The idea of celebrating Marinduque’s founding anniversary in fitting ceremonies province-wide with activities showcasing its traditional arts & culture, history, products and uniqueness as a province, in the same vein that all municipalities, provinces and cities in the Philippines mark their own anniversaries, was proposed by the undersigned to the provincial government in late November 2007. The proposal received endorsement of support from the Sangguniang Panlalawigan’s Committee on Tourism chaired by board member Yolando Querubin.
Knowing that the funds of the provincial government for such activities were limited, I had the opportunity to discuss the possibility of obtaining a grant from the National Commission for Culture and the Arts with NCCA Commissioner Elmer B. Ingles while attending a seminar in Vigan. He was sympathetic to the idea of a joint Philippine Arts Festival (PAF) and “Araw ng Marinduque”celebration, both occurring in the month of February.
On my way back to Marinduque I got a phone call from a culture and arts officer of NCCA, informing me to immediately fax my proposal that should strictly follow the official guidelines for the Philippine Arts Festival grants, as the deadline for submission expired the next day. This was complied with, and soon after came the response for the inclusion of Marinduque in the arts festival project. A Memorandum of Agreement between the Provincial Government of Marinduque and the NCCA was eventually signed, witnessed by the Provincial Accountant with the Provincial Treasurer issuing a certificate on which bank account the funds should be transferred to.
PAF-ARAW NG MARINDUQUE COMMITTEE
A committee tasked to map out plans for the celebration was created. This was composed of representatives of the Provincial Planning and Development Office, the Provincial Tourism Office, the Office of the Governor, Sangguniang Panlalawigan, the Department of Trade and Industry, the Department of Education, the Provincial Engineering Office and the six municipalities of Boac, Buenavista, Gasan, Mogpog, Torrijos and Sta. Cruz.
“VIVA MARINDUQUE” was adopted as the project title of the “Ani ng Sining in Marinduque: Philippine Arts Festival 2008”, and in line with NCCA objectives: To celebrate the Filipinos artistic creations; to promote the Filipino creativity, specifically of local and indigenous talents, through various forms of artistic expressions; to provide a venue for broader participation in creative activities; to drumbeat “Araw ng Marinduque” as a new avenue for cultural-tourism promotion and development in the province.
It also aimed to raise the level of cultural awareness among local artists and the community, in general, and expected to pave the way for the honing of local talents, as well as strengthening their network among other artists, cultural workers and arts enthusiasts within and beyond the island-province. It was also seen as a rare opportunity to raise the level of local and national awareness on Marinduque’s rich cultural heritage.
The “Viva” project was held as an interactive and collaborative project with the NCCA, the local municipalities, participating schools, cultural organizations, performers and participating groups. The showcase was presented in all the six municipalities, simultaneous with the arts festivals in Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao.
Available public spaces were utilized, namely, covered courts, gyms or open spaces, specifically Boac Covered Court, Mogpog Covered Court, Sta. Cruz Gym, Open Court in Torrijos, Open Public Park in Buenavista and Municipal Tennis Court in Gasan.
The February rains posed a problem as there were days when it rained the whole day on scheduled dates. In Sta. Cruz the original venue had to be changed from the Sta. Cruz Open Court to the Gym two hours before the show. In Torrijos, Buenavista and Gasan, the venues of which had open spaces the rains stopped as if on cue. In all the venues and scheduled dates the programs started at exactly 7:31pm).
The cast dressed up all the venues with backdrops, curtains, mobile platforms designed for the purpose, and additional plants and designs where needed. The municipal governments provided monobloc chairs for the use of town officials, visitors and guess. The general public used bleachers or watched standing on top of parked jeepneys or trucks. A technical crew that tavelled with the group was responsible for installation of lights and sound requirements.
Cultural and historical researches were major components of this project that went beyond the traditional arts expressions for which Marinduque is known for, such as moryonan and putong that remained important “Viva” features. Presented were:
“Moryonan” – dance drama on Marinduque’s famous Lenten tradition; “Bulong” – dance-drama on teleportation, a belief still popular in far-flung areas;
“Labanan sa Pulang Lupa” – dance-drama with original song on the “Battle of Pulang Lupa” with choral rendition by the Marinduque Provincial Capitol Choir; Mini-feature on one of the U.N. Millenium Development Goals, poverty alleviation (an NCCA requirement);
“Kalutang” played by the Pangkat Kalutang group of Gasan; “Harana”, local songs of courtship; and “Putong”, Marinduque’s welcome or thanksgiving ritual.
Students from Bangbang National High School and Marinduque Midwest School and out-of-school youth underwent workshops/rehearsals conducted by this blogger as artistic director and project coordinator with the assistance of choreographers Joseph Ogalinola and Ian Sotto (both from Buenavista), Oliver Macunat and Roselo Salvacion (both from Gasan).
