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What do “Bossing” Vic, Senator Tito, and the late FrancisM have in common?

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The grandfather of “Bossing” Vic and Senator Tito Sotto and the grandfather of the late “Master Rapper” FrancisM were both former senators who were staunch defenders of the Spanish language in Filipinas.

Senator Vicente Sotto.

In the late 1940s, Senator VICENTE SOTTO (1877-1950), the “abuelo” of Bossing Vic and Senator Sotto, authored Republic Act No. 343 which ordered the teaching of the Spanish language “as one of the possible subjects in all the high schools, either public or private” all over the country. Republic Act No. 343 was also known as the “Sotto Law”.

Senator Enrique Magalona.

In the early 1950s, Senator ENRIQUE MAGALONA (1891-1960), the “abuelo” of legendary FrancisM, reinforced the Sotto Law by introducing a bill which then became Republic Act No. 709. The act provided for the obligatory teaching of Spanish “in all universities and colleges, public and private, and all students shall be required to complete twelve units at least”.

Both former senators should be considered as heroes for their admirable attempts at preserving this very important component of our National Identity. After all, Spanish is not a foreign language. It is the FOREMOST and the ORIGINAL Filipino language. And both Senators Sotto and Magalona knew this.

But I think what they didn’t know was that, in the future, their respective grandchildren would become co-hosts of “Eat Bulaga!”, the country’s number one and longest-running noontime variety show.

Destiny? Perhaps. And speaking of destiny…


Up next: the AlDub Phenomenon!

Bureau of Customs or Bureau of Corruption?

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I’ve been suffering from writer’s block for a long time already. So for the meantime, my seventeen-year-old niece Helenna Beatrice Órgano y Alas, an engineering student from the country’s oldest university, is taking over. Here’s her no-holds-barred piece against the Bureau of Customs’ controversial decision last month to strictly inspect our balicbayan‘s gift of love to their families

Bea Órgano y Alas.


Most of us, if not all of us, are already aware of what’s happening with the issue on the Bureau of Customs (BOC) and the Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs). If there’s one thing that OFWs have a grudge on, it’s probably about the BOC’s ‘dirty work. There are three main reasons which I think why the workers abroad got furious about: the BOC not just doing the usual X-ray and K-9 checking; OFWs are not given even a single notice that something’s happening with their boxes not until a ‘kapamilya’ reports it to them; and of course, the fact that some items — branded and original — were sold at a reasonable rate.

BOC, sometimes derisively called the ‘training center for corrupts,’ is a Philippine government agency under the Department of Finance. They are the ones who are in charge of this issue’s “matter” — the “balikbayan box”. Most of the loved ones of OFWs who are residing here in our country are trying to reach out to the government because of this indecent acts showed by BOC laborers. This indecent act I’m talking about is the examination of the items inside a balikbayan box. Anyone with a good morality and ‘delicadeza‘ would not open the box because it belongs to the family of the overseas worker and was bought with earnings of the worker.

Some OFW might still be clueless of what’s happening with their ‘love in a box’ here in our country until a relative or a family member claims the box. A close cousin of mine happens to work in Singapore and we all know that the cost of living there is just so much. She bought a branded bag there and was delivered here, but she was informed by her mother that upon claiming the bag, the BOC said that they will not give it to her unless she buys it with an already discounted price, at least for the BOC to know that the item was really addressed for the mother. And the tax was already paid there, but the BOC still inputs the tax with the price. Airport Customs Deputy Collector for Operations confirmed their act, saying that no matter where the item was bought, no matter who brought it here, if it is bought abroad and was delivered in the Philippines it will still be taxed. As for the OFW who bought the items and paid for the tax abroad, it is really exasperating.

For the record, it’s still not the sickest thing I could know about the BOC’s foul deeds, but this. If family members won’t claim it in the exact office of the BOC, it will not be given to them or even contacting the family so that they’ll know that the package is already waiting for them, if not to be delivered in their homes. It’s either the BOC laborers will own them or sell the items inside a box. It’s a very impure act, right? And not just that, but because they already have checked the item, be it branded and original or not, they will sell some of them with the actual price. People nowadays are very insensitive of the feelings of others. Maybe some our workers abroad are expecting that his family is already experiencing the joy brought about by the ‘love in a box’ they earned from hardwork and inspiration, but when in reality, the ‘Buwayas’ in the BOC are the ones who get to taste their own idea of bliss.

