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Solon seeks to hike fine for slander raps

by Karen Boncocan

MANILA, Philippines—A lawmaker seeks to hike the fine for slander by deed or casting dishonor, discredit or contempt by 80 percent. House Bill 5831, authored by Marinduque Representative Lord Allan Jay Velasco, proposes the amendment of Article 359 of Act 3815 or the Revised Penal Code to increase its present fine ranging from P200 to P1,000 to P16,000 to P80,000. Fines will be “based on 1930 prices, the year the Revised Penal Code was enacted. The massive inflation and devaluation our currency has gone through renders the punitive fine component of the RPC negligible,” he said, pointing out that the inflation rate should be computed from 1930 up to the present. Velasco, who chairs the House Committee on Constitutional Amendments, said that other than the raised fine, the bill also seeks to impose the penalty of arresto mayor in its maximum period to prision correccional in its minimum period, depending on the nature of the violation. He added that it was important for punishments for offenses or crimes as well as imprisonment and civil disqualification components should be up to date in order to uphold the country’s penal laws.

Rep. Lord Allan Jay Velasco seeks to increase fines against libel


A libel committed by means of writing or similar means, under Article 355 of the Revised Penal Code imposes a penalty of prision correccional in its minimum and medium periods or a fine ranging from 200 to 6,000 pesos, or both.

Rep. Lord Allan Jay Velasco (Lone District, Marinduque), author of House Bill 5835, said the fine components are still based on 1930 prices and is yet to be amended.

The bill seeks to amend Article 355 of the Revised Penal Code to reflect the adjusted fine components.

Velasco said under the bill, a libel committed by means of writing, printing, lithography, engraving, radio, phonograph, painting, theatrical exhibition, cinematographic exhibition, or any similar means shall be punished by prision correccional in its minimum and medium periods or a fine ranging from P16,000 to P480,000 or both, in addition to the civil action which may be brought by the offended party.

Velasco said the outdated monetary fines and penalties punishing crimes remain unchanged since Act 3815 also known as the Revised Penal Code was enacted way back in December 8, 1930.

"There is really a need to uphold the full force and teeth of our penal laws in order that punishment for offenses/crimes including the fine, imprisonment and civil disqualification components must be up to date," Velaso emphasized.

Solon seeks higher fine for crime of 'intriguing against honor'


MANILA, Philippines - A person who will be convicted of committing the crime of "intriguing against honor" will only be asked to pay a fine of P200.

The very small fine prompted Marindueque Rep. Lord Allan Jay Velasco to file House Bill 5830, which seeks to increase the fine of P200 to P16,000.

"With regard to the fine component, the amounts are still based on 1930 prices, the year the Revised Penal Code otherwise known as Act 3815 was enacted. The massive inflation and devaluation our currency has gone through renders the punitive fine component of the RPC negligible," Velasco said.

He said that in adjusting the fines accurately, the inflation rate should be computed from 1930 up to the present.

"There is no data available for the Consumer Price Index earlier than 1955 in the Philippines and from 1986 to 1988. Moreover, there had been a total of eight rebasing of base years for the computation of inflation rates," said Velasco, a vice chairman of the House Committee on Constitutional Amendments.

Velasco said the year 1955 will be used as the base year for the computation up to 2011, and disregarding the inflation rate in the years 1986 to 1988 making the derived inflation rate a conservative one.

The crimes of intriguing against honor include libel, oral defamation, slander by deed and incriminatory machinations such as incriminating a person by planting evidence and destroying a person's reputation by a scheme, plot, design, but not by direct spoken words.

Butterfly Farming


MANILA, Philippines — Butterfly farming is a little-known cottage industry, fuelling the tiny economies of dozens of barangays in Boac and Gasan, two of the six municipalities of Marinduque. The incomes the locals earn are enough to send their children to college, with a nice house to boot.

Butterfly release business is now the fad. Let loose during weddings, birthday celebrations, and other large gatherings, the fluttery creatures add a new colorful dimension to any celebration.

Doves, for centuries the symbols of peace and unity, which are released shortly after the wedding formalities, are now considered obsolete.

Today, depending on the species, butterflies command prices ranging from R1 per piece to R20 each.

A minor wedding would have about 500 of them winging their way into the hairs of guests, the wedding cake, on the tables and chairs, bringing joy to children and adults. A thousand butterflies for the well-to-do are now common.

A local hobbyist Romeo Lumawig, from Cawit, Boac, started the trend in 1965 while he was in the elementary grade. He collected wild butterflies and placed them in glass jars. The insects laid eggs which, in four days, turned into caterpillars or larva.

From observation in the nearby forest, Lumawig knew what leaves the caterpillars feed on. He gave some of them leaves from lagaylay, citrus, kaytana, tapias-tapias, ivory, and other native plants.

Each caterpillar will eat only one kind of plant, according to Professor Panchito Labay, of the Marinduque State College.

It was Lumawig who inspired him to write his thesis, “Social History of Butterfly Livelihood in Marinduque.” He presented his papers before an audience of hobbyists and enthusiasts in Hague, Netherlands, during an International Rural Development gathering, sponsored by Ford Foundation.

“Lumawig introduced butterfly farming in Marinduqe, developing the techniques and identifying the host plants that are the food of larva,” Labay said.

Lumawig has since passed away, but not before 11 butterflies were scientifically named after him by Collin Threadaway, an entomologist, based in Germany.

It was to Threadaway that Lumawig had sent his butterfly specimens, which he collected not only in Marinduque but from as far away as Mindoro, Palawan, Leyte, Cebu, and Surigao.

A few of them are: Paruparo lumawigi lumawigi Schroeder, 1976; Paruparo lumawigi panayensis Hayashi, Schroeder & Threadaway, 1984; Atrophaneura sempen Imogene lumawigi Schroeder & Threadaway, 1976. The latter nomenclature Imogene was named after Lumawig’s daughter.

Labay said the butterflies named after Lumawig were sub-species of butterflies found not only in Marinduque but neighboring provinces.

Papilio luzvieae is another butterfly named after Luz Maneng, a daughter of one of Lamawig’s butterfly gatherers.

In his lifetime, Lumawig’s constant companion was Ambrosio Layron, a neighbor. The two of them have combed forests from Batanes to Jolo, gathering butterflies, which initially ended up as framed specimens or embedded in resin, adorning the house of the wealthy abroad.

The Marcos family’s former abode at Makiki Heights, Hawaii, is adorned with the rarest and most stunning butterflies, framed just above the entrance of every door.

Many also ended up in foreign laboratories for identification and further studies.

As he gained in years, Ambrosio took along his son Danny Layron in his gathering expeditions in some of the most formidable forests in the country. The old Layron is gone, leaving behind the business to Danny.

The young Layron and wife Carol, who had sent three children through college farming butterflies, are now only engaged in trading the insects, buying the pupa and butterflies from farmers and selling them through their old contacts in Manila.

They send the insects by airplanes to buyers all over the country.

Carol experimented on what food butterflies preferred most and found out they like ripe papaya, water melon, banana, etc. She also concocted a mixture of water and sugar or honey, which made the insect stronger and able to fight infections.

Solon seeks higher fines against commission of libel

by (PNA)


MANILA — A libel committed by means of writing or similar means, under Article 355 of the Revised Penal Code imposes a penalty of prision correccional in its minimum and medium periods or a fine ranging from P200 to P6,000 or both. Marinduque Rep. Lord Allan Jay Velasco, author of House Bill 5835, said the fine components are still based on 1930 prices and is yet to be amended. The bill seeks to amend Article 355 of the Revised Penal Code to reflect the adjusted fine components. Velasco said under the bill, a libel committed by means of writing, printing, lithography, engraving, radio, phonograph, painting, theatrical exhibition, cinematographic exhibition, or any similar means shall be punished by prision correccional in its minimum and medium periods or a fine ranging from P16,000 to P480,000 or both, in addition to the civil action which may be brought by the offended party. Velasco said the outdated monetary fines and penalties punishing crimes remain unchanged since Act 3815 also known as the Revised Penal Code was enacted way back in December 8, 1930. "There is really a need to uphold the full force and teeth of our penal laws in order that punishment for offenses/crimes including the fine, imprisonment and civil disqualification components must be up to date," he emphasized.

