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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.

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.

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

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.

A belated “Muchas Gracias” to Vibal Publishing House

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June 12 no longer reminds me of Philippine Independence Day. It reminds me more of my daughter Krystal’s textbook, Vibal Publishing House’s “Language in Literature” which she and her batchmates used last year for their English subject:

Wondering why? Click here for the details!

124th birth anniversary of Claro M. Recto

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On the occasion of his 124th birth anniversary, FILIPINO eSCRIBBLES would like to pay tribute to one of the greatest Filipino thinkers of modern times, the late senator Claro M. Recto. Here is a brief biographical sketch of the Tayabeño nationalist written by Antonino V. Mico (from the 1965 book Eminent Filipinos which was published by the National Historical Commission, a precursor of today’s National Historical Commission of the Philippines).

CLARO M. RECTO
(1890-1960)

Senator Claro M. Recto is known as a statesman, a constitutionalist, a jurist, internationalist, parliamentarian, poet, scholar, linguist, patriot, and nationalist. He was born on February 8, 1890, in Tiáong, Tayabas (now Quezon), the son of Claro Recto, Sr., and Micaéla Mayo, of Lipâ, Batangas. He obtained his elementary education in Lipâ and in his home town.

As a young man, he was endowed with a marvelous mind, an active imagination, a venturesome spirit, and a firm determination to stick to his personal convictions. At 19, he was already a holder of the Bachelor of Arts degree from the Ateneo de Manila; and at 24, he obtained his Master of Laws degree from the University of Santo Tomás. In 1914, he was admitted to the Philippine bar and was licensed to practice law as a profession.

Recto’s political career began in 1916, when he served as legal adviser to the Philippine Senate. In 1919, he was elected representative from Batangas and served as House minority floor leader until 1925. In 1924, he went to the United States as member of the Parliamentary Independence Mission. He was admitted to the bar in the United States in 1924.

Upon his return to the Philippines, he founded the Demócrata Party, which served as a political thorn to the leadership of Manuel L. Quezon, when the latter was head of the Nacionalista Party and President of the Senate. He was elected senator for the first time in 1931 as a Demócrata and served as minority floor leader for three years.  In 1934, he became majority floor leader and President pro tempore of the Senate. He resigned his Senate seat when President Roosevelt appointed him Associate Justice in the Supreme Court in place of Justice Thomas Street, who retired. He left the Supreme Court in 1941 as a Nacionalista and again in 1953 as guest candidate of the Liberal Party. He ran as an independent Nacionalista candidate for President of the Philippines in the national elections of 1957, but lost.

Considered one of his immortal achievements in public life was his presidency of the Constitutional Convention, which drafted the Philippine Constitution, the first requirement towards the establishment of the Philippine Commonwealth regime.

Recto was a brilliant poet, satirist, and author. He wrote such law books as The Law of Belligerent OccupationValidity of Payments During Enemy OccupationThree Years of Enemy Occupation, several one-act plays in Spanish, and a collection of poems. He was a recipient of the Zóbel Prize for literature and an honored member of the Royal Academy of Jurisprudence and Legislation, of the Royal Academy of Arts and Sciences, and of the Academia Filipina de la Lengua Española.

The then President Carlos P. García appointed Recto Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary on the goodwill and cultural mission to Europe and South America in August, 1960. He was also appointed delegate to the 9th conference of the World Parliament Association in Venice in September, 1960, and was elected vice-president.

While giving a news conference in Rome, Recto suffered a heart attack from which he never recovered. He died in October 2, 1960.