Clarifying a misconception on the definition of “Filipino”

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How timely it surely is that, as we celebrate History Month, two individuals who are very passionate in the study of Filipino History introduced a new argument that the long-accepted historical definition of the term Filipino, i.e., Peninsular Spaniards who were born in Filipinas, is dead wrong. In a Tagálog article written by Mr. Jon Royeca on his blog last August 14, he argues that the claim made by previous historians, particularly Renato Constantino, that the Insulares were the first Filipinos was wrong. He went on and cited Fr. Pedro Chirino’s monumental work Relación de las Islas Filipinas (1604) as his source:

Heto ang katotohanan… tinawag ng may-akda niyon na si Padre Pedro Chirino ang mga Tagalog, Bisaya, Ita, at iba pang katutubo ng Pilipinas na Filipino.

(Here’s the truth… the author, Father Pedro Chirino, called Tagálogs, Visayans, Aetas, and other natives of the Philippines as Filipino.)

Royeca then shared his blogpost on Philippine History, Culture, & Tradition, a popular Facebook group lined up with many well-known historians, anthropologists, and other like-minded social scientists dedicated to the discussion and exchange of ideas and new discoveries regarding that page’s theme.

A few days later, and on the same Facebook group, Royeca was seconded by Mr. Nonoy Regalado who shared the screenshot below:

Explaining the screenshot, Regalado wrote:

The 1822 Diccionario de la Lengua Castellana (by La Academia Española, Madrid) defined Filipino as follows: “El natural de las Islas Filipinas o lo perteneciente a ellas” (The native of Las Islas Filipinas or what pertains to them).

Regalado ended his opinion piece by declaring that all the other seasoned historians such as León Mª Guerrero and Ambeth Ocampo (including National Artist Nick Joaquín, of all people) were wrong in spreading the idea that the term “Filipino” traditionally referred only to Peninsulares.

Going back to Royeca, it is really bothersome when he concluded his blog in this manner:

…malinaw pa sa síkat ng araw na ang mga unang tao na tinawag na Filipino—o ang mga orihinal na Pilipino—ay ang mga katutubo mismo ng Pilipinas.

(…it is clear as the sun that the the first people who were called Filipinos —or the original Filipinos— were the indigenous themselves of Filipinas.)

To my observation, Royeca and Regalado did not tell us the complete definition of the term Filipino. Although they did share primary sources showing how the word Filipino was defined during the early years of our country’s vassalage under the Spanish monarchy, I wonder if they even bothered to ask themselves WHY the early Filipinos were called as such. I ask WHY because the name Filipino is NOT EVEN INDIGENOUS, meaning to say, the term does not come from any native language like that of the Tagálogs, the Visayans, the Aetas, etc.

To further emphasize this: the term Filipino is not a Tagálog word. The term Filipino is not a Visayan word. The term Filipino is certainly not an Aeta word. And so on and so forth. The name Filipino is Spanish, thus the impossibility of the notion that the demonym used for the indios (as the indigenous were generally referred to at that time) had some natural or indigenous etymological imprint whatsoever. Due to this, Royeca and Regalado must now categorically point out WHY Fr. Chirino called the natives as Filipinos. Certainly, there must be a reason why the good friar called them as such.

Another thing that bothers me is that both Royeca and Regalado averred that those seasoned historians they mentioned were mistaken in referring to the insulares or native-born Spaniards as Filipinos. I’m afraid that the one wrong in this particular aspect —and I mean them no disrespect— are Royeca and Regalado themselves… unless they can point to us an indigenous individual who wrote calling himself a Filipino, or even an indigenous group for that matter who referred to themselves as such, and has been doing so even before the Spaniards came and founded the Filipino state on 24 June 1571 together with the founding of Manila as its capital city.