Bayanihan in Moriones Festival at Manila Hotel

by :

BAYANIHAN re-created the Moriones Festival, one of the most popular Philippine festivals during the Lenten season at the historic Manila Hotel. The national folk dance company of the Philippines performed at the Grand Lobby recently as part of the Hotel’s centennial celebration series. It was the second performance for Bayanihan at the country’s oldest premiere hotel this year. Just last February, it executed a beautifully-crafted performance inspired by the Panagbenga flower festival of Baguio.

The Moriones Festival is a folk-religious festival in Marinduque that re-enacts the story of Saint Longinus, a Roman centurion who was blind in one eye. It is a week-long celebration that starts on Holy Monday and culminates on Easter Sunday. The moriones who represent Roman soldiers during the time of Christ, wear colorful costumes and masks of handcarved wood or paper-mache topped by a helmet adorned with multi-hued paper flowers. They carry painted wooden swords, spears, and shields.

Philippine festivals are featured in the centennial series to give hotel guests and visitors a taste of Filipino culture.

Feeding program targets zero malnutrition


BOAC, Marinduque, April 30 (PIA) -- The Diocese of Boac and the Provincial Government of Marinduque with the Provincial Nutrition Office recently discussed the project “Supplemental Feeding Program for Zero Malnutrition by June 2012.”

The details were finalized in a meeting at the session hall of the provincial capitol on April 23.

According to Provincial Nutrition Officer Robie Apiag, there are about 2,900 malnourished pre-schoolers and about 4,000 gradeschool children who will benefit from the program in the whole province.

The feeding program will be held everyday for 7 weeks and until zero malnutrition is achieved in all barangays in every municipality province-wide. The project will be coordinated with the Provincial Social Welfare and Development, Municipal Nutrition Offices, barangay nutrition scholars (BNS), and barangay health workers (BHW).

The Diocese of Boac received donations from non-government organizations (NGOs) like ‘Feed A Starving Child’ and the ‘Risen Savior.’ Supplemental feeding will not only be given to malnourished children but also to pregnant and lactating mothers and senior citizens.

The feeding will be given in the form of a supplemental snack daily, and the menu includes Mana Pack Rice and potato powder. Aside from food, they will also be provided with free medicines. The project also integrates livelihood programs to identified families by barangay nutrition scholars (BNS) and barangay health workers (BHWs).

The meeting was attended by Bishop Reynaldo Evangelista of the Diocese of Marinduque, Marinduque Governor Carmencita O. Reyes and provincial nutritionists.

Marinduque’s masquerade of faith


Roman pageant is act of faith for participants

(UCA News) Every year, faith takes center stage in the province of Marinduque as people showcase art and culture in a week-long festival of masks and costumes dubbed “Moriones”.

Life in the province is slow-paced and laid-back for most of the year, but during Holy Week the island comes alive with the sights and sounds of a Roman garrison town.

Tourists from across the country, along with international visitors, flock to Marinduque to witness the transformation.

Local residents of all ages and walks of life participate in the telling of the story of Longinus, reputed to be the centurion who stabbed the crucified Jesus with a spear and was healed by Jesus’ blood.

For residents of Marinduque, the festival is more than a display of artistry in the rendering of beautiful and garish costumes; it constitutes a religious vow of sacrifice.

“This is a practice that has been handed to us for over two centuries now,” said Raymund Nepumuceno, head of the Legions of Marinduque, one of the three Morion groups in the province. “It is a lifetime commitment to God,” he said.

He said that wearing the Morion costume – a Roman centurion’s helmet, cape, breast plate, leggings and weapons – brings a sense of pride.

“Walking with those defines the meaning of a Morion’s sacrifice,” Nepumuceno said.

Costumes can weigh up to 20 kg, so a Morion soldier must first learn to walk in the heavy “caligae” or military boots, where controlling one’s steps is crucial to remaining upright.

“It’s not as easy as it looks. People look at the glamour of our costume, but behind the mask is a struggle and a prayer that God gives us the grace to survive,” Nepomuceno said.

For his part, 68-year-old Alfredo Maglakas, a Morion for more than four decades, one can have the best costume “but without faith it is nothing.”

When asked how he endures the grueling life of a Morion, he says that life would be much harder without God..

“Moriones is a festival of faith.”

The Moriones festival traces its roots to 1807, when Padre Dionisio Santiago, parish priest in Mogpog town, organized a group of players to re-enact the crucifixion of Jesus Christ.

The staging of the play evolved around Roman centurion Longinus, who it is believed also served as officer of the guards outside Jesus’s tomb and witnessed the resurrection.

Tradition holds that Longinus was the one who rushed into town to spread the news, which prompted the high priest and scribes to order his execution.

DOTC sets bid for P500-M airport equipment in May


The transportation department on Thursday announced it will put up for bidding next month the P500-million airport x-ray screening and security equipment contract.

This, said Transportation Secretary Manuel Roxas, aims to improve security in different airports in the country with commercial flights by installing, upgrading and layering of security screening of passengers.

At present, there are 45 airports with scheduled commercial flights. Of these airports only 21 have adequate airport screening. To standardize the security screening in all of these 45 airports, the Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) is considering the procurement of screening equipment that will be installed in 31 airports.

“These x-rays will be installed in places where there are no screening or where even if there is equipment, but because of the volume of passengers, they need additional equipment,” Roxas said. “We will make them all have two layers of screening just like what we have in Naia [Ninoy Aquino International Airport].”

Items for procurement include 21 sets of initial security checkpoint (ISCP) screening equipment and 25 sets of final security checkpoint (FSCP) screening equipment.

The airports to be installed with the 21 ISCPs are Puerto Princesa, Kalibo, Tagbilaran, Davao, Laoag, Iloilo, Tacloban, Cotabato, Dipolog, Cagayan de Oro, Marinduque, Busuanga, Masbate, Calbayog, Catarman, Jolo, Basco, Sanga-sanga, Siargao, Cauayan and Ozamis.

The 25 FSCPs are Puerto Princesa, Kalibo, Tagbilaran, Davao, two in Laoag, General Santos, Zamboanga, San Jose, Roxas, Tacloban, Pagadian, Dipolog, Cagayan de Oro, Marinduque, Busuanga, Masbate, Calbayog, Catarman, Jolo, Basco, Sanga-sanga, Siargao, Cauayan and Ozamiz.

The DOTC will also procure nine units of x-ray inspection systems for cargo screening.

These cargo x-rays will be installed in Puerto Princesa, Kalibo, General Santos, Zamboanga, Iloilo, Roxas, Cotabato, Cagayan de Oro and Clark.

The DOTC will also buy 46 units of walk-through metal detectors, 92 units of hand-held metal detectors, 59 sets of CCTV (closed-circuit television) IP (Internet protocol) surveillance system, 55 units of UPS system, 55 sets of AVR system and 55 sets of ergonomic chair for the x-ray operator.

This project is set for completion by the end of the year.

The agency also announced plans to construct and rehabilitate approximately 1,017 public toilets in its attached agencies, including airports, seaports and train stations nationwide.

At present, agencies under the DOTC have a total of 1,224 public toilets. Under the DOTC program, 786 of these will be rehabilitated, while 231 new ones will be built.

