Welcome and Mabuhay

If you love Marinduque and want to contribute articles to this site, please do so. My contact information is in my profile. The above photo was taken from the balcony of The Chateau Du Mer Beach House, Boac, Marindque, Philippines. I love sunsets. How about you? Please do not forget to read the latest national and international news in the right side bar of this blog. Some of the photos and videos on this site, I do not own. However, I have no intention on infringing your copyrights. Thank you and Cheers!

Tres Reyes Island view of the Marinduque Mainland

Monday, November 17, 2008

Things I will Always Remember at Chateau Du Mer, Boac

1. The chirping songs and cacophony of sounds of the birds(Mayas)as they fly from tree to tree looking for worms

2. Native fishes and tilapias thriving well on my creek that meanders to the ocean

3. Sunset and coral reefs at low tide seen from the balcony of the beach house

4. A Reflection of an almost full moon as seen from the balcony of the beach house

5. Thousands of fireflies illuminating the firefly tree on a moonless night, just like a Chistmas tree with flickering miniature lights

6. Monitor Lizard ( bayawak) looking for chicken or duck eggs. He looks scary, but actually harmless,unlike the Komodo dragons of Indonesia

7. A native hawk (lawin) diving from the sky for young chicks. This lawin is on a cage to do no harm to your chickens for the moment

8. Coconut rats feasting on young coconuts ( one coconut almost hit me on the head). Watch out for your head, specially on a windy day

9. Blue starfish and corals seen only a few meters from my back yard

10. Bougainvillas and orchids blooming in my front yard ( see picture of orchids on previous posting)

11. A sunset that takes your breathe away ( notice the two swimmers also enjoying the sunset)

12. A papaya tree with ripe fruits ( not yet seen by the fruit bats)

13. Mangoes loaded with fruits almost touching the ground because of its weight

14. Bananas and avocado trees loaded with fruits( no picture of avocados-see in previous posting)

15. The scream of an alley cat on “Heat” at midnight ( photo taken from the web), and last, but not least

16. The crowing of the rooster at 4:00AM everyday morning before dawn, a reliable alarm clock if you want to wake up that early

Please visit my website, www.chateaudumer.com or my blog site, http://chateaudumer.blogspot.com for more pictures!

If you are from Marinduque, do you have things that you will always remember about Marinduque. Please submit this to http://marinduqueonmymind.blogspot.com
Thanking you in advance for sharing and contributing to this literary project

Night Activities at Chateau Du Mer

One of our Outdoor Christmas Trees

Watching Fireflies

The Bridge at Night-the focal point of the landscaping Design of the Beach House

My Angel Statuary-one of the dozens sculptures accentuating the Gardens of Chateau Du Mer

Fishing, Camping or just Beach walking at Night

The Holiday Season is here! The shopping malls have started installing their Christmas decorations and holiday lights even though it is still two weeks before Thanksgiving. Tomorrow the "snow birds" are leaving the US to the dry, cool and perfect weather in the island of Marinduque-our island paradise. Among the activities, my wife and I enjoyed are night camping and building camp fires by the seashore, watching fireflies, enjoy the Christmas lights and decor and watching night fishermen from the balcony of the beach house. The picture of about 100 yellow dots in the seascape representing a fishing boat is a sight to behold (no picture). Finally our favorite activity is just to relax while drinking wine in the balcony in our beach house. The nights are so quiet even in a starry night; all you will hear are the sound of the waves and your heart beat. These are moments that money can not buy. These things will always be in our minds.

Just in case you got tired at Chateau Du Mer, drive to downtown Boac. On your way you will see the lighted fountain in front of the Capitol ( see photo below)

