Thursday, February 9, 2012

Marinduque is Trending Topic this Time

#Marinduque instantly became trending topic the other night after Big Brother of PBB Unlimited Season 4 made an announcement that housemate Joseph Biggel, better known as "Biggel" would be given the chance to visit his island-province. Biggel, together with Cebu housemate Slater Young were blindfolded right then and there and were spirited out of the PBB house to a waiting van, off to Dalahican Port in Lucena City sailing on via a roro-vessel to Balanacan Port in Mogpog, Marinduque. 

There they awaited written instructions on what they were tasked to do in the island of Marinduque. Incidentally, we have blogged about the excitement of CNN International, The Western Australian and Elle Canada about this island called Marinduque in the Philippines. Pick up names like "next travel hotspot", "next-gen tourist hotspot", "one of world's top islands", etc. were written to describe this island-province.

In a meeting with then Tourism Secretary Alberto Lim sometime last year, Congressman Velasco stressed the need to improve the local airport facilities, particularly the runway, to really attract more tourists. Maybe the "it's more fun in the Philippines" new Big Boss would recognize that "its' more fun and cheaper to promote the Philippines by first recognizing the island that the outside world is excited to watch"!

To refresh our memories, am reposting this blog, "ONE OF WORLD'S TOP ISLANDS" (posted here May 4, 2011):

In March 2010, Christina Pfeiffer, as guest of the Department of Tourism writing for Escape (Australia) asked: “Is Marinduque Island the next travel hotspot?” There are no sleek nightclubs, bars or tacky souvenir shops here, she said, yet even Marinduque island is only 170km away from Manila “it’s a world away from the traffic, skyscrapers and frenetic pace of the big city”. Pfeiffer wrote that this island is such “a pristine natural treasure trove of sandy beaches, diving sites, caves, hot springs and waterfalls” and that “the few local resorts on the island are simple and inexpensive”.

...children play with carefree abandon

She wrote of the Moriones festival, the Gothic Boac Church, her visits to a butterfly farm, a local museum, and of inter-actions with the local people who look happy, she said. “The streets are clean, homes are neat and children play with carefree abandon.” Buenavista “lives up to its name with stunning ocean views, sandy beaches and swaying palms” was how she described that small town.

Of Bellarocca she also wrote thus: “Bellarocca's setting is stunningly Mediterranean. White-washed buildings are a stark contrast to green Mt Malindig and the turquoise ocean. Facilities include a nine-hole golf course, cigar room, gym and fitness centre, swimming pools and a spa. Rooms are luxurious and furnished with amenities such as L'Occitane and Aveda cosmetics, plasma television sets and iPod docks.” Read

It should be noted that unlike the seclusion of guests applied by an earlier resort that once stood where it sits now, Bellarocca has decidedly partnered with local government units so that visitors are able to also sample the many wonderful things that mainland Marinduque has to offer. The 6-star resort has encouraged the development of eco-tourism sites with potentials to generate livelihood as part of its social responsibility program. Resort visitors therefore who enjoy the luxury and amenities offered there have the option to see for themselves the many cultural and tourism attractions found in this island-province. Read

In April 2010, now Senator Ferdinand Marcos, Jr visiting the Moriones festival with his family made a statement that Marinduque should be promoted as a major tourism destination because of its vast resources and natural beauty. “Marinduque is known worldwide for its colorful Moriones Festival and that’s good, but it has so much more to offer in terms of world-class attractions and facilities that we must and will capitalize on to boost tourism, spur economic activities, and uplift the quality of lives of Marinduquenos,”, he said. (In the middle of rehearsals for a passion play, this blogger was tasked to coordinate his visits to the municipalities. Marcos and family did not have the opportunity to visit Bellarocca then). Read

By May 2010, CNN International was saying that Marinduque could very well be “the next tourist hotspot in Asia”, together with Phu Quoc in Vietnam, Hainan Island in China and the Ho Tram Strip in Vietnam where billion dollar investments for resorts were being funneled by their governments and developers.

CNN reported: "For years, Marinduque has been under the foreign tripper's radar, but not for long, if politicos and developers have their way. The laid-back island-province is now being touted as the Philippines’ next holiday haven, with the Bellarocca luxury resort set up last year, and new domestic flights…”

It also cited that Luzon officials are also on a crusade to raise the area’s public profile, and quoted Senator Ferdinand Marcos Jr. who said that “once the Marinduque air and sea ports are modernized, larger volume of local and foreign tourists can be lured to visit its little-known but awesome white sand beaches.”

