Thursday, November 20, 2008

48 hours in Marinduque, 24 hours on the road

"There goes my everything" wailed Engelbert Hmperdinck followed by "Woman in love" by Anne Murray.  A succession of country-pop ditties followed each other as we rode the Jac Liner bus to Lucena. But not after waiting for 3 1/2 hours at the terminal on Buendia. ironwulf and I called Jac Liner a couple of times to verify the departure sked but got varying responses each time. Last time we called, the kind lady on the other end of the line replied we need to be there by at least 5.30pm so we can get listed as the bus originates from Kamias, Quezon City, and they will only allot 10 seats at the Buendia station when the bus passes by at 8pm. 

LIST? WHAT LIST? Chatting with a lady patiently waiting at the terminal, she told us to our chagrin that the list was practically useless and we have to jockey for position to get into the bus on a first-come, first-served basis.G ood thing we had the presence of mind to eat dinner at the nearby KFC and load up on supplies at the 7-Eleven earlier. Otherwise, it would be a waste of time.
At a little past 12, we were in Dalahican, Lucena, for our Ro-Ro (roll-on, roll-off) trip via Montenegro Lines. It's my first time to ply the so-called Strong Republic Nautical Highway (SRNH) and it was an eyeopener. Eager to grab some sleep, we thought of going to the "airconditioned" lounge only to find out that the airconditioning wasn't working. so we opted to go to the outer deck and get acquainted with the monobloc-type benches. Good thing we brought malongs as the night temperatures really drop when the wind blows hard. We got to Cawit port in Marinduque around 5am. Too pooped to resist the temptation to fall asleep, we woke up and found ourselves way past Boac so we ended up in Gasan, over 7 kilometers away (actually, a stroke of serendipity).
THE LONG WAIT HOME. On the way back, the trip was even longer.W e were packed by 2.30pm for the bus that was supposed to pass by at 3pm.B ut the Jac Liner passed by at 4.I t lingered in Boac for an hour before proceeding to Cawit port by 8-8.15pm. We found ourselves back in the same Montenegro Ro-Ro ferry we rode on our way going here but we've happily adapted fast so we were able to grab more sleep.T he real delay happened in our disembarkation at Dalahican as the tide was high and the bus will not make the clearance unless we move to higher port. This took an unbelievable 1.5-2 hours so were able to move out of Dalahican only by 2am.T o make up for lost time, the bus didn't make any bathroom or food stops. It was well and good that we ate dinner and stocked up on arrowroot cookies at the Cawit port or else we would've gone to fitful sleep on growling tummies.

Don't get me wrong. I love long trips and i find Marinduque very interesting enough to go back to. But certainly, something can be done about the transport/commute. We spent only about 48 hours in Marinduque and roughly 24 hours for the commute which says a lot about the situation. And we're just talking about the off-season.I  can't imagine what it's like during the Holy Week when tourists flock in droves for the Moriones Festival. 

Travel info: Two bus lines ply the Manila-Marinduque direct route - Jac and Jam Liners. the Jac Liner terminal in Buendia picks up passengers at 8pm on a first-come, first-served basis. fare is P692 plus P25 for terminal fee. Tip: bring food and drinks for the long wait, as well as a lot of patience and a very flexible schedule.


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