Monday, November 10, 2008

My Story at Boac

The Calesa
By Jorge Bunag
Perhaps it was the intensity and tumult of the time that, although I was barely two years old, my recollections of an incident before the break of dawn seemed vivid in my mind and to this day I relive that moment over and over again. It happened on the shores of Laylay, Marinduque during World War II when the Japanese overran our beloved Philippines. Our sailboat which was known in the vernacular as a “batel” touched land in the dark. There was chaos and the shouts of the men (the cargadores) who helped us were muffled only by the sound of heavy thuds hitting the ocean waters. We were carried on the shoulders of these men and as there was no pier where the sailboat could dock, they had to walk to the shore in waist deep salt water with my mother and everyone in the family on their shoulders. We evacuated from Manila when the Japanese occupied the city. Thank God we were soon safely ashore and the next thing I remember, we were on a calesa where I could hear the horse trotting in the heavy rain. When we reached the house, I remember the amazement on my Lolo Tomas’ face when he saw us. Quickly he prepared breakfast for us and we exchanged stories.
My Lolo Tomas del Mundo was married to Maria and they were quite prominent in Marinduque. Well known to the Spaniards who colonized the island, my Lolo Indo, their son, soon became involved in politics and ultimately was elected Governor of Marinduque. He had an illustrious career and a number of Marinduquenos remember him on his white horse and holstered pistol. Somewhat a hero at that time, they called him “Acord” who was the predecessor of the more popular Lone Ranger. When dignitaries such as President Quezon visited Boac, he stayed at my Lolo Tomas’ house.
My Lola Patro, who was the daughter of Lola Maria, had four children: Liling, Menching, Rafelito and Badong and we were 8 grandchildren, myself being the eldest.
We went to Boac almost every summer mainly during Holy Week (Semana Santa) or at times to participate in the Flores de Mayo festivities. We all had experienced a veritable paradise as our Lolas’ pampered us with sumptuous Boac cooking, (the incomparable bibingka, kare and Humba are but a few examples of this). We took trips to the beach at Balogo or trips to the “bukid” where we ate young coconuts. Once we were allowed to swim at the Boac River not too far from the Nepomuceno Bridge. I remember its cool clear waters unlike what we’ve been hearing it has become in modern times due to the mining industry. The rest of the time we spent playing or roaming the streets of Boac and passing time at the plaza which was across my Lola’s house. We of course enjoyed watching the Moriones and participating in the Flores de Mayo parade. My Lola Patro who was close to the Marinduque Church hierarchy was appointed several times as “Hermana Mayor” of the Flores de Mayo festivities and it was because of her intense devotion to the “Biglang Awa” (Virgin Mary of Mercy) that she was Grand Marshall at an important anniversary of this Virgin. The “Biglang Awa” is a miraculous patron in Marinduque and several cures in the island were attributed to her.
During our time at Boac, we were able to meet our many relatives – Tito Tavo, Tita Nenita, Lola Ursula, Tito Molong and others who all seemed extremely happy to see us. We hung around Tito Tavo’s hardware store, the Mangubat’s candy and general store and once in a while if we were lucky, Tito Molong invited us to view a movie at his theatre for free! We would eat Sno-balls during the summer, buy ice cream, taho and when we saw a “lumboy” tree, somehow we were able to avail ourselves of its fruits. At night I would go out with my “barkadas” and the fashionable thing was to carry a flashlight as the streets were poorly lit and the plaza was dark. Our leader was Baby (Mangubat) who reminded me of an Elvis look alike heading the Lords of Flatbush. We would roam all over and our escapades were not bereft of mischief. One night we tried to knock at the house were a known widow in town lived but to no avail. Another night found us at the only cabaret in town in the town of Tampus where I had my first experience with 10 centavos per dance affair. I remember I was so scared, probably a result of the guilty conscience I had for consorting with erstwhile ladies of the night. But we had so much fun. One would experience difficulty imagining how we kids could fail to have the time of our lives.
A most memorable experience was when we went to the beach at Balogo. I remember we were up early and already there were two or three calesas lined up in front of the house. We all got to pick which calesa to board and with our picnic bags and food (they always seemed to pack chicken and pork adobo – Boac style) the cocheros would make a sound which made the horses go. We were thrilled to ride the calesas. I remember hearing the heavy sound of the horse’s hooves as we crossed the shallow portion of the Boac River.

As we approached Balogo Beach, the smell of the ocean salt water was prominent in the surroundings. We would jump off the calesas and even before we were able to change into our swim suits, we were in the water. After swimming we would be called for lunch and what a feast it was. There was the adobo, kanin of course, fresh fish and squid broiled at the beach and mangoes for desert.
At Balogo, I remember Mang Agustin, a fisherman who lived there. He was a handsome man, almost like a movie actor and his muscular physique was bronzed from the sun. He was a kind, humble, soft-spoken man and very well trusted by our family. Once in a while we would board his banca and he would take us far from shore (or as he would say “ma-pa laot po tayo”). In my later years, the fishermen gave me “tuba” (or palm wine) and we drank together. The tuba went down the hatch easily but what a hangover it gives.
Maybe it was the atmosphere of paradise or the summer winds that induced me to fall in love every time I would visit Marinduque. It is the same feeling one would have when entering the enchanted forest. As a number of my fellow Marinduquenos will tell you, each time the boat on which we sailed would approach the island, there seemed to be an intense feeling of excitement coupled with anxiety. I felt this as the launch docked at Balanacan and as we approached the island. The thousand palm trees all seemed to sit there beckoning me to come ashore. There was a feeling of elation as the jeepney we rode sped towards Boac. The smell of wood smoke and of course the strong scent of the ocean water, which permeates the island, seemed to enhance that feeling of familiarity and nostalgia telling me that “I’ve come home”. As one approached the town of Boac, the familiar streets and houses seemed to emerge. The Sto. Domingos, the Mangubats and all other families’ houses are still there as if frozen in time. And as the driver went through town, past the church at Mataas na Bayan, past the plaza - one’s heart seemed to beat faster in anticipation of once more seeing the place of one’s boyhood years and embracing your Lolas and Lolos and all your loved ones.
It was in the summer of “54 or thereabouts that I encountered my first love experience. I was barely thirteen and at that time it was the Flores de Mayo season.

