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How I bungled my first TV interview (FILIPINO eSCRIBBLES’ 5th anniversary special)

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Last night aired my first TV guesting in ABS-CBN News Channel’s Shop Talk (hosted by Ría Tanjuatco-Trillo). The episode was about building a powerful brand for one’s products, business, or ideas even (as in my case, maybe). I felt I was miscast because I was the only non-entrepreneur who was there, and one of them is even a renowned marketing guru. Besides, the program itself is all about entrepreneurship, financial talk, and the like.

The last time I remember talking about money in front of a mirror, the mirror shattered into pieces, and my wallet animated itself and mockingly hurled a shard of glass right to my face.

Anyway, I was invited on account of my being a historian (don’t forget the “oh joy” part) and my death-defyingly spiritual blog FILIPINO eSCRIBBLES (now on its fifth year!). The day before the interview was taped on June 13, I was already informed of the topic. I thought the interview was going to be a breeze upon learning that five of us were to be interviewed and not just me, so I did not prepare that much. In fact, I even enjoyed my night shift on the eve of the interview instead of taking a leave. So when my big day arrived, I felt like a clueless zombie, knees jerking helplessly while trying to endure the bitter cold of ABS-CBN Studio 6.

Ría and her guests before the taping. Right to left: the Filipino eScribbler, Steffi Santana, Neil Felipp San Pedro, Amor Maclang and her friend. Not in photo is Kish Javier of Kartwheel Creations. For the complete photo album, click here.

Me and my wife weren’t able to watch the airing last night, no thanks to Typhoon Glenda and Meralco’s unholy alliance. But to be honest, I’m really not that excited to see myself on Cable TV. There’s no sourgraping here because I feel that I’ve made a complete fool out of myself talking about Lapu-Lapu and Padre Dámaso, haha. And I can still remember how Ría asked me on what advice I could give to aspiring historians; I think I responded with “one should be focused” or something. A big LOL to that. Because I should have said “one has to be as awesome as Pepe Alas”, or something to that effect (as I’ve said before, I do not have that spontaneity in me). Yeah. Excuses, excuses.

But as what many people have already experienced before me, there was that irritating feeling of regret of not having accomplished or said what should have really been accomplished or said after being given a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. That episode was all about “branding”, but I feel that I wasn’t able to contribute much to that topic on how I really branded myself as an online historian.

The fact of the matter is, and after giving much thought about the episode’s topic regarding branding, I am not a historian per se (I’m sure many bigshot historians who saw last night’s episode would have ignobly snorted at me). Well, yeah, I do write about Philippine History most of the time, but I write about it not purely out of being a history buff but with the sole purpose, intention, or advocacy of bringing back to the fore our authentic national identity — La Identidad Filipina.

That, I think, is my “brand” as an online historian. Something I failed to tell Ría and her audience. Something that I regret now. But I have to thank her and her staff for inadvertently helping me figure out my brand.

Yours truly with ANC Shop Talk’s Ms. Ría Tanjuatco-Trillo.

 

I’ll be posting a video of that interview once it is already available. Until then, I’ll continue my pursuit of happiness at 35¡Hasta la vista!

Captain America is anti-American

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Now that the worldwide screening of Captain America: The Winter Soldier is finally over, I deem it’s time to write about it, as I do not wish this blogpost to be tagged as a movie review of the said blockbuster film.

As a nationalist, I have long been aware of the economic harms of patronizing foreign products, particularly those from the United States of Uh-Me-Rica. But I have to apologize this early, because if there’s any stateside produce that I cannot resist, it’s gotta be those from Marvel Comics, especially its current incarnation on the silver screen: Marvel Studios. I grew up with it. And that’s probably a safe excuse. :D

Hollywood movies coming out from Marvel Studios (but only those from its senses-boggling Marvel Cinematic Universe franchise) are the only films that me and my family watch in theaters. I have to admit that I’m a Marvel Comics fanboy. I’ve been hooked into it since my elementary years. Well-known hobbyist and cosplay celebrity Glenmarc “Flash” Antonio, a childhood classmate of mine for many years, was the who introduced me to the world of Stan Lee’s “Make Mine Marvel” universe of interestingly disturbed, troubled, and oftentimes melodramatic “superheroes and supervillains in the real world”, characters that are deliciously three-dimensional (or even four-dimensional, if you’d classify philosophic Adam Warlock and those creepy worshippers at the Universal Church of Truth that way). It was Flash who first explained to me that the ever famous Spider-Man who most kids back then knew existed only on cartoon shows was actually a Marvel Comics character, and arguably the face of the company. Flash also introduced me to the actual comics, who Stan Lee was, the concept and definition of mutants, etc. At school, all the boys were collecting Marvel Comics trading cards. It was through those cards where I got acquainted with both major and minor characters of the Marvel Comics Universe. But I took fancy on one character only: Frank Castle, better known as The Punisher. I got curious with the guy coz he’s basically an ordinary fellow with no superpowers shooting down the bad guys, and he gets the job done the old-fashioned way: blood, sweat, and teeth (literally). A little later, I bought my very first Marvel comic book: a copy of The Punisher: War Zone. Since then, my love affair with Marvel Comics, most especially with Frank Castle’s vigilante capers, never subsided, even now that I have many children.

