RSS Feed

Tag Archives: National Historical Institute

Marcelo H. del Pilar, a broken dad till the end…

Posted on

Today is the 160th birth anniversary of Marcelo H. del Pilar, one of the leaders of the Propaganda Movement.

Below is a brief biographical sketch of the bulaqueño native written by Carmencita H. Acosta from the 1965 book Eminent Filipinos which was published by the National Historical Commission, a precursor of today’s National Historical Commission of the Philippines (recently known as the National Historical Institute).

Yeyette in front of Marcelo H. del Pilar's monument in Plaza Plaridel (Remedios Circle), Malate, Manila. This monument used to be in front of nearby Manila Zoo. Fellow Círculo Hispano-Filipino member and Heritage Conservation Society president Gemma Cruz de Araneta (a descendant of Rizal's sister María) suggested the transfer of this monument to this site. It was done last year under the guidance of Mayor Alfredo Lim.

MARCELO H. DEL PILAR
(1850-1896)

“The most intelligent leader, the real soul of the separatists…” — these were the words used by Governor General Ramón Blanco, chief executive of the Philippine colony, in describing Marcelo H. del Pilar. A master polemist in both the Tagalog and Spanish languages, del Pilar was the most feared by the Spanish colonial authorities.

Del Pilar was born in Bulacán, Bulacán on August 30, 1850, the youngest of ten children of Julián H. del Pilar and Blasa Gatmaitán. His father had held thrice the post of gobernadorcillo in their home town. Del Pilar studied at the Colegio de San José in Manila and at the University of Santo Tomás; at the age of thirty he finished the course in law. He devoted more time to writing than in the practice of his profession because in the former he saw a better opportunity to be of service to his oppressed country. His oldest brother, Father Toribio H. del Pilar, a Catholic priest, had been deported along with other Filipino patriots to Guam in 1872 following the Cavite Mutiny.

He founded the Diariong Tagalog in 1882, the first daily published in the Tagalog text, where he publicly denounced Spanish maladministration of the Philippines. His attacks were mostly directed against the friars whom he considered to be mainly responsible for the oppression of the Filipinos.

In 1885, he urged the cabezas de barangay of Malolos to resist the government order giving the friars blanket authority to revise the tax lists. He instigated the gobernadorcillo of Malolos, Manuel Crisóstomo, to denounce in 1887 the town curate who violated government prohibition against the exposure of corpses in the churches. In the same year, he denounced the curate of Binondo for consigning Filipinos to poor seats in the church while assigning the good ones to Spanish half-castes.

On March 1, 1888, the populace of Manila staged a public demonstration against the friars. Led by the lawyer Doroteo Cortés, the demonstrators presented to the civil governor of Manila a manifesto entitled “¡Viva España! ¡Viva la Reina! ¡Viva el Ejército! ¡Fuera los Frailes!“. This document, which had been signed by eight hundred persons, was written by Marcelo H. del Pilar. It enumerated the abuses of the friars, petitioned for the deportation of the archbishop of Manila, the Dominican Pedro Payo, and urged the expulsion of the friars.

It was because of his having written this anti-friar document that del Pilar was forced to exile himself from the Philippines in order to escape arrest and possible execution by the colonial authorities.

“I have come here not to fight the strong but to solicit reforms for my country,” del Pilar declared upon arrival in Barcelona, Spain. La Soberanía Monacal en Filipinas (Friar Supremacy in the Philippines) was among the first pamphlets he wrote in Spain. The others included Sagót ng España sa Hibíc ng Filipinas (Spain’s Answer to the Pleas of the Philippines), Caiigat Cayó (Be Like the Eel) — del Pilar’s defense of Rizal against a friar pamphlet entitled Caiiñgat Cayó denouncing the Noli Me Tangere.

Del Pilar headed the political section of the Asociación Hispano-Filipina founded in Madrid by Filipinos and Spanish sympathizers, the purpose of which was to agitate for reforms from Spain.

In Madrid, del Pilar edited for five years La Solidaridad, the newspaper founded by Graciano López Jaena in 1889 which championed the cause for greater Philippine autonomy. His fiery and convincing editorials earned from him the respect and admiration of his own Spanish enemies. “Plaridel” became well-known as his nom de plume.

In November, 1895, La Solidaridad was forced to close its offices for lack of funds. Del Pilar himself was by then a much emaciated man, suffering from malnutrition and overwork. He was finally convinced that Spain would never grant concessions to the Philippines and that the well-being of his beloved country could be achieved only by means of bloodshed — revolution.

Weakened by tuberculosis and feeling that his days were numbered, he decided to return to the Philippines to rally his countrymen for the libertarian struggle.

But as he was about to leave Barcelona, death overtook him on July 4, 1896.

His passing was deeply mourned by the Filipinos for in him they had their staunchest champion and most fearless defender. His death marked the passing of an era –the era of the Reform Movement– because scarcely two months after his death, the Philippine Revolution was launched.

I am not really a big fan of Marcelo H. del Pilar, especially when I learned that he was a high-ranking Mason. Besides, I believe that what he fought for would not equate to heroism. He was, to put it more bluntly, another American-invented hero. The American government, during their colonization of the Philippines, virtually influenced the Philippine puppet government to recognize “heroes” who fought against Spain.

But a closer observation on Marcelo’s life will reveal that, like Rizal and other Filipino “heroes” of his generation, he never fought against Spain. They fought against the Church, the sworn enemy of their fraternity (Freemasonry).

What really captivated me about Marcelo is his heartbreaking fatherhood. Since I am a father of four, I can empathize with his sorrowful plight.

A few years ago, when Yeyette and I had only one child (Krystal), and we were still living in a decrepit bodega somewhere in Las Piñas, I happened to stumble over Fr. Fidel Villaroel’s (eminent historian and former archivist of the University of Santo Tomás) monograph on del Pilar — Marcelo H. del Pilar: His Religious Conversions. It was so timely because during that time, I had just gone through my own religious conversion, having returned to the Catholic fold after a few years of being an atheist and agnostic.

In the said treatise by Fr. Villaroel, I learned of del Pilar’s anguish over being separated from his two daughters, Sofía and Anita. Due to his radical activities as an anti-friar, as can be gleaned in Acosta’s biographical sketch above, del Pilar escaped deportation. He left the country on 28 October 1888, escaping to Hong Kong before moving to Spain. And he never saw his little kids and his wife ever again.