Because of her religious demeanor, my grandmother at that time took us one afternoon to the church at Mataas na Bayan. During the Flores de Mayo festival, the church had a wonderful ritual where a small procession would go to the altar to bring flowers to the Blessed Virgin. In this particular afternoon, there were two little angels who marched at the head of the procession. I was not really paying much attention when one of the angels caught my eye. She was the most beautiful angel that I ever saw. I remember she had lily white angel wings. Her brownish hair was long and hung down her back up to her slim waist. She was smiling as I caught her fleeting glance and it was the loveliest smile I ever saw. Her lips were full and her lovely eyes seemed to reach into your soul.
For days after I thought of her all the time, feeling a bitter sweet sensation in my heart – bitter because I may never see her again and sweet because the thought of her brought a strong emotion of love. The longing I had for her only tempered the deep feelings I had in my heart. To this day I think of those summer days when just as the flowers bloomed in the balmy May air, my love blossomed in its innocence. Her name is Maria (the characters in this narrative are real but fictitious names are used to protect them). It was not until fifty years later that I met her again at the Katagues’ Chateau du Mer and when I did I told her of those precious moments.
There were other subsequent summers when I encountered similar feelings with women in Boac. There was Susan whose lovely face was accentuated by a thousand candle lights during a candle festival in Boac not too far from Tito Tavo’s hardware store.
I was so filled with deep emotions that I ended up writing her a poem.
And then there was Daria. She lived diagonally across from Lola Patro’s house and she used to sit in front of her house on warm summer days. I could see her from our living room and admired her from a distance. She was a white complexioned, slim, but full-figured woman and her beauty only betrayed her flirtatious nature. I never had the nerve to approach her but one time when I was going back to Manila via the vessel named “Baztan” she occupied the cot a few feet from me (we slept on cots or “tijerases” during the entire trip). But again my faintheartedness kept me from approaching her. I had to confine myself to a lifetime of precious memories of her.
At the risk of being accused as a womanizer, I plead innocence but admit my guilt as a romantic. And as I mentioned, the romance was brought about by the enchantment which is Marinduque, where the ocean waters and the summer winds greatly enhance the longing for tender and innocent love.
I often think of my beloved Marinduque even as far away as the United States in the state of New Jersey where I now live. I promised myself that for the rest of my life, I will keep going back to the place where I found happiness and much love. This is the place where the people are so warm and friendly that even as a stranger they would say “Ano baga totoy, ikaw biga'y dito na matira?”

I did come back in 2004 when Marinduque International held their bi-annual Mission of Love.
Town of Mogpog Medical Mission
I was witness to hundreds of our “kababayans” all over Marinduque who lined up for hours seeking medical attention. Their plight was heart-wrenching. I remember helping a woman well beyond her seventies whose blood pressure was extremely high. I helped her by-pass the lines to see a cardiologist who gave her medication and warned her not to go home in the scorching sun. And they are still there – hundreds of old men, women and children. Children with hare lips and respiratory problems, some with cataracts and other eye conditions that need immediate medical attention. And so, to those of you who care, come home and share in the medical and charitable assistance for our fellow Marinduquenos.
I would like to live and spend more time where my Lolos and Lolas lived and showered us with attention and much affection. They are no longer there but the memories of the good times will keep them alive forever.

Thank you Jorge for this excellent story.

About the Author: Jorge was President of Marinduque Eastern Seaboard of America(MESA) from 2002-2004. He has a Masters of Business Administration degree from Tulane University, 1972. He is also a graduate of De La Salle College in Manila. He is currently an assistant Vice President for CitiGroup. He is married to Barbara with two children Marc and Kathy. He and wife Barbara have 3 grandchildren, Nicholas, Matthew and Danny.

Friday, November 7, 2008

12 Memorable Things About the Philippines

Night Time in Boac-Photo by Dennis Villegas
The Boac Cathedral, where my Parents Renewed Bows
( see item number 3)

The following is a write-up of my daughter experiences on her recent trip to the Philippines. She titled it " Survivor Philippines and my Parents Golden Wedding Anniversary.

" Resembling the journey survivor contestants make to get to their island, after 47 hours of travel -planes, trains, automobiles and a long ferry ride-- Carenna and I finally arrived on the peaceful island of Marinduque. Staying at my parents winter home and resort, www.chateaudumer.com , we were joined by all my siblings, brother-in-law Dave, nephew Ian, niece Elaine, and first cousins, Ella and Lanie and Alex ( Lanie's S.O. and Carenna's personal "bee killer"). It was quite an experience getting there and being there." Here are the 12 memorable things about the Philippines during my trip:

1 (One) Great performance- Carenna sings "New World" at the Anniversary reception

(Two) Happily married parents ( renewed vows after 50 years)

3. Three Hours of holding Carenna (50 lbs), sweating during midnight mass in an ancient (no A/C) cathedral built in 1660 with 1000+ mass attendees( imagine survivor LOG HOLD challenge)
One lechon Gone
4. Four Roasted Pigs -aka Lechon . Carenna got to meet the live pigs the day before they appeared at the party ( albeit with tan).