In June 2010, CNN followed up its Marinduque sojourn with “25 killer things to do this summer”. That’s for people who look to the beach for some relief from the heat during vacation. No. 12 is its recommendation to “visit one of Asia’s next gen tourist hotspots”, citing Marinduque in the Philippines and the three other places in Vietnam and China, which are “up and coming tourist hotspots…amazing summer destinations, each for unique reasons.”Read


On October 10, 2010, however, was published in The Philippine Star an article that gallantly trumpeted the following:

“CNN says the hottest Asian tourism spot is in Marinduque” by Christine S. Dayrit . This entire lengthy article was devoted not to Marinduque but to Bellarocca Island Resort and Spa. Waxing poetic: “The ethereal paradise of Bellarocca, an ultra-luxuriousresort, is sanctioned by God since it takes its role in environmental stewardship not just seriously but very seriously. Like a beautiful enigmatic woman, the resort charms and beguiles discriminating travelers with a bespoke experience of soaking in nature’s jewels as you immerse yourself in a trip of a lifetime that doesn’t cost the earth”, it said.

There’s no doubt about it, the unfortunate distortion of what CNN reported is much too clear. The Dayrit article could have been closer to the truth if it bannered that “the hottest Asian tourism spot is in the Philippines”.

Said article went on to say: “As if that wasn’t enough, even CNN International has given Bellarocca a thumbs up for being the hottest New Generation Asia tourist hotspot. There is a Bedouin saying that fosters hospitality to the highest degree: “Each guest is a guest of God.” With this philosophy in mind, Bellarocca delivers only the most indefatigable degree of loving kindness.” Hmmm.

And as if that wasn’t enough, the same article appeared elsewhere, more deliberate, this time in its pronouncement: “CNN says Marinduque resort, hottest Asian tourism spot”. Read

Sicily was on top, followed by Marinduque


By January 2011, The Western Australian’s John Borthwick chose 10 of the world’s best islands where Marinduque landed in the No. 2 position. These islands, in chronological order are: Sicily (Italy), Marinduque (Philippines), Reunion (Indian Ocean), Manihi (French Polynesia), Maldives, Phu Quoc (Vietnam), Koh Lanta (Thailand), Zanzibar (Tanzania) and Santorini (Greece).

Borthwick’s exact description of Marinduque:

“Little Marinduque, a short flight south of Manila, is one of the loveliest islands in the Philippines. It's a quiet place of waterfalls, villages, jungles, a butterfly farm and old Spanish churches - in short, authentic, regional Philippines.
“The island is most famous for its annual Moriones Festival held each April, featuring actors dressed as Roman soldiers at Christ's Crucifixion.
“Just off Marinduque's southern tip is a surprising new resort, Bellarocca, whose Mediterranean-style whitewashed walls are framed by the vivid blue Sibuan Sea. Luxurious suites and private pools just add to the romance.”

Elle Canada’s approach was different. It identified top islands by continent or island groups, stating the “then” and “now” islands. First part of Elle’s choices entitled “Travel destinations: The new hot spots” listed the “now” islands as Punta del Este for South America, Bonaire for Carribean, MARINDUQUE FOR ASIA, and Hvar for Europe. Elle echoed Pfeiffer “Asia: Then, Phuket; Now, Marinduque -There are no Starbucks on this volcanic Philippine island—life in Marinduque calls for a calmer pace. (Think white-sand beaches and sulphuric hot springs.) Its sole concession to luxe tourism is the Bellarocca Island Resort and Spa, which sprawls over its own island…”

Even a Bellarocca manager was apparently incredulous seeing that list, that he posted in the Elle comments page thus: “Thank you for including/rating Marinduque in the new travel hot spots. I work for Bellarocca and seeing it here is somewhat surreal, but definitely pleasant…”

Well said.

The upset part is that the Dayrit article that claimed it's the resort and not the island found its way into the Department of Tourism website as a featured article. Read

But these facts must be stated, put on record, considering that up to three years ago the spark of an idea that Marinduque Island could ever get noticed in the world tourism and travel map is unimaginable. But the world has changed, and it keeps getting smaller everyday as we know it today.

Through creative ways one’s imagination could get caught in an idea, then others could find themselves drawn to that same idea until it finds magical manifestation somewhere, somehow… up until someone comes along from elsewhere to blow it into smithereens for whatever reason.

But, blowing up a good thing really, really is the easiest thing to do. And that isn’t art.