Fast forward to today: Marvel Comics seems to be already done publishing monthly issues of its famous characters. And I’m no longer a comic book collector (but still a fan at heart). Marvel Comics has already morphed into a huge money-making machine using the silver screen as a medium, and film-making appears to be their main focus. Their concept of establishing a shared universe called the Marvel Cinematic Universe was virtually unheard of in Hollywood, and has been a huge hit not only to comic book fans but to the general movie-going public as well. I myself have been hooked to it to the point of checking out the Internet every so often just get hold of the latest updates (Kevin Feige, if you’re reading this: please bring back Frank Castle and have him mingle with The Avengers or S.H.I.E.L.D.!).

Among all the films in the said franchise, Captain America: The Winter Soldier, stands out from the rest. The unique story telling, its game-changing plot, superb acting (the character development is a surprise additive), and the paucity of CGI usage in its breathtaking action scenes are all in sync with each other, and the awesome electronically inspired soundtrack, with its rhythm and tune almost in perfect synchrony to each reel, kinda wraps them all up altogether into one precious movie material, very fitting indeed to reap Academy Award nominations (my eyes might just pop out in pure disappointment if it does not receive even the most minor nomination). So yeah, I am not ashamed to declare that Captain America: The Winter Soldier has become one of my favorite films (The Punisher: War Zone — please move over). I’m even thinking of joining Flash in a cosplay event dressed up as The Winter Soldier who is now my second favorite Marvel character. But I have to beef up, of course. :D

Captain America: The Winter Soldier takes place two years after the events of The Avengers. In the movie, we see Captain America/Steve Rogers (played by Chris Evans) trying to adjust himself to a contemporary world after being frozen for almost 70 years. We Marvel fans know that Cap’s from another time. He’s a World War II veteran who bloomed from springtide during The Naughty Forties, when good ‘ol Americans were dancing to Swing music. People back then were frolicking about in butterfly and banjo sleeves, man-made fibres, and tuxedoes. The ladies styled their hair in elaborate rolls and curls. And Ernest Hemingway published his most famous novel, “For Whom The Bell Tolls”. It was an era when Betty Boop and Kilroy entertained people, when movie fans were thrilled and moved by flicks such as “Rebecca” and “How Green Was My Valley“, and kids were already contented with the Slinky. Although world peace was hinged on the backs of freedom fighters, it was still a livable world filled with manners and genteel men and refined ladies. Captain America compared his era to modern times in few but succinct words: “Well, things aren’t so bad. Food’s a lot better, we used to boil everything. No polio is good. Internet, so helpful. I’ve been reading that a lot trying to catch up.” From his words, we catch a glimpse of how modest life was during his day, but without any tone of regret.

Later on, the movie brilliantly alludes to a “new” America, an America that is modern but not so beautiful from within. An America that has gone corrupt. This was better explained in a scene where we see Cap with S.H.I.E.L.D.’s Nick Fury (played by Samuel L. Jackson) inside one of the espionage agency’s high-tech elevators:

NICK FURY: My grandfather operated one of these things for forty years. My granddad worked in a nice building, he got good tips. He’d walk home every night, roll o’ ones stuffed in his lunch bag. He’d say “Hi”, people would say hi back. Time went on, neighborhood got rougher. He’d say “Hi”, they’d say, “Keep on steppin’”. Granddad got to grippin’ that lunch bag a little tighter.
STEVE ROGERS: Did he ever get mugged?
NICK FURY: Every week some punk would say, “What’s in the bag?”
STEVE ROGERS: Well, what did he do?
NICK FURY: He’d show ‘em. A bunch of crumpled ones, and a loaded 0.22 Magnum. Granddad loved people. But he didn’t trust them very much.

I imagined myself a US guy, then I watched this scene again — it hurt me a lot.

We Filipinos, having been brought up in an Americanized system of education, have this universal idea that Americans are a freedom-loving people, champions of democracy and civil rights, of equality and manifest destiny, of rightness and righteousness. Benevolence even. Without a doubt, these are just some of the values that the Founding Fathers of the United States of America would have wanted their people and their descendants ingrained in their hears and minds. Do they still display these values? Does the rest of the world still see these noble values in good ‘ol Uncle Sam? Even Captain America himself doesn’t think so anymore. In The Avengers, we heard him complain to Fury: “I wake up, they say we won. They didn’t say what we lost”. In Captain America: The Winter Soldier, he visited his now nonagenarian love interest from the 1940s, Peggy Carter (Hayley Atwell), and we now hear the tone of unhapiness that was absent from him at the start of the film:

STEVE ROGERS: For as long as I can remember I just wanted to do what was right. I guess I’m not quite sure what that is anymore. And I thought I could throw myself back in and follow orders, serve… it’s just not the same.
PEGGY CARTER: You’re always so dramatic. Look, you saved the world. We rather…mucked it up.
STEVE ROGERS: You didn’t. Knowing that you helped found S.H.I.E.L.D. is half the reason I stay.