Well known director Frank Rivera was also invited to conduct a workshop for the dance-drama cast and the participating cultural groups. Altogether, the “Viva Marinduque” artistic and production staff were composed of 100 persons. During the performance in Buenavista, Mayor Ofelia Madrigal requested that some dancers who took part in their municipal showcase be also included in the Viva repertoire to perform some of the local dances, increasing the number of participants to 120.
Part of the arts festival concept was municipal showcases. The municipality of Mogpog (left photo), came up with “Battle of Camarines (Bintakay)”, performed by DepEd teachers, about the revolutionary struggle in Mogpog during the Filipino-Spanish war. The story was presented from the point of view of Olympia Manuba, the local Gabriela Silang. The play also incorporated local dances, songs and cultural practices, and underscored the capacity of women to be so empowered as to join the fight for Inang Bayan.
In Boac, DepEd teachers presented a local folk dance; In Sta. Cruz the municipal choir rendered various local songs with an elderly veteran of “Harana” songs dishing out a few songs. In Buenavista, selected students from Buenavista National High School performed three local dances, including “Banderitas de Libas”, said to be a native dance that was eventually included in the Viva presentations. “Harana” songs complete with a movable ‘bahay kubo’ was likewise performed as part of the municipal contribution.
In Torrijos, DepEd teachers danced “Inalimango” as well as other lesser known folk dances. As most of the Viva performers were from Gasan including the Kalutang musicians, the municipal government helped in the technical aspects of the production from rehearsal, providing additional mobile platforms when necessary, providing additional meals and snacks to the cast and appointing a municipal staff as coordinator for all Gasan performers throughout the duration of the project (January-February).
Responsibility for lights and sound, production design, costumes and props, transportation, accommodation, meals and snacks, streamers and documentation were variously assumed by the provincial government and participating sponsors.
Government officials, employees, teachers, students, parents and people from all walks of life watched the “Viva Marinduque” presentations. Depending on the weather situation and other factors such as efforts exerted by the municipal governments to attract a good crowd the estimates were: Mogpog (2,000), Sta. Cruz (500 mostly people dressed up for the occasion); Boac (700); Buenavista (2,000); Torrijos (1,000) and Gasan (2,500). The Mogpog Viva presentation was shown on the two local cable channels and covered by the local paper, “The Weekly Marinduque”. Performances were held in Boac (Feb 9), Mogpog (Feb 12), Torrijos (Feb 16), Sta. Cruz (Feb. 17), Buenavista (Feb 23) and Gasan (Feb. 26, 2008).
THE OTHER “ARAW NG MARINDUQUE” FESTIVITIES
“Viva Marinduque” was the most visible of all the Philippine Arts Festival-Araw ng Marinduque celebration because of its province-wide presence. There were other activities undertaken, however, to mark the event. Among them: “Barakalan at Turismo” (Trade, Tourism and Food Fair) a cooperative endeavor among the six municipalities of Marinduque, the Department of Trade and Industry and the provincial government. The exhibition site (Boac Covered Court), served as a big bazaar of quality Marinduque trade and tourism products and served as tourist information center as a whole. (Feb. 16-21, 2008)
“Quiz-Bee & Oratorical Contests” organized by the Department of Education, the Quiz-Bee on Marinduque’s culture and history, as well as the Oratorical Contest were undertaken for high school students in public and private schools. The latter’s theme was “Marinduque: Alab ng Puso ng Pilipinas”. DepEd took care of the responsibility for the guidelines and mechanics of the contests. Held at the Boac Covered Court. (Feb. 18, 2008)
“Harana”. As Marinduque is known to be one of the few remaining localities in the country where the traditional “Harana”, local serenade, is being practiced, or where the old songs remain popular to oldtimers, all municipalities showcased their versions of Harana to generate new interest in this tradition. Held at Sta. Cruz Municipal Court (Feb. 18, 2008).
“National Conference on Marinduque”. The former National Historical Institute identified eminent historians, researchers, anthropologists and archaeologists to present papers on various aspects of Marinduque’s culture from pre-Hispanic times to the present.
Students, teachers, government officials, historic-cultural societies, researchers and media participated in this conference organized by the provincial government in cooperation with the National Historical Institute, National Museum, Philippine Historical Society, Department of Education, private schools and the six municipalities. Held at the Mogpog Central School. (Feb. 19-20, 2008).
“Grand Parada” (Street-Dancing Festival Showcase). Showcase of municipal festivals introduced in recent years to promote the province as a year-round tourist destination. Parade with all municipalities bringing their own festivals to the capital started from different designated areas in Boac Poblacion and converged at the Boac Covered Court.
Participated in by the provincial government, the six municipalities, Phiippine National Police, Department of Education, other participating agencies, NGOs and the business community.
Streets of Boac & Covered Court (Feb. 21, 2008 morning).
“Putong Festival”. Showcase of different “Putong” rituals from the six municipalities. Suceeding annual festivals were intended to be competitive, with traditional and modern categories. Organized by the Provincial Tourism Office in cooperation with the Municipal Government of Mogpog and the other five municipalities. Mogpog Covered Court (February 21, 2008 afternoon)