Roxas also said to reduce the cost of building these toilets, the DOTC is resorting to bulk purchases. Instead of awarding the project to just one contractor, it will be bidded out into several lots, allowing more suppliers to participate in the procurement.

For instance, the project will have a package for major fixture, where providers can bid to supply the urinals, water closets, lavatories and faucets needed for the toilets. This package alone enables the DOTC to reduce the cost from P66.6 million to P40.1 million.

There will also be savings from the procurement of civil works. Before, the DOTC used to spend P396 million but the agency is looking at spending only P160.7 million.

“In the past, civil works for construction of toilets cost P35,000 per square meter. But because we are using bulk purchase for this project, civil works was reduced to about P18,000 per square meter,” Roxas said.

One hundred companies, he added, are interested to participate in the multibillion information-technology (IT) project of the Land Transportation Office (LTO).

“We are happy that more than a hundred participants showed up, expressing very keen interest in this project,” Roxas said.

The bids and awards committee of the DOTC conducted on Wednesday a pre-bid conference for the LTO, IT project. Representatives of major IT firms here and abroad attended the conference, including those from IBM, SAP, HP, Oracle and Indra.

The LTO, IT project is a seven-year program with an approved budget of P8.2 billion.

All systems go in 2012 Lingayen Palaro


Athletes seeing action in the 2012 Palarong Pambansa are set to arrive in Lingayen, Pangasinan starting April 27.

Verna Nava Perez, chair of the Palarong Pambansa, said athletes of Region 4B (Mindoro Marinduque Romblon and Palawan region) already arrived earlier and are now billeted at the Tandoc Elementary School in San Carlos City.

President Benigno Aquino III will be the guest of honor and speaker during the opening program of the Palarong Pambansa on May 7 at the Narciso Ramos Sports and Civic Center.

With only 13 days from the conduct of the Palarong Pambansa, the host province, Pangasinan, has geared up all its systems for another successful hosting of the national athletic competitions for elementary and high school students from both public and private schools.

The last time Pangasinan hosted the Palarong Pambansa was in 1995, or 17 years ago.

Perez said that though the opening program is set on May 7 at 10 a.m. as confirmed by the Office of the President, games will start on May 6 in playing venues in Lingayen, Binmaley, Dagupan and San Carlos cities.

Some 10,000 delegates from the country’s 17 regions are seeing action in the week-long national sports competition sponsored by the Department of Education.

Tonisito Umali, DepEd Assistant Secretary, said members of the Philippine football team, Azkals, are expected to be at the opening ceremonies to provide motivation and inspiration to the athletes.

The general schedule includes the screening of athletes on April 28; refresher course for technical officials, May 4; and solidarity meeting in the morning and a Holy Mass at 5 p.m. to be officiated by Archbishop Socrates Villegas on May 5.

There will be Governor's Night at 6:30 pm of May 5 to be hosted by Governor Amado Espino Jr.

The closing ceremonies will be on May 12 at 4 p.m.*PNA

Marinduque celebrates Earth Month

by Mayda Lagran

GASAN, Marinduque, April 22 (PIA) -- As part of the Earth Month, the Department of Energy and Natural Resources (DENR) Marinduque Provincial Office gave a lecture on Solid Waste Management and Climate Change Mitigation held at the conference hall of the municipality of Gasan last April 18.

There were two participants for each of the 25 barangays of Gasan in the seminar. The lecture was followed by a Coastal Clean-up at the Bay walk along Barangay Uno, Dos, and Tres by the participants, joined by other municipal employees.

The municipality of Mogpog also participated in this celebration with a Coastal Clean-up by the municipal employees and students of the Special Program for Employment of Students (SPES) on April 20 at Barangay Ulong.

Marinduque regularly celebrates April 22 as Earth Day, which began in 2008 through the late President Corazon Aquino's Proclamation 1481. The province is being envisioned by its provincial government to become the new Agri-tourist destination. (LBR/MNL-PIA4B -Marnduque)

Marinduque’s masquerade of faith


Every year, faith takes center stage in the province of Marinduque as people showcase art and culture in a week-long festival of masks and costumes dubbed “Moriones.”

Life in the province is slow-paced and laid-back for most of the year, but during Holy Week the island comes alive with the sights and sounds of a Roman garrison town.

Tourists from across the country, along with international visitors, flock to Marinduque to witness the transformation.

Local residents of all ages and walks of life participate in the telling of the story of Longinus, reputed to be the centurion who stabbed the crucified Jesus with a spear and was healed by Jesus’ blood.

For residents of Marinduque, the festival is more than a display of artistry in the rendering of beautiful and garish costumes; it constitutes a religious vow of sacrifice.

Marinduque Moryons (PART IV)


MANILA, Philippines — Alejandro “Anding” Roces’ group opened the eyes of the outside world to three Marinduque cultural traditions that hitherto had been practically unknown to the outside world. Aside from the moryon, his entourage also wrote and spread the positive news about the putung or putungan (crown and crowning, respectively) and the kalutang. The latter consist of two unequal lengths of wood which when struck together in succession produces a melodious sound.

Kalutang – playing is unique to Gasan and had its roots in Barangay Bambang. Its original use, according to the locals, was as auditory signal by farmers “to signal the approach and presence of moryons in the streets.”

In the 70's, Tirso Serdeña, a farmer, developed a series of kalutang pairs and used them together with other players to play popular folk melodies. It is now considered part of the town's – and Marinduque's – cultural treasures.

Kalutang has also been made as part of the Gasan curriculum. This wooden musical instrument is cut from the twatingan and bayog trees said to be endemic to Marinduque. Players strike the pair in different spots of the wood, which produces notes of definite pitches and tonal quality. Kalutang, especially in Gasan, has been associated with the Moriones ever since. The moriones roamed the streets striking their kalutang and announcing their presence.

A local resident of Gasan, Tirso Serdeña, 65, developed pairs of kalutangs of different thicknesses capable of producing melodies such as “Leron Leron Sinta,” “Bahay Kubo,” and other familiar tunes. The group he organized is now a familiar fixture of community events not only in Gasan but in the neighboring towns as well.

The Kalutang band is the only one of its kind in the world, frequently mentioned by visiting writers. It has found its way in national television and the social media, such as Twitter and Facebook. They have performed before private groups outside the province and have participated in national events such as the Independence Day celebration at the Rizal Park in 1997.

The town’s elders have strived to preserve Gasan’s unique cultural charms to ensure that this musical skill is passed on to the next generation. Today, the municipality of Gasan and the National Commission for Culture and the Arts have joined hands to continue the kalutang tradition with a project called "Preservation of the Art of Kalutang Playing."

Putong is the island’s song-and-dance tradition of welcoming its valued visitors. Today, it is considered “The crowning glory of Marinduque,” which epitomizes the islander’s love for life and their hospitality, expressed in verses and songs.

In the old tradition, senior citizens arrive at the house of the visitor, with accompanying music from guitars. At the end of their hour-long rendition of memorized verses, they shout “viva,” and “mabuhay,” showering the now “crowned” visitors with flowers and coins. It is intended to wish the celebrant good health through the intercession of San Vicente, patron saint of the sick.

The growing popularity of putong has made it imperative that more than a dozen versions are now sung, not only by the elders, but practically everyone else. It seems only the elders have memorized the verses since many participants now join the fun reading copies of the poetic verses in hand.