5. Five guys eating balut- Ian, Dave, Alex, Dodie and David E had a christmas day Balut eating contest-- yes that's the fertilized duck embryo boiled eggs that they eat in Survivor and Fear Factor TV shows

6. Six aquamarine bridesmaid dresses that did not fit

7. Seven words in tagalog that Carenna knows, ( Tabi po Nono', tubig, paroparo, salamat po, maganda and Kain na)

8. Eight bouts of prickly heat-poor Carenna

9. Nine hours of marathon shopping in Metro Manila with Cousin Cindy Nieva ( professional shopper)

10. Ten asthma attacks in Manila-not known for air quality

11. Eleven types of rice cakes ( 11 hour hangover for Ella)

12. Twelve of us crammed in a van during the round Marinduque Island Tour

Note: Ditas Katague Thompson is the youngest daughter of Dave and Macrine Katague. She was born in Kansas City, Missouri, She obtained her Bachelors degree in Mass Communications and Art from UC Berkeley, CA. She has also a master's degree from University of Southern California. She has worked for both private and state agencies for the last 15 years. Her five year old daughter, Carenna survived quite well during this trip to Marinduque.
Currently, Ditas is the Director of Census, 2010 for the State of California.

8th Wonder of the World

The Calesa -a mode of transporation in Gasan
The outside view of a typical Bahay na Bato

This article was cleared for entry in this blog by Leticia Hidalgo of Boac. The author is the daughter of Sonia Narvas Quiason also from Boac. Enjoy!
Chronicles of a 50th Wedding Anniversary
A Return to Marinduque, Philippines
By : Sonia M. Narvas Quiason – Ang

It was high noon when the family left the pier of Lucena bound for a 3 hour boat ride across the waters of the deep China Sea. There was a cool sea breeze against the heat of the scorching sun as we waved farewell to the shores of the mainland Luzon, Philippines and our destination - the island of Marinduque.

My heart raced when I finally saw the silhouette of several clusters of islands greeting us as we approached the island of Marinduque- we glided through an inner cove to finally dock at Balanacan harbor – once noted historically where the old Spanish Galleon ships were mooring for repairs and replenishing their supplies before making a perilous voyage back into the pacific to Mexico and Spain. It was the same harbor that gave refuge to the big American naval battle ships of World War 2. My eyes caught site of a large statue of the Virgin Mary the patroness of the island who has accompanied many sea faring sailors across the Pacific in voyages for centuries. There was a backdrop of hills and a mountainous terrain laden with tall coconut trees that grew lavishly in the island as the main vegetation aside from the exotic flora and fauna in the deep forests. It was indeed refreshing to the eyes. We traveled up the hillside paved road which skirted the shimmering waters of the bay to see only a picturesque sight from atop the mountain of the many islands surrounding Marinduque.- indeed God has blessed this island with its bountiful natural resources. One has heard the stories of the 8 wonders of the world , but there are still those undiscovered wonders by the National Geographic explorer who would only agree perhaps with my declaration that this place rivals the beaches of Ipanema and Maui. As a well-seasoned world traveler myself I can only exalt that it was an awesome scenery amidst a fading sunset.

We approached a small “barrio”(town) of Tabigue where my parents were welcomed with a large banner that greeted them on their 50th golden wedding anniversary with a small town festivity presented in their honor. They had roasted a large young pig for an entire day till it was tender and I had missed this sight all these years. We called this a Lechon Feast to honor guests from out of town .

To celebrate my parent’s golden wedding anniversary my mother decided long ago to hold this the traditional Filipino way in her native and rustic town together with the barrio people instead of re-enacting it in the modern city of Manila in a western fashion which she did 50 years ago -- a truly authentic and distinctively Filipino wedding. What was more heartfelt was to celebrate this in the land where she was born and bread. It was in the midst of my mother’s family owned coconut plantation - it was her home.

The plantations were there for generations, it was studded with miles and miles of coconut trees which were tall, imposing, and more than hundreds of years old. A coconut tree can out live a man’s lifespan for 150 -200 years. Young coconut trees were growing side by side the old signaling a new generation to come. Each tree was 25 meters apart from the other, a unit of measurement to measure one’s property in the olden times by counting the number of coconuts one had.

We were entertained by the warm hospitality of “barrio” (town) local village folks who worked for my great grand parents for centuries harvesting coconuts – the plantations were in seven towns of coconut laden land that skirted the beaches of Marinduqe , reaching across the mountainous terrain in the interior of the island which they maintained. .. This is how the feudal society of the old Spanish era was managed and how business / trade was conducted, it has lasted and remained intact for generations even to this modern day and age. Tenants work and live on the land, while harvesting and selling copra for business. They had been an integral part of the family yet independent in their day to day lives.

