Tag Archives: marinduque

Working as a Waitress in a Cocktail Bar…

7 Apr

We left Marinduque the other morning, the third sailing of the day so crowded that the girls selling arrowroot cookies and purple yam pastillas have to balance on the metal edging the wrong side of the balustrades, that children wriggle between your legs in quest of plastic chairs, that the Pulis struggle to keep order in the queue that circles the sandy roundabout at Balanacan port.

And I think again of Rosalie, our landlady at the guesthouse, and the husband that Klaus believed she killed, whose picture, framed in silver, sits between crucifix and holy water, contemplating you as you move up the stairs. Continue reading

Starfish and Shells

7 Apr

Blue starfish from Gaspar Island, off Marinduque, the Philippines

A present from a fellow guest. Much more beautiful alive than dead.

Easter Monday, and Marinduque is back into election mode. Banner-fluttering jeepneys pump out the Pilipino answer to Things Can Only Get Better in clouds as toxic as their diesel fumes. Mewls of karaoke waft down the pebble beach. Local party honchos gather over coffee, cigarettes and sweet ham sandwiches in the guesthouse convention room. And Rose pours Klaus his first beer of the day. 9.30am.

So we chip out on a banca, a tall, narrow outrigger with scarlet bamboo poles extending like stabilisers on a bike, to Gaspar Island, one of the three kings which nestle offshore from Marinduque.

This is sufficiently unpopulated to have not an aspirant councillor, Botoxed congressman or optimistic anti-corruption campaigner in sight. It also has one of the nicest beaches ever. Continue reading

The Long Good Friday…

3 Apr

Float of a saint progressing in the Moriones Festival, Marinduque, The Philippines

100% Pope-approved. Moriones, Marinduque, Philippines.

Throughout history, and prehistory, festivals have provided the opportunity for misrule, orgies and drunkenness. And smart missionaries, whether Brahmans, Jesuits or Theravada Buddhists have always been fast to latch onto old-school pagan festivals and reskin them for the new religion.

But the Moriones, in Marinduque, the Philippines, provides a rare chance to see this process pretty close to the source. The Moriones, at its simplest, is a feast where spear-carrying men dress up in masks and helmets, paint or scarify their bodies, and pursue a scapegoat around the island before putting him (symbolically) to death.

So far, so Golden Bough. But back in 1807 some smart Jesuit clocked that the original festival refused to die, and pegged it onto Easter, and the legend not only of the crucifixion, but the centurion Longinus, murdered for his conversion to Christianity. And now, to the old mix, is added a procession of saintly floats. Continue reading

Hot Springs, Tamarinds and Tricycles

3 Apr

Tricycle in Boac town square, Marinduque, the Philippines

A tricycle. Can carry eight people plus luggage, if you're Pilipino.

So here we are in the Philippines, on the little island of Marinduque to the south of Luzon, experiencing the Pilipino Easter in all its crazy pagan-Catholic magic. Flagellants, crucifixions and, erm, an Easter Sunday beauty contest? Only in the Philippines…

And, best of all, Z has his grandparents along too!

We bumped into Granny and Grandpa a little ahead of time, while we were choosing doughnuts in Lucena port, ahead of our ferry to the island. And Z’s face when he saw my father was a picture.

Not so much ecstasy, or a desperate leap into his arms (which part of me had feared), but a relaxed, calm, “pleased-to-see-you” look followed by a babble of anecdotes. Continue reading

Who’s the Daddy?

31 Mar

Klaus loves his girls. Not quite as much as he loves his beer, but he loves them all the same. So he likes to keep them on their toes.

“I am a Hamburger,” he says. “This I say with pride. To call myself a German, this is not so good. My name is Klaus. Like Santa Klaus.”

In the barren concrete of the guesthouse restaurant, looking out over the grey volcanic shore, he holds his court. “Is it nice to see Daddy?” he asks the girls. And, almost in the same breath, “You know they are not my daughters.”

Klaus has been coming to the Philippines for fifteen years. And frequenting Rose for almost as long.

“She is my girlfriend, not my wife,” he says. “Her name is Rose. Like the flowers they put on coffins when people are dead.” Continue reading