Mogpog Current Events
Marinduque mask maker survives tough times
By Gerald Gene R. Querubin
Southern Luzon Bureau
Last updated 01:40am (Mla time) 04/05/2007
MANILA, Philippines -- Since he was a teenager, Benedicto "Dick" Malapote has been making Morion
masks in Mogpog, Marinduque.

He remembers how, as an elementary student, he would keenly watch the older mask makers in his
community. Not long after, he would give up his high school studies to concentrate on the craft and
develop his skill.

Now 44, Malapote says he "toys with his imagination" to come up with diverse expressions in the faces
of the Morion. As it is the tradition among Moriones participants to scare children, the masks must look
fierce and scary.

Malapote sold his first masks in the the late '70s. Since then, the orders have kept coming. He gets an
average of 60 orders every year, and at one instance, as many as 90. But this year, he only got 20
orders. He attributed the slack to the successive typhoons that dampened business activities.

Mask-making is not only a craft but a way of life as it has become a source of livelihood. "I work hard on
them as they help me provide financial support for my family," Malapote says. The masks are sold at
P3,500-P5,000 each, depending on the materials used and the intricacy of the designs.

Malapote uses santol or dapdap wood for the masks and chicken feathers or horse tails for the
headgear. The feathers come from Divisoria in Manila. "It usually takes me four to six hours to carve the
face and one day to finish the mask, complete with the helmet and headgear but without the paint job,"
says Malapote.

To provide customers design choices, he keeps a supply of carved Morion faces. Orders for his masks
peak before the onset of the Lenten season. But there are still orders in May, usually from visitors who
had attended the previous Moriones Festival.

During the lean months, Malapote resorts to tattoo making.  The mask maker is not afraid of competition.
"I see to it that every year, there are improvements in my masks. I focus more on improved durability and
the masks' uniqueness. Usually, the buyers of my masks join Morion mask contests and end up
winning the top prize. Seeing them win is self-fulfillment for me," Malapote says.

He hopes that the local government will provide financial support to him and fellow makers who lack
Childhood pals remember UN staffer killed in Algeria

By Gerald Gene R. Querubin Inquirer Posted date: December 14, 2007

MOGPOG, Marinduque -- Childhood friends fondly remember Gene (pronounced
Genie) Luna "as a most jolly person."
Luna was the Filipina staffer of the United Nations World Food Program (UN-WFP)
killed in the bombing of the UN headquarters in Algeria Tuesday.

Conchita Leyco is a professor at the Marinduque State College who was Luna's
neighbor, close friend and elementary grade classmate at the Mogpog Central

She remembered Luna as a very friendly person who smiled and laughed a lot.

"She seemed to know everybody as she [used to] greet everyone she sees or
meets," said Leyco. "Gene [was] also a stoic person. She [was] somebody who
[was] not easily affected by problems which is the reason why she ha[d] a jolly

Molly Paredes, another friend, agreed.

"Kapag tumawa siya, halakhak talaga [When she laughed, she really laughed
loud]," Paredes said. "No wonder she was our school's cheerleader."

Leyco also recalled that Luna would always want to role-play to while away their
leisure time.

"We usually play roles and she would always be a nurse or a banker," Leyco said.
These interests, according to Leyco, may have been the reasons why Luna joined
the UN-WFP as a finance officer.

"She was very active in scouting as she was designated as a scout leader," said

"Buo ang loob niya sa mga gagawin. Kung ano gusto niyang gawin ay gagawin niya
[She was confident about her tasks. What she wanted to do she would do]," she

Engineer Joven Morales, a professor at the Marinduque State College and former
president of the Eternal Love and Peace Organization (ELPO), a civic organization
in Mogpog during the 70's and 80's, remembers Luna as one of their most active

"Our organization assists the municipal government and the church with their
projects and Gene [saw] to it that she participate[d] actively in each of our
activities," said Morales.

"She was once ELPO's secretary and board director, and she was very effective in
what she [did]," added Morales.

Rosalinda Nunez, a relative of Luna, said the family is well known in their

Luna was the youngest child of the late Arturo and Carolina Luna, who were both
public elementary school teachers.

Luna's eldest sister, Lilian, is a music teacher based in Manila while her only
brother Arthur works as a nurse overseas.

Nunez said they are still clueless about funeral arrangements because Lilian is still
coordinating with the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) for the repatriation of
Gene’s remains.

"We are, however, looking forward that she will be buried here so that she will be
with her parents," added Nunez.

Since the late ‘80s, only a caretaker has been staying at the Luna family home in
this town.

Luna, 48, died when the third floor of the UN building housing the WFP offices, was
destroyed in a car bombing.

She joined the program as a finance officer in Afghanistan five years ago and was
transferred to Algiers in Algiera only last week, WFP Executive Director Josette
Sheeran said in Rome.