Regarding his death, not a few historians believe that the great poet-turned-politician did not merely suffer from a heart attack. There’s this one interesting account from Raymond Bonner’s 1987 book Waltzing With A Dictator (pp. 41-42) that I’d like to share:

Transplanting democracy meant going after (Ramón) Magsaysay’s domestic political opponents, the most effective of whom was Senator Claro M. Recto, as unrelenting in his opposition to American foreign policy in the region as Magsaysay was slavish in following it. Recto, who was proud of his complete collection of Foreign Affairs, considered himself not anti-American but pro-Philippine. He criticized the bases agreement on the grounds, correctly, that the U.S. agreements under NATO and with other countries were far more favorable to the host country than was the U.S. arrangement in the Philippines. In Spain, the Spanish flag flew over the bases; in the Philippines, it was the American flag. When Washington claimed that the United States owned the lands on which the bases were situated, Recto prepared memorandums setting out the Philippine position that the United States had only leasehold rights, an argument eventually accepted by the United States. Recto was the “spearhead and brains of the national reawakening”.

The CIA set about to destroy Recto, who had been a principal drafter of the 1935 Constitution. It planted stories that he was a Communist Chinese agent who had been infiltrated into the Philippine Senate. To derail Recto’s electoral ambitions, the agency prepared packages of condoms, which it labeled “Courtesy of Claro M. Recto — The People’s Friend”. The condoms all had pinprick-size holes in them at the most inappropriate place. The agency went further. The CIA station chief, General Ralph B. Lovett, and the American Ambassador, Admiral Spruance, discussed assassinating Recto, going so far as to prepare a substance for poisoning him, an assassination plot that has not been publicly discussed before.

Recto wasn’t assassinated, the idea abandoned “for pragmatic consideration rather than moral scruples” (and with Lovett later suggesting that the bottle containing the poison was tossed into Manila Bay). He died of natural causes at the age of seventy.

It is hinted on this book that Recto was “assassinated” in Rome. Also, there have been persistent rumors that Recto did suffer a heart attack, but his medication was not given to him immediately which led to his very untimely death. Rumors they all may be, but there is a saying in Tagalog: “capág may usoc, may apóy” (when there’s smoke, there’s fire). Also, it is interesting to note that the place where he passed away was just a stopover. Recto was really on his way to Spain, the land of his mother tongue which is Spanish. He had never been there all his life, thus the excitement throbbing within his nationalistic spirit. He had already prepared a speech in Spanish, “Por los Fueros de una Herencia“, of which he was to deliver there upon arrival. But because of his demise, it remained unspoken.

The CIA knew that Recto delivering that speech in Spain would have proven catastrophic to their neocolonialistic ventures which were then in its early stages, as the Philippines was granted a phony independence 15 years earlier. That is why it was imperative for Recto to perish before he reached Spain.

One could just imagine what nationalistic and nostalgic fervor Recto would have sparked in Mother Spain had he delivered his speech there. Spain, who was robbed of her islands in the Pacific and the Americas in 1898, would have rekindled “righteous anger” into delivering, perhaps, the final blows of that war that should have ended justly and nobly. What fireworks his speech would have set upon the citizens of our Patria Grande! “Sayang” is all I could utter. Sayang…

Feliz cumpleaños, Don Claro. Tendré una botella de Cerveza Negra en su honor.

I’m merely warding off writer’s block, hence this dull blogpost. So please ignore. This is not for you.

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When I launched this much-hated blog back in 2009, I had intended it to be my own personal space this side of cyberspace. Y’know, just to write whatever stuff there is under the proverbial tropical sun which abruptly crosses my (un)usually cluttered thoughts. The truth is, a year or so before that stodgy launching, the blog’s first incarnation was simply entitled eSCRIBBLES, a name which I thought was perfectly descriptive of its status as an online journal. I also remained anonymous during its brief existence. However, I allowed myself to be identified in my other blog, ALAS FILIPINAS, the multi-awarded and internationally acclaimed Spanish-language Filipino blog (as I have said earlier, this is my personal space; bear with my happiness).

