I had a great sleep in one of the kubo even when the night was cold. The moment I arose, Sir Louie told me that the owner of the big sari-sari store in Hinganggayon, Ate Edita Lamar invited me for breakfast. I don’t know what I did that these strangers treated me as VIP here. There was a big plate of rice, egg, longganisa, spam and coffee when I arrived in Ate Edita’s big house. She even told me that should she found out that I would be staying there when she saw me yesterday, she would have invited me in her house as they have lots of room in it. How sweet, really! Unbelievable how these locals treat a stranger like me. And again the invitation to return on their town fiesta.
I wish I can stay for another day but I have to move on. Travel has a lot to teach about letting go and moving on. I still have some goodies from Mela and friends so I divided them to Sir Louie, Tatay Lito and Nanay Marife. It was hard to say goodbye and I want to kick myself for allocating just 2 days in Mogpog.
I was still sleepy when I left Mogpog, must be the tuba we drank the night before. My task was to go to Mongpong Island so as I can transit from Marinduque to Quezon and finally reach Naga the following day. So from Mogpog I took the jeepney to Sta. Cruz and waited for the boat that goes to Mongpong island. A quick visit on the Sta. Cruz church is but fitting too, the old brick church is undergoing reconstruction. I went inside and like that of Boac Cathedral this church is beautiful inside and out. The all-brick facade and belfry, the intricate carvings on the huge wooden door, the mixture of peach and white paint inside the church, the gold and white retablo and the marble-tiled floor brings me back to the olden times where Filipinos were really rich- in art and natural resources.
I waited for about an hour and boarded the boat that will head to Mongpong Island. Mongpong island is the farthest island in Marinduque, it is really close to Quezon Province. This white island has less than 1,000 residents, most are copra farmers and fishermen. I met Ronron, a local who has been helpful during my stay. He is actually a student in Boac, he went home to help with copra farming as his father needed aid for the harvest. I told him that I want to learn how to harvest copra and so he brought me in their place. They are not rich, in fact, their kubo is almost dilapidated- very small and lacking of basic food items like coffee, sugar and rice. He was apologetic that he can’t offer something. They don’t even have a source of fresh water and have to fetch water every day about a kilometer down the hill. I saw that they also gather water from the rain. I said, don’t you worry, I brought everything I need. I gave them my remaining coffee packs and some bread in my bag.
I was given a stick with a pointed steel at the end. I’m ready to gather the old coconut fruits. At first it was easy but as we began to get farther on the hills, I felt the numbness on back and arms. I’m really not for manual labor add the heat of the sun. I only did it for less than 2 hours and I’m already dead tired, they do this every single day. How I wish the copra farmers would get more opportunities in life and seriously I don’t think they have a better life if they do only this. This experience opened my eyes of the unfair nature of life and I need to do something about this.
Before sundown Ronron told me that its time to fetch water for their carabaos. I said I will come with him. We took the carabao with us as the well is kinda far from our place. There is a first time for everything right? I asked if I can ride the carabao and Ronron told me how to maneuver it especially during downhills. I relaxed and controlled the carabao by holding onto its tail. It became my rudder while the gentle kick below its ribcage became its go signal. I was glad the carabao listened to all my signals and we were able to bring water back up the hills.
Dinner was simple, some dried fish and steamed rice. We then went to the lowland because Ronron’s uncle invited us for some drinks. We drank Emperador lights and ate boiled shells until I was already tipsy. Drinking with locals is definitely the best way to know more about them. You get to ask them personal questions and they answer without pretensions. They are relaxed and would really feel good talking with strangers. We went back to the hill where the kubo was and Ronron’s family didn’t want me to stay outside using my hammock. They prepared me a simple place to sleep using their mat and a few sheets. How I love Marinduquenos warm heart. Their hospitality should be sung in the whole country.
Route: Hinanggayon – Mogpog – Sta. Cruz – Buyabod Port – Mompong Island
Expenses for Today: Php265
35- hinanggayon to mogpog (jeepney)
40- mogpog to sta.cruz (jeepney)
30- sta. cruz to buyabod port (tricycle)
40- lunch, pusit
20- meryenda, cobra energy drink and peanuts
100- buyabod port to mompong (boat)