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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.

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.

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