauling from Manila. There was no space along the aisle to walk so my sister-in-law and I had to leap over luggages and all kinds of stuff to get off the bus and back to our seats, which were unfortunately at the very end of the bus. On a positive note, no live chickens made it on board. Days before our trip, I was trying to get some info re flights to Marinduque. We flew there once so I know it's supposed to be a very short 30-minute flight. A domestic airline, Asian Spirit, used to service the island but sadly, due to the popularity of the "roros" or ferries, the flights were cancelled in 2006. This must also be another reason why Marinduque, despite its secluded islands and beautiful beaches, is not an easy destination for tourists. In a way, we're thankful that we still get to enjoy it the way it is. Finally, after about 4 additional hours of unexpected bus tour around the island of Marinduque, we made it to my sister-in-law's birthplace of Sta. Cruz. The tricycle (motorcycle with a sidecar, a popular local means of transportation) we hired took us to the town proper to Rico's Inn where we had some breakfast. Then after a brief stop at my sis-in-law's family home to pick up her nieces, we proceeded to the pier, where her nephew has been waiting for us with a fishing boat to take us island hopping. Our first stop was the incredible disappearing island (goes underwater in high tide) called Palad. It was only partially submerged at around noontime so we were still able to swim in its clear waters. We were then taken to the main part of Maniwaya Island, where my sis-in-law's relatives live. There we had a wonderful lunch and a nice relaxing afternoon. It didn't last long though and we had to say farewell as we sailed to another section of the same island called Sunong Bato. The exposed corals were rugged and sharp but the view was out of this world. Our last stop was Palomaria, in another part of Maniwaya, which has a well-kept beach resort open for business. Exhausted from the overnight trip and entire day of island hopping, we all collapsed at my sister-in-law's place, then left for Manila very early the next day. The number of times I've been there doesn't really matter, Marinduque will always be an unforgettable experience.
Marinduque's pride: special arrowroot cookies by Rejano's Bakery are heart-shaped just like the island