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Category Archives: History

Congratulations to La Familia Viajera for “Junífera Clarita”!

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And here she is!

 

Junífera Clarita Alas y Perey

Junífera Clarita Alas y Perey is the great great granddaughter of Don Paulo Évora (Calapán, Mindoro) and Doña Rafaela Bonilla (Unisan, Tayabas). She was born earlier this afternoon, on the feast day of Saint Clare of Assisi, and at the hospital bearing the name of the said saint. Providence? =) (photo by Jessica Alas)

 

Click here for more info about her!

The story behind the assassination of Fernando Manuel Bustamante

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Earlier today, in Palacio de Malacañán‘s official Facebook page, the below post was published:

#todayinhistory — On August 9, 1717, Fernando Bustamante y Rueda assumed his post as the Spanish Governor-General of the Philippines. He stirred trouble with the religious orders and also with the archbishop, which lead to his assassination by mob.

I just find it irritatingly odd that instead of commemorating the reforms and projects of the Bustamante administration since today is the anniversary of his installation as Gobernador-General de las Islas Filipinas, Malacañán’s Facebook handlers found time to instead harp on the governor-general’s assassination. Shouldn’t they have, instead, posted the above info on the anniversary of his death which falls every 11th of October (1719)? Because it’s more timely that way. And is the assassination the only thing our historians remember about Bustamante? Furthermore, how much do we even know about his character?

The said Facebook post has garnered several shares already, not to mention eliciting another round of those now classic “frailocracy at its finest” and “Padre Dámaso” comments. Open-minded people will then start to wonder if the said post was meant to make people not really to remember but to  “keep on hating”. And when you ask these anti-Catholic bashers (deplorably, many of them are Catholics themselves) what’s the real score behind the assassination, they will not be able to provide a decent answer.

So what’s the real story behind this infamous scene in our history? Let us now hear it from historian extraordinaire, Nick Joaquín:

What’s often cited against the 18th century are grisly happenings like the killing of Governor Fernando Manuel Bustamante — happenings that seem to indicate a priest-ridden society still groping about in the Dark Ages.

Bustamante was a reform governor (1717-1719) with good intentions but a violent temper. He used the militia to terrorize the public. He filled the jails to overflowing but his prisoners were not all government crooks he had caught; some were people who merely disagreed with him. When he jailed the archbishop of Manila, it provoked a demo.

Angry mobs marched to the palace waving banners and crucifixes and yelling: ‘Church, religion, and king!’ They were met on the palace stairway by Bustamante, who wielded a gun in one hand, a sword in the other. ‘Death to the tyrant!’ shouted his visitors, rushing up the stairs. The governor plunged his sword into the first body to approach him and then could not pull out the sword fast enough to drive back those who were surrounding him. He was cut down with dagger and spear. A son of his who came to his rescue was likewise stabbed to death.

The mob then stored Fort Santiago and released the imprisoned archbishop. The prelate would assume the governorship, as interim head of state. He decreed a pension of a thousand pesos for the family of Bustamante but the widow rejected it.

Me, Juanito, and Krystal at the foot of the massive EL ASESINATO DEL GOBERNADOR BUSTAMANTE Y SU HIJO, an oil on canvas completed in 1853 by Félix Resurrección Hidalgo y Padilla, at the National Museum (photo taken on 10/30/2012 by my wife).

Out-of-school Nick had poured over first source materials and had made researches in various libraries and archives. He had spent so much of his time in such places more than any schooled historian that I know of. And since Spanish was his language, it was easy for him to decipher the “encrypted stories” about our country’s oft-misunderstood past. That is why the PhDs and the MAs of the world fear and respect him. And that is why I trust him more about the Bustamante story more than anyone else’s version of it, most of which are twisted anyway.

To continue, the cause of Bustamante’s assassination was not exactly done out of religious sentiments. In a time when there were still no senators nor congressmen, when the political climate was still different, it was actually the Church who served as the “opposition” against a form of governmental setup that had all the potentials of turning into a dictatorship. Although violent and bloody, the demo against Bustamante was our country’s first dealings with democracy.

The happening is ugly but what caused it can be equated with the system of checks and balances, a beautiful feature of democracy. Because of the distance of Manila from Madrid, the Spanish kings were persuaded to grant their Philippine royal governors almost absolute powers. In effect, the executive was also the legislative and the judiciary. He headed army and navy. And he was answerable only to the king.