Peggy ended the conversation on a much gloomier note: “The world has changed, and none of us can go back. All we can do is our best, and sometimes the best that we can do is to start over.”

Captain America is the embodiment of everything that is not American today: a man who proudly displays the seemingly long-lost American principles of freedom, truth, equality, and justice. From a frozen past, he brought them all back to the fore. Surprisingly, these principles have no room for his current “employer” which is S.H.I.E.L.D. And this reality was made more evident when Cap found out that the agency’s “Project Insight” was meant to “punish” algorithmically selected people before a crime even happens. So now we see traces of that unpopular US anti-terrorism here (and that, in a way, S.H.I.E.L.D. alludes to contemporary US government). Of course, by now fans are already aware that S.H.I.E.L.D. has been infiltrated and corrupted by Hydra. But near the end of the film, Captain America decided to do away with both groups instead of salvaging whatever good that might still be left.

Does this imply that there is some sort of a “Hydra” within the confines of Washington? Because I’m sure that if Captain America were not fiction, he would have surely opposed his own government’s policies (atrocities?) against Vietnam, North Korea, Venezuela, Iraq, Afghanistan, and even China.

Heck, he would have even cursed like mad if he learned what his country did (and is still doing) to ours.

To those MORONS who wanted to kill me: molotov cocktails are supposed to be hurled!

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A few minutes before nine in the morning, our nextdoor neighbor told me that two improvised bombs were found near the entrance to our apartment. The first one was already lit up when the “barangay tanod” arrived. Good thing it was drizzling, so the bottles got drenched. The bombs were then taken by our barangay tanods to their office.

Upon hearing this, the death threats that my family received from Eugenio Ynión, Jr. and his brother Rommel came to mind in an instant. Could it have been their men who had those bombs planted? I’m not the type who immediately draws up a careless conclusion, so I had to make sure. I immediately went to our barrio hall to investigate.

It turned out that those improvised bombs were molotov cocktails. They were actually found in front of our neighbor’s front gate, right beside our apartment entrance where I usually drop off from a trike ride.

Popularly known in our country as molotov bombs, these are homemade incendiary weapons consisting of a glass bottle filled with flammable liquid, usually gasoline or alcohol (either methanol or ethanol). The mouth of the bottle is tightly sealed with a cork or other type of airtight bung (rubber, glass, or plastic). A cloth rag is then fixed securely around the mouth. The bottle is used by first soaking the rag in a flammable liquid immediately prior to using it. Upon lighting the rag, the bottle can then be hurled towards the target. The bottle then shatters on impact, throwing away shards of glass and spilling the flammable liquid over the target which is then ignited by the burning rag. The result: street pandemonium.

These were the molotov bombs that were recovered near the entrance to our apartment. And no, they’re not cherry flavored.

 

The molotov cocktail was named after Soviet foreign minister Vyacheslav Molotov (1890-1986), not really to honor him but to spite his name. Today, the molotov is a “favorite” weapon during violent mass protests and gang wars.

But our neighborhood is not known for gang wars. No mass protests ever occur here. Our community is an untidy neighborhood, unkempt, and noisy because of hulking vehicles sharing a very small barrio road. Truly, a terrible place for a writer. Nevertheless, our place is a peaceful community where everybody knows everyone. Nobody here has a serious dispute with anyone within or without our community. And to top it all, this molotov incident is a first, at least in our barrio.

After filing a report to our barangay hall, I was escorted by the police and some tanod folks who recovered the deadly bottles to our local police station to personally present them to Superintendent Fernando Ortega who was already waiting for us. On our way to the station, we passed by our place again to investigate further. Reaching our place, I then asked some neighbors who were there if they had any dispute with other people. They confirmed to me that virtually nobody in our vicinity had a dispute with anyone. Nobody… except me. :-)

I really couldn’t think of anyone else who is capable of doing me and my family harm. The Ynión Brothers, especially “Kapitan” Eugenio, are the only enemies I know. And if my suspicions are correct that it was really them, did they intentionally leave those bottles just to intimidate us? Or they hired pure buffoons who failed to get the job done?

So to the morons who want me killed, a piece of advice: the next time you use a molotov cocktail, hurl it towards me and don’t just leave it exposed to the elements. It’s not a weapon to intimidate — it’s a weapon. Idiotas.

Our policemen should “pound the beat” once more

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Several mornings ago, I stumbled upon the long-running TV/radio program Failón Ñgayón and heard its indefatigable host, Ted Failón, ranting about the problematic crime situation in Quezon City. He was criticizing the Philippine National Police’s initiative in encouraging the citizenry to participate in crime reporting. Failón thought it was ridiculous. Instead of spurring civilians to do some crime reporting, the PNP instead should do a massive crime prevention.

“Crime prevention, not crime reporting!”, cried Failón.