Sofía was just nine years old at the time of his escape; Anita, one year and four months. Father Villaroel couldn’t have written this painful separation better:

Month after month, day after day, for eight endless years, the thought of returning to his dear ones was del Pilar’s permanent obsession, dream, hope, and pain. Of all the sufferings he had to go through, this was the only one that made the “warrior” shed tears like a boy, and put his soul in a trance of madness and insanity. His 104 surviving letters to the family attest to this painful situation…

…He felt and expressed nostalgia for home as soon as he arrived in Barcelona in May 1889, when he wrote to his wife: “It will not be long before we see each other again.” “My return” is the topic of every letter. Why then did he not return? Two things stood in the way: money for the fare, and the hope of seeing a bill passed in the Spanish Cortes suppressing summary deportations like the one hanging on del Pilar’s head. “We are now working on that bill.” “Wait for me, I am going, soon I will embrace my little daughters, I dream with the return.” How sweet, how repetitious and monotonous, how long the delay, but how difficult, almost impossible!

Here are some of those heartbreaking letters (translated by Fr. Villaroel into English from the Spanish and Tagalog originals) of Marcelo to his wife (and second cousin) Marciana “Chanay” del Pilar and Sofía:

In 1890: I want to return this year in November (letter of February 4); Day and night I dream about Sofía (February 18), I will return next February or March (December 10).

In 1891: It will not be long before I carry Anita on my shoulders (January 22); Sofía, you will always pray that we will see each other soon (August 31).

In 1892: If it were not for lack of the money I need for the voyage, I would be there already (February 3); I am already too restless (March 2); I feel already too impatient because I am not able to return (April 14); This year will not pass before we see each other (May 11); Be good, Sofía, every night you will pray one Our Father, asking for our early reunion (September 14; it is interesting to note that del Pilar advised her daughter to pray the Our Father despite his being a high-ranking Mason –Pepe–); Don’t worry if, when I return, I will be exiled to another part of the Archipelago (November 9).

In 1893: Who knows if I will close my eyes without seeing Anita (January 18)!; My heart is shattered every time I have news that my wife and daughters are suffering; hence, my anxiety to return and fulfill my duty to care for those bits of my life (May 24); I always dream that I have Anita on my lap and Sofía by her side; that I kiss them by turns and that both tell me: ‘Remain with us, papá, and don’t return to Madrid’. I awake soaked in tears, and at this very moment that I write this, I cannot contain the tears that drop from my eyes (August 3); It is already five years that we don’t see each other (December 21).

In 1894: Tell them (Sofía and Anita) to implore the grace of Our Lord so that their parents may guide them along the right path (February 15); Every day I prepare myself to return there. Thanks that the children are well. Tears begin to fall from my eyes every time I think of their orfandad (bereavement). But I just try to cure my sadness by invoking God, while I pray: ‘Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven’ I am the most unfortunate father because my daughters are the most unfortunate among all daughters… I cannot write more, because tears are flowing from my eyes aplenty (July 18); We shall meet soon (December 5)

I have to admit, reading these letters never fail to move me to tears because I, too, have experienced the same orfandad and the longingness for a father. It is because I have never lived with my dad for a long time since he was always overseas. When we were young, he only stayed with us for a couple of weeks or a few months. And my dad was a very silent man.

His work overseas, of course, was for our own benefit. But the price was depressing: we’ve been detached from each other forever. Whenever he comes home to us, my dad was like a total stranger to me. Especially now that I have my own family and I rarely see him nowadays. No, we are not in bad terms (although I know that he still resents the fact that I married at a very early age). But we are simply not close to each other because of those years of separation and lack of communication. I do not know him, and he doesn’t know me. We do not know each other personally. But I know for a fact that my dad loved us dearly, and that he experienced the same anguish experienced by del Pilar. I’ve read some of dad’s letters to mom, and in those letters he expressed the same desire to come home with us and stay permanently. But nothing like that happened.

The same thing with del Pilar. After all those patriotic talk and nationalistic activities, nothing happened. His sacrifice of being separated from his family was, sadly, all for naught…

When he died a Christian death in Barcelona (yes, he also retracted from Masonry shortly before he passed away), he was buried in the Cementerio del Oeste/Cementerio Nuevo where his remains stayed for the next twenty-four years. Paradoxically, a renowned Christian member of the Philippine magistrate, Justice Daniel Romuáldez, made all the necessary procedures of exhuming the body of del Pilar, one of the highest-ranking Masons of the Propaganda Movement. His remains finally arrived on 3 December 1920. He was welcomed by members of Masonic lodges (perhaps unaware of del Pilar’s retraction, or they simply refused to believe it), government officials, and his family of course.

Sofía by then was already 41; and del Pilar’s little Anita was no longer little — she was already 33.

Anita was very much traumatized by that fateful separation. Bitter up to the end, she still could not accept the fact that her father chose the country, ang bayan, before family. An interesting (and another heartbreaking) anecdote is shared by Anita’s son, Father Vicente Marasigan, S.J., regarding her mother’s wounded emotions:

[My] first flashback recalls April 1942. Radio listeners in Manila had just been stunned by the announcement of the surrender of Corregidor. There was an emotional scene between my father, my mother, and myself. My mother was objecting to something my father wanted to do ‘para sa kabutihan ng bayan’. My mother answered, ‘Lagi na lang bang para sa kabutihan ng bayan?’ [‘Is it always for the good of the country?’] And she choked in fits of hysterical sobbing. All her childhood years have been spent in emotional starvation due to the absence of ‘Lolo’ [Grandfather] Marcelo, far away in Barcelona sacrificing his family para sa kabutihan ng bayan.

“The second flashback is rather dim in memory. I was then two years old, in December 1920. I think I was on board a ship that had just docked at the [Manila] pier, carrying the remains of Lolo Marcelo. All our relatives from Bulacán were present for the festive occasion. Some aunt or grandaunt was telling me how proud and happy I must be. I did not understand what it meant to feel proud, but I knew I was unhappy because I felt that my mother was unhappy. In the presence of that casket of bones, how could she forget the emotional wounds inflicted on her by her father ‘para sa kabutihan ng bayan’ [for the good of the country]?

History is not just about dead dates, historical markers, and bronze statues of heroes. It has its share of eventful dramas and personal heartbreaks. And this is one heartbreak that I will never allow my children to experience.

