Leader Extraordinaire of Marinduque
I have known Tita Carmencita most of my life, from the time I would be brought to her house in Dasmariñas to be tutored in Mandarin by Miss Chang alongside Edmundito (son of Tita Carmencita) to the more recent semi-annual family soirees that feature a variety of musical talent in the Ongsiaco clan--not to mention the non-stop feast of gastronomical delights from noon until the wee hours of the morning. I look forward to these gatherings because it's a chance to touch base with a side of my family that we didn't have much of a chance to interact with when we were kids. This is the side of my paternal grandmother, Caridad Ongsiaco Gallego, who loved me dearly. I sensed that even as a young boy. Although Lola Ego passed away too soon, she probably would have spoiled me rotten if she had lived longer.
I just returned from Marinduque, after spending Holy Week with Nanay Carmencita (that is how she is known in Marinduque). Lo and behold a different side of Tita Carmencita--brimming with purpose, energy and passion for her beloved Marinduque. She is the first to wake and the last to sleep, tirelessly tending to the affairs of the province. Reviewing, selecting and approving her new scholars, strategizing with her local leaders for the upcoming elections, religiously attending the events of the Moriones Festival (no mean feat), guiding her daughter (Yes na Yes, Ate Gina Reyes!) who is running for her first term in Congress, cajoling Dodong Mandanas (Gina's husband and Congressman of Batangas) to abandon Batangas altogether and devote full-time to Marinduque, cooking-up a new musical jingle for the province (Sige Marinduque!), declaiming a poem of her love (the late Edmundo Reyes, who hails from Marinduque) and life, even prioritizing the delivery of fuel to the power plant of the province. These were just some of the things I observed from a distance . . . and she still had the time and energy to share her stories about the individuals that touched her life and those she touched in return. In her speech at the first election rally in Gasan on Easter Sunday, Nanay Carmencita declared (in her poetic Tagalog style) that she would weather the worst storms and, through thunder and lighting, expend all her energies up to the last beat of her heart to serve the province of Marinduque. Everyone believed and rightfully so.
I was one of a privileged few to reside at the beachfront home of Tita Carmencita in Lupac, Boac, Marinduque during Holy Week (2013). Our hostess with the mostess, Violet (daughter of Tita Carmencita), spared nothing to ensure our comfort and enjoyment. Just as we were wrapping-up our traditional Filipino breakfast of danggit (among other salted fish), tocino and longganisa with sinangag and fried eggs, lunch would be served. The legendary crispy pata and inihaw na native "vegetarian" baboy were worthy of their reputation . . . and the kinilaw na tapulok (Marinduque's version of tawilis of Taal Lake) is the best kinilaw na isda I have ever tasted hands down--no contest! Violet arranged a variety of fun and meaningful excursions for all of the guests, including scuba diving, kayaking, spelunking, trekking, swimming (at the falls), our day trip to Isla Natangko, visita iglesia and, of course, the evening performances at the Boac Amphitheater, including the Senakula and the Pugutan ni Longhino. Our experience in Marinduque was complete when we attended the election campaign motorcade and rally of Nanay Carmencita and Ate Gina in Gasan. All I could think of was . . . how foolish anyone would be to consider any other candidates. Ours was a Holy Week vacation with a few friends and family members reminiscent of an earlier, more gracious era, made possible only by Violet.
Many thanks to Tita Carmencita, Violet and Gina for all the priceless memories in Marinduque and for another glimpse of my Lola Ego, who also loved deeply and passionately.
Pugutan in Longhino, Moriones Festival, Mogpog, Marinduque, Easter Sunday, 2013
Perhaps the most dramatic and anticipated scenes in the Moriones Festival are the hanging of Judas and the beheading of Longinus. Appropriate punishments for criminals of heinous crimes, including plunder. Yet, former president GMA, in an effort to salvage her sagging popularity, cajoled Congress to scrap the death penalty. As a result, law abiding tax payers like myself are forced to subsidize the lifelong sustenance of the worst criminals that should be eradicated like cockroaches or, for that matter, have to suffer the political shenanigans of convicted plunderers like Erap. Let's give back what the people really want. Reinstate capital punishment retroactively (it should not have been scrapped in the first place) and eliminate the leeches of our society.
My dive log in Poctoy White Sand Beach