In eSCRIBBLES I was practically writing whatever it was that fancied me. Eventually, however, my pen kept on drawing towards the direction of one topic which interests me the most: Philippine History, and its offshoot which is Filipino Identity. In the course of time, I noticed that writing serious topics related to Filipino Identity and the like seemed to be out of sync for a blog containing a hodgepodge of topics such as rock bands, office blues, my relationship dramas with the missus, my fantabulous self, etc. So little by little, I felt compelled to start a new blog. And so FILIPINO eSCRIBBLES, your computer screen’s favorite partner during lull hours, was born. And since I’m picky with dates, I deliberately timed its launching on the night of my 30th birthday. I simply left eSCRIBBLES to fester online, but I eventually closed it down completely about a year or two later (I still have an XML file copy of it in my turtle-paced Acer laptop as a memento of my drabness).

At the onset, I still had wanted the “new and improved” blog to run its course as a personal site, to tell more stories about my life, of what I think about the birds and the trees and the bees. However, given the dilemma that I encountered during its first run, I gave it a new twist: a blog dealing with everything about my Filipino cosmos, particularly our national identity (wow, how patriotic, clap clap clap!). I first thought of calling it “Pinoy eScribbles” because it sounded cute, not to mention the wide acceptance of that informal demonym in all corners of the world where there is an OFW. But Señor Guillermo Gómez had me convinced that Pinoy is a derogatory contraction of “PIlipinong uNgÓY” (Filipino monkey). While I do not attempt to argue that claim’s veracity here, the main reason why I opted to use Filipino instead of the more endearing Pinoy is because of the former’s nobleness in sound alone. The word Filipino exudes more grandeur, more dignity, more respectability. I am able to patriotically identify myself more with the word Filipino than with Pinoy which has already earned some level of corruption when a variation of it —PNoy— was used by the current president who is fast becoming unpopular due to lapses in judgment during times of crisis and near hopelessness.

Now what is the point of all this blah? Aside from the fact that the preceding three paragraphs all ended with words ending with the suffix -ness, I would also like to end with how I delimit my thematic output. I have always wanted to write on a regular basis, but I noticed that this fun plan is hampered with the limits of which I had imposed upon myself regarding the topics that I must publish as well as the tone and type of language that must surface in each blogpost. Following best buddy Arnaldo Arnáiz‘s advice many moons ago, I had tried to sound scholarly in some blogposts, particularly those which deal with history and identity. But of course, if we had wanted to be taken seriously by both readers and hecklers (another word for critics), we should at least try to style ourselves as very serious in our craft. Much to my dismay, we are still not taken seriously.

But why the need to be taken seriously? Because of an advocacy, a lingering itch that needed to be scratched from time to time. To my agitated mind, the Philippines is suffering from an excessive sleep disorder in the midst of an impending danger from both Red Chinks and Redneck Yanks, thus the need to kick her lazy Hollywoodized @$s to finally wake her up. It’s a tough choice that I chose, and it’s a losing battle. Nevertheless, it’s one damned good fight that I want to participate in.

Anyway, activism is not the point for this blogpost. What I really wanted to declare is that I simply wanted to free myself of the writing shackles which I have bound upon myself. No, I do not mean that I will no longer write Philippine History, Filipino Identity, and its related addendums. Topics here will still remain Philippine. What I had wanted to expound is that there will be an expansion of not just thoughts but of feelings. There will be more of me and not just history and identity. Because this is what this blog was supposed to be in the first place: a web log of what I think, not just of my thoughts.

Now eSCRIBBLES has come back to haunt me.

Not too long ago, I have segregated themes among my blogs: ALAS FILIPINAS should focus more on my advocacy for the return of the Spanish language in the country including a few write-ups about my personal and innermost thoughts and feelings; FILIPINO eSCRIBBLES should deal solely on Philippine History and National Identity coupled with a sprinkling of current Filipino news and current affairs (glad that ABS-CBN did not trademark the phrase), and; my latest piece, LA FAMILIA VIAJERA, is my sorry attempt at travel writing, but I included here the missus and the entire Alas caboodle especially since there is already a plethora of solo travel bloggers in the country. But now that I’ve been experiencing a drought in writing output, I think it’s time to break some rules. I’m already 34, and in a few days I will turn 40. And yet I have written only a handful of what I really wanted to express. And it pains and irritates me all the more that my writing spirits are high only when I’m at my busiest as a corporate slave but during my freetime I end up being a slacker watching zombie films on viooz.co (I highly recommend Warm Bodies; it is fun to watch over and over again).