MIMAROPA athletes, earliest birds in 2012 Palarong Pambansa


LINGAYEN, Pangasinan - With exactly 19 days more to go before the 2012 Palarong Pambansa opens on May 6, at least 258 athletes from Region 4B in the Mindoro, Marinduque, Romblon and Palawan (MIMAROPA) region already arrived in Pangasinan. These athletes that arrived in Lingayen on Monday (April 17) comprise MIMAROPA's initial delegation as 300 more athletes are still arriving in Lingayen by Friday. The MIMAROPA delegation was the first to arrive in Pangasinan, this year's host of the Palarong Pambansa. The other 17 delegations from across the country are set to arrive between now and May 5 this year. This year's Palaro will last until May 12. The billeting of MIMAROPA delegation is at the Tandoc Elementary School in San Carlos City, some eight kilometers from the main playing venue at Narciso Ramos Sports and Civic Center in Lingayen. Asked why they came too early, a spokesman of the delegation said they arrived ahead of the other delegation to give them enough time to practice together which they cannot do in their area as they come from different islands in MIMAROPA. He said their athletes want to acclimatize themselves first in Pangasinan before finally plunging into action. Upon arrival, the members of the delegation were already briefed on the some rules and regulations to be enforced in the billeting area as well as in the playing venues. Meanwhile, preparations for the different playing venues of the 2012 Palarong Pambansa is now almost complete. The venues are Lingayen, Binmaley, Dagupan City and San Carlos City. (PNA)

Boac Municipality recieves patrol boat

by (Mayda Lagran)

BOAC, Marinduque, April 17 (PIA) -– The Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) donated a patrol boat to the municipality of Boac on April 12 to put the transport and sufficiency of aquatic supplies under control.

The boat will be housed in Bgy. Buliasnin under “Buliasnin Bantay Dagat” composite to the Philippine National Police (PNP), Office of the Mayor, Fishery Group (FARM-C), and BFAR-Marinduque.

According to OIC Regional Director Emmanuel H. Asis, 96 percent of fish production is from Palawan and the rest of the four percent are from its neighboring provinces, making Marinduque as one of the major fishing grounds in the MIMAROPA region.

The marginal fishermen will benefit the use of the boat, which was made possible under the government's Bantay Dagat Project.

Mayor Roberto M. Madla said this will be vital in protecting the island form illegal fishermen.

He added that the Boac municipal government is willing to share the boat to other municipalities, as the need rises, provided they would agree on the terms they have set to maintain it.

Madla expressed his appreciation to BFAR Region IV-B, Asst. Dir. Rolando Miranda, BFAR staff and to all present including locals during the blessing and turn over program hosted by Rosemarie Rivadenera, Agricultural Technologist-Municipal Agriculture Office, Boac.



PROPERLY anesthetized, with a little help from a bottle or two of gin or gallons of the local tuba (coconut toddy), the penitents allow themselves to be scarred by the tip of a very sharp knife. The now swollen muscle erupts in crimson blood, flowing down his backs and legs. Soon, by the end of the procession and before the various carosas bearing the image of saints and the Santo Sepulcro, the dead body of Christ, enter the church doors, the moryons leave for home, while the antipos flee to the nearby sea and immersed themselves in the warm, salty water, washing off the caked blood and thereby symbolically washing themselves of sin.

The climax of the Moryon Festival comes on Easter Sunday, when the masked men give chase to Longino, who is easily identifiable by his one-eyed mask.

Longino is a Roman centurion, who, according to Biblical tradition, thrusts a spear on the crucified Christ, to see if He was truly dead.

The spurting blood hit his blind eye and his eyesight was restored.

Longino is said to have been the first Roman convert to Christianity, proselytizing to all who would listen before he incurred the wrath of Pilate and was executed.

The local moryons, barely recalling this Biblical accounts (remember, they are farmers and fishermen) and following local traditions, run after Longino. They chase him across muddy fields, beneath coconut and banana plantations, through the sun splashed meadows, under nipa houses. Twice he will be caught and escaped.

The wily Longino, usually fueled by alcohol, would flee barefoot, the cape behind him fluttering in the warm breeze, and choose the most difficult path in the barangay to dodge the pursuing troopers.

The chase provokes uproars of chickens cackling, dogs barking, and the uncontrolled mirth and laughter of the locals, amused no end by the display of braggadocio and unalloyed fun.

Longino is eventually captured.The moryons tie him up and parade him in town.
At noon, Longino is placed on a raised platform of makeshift bamboo bed, while around him, the moryons, now in a frenzy of shouting in falsetto voices, call for Longino’s head.
With a flourish, an assigned moryon will raise his wooden sword, bring it down on Longino’s neck and raise the severed one-eyed mask for the town folks to marvel at.

The Roces group calls the masked men “moriones” (plural for morion), which describes a metal breastplate or armor and accompanying headgear of a Roman centurion.

The original moryon, as the Mogpog folks would tell you, is a wooden mask carved from dapdap. The headdress is not the plumed Roman soldier copied from the Ten Commandment movie, comic books, and literature. It is a later improvement.

The moryon masks in Gasan and Buenavista, copied from Mogpog, are fashioned by the wearer. The cape is usually borrowed from the wife’s curtain. The headgear is fashioned from a slender bamboo stick, about a meter long, wrapped in colored paper and topped with petals in various colors.

The locals are not in any mood to argue whether moryones should be spelled “Moryon” with a “y” or moriones, with an “i” noting that while Moriones in Tondo has been named since Spanish times’, not a single masked man can be seen in that congested part of the Manila during the Lenten season.

Unveiling other treasures of Marinduque

by Jun Pasaylo

MARINDUQUE, Philippines – As the dusts of the annual Moriones event settled in, life here slowly returned to normal as thousands of local and foreign tourists joined the exodus of moving out from this Lenten capital of the country.

For decades, the Moriones tradition brought this island-province to fame, being home to one of the oldest religious practices in Philippine history.

But Marinduque has a lot to offer other than the Moriones.

Its local tourism office was gearing up of showcasing the potential of the province as a premiere tourist destination.

Some unique features

Other than the Morions, the masked and costumed penitents that drew their inspiration from the Roman soldiers that tortured Jesus Christ before his crucifixion, Marinduque is also home to a musical instrument called "Kalutang".

It was made from two pieces of wood that produce different note ranges depending on its size. A band of 10 to 12 can create music with this instrument.

Marinduque also hosts a 1.4-kilometer underground river, popularly known by the local as the Bagumbayan Caves in Sta. Cruz town.

The white and fine sand of its Mariwaya and Tres Reyes Islands matched those of the world famous Boracay Island.

Its six towns – Mogpog, Santa Cruz, Torrijos, Buenavista, Gasan and Boac – offered a variety of rock and sand beaches, falls, caves, sulfur springs, heritage sites, century-old churches and ancient houses, among others.

Its community-based tourism projects also offered mountaineering programs to the towering Mt. Malinding, and eco-tourism activities to Carmen mangrove sites.

It is also home to one of the branches of the National Museum of the Philippines that housed the countless artifacts that define the rich history of Marinduque.

The province also strengthen its claim as being the heart of the Philippines, on top of being a heart-shape island, with the discovery of historical marker Luzon Datum.

Luzon Datum, a marker with a hole of 1.5 centimeter in diameter and 6.0 centimeter deep, traced to the surveying and mapping activities in the Philippines of the then United States Coast and Geodetic Survey (USCGS).

In her speech during the unveiling of the historical marker, Governor Carmencita Reyes noted of the rarest opportunity to play host to Luzon Datum, the Point Number One for all Philippine mapmakers.

"It stands there on its high perch as the authoritative reference guide and a constant reminder that will steer and lead us to further seek natural and man-made heritage together with intangible legacies that Marinduque continually bequeaths upon us, waiting to be discovered," she said.

On top of unadulterated environment treasures of Marinduque are its people.

Along the streets of this fourth class province, one can feel the tranquility brought about by the spirit of its peace-loving people.

Its laid back life perfectly matches the aura of its cultural heritage that decoded the wonders of the people and places in this island-province in Tayabas Bay.