His statement made sense. You see, many decades ago, petty crimes, particularly in Manila, almost never stood a chance to thrive even in the murkiest of alleys. This is because of an effective police strategy in crime prevention. Former Manila Mayor Alfredo Lim who was a renowned crime fighter himself has a term for it. It’s called “pounding the beat”. In his biography May Langit Din Ang Mahirap: The Life Story of Alfredo Siojo Lim written by the late National Artist Nick Joaquín, Mayor Lim related how this scheme worked out, and how effective it really was:

“‘In my time, if you were given a beat, you pounded that beat on foot. You had to walk every inch of it. You were given block to cover. Let us imagine a block as a grid of criss-crossing streets. You began your beat, say, at the southern part outermost street. You walked it from one end to the other where you made a U-turn into the next street, which again you walked from end to end, U-turning into the third street and so on. Now, how long it would take a patrolman to walk from the southern outermost street had already been exactly timed. Say it had been checked that your assigned block would take a full hour to walk from one end to the other. So, if you arrived at the northern outermost street in very much less than an hour, you could be accused of skipping several streets on your beat. Or if you arrive at the northern outermost street in very much more than an hour, you could be suspected of having abandoned your post for half an hour or so. And the suspicions could be verified because a supervising patrol sergeant, unseen by you, was monitoring your every step and was supposed to know every moment where exactly you were.’

“That was the old way of pounding the beat and it ensured that at any moment, day or night, you would beet a policeman on any street in Manila. But Edo Lim knows —and regrets— that there is no longer any such pounding of the beat. The patrolman now does his thing seated —at the outpost, or in a patrol car— and the walkie-talkie does his walking for him.

“‘I pounded the beat in San Nicolás for over a year.’”

Annoyingly, this strategy is no longer in use. Rarely do you see a cop monitoring your neighborhood streets on foot. You’ll find them either inside their patrol cars or in the confines of their precincts, giving many the impression that they are simply waiting for a crime to be reported to them instead of them preventing it to happen. Because the usual scenario is this: they respond only after a crime has been done, only upon receipt of a complaint or report from frightened (or, God forbid, injured) civilians.

Why oh why has this pounding the beat been discontinued? Columnist Ramón Tulfo observed that today’s policemen are too proud to even walk on foot.

“Most police noncommissioned officers, especially the new ones, think that their college diploma places them on the same level as their superiors,” Tulfo complained. “What did he go to college for if he does jobs he considers menial? That’s the mentality of the ordinary policeman, especially the new ones.”

But when you read Mayor Lim’s biography (published in 1998, it was the first Nick Joaquín book I ever bought), it will prove Tulfo wrong. Mayor Lim himself had a college education. He graduated at the Far Eastern University with a degree of Business Administration. And not just him but his contemporaries as well. And all of them rookies pounded the beat.

But there should be no more explanations. Action must be taken, period. Failón is right: crime prevention is the key. So long as we ordinary civilians do not receive the protection and security that we deserve, we will always be at the mercy of not just petty criminals but those bigger sharks in power.

No wonder me and my family received audacious death threats on Facebook from politicians Eugenio Ynión, Jr. and his brother Rommel. Because they, and people like them, are already confident that the PNP has lost its nerve a long time ago, that they can easily escape (or perhaps pay) the law anytime. The Brothers Ynión can simply pay a goon or two to gun us down in the streets, or kidnap us, or whatever. And with no patrolmen pounding the beat, how could we hapless taxpaying citizens even feel safe in our very own turf, our country, where we are supposed to feel at home more than anywhere else in the world?

Of course our only hope right now is PNP Chief Alan Purísima. Before his term ends, here’s hoping that he leaves a lasting impression, a legacy, not just for himself and for the Filipino people but for the very institution —already tarnished with an ill-disposed reputation— to which he dedicated most of his life.

The police should pound that beat once more. Besides, it’s good exercise, too.

Friendly advice: when you’re fuming mad, stay away from social media

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That’s one lesson I learned… the hard way. And embarrassingly, too.

Two Sundays ago, just a few minutes before going to late afternoon Mass in Barrio Landayan, I was engaged in a filthy word war with a troll account in Twitter (yeah, I know… not a spiritual way to prepare for Mass, mea culpa). The troll account is a supporter of Barrio San Antonio Chairman Eugenio Ynión, Jr., the man who sent me a death threat last summer, and a rabid hater of Mayor Lourdes Catáquiz and her husband, former Mayor Calixto Catáquiz.

The troll account won the word war simply because I fed its trolling. We are reminded of that well-known online adage: don’t feed the troll. But in a rage, I completely forgot all about it. The troll account I was up against is an expert roaster, a veteran even (in real life, this troll —whose identity is not a secret among San Pedrense netizens— is actually already a veteran, agewise). And since my family was hurrying me up to get dressed and my mind was blackened with spite, my replies got too clumsy, giving the troll account  the upper hand. Boy, did it give me some serious a$s-whooping.

I have joined a couple of online forums even before social media became in vogue. The forums that I join usually engage in topics which tackle Philippine History and other related subjects (my forte, I’d like to think). Throughout the years of my online existence, I’ve been a commenter, an observer, a moderator, and even a troll myself, haha. Whenever I am engaged in a heated real-time or live debate, and I am already on the verge of losing my cool, the opponent more often than not gets the better of me. Yes, I confess that I am a slow thinker.

But when I think slowly, I think surely.