In addition, Both Royeca and Regalado are also proven wrong when they implied, wittingly or unwittingly, that the insulares or Spaniards born in the islands were not called Filipinos at any time in our history. It should be remembered that Charles Derbyshire, a US writer and translator of José Rizal’s novels and poems, did write about it in 1912, years before Renato Constantino was even born. In the glossary to his 1912 English translation of the El Filibusterismo, Derbyshire clearly differentiated the indio and the Filipino:

Indian: The Spanish designation for the Christianized Malay of the Philippines was indio (Indian), a term used rather contemptuously, the name Filipino being generally applied in a restricted sense to the children of Spaniards born in the Islands. (emphasis mine)

And in two footnotes found in the same book, Derbyshire made it clear that:

The Spanish designation for the Christianized Malay of the Philippines was indio (Indian), a term used rather contemptuously, the name filipino being generally applied in a restricted sense to the children of Spaniards born in the Islands. (p. 14).

Natives of Spain; to distinguish them from the Filipinos, i.e., descendants of Spaniards born in the Philippines. See Glossary: “Indian.” (p. 23)

Yes, Derbyshire did not cite any source on why he defined the Filipino that way. Nevertheless, Royeca and Regalado still has to explain to us why this US translator of Rizal, who lived closer and thus was more familiar to the moods and traditions of Spanish-era Filipinas, gave such definition. And, to reiterate, while both of them successfully pointed out that Fr. Chirino called Tagálogs, Visayans, Aetas, etc. as Filipinos, can they also point out any indigenous individual who called himself a Filipino during the Spanish times? We can tell them confidently that nobody did so. There was, however, one insular or Spanish creole who did so, and that was nationalist poet Luis Rodríguez Varela of Tondo, Manila. It is on record that he did call himself a Filipino —a first in Filipino History— and even declared it in the official gazette of Manila.

Let me then share to you the first two stanzas of one of Rodríguez Varela’s poem that was written in 1812:


Los primeros Filipinos, vasallos son de Felipe.
Pues filipinos lo somos los nacidos en Oriente
De padres peninsulares, conquistadores valientes
Que vinieron a estas islas desconocidas y vírgenes.

Y son también filipinos los de peninsular padre
Y madre oriental o india que en buen castellano parlen;
Educados en colegios de sacerdotes y madres
En el candor del Padre Nuestro y en los oficios y artes.

In the first stanza, Rodríguez Varela pointed out that the first Filipinos were vassals of King Felipe II, and that included full-blooded Spaniards who moved to Filipinas, many of whom died here (eg., Miguel López de Legazpi, Martín de Goití, Simón de Anda, Fr. Francisco Manuel Blanco, etc.). By vassals, we mean those who had accepted the king of Spain as their rightful sovereign (eg., Rajah Humabon and all the rest of the indios who were Christianized and accepted Spanish rule). In that aspect enters the definition of Fr. Chirino. But in the second stanza, the poet made it clear that even Spanish mestizos were Filipinos.

In view of the foregoing, the reason why Fr. Chirino called the natives as Filipinos is because they were members of the Filipino State organized together with Manila as its capital on 24 June 1571 to which all the pre-Filipino or indigenous or ethnic states incorporated themselves into. The moment those natives accepted Spanish authority, and the moment they accepted Christianity, i.e., Catholicism, as their new faith, they automatically became Filipinos.

And since etymology was mentioned earlier, let us also point out that the Webster’s Encyclopedic Unabridged Dictionary of the English Language (New York: Portland House, 1989) has already correctly defined what a Filipino is:

Fil·i·pi·no (fil’əˈpē’nō), n., pl. -nos, adj. —n. 1. a native of the Philippines, esp. a member of a Christianized native tribe. —adj. 2. Philippine. [< Sp. derived from (las Islas) Filipinas Philippine (islands)]

Take note that those who created the said dictionary are no ordinary lexicographers. When one speaks of Webster, we speak of language authorities, expert etymologists who diligently study the origin of words in order to define things and concepts. No wonder Fr. Chirino defined the Filipino as such in his book.