To all the fathers who read this: cherish each and every moment that you have with your children.

Justo Lukbán — “sanitary” politician

Posted on

Although it is true that I already have a strong aversion towards democracy, that doesn’t necessarily mean that I dislike all those who work within that political system. Technically, democracy was brought here by the invading White Anglo-Saxon Protestants a.k.a. the North American invaders. The leaders of the much revered Malolos Congress were pioneers of democracy or republicanism. But that doesn’t equate them to becoming corrupt individuals. Yes, democracy failed from the very start. Many scrupulous persons were swallowed by political perversion brought about by democracy’s defects. However, if we are to compare the players of today’s democracy to yesterday’s, Noynoy Aquino, Erap Estrada, Manny Villar, et al., would have paled in comparison to their predecessors who lived during pre-war Philippines, a fabled time when our country still knew how to respect herself.

Thus this blogpost is my commendation to one of that epoch’s incorruptibles: Justo Lukbán of Labo, Camarines Norte. It is his birth anniversary today. Lukbán (originally spelled Lucbán during earlier times when there was still no prejudice against Fil-hispanic orthography) was a former politician during a time when democracy was, in a way, less corrupt. He lived during a time when the Spanish language was still the country’s lingua franca, a time when the “gentleman of the old school” reigned supreme, when our Filipina maidens were still pure and virginal, when Christianity in the Philippines was still one and strong, a time when Philippine literature was in its época de oro or fase de plenitud, when most Filipinos were hombres renacentistas, an era when our country had reached the pinnacle of glory. If only Filipinos of today were like Señor Lukbán and his astounding contemporaries…

Below is a brief biographical sketch of this eminent politician written by Héctor K. Villaroel (from the 1965 book Eminent Filipinos which was published by the National Historical Commission, a precursor of today’s National Historical Institute which was recently renamed the National Historical Commission of the Philippines on 12 May 2010).

JUSTO LUKBÁN
(1863-1927)

Justo Lukbán, a member of the Malolos Congress in the days of the Philippine Revolution, was born in Labo, Camarines Norte, on May 28, 1863, to Agustín Lukbán and Andrea Rillos.

He obtained his early education in a private school conducted by Hugo Ilagan and studied at San Juan de Letrán from 1873, where he obtained his Bachelor of Arts in 1880. He enrolled in medicine at the University of Santo Tomás afterwards; and in 1884, while still a medical student, he was appointed Ayudante Director of the institution’s School of Medicine. He graduated in 1888 and soon opened his own private clinic in Manila.

When the revolution broke out, he joined his brother, General Vicente Lukbán, and was elected delegate of Ambos Camarines to the Malolos Congress. Authorized to collect money for the cause of the revolution, he turned in ₱20,200 for the Revolutionary Government.

During the American Regime, he was appointed district health officer of Ambos Camarines. When complete peace and order was re-established, and political parties were permitted to be organized, he was one of those who actively initiated the formation of the Nacionalista Party in 1906. Meanwhile, he became editor of La Independencia.

In 1909, he was delegate of the first district of Manila to the National Assembly; he was re-elected in 1910. Later elected as Mayor of Manila, he created a controversy by banishing to Mindanáo all women of ill repute. At the instance of Governor-General Leonard Wood, he was appointed President of the Board of Appeals.

He died on September 2, 1927 of heart disease.

Labo, Camarines Norte, the hometown of illustrious statesman Justo Lukbán.

Julio Nákpil, musical revolutionist

Posted on

Today is the birth anniversary of a very prominent and highly talented revolucionario. His name is Julio Nákpil. Below is a brief biographical sketch of the Manileño revolutionist written by Carmencita H. Acosta (from the 1965 book Eminent Filipinos which was published by the National Historical Commission, a precursor of today’s National Historical Institute).

JULIO NÁKPIL
(1867-1960)

In Julio Nákpil’s musical compositions is reflected his intense love of country. Upon the request of Andrés Bonifacio, he composed and wrote the lyrics of what the Supremo envisioned as the national anthem of the Philippines, entitled Marangal na Dalit ng Katagalugan.

On November 2, 1896, Nákpil left his home in Manila and proceeded to San Francisco del Monte where he joined the forces of Bonifacio. He fought his first battle alongside Emilio Jacinto in San Mateo under the command of Bonifacio. Nákpil helped in procuring arms and ammunition for the Katipunan. From December, 1896, to March, 1897, he succeeded in sending to Tejeros, San Francisco de Malabón, about 30 to 40 copper boxes of gunpowder taken from the polvorón de San Guillermo in Binañgonan, Mórong. Had Nákpil been caught by the Spaniards, he would surely have been executed.

He assumed the fictitious name “J. Giliw” in all his revolutionary activities, as was the custom during that dangerous period, so as to escape detection by the enemy. When Bonifacio was called to Cavite, he entrusted the command of the revolutionary forces in northern Manila to Isidoro Francisco and chose Nákpil as secretary of said forces. He fought several battles in the aforesaid area under the command of Emilio Jacinto.

His patriotic musical compositions include the “Amor Patrio” which was inspired by Dr. Rizal’s deportation to Mindanáo; “Pahimakas”, a funeral march in commemoration of the execution of Dr. Rizal; “Pásig Pantayanin”, which was dedicated to the bravery and sacrifices of the Revolutionary Army; and “Sueño Eterno”, a tribute to the bravery of the slain General Antonio Luna.

Nákpil was born on May 22, 1867 in Quiapò, Manila, the fourth of twelve children of Juan Nákpil Luna and Juana García Putco. He was self-educated; and earned fame as a pianist and composer. He married the widow of Bonifacio, Gregoria de Jesús, by whom he had seven daughters and one son, Juan F. Nákpil, a renowned architect.

Nákpil spent the last years of his life at his home in Quiapò, Manila, where he died on November 2, 1960. His memoirs of the Revolution were published after his death under the title of Julio Nákpil and the Philippine Revolution. The Bonifacio Centennial Commission conferred on Julio Nákpil a posthumous award in 1963 in recognition of his patriotism.

Those who have been patiently reading my historical posts in the net might notice an ambivalence towards how I treat revolucionarios, particularly the murderous members of the hispanophobic Kataas-taasang, Kagalang-galangang Katipunan nğ mğá Anak nğ Bayan. In one blogpost, I condemned them with the fury of a scornful youth (using street language that may have tore down –unfortunately for me– all credibility of the facts which I have written there). In conversations that I have with other like-minded individuals, I do not, for one second, hesitate to declare that Bonifacio and his Katipunan cohorts were criminals, terrorists, and troublemongers.

