Several historic and heritage sites, 24 peaks, white-sand beaches, hidden water-falls, lovely islets and one mighty river— all located in two adjoining towns. And the nice thing about them is that it takes less than two hours of driving to get there.
The twin towns of Maragondon and Ternate are destinations waiting to be discovered. With the opening of the Cavitex on the northern end and the Kaybiang Tunnel on the south side, visiting the many hidden attractions of these two towns has become easier.
The name of the place came from the Tagalog word “madagondong,” the sound that came from the noisy river. The original settlement of Marigundong by the riverbank was frequently flooded that it had to be moved to its present location. By 1727, during the administration of the Recollects, Marigundong was separated from Silang and was made into an independent municipality. The present church began construction in 1687. It was finally completed in 1714. During the American time, the town’s name was eventually changed to Maragondon.
Ternate was originally a barrio of Maragondon. In 1663, the Spanish government took control of the Ternate Island in Moluccas in Indonesia from the Portuguese. Most of the people of Ternate Island were Catholics, or Merdicas, as they were called. And so when the Spaniards were forced to pull out from Moluccas, many of the Merdicas chose to join them on the voyage to the Philippines. They resettled on the sandbar at the mouth of Maragondon River, and the place was called Ternate. Even today, the people of Ternate continue to speak a unique Chavacano dialect that combines Indo-Tagalog with broken Spanish and Portuguese elements.
Maragondon played a significant role in the Philippine Revolution. In 1897, after Andres Bonifacio lost the presidency of the new government to Emilio Aguinaldo, Bonifacio refused to recognize the new revolutionary government. In order to prevent Bonifacio from influencing other revolucionarios to do the same, Aguinaldo ordered his arrest. Bonifacio and brother Procopio were brought to Maragondon to face trial under a military court, which found them guilty of the crime of treason and sedition. On the morning of May 10, 1897, the Bonifacio brothers were executed at the foot of Mount Buntis.
How to get there
Maragondon and Ternate are very accessible. The shortest way is to drive south via the Cavite Toll Expressway. Enter Cavitex either through Roxas Boulevard or Macapagal Boulevard, and upon reaching Longos go straight ahead and drive through the section of the highway built in on Bacoor Bay. Exit from Binakayan in Kawit, then continue via Kalayaan Diversion Road up to the Bacao junction in General Trias. Carry on via the national road passing through the towns of Tanza and Naic before finally reaching either Maragondon (head straight) or Ternate (turn right).
The towns can also be accessed by driving south from South Luzon Expressway by exiting from Carmona and passing through Governors Drive, then turning left at the Naic junction.
Maragondon and Ternate are now connected to Nasugbu, Batangas, via the Kaybiang Tunnel. An old Spanish Trail connecting Maragondon and Nasugbu still exists.
What to see, what to do
On top of the list is the centuries-old Our Lady of Assumption Church. It is the only church in Cavite to be declared by the National Museum as a historical and cultural site. It is noted for its intricate retablos. The church’s wooden doors feature interesting carvings of Spanish symbols. The adjoining convento is also well-preserved.
An interesting tour for those fond of Philippine history is to retrace the steps of the last days of Bonifacio in Maragondon. The branch of National Museum called Bonifacio Trial House in Maragondon can provide driving directions to the ambush site in Indang, the trial site in Maragondon, and the execution site in Ternate.
The mountain ranges of Maragondon and Ternate are an adventurer’s paradise. Covered under the Mountains Mataas Na Gulod and Palay-Palay are the 24 peaks that provide varying levels of challenges to climbers. The most popular Pico de Loro is the ultimate cliffhanger for those brave enough to conquer its monolith called The Rock. Another popular peak is Silyang Bato, which affords a spectacular view of the 23 other peaks. The trio of peaks that got some naughty names from the locals—Hulog, Nagpatong and Buntis—are easy climbs. The National Park also has several waterfalls such as Balayungan, Ragatan and Kaybiang.
There are also Caylabne Beach and Puerto Azul Beach, which remain closed to the general public. But for those looking for a quick beach getaway, there’s Katungkulan or Boracay de Ternate. This is the white-sand beach located inside the Marine Base. Entrance for day-trippers is P100 each, while for those staying overnight, it’s P200 each. Maragondon also has its own beach, the Patungan Cove, in Santa Mercedes. It is located right after Kaybiang.
Boats can be rented in either Patungan or Ternate port to visit the two historic islands of Maragondon: Carabao Island (Fort Frank) and El Fraile (Fort Drum). Both contain remnants of the World War II. Another island, Limbones, is a favorite among divers.
Where to stay, where to eat
There are no hotels in Maragondon, but there are places in Ternate to stay in. However, lodging at Puerto Azul and Caylabne remains exclusive and limited.
The next best option is to stay in several resorts in Sapang, Ternate—more popularly known as Puerto Gilid. Another alternative is to get a cottage at Katungkulan (P1,500 per night) or camp out there. Camping overnight at Pico de Loro is temporarily not allowed.
The unique seafood-based Chavacano dishes like Bacalao, Paella and Pasta Negra are available only at the homes of Ternateno. It is best to get invited by the locals during fiesta time.
An alternative is to buy fresh seafood at the public market of Ternate very early in the morning and do the cooking yourself. The freshest catch from the sea surrounding Maragondon and Ternate was probably what brought people from faraway places to settle at the mouth of this noisy river. To them, the sound of “madagondong” was the sound of bounty.