Anyway, I already noticed this turtle-paced mental process of mine way back in college when my alma mater, mistakenly thinking that they have at last discovered a new JB Lazarte, entered me in an impromptu essay writing contest. When the topic was revealed, and the moment the timer started ticking, all the contestants were already jotting hurriedly. Me? I was paralyzed with anxiety, sweating profusely on my seat, helplessly watching the rest scribble it out like there’s no tomorrow. Nothing came out from my ink because that tension-filled moment was squeezing my brain. I only started writing when I decided to just give it up — and that was about half past the allotted time.

Now, going back to that online a$s-whooping I received. Nothing comes close to trolling than this Catáquiz hater who has found an ally in the person of one Manuel Mejorada, an Ynión attack dog based in Iloílo City disguised as a respectable a journalist. The troll account got the better of me, especially when I made a major boo-boo: when I referred to the Court of Appeals as “the court of last resort”, haha. And when Mejorada found out about my carelessness later on, he was so overjoyed that he even took time to make a screenshot of it then posted it on his Facebook account…

Thanks for the appeal for forgiveness, Boy Remedio. I appreciate it. I owe you one for your show of sympathy.

 

Before becoming a PR guy for Jun Ynión (and the mentally unstable Rommel Ynión), Mejorada was a former provincial administrator of Iloílo; if I’m not mistaken, he served under the term of former Governor Niel Tupás, Sr. So just imagine my amused surprise that this “VIP”, a self-proclaimed defender of the truth, took time to give me special space on that bastion of justice that is his Facebook account. For Mejorada and that Twitter troller, my “court of last resort” slip up was a huge event complete with fireworks and lechón and marching bands. They were having such a grand time as if it mattered all the world. It’s like, hey, who the heck am I to deserve such attention from a political and journalistic figure in Panay Island? In one comment of his, Mejorada himself even said that I’m just a mere “butete” compared to the others he usually defames… err, attacks rather.

Of course I got annoyed. However, the underlying sentiment I had was that of flattery. To make it more simple, and to Manuel Mejorada’s credit, who in blue blazes am I when made to stand side by side with a giant? (“wow, pinatulan ang isáng tulad có, haha.“) :D Yes sir. Make no mistake. Manuel Mejorada is a giant (figuratively AND literally speaking). That is why inspite of all the insults I received from his august Facebook account, I couldn’t help but feel being a little bit special… I must have surely made a mark to deserve this kind of attention! :-)

Be that as it may, this blogpost, of course, will be deemed by those two Ynión attack dogs as nothing more but a deodorant to hide the stench of my “ignorance” (Mejorada’s words). Rest assured, dear reader, that I am and have always been cognizant of the fact about which institution is the court of last resort. Proof? Why, even those idiotic attack dogs know about it.

So there, dear friends. Let this be a lesson to you, most especially to slow-thinkers such as myself: never ever touch that mouse or keyboard when you are angry and/or in a hurry during an online argument. You might not like what you’ve been typing. When you feel like you are already losing your temper, better leave your opponent for a while. Breathe, take a break, then return to the battlefield once you’ve gone back to a relaxed demeanor. Besides, online arguments are not formal ones, especially with what had transpired between me and that troll two Sundays ago.

Speaking of a relaxed demeanor, I’m now wondering if Mejorada was in that particular state of mind and body when he posted this idiocy on Facebook:

Please forgive his ignorance too. Por favor. Have mercy on this travesty brought about by senility…

As mentioned earlier, Manuel Mejorada, aside from being a seasoned (yellow) journalist in Iloílo Province, is no stranger to politics, as he was once a provincial administrator (I learned that he also used to be the Twitter handler of Senator Franklin Drilón but there was a falling out). Having said that, didn’t it even occur to him that the incumbent leadership in a local government unit incurs advances from a previous administration? At capág may mg̃a dadaúsing eventos, programas, etc., ang mg̃a organizador ang cumucuha ng cash advance, hindî ang alcalde o ang alcaldesa. Naturally, only those who request cash advances are tasked to have them liquidated, and an order is issued to have those advances liquidated within a certain period of time.

Furthermore, it is not uncommon that unliquidated cash advances are handed down from a previous administration to the present one. Besides, even if Mejorada doesn’t do any pestering, these matters are under the watch of a city or municipal hall’s resident auditor from the Commission on Audit (COA).

I reiterate: this yellow journalist-turned-PR guy for the Ynión Brothers was a former “public servant” himself. That is why it is now puzzling as to why Mejorada should “pester” the COA about something which COA is very cognizant about.

So, should we also forgive Manuel Mejorada’s IGNORANCE on LGU state of affairs, something he is supposed to know about?

Philippine-Spanish Friendship Day

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Today, June 30, we celebrate Philippine-Spanish Friendship Day, which coincides with the 115th anniversary of the Siege of Baler — a lengthy military operation of Filipino forces against the final holdout of Spanish troops in the Philippines who were garrisoned in the church of Baler, now the capital of the province of Aurora. It ended with Spanish capitulation. President Emilio Aguinaldo granted the survivors safe passage to Manila, en route to their return to Spain, as a tribute to the loyalty and gallantry they had displayed. This act of chivalry and military honor would later form the basis for the promulgation of Philippine-Spanish Friendship Day, by virtue of Republic Act. No. 9187, s. 2002.

