Marinduque Island native reaching out for general awareness that our inhabitants have a lot to share with the outside world culturally and environmentally but we must be supported and helped regain our own battered consciousness. Alternative views & pills offered.

Monday, February 07, 2005


I was told that an article about Marinduque appeared in a glossy airline magazine where the popular white sand beach of Poctoy, east of the island was mentioned for its 'imperfections'. Grasses and shrubs were just left to grow supposedly and did not seem inviting. I had the opportunity to visit the beach with two other friends to check those imperfections.

5:00 pm till 11:30 pm: Coming from the Torrijos Municipio for a word with some officials we arrived in Poctoy beach via the mayor's service vehicle. We entered a gate and realized that it was actually a small resort that had been in operation for sometime judging by the numerous small structures that greeted us. 'Rendezvous' it is called, concealed somewhat as the beachfront is blocked by what looked like an unfinished multi-purpose hall built by the municipio.

"Welcome" says Mr. Fetalvero the resort owner, "feel at home while we prepare dinner." 'Home' is a two-bedroom guesthouse with two huge beds each. Two morion masks and costumes were displayed in a cozy receiving room accented by other native bric-a-bracs. So his son who built this small resort is an architect based in Manila. This explained why many found materials were fashioned into frames, sculptures or simple installations in the guestroom, in the other buildings and cottages. Design ideas any visitor might be tempted to replicate in his/her own home.

For dinner we had sinigang, chicken and pork adobo and rice. Mr. Fetalvero couldn't wait to take us to the videoke bar where we saw live the off-key voices we'd hear while eating. They smiled, we smiled back and they were happy to share with the world their gift of music.
I rose after the concert to try one of four billiard tables, left after a round of misses for the beach. It was a moonlit night, but not a single soul could be seen there. Just as well. But it felt kind of strange and sad to be alone in the middle of some twenty desolate cottages. When thick rain clouds soon covered the moon darkening the entire powdery sand beach, I went back to the noise.

Grace was singing 'Pamulinawen' "Ngayon lamang kinanta 'yan dito", one of the boys remarked. She was encouraged and sang more Ilocano songs. "I was in grade three the last time I sang these!", she said. Didn't know if anyone cared.

Mr. Fetalvero talked about native Poctoy songs such as one called "Boracay". "Boracay? What is Boracay?" They're actually huge white birds seen in Poctoy from time to time, he says. Sea gulls? He first heard the song as a child and therefore it had nothing to do with Boracay, the famous beach.

Maybe Boracay, the birds, fly from Boracay, the beach, to Poctoy, the beach and return and fly again because it is just a fly away and they like white beaches? I was thinking quietly. Makes sense? No.

6:00 am till 9:00 am: Poctoy faces east. I woke up early to be able to watch the sun rise. Our host was also up and walked with me to the beach to check the morning's catch. It was cloudy. Then it drizzled. No sun visible. We ran to seek cover in one of the cottages beside a wild giant pandan. "This was where we found the mother pawikan laying eggs", he said. "Pawikan?" Beach folks recently found a giant sea turtle with eggs, informed the municipio, aware that sea turtles were an endangered species. The municipio assigned technical people to keep watch until the eggs were hatched. The whole barangay rejoiced when more than seventy baby sea turtles came into being and were eventually set free with their mother to the sea. So you see.

Mr. Fetalvero says the area of Poctoy is actually part of a community marine reserve so people are being made constantly aware that fish and sea turtles are not forever. There are talks that cyanide fishing is still rampant in the nearby Talisay and Cagpo areas but authorities are hopeful this deadly method would no longer be resorted to through their continuing information drive. But no morning catch. Tough luck for us!

In summer, the beach is teemed with peole from all over Torrijos, says the host. "The cottages were actually built the last couple of years by sitio people and youth groups. Proceeds from rentals go to their community projects," he says. "Note the many small stalls around. They'll make good money when summer vacation starts this Holy Week. The big event is beach volleyball. Come back!"

We returned to Rendezvous for breakfast of fried eggs, corned beef, bread and coffee. No, I disagree with that magazine write-up, I muse. What grass? Poctoy Beach, the only white sand beach on mainland Marinduque depending on one's proclivity is perfectly perfect as it is. Like the seascape that changes colors by the by, it offers many surprises. But one has got to find them. Then all becomes perfect!