So why feature a brief biography of an ex-Katipunero? What made him different from Bonifacio and the other Katipuneros?

True, this is a very difficult topic to ponder and discuss. In a free-for-all historical discussion that I had with my allies Señor Guillermo Gómez Rivera and Arnaldo Arnáiz two weekends ago, I was told that in the conflict between historical characters in the Filipino setting (and this excludes the Yankee invaders), there were no villains nor heroes. It was simply history in the making. Although Señor Gómez also has an ambivalent and sometimes compromising attitude towards certain historical personalities, for him, the nationalism of the person counts most. Therefore, Bonifacio is a hero in his book.

But not for me. I always look for the results of human outbursts. And the result of the Katipunan is what we see right now: a society fit for rabid dogs and not for men. Indeed, Bonifacio may have had nobler purposes and dictates, but his dictates were those of the Masonic lodge, the ancient enemy of the true Filipino faith which is Christianity, aka, Catholicism. The seemingly noble ideals of liberté, égalité, et fraternité bedeviled the foothold of absolute monarchy which, in reality, gave birth and form and spiritual synergy to then heathen and backward peoples such as ours. Freemasonry exchanged it for democracy which, in reality, makes us self-destruct, disfigures us, and places us back to our heathen beginnings, no thanks to liberal amounts of liberation.

Going back to Nákpil, perhaps my inclination towards the arts gave me a soft spot for this Quiapense. After his revolutionary works, he lived a semi-hermit life dedicating himself to music and self-education. Aside from his musical masterpieces (which up to now are the talk of many historians and some classical musicians), he also dabbled in linguistics and scholarship (even making notes on the etymology of local geographical names). Although a Tagalista, his language was actually Spanish: he wrote his memoirs and other personal and scholarly notes (such as Teodoro M. Kálaw’s La Revolución Filipina) in the beautiful language of Miguel de Cervantes. And he was sure damn proud of it. How ironic, indeed, for someone to have joined an anti-Spanish terrorist group but whose language and psyche is that of the colonialists.

During his final years, Nákpil was regarded as a “true gentleman of the old school”. His biographer, the late historian Encarnación Alzona, has this to say about the musical revolutionist:

This writer had the privilege of meeting him when he was already in his eighties. What impressed her was his dignified bearing. He was erect, slender, and sprightly, with a ready smile, and above all his mind was lucid. When the conversation turned to the subject close to his heart –the Philippine Revolution– he talked animatedly. He could recount with vividness his experiences during that turbulent epoch. He remembered distinctly certain personalities and what he learned from them. The episode had made lasting impressions on his mind…

By October 1960 his children noticed in him a pronounced physical debility, although he continued his customary morning constitutional, when the weather permitted. On sunny mornings he could be seen dressed neatly and with the aid of his walking stick strolling on the promenade in the Luneta. On All Saints’ Day, 1 November 1960, however, he stayed in bed. On the afternoon of the following day, 2 November, he expired at his home on Barbosa Street. He was ninety-two years old.

If I were to make a comparison between the Katipunan and, say, the Abu Sayyaf, the latter would have paled in deathly comparison. Although both groups are terrorist organizations, the intellect of many a Katipunero was far higher than that of their modern Mindanáo counterpart. Abu Sayyaf members are scalawags and vermins of the lowest ground. After being neutralized, members remain as scumbags. But many Katipunan members such as Nákpil remained dignified and even exalted.

And his music –and language– dignified him more.

Ananias Diokno, taaleño revolucionario

Posted on

Today is the birth anniversary of Ananias Diokno, one of the greatest Filipino soldiers of all time.

Below is a brief biographical sketch of the taaleño revolucionario written by Carmencita H. Acosta (from the 1965 book Eminent Filipinos which was published by the National Historical Commission, a precursor of today’s National Historical Institute).

ANANIAS DIOKNO
(1860-1922)

The only Tagalog general to lead a full-scale military expedition to the Visayas against the Spaniards was General Ananias Diokno. He was also among the very few who, in the twilight period of the War of Independence, bravely undertook guerrilla warfare against the Americans.

General Diokno, born on January 22, 1860, in Taal, Batangas, to Ángel Diokno and Ándrea Noblejas, began his military career as Secretary of War in the departmental government of Batangas. After distinguishing himself in several battles in the Batangas-Laguna-Tayabas zone, he was commissioned to lead an expedition to the Visayas to attack the Spanish stronghold there and to forge unity between the Visayan rebel forces and the Central Revolutionary Government of Emilio Aguinaldo.

Diokno, therefore, organized the Maluya Battalion and sailed in September, 1898, first to Mindoro, then to Marinduque, where he reorganized his battalion; then proceeded to Camarines and places to the south. He established the local revolutionary governments in Buriás, Sorsogón, and Romblón where he supervised the election of local officials.

At Navas, Aclán, he victoriously laid siege to the Spanish stronghold. Diokno’s army then proceeded to Calibo and afterwards to Cápiz and in both places defeated the Spaniards. In a short while, the whole of Cápiz was completely liberated from Spanish rule.

Aguinaldo, upon recommendation of Apolinario Mabini, appointed Diokno politico-military governor of Cápiz. Diokno held the post for a time then left for other regions of Panay to lead his battles. He established contact with General Martín Teófilo Delgado, commander-in-chief of the Visayan rebel government, and in December, 1898, went to Jaro with his troops to maintain peace and order following the defeat of the Spaniards.

However, the temporary peace brought about by Spanish defeat was cut short by the arrival of the American forces. In November of 1899, General Diokno arrived at Santa Bárbara, Iloílo, where he had several engagements against the American troops. At Passi, he almost lost his life when he was ambushed by several mounted Americans. With his son Ramón, he fought off the enemy and even captured two of them.

The Americans being equipped with the latest weapons, many of the revolutionary officers throughout the archipelago knew that they were fighting a losing war and consequently the majority of them surrendered to the enemy. But Diokno refused to do so. He retreated to the hinterlands of Cápiz and resorted to guerrilla warfare. Badly wounded, he was captured by the Americans in a skirmish in 1901 and imprisoned.