Time has stood still for these “barrio” folk untouched by civilization yet it was amusing to see them use a modem CD player as a device for singing and no longer would they use tape recorders. I was requested by one of the old folks to play them a tune on the violin which I brought with me all the way from the USA. It was a pleasure to see these people marvel to listen in appreciation to a violin which they perhaps may have never seen all their lives and even more so to hear Beethoven’s 9th symphony played to them!

I looked for the little ducks and hens underneath their houses that I recall during my childhood days but to my amazement there were none, but instead they were raising cows! Almost immediately, I started to chase the young 2 month old calves grazing side by side their mother cow just as I would have done when I was a little girl. Cows apparently are worth a fortune in the mainland and can be traded for a handsome sum of money to help buy the medicine they need to treat themselves if necessary. I then walked toward the lake where its mouth joins the great sea and climbed into one of the fisherman’s boats – quite an exhilarating site and view – I was communing with nature.

We set our next trip to rest at a world class resort in Gasan, owned by a high school classmate of my mother where we stayed to rest for the evening. I was awakened by the cacophony of crowing cocks at 5 am. and the strong lashing of the waves on the beach. I peered through the veranda toward the direction of the ocean and noticed the waves were so serene and motionless on the pebbled beach that the sea looked just like a large pond to me. I watched the stillness of the ocean as the dawn was breaking while listening to the sounds of an unsyncopated rhythm of cocks crowing in unison. The house was made of Philippine Sawali - a modern house with amenities of modern living with a beautiful, well decorated living room of native Philippine design native redwood narra floors, roof, and furniture. In contrast to the Philippine native materials was a modern kitchen and bathrooms . The beds were of bamboo or hard narra wood – but it had “ IKEA mattresses, pillows and sheets on ! There was a world class swimming pool adjacent to the beach surrounded by a well manicured lawn and tropical shrubs .

The local fisherman had a routine from 5 am at the crack of dawn and at early dusk before night fall - . They fish in the dark since they say the fishes are attracted to the luminous nets and baits which are made of fluorescent material . My father set out with a local helper to a fisherman’s village right by the resort where they had fleshly caught a sea variety of tuna called “Tulingan’ which we grilled in Philippine style on banana leaves and tomatoes and onions, and salt . I insisted to have it served Japanese style sushi , but was cautioned it was not the right fish for sushi, less I will suffer from an allergy. , The people of the province will never go hungry even the simplest and humblest farmer, since mother nature provides them with the finest seafood direct from their daily catch from the sea. The poorest man is blessed with 3 meals a day! .

We entered the municipal town proper of Boac, the capital , where and old Spanish cathedral was perched on top of a hill from the town center . The church was of a typical baroque architecture just like the churches of in Seville, Spain . It had a rococo styled interior and an altar whose fa├žade was highly ornate with several statuettes of saints implanted within. These churches were made of limestone , coral , massive red brick stones and mortar, very typical of the Spanish architecture of the time. A huge cross on the steeple is a reminder of the history of Christianity planted in the town center, it was the Spanish conquistador that sewed the seeds of Christianity in the entire Philippine Archipelago when Ferdinand Magellan discovered the country in 1521 and named it after King Philip II of Spain.

The entourage and procession was participated by the town folk with little children dressed in Sunday clothes, some of them in a Filipino inspired attire of jusi called the “barong “ - the traditional dress. A solemn ceremony and mass officiated by the Catholic priest in the native language was very interesting for even a person like me who had a good command of the Philippine native language, His robe was an exact replica of what the Catholic priests of the ancient church of Rome wore since the medieval ages . His rhetoric about marriage was both hilarious and serious, but full of lessons undefiled . I was the maid of honor, it was something I would not ever have dreamed to see this very day , it did give me an emotional tear in my eye. After the church ceremonies were over, we all proceeded to Casa Narvas.

Casa Narvas was my mother’s ancestral home , built by “Don” Elias Narvas a coconut copra business man of the 18th century , through the years it became a hub for town folk gatherings as it was strategically located in the center of the town proper. This was where important foreign dignitaries would drop by to attend a ceremony. The house is a testimony of the old Spanish – Mexican and Chinese architectural influence of capiz -shelled sliding windows and stained glass walls . This was called the “ bahay na bato” in Philippine architecture, characterized by the massive red hardwood flooring , a balustrade and an ‘azotea’ (veranda) . Today it is proclaimed by the Philippine government as a heritage house to preserve the oldest relics of Spanish-made historical houses in the provinces.

A festivity called the “Putong” was held when we arrived at the house. This tradition was performed to greet any new comer in the province and given the opportunity to be literally crowned a Prince or Princess for the day amidst a formal traditional ceremony of song and dances. A large lechon (pig) was roasted and served – with coconut salad and “ pansit” noodles. Little children were running and scampering after the candy thrown to them. . During the month of May the town also celebrates the annual May Flower Festival which with long processions in the streets featuring a queen and her consort. In Philippine cultural affairs the island is well-known for a unique Moriones Festival - a re-enactment of the mock-beheading of Longhinos, a Roman Centurion who pierced the side of Jesus Christ. That evening the family joined a festivity in of the town proper for the annual May festival ballroom dance– it was a modern version with a medley of modern Philippine songs, traditional songs to the ballads of Frank Sinatra’s 50’s and the influence of current American pop music and jazz.