More than a decade ago, the discovery of black marble in the hills of sitio Talao, barangay Tiguion, Gasan created quite a stir, especially among the villagers living there. Mining as an industry offered a new source of income for the marginal farmers in the area. An enterprising businessman was encouraged initially by the support expressed by the residents there. Soon, prototypes of marble products, not unlike those produced in Romblon were displayed in municipal trade fairs. They were from Tiguion.

But the excitement was shortlived. Not everyone was pleased with the small-scale mining prospects as some residents sensed possible uncontrolled degradation of their environment. A few also expressed apprehension about possible danger not only to their lives and property but how this could possibly come about could not be thoroughly explained by the residents.
The barangay captain decided to start discussions on whether or not the small-scale mining operation would be beneficial to the community in the long run. This initiative led to the barangay's issuance of appropriate resolutions addressed to higher authorities that almost soon after they were received, in 1994, operation of the mine was halted. And their quiet life went on as before.

Then the following year in a rainless, quiet night in October reisdents were roused from sleep by an incredibly loud crashing noise. They described it as 'like a muffled roar of thunder accompanied by the sound of rocks rolling beneath the earth." Early the next morning they trooped to the direction of the noise and were shocked by the speactacle that greeted them. It was as if some unknown natural force played a trick around the spot where the cut marble stones were scattered just a year before.

Part of the Talao mountain 40 feet high, stretching 150 feet across with a width of some 15 feet was no longer there and appeared to have been completely gobbled up by the earth below. Enormous cracks pointing to different directions appeared on the leveled surface. The residents gasped in awe and reverence at the spectale wondering whether it was a sign from heaven that theyprayed till their fears were allayed.

A month after this episodea landslide occured on the same spot sending huge boulders rolling down to cover the telltale depression. Whether or not the phenomenon was caused by an active fault line traversing the mountainous part of barangays Dawis, Tabionan and Tiguion the residents of Talao never came to know and were just left to consult the spirits of the mountains for their own interpretation of these occurences.

If the authorities concerned ever made an investigation of the incident, the barangay residents were apparently kept in the dark. Or perhaps, concerns affecting the poor barangay dwellers are hardly given attention as are often the case on this island. For most politicians their constituents' relevance has to do simply with electoral statistics.

These mountainous part of Gasan are also among many eroded areas threatened by further deterioration. Land-use statistics show that there are 140 hectares of severely eroded areas consisting of deep ravines and ridges. Surface run-offs have affected Gasan's four rivers in Dawis, Matandang Gasan, Tiguion and Libtangin that get easily inundated after a brief, heavy downpour.



UNTIL the late 60s the Boac River was romanticized by Boakenos in accounts of Balanguingui pirates entering the deep tributary on their swift boats to rape and plunder the town; and one about how its patroness, "Maria, Ina ng Biglang Awa", once caused a miracle when the river so swelled after days of heavy rain. When her image was brought by the devotees atop the fortress wall protecting the old church and held facing the river, the rain, so the story goes, stopped and the sun shone dramatically.

In those years, the river was very much alive with various endemic fresh water species: hito, udyangkot, palo, tughod, igat, carpa, dapa, banak, dalag, manitis and there were bagtok, hipon, butot, suso and kuhol. It was an integral part of the taga-bayan and the taga-Ilaya's daily lives where they bathed, washed clothes and caught fish for the family, poor or rich.

All that changed one morning when without a drop of rain falling they found the river murky and flooded. After a couple of days the water cleared up, but would become discolored again. Then it would take a week before the river, now taking on a strange pungent smell and dismal color, would clear up anew. But time soon came when the water got to be permanently discoloreed and all life therein ceased.

People knew the cause but could not grasp the whole picture as news and information came in trickles. "Nagapaawas na naman ang Marcopper" evolved into "inagapaawasan na ngani ng Marcopper!"

In those years of darkness that eventually ushered in the Martial Law regime, the poor felt even more powerless and catchwords like "environmental awareness" and "ecology" were unheard of. Dependence on government leaders, who held the real power, for intervention, judgment, action or non-action on any matter was the order of the day. Complacency must have firmed up roots in those years.

Thus, at the turn of the 70s Boac River already experienced death. The people could only gaze at it with pity and that took a long time. But there was one, nonetheless, whose name has been lost for now, who made an attempt to make the outside world aware of the river's fate; that all biological life therein have ceased, stolen from the poor barangay dwellers, especially. He/she wrote about the river's deah in an article published in a national magazine.

