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.

Thursday, March 31, 2005


Just got back from Marinduque for the Holy Week respite, spending a day in each town to get the feel, you know. Surely the usual exodus of island residents coming home from Manila has dwindled this time. It was a breeze coming over. Without the welcome banners and commercial streamers in Boac the week could have been just like any other. Gasan's new 'Baywalk' where visitors could enjoy a beer with pulutan is in place, but, I figure there were more people there on a weekend a month ago when I last visited that spot. Maybe the off-and-on rains did it. Unusual for Lent.

In Buenavista, talk was about the postponement of a Holy Week presentation where the participants staged a walk out when the director displayed his neurosis, I was told, almost similar to an act he did some years ago when he displayed his wrath on stage -with lights and all - just when the show was about to start, causing the entire cast to scamper home to safety and the mayor declaring the cancellation in 2001 of the main Easter presentation SPONSORED BY THE NATIONAL COMMISSION FOR CULTURE & THE ARTS (NCCA)!! Apparently the Commission never came to know of that fiasco (the NCCA observers left a day before the 'big event' right after watching the dress-tech. I was there so I knew).

The Mayor is supposed to have made a declaration this time that this would be the last project with one who has declared himself the 'god' of theater in Marinduque (though he is just a visitor there), simply because the god is supposed to be fully backed by the NCCA where his sister holds a position, squeezing funds therefrom seem matter-of-factly like a walk in the park. So much for people's money spent on rubbish and misrepresentation.

(Hey, without NCCA in 2003, we mounted "SUKAT..." and just with PHP 5,000 we were able to put it up there, just mobilizing people to contribute bamboos for props, clothes from their 'baul' for costumes, just one meal from the municipio for the cast and staff, no fees to anyone. The lights & sounds were hired for PHP 1,500. We didn't have a follow spot so the lightsman designed one in 15 minutes. It was made of scrap bamboo!)

How much did the NCCA shell out this time? At least PHP 75,000 to cover for 'Manila-imported' lights & sounds like they did in 2001? Did they think that a 5th-class municipality like Buenavista could be dazzled by such show of force? Ask the handful who came to watch and heckled the performers this time! Enough of cultural intervention, 'artistic license' and powerplay!

The El Nino could be felt more severely, it seemed, in Torrijos. With two friends we camped out at Poctoy Beach and frozed towards morning. The fresh tambakol fish (PHP 110/kilo), an elderly woman volunteered to cook (ihaw at sinigang) was the best we have ever, ever tasted. Mr. Fetalvero of Rendezvous Beach said a 'mini-Pugutan' would be staged come Black Saturday at the beach for the first time so we should return. I was hearing of "panata" again...

There was some surprise in Sta. Cruz. A Lenten Presentation billed as a 'Silver Roadshow Presentation' was to be premiered the next evening. We ate at Rico's owned by board member Ka Norma who said we should be there 'with the dignitaries' during the Holy Thursday premiere. But she had no idea, nor any of my company could understand, what the title of the play "The Economy of Salvation" meant so we left it at that. "All the senators were invited and the general public could watch only outside the fences surrounding the people's park.", she said, "Basta may Genesis diyan sa play, may Jesus Christ Superstar, may Claudia at Pilato, mananayaw, basta mas maganda ito!". A customer who just got in smiled in agreement and torted: "may kanta rin ng Carpenters! Malaki ang budget dito kasi ng gubyerno. Hatid-sundo at pakain ang buong cast since February pa at mas maganda ang costume at ilaw!" Ow, ahmmm.

Aboard the passenger jeepney we proceeded towards Boac passing by Mogpog where we saw just four moryon playing with the streetkids near the marketplace. The "halo-halo" at Doughboys in Boac was good. Home at last, we ran to the beach! My friend Nick said "time to really wash away all the dirt and dust and slime that poured upon us, timawa!"

Thursday, March 03, 2005


Wednesday, March 02, 2005



mi'cro-cosm, n. (F. microcosme fr. LL microcosmus, fr. Gr. Mikros kosmos, lit., little world) 1. A little world; esp. man as a supposed epitome of the exterior universe or great world. 2. A community, institution, town, regarded as an epitome of the world or as being a little world. (microcosmic, microcosmical)

"Isla kong hiyas ng bansa,
ganda mo'y likha ni Bathala
Mga dagat mo't mga lupa,
sa yaman ay sagana..."
(from Marinduque March)

THE HEART of the Philippines. Inmost. Essential. Marinduque (pop.: approximately 220,000) with an area of 997 sq. kms. is the second smallest province in the country.

Deforestation by its inhabitants for fuelwood, slash-and-burn method of cultivation over years, surreptitious logging in the few remaining forests and large-scale mining by what was bragged about as the biggest copper-producing firm in the Asia-Pacific, have transformed the island-province.

It is now the third most denuded province in the whole archipelago. After years of tremendous run-offs erosion of soil has accelerated, rendering the inevitable loss of soil nutrients. During normal precipitation looms the glaring evidence of heavy siltation on all its rivers.

Silt washing into rivers, streams and finally to the sea, mudslides flowing over denuded fields, the rampant encroachment in municipal waters by big-time fishing operators and the practice of illegal methods by small-scale fisherfolks, all have taken their toll in the rapid degradation and destruction of fish habitats and breeding grounds. In coastal areas once described 'pristine', the destruction of coral reefs, seagrass beds and mangrove forests have occured since the start of mining operations.

Fragments of ancient earthenware and seashells that used to be found along the beaches have been replaced by plastic together with all sorts of non-degradable garbage.

Steady encroachment of people to the mountainside and the resulting destruction of watershed areas are drying up rivers, streams and water sources. As a natural consequence, serious signs of the final extinction of rare species of endemic birds, plants and animals have also become so evident. There are ominous signs that nature's capacity to provide the services it normally gives - fresh water and clean air - is losing integrity.

What was described as the biggest environmental disaster in mining history occured here with the 1996 mine spill on the river of Boac. It killed all riverine life coldly and instantly, a coup de grace to three major issues already confronting the island community before the accident: The toxic waste pollution of Calancan Bay, the high incidence of chemical contamination in the blood of children living in such risk areas, the pollution and heavy siltation of Maguilaguila Dam in Mogpog that posed real danger to lives and property and the earlier, more dramatic death and destruction of Mogpog River that the powerholders managed to hide under the rug.

Seven years hence, these issues have remained as they were then - issues.

After the Boac River episode people pointed fingers to each other as the waters rolled with 20 million tonnes of toxic mine waste now dispersed so magnificently along the estuaries, farther and farther into the waters west of the island - the Tablas Strait.

Today, science is still learning the effects of the mining disasters on the island's already fragile ecosystem and their effects on human health. With next to blind faith on the foreign scientist's ability to find solutions remediation measures are now sought.

The ecological impact of prolonged injection of mine tailings into the shores and inland waters, and on the flora and fauna entering the human food chain is yet to be learned. Such impacts, apparently, must first be heard before any action is undertaken.

And as the river rolls on and on and as the tide chums, deadlock! Nature could only heave a sign and moan to cry out: "Default!"
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