The name Filipino, in summary, referred at first to the Spanish peninsulars serving King Felipe II in Filipinas. Their children, full-blooded Spaniards born in these islands, naturally inherited the classification. And by the 19th century, Spanish educational and political reforms such as the democratic constitution of Cádiz included the indigenous as well as the chinos cristianos as Filipinos, together with the insulares or criollos.

There is no question that Fr. Chirino referred to all natives as Filipinos. We have to laud Mr. Jon Royeca and Mr. Nonoy Regalado for their diligence in making us notice what seems to have been often overlooked. However, Fr. Chirino’s context in his definition of the term Filipino has to be understood clearly in order to avoid misconceptions. The friar merely “covered with a Filipino blanket” those indigenous who assimilated themselves into the Filipino cosmos. During those years of imperial glory, a resident of the islands of Filipinas should naturally be called a Filipino, but it is completely different from a Filipino who had joined or had allowed himself to be absorbed into the Filipino Identity.

August is History Month

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Proclamation No. 339, s. 2012






WHEREAS, History Week is observed from 15 to 21 September of every year by virtue of Proclamation No. 1304 (s. 1974);

WHEREAS, there is a need to transfer the observance of History Week from 15 to 21 September to the whole month of August and rename the occasion as “History Month” to emphasize the most significant turning points in Philippine history;

WHEREAS, major events in the nation’s history occurred in the month of August which concludes with National Heroes Day on 30 August; and

WHEREAS, a week of observance is not enough to undertake various activities given the richness and diversity of our nation’s history.

NOW, THEREFORE, I, BENIGNO S. AQUINO, III, President of the Philippines, by virtue of the powers vested in me by law, do hereby declare the month of August of every year as “History Month.”

Proclamation No. 1304 (s. 1974) is hereby repealed.

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand and caused the seal of the Republic of the Philippines to be affixed.

DONE, in the City of Manila, this 16th day of February, in the year of Our Lord, Two Thousand and Twelve.


By the President


Executive Secretary


Executive Secretary

Pinoy Big Brother: Presidential Edition (FILIPINO eSCRIBBLES’ 6th anniversary special)

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It was reported a few days ago that the budget for the refurbishment of the more than 80,000 precinct count optical scan (PCOS) machines that will be used for next year’s presidential elections has been raised from ₱2.07 billion to an astonishing ₱3.13 billion. Wow. Imagine that. It’s just for refurbishment. But Commission on Elections (COMELEC) chief Christian Robert Lim even boasted that this move is the most cost effective option by the said constitutional commission for next year’s automated election system.

Will that humongous amount even be worth it? Of course it remains to be seen. However, we here at FILIPINO eSCRIBBLES do not concur with this cost effectiveness. Besides, those billions of pesos could have been used for more poverty alleviating projects. Other than that, it was reported recently that COMELEC is planning to hold voting in malls during next year’s elections for the sake of convenience. Nice.

The way we see it, the most cost effective and convenient option we see fit is to have all our presidentiables live inside “Bahay ni Kuya“.

Yes. we’re talking about ABS-CBN’s hugely popular Pinoy Big Brother (PBB).

For the past decade, this reality show has had several iterations: Celebrity Edition, Teen Edition, Unlimited, etc. We thought of coming up with something different, something that is more noble, and certainly something that is not only cost effective but transparent and convenient to all voters. So why not COMELEC, ABS-CBN, and other related government agencies team up together to form Pinoy Big Brother: Presidential Edition? Instead of having these noble and dignified presidentiables launch costly and “security nightmare” campaigns, have them stay inside the PBB house during the campaign period, preferably for a period of two to three months. The whole country (and the rest of the world) will be able to see these “presidential housemates” together under one roof, seeing their true colors while performing weekly tasks related to the coveted presidential throne. We’ll see them interact with one another on a 24/7 basis through live streaming, witness them dance the nae nae upon waking up every morning, that sort of thing. The last man (or woman) standing, or that person who would survive succeeding evictions, will be declared as the President of the Republic of the Philippines. Viewers, of course, will be asked to vote via SMS, voice messaging, Facebook likes, or even tweets, for whoever they wanted to stay longer in the house. Presidential housemates can also vote for those they would like to evict on occasions to be decided by Kuya, whoever that pr!ck is (it’s probably Eugenio López III himself using a voice changing device for all we know).