Against this potentate, the only checks and balances were provided by the Church, principally the friars, who served as the opposition. The opposition was sometimes “holy”, as in the friars’ campaign against the abuses of the encomenderos, and sometimes “unholy”, as in this killing of Bustamante — though we should remember that, before the fatal demo, the governor had called out and sicked his vigilantes in public.

So much slur has been thrown at those hated Spanish friars. Bashers don’t even think that if such events did not happen, who would have stopped potentially abusive government leaders? To wit: it was the opposition (friars) who acted against the majority (encomenderos) on the continued implementation of the corrupted encomienda system. And how come I don’t see anyone praising the friars for this? Why the double standard?

Anyway, good ‘ol Nick concluded Bustamante’s assassination story with this…

…the point here is not interference between Church and State, but the natural feud between government and opposition. It’s like the clash between King Henry II of England and Archbishop Becket, with the difference that in the Philippine case it was the King Henry who got slain.

Just a piece of advice: read widely and think critically to avoid bashing benightedly.

Del Superior Govierno: our country’s first newspaper

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Today marks the 213th anniversary of Del Superior Govierno, our country’s first newspaper. Making its debut on 8 August 1811, or 218 years after printing was introduced here by the Spanish friars, it was intended for local Spaniards to satisfy their need for the latest develpments in Spain and the rest of Europe.

 

 

Del Govierno Superior was edited by Mariano Fernández del Folgueras, a two-time governor-general of Filipinas (he’s the same man who gave English traders permission to establish the first commercial houses here). The newspaper came out during a time when Spain was in tumult — the mother country was then ruled by a French monarch, Joseph-Napoléon Bonaparte, the elder brother of the more famous Napoléon Bonaparte. The French invasion of Spain, however, had little to no impact at all in our insular affairs. Nevertheless, the happenings in the peninsula explains as to why throughout Del Govierno Superior‘s brief stint (it came out with only 15 issues over a six month period), much of its content was about the events surrounding the costly Napoleonic Wars.

In addition, Del Govierno Superior was also our country’s  first newspaper to show in its layout the name, date, and place of its publication. And despite its brief existence, it paved the way for more newspapers, albeit belatedly, to appear in later years such as La Esperanza (1846), La Estrella (1847), Diario de Manila (1848), and a host of others. All the newspapers that followed soon expanded to a much wider readership, not just to the Spaniards. There were also “specialty newspapers” which catered to a specific audience (for instance, the Revista Mercantil de Filipinas was a weekly newspaper founded in 1892 and was dedicated solely to financial, agricultural, and commercial interests).

I just wonder why this newspaper was not included in Wenceslao Retana’s El Periodismo Filipino (1811-1894). In the said book, Retana made a list of all known newspapers in Filipinas throughout Spain’s rule. But instead of Del Govierno Superior, he cited La Estrella as our country’s first real daily.

Of course there’s no need to mention that our first dailies were all written in the sonorous language of Miguel de Cervantes and José Rizal. And that’s the odd thing about it. We are commemorating today the inception of our country’s first ever newspaper, a newspaper that was written in the Spanish language, in a milieu dominated by English-language newspapers and Taglish tabloids.

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

As an aside, it is sad to note that there are no more Spanish-language newspapers in our country. The last such newspaper was the weekly Nueva Era which ceased publication in 2008. I am proud to say that I was a part of that newspaper, having worked there as assistant to its editor-in-chief on a part-time basis (nothing big; I just swept floors and made coffee). Aside from Nueva Era, the now defunct Manila Chronicle used to have a Spanish section on its Sunday edition called Crónica de Manila (edited by former Instituto Cervantes de Manila Director José Rodríguez y Rodríguez and the late statesman Raúl Manglapus). But it didn’t last long; eventually, the newspaper itself folded up sometime during the last decade.

Critics will be quick to say that, of course, there are no more Spanish-speaking communities for such newspapers to cater to. However, keen observers will immediately point out that, bit by bit, the language of our forefathers is making a comeback, thanks in part to BPOs that pay above par salaries to those who are fluent in the language.  It should also be remembered that a couple of years ago (3 July 2006), the Union of Local Authorities of the Philippines created Resolution No. 2006-028 which urged the national government to support and promote the teaching of the Spanish language in all public and private universities and colleges throughout the country. Then a year later (17 December 2007), the Department of Education issued Memorandum No. 490, s. 2007 which encouraged secondary schools to offer basic and advanced Spanish subjecs in the 3rd and 4th year levels respectively, as an elective.