As its contribution to the commemoration, the Presidential Communications Development and Strategic Planning Office (PCDSPO) is featuring an account of the Siege of Baler by Spanish Captain Don Saturnino Martín Cerezo titled “Under the Red and Gold,” on the Presidential Museum and Library website. Cerezo’s chronicle is a story of the valor of Filipinos and Spaniards alike in the 11-month siege toward the close of the Spanish-American War.

Día de la Amistad Hispanofilipina.

 

From June 27, 1898 to June 2, 1899, 53 Spanish soldiers and four officers, under the command of Captain Enrique de las Morenas y Fossi, garrisoned themselves in Baler Church as Filipino troops under Teodorico Luna Novicio began their attack. The Spanish flag was installed at the highest point of the bell tower, which had already been fortified. The Spaniards also dug trenches and boarded up the church windows as additional defense.

Click here for the rest of the story.

Let’s make it official: the Philippines was founded on 24 June 1571

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It’s that time of the year again when I and a few others remember a very significant date in our national lives: 24 June 1571, the date when our country was founded. So once and for all, let us all join hands in petitioning Malacañang Palace to make this hallowed date an official one. Please sign the petition by clicking here.

The “Indias Orientales Españolas” (Spanish East Indies) were the Spanish territories in Asia-Pacific from 1565 until 1898. Its seat of government was Manila. The territory covers the islands of what we now call the Philippine archipelago, Guam and the Mariana Islands, the Caroline Islands (Palau and the Federated States of Micronesia), Sabah, parts of Formosa (now Taiwan), and the Moluccas. From 1565 to 1821, these territories, together with the Spanish West Indies, were under the Viceroyalty of Nueva España which was based in México City. After Mexican independence, they were ruled directly from Madrid. There was a shorter name for the Indias Orientales Españolas: it was simply called FILIPINAS. =)

 

In the meantime, let me greet my beloved patria a Happy 443rd Anniversary! :D

Eugenio Ynión, Jr. appears to be gearing up for murder

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San Pedro Tunasán’s favorite barangáy chairman, Eugenio “Jun” Ynión of Barrio San Antonio, is at it again.

Is Eugenio Ynión, Jr. preparing to murder me and my family?

Those six targets look so familiar – two adults, four kids. Who could they be? (video uploaded on June 6).

Watch him on this Facebook video… if he hasn’t deleted it yet (because the guy’s got a penchant for deleting posts).

Of course it is not a coincidence that Barrio San Antonio Chairman Eugenio Ynión, Jr. chose six human coreflutes —two adults and four kids— as his civilian targets. At first glance, I might have had ignored it. But on another video, this time with a shotgun, he really insisted on shooting at two adults and four kids. Other than that, what kind of a brute would even think of practising his shooting skills on kiddie-sized civilian targets? Indeed, this poor soul is one of a kind.

In the light of Eugenio Ynión’s death threats against me (coupled with his mentally unstable brother Rommel’s threats against my family), there is no shadow of a doubt that this pathetic target practice of his is meant to intimidate and threaten me and my family once more. Besides, since he is online most of the time, I’m sure that he is already aware that I filed a blotter against him and his brother for threatening our lives. Our city police chief himself, Superintendent Fernando Ortega, even took time to assist me on that matter. Heck, many people in San Pedro, even those who have no social media accounts, are already aware of this death threat issue (San Pedro’s just a small city, in fact the smallest in the whole province of La Laguna). But because of this video, Ynión has shown his impudence and imprudence towards the blotter case. Nagháhamon talagá. Palibhasa maraming pera.

Captioning the video, Ynión wrote:

Rusty but what the heck! In the real world of violence, you don’t get to prepare for your enemies. They won’t say, “be ready, here I come”. It’s always a surprise attack be it an ambush or a stab behind the back. So these shooting exercises are just about de stressing and bonding with friends…

When Ynión says something about surprise attacks, backstabbing, and ambush, trust him on this, for he seems to be an expert himself. Remember when he promised that he will get to see me the least I expect it?

But with his several armed goons surrounding him all the time, who would even dare ambush him in the first place? And as far as I can remember, I don’t recall any politician brandishing his or her shooting skills on social media. What for, really? Yes, Ynión and his trigger-happy minions (and one of them is a complete INGRATO, by the way) have the right to do some target practice, if that’s what their “trip” is. But is it proper for him to post it on Facebook especially since his threats to me (and his brother’s to my family) have been made public already? Speaking of which, Ynión got so rattled when I exposed his evil side on Facebook that he even added as friend those who shared that “death threat” post of mine.

So, to all those living in the City of San Pedro: is this the kind of man you want to lead you? At this early, he’s already starting to intimidate people. What more if he becomes mayor? He threatened to kill me just because I kept on answering back at his backstabbing antics on Facebook against the more popular and effective Mayor Lourdes Catáquiz.

But no, me and my family are not threatened at all. Because his bullets, like his pathetic display of “courage” in his videos, are mere rubber. And if he ever succeeds in killing me and my family, he’s the unlucky one, not us.

Trust me on this, Eugenio. Evil men like you are not forever.