So far, those who have already confirmed their candidacy, including those who are still playing coy f0r the position, are as follows:

Alan Peter Cayetano
Míriam Defensor-Santiago
Rodrigo Duterte
Chiz Escudero
Jinggoy Estrada
Pánfilo Lacson
Bongbong Marcos
Grace Poe
Mar Roxas

POSSIBLE SCENARIO (déjà vu alert!)

On day one, Bínay will be immediately evicted by both viewers and presidential housemates for obvious reasons — nobody likes him. Not even Kuya himself. It will be a record first in PBB for being the earliest eviction ever.

Before the second eviction takes place, Defensor-Santiago will certainly walk out (nothing new, really), but not without blurting out her disapproval:

“This electoral contest is a travesty of the highest order!” we could almost hear her complain. “It is a grave insult not only to my intellect but to the intellect of the general viewing public who deserves better! Thus, I would like to invoke my right to gracefully exit this discombobulating patchwork of pastel-colored cardboards that you call a house!”

All the housemates will also gang up on Duterte by evicting him after the latter played with a knife and pointed it directly at Bongbong due to some light argumentation about human rights abuses.

In one episode, Lacson will reveal to newfound BFF Poe what televiewers have been suspecting all these years:

LACSON (sobbing): “I’m gay. Sinasabi ko sa ‘yo ngayon, sinasabi sa ibang tao na hindi ako masamang tao.”
POE: “Grabe… nire-respect kita…”

Kuya will forcefully have to pull out Escudero from the list of presidential housemates because ABS-CBN’s hugely popular reality television singing competition will lose Bamboo due to a high-profile murder. It turned out that the evicted Mayor Duterte, inspired by his singing stint in a recent Gandang Gabi Vice episode, tried his luck in The Voice of the Philippines. But no one among the judges turned their chairs. Worse, he received an honest to goodness criticism from Bamboo. The rock artist was found dead the next day. But ABS-CBN wouldn’t want any of this scandalous murder get mainstream attention. Management simply thought of replacing the fallen rocker with a “kalokalike“.

Kuya then introduces a guest candidate: JV Ejército, much to Estrada’s chagrin. In the ensuing days, the half-brothers rivalry heated up to unbearable proportions. They ended up in a nasty brawl, but Estrada’s penguin-like frame was simply no match to his younger half-bro’s Wilson-Fisk-like frame. He ended up in a bloody pulp, resulting in Ejército’s immediate eviction. Estrada then garnered sympathy votes from sympathetic and teary eyed fans.

In the ensuing months, tasks here and there decided the fate of the remaining presidentiables. But the final eviction night will see only two candidates: Roxas and Estrada. But because of the sympathy garnered by Estrada from the butt whoopin’ he received from his half-bro, Planet Pinoy will opt for hin instead of “Mr. Palengke”.

And so we have a winner!

Unfortunately, President Jinggoy Estrada will remain on house arrest because of his ongoing pork barrel case. He will thus hold office at the PBB house until 2022.

So may the MTRCB have mercy upon the weary Pinoy televiewers by leaving Pinoy Big Brother (PBB) alone! Don’t they realize that this hugely popular reality TV program is the people’s nightly lotus? For all intents and purposes, PBB provides our weary Pinoy lotus-eaters a peaceful apathy that they deserve after a day’s toil which in turn produces the same income tax that feeds the very same government agency that harasses them.

Pinoy ako, pinoy tayo! (pwe!)

The Indio is the enemy of the Filipino

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© Rasta Livewire

“Spanish friars mercilessly flogged Filipinos.”

This modern concept of the Indio being flogged by a Spanish friar under the hot tropical sun is what keeps the motor of hispanophobia running. There is no more need to expound what an indio means; simply put, indio is a Spanish word for “native”. The so-called “insulares” or Spaniards who were born in Filipinas were the first Filipinos. Through time, however, hispanization further blurred this. Indios/natives who were Christianized, who started learning and talking in Spanish, and who imbibed the culture from the West began referring to themselves not as indios but Filipinos as well. And this posed not a problem to the insular. As a matter of fact, the insular never considered themselves as “Spaniards” in the strictest sense of the word. They, as well as the Hispanized indios, simply referred to themselves as FILIPINOS. Filipinas is where they were born and where they grew up (patria chica).