That would soon be followed by a 1971 report from the fisheries Utilization Division of the then Department of Agriculture and Natural Resources about the pollution of the rivers of Boac and Mogpog. Then it surfaced that a smaller stream near the mines crossing Labo and Hinapulan that flows into the Boac River was where flowed all the acid-mixed sludge from the mines.
The river rehabilitation message must have tediously crept and filtered through somehow. It would take some five years before Marcopper would address that issue by finally sealing the Tapian Pit drainage tunnel that spewed clay and slime directly into the tributary.

Then, even with the perennial El Nino onslaught, increased siltation, and without dredging, gradually the river was resuscitated, its disturbed ecosystem brought back to life, somewhat. But it was terribly bad news elsewhere on the island - for the fisherfolks of Calancan BAy area north of Sta. Cruz - the new minewaste dump.

Beginning in 1975, a piping system was put up by the mines to dump the tailings on the causeway built in Calancan, later on both sides of the beaches of the causeway when they could not be contained anymore.

MARCH 24, 1996

The island of Marinduque where a southern volcano lies, has active fault lines. Earthquake tremors are felt here from time to time. Those fault lines are locate beneath the highest mountains of Santa Cruz and the southwestern portion bisecting the island along the forest areas of Boac and Torrijos. The Santa Cruz fault line crosses the geographical center of the island - where directly above lies Marcopper's Tapian Pit.

In August 1995, residents near the mines were alarmed, not by an earthquake but by seepage from the drainage tunnel connected to the Tapian pit. The company drilled a series of holes into the tunnel to plug it. Marcopper claimed to the municipal authorities that remedial measures taken had solved the problem but the people's apprehension remained.

On March 17 an earthquake that registered 3.2 on the Richter Scale was felt on the island. Seven days later, on March 24, 1996, in what was considered one of the harshest man-made environmental disaster, news came. After more than two sleepy decades, the heavily silted yet revivified Boac River was dealt a fatal blow. More dramatic than its previous episode it was, international media were appalled.

The spillage of mine tailings from the Tapian Pit in the millions of tonnes through the very same drainage tunnel that had once killed it, was great for television this time. The concrete sealing of the tunnel that had given hope to the river was flawed.

And the litany of concerned voices from government officials, politicians, the multi-stakeholders, environmentalists, parishioners, scientific experts and the tri-media reverberated in the small municipality. The people of Mogpog, too, had the opportunity to air their similar plight and remembered the common history of their two gentle rivers.

Talks about the episode intensified, the mines cursed and discussions reached the halls of the Philippine Senate and Congress. Three presidents have since been installed into power, the river rehabilitation and the disposal of tailings deposited on the river is still unresolved today, its fate getting more uncertain each day.

As if taking into account past attitudes when confronted by a similar situation such as that when the river suffered a similar assault in the 70s, the mining company soon after the tragedy and sadly, with specific encouragement even from top environmental authorities supposed to be firm and first in implementing pro-environmental policies appeared bent on merely awaiting nature's stronger forces to drive all the tailings to the sea and to oblivion.

An environmental official graced the cover of a popular magazine for an interview where he proclaimed that given just four years, natural forces would revive the river. Various sectors howled in protest. Then a dredged channel was constructed near the mouth of the river.
Marcopper then proposed to the DENR the submarine placement of redredged channel tailings to finally address the problem. The move was supported by certain members of the Sangguniang Panlalawigan that triggered off a people's rally on October 3, 1997 to denounce the 'politically-inspired' move.

DENR took a turn around and in denying the company's application stated that "such submarine disposal is not the most expeditious and appropriate method at this time." The department further declared thus: "we would prefer a land-based option with appropriate procedure that would expeditiously return Makulapnit and Boac Rivers to an environmentally and socially acceptable condition." At this point the Boac River dredged channel has been filled up and could no longer absorb the tailings from upstream.

Placer Dome Technical Services, Inc., in a move reminiscent of the old 'public relations' strategy many islanders were only too familiar with, actively engaged in supporting affected communities through micro-credit projects, agri-enterprise projects, development of cooperatives and medium-term remediation measures for the clean-up of Boac River.

