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Marble/Marbleized Limestone: Industry Overview

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I. Overview

History of the Industry

During the last century, travelers had already made reference to marble and stone in the Philippines Sir John Bowring in 1859 once commented: "Finely variegated marbles exist in the province of Bulacan, and some have been used for ornamenting the churches but their existence has excited little attention.. . ". He also said: " On the Quingua from Baliuag up to its stream, we passed several quarries where we saw the thickly packed strata of volcanic stone which is used as building material."

Spanish "conquistadores" utilized Romblon marble in churches for the altar, fonts, flooring and the like six holy-water fonts in San Sebastian Church, Manila bear an inscription showing their Romblon provenance. Philippine marble became synonymous with Romblon, at least for local uses. However, during the last century, stone architecture had not been fully developed in the Philippines.

The first impetus given to local marble exploitation was after World War II when memorial stones were required by the Rattle Monuments Commission This was followed hv the development of the Antipolo-Teresa deposits with its proximity to the main market, Manila and the establishment of the cement industry in Bulacan which led to the opening of the marble quarries in the area In the last decade, mineral exploration gained momentum and the presence of marble deposits were reported from a number of areas.

Mai hie was first exported in 1061 \o Guam and Hong Kong. Presently, most of our marble exports arc in the form of worked marble, specifically marble slabs and tiles (polished, semi-polished or unpolished) The rest arc unworked marble in the form of blocks marble chips, dust or powder and marble novelties.

Product Description

Marble is a metamorphosed limestone found in many localities in thick and extensive beds. It is a crystalline rock composed of grains of calcite, or more rarely, dolomite. It may be specifically described as a re-crystallized calcareous rock with high or low degree of impurities Some deposits of marble are composed entirely of silica and silicate materials, iron oxide, and sulfide minerals and organic matter. The individual grains may be so small that they cannot be distinguished by the eye. or may be coarse and show clearly the characteristic calcite cleavage Marble is generally tougher than most limestone as the grains of calcite in the latter are usually less firmly cemented Like limestone, marble is characterized by its softness and its effervescence with acids. When pure, marble is white in color but it may show a wide range of colors due to various impurities that it contains Iron oxide may impart colors of tan, red or brown. Carbonaceous matter causes a gray to black color

Simply stated, marble is any calcareous rock produced by nature that is capable of taking a good polish Thus, commercial marble includes some limestone.

Product Classification

The Philippine marble stones are classified under the following categories:

PSCC 661.36-01 (Revised) Marble tiles and slabs
PSCC 273.12-01 Marble and travertine, merely cut, by sawing orotherwise, into blocks or slabs of a square or rectangular shape
PSCC 661.36-09 Marble, travertine and alabaster and articles thereof, molded, turned, polished, decorated, carved or otherwise worked, n.e.s
PSCC 661.36-01 Granules, chippings and powder of marble, whether or not heat-treated
PSCC 661.32-01 Marbles, worked
STIC 661.32 (Rev 2) Buildings and monumental stone, worked and articles thereof O/T goods in heading 661.31 or group 662
STIC 661.34(Rev3) Marble, travertine and alabaster and articlesthereof, simply cut or sawn, with a flat or even surface


Product Substitutes

Several materials which have common uses similar to those of marble tiles and slabs include granolithic, vinyl, ceramic and cement tiles, mactan stones and the like and parquet.

Comparative prices of other construction materials vis-a vis the marble tiles reveal that granolithic and ceramic tiles are more expensive than the commonly-bought marble varieties (Bulacan and Romblon marble). Parquet flooring and vinyl tiles meanwhile are valued at much lower prices than marble while cement tiles and mactan stones are sold at about the same rate as the ordinary marble. Generally speaking, marble, per se, can be less expensive that the other construction materials However, the cost of installation makes it appear to be the most expensive

Perhaps the real competitor of marble is marble itself Depending on variety, availability and usage, one could easily substitute a certain marble type for another of a similar color.

Product Standards

Marble is a product of nature and is not always subject to the standards of uniformity and consistency that apply to manufactured building materials.

For the selection of marble for a particular construction, two groups of properties are important: the functional and aesthetic qualities. The functional properties refer to the qualities of marble that determine its structural soundness. These properties include hardness, elasticity (in relation to the amount of pressure the marble could withstand without buckling) and porosity. Porosity becomes especially significant in damp climates because the absorption of water drives out the minerals in the stone and can be lead to unattractive discoloration.

Marble Deposits

A raw estimate of Philippine marble ore reserves indicates the presence of 6.7 Billion tons of marble and limestone deposit. Out of the 17 provinces where marble maybe found, active quarry operations has mainly centered in Bulacan for the past 25 years. About 70% of marble blocks used as raw materials by industrial marble exporters ali over the country arc sourced mainly in Bulacan, either from Meycauayan City, San lldefonso, San Rafael, Dona Remedios Trinidad, San Miguel, Norzagaray and San Jose del Monte City. These areas have been proven to be good source of deposits with famous colors such as tea rose and the capistrano beige.

A total number of 80 deposits were identified and inventoried under the geological survey component of the EC-sponsored project for the marble industry. The highest concentration of good deposits was found in Bulacan and Romblon.

Marble Exports and Performance

Philippine marble export are classified as worked and unworked. The ratio of volume between these 2 categories is 4:1 in favor of unworked.

Worked marble includes tiles, slabs, countertops, other special works and novelty items Unworked marble covers blocks, granules and chips.

The industry showed a strong export growth in 1986-90 with an average rate of 24%. It registered negative growth from 1992 onwards with -12%, -8.21% and -1% respectively. These industry "temporary" setbacks were caused by the transition period of devolution of permits due to implementation of Local Government Code and the proclamation/declaration establishing the Biak-na Bato area as National Park and Mineral Reservation in April 1989.

In terms of volume, Philippine exports of marble grew by 37% from 56,618 MT in 1994 to 77,694 MT in 1995.

II. Prospects Of The Industry

In 1993, the DTI has developed the Medium Term-Philippine Export Development Plan (MT-PEDP). The five-year plan contains detailed strategies for enhancing export growth. Through market diversification, further tariff liberalization, improved infrastructure, product development and stable macroeconomic policies, the Government intends to achieve export growth rates of more than 18% annually in this period.

Under this plan, fourteen "export winners" were chosen from among 154 promotable products on the basis of these criteria: high worldwide potential, less sensitivity to protectionist measures of importing countries and minimum requirements for efficient infrastructure, production capability and high skilled labor.

Marble has been identified as one of the 14 export winners. As such, it is expected to contribute significantly in achieving the country's target of US $ 28B by 1998, to account for 30.4% of GNP.

To realize this goal, the government has paved the way toward a conducive export environment by providing an integrated support mechanisms that will address major concerns of the industry. This support mechanisms should help fast-track and sustain export growth and enable the export winners, such as Marble, to achieve specific targets Assistance is provided to high growth potential export products that have shown sustained growth. The marble industry's target by 1998 is US $ 80M, growing at a projected rate of 50% per annum.

The prospects for the marble industry had always been bright and rosy. Philippine share in world market is projected to increase from 1% in 1992 to 4.5% in 1998 and export earnings from US$10M in 1992 to US$ 150 M by 1998.

Total production is expected to increase from 300,000MT in 1993 to 450,000 MT in 1998 or 50% increase.

Competitive Advantage
  • Quality and color of marble
  • Finish
  • Hardness of the stone
© 2007 Provincial Government of Bulacan, Philippines. Developed by the Provincial Information Technology Office.
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