To continue, those indios —whether they belonged to the Tagálog race, Ilocano race, Bicolano race, etc.— who were Hispanized in effect lost their “indio” identity (but not completely, of course) when they assimilated themselves to an influx of cultural dissemination coming from the West. There is nothing wrong with this. During those days, it was perfectly normal, as the influx of a foreign culture had no hint of any personal profit and even promoted cultural osmosis in the local scene (contrary to popular belief, Spain NEVER became rich when they founded and colonized our archipelago).

Anyway, because of cultural dissemination, the Hispanized Tagálog ceased to become Tagálog: he became Filipino. The Hispanized Ilocano ceased to become Ilocano: he became Filipino. The Hispanized Bicolano ceased to become Bicolano: he became Filipino. In other words, the term Filipino is not a race but a concept (there is no such thing as a Filipino race because our country is composed of several races). But this concept put a premium over our collective identities, giving us a patriotic “swagger” to refer to ourselves under one homogeneous identity: EL FILIPINO.

To Hispanize, therefore, is to Filipinize. And to put it more bluntly, our “Spanishness” is what makes us Filipino, not our “indio” identity (which is merely a substrate). If we take away our indio identity in us, our Hispanic identity will still continue to flourish. But if we take away our Spanishness, we will go back to becoming savages, and go back to the mountains as “cimarrones“.

Take for example Cali Pulaco, popularly known today as “Lapu-lapu”. This fellow, an indio ruler from Mactán, virtually resisted change. His neighbor, Rajáh Humabon, did not. Humabon accepted change, was baptized into the Christian faith, and received a Christian name: Carlos (named after then Spanish King Carlos I). Remember that culture is not static, should never be static. His men accepted the Santo Niño (and the icon’s culture) as part of their own. Those who were baptized with him died as Christians; Lapu-lapu and his people died as heathens.

And even up to now, Cebuanos celebrate the feast of the Santo Niño with frenzied fervor. Because the Santo Niño has become part of them as Cebuanos, and part of us as Filipinos.

During the Spanish times, there were many other ethnic groups who resisted change — the Ifugáos up north, the Aetas of the mountains, the Mañguianes of Mindoro, the Muslims of the south, etc. And because they resisted change, they missed the opportunity to become “one of us”. Technically, they are not Filipinos. They are only Filipinos by citizenship. But in a socio- and historico-cultural sense, they are not. And look at them now: no disrespect, but they look pathetic and backward because they resisted change. The mountain tribes of the Cordilleras still wage against one another. The Aetas continue to be forest dwellers. The Muslims still raid and kidnap Christians for a ransom and to have their turfs seceded from Filipinas. Etc etc etc. Because, then as now, their culture remains static. They still remain as INDIO as ever before.

Let us accept the fact that our Spanish past is what made us Filipinos in the first place. it is this identity which removed us from the backwardness of a static culture that refused to accept change. Let us accept that we are Filipinos because we are Christians (Catholic), we use cubiertos whenever we eat, we STILL SPEAK Spanish (uno, dos, tres, lunes, martes, miércoles, enero, febrero, marzo, silla, mesa, ventana, polo, pantalón, camisa, etc etc etc.), we eat adobo and pochero, we have Spanish names, we practice and value “amor propio“, “delicadeza“, “palabra de honor“, our town fiestas are the most festive and lavish in the whole world, we enjoy the “tiangues” of Divisoria, etc.

No soy indio. Porque soy filipino.

Originally published here, with slight edits. Special thanks to Arnaldo Arnáiz for the title which was actually a catchy notion that he conceptualized when we were still office mates a few years back.

Philippine-Spanish Friendship Day 2015

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Today we commemorate the ties that bound us forever, ties that have shaped us for three hundred and thirty-three years, ties that are seemingly gone yet are very much alive in the culture that we live and breathe upon…

© Marbella Congresos









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