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The heart-shaped island of MARINDUQUE (pronounced “mar-in-DOO-kay”) is a great place to get away from it all – work your way slowly around the coastal road to the pretty beaches south of Boac, then across the island to Torrijos and Poctoy White Beach, where you can live cheaply in the shadow of majestic Mount Malinding. There’s some good island-hopping around Marinduque too, with beaches and coves to explore around the Tres Reyes Islands off the southwest coast and the Santa Cruz Islands off the northwest coast. The island is known for its Moriones festival, an animated Easter tradition featuring masked men dressed like Roman soldiers. If you plan to visit during Holy Week then you should book ahead.

For all its geographical closeness to Manila, Marinduque might as well be a world away, with most of the 230,000 residents leading a life of subsistence coconut farming and fishing. When copper mining was begun here in 1969, many thought it was the dawn of a new era for the island. Sadly, the dream ended in disaster and recrimination as on two separate occasions, waste from disused pits flowed into the island’s rivers, destroying agricultural land, the livelihood of the locals and marine life, which is still trying to recover today. More recently a luxury resort opened on a small island off Marinduque, providing jobs – around 80 percent of the staff are locals – but otherwise having little impact on the lives of most islanders.

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