After his release, he led the ordinary life of a citizen. The American government offered him in 1916 the directorship of the Bureau of Agriculture. Diokno refused because he believed it was disloyalty to his country so serve the very foreigners who had suppressed its independence.

He spent the remaining years of his life in Aráyat, Pampanga, where he died on November 2, 1922.

The ancestral house of Ananias Diokno in Taal, Batangas (photo taken by Arnaldo Arnáiz).

León Mª Guerrero, “lion” scientist

Posted on

Dr. León Mª Guerrero, the Father of Philippine Pharmacy.

From the illustrious and remarkable Spanish-speaking Casa de los Guerrero comes another Filipino genius: León Mª Guerrero (1853-1935), scientist brother of artist Lorenzo Guerrero and grandfather of diplomat/writer León María Guerrero (his namesake, author of the opus The First Filipino, 1962). Today is his birth anniversary.

Below is a brief biographical sketch of the the man who is considered as the Father of Philippine Pharmacy and Botany. It is again written by Héctor K. Villaroel (from the 1965 book Eminent Filipinos which was published by the National Historical Commission, a precursor of today’s National Historical Institute).

LEÓN MARÍA GUERRERO
(1853-1935)

Born on January 21, 1853 at Ermita, Manila, Dr. León María Guerrero was first among the many Filipinos to put the Philippines on the scientific map of the world.

A man of astounding scientific ability, he finished pharmacy in the University of Santo Tomás in 1876, specializing in pharmacology and botany, particularly the study of flowers. Later, he was awarded the degree of Licentiate in Pharmacy, the highest degree in that line at that time.

In 1887, he became a professor in pharmacy and botany and chemical technician of the Supreme Court in 1888.

During the Revolution, he assumed the editorship of the República Filipina; and upon the founding of the short-lived Philippine Republic University, he served as its dean and professor in pharmacy. Likewise, he was a delegate of three provinces to the Malolos Congress and representative to the first Philippine National Assembly in 1907.

Pursuing other fields of study, like zoology, ornithology, and lepidopterology, he wrote and published several penetrating and brilliant scientific papers which attracted the admiration and respect of Spain and other Spanish-speaking countries.

He died on April 13, 1935.

José Escaler, lawyer extraordinaire

Posted on

It’s a pity that nowadays, it’s almost impossible to find a principled lawyer made from genuine intellectuality such as José Escaler of Pampanga. What we have instead are unprincipled lawyers molded from genuine lies.

It’s also a shame that the glory brought by this illustrious Pampangueño to his fellow Cabalens would years later be tainted by the arrival of perhaps the most corrupt president this archipelago has ever known.

Today we commemorate his birth anniversary. Below is a brief biographical sketch of this lawyer extraordinaire from Apalit, Pampanga. It was written by Héctor K. Villaroel (from the 1965 book Eminent Filipinos which was published by the National Historical Commission, a precursor of today’s National Historical Institute).

JOSÉ ESCALER
(1885-1927)

José Escaler, intellectual, lawyer, industrialist, and businessman, was born in Apalit, Pampanga, on January 19, 1885, the eldest of six children of Manuel Escaler and Sabina Sioco.

He obtained his early education from private tutors; afterwards, he studied at San Juan de Letrán, where he finished his segunda enseñanza at the head of his class in 1897. His studies were briefly interrupted during the Revolution. When peace was restored, he studied at the Liceo de Manila, where he received his Bachelor of Arts degree with highest honors in 1903. In 1905, he earned his Bachelor of Laws from the Escuela de Derecho at the head of his class; after which he left for the United States and Europe and studied briefly at Yale and Oxford universities. In 1909, he returned to the Philippines and took and passed the bar examinations.

In recognition of his educational attainment, he was elected president of the Philippine Columbian Association for several terms and made vice-president of Club Filipino. Meanwhile, after a brief apprenticeship in the law office of William Kincaid, a noted American lawyer, he was made the latter’s junior law partner. Later, he established his own office in Intramuros, with Quintín Salas as his partner.

As a public servant, he started as clerk of the Philippine Assembly; then became attorney of the City of Manila; and, in 1916, was appointed first Assistant Director of Education. The following year, he was appointed Undersecretary of Justice; and, in 1918, acting President of the University of the Philippines, where he had served earlier as member of the Board of Regents and as professorial lecturer.

Escaler was one of the most active businessmen of his generation. He was at one time vice-president and director of several commercial enterprises. A firm believer in the country’s economic progress, he stressed that government intervention in the economic realm was inevitable, that technical know-how must be developed, and that research facilities and laboratories should be established.

Not being a person of very strong constitution, his health soon broke down. He left for Europe to rest and recuperate, but it was too late. He returned to Manila in January 1927, and died on February 17 of a heart ailment. Escaler married Aurea Ocampo on June 26, 1915, by whom he had seven children.

Oh where have all the gentlemen from the old school gone?

Which organizations should convene to create a political party for the Spanish language?

Posted on

I hope that the humble blogpost I wrote yesterday will not be belittled nor ignored by those who are supposed to back it up. I am not forcing them to support my idea — I am actually begging them to do so.

Please do your country a favor by bringing back the Spanish language as a co-official language of this country, vis-à-vis Tagalog and English.

I have no personal political ambitions. And even if I have the political machinery and mindset to become a statesman, I will still not opt to do so. It’s simply not in my system. I’m content of just sitting on the sidelines to observe and comment. To echo what former PNP Director-General (and now Senator) Ping Lacson said many years ago during a TV interview, “I hate politics. And to put it more bluntly, I hate politicians”.

So why am I doing this? Why do I zealously put forward the idea of having a political party to achieve this nationalistic dream of restoring the Spanish language to where it rightfully belongs? Because like what I said yesterday, the political arena is currently our only chance of achieving this dream. I may not have been able to register for the upcoming 2010 Philippine National Elections, but that doesn’t mean that I have totally lost my faith in our country’s political system. That’s why I’d like to give our democratic functions one more chance. Not by exercising my right to suffrage but by creating a “minor” or small political party (or party list) with the noble aim of recognizing the Spanish language’s true worth and deserving status in this country.

I strongly believe that putting forward the idea of making Spanish a co-official language together with Tagalog and English has a very big chance. In the first place, Spanish has long been an official language of this country until it was callously stripped of its status in the 1987 Philippine Constitution. Most legal documents and statutes that we now have in the three branches of our government (namely the the executive, the legislative, and the judicial departments) were originally written in Spanish before it was decided to translate them into English (and sometimes in other native languages). I don’t even have to mention the Spanish language’s impact towards our multifarious cultures and languages (not excluding behavior and even spiritually) since it has already been discussed and debated before.