There were distinctively contrasting sights which gave me the feeling of bewilderment between the modern and the old , the rich and the poor, the truly Filipino against a Western influence – one in great dissimilarity to the other yet existing together in harmony One cannot but stare in perplexity between the sight of a Filipino nipa hut beside a modern day Frank Lloyd Wright architected house or a . carabao drawn “careton” or ‘calesa “ cart on a street with a speeding 2008 BMW driving right by them. Indeed it would make an interesting subject to show the ironical differences in a Moma inspired photography contest ?

Three days passed quickly and we had to bade farewell sighs to the the island of mystique and enchantment,. An island abundant in nature , rich in folklore and ancient culture and filled with pleasant discoveries. A place where time stands still and where the old historical relics of the past exist and untouched , home of my ancestors and my heritage. I have, for the first time after 30 years laid my eyes on the islands once more – I hope that these chronicles have brought to you all my friends who by chance, or for whatever reason it may be, may come to visit the islands one day, and if never , have opened up a spectrum of new consciousness of the existence of such beauty and awe that exits far across the Pacific. Indeed, an 8th wonder of the world.

About the Author: Sonia Ang is the daughter of Sonia Narvas Quiason, the owner of CASA NARVAS in Boac. She worked for IBM in New York as Sr. Consulting Engineer for the last 26 years. She graduated from the University of Pennsylvania with an MSE degree in Comp Sci in 1987. She is also a pianist and violinist.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

The Other Miracle of Multiplication

By Yong Nieva

Who among us could ever forget summers when we were young? As young kids we all looked forward to to those school breaks with anticipation that would bring us all close to bursting! Thoughts of bonding times with friends ; summer trips with cousins; and,as our aunts and uncles would admonish us , to 'reconnect with our roots'' . We would be sent to Bacolod( on my mom's side} and to Marinduque( my dad's from the Nievas of Boac ) just to know where we came from.

Our summers were always memorable because on both sides, our families were close. Though we had numerous cousins, we were raised thinking we all came from one progeny. We were never made aware of 'degrees of separation'' but in our family once a cousin ,...is a cousin! In fact,It was only when I was older, and probably already in college, when I realized that even children of close family friends, who were not even blood relations but were introduced as cousins! We were all just cousins!

Our families lived the 'extended family' dream long before the word was ever popular. We were raised only as one.

My friends up to this time would tease me on how big my family is. And just so I could respond both with sarcasm( because I sense a hint in them) and with comic glee, i would respond ' 'in my mom's side three hundred, and on my dad's side five hundred!!! ' I would see eyes grow big with surprise but my quirky retort never really made me feel guilty.. never with remorse. I actually became prouder each time I uttered those words, and yes, even until today, to each year I added to these my golden years!

As all of my Marinduque cousins can attest to this, we were always reminded, ' Never forget your roots!'' It was like a mantra of our parents they wanted us all to remember,... with them! Well first, surely their roots was a proud one, but I eventually realized , its was not really the roots they were referring to but it was much more than that. It was abstract and intangible. It was really only about love.

Tombstones and markers long forgotten and with only the references to genealogy by some cousins patient enough to record the family tree( or trees by now! ) , we cousins can now only look back to the memories and , with the fading faces of relatives long been dead and gone, we can only recapture the one thing that is abstract... the one intangible... that one that is Love!

Of course we have had fights, money, envy, greed, politics, or maybe even crimes and murder( not necessarily coming from our side) among us but who any other family that does not have tainted past! Who does not have a 'closet' hidden somewhere? Yet family is family.

And this I remember fondly but I do remember it vividly

I got married and lived in San Francisco beginning of the 80's. I was alone thinking of all the three major changes in my life I just went through ( ceased being a bachelor at 30, moved to a foreign place, got married and about to start a family) . Yes, I was happy because I fell in love and chose to relocate though I always said I never liked being in the states. Yes, love can make you do that and I believe it. But my story is not about falling in love with someone.

I just started working as an insurance agent for Allstate and I was assigned at the Sears Financial Center inside the Sears store in Tanforan Mall in San Bruno, California. It was one night when I met this fellow Pinoy, who upon giving him my card mentioned that he has a friend who is a Nieva.Trained again to say,'ah, he is a cousin!'' , I did not take it to be serious and that he would ever pursue that connection.

I get a call from Cesar Nieva soon after and he sounded a warm and happy person. It did not sound as if he was taking the effort to talk to me. He then arranged that he will stop by and visit me sometime when he goes to Sears. And he did.

When he came and we met, my lola's words 'luksong dugo' came to being. Its true, much as I want to call it mushy, much as I want to call it an old wives tale!

