The island of Marinduque has long been known for its Moriones Festival. It is one of the oldest lenten rites in the Philippines where participants wear Moryon (helmet) masks and roam the streets of Marinduque as an act of penitence. During my recent visit to Marinduque, we visited the workshop of one of the known Morion mask makers on the island, Salvador “Buddy” Liwanagan. It was fascinating to witness firsthand how these iconic masks with grimacing Roman faces are made.
If you’ve ever visited the furniture shop Crate and Barrel, chances are, you may have seen these finely crafted placemats, carpets, rugs or even some exquisite living room furniture pieces made from abaca (Manila hemp), rattan or nito. The prices here is a premium and it’s easy to conclude that most of them may be imported. Interestingly, when I visited Camalig, Albay’s Natural Carpet Industries, I was surprised to see Crate and Barrel tags on the newly woven circular abaca placemats inside their 7,300 sq. m. factory. Those US$10 placemats at the shop can be bought here directly for only US$ 3. It just shows that the abaca industry is back in the limelight as one of the main export products of the country and can compete with international brands.