Then in December 2001, apparently without consultations with the multi-stakeholders and local governments, PDTS halted its activities and closed down its operations in the municipality. Discussions related to remaining unpaid damage claims from the affected families ensued. This would occupy the energy and focus of the Marcopper-Environmental Guarantee Fund Committee (Marcopper-EGF), tasked to resolve all problems ensuing from the tailings spill. Represented in the EGF are the DENR. the Office of the Governor, Marcopper and the Office of the Mayor (Boac), hardly the vaunted "broadly representative committee" the mine-owners have often told.


The island of Marinduque is affected by two to three out of the average of 24 typhoons that enter the archipelago in a seasonal distribution in June and October through December. Thus with help from heavy rains and occaasional storms the Boac River is clearing up and cleaning up. Today, she is no longer biologically dead as the old fishes and shrimps have resurfaced first upstream, and have now spread downstream. The rural dwellers inspite of initially stern warnings from local authorities not to catch the contaminated fishes are catching them for food again.

Yet, six million cubic meters of tailings residue still occupy the entire 27 kilometer length of the river. As early as three months after the tragedy, dissolved copper surfaced in some areas along the course. Nothing could stop the wind and rain from causing the dreaded acidification in some river bed areas. Threats to health, lives and property appear more serious now.

All rivers run and finally find their way to the waiting sea. Tablas Strait, life and second home to thousands of Mindoro, Marinduque, Batangas, Quezon and Romblon fishermen, as the silent recipient of daily soses of dreadful tailing now shivers as the pitiful and ultimate sink.



As the site of one of the country's finest natural harbors, the town of Mogpog, where Balancan Port is located, is the principal gateway to Marinduque. The effects of marine pollution, it is said, are more severe in coastal areas and more so in semi-enclosed marine waters.This appears to have been confirmed by the DENR's findings which showed that the mangrove areas along the Balanacan cove covering an area of 10 hectares called for urgent rehabilitation.

The first to realize the changes in their natural enviconment are the fisherfolks living in the area. By rationalizing their dwindling catch and common experience over years of fishing, they have the capacity to explain that port expansion and other developments that have occured in Balanacan, together with the pressure the increasing population exert on their environment, have contributed to these changes.

Thus, when a real-estate development company found the most inland part of the Balancan cove an ideal site for the establishment of a marine resort catering to the moneyed class, no amount of explaining that spanned a period of two years from 1997 could convince the people, especially the fisherfolks of the "big economic benefits" the marina development could spur in the municipality of Mogpog and beyond its borders.

By then, the private developers involved had acquired most of the land required for the project. Nevertheless, the many unresolved environmental issues that had confronted the people of Mogpog during the last decade, together with the spill-over of the 1996 Marcopper mine spill on their awareness, and eventually the loud protest rallies staged by the affected fisherfolks crying "destruction of our fishing grounds!" could not be silenced.

It was a case of bad timing. The developers and some public officials identified with the project kept their peace and decided to just wait for a more opportune time in the fuiture to pursue their splendid dream, if ever.

Meanwhile, vast areas of Balanacan, Malusak and Tarug, where severe cases of erosion have occured in the past could provide a picture of the fragile state of Mogpog's ecosystems.


When Marcopper's Tapian Pit was completely mined out by 1990, the San Antonio project was immediately unfolded. This, after sn Environmental Clearance Certificate (ECC), was granted to Marcopper. The latter bragged about the document as "the government's showcase of its new approach in ECC." The conditions included the disposal "of all tailings into the mined-out Tapian Pit."

The plan, however, involved strategies for the disposal of mine waste in a "safe and environmentally prudent manner." Mine waste is classified as waste rock and tailing. During pre-development of the new project, 19 million tonnes of overburden would be stripped, and 354 million tonnes of waste rock would be sent to three areas.

The largest waste dump area was the Maguila-guila valley (the other two being San Antonio and Catmon), and would eventually contain about 240 million tonnes of waste rock, soils and overburden.

An earth dam was thus, established in Maguila-guila to ensure the containment of silt from the mines. Initial protests were heard from the people of Mogpog inspite of the fact that they were given assurance by the mining company that it would never collapse and could withstand the strongest typhoon.

A year later, the earth dam collapsed when typhoon "Monang" hit the region. Mine waste in the millions of tonnes spilled into the rustic Mogpog River. The river right away was rendered biologically dead, alongside two children who were carried away by the rampaging waters to the sea. Coastal barangays west of Mogpog were the worst hit by the flood of mud.

