REDiscovering MORIONES FESTIVAL in Sta. Cruz, Marinduque

Considered as the heart of the Philippines.  Marinduque has so much to offer it's tourists such as beautiful beaches, churches, friendly people, rich cultural heritage and of course, one of the most visited attractions on the island is the world reknowned MORIONES FESTIVAL. 

This is a festival I've been dying to see and when I finally was invited to witness this event in Sta Cruz Marinduque, I was just bursting with excitement. 

The Municipality of Sta Cruz  is considered the oldest and the biggest municipality on the Island of Marinduque. It is a very quiet and peaceful town. People were very friendly and accommodating and I felt very safe during my stay. And most of all, Sta Cruz, Marinduque is one place people go to if they want to witness the MORIONES FESTIVAL. 

The Moriones Festival  is celebrated annually during the Holy Week season where locals dressed like MORIONS who tried to imitate the Roman Soldiers during the era of Jesus Christ. People from all walks of life dress like Morions as part of their penitence. 

During the celebration of the Moriones Festival, Sta Cruz organized different activities to further strengthen the tradition and give importance to continuing this tradition and attracting more tourists as well to the municipality. 

The activity started when the Morions paraded around town. I was so lucky that they walked outside my hotel and when I saw them, I was speechless! 

I was blown away as they walked passed with their elaborate costumes and masks made from the different types of materials ranging from wood, fiber glass and even recycled materials. 

I Was also privileged to have met Honorable Marisa Martinez, the  Mayor of Sta Cruz, Marinduque who also joined the fun of the parade.  

For the first time, Sta Cruz, Marinduque with the cooperation of the Tourism Office organized different sets of activities such as Creative Morions Contest where different Morions showed off their elaborate costumes made from recycled materials. And the main highlight was the Battle of Morions where different groups from different towns competed in a street dance competition. 

Aside from the adults, the tradition is also being passed on to the young generations. This is such a great way of preserving the rich cultural heritage of the province. 

How cute is this kid wearing a white Morion costume. He may not understand everything now, but I am sure that this is something he will be proud of soon. 

Some Morions gathered around the plaza and was able to get up close and personal with their Morion outfits and got to chat to some of them. Participants were also gearing up for the Battle of The Morions happening that evening. 

Tourists and local residents were so excited and the whole plaza was full. Luckily as part of the media, I got a front seat where I could witness everything up front and take better photos. 

After the parade, the program started at 4PM. A solemn mass was first conducted and then the show started. People were so excited and tourists flocked around the plaza to witness the most awaited Battle of the Morions. 

While others were dressed like Morions, others locals were also dressed in what Romans citizens wore during the Roman times. 

While all the other participants were busy preparing the for Battle of The Morions, I walked around this very festive town and had a selfie opportunity with some of the Morions on the street. What I also observed was none of the masks were the same and you can feel that they really take pride in their wonderful creations.

Before the main event, the Creative Morions paraded their elaborate  and recyclable costumes for judges to see. The craftsmanship was simply superb! 

The Battle of the Morions finally started and different towns from Sta Cruz participated in the event. 

Each group of participants really prepared well for this event and it can be seen from the costumes, props, and even from the choreography. As towns were being called, you could feel the support of the people as they cheered their hearts out for their representatives. 

In the Battle of Morion, they were also trying to depict the story of Saint Longinus who was a Roman Centurion and half blind and tasked to spear Jesus Christ during the cruci. And when the blood of Jesus touched him, he was able to regain his eyesight which later converted him to Christianity. The Roman Centurions were not pleased and so later  he was found and was beheaded.  

Activities never stop as a Mass was held on an Easter Sunday. Devotees flocked around the church to witness the church parade which was also part of the tradition.

While watching the parade, you can just see the smiles, love, and dedication  from the people who are part of the celebration.  Though there were so many people, it felt very peaceful all throughout the activities. 

More people flocked onto the streets as Black Nazarene came out from Sta Cruz Cathedral. I am not a Catholic myself so I was just observing from the side and was really overwhelmed with everything that was going on.

The Black Nazarene was decorated with beautiful flowers and surrounded with hundreds of Rosaries. As it leaves the Cathedral, it was very calm but on it's way back, that's when people crammed up to get the Rosaries and cut a piece of the rope that was used to pull the carriage. It is believed that the Black Nazarene can perform miracles and their wishes will be granted. 

I felt very lucky to have witnessed an event such as the Moriones Festival. The Municipality of Sta Cruz, Marinduque really made great efforts to relive and strengthen the culture and pride of the Moriones Festival. I can't wait to come back again next year to witness the festival and I am sure it is going to be bigger and will attract more tourists to the province!


Lolo Claro's Restaurant - The Best Tasting Chicken I've Ever Tasted So Far in Maragondon Cavite!

Marogondon, Cavite is known for so many reasons, especially when we talk about history, beautiful mountains and rivers, lovely scenery, friendly people and of course some of the best chicken one could ever taste is also found here and that is LOLO CLARO'S RESTAURANT!

I was introduced to this restaurant a long time ago, since this was a favorite stop for lunch after a hike at Mt. Marami or coming from the Ternate side. Lolo Claro's has three branches, the main one is here in Maragondon, the second one in Naic, and a small branch located in Trece Martires. 