And then there’s social media (and my other blog, hehe). Speaking of which, the Internet may already be sounding the death knell for print journalism in our country and elsewhere, regardless of language usage, especially since all major dailies today have their own websites. Even known columnists have their own blogs. Some are also predicting that the impending death of print journalism will happen in the next couple of years. But that’s another story altogether.

Of statesmen and politicians

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We are suffering from a drought of statesmen and a flood of politicians. It’s like a diet full of calories with almost no nutrition. Statesmen are like vegetables. Many people don’t like them, but they’re good for you. Politicians are like too much ice cream. Yummy. I’ll worry about the stomach ache later.
—Mike North—

Several scandals and controversies in national politics have withered away public trust and confidence on our so-called public servants. From the Rolex 12 controversy of the 1970s up to the recent Pork Barrel Scam, the image of the present-day Filipino politician has been mired down. And so stuck in the rut is this image that it has become easy not to distinguish anymore the difference between a political imbroglio and the latest celebrity sex scandal. Social media stewards are always on the lookout not only for the latest confession from some pregnant starlet but also for an interesting below-the-belt altercation between two senators.

It has come to a point that we no longer differentiate an erring celebrity from a grandstanding politician. Both have become entertainers, and they do succeed in entertaining us. It’s that bad. Yet we don’t find this repulsive anymore because such news puts a smirk on our faces. It’s that worse.

Public servants, most especially our supposedly esteemed senators, are now regarded as smartly dressed comedians grandstanding behind podiums. Gone are the days when the august halls of the Senate were just that — august, venerable. filled with grandeur and eloquence. They deliver speeches (most of which were in Spanish) in a manner as if they were the treasured epic poetry of a generation. From the peanut gallery of the Senate, debates (most of which, again, were in Spanish) were highly anticipated by an audience who were eager to listen not only to the sense of the arguments but also to the artistic eloquence of the debaters. Each and every senator displayed the highest respect for each other and for their individual selves. Although some of them do not agree on each other regarding various national issues, they do not in any way regarded each other as enemies even if their respective political parties were warring against each other.

Simply put, they were not just politicians. Even “public servant” is too hackneyed a term to apply to them. These gentlemen of the old school were statesmen. And of the highest order.

Many are in agreement that a statesman is usually a politician, a diplomat, or other notable public figure who has had a long and respected career at the national or international level. But there is a vast difference between a politician and a statesman. Various people, from movie stars to boxers to obscure money launderers, can be elected into public office, turning into bona fide government officials in the process. But not all politicians can be statesmen. While being a politician can be learned through experience, people management, and even cunning*, being a statesman is something that is more of a responsibility. Of course, being an elected official entails having responsibilities to his constituents, but as often is the case nowadays, a politician is tied to the goals and objectives of his party while a statesman is tied to the state, whether half the state dislikes him or not.

But what does it take to be a statesman? Brilliance and clarity of mind, a cultured environment, lofty ideals for the state. And most importantly: CHARACTER. And while both politician and statesman can claim to have a genuine concern for the people, only the latter can rouse his people into action against social apathy by injecting into them the same fiery passion, the same patriotism, that he has in his noble heart. Statesmen are not just sagacious thinkers but also masters of the oratory. It can be argued that being a masterful public speaker is an imperative element of a statesman because projecting elegance is also a political necessity. And it really was during the days when our country was not bereft of “philosopher kings”.

Yes, our history is replete with statesmen. Names of legendary luminaries such as Claro M. Recto, Lorenzo Tañada, Cipriano Primicias, Manuel Briones, Eulogio A. Rodríguez, Sr., Mariano Jesús Cuenco, Lorenzo Sumúlong (an uncle of former President Cory Aquino), Enrique Magalona (a fierce defender of the Spanish language; grandfather of FrancisM), Rogelio de la Rosa, Quintín Paredes, José P. Laurel, Gil Púyat, Francisco Rodrigo, and a host of others still continue to echo grandiose trumpets celebrating the grandeur and glory of Filipinas from a not so distant past. And even when they iniquitably stumble down from time to time, as is the wont of all human beings, the prestige that was built by their statesmanship easily displaces any discomposure, like a torrential rain washing a soiled window pane. And no matter what political principles and beliefs they brandish, whether it was popular or not, the public never dared deride them. They were like ancient priests that commanded both fear and respect (but with the latter, of course, superseding the former). Indeed, theirs was an epoch filled with conviction, with respect, with honor.