What could have been my first Christmas abroad and I was getting sad, turned out to be the opposite. 'Primo' Cesar invited me to the Nieva reunion which was just around the neighborhood at the house of Tito Menandro and Tita Norma Nieva along Callan Blvd. in South San Francisco.

What a sight as I walked in into their living room. It was just a typical Nieva gathering. Each one snug and comfy seated down next to a close tita or cousin, tight in conversation or 'kuento'. As I got introduced, it was the elder titas who took me in so instantly because they do remember my dad ,' si Will ' as they would fondly recall his name. It was then I realized that what my dad did what was normal to a Nieva. My dad did not only plant roots, he planted memories. Tita Nena ( Nieva-Alminiana) and even the youngest sibling Tito Men said, ' iyang Papa mo, napakakamaganak!' He lived and loved the way he did.He 'planted roots' which,I hope, this generation still could.
Yong and some of his numerous friends all over the World

Ah yes,...the 'other' miracle of multiplication was the forty or-so-plus Nieva cousins I instantly gained that year.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Why We love Marinduque

The White Beach of Poctoy, Torrijos with Mt Malinding in the background

The following are some of quotes and comments from the web from visitors to our island of "Why They Love Marinduque".

Photo from marinduquegov.com
Traveling to the island during the Easter peak season can drive one nuts, but Marinduque greatly rewards your "penitencia" with one-of-a-kind religious revelry, beautiful landscape and gracious people. From: eazytraveler.blogspot.com

A small island province in central Philippines, Marinduque speaks of such profound natural beauty that will not escape the notice of a well seasoned traveller. From: instaurareperomniachristo.blogspot.com

I stayed in Marinduque for almost three weeks. It's a heart-shaped island surrounded by pristine blue waters, beautiful white sand beaches ( in most areas) and marine sanctuaries. I have been told it has one of the most beautiful virgin coral reefs. It is truly such an awesome place. While I was there I've seen so much picturesque views that more than once took my breath away. They were like pictures from National Geographic. From: www.myscrapworks.com/mswdigi/

It is with a heavy heart that I left Marinduque the next morning to go home. I wish to thank all Marinduquenos for their hospitality. Marinduque is for sure one of those places you should see before you die. http://my_sarisari_store.typepad.com/moriones Festival, May 26, 2006

My whole Holy Week experience was utterly engaging and can hardly be forgotten. Leaving the island of Marinduque after a week-long joyful festivities is quite saddening. On the Monday after the Festival, tourists begin to leave and the island become once more a place of simplicity, complacency and beauty. I am thankful to the Marinduquenos for giving me a temporary home away from my true home. Dennisvillegas.blogspot.com/april/2008.

Memories of a nocturnal walk in Boac, June 29, 2008

It was the last night of my week long sojourn to Marinduque. Eight in the evening, I went out of my hotel room to stroll once more the lovely streets of Boac. The evening was peaceful and cool with a lovely soft breeze of wind in the air. This reminded me that I was in one of the most rural places in the Philippines.etc...etc..

The sky was well illuminated with the romantic glow of the moon, creating lovely silhouttes of ancient houses from beyond, dwarfed only by the lowly clouds from above
etc... etc.... It was past midnight when I started back to my hotel room, still photographing street sceneries. Boac indeed is a lovely little town from the olden days, but its evening is even lovelier... Dennisvillegas blogspot.com/, june, 2008.

If it's your first time in Marinduque, do not worry. Almost everyone seems to be a friendly guide. Genuine hospitality is what I like most in this island.
From dongism.blogspot.com

Buenavista and Mt Malindig
Characterized by pristine natural beauty, Marinduque boasts of a wide spectrum of unspoiled beaches, mountain peaks, fabled sulfur springs, limestone caves, cascading waterfalls, fringing reefs, virgin islets and old Churches. From: www.marinduque.gov.ph

Last but not least from www.chateaudumer.com
Are you looking for a perfect and affordable vacation in the sun? Marinduque Island is the place for you! Stay at Chateau Du Mer Beach Resort. All you will hear are the sound of the waves and your heart beat. This will be an experience to remember!!.

Marinduque, Mi Corazon, Mi Amor

Two photographs of Bathala Cave, Santa Cruz (top & middle photos)
Poctoy White Beach and Mt Malindig

This poem was submitted by Reynaldo J. Muhi. Rey is currently the VP of MESA (Marinduquenos of the Eastern Seaboard of America). He is also the Webmaster of the Marinduque International, Inc website, www.marinduqueinternational.org
Rey and Amor and daughters, Melody, Crystal and Jazmyne resides in Colonia, New Jersey. Rey was born in Boac. He has worked for AT & T and Lucent Technologies. He retired after 22 years of combined service for the two companies.










Rey mentioned that his inspirations are: Mother, Corazon, Wife, Amor, and Children:
Melody, Crystal and Jazmyne, Beloved Province, Marinduque and M.I.,Inc.

