October 21-24, 2012 Trip South of Luzon — A typhoon has left. Another one was coming as we set forth Marinduque province which is five hours by bus from Manila via Lucena in Quezon and another 3 hours by ferry to its main port Balanacan. It was rainy but generally, we had a smooth sailing ride. Actually, everyone just dosed to sleep and when we woke up, green islets greeted us. Wow! Damn. I only had my phone 3.2 mega pixels.
We had another one hour service van ride going to the interior. This time, I felt I needed Bonamine. The “highway” was going up and round valleys and hills. Kuya driver did not opt the coastal road where we could better breathe and perhaps have a closer view of the islets though the panorama of trees and and the sky are similarly breathtaking. We passed by famous sites of the Moriones. It’s off-season so they look pale at this period.
But the festival is not an end-all to the place. Local folks say the island is a dormant volcano that naturally, it is bound with a number of sulfur beach and hot spring. Koreans and Japanese people as well as European pensioners enjoy such bliss from nature as much as they can afford the only Bellarocca six-star hotel: PHP20-40,000 per night. Derek and Angelica can afford it too! Joseph Biggel must have had his spa after his PBB gig.
And local folks say the province is ruled by family feuds and political dynasty that naturally, it is not surprising to hear of mayor and governor as mother-daughter tandem, or mayors of different towns as coming from the same clan of an 80-year old patriarch, some even contending their own cousins or broods.
What is consistent in every town besides the epal prints and caricatures is a slogan in rustic writing: NO to MINING. They say the people were victorious in the closure of Marinduque Marcopper Mining Company in 1995 due to its toxic leakage. However, locals say, three towns are continuously and discreetly mined up to date. People remain vigilant, more than a decade after the disaster that poisoned the Boac River, their main water and food source extending to the marine life of Sibuyan and surrounding seas.
We spent a whole day just travelling and I could only imagine the ease of taking Zest Air’s 30-minute flight though I would regret not getting as much first-hand information as I could by land and sea.
For the next two days, our group of four facilitators out to conduct Youth Leadership Training met more than 3o youth from four municipalities. The contingent was dynamic. Some of them are active leaders in their own community while others are leaders in school. Some of them may have yet discover their own potentials and servant-ship. The training was designed in a conscientious exchange of ideas and experience through theater games and team-building activities.
Hardship in fishing and farming life was a familiar story to them while education was a particular concern as at young age, they understand that such is coupled with economics. In the process, drug abuse and violence both physical and sexual were revealed as relatively alarming issues prevalent in the province.
The training ended with participants mapping in their strengths and mapping out their weaknesses to be better human beings and then see beyond themselves to be able to reach out to others.#
Photos courtesy of NMAP and JM Lerio.