Great statesmen of a bygone era. Senators Cipriano Primicias vs Quintín Paredes debating in Spanish (circa 1951). Photo taken from the book “Senator Cipriano Primicias: Great Statesman, Most Outstanding Parliamentarian”.

We can liken statesmanship to a “Super Soldier Serum“. But instead of soldiers, it will produce the compleat politician. Politicians are elected. They are made, not born. But statesmen are not just born nor made but bred. A rare species they are nowadays because we no longer breed such people. But statesmanship is part and parcel of the Filipino politician’s identity. Have we completely forgotten how our forefathers at a very young age were trained into statesmanship? Filipino nationalist and statesman Salvador Araneta offers us a glimpse of how young Filipino children were prepared to be silver-tongued orators:

During one of my birthdays as a very young child, my parents organized a banquet where we were treated as grown-ups. A formal dining table for sixteen was set up for my cousin José Tuason and his cousins Tony Prieto and Ben Legarda, for our neighbors and friends, the Paternos, the Valdeses and Roceses, for my eldest brother José and me. After the banquet, a few of us gave prepared speeches, with one acting as the toastmaster. As honoree and celebrant, I stood up to make the final speech on that occasion.

Today, a children’s party for the Filipino child is entrusted to fastfood party hosts and clowns.

And what kind of government leaders do we have now? Instead of passing and upholding laws, they bicker at each other, they walk out if they cannot take the heat anymore, some dance while others prefer to sing. Some even curse on national television. Worse, even neophyte government officials already have the gall to issue death threats! Todays privilege speeches were meant to either accuse colleagues or defend one’s self from them. And in worse case scenarios, such speeches are filled with unparliamentary language.

Alas, the clownish comportment of today’s politician has killed statesmanship and parliamentarianism. And not only that, it has left a rift among themselves. In the aftermath of the aborted impeachment trial of then President Joseph Estrada, Francisco “Kit” Tátad (an unappreciated statesman if I may add) ruefully observed in his book “A Nation On Fire”:

Meantime, the tradition of civility that had previously characterized all relationships in the Senate now disappeared. At the lounge where majority and minority used to sit together, even after the sharpest clashes on the floor, senators now sat in two opposing camps, separated by an invisible wall that may not be breached by camaraderie or fellowship. On the eighty- first anniversary of the Senate, only 12 of the 24 members joined Mrs. Arroyo and a few former senators at the Senate President’s dinner. And the few who were there ate dinner together without breaking the ice between and the few who were there ate dinner together without breaking the ice between and among seatmates.

The decline of civility among senators is matched only by their increasing lack of regard for the Senate as an institution. Seniority rule, which is honored in every parliament, has been jettisoned without a hearing, and neophytes, who have yet to learn the ropes, have been given senior posts. Against all rules of parliamentary decorum, senators now smoke freely during committee hearings, and consume their victuals inside the hall during plenary sessions. Those with floor duties also tend to their handheld phones more than they listen to the deliberations and often lose track of what is happening on the floor.

Arguably, the last such statesman that we had was former Vice President Salvador “Doy” Laurel. During the relaunching of his biography last year, journalist Teddyboy Locsín, Jr. aptly said that when his uncle Doy passed away, “that old world of honor passed away with him”.

You may regard me as a hopeless romantic, because despite my frustrations on modern Filipino society, I still believe that we can bring back that old world.

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

*What I meant here is the skill to wield political reality to one’s advantage. Once this skill has been utilized effectively, then political power will fall into one’s hands easily. The only question now is if the person who gains political power is worthy of such power. Such are the risks of electing a government official.

Enchanting Lake Sebú

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Rainy days of recent weeks brought back beautiful and exciting memories of last year’s Allah Valley Familiarization Tour, particularly our journey to enchanting Lake Sebú. It took place during my “birthday week” (July 14-18, 2013), and it was my first trip to Mindanáo where I got to meet some of the most interesting people. For most part of our tour, it was either raining or drizzling, but it never spoiled our “vacation”, at least for my part.

I got lucky to have been part of that tour which was composed of well-known travel bloggers and writers as well as representatives from the Department of Tourism. Together, we traveled to many parts of Cotabato del Sur (South Cotabato) and Sultán Qudarat, or those places pertaining to the Allah Valley region. But what was perhaps the most thrilling place we visited was Lake Sebú in Cotabato del Sur.