One can walk around free from the threats of criminality. After all, Marinduque is the second safest province of the Philippines, next to the Batanes group of islands.

Penalties for those who refuse official probes

by Maricel Cruz

STIFFER penalties will be imposed against persons who refuse to attend congressional inquiries or a constitutional commission hearing as witnesses.

House Bill 5817, authored by Marinduque Rep. Lord Allan Jay Velasco, proposes the penalty of arresto mayor [minimum jail term of six months] or a fine ranging from P16,000 to P80,000, or both.

The bill seeks to amend the “fine components” of the Revised Penal Code, which are still base on 1930 rates, the year the law was enacted. It carries the penalty of arresto mayor and an obsolete fines ranging from P200 to P1,000.

The bill noted that the massive inflation and devaluation our currency has gone through renders the punitive fine component of the penal code negligible.

“To uphold the full force and teeth of the penal laws, punishment for offenses and crimes including fines, imprisonment and civil disqualification components must be up to date,” the bill read.

Under the measure, the penalty of arresto mayor or a fine ranging from P16,000 to P80,000, or both, shall be imposed upon any person who, having been duly summoned to attend as a witness before Congress, its special or standing committees and subcommittees.

The bodies also include constitutional commissions and its committees, subcommittees, or divisions, or any commission or committee chairman or member authorized to summon witnesses.

Those who refuse, without legal excuse, to obey such summons, or be present before any such legislative or constitutional body or official, refuses to be sworn or placed under affirmation or to answer any legal inquiry or to produce any books, papers, documents, or records in his possession, when required by them to do so in the exercise of their functions will be penalized.

The same penalty shall be imposed upon any person who shall restrain another from attending as a witness, or who shall induce disobedience to a summon or refusal to be sworn by any such body or official.

“The bill suggests a new amount, subject to the committee’s discretion, replacing the old ones using a formula utilizing the available data from the National Statistics Coordination Board relating to Consumer Price Indexes,” Velasco said.

Marinduque and US rotary clubs to sponsor water project

by Mayda Lagran

BOAC, Marinduque, April 13 (PIA) -- A Rotary club from Marinduque and one from Connecticut, United States have teamed up to provide a continuous potable water system for the residents of a barangay.

The Rotary Club of Marinduque North RI District 2820 has partnered with the Rotary Club of West Hartford, Connecticut to give Barangay Isok I in Boac a 24-hour potable water system.

The club from Connecticut has allotted P1.15 million for the water project.

The team is now in the process of water source testing and targets to finish installation three months from now.

Once completed, the water tank will contain 25,000 litters of water, which can sufficiently supply the needs of residents, commercial establishments and schools in the said area. The water facilities to be installed can provide round-the-clock service, unlike previous systems that have limited time or duration of water supply.

Randy O. Ayala, president of Rotary Club of Marinduque North and project coordinator, facilitated the link for project funding, through Oscar Sto. Domingo, who served as Project Contact of Rotary Club of West Hartford, Connecticut, USA.

The barangay, headed by Capt. Agustin Manzo pledged P100,000 as counterpart support for labor services.

Ayala expressed fulfillment in serving the community and appreciates the effort and financial assistance given by the funding group. He also volunteered to help the barangay in establishing a community group that will maintain and sustain the water facilities to be installed. He also said that Rotary Club can provide other livelihood projects for the barangay, but said the proposal must be initiated and led by barangay officials.

Rotarians’ initiative and concern surprisingly are all that the barangay people needs to quench their thirst not only for water but solution to their perennial basic problem that by June is expected to be eradicated. (LBR/MNL-PIA4B Marinduque)

Palawan, Mindoro diving sites listed among world's best

by Juancho Mahusay

CALAPAN CITY, Philippines – Two tourist destinations in Region 4B or MIMAROPA (Mindoro-Marinduque-Romblon-Palawan) have been listed among the world’s best diving sites, the travel news website of the Cable News Network (CNN) said.

The CNN’s list of best dive sites in the world ranked the Tubbataha reef, located southeast of Palawan, eighth and “The Canyons” in Puerto Galera, Oriental Mindoro 45th among the top diving sites.

According to the CNN website, a diver will have a “super-size dive experience at Tubbataha, where everything comes in giant form.” It also said that Tubbataha’s allure lies in its waters that are “exceptionally clean, so the marine life lives much longer, making it grow to silly proportions.”

“Expect kaleidoscopic colors combined with guitar sharks, black tip reef sharks, nurse sharks, gliding blue-spotted lagoon rays, unicorns, boxfish, scorpion fish and more,” the CNN said.
Tubbataha is located 181 kilometers southeast of Puerto Princesa City in Palawan Province.  The reef is made up of two coral atolls divided by an eight-kilometer wide channel.  Its diving area has a depth of five to 60 meters.

Tubbataha is also part of the Tubbataha National Marine Park, which was established on August 11, 1988 and was declared a “World Heritage Site” by the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) in December 1993. The marine park is under protective management by the Department of National Defense (DND) and under the technical supervision by the Palawan Council for Sustainable Development (PCSD) and Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR).

Meanwhile, “The Canyons” made it to the CNN’s list for being a “first-rate dive site.”

“Schools of spotted and ribbon sweetlips, shiny trevallies and weird-looking batfish make up the scene at this first-rate dive site. There’s also an explosion of coral and plant life including beautiful delicate gorgonian sea fans and hollow barrel sponges; look inside for critters lurking within,” the website said .

The Canyons was rated as a five-star diving site and located at the northeast of Escarceo Point, some five- minute boat ride from Brgy. Sabang.

With a depth of up to 30 meters or about 95 feet to a maximum of 200 feet, The Canyons’ area was designated as a “Man and Biosphere Reserve” of  UNESCO  in 1973.

Marinduque Netizens frown upon Mindoro Moriones

by Gerald Gene R. Querubin

Inquirer Southern Luzon

SANTA CRUZ, Marinduque—Local social network users are frowning at a neighboring province’s version of Moriones Festival, fearing it might eclipse the original festivities being held on the island. In a tradition practiced yearly for over a century in Marinduque, men and women called Morions parade around the six towns of the province during Holy Week, dressed in colorful costumes—a parody of the Roman soldiers during the time of Christ. For the Morions, the act of penance, thanksgiving or self-cleansing means enduring the hot costumes, hunger and thirst during the long walk around town. After a long, humid day, they join the early evening religious procession on Holy Wednesday and Good Friday. In Pola, Pinamalayan and several other towns in Oriental Mindoro, four hours away by boat from Gasan town in Marinduque, programs showcasing a similar Lenten show are being aggressively promoted every Holy Week. In 2005, then Pinamalayan Mayor Aristeo Baldos called the festival “Centuriones” to make it distinct from the Moriones. Gerry Jamilla, the Marinduque tourism officer, said Pola and Pinamalayan had been holding contests offering big prizes for the Morion participants. “The big amount of monetary prizes had lured numerous Morions from Marinduque to join the contests there,” he said. The two municipalities in Mindoro have included the festival in their tourism come-ons and even allocated funds as prizes for the costume competition. Local officials have said that making the tradition a “little commercialized” would attract more visitors and provide incentives to participants for their sacrifices. Moriones identity Pipo Nepomuceno, administrator of the Facebook group Marinduqueño Mandin, which has close to 4,500 members, said Mindoro’s version “put in jeopardy” the identity of Marinduque as the tradition’s origin. “Imagine a tourism advertisement of Mindoro with our Morions as its highlight? [Or worse] an ad of the Department of Tourism with Mindoro likewise having Morions or centurions,” he said. Kasa Marin wrote that Mindoro should refrain from copying the Moriones and should establish a different event that would promote Mindoro’s own identity. Some members of the social network group, however, believe Marinduqueños should not be threatened by the Centuriones of Mindoro. “The vow (of the Morions) can be done anywhere—the originality should not be a debate here,” said Russel David. What should be done is to improve the political and tourism problems in Marinduque, he said. “We are a small province, and yet we are divided in some issues. People get confused.” Danilo Mandia, a Marinduqueño who works as a dubbing director at ABS-CBN, said stakeholders should go back to the roots of the tradition to preserve and promote the Moriones. “Moriones is street theater. It is now a lost art. We should bring back the essence of Moriones before when the masked penitents ruled our streets. It was the reason tourists came here in droves then,” he said.