When this occured, Boac River and all water tributaries on the island also swelled in a manner not seen in recent memory. Thus, people of the island-province were focused more in estimating the damage wrought on crops and property in their immediate surrounding.

In Boac, there was talk about a Marcopper dam collapsing at the height of the typhoon; there was talk in the nearby towns, too, about the panic that gripped the residents of central Mogpog who trooped to "Mataas na Bayan" to escape the rumored avalanche; and talk about how people feared to see their houses submerge in toxic waste.

When the avalanche did not come as they pictured it to be in their minds and conversations, the collapse of the dame was dismissed as a rumor. Investigation of the incident to feret out the truth was largely localized in the parochial municipality, and hushed. Absolutely nothing no report, no admission, was heard from the mining company.

Two years later, the people of Mogpog, irked by the unusual change on the river that once provided them with daily sustenance, still groped in the dark about what really had transpired.

In 1995, with backing from the local church and armed with water testing results from official Manila sources, the mining company was confronted in a meeting held at the municipio. The tests had shown that the river water was polluted. But Marcopper, claiming better and more reliable testing facilities at the minesite insisted that the river was not polluted. The parties involved therefore could not come to an agreement.

Never mind the water discoloration afflicting the river that ranged from peach and brown to gruesome red, and toxic green to gory violet that tempted a farmer to ask aloud during a public hearing: "ipainom kaya natin sa kanila?"

Never mind the oft-repeated and numerous reports of fishkills that were ignored outright each time. Because for now, the once life-sustaining Mogpog river now appears completely devoid of fish and shrimps and had long been declared by the Bureau of Soils unfit even for purposes of irrigation.



THE disposal of mine waste on Calancan Bay in Santa Cruz has been the subject of endless controversies that began when Marcopper Mining Corporation constucted more than 10 kilometers of an overhead system of pipes and tunnels from the minesite to the bay. Cries of protest at once followed but these were merely drowned out by the louder crash of ground rock and tailing slime discharged into the waters far into the night.

Local politicians, pressed for help by fisherfolks from the affected areas of Botilao, Ipil and Kalangkang - pleadings that spanned more than a decade - were just as helpless to lift a finger. Government leaders were largely perceived to directly benefit with the copper mines' unhampered operation. They had own personal, political and/or business interests to protect first and foremost. No different from most local politicians anywhere else in the Philippines, really.

At any rate, the existing political climate did not offer any possibility for grievances or demands to be rightfully addressed. It was 1975 of the Martial Law years. The issue soon deteriorated into an open emotional struglle between the local church and politicians concerned. Only the church as the last refuge could lend a sympathetic ear to the grievances of some 2,000 fisherfolks and families affected. The glaring evidence of pollution grew by the day and the poor suffered much for loss of their income and main food source.

In 1991, when there was more leeway for democratic initiatives to be pursued, the national government belatedly responded more decisively because of increased media pressure. The mining company was finally ordered to cease pumping the discharge on Calancan.

By this time, 22 years after the first crash of crushed ore in Tapian, over a hundred million tons of toxic waste had created an incredible island of deceivingly and from a distance, seemingly sparkling white sand stretching more than seven kilometers from the shore with an estimated area of 80 hectares. It was to change the whole Calancan seascape and Marinduque map forever.

During all those hot and dry months, it was commonplace to see thick and blurry dust from the tailings being blown by the wind in all directions, making visibility hard and breathing difficult for the people living nearby. Children suffered the most from the unavoidable chokes and resulting allergies brought by dust in their lungs and nostrils. During such occurences, most families had no choice but to temporarily move to safer grounds, returning home only when the winds had subsided or when breathing was more bearable.

This phenomenon was apparently not anticipated by anyone. Neither were the long-term effects on health, especially of the poor, impoverished children ever reckoned with at any time.
But the mines obviously contributed to the town's prosperity. A major portion of its reported '1,500 employees' are purportedly natives of the island. There was need for leisure. Honky-tonk bars soon sprouted along the beaten path of the once-quiet village of Balogo.

Capital flowed, encouraging more commerce and creating more business opportunities, including, and without let up, logging for timber. This would soon contribute to the much faster degradation of secondary forests and already denuded Santa Cruz mountains, not only in the vast expanse of the Tapian minesite covering 350 hectares of land, but also in the watershed areas of Tambangan, Masalukot, Devilla, Makulapnit and Dolores.