Thank you Rey for your submission!

Monday, October 20, 2008

Marinduque On My Mind

The first picture is from Amanah, Nature Reserve, an eco-friendly sanctuary of Yong Nieva in Cawit, Boac. The next two photographs were taken from the balcony of the Chateau Du Mer Beach House in Amoingon, Boac, "Sunset at Low Tide"!

Yong (Guillermo Nieva,Jr) Nieva, Macrine's first cousin sent us an e-mail recently to collect articles from Marinduquenos all over the world on their memories about growing up in Marinduque. Eventually, as soon as I received a number of posts, we will published it as book ( not the coffee type book), but as serious reading that stirs the soul and commit our beloved island of Marinduque to memory... in our hearts, in our minds and in our souls! So that even when we look beyond the coast of California across the Pacific, at least we will not be alone, we have company in each other souls! A collection of true "felt stories".

Yong wrote the following Preface for the Proposed Book, "Marinduque on My Mind"

Marinduque is a strange illness. You come and you would go. You think you are leaving, but its the town that gets away from you. You wish you could understand, and yet you keep coming back.

I realized I had a "problem" that I have to deal with; the problem of my relationships to this small island and the areas around it. I therefore decided that someday we can write a book to try to understand what was really happening, that could clarify our feelings, not by thinking descriptively,analytically or rationally.

We must follow the journey to go back in time. Follow a thread, but which one?
It really doesn't matter. We just let ourselves be led by an image; a word, a memory; the trails of ink left by visitors who have been won over and those that have been lost. There's so many indeed!

Here's a short biography of Yong: He is named after his father Guillermo(Will) Sarmiento Nieva,Sr of Boac. He has grown to be known as Yong. After a short stint with Philippine Airlines, in 1980, he got married and lived in San Francisco working for Allstate Insurance for fifteen years. In 1955 he got divorced and moved back to Manila. He is now in the restaurant business. Together with his wife Ivy Syquia Almario, an interior designer, they regularly visit Cawit, Boac starting an "ecologically-correct" family retreat or sanctuary. They named it AMANAH, Nature Reserve.(see first picture above).

Here's a summary of Yong's email to us:

Dear Manang Macrine and Manong Dave'

Greetings! It was a lazy Sunday afternoon today and looking at the photos in my e-mail of my project in Cawit " The Amana", I was struck by the thought of what is it that really beckons me to keep going back to our beloved island, Marinduque.

When I started thinking of words to describe the feeling about Marinduque, all thoughts just came in a rush. It became a virtual "collage-series" of events in my young life. How Papa made it an annual mandate that we spent two weeks of summer with Lola Elving and our aunts, uncles and cousins in Boac. Ah, days of reckless abandon-the treks to the beach, and the jam-sessions at night. How we felt so loved by each and everyone of them, which even to this day we cherish. How even our cousins friends also became our friends. And they remember!

This is not only about us-the children of Guillermo "Will" Nieva of Boac. I then thought, "What about others"? What about those, who like me lived in the States, but still carry Marinduque in their hearts. Maybe if we all share via website, the hi-tech way, to answer the question of what really beckons us to Marinduque. Then together we can solve this strange illness. ( My personal comment: this illness will grow deeper and stronger as we grow older and older).

Surely, the Marinduquenos association all over the US, do not only continue to thrive because of its leaders, but also because if we really look closely, there are many reasons why its members continue to stay in touch. It is a rare gift, if I may say so!

In that Marinduquenos heart, there's still an image- a face of his/her first love, or the first kiss; an incident in his/her young life that forever changed his life; his dreams, his goals, his pains that drove him to become what he/she is now; the emotions felt of being left behind from a good bye; the sound of the rambling jeepney on its way to Balanacan; the scent of coconut oil in early morning hours as you drive the narrow roads; the fear and scampering from the town's idiot or from the town's bully, and why not? the love story of beautiful "Peace Corp" volunteer fell in love and married the handsome local swain! So many essays and narratives to start and follow the "journey". ( Personal Note: I was told the pancit of Choing still reminds some of you of your pleasant childhood memories)

Manong Dave, could you please design a website for this literary project and invite our fellow Marinduquenos there in US to share their thoughts, hearts and feelings in words and so we can solved (or at least understand) this "strange illness" inside each and everyone of us!

My response to Yong: I am excited of this idea. My suggestion is to create a blog site instead of a website. The blog site is easy to manage. This is where articles could be posted and edited. The blog site is free and easy. I could titled it http://marinduqueonmymind.blogspot.com. I will manage it along with my other blogs on the internet. Once we have collected a number of postings, we can published it ourselves via publisher as mypublisher.com

I will volunteer to write an article on " I left my Heart in Marinduque ( not in San Francisco), since I did not grow up in Marinduque but married a marinduquena.

You may write your article via the comment section of this blog or sent your article to my e-mail, tagajaro@comcast.net or to tagaboac@comcast.net. I am looking forward to your submissions.
View of Balanacan Harbor
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