Moriones Festival draws crowd

by (Mayda N. Lagran & Lanie Bolina-Ronquillo/PIA4-B/MARINDUQUE)

BOAC, Marinduque, April 7 (PIA) -- Tourists and local folks flocked the streets leading to the Moriones Arena in Boac, Marinduque where they witnessed the traditional Lenten celebration of this year’s Moriones Festival.

Morion-costumed folks of Marinduque started to play their roles as the Moriones Festival commenced on Holy Monday at the venue, preceded by a Holy Mass celebrated by Bishop Rey Evangelista of the Diocese of Marinduque.

Community parade around the town followed, where participants wore caftans, turbans and sandals, similar to those worn in Jerusalem during Christ’s time. There were carriages which had Roman centurion characters.

Marinduque governor Carmencita O. Reyes led the parade along with provincial and national government officials and employees, members of the academe and joined by the community. The Mogpog Brass Band added a festive mood as they played their drums with the Lyre and Buggle Corps.

After the parade, Bishop Evangelista blessed the Bagsakan Center, which exhibited Marinduque’s agri products that were organically grown. The products include bananas, tomatoes, bittergourd, squash, beans, watermelon, lettuce and strawberries. According to the provinvial agriculturist, they recently discovered that Bgy. Sibuyao Torrijos in Marinduque is the only area in MIMAROPA that is conducive to grow strawberries and lettuce, as its climate is similar to Baguio City.

There was another trade expo area that was inaugurated during the Holy Week, the Pasalubong Village. The event started with Bishop Rey blessing the stalls, which was followed by an opening program that was hosted by former Torrijos Vice Mayor John Fernandez and Mrs. Susan Borode of the Provincial Agriculture Office. Among those who graced the program were Boac Mayor Roberto M. Madla, Provincial Tourism Officer, Dindo Asuncion, Chief of Sta. Cruz Hospital and President Marinduque Camber of Commerce, Dr. Romulo Bacuro, and Bgy. Councilor, Josephine Concepcion. Department of Tourism Director Carlito Fabalena, Deputy Administrator of NAMRIA Linda Papa.

This year’s celebration emphasized the common objective of the local government and the church, which is to bring Moriones tradition back to its roots or origin –a Lenten spiritual event and not just festivities.

Morions led the Visita Iglesia

by (Mayda Lagran/TBO/PIA4B)

BOAC, Marinduque, April 6 (PIA) -- Morions went around the province for the traditional Visita Iglesia together with religious community and others who want to be part of the pilgrimage or simply the “visit to different churches.

The Morions and the community started at with a parade at Boac Poblacion and proceeded to Buenavista, Sta. Cruz and Torrijos. They visited the old churches of Marinduque which has different valued stories and historical accounts.

The first stop of the Visita Iglesia was at the Sto. Nino Parish, Buenavista. At about 9:00a.m, the pilgrim was already at the Holy Cross Parish, Sta. Cruz. They went straight to St. Joseph the Worker Parish also in Sta. Cruz, to St. Ignatius De Loyola Parish in Torrijos . In the afternoon, the visit started at the Cawit Church in Boac, to St. Joseph, Husband of Mary Parish in Gasan.

The churches here range from 300 years and above. Sta. Cruz Church is believed to have the cross which Magellan brought to Cebu and was later brought to this province, where the name of the municipality of Sta. Cruz was derived from.

The Morions are expected to go around the Boac Poblacion in the afternoon and each day during the Holy Week.

Moriones: A Festival of Faith

by Jun Pasaylo

MARINDUQUE, Philippines – As the annual Moriones Festival entered fifth day today, the event continues to draw people from inside and outside this province to join the weeklong celebration.

Since the opening day, the intensity of the celebration and volumes of revelers from all walks of life continue to soar plugging the streets of this laid-back-but-culturally-rich province.

Moriones festival gathered people from all ages and different walks of life bringing them into a single platform that completes the element of this most anticipated event here. And that is, the peoples’ faith in God.

While other festivities sourced their beginnings from good harvests or commendable economic activities, among others, the dynamic of Moriones festival came from one common part of the diverse people here – their faith in God.

At the age of 12, Jake Sembrano has been doing the vow of a Morion for over half a decade now. He joined the flock of Roman-inspired soldiers since he was four.

"At first, it’s my parents who inspire me to do this. Now, I am doing this because I want to express my true faith to God." he said in an interview with

While Morion soldiers can amaze people with their intricate costumes, he said they have struggles to overcome too during the eight-day event.

At full costume gear, he noted that the hardest part was making visuals when a Morion walked across the streets of Marinduque.

"The eye holes in our mask are very small so it’s very hard to walk, you have to make sure that you will walk in the middle of the streets, or else you can fall into an open drainage," he said.

“It’s very, very hot when we will have to walk across the streets at noon time," he added.

For his part, 70-year-old Alfredo Maglakas said being a Morion is not only to display the glamour of Roman-inspired costumes but one's utmost faith in God.

“You can have the best costumes, and yet lose the essence of being a Morion. It’s really on faith,” he added.

For over 40 years, he has been doing the vow of a Morion, doing rounds on the streets of Marinduque with his costumes, and he has no plans of retiring from it.

"I, my wife and my children are wearing our costumes during this season because of our vow to God. It has been a practice that my family never fails to do every year," he added.

When asked of his inspiration in enduring the eight-day grueling of a Morion’s life during the Lenten season, he said "Life has been harder if God has forsaken us."

"Such is the essence of Moriones festival. It is not a feast for good harvests or any other else. Moriones is a festival of faith," he said.

New Road To Economic Prosperity In Far-Flung Village Communities


TALACOGON, Agusan del Sur – Carabao-pulled cart, the only means of transportation of residents and big number of farmers will be a thing of the past when the road construction currently implemented by the Department of Public Works (DPWH) Agusan del Sur 1st District Engineering Office (ADS 1 DEO) will be completed soon.

The big number of residents and farmers in areas of Campo, San Miguel, Batucan and Del Mote in the river town of Talacogon are very much grateful and lucky when this road construction project of President Benigno S. Aquino lll will be completed on July28, this year, ahead of its completion target.

It is seen that this new road will improve the lives of the big number of village community folks, some of them highland people which will give them access to basic services like education, health and economy.

Town and community village officials expressed heartfelt gratitude to the DPWH-ADS 1 DEO for the construction of this new road.

The construction of NRJ-Batucan-Campo Farm to Market Road (FMR), funded under the Department of Agriculture CY 2011 program in the amount of Php 7 Million was started January 31, 2012.

It is being implemented by the DPWH-ADS I DEO) under the leadership of District Engineer (DE) Jaime T. Bernat, Sr, and under contract with Roim Builders and Construction Supply.

As of this posting, the project is still on-going. “We are ahead of schedule and our technical personnel, project engineer and resident engineer are on the ground 24/7 to hit our objective – good quality of works and good quality materials being implemented by the contractor under its program of work,” stressed DE Bernat.

The area is producing rubber, rice and corn, falcata and varied rootcrops. These produce were transported before only by carabao-pulled cart that will take the farmers long hours before they reached the nearest market. With the construction of this road, exchange of goods and services will be fast, easier and accessible, added DE Bernat.