 

Partial view of Lake Sebú from Mountain Lake Eco Resort (07/16/2013).

 

Lake Sebú is a large natural lake located in the municipality which also bears its name.* Situated in the nature-tinged province of Cotabato del Sur and within the Allah Valley region, it is recognized as one of the country’s most important watersheds as well as a major tourist attraction in Mindanáo. The lake region is beautifully surrounded by rolling hills and thickly forested mountains and is the home of the T’boli, the extremely friendly indigenous peoples of South Cotabato.

Up in the frosty mountains of Barrio Lamfugon, Lake Sebú, on our way to a T’boli community within the forest. And for my first spelunking experience (07/15/2013).

 

At the mouth of Cofnit Cave. Photo by “Tatay” Nestor Dionido. (07/15/2013)

After exploring Cofnit Cave all drenched and muddy, we were forced to spend the night with the T’boli community in the highlands of Mount Lambilâ because the trail towards the town proper got really muddy due to nonstop rains. It was chilly all through the night, but an unforgettable one nonetheless because we immersed into the T’boli culture. There were lots of singing, dancing, and even poetry! (07/15/2013)

 

Ida and master travel photographer George Tapan with our T’boli friends, right before our trip back to the lowlands. (07/16/2013)

 

A tour guide introduces us to Laang Dulay, the famed T’boli “dreamweaver” of the colorful T’nalak cloth. The delicate and intrinsic geometrical patterns of the T’nalak cloths that she wove (such as those behind her) originated from her dreams, thus the “dreamweaver” tag. (07/16/2013)

 

Sceneries around Lake Sebú on board our cruise and breakfast tour provided by Mountain Lake Eco. Resort (07/17/2013)

 

The enchanting blogger known as Pepe Alas below the breathtaking but deadly Hikong Alo waterfalls and rapids of Lake Sebú with THE George Tapan of travel photography fame and Ida. Photo by Ron Yu. (07/17/2013)

So enchanting were the sceneries, stories, and people of Lake Sebú that they inspired one of us to make a film! Writer Ida Anita del Mundo (daughter of a living film legend) was roused by our Lake Sebú sojourn to write and direct her first indie film, K’na, The Dreamweaver. It’s one of the entries to this year’s Cinemalaya which opens tomorrow night.

No wonder she seemed catatonic for most part of the tour! She was subconsciously cookin’ up something, after all! :D

I told Ida many weeks ago that I’d tag my family along to watch the screening of her film. Unfortunately, because of my wife’s delicate pregnancy, we won’t be able to do so anymore. Lo siento, señorita. But she has already seen the stunning trailer and she has nothing but praises for it. Judging by the trailer alone, this movie is in a class of its own.  Wifey and me would be surprised if this film does not win a major award. We’re both disappointed, though, that we won’t be able to see the full movie. It was supposed to be the first indie film that we’d ever watch, believe it or not. But here’s hoping that a DVD of K’na, The Dreamweaver will come out in the near future.

But how enchanting is Lake Sebú, really? To those who won’t be able to travel there the soonest, I suggest you check out Ida’s jaw-dropping art film to find out.

 

Click on the photo to view the full schedule of shows at the CCP and Ayala Malls!

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

The Municipality of Lake Sebú was once a part of the Municipality of Surallah. It became a separate municipality on 11 November 1982. On the other hand, Surallah was founded on 19 June 1961 and was one of the 11 original municipalities of Cotabato del Sur when the latter province separated from the much larger province of Cotabato on 18 July 1966. Cool. So I share the same birthday with the province. Maybe I should move my family there permanently. And you better believe me when I say that it’s not a bad idea. :D

Happy 443rd birthday, La Laguna!

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Noong Hunyo 13, 2012, sa isang kagila-gilalas na pagtuklas, nahanap ng historiador at beteranong manunulat na si José Mario “Pepe” Alas ang tunay na araw ng pagkakatatag ng dakilang Lalawigan ng Laguna. Ayon sa Historia General de Filipinas Vol. 2, isang aklat na iniakda ni Fr. Pablo Pastells, S.J., at matatagpuan sa mayaman at malawak na koleksyon ni Alas, itinatag ang Laguna noong Hulyo 28, 1571. Ang nasabing pagkakatuklas ng tunay na araw ng pagkakatatag ng ating lalawigan ay bunga ng masusing pananaliksik na pinangunahan ng inyong lingkod para sa coffee table book na ating ilulunsad, ang “Laguna: The Heart of the Philippines”. Sa pakikiisa ng Sangguniang Panlalawigan, nilikha natin ang isang ordinansya na opisyal na magtatanghal sa nasabing petsa bilang araw ng pagkakatatag ng Lalawigan ng Laguna.

