“AGUNG”, The official newsletter of the National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA), published the following article in its January-April 2010 issue:
CLASSIC SARSUWELA STAGED IN MARINDUQUE
By Maria Crisedna Magsumbol
For sometime the province of Marinduque has been trying to forge its cultural development. In 1998, it attempted to establish Sining Marinduque with the help of the Cultural Center of the Philippines and with representations from different sectors all over the province. Despite this effort, it died a natural death due to change in political leadership after elections. However, not all was lost as the municipality of Gasan established Gasan Culture and Arts Foundation (GASCUAF) in 2001. From then on, the municipality of Gasan became known as the cultural center of the province with cultural projects such as the Gasang Gasang Easter Festival. Meanwhile, the provincial government passed Provincial Ordinance No. 81 in 2009 declaring February 21 as Araw ng Marinduque, the date when representative Ricardo Paras of Marinduque proposed for the separation of Marinduque from Tayabas. Since the celebration is held in the month of February, the celebration is incorporated in their celebration of National Arts Month.
In 2008 and 2009, the project Ani ng Sining: Viva Marinduque of the province of Marinduque has received funding from NCCA. The success of the celebrations in spired the province to continue the celebration of the Arts Month but this time they opted to replace the touring performances of Viva Marinduque with the staging of the zarzuela Walang Sugat. Eliseo Obligacion, consultant for Cultural Affairs and Tourism Development, witnessed the staging of Walang Sugat by Barasoain Kalinangan Foundation and thought of bringing back the zarzuela in the province after 108 years. The zarzuela saw its Marinduque premiere in 1902 as part of the Boac town fiesta with then fiscal of Tayabas Manuel L. Quezon as special guest. Walang Sugat was staged in Boac on February 18, 2010, and Gasan on February 19.
The Barasoain Kalinangan Foundation, Inc. (BKFI), a community theater group based in Malolos in the province of Bulacan, staged Walang Sugat, a masterpiece by Severino Reyes against im perialism, originally for the Sarsuwela Festival 2009 at the University of the Philippines. The play was directed by Armand Sta. Ana and starred Rey Clement Maaliao as Tenyong, Karren Uaje as Julia, Ron Mariano as Miguel with Maria Ireen Crisostomo, Rowel Escalante, Crystal Mendoza, James Dimagiba, Joseph Rejoso, Melandro Pascual, Wilfredo Alberto, Christopher Adriano, Lemuel Galman, Egie Boy Galman, Ryan Managbanag and twelve koro members. In the production are Joseph Cristobal, Armando Sta. Ana, Estelita dela Cruz, COnsilacion Gamboa, Jose Ruel Paguiligan and Glen de Jesus.
According to Obligacion, the contributions of cultural projects in the area thus far cannot be easily located particularly in terms of of the revenue of LGUs, however, cultural projects such as Sarsuwela: Walang Sugat proved to be an effective way in leading Marinduquenos to appreciate their culture. The event also coincided with the first Mimaropa Arts and Culture Forum. The project also complemented the tourism and cultural development program of the province as it paved for other municipal government officials to hold cultural events in their respective municipalities.
In a small island province like Marinduque that relies mainly on fishing and agriculture economy, culture and tourism continue to contribute in the development in the area. Aside from Moriones Festival and other historical celebrations, the province continues to forge its niche in the cultural development of Mimaropa.