Shoot, coward, you are only going to kill a man.
—Che Guevara—

Finally, a new batch of National Artists!

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At long last! After a very long wait, Malacañang Palace has finally announced our country’s new set of National Artists:

Alice Reyes – Dance
Francisco Coching (Posthumous) – Visual Arts
Cirilo Bautista – Literature
Francisco Feliciano – Music
Ramón Santos – Music
José María Zaragoza (Posthumous) – Architecture, Design, and Allied Arts.

Of the six, I am only familiar with two: Cirilo Bautista, one of my favorite writers, and the late Francisco Coching, known among local graphic novelists as our country’s undisputed “King of Komiks” and as the “Dean of Philippine Comics”.

Francisco Coching (1919-1998). He’s done with “Spic” here, and is about to start with a “Span”.

Aside from being a comic book illustrator, Coching was also a writer, a craft he acquired from his father Gregorio, a novelist for Liwayway magazine. Using his skills as an illustrator and weaver of stories, Coching created memorable characters that have been etched in the imaginations of Filipinos, even to those who are not fans of comic books. Some of his well-known characters were Don Cobarde, Hagibis, and Pedro Penduko, probably his most famous creation (it even spawned four films and two fantasy TV series in ABS-CBN).

Coching’s first nomination as a National Artist was in 1999, a year after his demise. Nothing came out of it. But since then, his name has always cropped up each time there were plans of elevating new culture icons among our pantheon of National Artists. Nevertheless, I’ve always referred to him as a National Artist especially since he was one of the pioneers of the (now dead?) local comic book industry. The prestigious award was long overdue.

One of his daughters, former model Maridel, is also inclined to painting. Maridel’s daughter Valerie, a friend of mine, has also imbibed the artistic skills of both her mom and illustrious grandfather. And like her mom, Valerie also enchants the stage through flamenco; she graduated under the tutelage of renaissance man Señor Guillermo Gómez Rivera. So in a way, Valerie and I were “classmates” since both of us were trained by Señor Gómez: she under Flamenco and me under Philippine Studies.

Yeyette and sultry Valerie, the granddaughter of legendary graphic novelist Francisco Coching. My wife is forcing Valerie to smile; there’s a jungle knife on her right hand.

The second awardee who I’m also most familiar with is, of course, Cirilo Bautista, the inimitable genius behind the epics Sunlight On Broken Stones and The Trilogy of Saint Lazarus. Inspite of the daily grind and toils of teaching creative writing and literature in various universities throughout the years, Bautista still made it a point to produce books showcasing his beautiful prose and poetry, without any trace of hurriedness of a clock puncher, while maintaining a weekly column as well as being the literary editor of the Philippine Panorama (Manila Bulletin‘s Sunday magazine).

I have learned so much from that column of his called Breaking Signs (been reading it on and off since high school). In it, Bautista discusses the ways and methods of how to read a work of fiction, particularly poetry, as well as other genres of creative writing. He engages his readers on how to decipher the hidden meanings in verses (hence the name of the column), and also tackles on various topics related to Philippine Literature in particular and World Literature in general. Some of his best essays from Breaking Signs were compiled in The House of True Desire, a book which I highly recommend to all those whose passion for both ink and pen never wavers. There is some strange quality in each essay of his that frees the mind from being hampered by some unseen mental blockade. Perhaps this queer feeling is best explained in his foreword to the said book:

In writing my column, I have no particular audience in mind. I do not want my creativeness to be limited by an unseen force with its own demands on my literary act. And so to those who ask, “For whom do you write?” I answer, “If you read my column, then I write for you.” That is the closest I can get to defining my readers—not by their quality but by their response.

 

Cirilo Bautista, multi-awarded bilingual writer (English and Tagalog). Now a National Artist. And now he’s got The Undertaker’s urn, too.

Prior to his announcement as National Artist for Literature last Thursday, this Manileño wordsmith has already been receiving countless awards left and right. His name has long glorified various award-giving bodies such as the Carlos Palanca Memorial Awards, Philippines Free Press Awards, and the Gawad Balagtás.

I remember one special day when I gifted myself on my 22nd birthday (18 July 2001). Weeks before that, I read somewhere that Bautista was to give a lecture on Ricardo M. de Ungria’s poetry at the Philippine Normal University, if memory serves correct. With excitement, I scrimped and saved just to have something to pay for that lecture (not that it cost much, but my allowance as a student-dad wasn’t that much), and to see Bautista in person on how he deciphers the cryptic codes in a poem. It was a rainy afternoon when I got there, and the room where he was to give his lecture was crowded (Alfredo “Krip” Yuson was there, back then still sporting a rather thin pony tail). In fact, many were left without chairs. But the crowded room and the pelting rain didn’t stop us from being mesmerized by the magic of Bautista’s ideas transformed into an authoritatively poetic human voice. I’ve learned so much during that 60-minute or so lecture (and I still ended up as a blogger-slash-keyboard warrior, haha).

