One of the first sites I had on my schedule while in the Philippines was an island called Marinduque. It is actually just south of mainland Luzon Island (not that this description is helping for the 99% of you that don’t study in the Philippines). All you have to realize is that it is one of the closer islands to Manila. So as you guessed, it only took about 12 hours to reach our destination. Unlike our Aurora bus trip though, the Marinduque voyage was broken up nicely into four, three-hour segments—Bus, Boat, Bus, Jeepney...and water buffalo. Maybe the water buffalo didn’t actually carry us the last leg, but the place we stayed at had one roaming the grounds. The island’s habitat has been nearly completely disturbed by heavy mining over the years. There still is some habitat remaining, however, and we were hoping to scout future sites while making courtesy calls to the mayor. Unfortunately for us, we arrived late Friday night, which meant the offices were closed until Monday.
We headed to the only pension house in town—The Buenavista Hot Springs Resort. I know, doesn’t that sound just delightful. A resort, hot springs; I could see the room service serving up some amazing Italian food and pastries. Even the prices were hinting at something amazing. At 1,000 pesos a night, roughly 20 US dollars, this resort was as expensive as staying in moderately scary places in Manila. Everything felt right…and then we got into the room. If you know the feeling of sleeping in a place that wasn’t cleaned since it was built, you were secretly right there with us. The air conditioning didn’t work, cockroaches scuttled across the floor, there was no door to the restroom, and the toilet didn’t flush.
Actually, I might as well just point out that the only running water came from a dripping pipe out of the wall (but the water was warm, probably from their hot springs). Yeah, this was definitely a “shoes while showering, sleep with your clothes on, wear a mask and rubber gloves 24/7, kind of place.” Finally, Monday arrives and we head to the Mayors office to seek a local site permit. Just for your own knowledge, Monday, the 23rd of February is a Buenavista holiday. We found ourselves in quite a predicament having to be heading back to Manila Monday night. Fortunately, the town was small enough that we were able to simply visit the Mayor at her home and she was happy to collaborate on our project.