In another development, in compliance with the directive of Public Works and Highways Secretary Rogelio L. Singson to engage local civil society organizations (CSOs) to enter into budget partnerships with DPWH regional offices, the DPWH Regional office 13 has recently signed a budget partnership agreement (BPA) with its CSO partner Butuan-Agusan Chamber of Commerce and Industry Foundation, Inc. (BACCIFI).

During the signing of the BPA, Region Xlll DPWH Regional Director Danilo E. Versola reiterated Secretary Singson’s statement that DPWH wants to enhance the quality of its budget process by involving CSO partners in the annual budget preparation.

“This agreement with BACCIFI will help enhance efficiency and effectiveness of our office. With BACCIFI monitoring our programs, projects and activities for this year and beyond, transparency and accountability will be achieved and quality of public service will be improved particularly here in Caraga region,” said Director Versola.

The signing of the BPA is part of the DPWH program to establish stronger ties with people’s organizations in the preparation and execution of the agency’s budget for FY 2013 and beyond. This is in support to the national government’s commitment to institutionalize citizen participation in the budget process as means of enhancing transparency and accountability in the preparation, allocation and utilization of public funds.

The BPA was signed at the DPWH Regional Office 13 by Director Versola, BACCIFI President Joseph Omar O. Andaya and witnessed by DPWH 13 Planning Chief Samson L. Hebra, BACCIFI Executive Director Virginia L. Rosales, Agusan del Norte District Engineer Alipio Grana and Butuan City District Engineer Nicolas Alameda.

The BPA is in accordance with the guidelines set by the Department of Budget and Management National Budget Circular No. 536 dated January 31, 2013 to standardize partnership program with civil society organizations (CSOs) and other concerned stakeholders.

To date, DPWH has signed budget partnership agreements with 5 CSO partners Bantay Lansangan; Research Education and institutional Development (REID) Foundation, Inc.; Southern Philippines Muslim Unity and Development Association, Inc. (SPMUDA); Marinduque First Saturday Movers, Inc. (MFSMI); and Butuan-Agusan Chamber of Commerce and Industry Foundation Inc. (BACCIFI) who agreed to adhere at all times to the principles of constructive engagement such as transparency, accountability, integrity, partnership, consultation and mutual empowerment, respect for internal processes, sustainability, and national interest.

Moriones: A way of life in Marinduque

by Jun Pasaylo

MARINDUQUE, Philippines – Moriones Festival is not only an event to display the fine intricacies and details of Roman-inspired costumes here; it is a part of the culture and tradition of the people of the land.

For over a century, the people of Marinduque – men, women and children – have aspired to become a Morion, a person who vows to become a vehicle for the unique practice to continue amid changing times and cultural facelifts.

Tracing its roots as one of the country's oldest festivities, Moriones festival has drawn thousands of the people here to commit their lives to the over a century-old tradition.

The first Moriones event happened late in the 1800s.

Among the hundreds that committed his life in the vow of a Morion is 68-year-old Jose Manay. He has been a Morion for 53 years.

From an ordinary Morion soldier in 1959, he has climbed his way up to the rank-and-file of Roman-inspired soldier, and founded Kapatiran, one of the three existing Morion groups in Marinduque. The other two are the Mistah and Legions.

"I started as a Morion when I was 15 years old, and it has been my commitment to fulfill my vow as long as I live," he said in an interview with

With a commitment to roam around the province every Holy Week, he said the hardest part of being in “the vow" is to carry the load of the Morion's costumes.

"Sometimes we have to walk for miles with no food, but it’s very fulfilling to be part of the history of the Morion tradition," he added.

"You have to sustain days of walk under the heat of the sun, but its more fulfilling when you know that you are doing it for God," he noted, adding that his wife and four children have also committed their lives to the vow of a Morion.

For the people of Marinduque, being a Morion is not only display of glamorous costumes during the Lenten season, it is a way of life and a display of utmost faith to God.

The family of Manay was among the countless families here that sustain the tradition with his children and grandchildren also committing their lives to "the vow".

"We might be poor compare to others. But with the Morion vow in our hearts, we know that we are rich in faith to God, and that the greatest treasure that I and my family have," he said.

“As long as I have a life to live, I will continue fulfilling my vow as a Morion.”

Things to see and do for Holy Week 2012


The longest weekend for 2012 begins this Holy Week, with holidays from Maundy Thursday to Black Saturday. The following Monday, Araw ng Kagitingan, is also a holiday, giving Filipinos five days off from work.

Many people see this period as a time to bond with family, or go on a much-needed getaway. Of course, this is primarily a time for reflection for many devoted Catholics. In the Philippines, reflection need not be boring. Here is a list of activities this Holy Week, from art exhibits to festivals.

1. Siete Palabras

Produced by the Dominican Province of the Philippines, the annual Siete Palabras includes the communal recitation of the "Pasyon," a well-known Lenten practice among Catholics. As the name suggests, the main feature is the reflections of the Dominican fathers on the Seven Last Words of Jesus Christ: “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do” (Luke 23:34); “Truly, I say to you, today you will be with Me in paradise” (Luke 23:43); “Woman, behold your Son: Behold your mother” (John 19:26-27); “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?” (Matthew 27:46 and Mark 15:34); “I thirst” (John 19:28); “It is finished” (John 19:30); and “Father, into Your hands I commit My spirit” (Luke 23:46).

With the theme “Ang Pasyong Mahal sa Buhay ni Juan,” the event's aim, among others, is to emphasize the significance of Christian religion in Filipino culture.

“Siete Palabras also reminds us of what we should appreciate and continue, like how we express our beliefs," DPP Media Board chairman Fr. Christopher Jeffrey Aytona, OP said in a report on the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines website.

Preachers are Fr. Napoleon Encarnacion, OP; Fr. Nilo Lardizabal, OP; Fr. Enrico Gonzales, OP; Fr. Winston Cabading OP; Fr. Eugenio Cabillon, OP; Fr. Filemon Dela Cruz, Jr., OP; and Fr. Florentino Bolo, Jr., OP, the CBCP report said. There will also be liturgical song and dance presentations from various groups, including the UST Salinggawi Dance Troupe and the Tiples de Santo Domingo.

The report said there will be testimonials from former ambassador to the Vatican Henrietta de Villa, Letty Syquia (mother of Fr. Jocis Syquia, the director of the Archdiocese of Manila’s Office of Exorcism), comedienne-singer Elizabeth Ramcey, TV producer Tak Barrios, and director Laurice Guillen.

This year's Siete Palabras will be held on Good Friday, April 6 at the Sto. Domingo Church in Quezon City. The annual tradition will also be broadcast live on GMA 7 starting 12 noon. Radio Veritas 846 will also air the broadcast simultaneously.

2. Walkway: Reflections on the Stations of the Cross (2012)

Now on its fourth year, Church Simplified's interactive art exhibit runs at Bonifacio High Street from Palm Sunday, April 1, to Easter Sunday, April 8.

Set up in the middle of an outdoor commercial complex, the Walkway invites people to take a step back from the usual window-shopping.

For each station, there is an explanation as well as a task that visitors are supposed to do, such as discover what their greatest treasure is, or make a difference by donating to a children's fund.

The Walkway is an interesting option for those who wish to observe Lent in a way that doesn't involve the usual church activities.

3. Vultus Christi art exhibit at Galerie Joaquin Podium

Coinciding with Holy Week is an exhibit featuring artists' interpretations of the last days of Christ.

Jovan Benito and Randy Roa paint scenes from the Last Supper, the Garden of Gethsemane and the Stations of the Cross for "Vultus Christi: The Face of Christ." Held at Galerie Joaquin Podium, the exhibit is in the spirit of highlighting the human character of Christ through iconography, which reminds us of the sacrifices required to save mankind.