It is a pity that I don’t have anything to say about the other four National Artists (Reyes, Feliciano, Santos, and Zaragoza) because, admittedly, I really don’t know much about them. However, I am confident that they are all deserving, unlike the last time when the National Artist award was heavily tainted with controversy. I hear that there’s some noise going on about Nora Aunor being left out of the final list, but my only comment on that is a query: if National Artist Nick Joaquín didn’t go “baquiâ” on her, why did the Palace?

Rizal wrote a patriotic letter to Blumentritt on his 26th birthday

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I wonder: if the Sandiganbayan did not issue a hold departure order against Senator Jinggoy Estrada, would the latter have left the country to escape allegations of his involvement in the telenovela that is the PDAF scandal?

Meanwhile, another co-accused, Senator Ramón “Bong” Revilla, Jr., openly declared that he will not leave the country and will squarely face the charges against him.

Both senators, despite their ordeal, are still determined to pursue their political plans in the next national election on 2016. As always, “public service” is their mantra, nay, excuse for doing so. But in fairness to them, their decision to stay put in the country rather than escape means that there is indeed an intention for them to clear their names, that they could be, perhaps (and just perhaps), innocent of the charges filed against them. We are then reminded of an incident not too long ago of a former senator, Pánfilo “Ping” Lacsón, who sneaked out of the country rather than face the charges against him in connection to the grisly murder of publicist Salvador Dacer and his driver Emmanuel Corbito 14 years ago. Rather than fight it out tooth and nail, he opted for the safe way out: by flying out of the country (his ordeal later on inspired a film). On the other hand, it is difficult to blame the former Director-General of the Philippine National Police (who once declared that he hated politics and politicians) for he was up against a formidable wall: the Arroyo Administration.

These three lawmakers’ varying decisions on how to deal with high-profile court cases now remind us of how our national hero, whose birthdate falls today, comported himself in times of crisis. We all know how José Rizal got himself into trouble when he joined Freemasonry and started attacking the friars through his writings, particularly his novels and essays. During his first trip to Europe, the Calambeño wrote and published there his first novel, Noli Me Tangere. It was published in early 1886, and one of the first copies was sent to his Austro-Hungarian BFF, Ferdinand Blumentritt. Copies were subsequently sent to Filipinas.

Rizal and Blumentritt met only once, but they had been sending each other tons of letters for many years since 1886 (the last of this snail-mail correspondence was written from Rizal’s Fort Santiago cell on the eve of his execution); in an age when there was still no Internet and electricity, we can say that the two formed part of an earlier generation of social media users. Even though they were miles apart, they had formed a kindred bond, like that of brothers. So when Blumentritt finished reading Rizal’s first novel, alarm struck his heart for he realized the potential danger caused by his dear Filipino friend’s pen. He advised Rizal to just stay in Madrid for good and from there continue his Propaganda activities.

Rizal responded to Blumentritt. In a letter dated 19 June 1887, the patriot wrote:

Su consejo de quedarme en Madrid y escribir allá es muy benévolo; pero no puedo ni debo aceptarlo. No puedo soportar la vida en Madrid; allá todos somos “vox clamantis en deserto”; mis parientes quieren verme y yo quiero verlos también; en ninguna parte la vida me es tan agradable como en mi patria, al lado de mi familia. Todavía no estoy europeizado como dicen los filipinos de Madrid; siempre quiero volver al país de mis aborígenes. “La cabra siempre tira al monte”, me dijeron.

(MY TRANSLATION: Your advice for me to stay in Madrid and write from there is very kind of you, but I cannot even accept it. Life is difficult in Madrid. All of us there are but “vox clamantis in deserto”.* My relatives preferred seeing me and I feel the same way. In no place is life as nice as the one in my country, with my family right by my side. I’m still not Europeanized, as Filipinos say in Madrid. I always want to return to my native country. As they say, “the goat always goes to the mountain”.**)

Did you know? Rizal wrote in excellent German. A few years ago, I purchased volume 5 of the Epistolario Rizalino, composed of two parts, from eminent historian Benito Legarda, Jr. This letter of Pepe Rizal to his German-speaking penpal, Ferdinand Blumentritt, was written on the day the former turned 26, and it appears in the Epistolario’s first part.

The letter, originally in German, was written from Geneva, Switzerland. It was a long one and covered other topics. But the above lines stood out from the rest of the letter’s content as having more heart. It illumined our national hero’s affection not only for his country but for his family as well. We are accustomed to hear about Rizal the Patriot but rarely about Rizal the Family Guy. Of course, his courage speaks volumes here, something to be marveled at (a decade later, however, at the outbreak of the Tagalog rebellion, Rizal was singing a different tune: there was no more swagger left in him when he set sail to Cuba, but that’s another story and matter).

Rizal did not even remind Blumentritt in that letter that it was his birthday; anyway, birthdays were not celebrated back then as they are celebrated today (perhaps that fact could be another interesting topic for a future blogpost).

May this letter serve as an inspiration to our so-called public servants: country and family first, before the Self. And yes, conviction… but in the right place.

*F*I*L*I*P*I*N*O*e*S*C*R*I*B*B*L*E*S*

* “A voice crying out in the wilderness”, a reference to John the Baptist (Isaiah 40:3, Mark 1:3, John 1:23).
** A Spanish proverb which means a person’s fondness or attachment to one’s native land.

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