The Spanish language SIMPLY needs to be brought back to the Filipino cosmos. Not for the language’s sake, but for OUR SAKE. It shouldn’t have been taken away in the first place.

I would like to call on all major institutions in the Philippines (and perhaps those in Spain as well), which has a strong connection to the Spanish language and culture, to sit down and convene about the language’s future in our country. Will the Spanish language just remain a thing of the past, something that should just be treated as an interesting scholarly topic for future dissertations? Should it be considered merely as a stepping stone by BPO professionals to augment their salaries? Should the language be treated only as a school subject? What should be the treatment Filipinos of today should give to the language of their forefathers and heroes who had helped shaped this nation? Shall we content ourselves of merely treating the Spanish language as nothing but a cultural gem that is kept in a see-through vault for everybody to see and admire?

To the best of my knowledge, the organizations which have the answers to the foregoing questions are the following:

Academia Filipina de la Lengua Española
Commission on Higher Education
Cruzada Internacional por la Reivindicación del Español en Filipinas
Department of Education of the Philippines
Heritage Conservation Society
Instituto Cervantes de Manila
National Historical Institute
Spanish Embassy in Metro Manila
Spanish Program for Cultural Cooperation
The Government of the Philippines
The Government of Spain (and concerned representatives of other Spanish-speaking nations)

And of course, the list should include the foremost online group in the country today which advocates the return, dissemination, and conservation of the Spanish language in the Philippines: the Círculo Hispanofilipino, of which I am a member since 2001. It was founded by –of all nationalities– a German!

It will also help if the powerful Zóbel de Ayala family revives the country’s oldest literary award-giving body, the prestigious and legendary Premio Zóbel which has been on a sabbatical since the year I joined the Círculo Hispanofilipino. Bringing back the Zóbel Award will not only spark the fiery zeal and interest to promote Spanish in the country’s sociopolitical landscape — it will also inspire writers who do not write in Spanish to explore a whole new linguistic world. It might even inspire the few remaining hispanoparlantes filipinos to bring out the literary genius in them (whatever happened to Marra Lánot?).

I may have missed some groups. But I believe that the abovementioned list should lead the advancement of the Spanish language in the country. A dialogue or convention should be brought forth. May this meeting be made a national event.

With the symbiosis of the groups mentioned above, this political party which will struggle for the advancement of the Spanish language in the 2013 Philippine General Election will not just be an ordinary party-list group.

*******

Today is the feast day of Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception.

Lorenzo Guerrero: artist, genius, Filipino.

Posted on

Today is the birth anniversary of Lorenzo Guerrero. He’s from Ermita, Manila, belonging to the legendary ilustrado family: los Guerrero.

Guerrero was one of eminent painter Juan Luna’s teachers during the latter’s youth.

Below is a brief biographical sketch of Lorenzo Guerrero written by Héctor K. Villaroel (from the 1965 book EMINENT FILIPINOS which was published by the National Historical Commission, a precursor of today’s National Historical Institute).

LORENZO GUERRERO
(1835-1904)

A great painter and art teacher whose “primitive brush strokes found solidity and vigor in the canvases of Luna and de la Rosa,” Lorenzo Guerrero was born in Ermita, Manila, on November 4, 1835, to León Jorge Guerrero and Clara Leogardo.

He studied Latin at San José College; and painting, briefly, under different Spanish masters, like Cortina and Valdez; and, perhaps for a long period, under Agustín Sáez. At the age of 16 he started giving lessons in drawing. José Rizal described him as a “master who had virtually taught himself.”

In 1858, together with Lorenzo Rocha y Ycaza, he was appointed ayudante de naturales in the Academia de Dibujo y Pintura. Likewise, he gave drawing lessons at Santa Isabel and La Concordia colleges, and worked as a private tutor of the sons and daughters of Manila’s prominent families. Two of his students, Juan Luna and Fabián de la Rosa, won international acclaim.

As a connoisseur of music and literature, he had his house in Ermita turned to a veritable salon where Manila’s intellectuals met and exchanged views. As a gifted painter, whose delicacy of execution and handling of light and shadow was incomparable, he centered his work on two subjects — religious themes and scenes depicting native life and customs. His religious paintings that were housed and greatly treasured in the churches were “Nuestra Señora de Guía,” “Santa Filomena,” “Saint John the Baptist,” and “Santa Verónica de Julianus.” Similarly appreciated were the reproductions of local scenes, like the “Chinese Vendor of Tsin-Tsao,” “River’s Bend,” and “Scene at a Brook,” which were exhibited at the St. Louis Exposition in 1904.

Lorenzo married Clemencia Ramírez in 1868 by whom he had two children.

He died rather suddenly of acute asthma in Ermita on April 8, 1904.

A blast from the past! (Taal, Batangas)

Posted on

Aside from the old town of Vigan in Ilocos Sur (and perhaps Intramuros de Manila), the municipality of Taal has the highest concentration of well-preserved Antillean houses locally known as the bahay na bató, a mixture of pre-Filipino (or before the foundation of our country), Spanish, and Chinese architectural influences. The town is very fortunate for not being razed to the ground by both Japanese and American forces during the last world war. And this is perhaps due to the intervention of the town’s patron saint, Martín de Tours (whose image is housed inside the mighty interiors of the Basílica de San Martín de Tours), and also of Our Lady of Caysasay.

Last October 5 (Monday morning), Arnaldo and I went to Taal. Despite a looming low blood pressure, I just have to take that trip. Haven’t done much traveling and “field work” for a long, long time. We were unfortunate, though, to find out that most famous houses there which are now museums are closed on Mondays. That’s why we don’t have photos of some of the houses’ interiors. Drats.

It was my second time in Taal. The first time I was there was when I was still a college brat. Me and my Parañaque homies were just passing by on our way to Lemery to party and swim and get drunk. I didn’t care much about local history back then. And so this time around, I was prepared for one of the grandest moments of my life — a walk through time, a blast from the past!

Walking along the old streets of Taal reminded me of other centuries-old Filipino homes across the country. Many of them are already neglected. And every year, many of them are nonchalantly brought down to the ground to give way to the new (what price modernization!).