Besides —and this is by no means any serious bragging of expertise— I believe that I write better in English than in Spanish (I don’t even know how to compose a neat essay in Tagalog) and that’s because since day one I’ve been exposed to this language, particularly in schools. But aren’t we all? Now, if I limit my topics to a certain theme, all the other non-essentials will dam up inside my pro-wrestling infested brain which will then drive me nuts and the people around me as well. I would only suffer from more mental drought and rage. I guess I’m still looking for a voice. Or maybe I haven’t reached a spot in the writing realm yet wherein I feel I should really be.

Creating another blog is out of the question. One more blog then I’m dead. So there. I must be free with the fewest possible blogs.

It is admirable to use writing to advance a struggle, to forward an advocacy. But in the end, writing should not be burdensome. It should all boil down to having fun, too. :D So I guess it’s time for me to write about my crazy neighborhood and those buses with unwanted videos-on-board. Might as well complain about the neverending littering problem that we have. And the alarming yet unnoticed growth of cockroaches everywhere (this is what Carlos Celdrán and his followers should really address, or else they might surface the city streets and manage a take over of PNoy civilization — I’m dead serious). Yes. All these and more. After all, I’m a Filipino out of time.

I’m free? I’m free.

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

This insignificant blogpost was caused when a Batangas-bound bus suffered from spontaneous combustion at the South Luzón Expressway this morning, causing heavy traffic which has desensitized Filipino mobility anyway.

Expansionist Red China vs Imperialist Uncle Sam

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Red China vs the US WASPs? Yes. I hate sounding like a warmonger here, but it is bound to happen. It’s not a matter of if, it’s a matter of when. No two empires in history ever existed at the same time. So one must fall.

And their battleground? Hapless República de Filipinas, of course.

Relying on US support, the Philippines is so arrogant as to announce in the New Year that it will increase its navy and air force deployment at Zhongye Island, a Chinese island that it has illegally occupied for years.

It will be an intolerable insult to China

According to experts, the Chinese navy has drawn a detailed combat plan to seize the island and the battle will be restricted within the South China Sea.

Click here for more.

 

It would be sheer luck if no battle ever happens on any part of mainland Philippines. So better be prepared than sorry, that’s all I really wanted to say. Because looking back at our history, most government officials have “safe passages” to fly away anytime from this pork-barrel-riddled country of ours. And we poor commoners are the ones left behind to suffer for their governmental inadequacies, nay, dumbfoundedness and sheer stupidity and cowardice. Well, there’s always an exception, such as the regime of Governor General Simón de Anda (1701-1776).  Hindí nang-iiuan. But that’s another story from another time, when our national identity was at its peak.

It’s hopeless. We are no match against China, of course. And our puppet government has no other choice but to kowtow to Uncle Sam’s every military whim and fancy. Because war is big business. At this point, all we can do is pray and blog and complain and provide some good ‘ol pep talk…

We are mere ants compared to the big boot that is Red China. But they should remember that ants bite back. And the sting lingers.

We are mere dogs chained to our U.S. neocolonial masters. But they should remember that dogs bite back. When we do, it’s usually rabid.

We can easily be defeated, there is no doubt to that. Our military might is a joke; it has become a sham ever since Ferdinand Marcos was ousted unceremoniously. But in the end, the Filipino spirit will never falter. Defiantly.

I don’t usually swear, but right now… I am REALLY angry. So fuck you both, China and US. My middle finger salutes you. Be proud.

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