"Befitting the reflective period before Holy Week, 'Vultus Christi: The Face of Christ' is a momentous exhibition that serves to encapsulate the meaning of sacrifice," Galerie Joaquin says on its website.

According to Galerie Joaquin, Benito's colorful style contrasts the subject matter's seriousness. "That childlike whimsy is evident in her choice of palette. The bright colors and figurative-abstract renderings of Christ and his followers [are] a dramatic counterpoint to what we're used to. The idea is to promote the concept of celebration as opposed to pain. The life of Christ is, after all, the conquering of the sinful nature of man," the exhibit notes say.

Meanwhile, Rando Roa's abstract figurations force the viewer to see Christ's last days as moments and reflections. "By refusing to conform to the limitations of authenticity, Roa gives us a glimpse of the spiritual aspect of the moment," the gallery said.

4. Visita Iglesia

The Visita Iglesia (church pilgrimage) has been practiced for years all over the country, since the Spanish colonizers introduced the practice to Filipino Catholics. Originally, early pilgrims would visit the seven great basilicas in Rome, for the adoration of the Blessed Sacrament on Maundy Thursday.

According to a news bulletin on the Manila Cathedral website, there are no set prayers for the “Visita Iglesia." "However, it is good to note that it is a spiritual pilgrimage in which we are invited to reflect and pray as we accompany Jesus journeying through his Paschal Mystery," it notes.

As a result, there are many different ways of doing the Visita Iglesia. Some continue to visit seven churches, while others visit 14 churches, thus completing "Via Crucis," where pilgrims follow the stations of the cross.

The tradition has evolved with the times, and Filipino Catholics who are unable to take part in traditional Lenten practices may do so online with the CBCP's online Visita Iglesia.

Because the country has an abundance of old churches, the Visita Iglesia can also be a cultural activity where pilgrims experience colonial era architecture, and the rich history that comes with it.

Since 2010, artist and biking enthusiast Rock Drilon has been organizing Bisikleta Iglesia, which combines the religious church pilgrimage with biking.

5. Passion plays and religious festivals

Towns all over the country stage plays commemorating the passion and death of Christ. The Department of Tourism lists over 30 religious events all over the country.

In Pampanga, the flagellants whip their bare backs while parading the streets of San Fernando. In certain places, like San Pedro Cutud in San Fernando and Lourdes Northwest in Angeles City, some penitents are even crucified.

In Binangonan, Rizal, the cenaculo is referred to as Giwang-Giwang, because so many people try to touch the Sepulkro that it sways.

At the Subok Festival, also in Rizal, different objects are inserted in the robe of Santo Entierro, the wooden image of the dead Christ. After the procession, the objects are retrieved and kept as talismans.

In Marinduque, masked soldiers perform in the Moriones festival. The towns of Boac, Gasan and Mogpog become the stage where they tell the story of Longinus, the centurion who pierced the side of the crucified Jesus.

In San Jose, Antique, Hudas-Hudas is celebrated on Black Saturday. People gather in the town plaza, where an effigy of Judas is hanged and burned.

In Quiapo, the image of the Black Nazarene is brought out from the Basilica Minore Shrine on Good Friday every year. The only other occasion that the image is taken out is on its feast day on January 9. Devotees believe that touching the life-sized statue of Christ will bring miracles.

Whether you just want to just stay at home, go out and enjoy the relatively quiet city, or even visit some of the beautiful provinces this long weekend, there are plenty of things to see and do this Holy Week. –KG, GMA News

Bishop: Palm Sunday no April Fool’s joke'

by : Jerome Aning

Philipine Daily Inquirer

Roman Catholic Filipinos should mark Palm Sunday, with piety and contemplation on the Passion of Jesus Christ and not with superstitious beliefs, an official of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) said Saturday. Msgr. Pedro Quitorio III, CBCP media office director, said Palm Sunday, which coincides with the observance of April Fool’s Day, should not be marked with pranks and jokes. “We should not deviate [from the message of Palm Sunday] and not focus on superstitious and pagan practices,” Quitorio said. April Fool’s Day is said to have its origins in the ancient Roman festival of Hilaria and in the Festival of Fools in the Middle Ages, where people played pranks on others and indulged in foolishness. Pranksters are also active on Holy Innocents’ Day in December. For Quitorio, the belief that the palm fronds (palaspas) blessed on Palm Sunday can ward off evil spirits and lightning strikes are examples of Fool’s Day foolishness that should be discarded. “A person becomes a fool if his being a Christian is reduced to becoming superstitious,” Quitorio said. “Our concentration should be on [the Palm Sunday] Mass, on the gospel about the Passion of Christ. We should not veer away from it.” Quitorio said the palaspas has only one symbolic meaning: “To welcome Christ as He enters Jerusalem and into the will of God.” The Church, Quitorio said, is partly to blame for the persistent superstitious beliefs about the palaspas. “Maybe [the people] think that way because of the Church’s failure to catechize [them],” Quitorio said. “So I think there is really a need for parish priests to teach the people … to understand its real meaning.” Cebu Archbishop Jose Palma, CBCP president, called on Catholics on Saturday to commemorate “the important mysteries of our faith” with the start of the Holy Week. “Let us have time to participate, especially in the many important and significant activities of the Church like Palm Sunday, the Paschal Triduum, Chrism Mass, Last Supper Mass, the Seven Last Words and Easter,” Palma said in an interview over church-run Radio Veritas. “If others are thinking about going on vacation—and it’s true that we need to have rest from work—I [hope] they can still participate in the celebrations of the Church [this Holy Week],” Palma said. “We should pray to have renewal in our country. Let us pray that we can improve.” Too much partying Marinduque Bishop Rey Evangelista called on the youth not to forget the meaning of Holy Week as he discouraged them from too much partying. “Our Holy Week gatherings should not be for fun but for prayer and contemplation,” Evangelista said. Also on Saturday, Manila Auxiliary Bishop Broderick Pabillo, chairman of the CBCP’s National Secretariat for Social Action, called on the faithful to donate to Alay Kapwa Sunday, which also coincides with Palm Sunday. The Alay Kapwa (offering to one’s neighbor) Sunday is the culmination of the Lenten evangelization program of the Church that aims to raise social consciousness about the plight of the poor. This year’s proceeds will be used as emergency fund for the poor who have been affected by natural and man-made calamities. “They may donate their time or talent. There are a lot of people in need of help. That has been the call of Alay Kapwa, for [the faithful] to share their time, talent and treasure,” Pabillo also said. No to crucifixions Palma reiterated the Church’s opposition to crucifixions on Good Friday, which some Catholic devotees, particularly in Pampanga province, continue to practice. “While we are trying to discourage these practices, we could also not judge the intention of some devotees,” Palma said. “They have different vows, which, if they cannot fulfill them, [make them] feel very guilty. But the challenge really is, you do not have to [be], if your participation [in Holy Week rites] is really solemn and wholehearted.” Palma added: “It’s not so much the external manifestation of and identification with the Christ. It’s internal—the change of heart, the change of life. This, I wish, is the beautiful thing that we should do, not on the physical but more in the spirit. We do not judge and condemn, but we discourage it.” Archbishop Paciano Aniceto of Pampanga and retired Novaliches Bishop Teodoro Bacani have similar observations. Aniceto said the body is a gift from God and should be taken care of, not tortured by crucifixion. He observed that the Good Friday crucifixions had become commercialized and turned into tourist attractions. “The self-flagellations and crucifixions must be stopped,” Bacani said. “Caring for each other, doing good deeds is the best restitution [for sins],” Bacani said.

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