After our hike from Mt. Marami, we arrived starving and I told my colleagues that they really had to try their famous fried chicken. 

The interior of the restaurant was simple but quite homey. Aside from the restaurant, they also have other food  for sale in the cabinets. It's a simple restaurant but more and more people kept coming to this place because of one thing, they want a taste of their fried chicken. 

Lolo Claro's Restaurant offers a variety of dishes on the menu. But as for me, I went for SELECTA 6 Combo Meal where you can get a half chicken and  garlic rice. Some of my friends also ordered SELECTA 5 Combo Meal where you could also try their famous Lumpyang Ubod. 

We are just waiting patiently for our food! 

All the combo meals come with an iced tea, but if you are want a big serving of Iced Tea you just have to pay an additional Php 50.00 . Their ice tea is a real thirst quencher. It's almost like an ice-cream because of the finely crushed ice. It is homemade and they use honey as their natural sweetener. 

In addition to my half chicken, I also ordered a LUMPIANG UBOD for Php 50.00 which is a famous Filipino version of vegetable spring roll. This is super delicious and this is really a must try!

And finally! The famous fried chicken arrived! Well, if you looked at it, it kind of reminds you of a chicken coming from a very famous Filipino restaurant. I was also told but I am not sure if it's true, that the owner of this place used to work at that restaurant. I didn't really bother about the history much , but what I am sure of is that this one taste so much better than any other fried chicken I've tasted ever! 

The garlic rice complemented the dish. The fried chicken was marinated so well and the skin was so crisp and the meat just fell from the bone. It was a divine creation! 

Lolo Claro's Restaurant may not be that fancy but the food specially their fried chicken is something to savor. A highly recommended place  to dine in Marogondon, Cavite! 

Beach Camping at MANUEL UY Camping Site in Calatagan Batangas

If you are in search of a nice place for beach camping, one place is now becoming more and more popular for budget backpackers and that is the site in Calatagan, Batangas called MANUEL UY CAMPING SITE. 

So we immediately searched for this beach and found out that it's not that far away from Manila.  It is located right next to one of the most visited beach resorts there which is Stilts Calatagan . 

From Cavite, it took us only 3 hours to get to Manue Uy Beach Camping Site. The road was very easy and with the help of a GPS we easily located the camping site. The Manuel Uy sign was quite small and is right after you pass Stilts. Make sure you do a slow drive so as not to miss the signboard.


By Van:

1. Taje a van from the back of KABAYAN HOTEL in Pasay for Php 180.00  to Calatagan Proper. Travel Time is around 2 to 3 hours. 
2. Take a tricycle to Manuel Uy for Php 200.00 good for 4 persons. 

By Bus: 

1. Bus to Lian from DLTB Buendia Taft for around Php 160.00
2. Ride a jeepney from Lian to Calatagan for around Php 40.00
3. Then take a trycicle to Manuel Uy Camping Site for Php 200.00

Here are the updated rates for Manuel Uy Camping Site. 

A short drive from the registration area, we finally saw the beach and immediately you can tell how busy the place is already. It is better to arrive early so that you can choose your camp site. 

Luckily, we were one of those that arrived quiet early and got a nice site with a table for Php 300.00 and that is good for the whole night already. It was also handy to set up tents under the shade as well because it can get quite hot, especially in the mid afternoon. 

For those who want to  wash or take a bath, an improvised toilet and bathroom are available for Php 20.00 next to a small convenience store. Since this is a beach camp, it is better to buy your food and drinks in Calatagan and bring them all at the camp site. The store only stocks the basic needs like coffee, sodas, alcoholic drinks and basic toiletries. 

After seeing the the long white sand beach, now I know why this place is so famous. For a beach camp, I find this a perfect location for that. Guests can pitch up their tents wherever they like and just simply relax and enjoy the experience. 

Aside from the tourists, locals also thrive in the area as this also serves as a fishing village for them. 

In addition to the beautiful beach, we were also blessed with a great weather. And much later in the afternoon, we were so surprised when a very strong wind suddenly blasted across the beach almost blowing our tents away. It was weird, it carried on for a while and later we saw kite surfers suddenly show up enjoying the strong winds. 

The sun was finally about to set and what a gorgeous sunset it was - what a way to end the evening! 

Morning came I just came to realize that Manue Uy is really a nice beach to visit. With the affordability of the overall costs and the beautiful landscape, this is a place I see myself coming to more often.

Calatagan is known for it's shallow but very clear water. Manuel Uy has the same type benefits but you would have to walk far just to get to the right depth. But the water was nice and warm so we had a great swim!

The sand was so nice, very fine and so soft on the feet. The beach generally was well kept and very clean. 

With me are some of my friends that always join me, especially if I organize a beach camp. From left to right: Daniel, Kent, Jeff, Ver, and Jobats. 

Normally tricycles are on standby all the time for departing passengers and just in case you see none, you can just phone one. 

The trip to Manuel Uy is really a nice addition for those wanting to go on a beach camp adventure. The place was close to Manila, the beach was clean, the view was great, and most specially, you don't need to pay too much to have a good time. We will definitely be back!