Welcome to Marinduque-My Island Paradise

If this is your first time in my site, welcome! If you have been a follower, my heartfelt thanks to you, also. Help me achieve my dream, that someday, Marinduque will become a world tourist destination not only on Easter Week, but also whole year round. You can do this by telling your friends and relatives about this site. The photo above is Mt Malindig in Torrijos.
Please do not forget to read the latest national and international news in this blog . Some of the photos and videos on this site, I do not own. However, I have no intention on the infringement of your copyrights. Cheers!

Marinduque Mainland from Tres Reyes Islands

Marinduque Mainland from Tres Reyes Islands
View of Mainland Marinduque from Tres Reyes Islands-Click on Photo to link to Marinduque Awaits You

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Philippines Tourism Needs Improvement

Map of Marinduque from Tourism Website

I just finished reading Dave Starr article (www.liveinthephilippines.com) discussing the need to improve tourism in the Philippines. I agree with him 100%. Compared to other Asian countries, the Philippines is at the bottom of the barrel in attracting visitors worldwide. In 2007, China was number(#1) with 54 million visitors. This was followed by Malaysia ( 17 million), Singapore ( 14 million), and Vietnam ( 5 million). The Philippines only attracted 3.4 million tourists. Dave Starr attributed the poor performance of the Philippines to targeting the advertising money to the wrong audience. Instead of advertising the Philippines in major TV channels all over the world, the tourist ads are shown in Filipino TV channel in US and other countries to attract OFW's and Filipino immigrants/balikbayans and expatriates.

In Forbestraveler.com, the top 15 tourist attractions in Asia, not one listed is in the Philippines. China has 5, Japan 4, Hongkong 4 and Korea and Taiwan has one each. So what is wrong with Palawan's subterranean river, of Bohol's chocolate hills, of Marinduque's white beaches and fringing reefs and Benguets rice terraces? Nothing wrong about these places, except they are not known to tourists all over the world.

Again, these illustrates the point that tourism advertising money is targeted to the wrong clients/market.

So, Mr Ace Durano, our tourism chief and guru, please wake up and do you job now!

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Survival Tips in the Philippines

Zest Air to Marinduque- Reserved on Line for Promo Fares

I have learned a few survival tips during my annual winter sojourn this year in Boac, Marinduque, Philippines. First, I have learned not to fall in line anymore when doing my transactions in our local bank. I used to form in line for one to two hours, when I noticed that one of the customers went directly to the private office of the vice president. The next time, I went to the bank, I went directly also to the office of the vice president when I saw the line was extending outside the bank in the heat of the sun. The VP told me I have to open a premium account with a substantial amount of balance as well as a dollar account. So, I did and every month, my bank transaction is done in the private office of the VP saving me from one to two hours each time, I go to the bank.

I also learned that you could reserved a hotel room in one five star hotel in Manila via E-mail. The e-mail is addressed directly to the hotel and not to headquarters or the main reservation office. Since I hate using the telephone to reserve a room ( too long a wait and too many questions ask), I did reserved via e-mail. I waited for a week for confirmation of my e-mail. After a couple more days, I decided to call the hotel and I was told my reservation is confirmed. My reservation was confirmed in one minute.

I also learned that the best way to buy airplane tickets from Zest Air (www.zestair.com.ph) is to do it on line. The problem is the airline will not accept my credit card originating here in US. I have to use my sister-in-law credit card originating in the Philippines. Booking on line also give you a chance to get promo fares cheaper than taking the door to door service (air conditioned private vans,from Manila to Boac and back). In addition, always check your departure time, 24 hours before departure. The airline schedule is crazy. It keeps changing starting from 6:00AM, then 8:00AM and then to 10:30AM, with the airline sometimes forget to call you.

I also learned that I could purchase building materials, paints, hardware goods from a local hardware store on credit ( payable in 30 days). There is no limit to the amount I could charge and there are no interest charges. I could even pay it by personal check instead of cash. How did I manage to do this? First, the hardware owner is my neighbor. Second, the accountant of the hardware owner is my sister-in-law. And lastly, I have been a customer of the hardware store for the last 10 years, and had been paying my bills within the 30 days credit period. This arrangement is handy as it gives time for my checks to clear in my US and PI bank accounts.

I also learned a few phrases unique to the island. One phrase I will never forget,

" I do my gardening by mouth". As an avid gardener, I was curious what it meant.
It means that you have a helper or garden assistant that do the gardening for you. All you have to do, is tell him what to do. So, since I have two gardeners, most of the time I do my gardening by mouth. But If I want to sweat, I am still strong enough to do my own weeding, watering and pruning. Transplanting, fertilizing,and spraying for pests, I let my gardeners do it.

Lastly I learned to be patient. If someone is late to an event I am hosting, I try not to be upset. In this way, my blood pressure does not go hay wire and hopefully, I will live longer. If you know of other survival tricks in PI, please comment.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Experience of A Lifetime-Trip to Marinduque

Chateau Du Mer Main House-My Parents Winter Residence

Last Christmas and New Years(2007-2008), I spent the holidays away from my wife and children. I was in the Philippines with my parents, brother, and sisters celebrating my parent 50th wedding anniversary. I had a great time visiting the country of my birth, but missed my family, who stayed home. My wife, Ruth refused to go on the trip and would not permit the children to go either. While I understood her reluctance to visit a poor third world country, I know it would be an adventure with or without them. And what an adventure it was! Just getting to the small island of Marinduque from Manila after a 16 hour plane ride took another 8 hours via a van on a two lane road dodging cars, jeepneys, motorized tricycles and livestock to get to the ferry port. We missed the ferry by 15 minutes and had to wait another 4 hours on the dock. The 3-hour ferry trip was crowded because of the Christmas holidays and there were no seats in the passenger section so we slept in the van in the cargo hold for most of the sea-faring trip. Fortunately, I did not get sea sick.

(Please note that on November, 2008, Zestair( formerly Asian Spirit Airline) started air service from Manila to Marinduque,and back 4 days in the week. It takes only 30 minutes of flying time. This is indeed a relief for visitors to Marinduque.)

We arrived at my parents house around midnight-24 hours after boarding the plane. But that was the worst part of the journey and I kept thinking that I was glad that my family was not with me because they would have complained the entire time and there was nothing I could do about it. I took in all the bad and the good things that happened, and I had the experience of a lifetime.

What I discovered about my parents surprised me. They were raised closer to the land than I ever know. Just imagine going back to visit your relatives on the farm back in Iowa that's how I felt. Except my parents were rural folks in the tropics. Still, they have a retirement home on a few acres right on the beach,a housekeeper, cook, driver and gardeners, so it was a very comfortable vacation once we arrived. My parents renewed their wedding vows in the same historic church(the Boac Cathedral built in 1756) they were married in 1957. We wore traditional Filipino clothes( barong tagalog for men) and my brother and sisters were all part of the ceremony. I saw some American tourists peaking into the church and taking pictures of us and I remember thinking, "Those tourists are going to show pictures of me to their friends thinking they got a snapshot of the Filipino culture when all they really got was a picture of some overweight short guy from California". From Dodie (Diosdado) Katague, newsletter, 2007-2008

Note: Dodie, my oldest son was born in the Philippines, but immigrated to US when he was only 18 months old. He has a law degree from UC Davis and now a successful prosecuting attorney in Northern California. He is married to his former classmate,Ruth Carver, also a lawyer and they have 3 children, ages 15, 14 and 11. This trip was his first trip back to the island.
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