The rate of change occured so fast in such a short period that soon, unusual flooding in the low-lying areas of Tawiran, Malabon and Matuyatuya would provide perennial nightmares to farm residents. This would be further worsened by the heavy siltation of the Tawiran River estuaries.
Santa Cruz is famous for the wide variety of fishes and seafoods that abound in the waters of Mongpong Pass. That, too, had to be impacted by the magnitude and rate of change. Destruction of coral reefs, seagrass beds and breeding grounds on Calancan Bay and nearby areas became a conclusion foregone.

While the inevitable destruction of mangrove forests could not be blamed on the mining activities alone, for these trees were used for making charcoal and other uses by the local residents, many species of fish had been wiped out over the years as fishermen acknowledge.
In 1988, Marcopper complied with a presidential directive to undertake "the building of artificial reefs and plating of seagrass, mangroves and vegetation on the causeway of Calancan Bay". The company undertook, and quite impressively it seemed, the transplanting of thousands of various mangrove species, grasses and beach plants along the coastal lands at Calancan.

A few kilometers east of Calancan is the island of Polo, some 730 hectares in size. One third of the island is composed of mangrove forests. Not only due to the pressure from people living on the island and the illegal fishing methods used (islanders point to outsiders as culprits), but also due to dumping from sea vessels plying the port of Buyabod, the area had been rendered highly vulnerable to pollution. The condition of the island's coastal and marine resources had reacheda critical level as DENR studies would show.

Saturday, February 05, 2005


The origin of the name, "Marinduque", has been the subject of discussions and thought-provoking conjectures.

Fr. Miguel Bernad in a brief account commented on the origin of the names of a number of places in the Philippines, among which was Marinduque. He said that "Malinduk (or Malindik) is now Marinduque." Explaining that there are provinces, towns and villages whose modern names have been the result of some inability on the part of the Spaniards (or of others), to pronounce the original native name.

F. Arsenio Manuel (of the National Historical Institute), who conducted a study of place-names, made an interesting one on the origin of 'Marinduque'. He said that 'Marinduque' could not have originated from Malinduk or Malindik but rather from "MALINDUG".

This he said, has historical implication, for the word "malindig" which means "tall and elegant stature" in Tagalog has similar if not parallel meaning to the Visayan term "malindug". These were two cognate terms, Manuel wrote in the study, which fittingly describe the island's volcano, Mt. Malindig.

As for the probability that the Visayan term used as basis for naming the mountain and not the Tagalog word, accounts of early Visayan migration to the island would appear to support this view. The Dasmarinas listing of encomiendas in 1751 already spelled Marinduque in this manner, said he. (But I suspected then that Manuel must be Visayan...)

Manuel explained further that the phonetic hispanization of Malindug followed the Spanish phonetic system. Spanish does not tolerate the voiced velar stop "g" in its phonology. In Morga's Sucesos de las Islas Filipinas and other Spanish chronicles for example, the term for 'loincloth' is spelled 'bahaque'. This spelling and its Spanish pronunciation follows Spanish phonetic laws - 'bahag' becoming 'bahaque'.

This change according to Manuel also appears to have happened to "Palanyag" which became "Paranaque", with additional change taking place, the "l" becoming "r", again following Spanish phonetic tendencies. This "l" - "r" 'spin shift' is, of course, also evident in 'Marinduque'.

Hence, the legend of Marinduque as having resulted from the romance of "Marin" and "Duque", the ill-starred lovers of a popular local myth cannot have any value in historical writing nor folklore studies, stated Manuel. This, he opined, was just another instance of 'folk-etymologising'.

In 2002, as a volunteer cultural worker I decided to call the theater group I formed in Buenavista, "TEATRO MALINDUG", for that town lies at the foot of the subject volcano. I spent sometime, of course, explaining to the cast (students from the Marinduque Victorian's College), that we owe it to our ancestors to preserve that forgotten name.

The MALINDUG name wasn't new to me, though. I first encountered the same explanation from a research paper given to me by the late Ding Jardiniano of Boac back in 1993, in connection with a play I was writing entitled "Saan Nanggaling ang Moryon", that we presented as "Moryonan" Isang Baliktanaw."

The said research paper (there was a dearth of such at that time so we valued anything about Marinduque), was authored by another person (Jardiniano told me then that he knew the guy personally), not Manuel.