Here in Taal, the people take pride of their town’s rich cultural past. The people are wise enough to preserve their homes not just for posterity but for the sake of income-generating tourism. If only other towns follow Taal’s initiative, not only will they give their own people rewarding jobs, they would also help conserve remnants of our Filipino Identity.

I once tried to do the same for Unisan, Quezon, my father’s hometown. Some houses there could rival the beauty and architecture of those in Taal. But I failed, no thanks to hooligans in uniform.

I hope that the national government will do something to spread the conservationist stance of Taal. After all, to borrow from renowned conservationist Augusto Villalón, heritage conservation is everyone’s business.

Without further kalamazoo, here are the photos we took of that wonderful Hispanic town in Batangas — Taal!!!

A neighborhood of history and charm...

A neighborhood of history and charm...

HISTORICAL MARKER OF TAAL, BATANGAS AT THE MUNICIPAL HALL

Taal, Batangas

NATIONAL HISTORICAL COMMISSION, 1972

ANG BAYAN NG TAAL (1572)

UNANG ITINATAG SA POOK NG BALANGON NOONG 1572. DAHIL SA MADALAS NA PAGPUTOK NG BULKAN AY INILIPAT ANG BAYAN SA KASALUKUYANG POOK. NAGING KABISERA NOONG 1732 KAYA’T TAAL ANG IPINANGALAN SA BUONG LALAWIGAN. NANG MULING MASIRA ANG BAYAN DAHIL SA PAGPUTOK NG BULKAN NOONG 1754, ANG KABISERA AY INILIPAT SA BATANGAN AT ISINUNOD DITO ANG PANGALAN NG LALAWIGAN. ANG BULKAN NG TAAL, NA PINAKAMALIIT SA BUONG DAIGDIG, AY NSA GITNA NG LAWA NG BONBON AT SA BUNGANGA NG BULKAN AY MAY ISANG PULONG NASA ISA PANG MALIIT NA LAWA. PUMUTOK ANG BULKAN NOONG 1634, 1635, 1641, 1709, 1718, 1729, 1731, 1749, 1754, 1867, 1874, 1880, 1911 AT 1965. ANG NGAYO’Y MGA BAYAN NG LEMERY, SAN LUIS, AGONCILLO, SAN NICOLAS, AT STA. TERESITA AY DATING SAKOP NG TAAL.

Ventanas cerradas: the curse of modernization seems not to be welcome among these houses.

Ventanas cerradas: the curse of modernization seems not to be welcome among these houses.

To the local government of Taal: please save this Filipino house!

To the local government of Taal: please save this Filipino house!

This one didn't get lucky...

This one didn't get lucky...

One part of this house (near the municipal hall) is converted into a small school.

One part of this house (near the municipal hall) is converted into a small school.

Philippine baroque: adobe ground floor; wooden second floor projecting over the sidewalk -- classic bahay-na-bató design!

Philippine baroque: adobe ground floor; wooden second floor projecting over the sidewalk -- classic bahay-na-bató design!

An 18th-century house converted into a small hotel under the auspices of the Taal Heritage Foundation.

An 18th-century house converted into a small hotel under the auspices of the Taal Heritage Foundation.

Cute cubed casita.

Cute cubed casita.

Many Taal houses have opened shops on their stone-built ground floors such as this one.

Many Taal houses have opened shops on their stone-built ground floors such as this one.

Arnold said it's a house. I think it's a bodega. But we're not really sure. Whatever it is, it's still exquisite to our eyes, a historic Taal edifice.

Arnold said it's a house. I think it's a bodega. But we're not really sure. Whatever it is, it's still exquisite to our eyes, a historic Taal edifice.

An amalgam of old and new.

An amalgam of old and new.

There is no street in Taal where there are no classic Filipino houses.

There is no street in Taal where there are no classic Filipino houses.

A well-maintained bahay-na-bató.

A well-maintained bahay-na-bató.

Taal town still uses CALLE instead of STREET! Awesome! A job well done for preserving something that is very Filipino!

Taal town still uses CALLE instead of STREET! Awesome! A job well done for preserving something that is very Filipino!

Historical marker at the ancestral home of Doña Marcela Mariño de Agoncillo, the principal seamstress of the first and official Philippine flag.

Historical marker at the ancestral home of Doña Marcela Mariño de Agoncillo, the principal seamstress of the first and official Philippine flag.


PHILIPPINE HISTORICAL COMMITTEE 1955

MARCELA MARIÑO DE AGONCILLO 1859-1946

IPINANGANAK SA TAAL 24 HUNYO 1859; NAG-ARAL SA KOLEHIYO NG SANTA CATALINA; ASAWA NI FELIPE AGONCILLO AT SIYA NIYANG MATAPAT NA KATULONG SA KANYANG MGA GAWAING MAKABAYAN; IPINAGBILI ANG KANYANG MGA HIYAS UPANG MAGUGOL NG ASAWA SA MISYON NITO SA IBANG BANSA SA KAPAKANAN NG PAGSASARILI NG PILIPINAS. SA PANAHON NG KANILANG PAGKAPATAPON SA HONG KONG, AY TINAHI NIYA ANG UNANG BANDILANG PILIPINO NA BUONG PAGMAMALAKING IWINAGAYWAY NI HENERAL AGUINALDO SA KAWIT NOONG 12 HUNYO 1898 SA PAGPAPAHAYAG NG PAGSASARILI NG PILIPINAS. NAMATAY SA TAAL 30 MAYO 1946.

A row of Barong Tagalog stalls at the public market.

A row of Barong Tagalog stalls at the public market.

We had Lomi for lunch at the mercado público!

We had Lomi for lunch at the mercado público!

This arch is a disappointment. The carved text should've been written either in Spanish or Tagalog to preserve the town's historicity.

This arch is a disappointment. The carved text should've been written either in Spanish or Tagalog to preserve the town's historicity.


THE ANCESTRAL HOME OF ANANIAS DIOKNO

The home of one of Taal’s local heroes, Ananias Diokno, is a sad story. The place is already decrepit, and the second floor can even be destroyed by ten men’s bare hands within minutes. What’s ironic is that there is a historical marker placed on the house’s first floor exterior wall, implying that the place is taken care of by local authorities. Hopefully, this house will still be preserved for posterity.

The ancestral home of Ananias Diokno (un taaleño revolucionario).

The ancestral home of Ananias Diokno (un taaleño revolucionario).