Governor ER Ejército

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

Ngayong Hulyo 28, 2014, sama-sama nating ipagdiwang at gunitain ang Ika-443 Anibersaryo ng pagkakatuklas ng ating lalawigan. Sa ilalim ng ating pamumuno at agresibong pagpapasaliksik ng kasaysayan ng ating probinsya, natukoy natin ang tiyak na araw ng pagkatatag ng ating pinakamamahal at pinakatinatanging Lalawigan ng Laguna. Kaya naman, nawa’y magsilbing inspirasyon ang pagdiriwang na ito upang mas pahalagahan natin at mahalin ang kultura at kasaysayan na siyang pundasyon ng ating pagkakakilanlan. Mabuhay ang Lalawigan ng Laguna, ang Puso ng Bansang Pilipinas!

Governor ER Ejército

100th registration date, not foundation, for the INC

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Renowned Catholic apologist Francis Raymund Gonzales (founder of 100% Katolikong Pinoy) hit the nail right when he said that Félix Manalo did not establish the Iglesia Ni Cristo on 27 July 1914. The INC sect was already in existence way before the said date. As a matter of fact, Manalo was already preaching his newfound doctrines in Santa Ana and Taguig a year earlier.

According to stories, Catholic-born Manalo underwent several religious conversions before finally making a hermit-like (but very brief) research sometime in November 1913 by secluding himself with religious literature and unused notebooks in a friend’s house in Pásay. This solitary confinement lasted for three days. After his self-imposed detention, he emerged from the room, announcing to everyone that he was the “restorer of the church of Christ”, “God’s last messenger”, and the “angel from the East” (Revelation 7:1–3). As a matter of fact, the first INC congregation, complete with an ordained minister, was already established in Santa Ana in 1913. And his first converts were baptized along the banks of the Pásig River on that same year.

So why in the world are they celebrating the centennial of their foundation today? Manalo merely registered his sect exactly 100 years ago with the Bureau of Commerce (today’s Department of Budget) to make the INC a legal entity. But that doesn’t mean that their group was established on the said date.

Because there is no record of the exact date when Manalo proclaimed himself as God’s final angel from the East, perhaps the INC leadership found it convenient to connect their sect’s foundation date to when their founder registered it with the Philippine government. In that regard, didn’t that act by Manalo make their group a worldy institution? And since INC members believe that the Bible is the only basis of their beliefs and practices, did it completely escape the minds of their ministers about what the Holy Book has to say regarding worldliness (Colossians 3:2, 1 John 2:15-17)?

This is rather too obvious that I’d rather have you, dear reader, make a caption out of it.

Nevertheless, although I have no intention of greeting the INC today, it is not exactly my intention to spoil their party (if the abovementioned information disturbs our friends from the INC, there’s no one else to blame here but those who have planned out their centennial festivities). What I would really like addressed here is how we Filipino Catholics react towards and/or against this thorn on the side of our Faith. Many of those who react are active on social media, particularly on the Facebook page Exposing the Iglesia Ni Cristo Cult of Manalo which I follow. I am delighted to see how the administrators of this page expose many enlightening facts about the INC, and how its more than 5,000 followers take part in the discussion. Many of those who comment are even members of the INC themselves. In YouTube are many videos of debates between INC ministers and Catholic defenders. Outside of the Internet, I am sure that there are many other conferences between representatives of both the INC and the Holy Mother Church.

But that is the problem. I notice that many militant Catholics and defensive INCs do not take part in friendly dialogue anymore, judging from what I read or see on the Internet and various media. Whenever I read the comments of each post in Exposing the Iglesia Ni Cristo Cult of Manalo, for instance, disappointment mars my heart. Because there is little or no friendly dialogue at all. What I usually encounter are insults, calumnies, and downright mudslinging.