However, in 1997, I happened to attend the Conference on Local History sponsored by the National Historical Institute (NHI) held in Makiling, where Manuel, who was present, freely distributed copies of his work entitled: "Marinduque: A Study of Place Names" - an identical copy of the same document I encountered in 1993. And so I took note to change the name of my source promptly to that of Mr. Manuel.

(The previous author, also from NHI, earlier figured in the loss of the famous Bonifacio trial papers and sale of other historical documents and was promptly jailed. For that reason I decided that he must have been the one who copied Manuel's paper and claimed the work as his. Even on our small island, this corrupt practice happens, you know. Last year, Manuel was declared as a National Artist for Literature).

Then, in 2000, former Balangaw member (and kindred spirit), Patrick Henry R. Manguera, who decided to take up a Master's Degree in History at the University of the Philippines, after some discussions on our local history, sent me a mimeographed copy of a 1923 (repeat 1923), article on Boak Tagalog, written by a CECILIO LOPEZ, of the University of the Philippines. It gave me a surprise, almost startled by its implications. The said article was reprinted in 1970 also in mimeographed form for distribution.

Excerpts from the Lopez paper:

"A few words may here be said regarding the derivation of the name Marinduque, a word around which the same kind of regrettable, because superficial and erroneous etymologyzing and inventive story-telling has sprung up which is indulged in, nowadays, by only too many of my countrymen who seem to have allowed themselves to be guided away from that historical sincerity which true patriotism should dictate to them.

"The name in question has nothing to do with a Mary, and a Spanish duke ('duque'), but can be shown to be derived from the name of a high and particularly steep mountain on the island, called Malindig.

"In old chronicles the name of the island occurs in such varying forms as Malinduc, Marinducq, Marinduc, Malindic, and Malindig, forms quite evidently to be analyzed into the well-known 'adjectival' prefix 'ma-' denoting chiefly existence, and a radical word, or stem, occuring in Tagalog as 'lindig', in Bikol as 'lindog' or 'lindug', the second vowel of both forms (i.e. Tag. 'i', Bik. 'o' or 'u'), going back, in accordance with the so-called 'pepet law', to the indistinct vowel 'e'.

"The change of the first sound of the stem, 'l', to 'r' is likewise in consonance with a common Indonesian phonetic law, while the conversion of final 'g' into the Spanish ending 'que' finds an exact parallel in the case of the town Paranaque on Manila Bay, which in Tagalog is called Palanyag. Note, in this connection, also the fluctuation of the last sound of the name Boac which is given by Buzeta y Bravo (Diccionario geografico de las Islas Filipinas) as 'Boac o Boag'.

"The stem 'lindig occurs, according to Noceda y Sanlucar, in the new obsolete Tagalog word 'maglindig', meaning 'rising up straight so as not to be covered by the water', while for the Bikol form 'lindog' Marcos de Lisboa states quite clearly that it means 'monte muy alto y derecho', both forms embodying thus the idea of English 'steep, towering'."

After further research, I came to know that Cecilio Lopez was known as the 'Father of Philippine Linguistics', and his works have not been squarely contested. I like and admire Lopez. Why? Listen to his expert remarks made after a very thorough study of Boak Tagalog (that's really Marinduque Tagalog, I should say):

"When listening to a conversation between people belonging to the speech-group here in question, a native from the country around Manila is likely to receive the impression that Boak Tagalog is simpler, more imperfect form of his own more highly developed speech, an impression comparable to that experienced under similar circumstances by an Englishman, German, or Frenchman, when listening to one of the different dialects spoken in his country.

"We should not forget, however, that altho they have followed a different development, such provincial forms of speech have been originally the roots, or among the roots, from which modern national forms have sprung, and that in them may, therefore, be found remnants of the more archaic speech of our forefathers, remnants long forgotten by our modern parlance but nevertheless of great interest to the linguist".

Wala na si Lopez, siyempre, pero gusto kong sabihin sa kanya na hindi lamang para sa mga linguist 'yun, kundi para sa mga taga-Marinduque, higit sa lahat. Galaw-galaw mo, ang Boak (na Marinduqueno) Tagalog ang pinag-ugatan, o isa sa pinag-ugatan ng Tagalog at inasalita pa rin natin ngay-on, at doon pa mismo matatagpuan ang mga sinaunang pananalita ng 'ating' ('ating' bilang Filipino, dahil hindi taga Marinduque si Lopez, ha?), mga ninuno! Isipa raw!
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