Ananias Diokno historical marker.

Ananias Diokno historical marker.

NATIONAL HISTORICAL INSTITUTE, 1991

ANANIAS DIOKNO

KILALA SA TAGURING HENERAL NG KARAGATAN. IPINANGANAK SA TAAL, BATANGAS, ENERO 22, 1860. NAGING KALIHIM NG DIGMA SA PAMAHALAANG PANGKAGAWARAN NG BATANGAS, 1898; NAMUMUNONG HENERAL NG HUKBONG EKSPEDISYUNARYO NG PANAY; MATAGUMPAY NA NAKIPAGLABAN SA BALWARTE NG MGA KASTILA SA AKLAN, ANTIQUE, CAPIZ AT LUNGSOD NG ILOILO; GOBERNADOR PAMPULITIKO-MILITAR NG CAPIZ. LUMAHOK SA PAKIKIPAGLABAN NG MGA GERILYA NOONG DIGMAANG PILIPINO AT AMERIKANO SA CAPIZ, 1898. NAKIPAGLABAN AT NADAKIP NG MGA AMERIKANO SA MAY BUNDOK MAKAWIWILI, AKLAN, 1901. NAMATAY SA ARAYAT, PAMPANGA, NOBYEMBRE 2, 1922.

THE ANCESTRAL HOME OF LEÓN APACIBLE

LEÓN APACIBLE ANCESTRAL HOME

The ancestral home of León Apacible. Rizal and other propagandists have been to this house.

*******

MARÍA YLAGAN OROSA – FABIÁN DE LA ROSA ANCESTRAL HOUSE

YLAGAN - DE LA ROSA

Historical marker of the Ylagan - de la Rosa ancestral house

YLAGAN - DE LA ROSA 2

YLAGAN - DE LA ROSA

*******

BASÍLICA DE SAN MARTÍN DE TOURS

Basílica de Saint Martín de Tours

Basílica de Saint Martín de Tours

For years, I’ve been hearing a lot about the old church in Taal which is situated on a high hill, and about the Virgin of Caysasay. I’ve always thought that this miraculous image is housed in that same old church on top of the hill. So when Arnaldo and I arrived in Taal and saw the massive structure of the church, I thought that it was the Church of Caysasay. But the natives told me otherwise.

Pardon my ignorance, dear readers. So the Church of Taal and the Church of Caysasay are two different churches after all.

The Church of Taal is officially known as the Basílica de San Martín de Tours, the largest church in all of Asia! It stands 96 meters long and 45 meters wide. It was the Augustinian Missionaries who initiated the construction of this “magnificent monstrosity” way back in 1856. Even today, modern architecture might still find it difficult to build such a structure. So you could just imagine the kind of architectural and masonic genius our forefathers (and Spanish architect Luciano Oliver) had —not to mention the dedication and faith— in creating such a stylish and grand structure for God and Christianity and its people in this quaint and bucolic town of Taal.

As stated in the town’s historical marker, Taal used to be in a different site. The Taal basilica was first built in present day San Nicolás, Batangas under the care of Fray Diego Espina, O.S.A. in 1575. But in 1754, nearby Volcán de Bonbón (the onomatopoeical ancient name of Taal Volcano) erupted so violently it destroyed not only the original church but the whole town of Taal itself. The church was then transferred to its present site, the Taal that we know today.

A new land was prepared for the new church in 1755, but in 1849 it was destroyed again, this time by an earthquake. Construction of the new church began in 1856 and lasted up to 1878. A small tower was made on the church’s left side but it was destroyed during the Japanese Occupation. It was reconstructed later on, much taller than the original.

It was only during the previous generation when this historic church was made into a basilica: 8 December 1954, feast day of the Immaculate Conception; it was later declared as a national shrine on 16 January 1974.

When Arnaldo and I went there last October 5, it was a windy Monday afternoon (my favorite weather!). My clothes were flapping on my thin frame, and the winds were bouncing heavily on the weather-beaten façade as it howled onto my ears. I stood right in front of the massive structure, looking straight up. The sentiment of that moment was something undescribable. Something which curdles the blood nostalgic.

It was something else — something that is purely and spiritually FILIPINO…

We then entered the church, eyes gaping at the imposing ceilings of this granddaddy of all Batangas churches.

I would have embraced the whole structure if I were Galactus of Marvel Comics.

So far, this is the most beautiful and awe-inspiring church these pretty eyes have laid on!

The massive façade of the largest church in Asia.

The massive façade of the largest church in Asia.

Guardian.

Guardian.

The church's imposing interiors.

The church's imposing interiors.

SAINT MARTÍN DE TOURS

ESCUELA PÍA

Founded by Augustinians, this small edifice is one of the oldest educational institutions in the country: Escuela Pía (since 1839).

PEPE ALAS EN LA BASÍLICA DE SAN MARTÍN DE TOURS

Nope. Not Europe -- Batangas!

*******

NUESTRA SEÑORA DE CAYSASAY

The church which houses the 17th-century gem -- Nuestra Señora de Caysasay.

The church which houses the 17th-century gem -- Nuestra Señora de Caysasay.

The chapel-like Church of Caysasay is a stark contrast to the giant that is the Basílica de San Martín de Tours. Caysasay Church is located in the outskirts of the town, standing beside Río de Pansipit. The famous icon of Nuestra Señora de Caysasay, a 17th-century image of the Immaculate Conception, is housed there. The image was discovered by a Taaleño fisherman named Juan Maningcad in 1603. Up to now, nobody knows the origins of the miraculous image. There have been even reports of apparitions of the Blessed Virgin Mary on the hill of Barrio Caysasay. The Blessed Mother of Christ appeared on the same spot where the Church of Caysasay now stands.

The historic and miraculous image of Our Lady of Caysasay.

The historic and miraculous image of Our Lady of Caysasay.

The simply-designed retablo of the centuries-old Church of Caysasay.

The simply-designed retablo of the centuries-old Church of Caysasay.

Nuestra Señora de Caysasay

*******

The ancestral home of Don Gregorio R. Agoncillo.

The ancestral home of Don Gregorio R. Agoncillo.

OUR HERITAGE SPEAKS SO MUCH OF OUR IDENTITY. CONSERVATION SPEAKS SO MUCH OF OUR LOVE AND RESPECT FOR OUR OWN IDENTITY.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 779 other followers

%d bloggers like this: