Once upon a time in Manila, the medicinal water from Malbog sulphuric springs was sold in bottles and became a popular cure for skin ailments. It was distributed exclusively by Botica de San Nicolas in Manila owned by Boac’s Celestino Mercader. This bottled product was labeled as “Agua de Boac” and could be taken internally as a cure for dysentery or applied externally for skin disorders. People of different nationalities ventured to visit the sulphur spring’s site at that time despite the difficulties of travel to the island of Marinduque in that period.
Anacleto del Rosario, a leading pharmacist and chemist during the Spanish period who made a lot of analyses of mineral springs and medicinal waters in the country, also examined the chemical components of “Agua de Boac” and considered it comparable to other well-known curatives like “Agua de Carabana” and “Agua de Vichy” from Europe.
During the American occupation of the island, soldiers of the 13th U.S. Infantry stricken with dysentery were transported to Buenavista simply due to the fact that “there is a large effervescing sulphur spring which has quite a traditional reputation among the natives of the community”.
Page and 1903 photo from Philadelphia Medical Journal courtesy of Curt Shepard
In the Philadelphia Medical Journal published in 1903 Dr. T.H. Weisenburg, who served as a surgeon in the U.S. Army during the pacification campaign in Marinduque wrote: “It is said that drinking of this water would stop diarrhea of any kind. It is possible even now to buy water from this spring in any drugstore in Manila”. Literature on the treatment of tropical dysentery with sulphur was very limited during that period.
According to Weisenburg’s account he had three acute cases and about fifteen chronic amebic dysentery cases, and with all medications withdrawn, were “made to drink the sulphur water exclusively and given a bath in the sulphur spring every morning”. Immediate improvement was noticed in two of the patients, he wrote. Eventually all were cured in periods that varied from three to six weeks after treatment was begun. (Except one who vomited the sulphur, was put back on medicinal treatment, but was found out to be a “Vino fiend” and was subsequently sent to Manila).
Many locals still turn to Malbog sulphur spring for skin ailments and for the therapeutic benefits derived from swimming in this hot spring. Currently, the municipal government of Buenavista under the leadership of Mayor Russel S. Madrigal is eyeing the rehabilitation and development of the Malbog Sulphuric Hot Spring into a new resort with amenities for health buffs.
Recently, a team from the Department of Tourism (DOT), Tourism Infrastructure and Enterprize Zone Authority (TIEZA), Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), MIMAROPA Regional Office, together with Congressman Allan Velasco of the Lone District of Marinduque conducted an inspection of the site as shown in these photos. Malbog is viewed as an important part of Marinduque’s site inventory for tourism development.