^ Back to top
©Copyright 2001-2007, An Inquirer Company
Gene was a neighbor of ours at Ulong,
having a lot next to ours.  
Inquirer Opinion / Columns

As I See It : Developing Marinduque under a new leadership

By Neal Cruz
Philippine Daily Inquirer

Posted date: January 22, 2008

MANILA, Philippines -- An item in this column last Jan. 14 was about what is
happening in the faraway province of Marinduque, under the governorship of
Jose Antonio “Bong” Carrion. The column bared three criticisms of Carrion’s
administration. I invited the governor to the Kapihan sa Manila media forum last
Monday to answer them point by point. He did and said more, like why he is
being criticized and his plans for his province. Here are the issues raised
against him and his replies:
1. Criticism: In five months, five provincial administrators have been appointed
and have resigned. The family of the sixth, a son of a Supreme Court justice,
fears he may be the latest “sacrificial lamb.”
His answer: Only two administrators were appointed. A third failed to meet the
eligibility requirement. The sixth volunteered because he “wants to help rebuild
Marinduque.” He won’t become a “sacrificial lamb.”
2. Criticism: Carrion authorized the salvage of sunken Japanese World War II
ships off the coast of Marinduque although an ordinance had been passed
declaring it a diving site for tourism purposes.
Answer: All false. There is no authorization from me to salvage the ships, no
records that I did, no ordinance, no law against recovery of sunken vessels.
They will be preserved for divers.
3. Criticism: The governor wants to buy P110 million worth of brand new road
maintenance equipment and is borrowing the money from LandBank. How is he
going to repay that?
Answer: One reason Marinduque is underdeveloped and its people are poor is
the lack of and the substandard provincial and farm-to-market roads. The
Department of Public Works and Highways builds and maintains only the
national roads. The second-hand equipment bought by the Reyes provincial
administration for the same amount broke down after only three months. We
are buying, at the same cost, brand-new equipment. These will build more
roads and maintain existing ones to help develop the province faster and at less
cost to the province. Development will mean more jobs and income for the
people. The province will repay the loan from its income and savings.
* * *
Carrion said the criticisms against his administration are only caused by politics
and he blamed Rep. Carmencita Reyes for them. Her family, who has ruled
Marinduque for four decades, does not want anybody else to run the province.
But what have they done for the province during all those years? he asked
rhetorically. Marinduque is still a fourth-class province.
“Congresswoman Reyes calls herself the ‘Queen of Marinduque,’” he said, “but
I am now the king.”
Carrion said he decided to run for governor only recently (his grandfather was
the first governor of Marinduque) because he saw that under the Reyeses the
province would remain poor. He mentioned many ghost projects under the
Reyes administrations, like the infamous “mango plantation scandal.”
Then he unveiled his plans and program of government. His projects, he said,
center on tourism, livelihood, health, education, infrastructure, cooperatives.
Marinduque is already a tourist attraction during Holy Week when tourists flock
to its Moriones Festival. It has many beaches with white sand and it has five
smaller outlying islands that can be developed into other “Boracays.” The
original, by the way, is already overcrowded. What’s more, Marinduque is
closer to Manila.
But it is hard to go to Marinduque during other times of the year because its
airport is small. It has a Ro-Ro (roll-on, roll-off) port, but tourists from Manila
first have to go overland to Quezon then take the Ro-Ro boat to Marinduque.
What Carrion did during his first term was to lengthen the airport runway to be
able to accommodate jetliners. He hopes it will be finished before the Holy
Week rush. The province will also have a tourist festival during its founding
anniversary next month. And yes, Marinduque still has forests which it is
reserving for tourists, not for loggers.
Besides the provincial and farm-to-market roads, there will be a coastal
highway around the whole province.
The main sources of livelihood in Marinduque are coconut farming and fishing.
Carrion is adding to them livestock-raising, mainly hybrid goats and cattle to
graze among the coconut groves, hogs and poultry.
Do you know that Marinduque is now the main source of lechon de leche for
Manila’s tables? Yes, Marinduquenos are raising the piglets that are shipped to
Manila to be roasted into the delicious “lechon de leche.”
The governor is encouraging the planting of bamboo and the use of coconut by-
products for handicrafts. He has organized a number of cooperatives.
Marinduque is already well-known for its “araro,” a sweet snack made of rice,
corn, sugar and coconut. The people are now learning to make virgin coconut oil.
For fishing, the province is giving out loans so the fishermen can build more and
bigger fishing boats. It is planning to allow fish pens and fish cages in the bays
and coves.
There will be more health centers and schools. Marinduque already teaches
grade-school kids how to use computers.
With all these projects that should help develop the province and improve the
lives of the people, why do the Reyeses still criticize the provincial government?
Carrion asked. Why don’t they pitch in and help their province mates?
Yes, why not?
* * *