To my fellow Catholics, the point of all these efforts is for us to supposedly convert our INC brothers and sisters, to bring them to our fold, to have them believe in us because we believe, nay, we know, that we are on the right path to salvation, that ours is the true faith. Because if the sole purpose of such debates and social media groups is to simply antagonize and to attack the INC camp, then we have failed our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ in helping Him spread the gospel to every nation and to all creatures (no pun intended, hehe!). Because with each calumny, each diatribe, that we happily hurl against the INC (as well as other sects), the more we create enmity and hatred, the more we widen the gulf that divides us, a gulf that isn’t supposed to be there in the first place.

So next time we engage the INC in a discussion, each time we create a clever meme or publish a new exposé, we have to keep in mind that our main objective is to make them realize the golden veracity of the Holy Mother Church. Because if we only generate more hateful comments and reactions from the other camp instead of making them realize that they are on the wrong side, then we have just showed the rest of the world that we are no better.

There would be no INC without the Holy Mother Church

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The below information has been going the rounds on Facebook for days in light of the coming centennial of the Iglesia Ni Cristo’s registration (yes, you read that right: registration, not foundation). I deem it fitting to share because it’s not only informative but also filled with historical tidbits that enlighten.

 

There may be friends from the Iglesia Ni Cristo (originally Iglesia ni Kristo) who will be jovially celebrating their sect’s 100th Anniversary this weekend. This marks their church’s 100th year of thriving from July 27, 1914, the date their sect has been registered in the Securities and Exchange Commission during the American rule. Along with your chatter with your INC friends about their sect’s achievements and assets, let us also share to them some of the significant contributions that our Holy Mother Church had unselfishly endowed to them for their use.

1. The word CHAPEL (“Kapilya”) – Members of the INC use this term often, than the politically correct term “gusaling pangsamba”. But little do they know that the word CHAPEL itself is of purely Catholic origin. The term is first used to call the small housing structures or shrines where the relic cloak of St. Martin of Tours is kept, thus CAPELLA (little cape), from the Latin word CAPA or cloak. The cloak is used by the French knights in their war efforts, asking the intercession of St. Martin of Tours for them to win the battles. As customary, the cloak is transportable, so various housing structures were built in every place to house the cloak relic. The Catholic people use the structure for worship, thus the word CHAPEL became of regular use to mean local small church communities.

The word CHAPEL/KAPILYA is not found in the Bible.

2. The word SANTA CENA (Holy Supper) – Since the Philippines has been under Spanish rule, Spanish language is once part of the Filipino familiar tongue. The Holy Mass then is also widely known as the Holy Supper (even until now), or Santa Cena in Spanish. The founders of the Iglesia Ni Kristo adapted this term to mean their own worship service, particularly using some items somewhat identical to the Catholic Holy Mass (that is, bread and wine)

3. The term ECCLESIASTICAL DISTRICT – From the word ECCLESIA, Latin word for “Church”. Latin-speaking Catholics derived ECCLESIA from the Greek word EKKLESIA, which means “a group of those who were called out.”. An Ecclesiastical District in the INC is in the same principle and means used by the Catholic Church – a group of smaller locales or churches in a significant territory.

4. The term PASTORAL VISITATION – This term constitutes a bishop or an archbishop visiting a parish or a religious entity/territoty for a specific purpose (can also be applied to the Pope, though the term would be a PAPAL VISIT). In the INC, this means a visit of their Executive Minister to a locale.

5. The term IGLESIA – a term used originally by Spanish-speaking Catholics hailing from Hispania (Iberian Peninsula). In Spanish-speaking countries, when you ride a taxi and say to a driver to drive you to an IGLESIA, the cab driver will drive you to the nearest Catholic Church in the area.

Other also noteworthy contributions are the following.

1. The famous architect of their houses of worship is a devout Catholic named Carlos A. Santos-Viola. Gaining respect from the INC, he was repeatedly invited to join the sect, but he declined every time. Carlos served in the Our Lady of Lourdes Church in Quezon City and died on July 31, 1994.

2. Without the Gregorian Calendar promulgated by Pope Gregory XIII, there might be no observance of the July 27, 2014 anniversary, or the date would be different.

Now that was mind-blowing. And the abovementioned information reminds me of Nick Joaquín’s incisive observation about local Christianity. What was that again? Oh, yeah. Here it is…

The Faith has so formed us that even those of us who have left it still speak and write within its frame of reference, still think in terms of its culture, and still carry the consciousness of a will and a conscience at war that so agonizes the Christian. For good or evil, our conversion to Christianity is the event in our history.

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.

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