Wednesday, September 7, 2011

MARINDUQUE: Journey to the Center of the Philippines

Marinduque has been identified in recent years as the geodetic center of the Philippines, being the site of Datum Station Balanacan, the origin of Luzon Datum of 1911, mother of all datums in the country. The root of various expressions of Tagalog culture, traditions, indigenous arts, including the language that originated here and evolved into today's modern national forms, could be found in Marinduque.

In its long and colorful history, this island-province that measures 959 sq.km. became part of Batangas, Mindoro, and Tayabas (now Quezon). By the 1920s an act separating Marinduque from Tayabas laid the basis for the island-province's existence as a separate province, celebrated on February 21st as "Araw ng Marinduque".

Marinduque is known for the colorful Lenten pageant, Moriones Festival, and for the fierce patriotism displayed by the revolutionary soldiers during the Philippine-American War in the Battle of Pulang Lupa and Battle of Paye, both commemorated annually.

Coconut production and fishing remain as Marinduque's major industries. Livestock and poultry continue to be raised by local farmers alongside production of rice and crops like bananas, rootcrops and mangoes. In support of its tourism industry new entrepreneurial products like buntal handlooms, arrowroot flour and cookies, diverse softwood items, nito vine wares, virgin coconut-oil, fish paste and butterfly by-products are steadily finding their way into the export market.

Tourism

Today, the development of Marinduque and its outlying islands, as a major tourist destination in south Luzon is being pursued by the local government units and the private sector. CNN International has named Marinduque as a new tourism hotspot in Asia, with the launching of Bellarocca Island Resort and Spa, alongside eco-tourism development efforts undertaken by the local governments. International tourism watchers like The Western Australian and Elle Canada listed Marinduque on the No. 2 spot as "one of world’s top islands” in January this year, 2011.

Airport rehabilitation, ports improvement and better road infrastructure are now being pursued vigorously. Marinduque is classified as a 4th Class province, trailing behind the other MIMAROPA (acronym for Mindoro, Marinduque, Romblon and Palawan), regional group of island-provinces in terms of poverty incidence.

Marinduque has a population of 229,636 (as of August 1, 2007), inhabiting six municipalities, namely, Boac, the capital, Buenavista, Gasan, Mogpog, Sta. Cruz and Torrijos.