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End of the road

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For scribblers like me, this is the perfect time to blog because Filipinas is entering a scary but exciting new phase of governmental leadership.

Unfortunately, I couldn’t.

No, nobody’s preventing me to write about President-Elect Rody Rodrigo (please, enough with that idiotic “presumptive president” tag). The reason why I couldn’t blog about him is because…


…I’m blackened.

…I couldn’t write anymore. I just couldn’t. Writer’s block? Probably. Whatever this is, it’s the worst writer’s block I’ve ever had ever since people started calling me a writer. But this is a case in which the problem is not just about writing but about reading as well. I couldn’t even concentrate finishing the recent John Grisham I’ve purchased. And the last Stephen King I’ve read took me forever. It came to a point when I was forcing myself to read. All sentences register blankly. My mind keeps floating somewhere else as I leaf through pages. I had to read each and every word aloud just for me to understand what I was reading. It’s that bad.

Because of this malady, I have to disappoint quite a lot of people. And that includes Manila-based theater group Tinik ng Teatro (TNT), The Quezon Province Heritage Council (QPHC), our country’s militant Hispanic community, my family, and most especially myself.

The dream of every writer is to have at least one book published in their lifetime.  I almost had that opportunity a few years ago, but nothing came out of it (prior to that, I was already hurting when a magazine opportunity went pfffft). That is why, out of sheer desperation, I accepted Tinik ng Teatro’s invitation three months ago to write a coffee table book about its colorful history. I should have declined considering the fact that I have already committed myself to the San Pedro City Historical Council (SPCHC), and that my personal troubles were already seeping in. Because of that, I couldn’t accomplish the task without affecting its quality, something I abhor. To make matters more difficult, I’m still a prisoner of wage slavery. I work the night shift for a multinational conglomerate in shifting schedules, usually at night. I hate what I’m doing there, the hoary people I’m with, but I had to because it’s my only bread and butter. With five kids to feed and a wife who has left employment to become a full-time mom, you could just imagine the travails of an ambitious writer with patriotic tendencies.

Speaking of patriotism, I could’t keep pace anymore with the members of the QPHC. Not wanting to treat it merely as a social club that I could swagger around to people’s faces, I had really wanted to contribute more to its vision and mission, but I just couldn’t because of my abnormal office schedule. I volunteered to that group’s president that I will blog about its events. But even in that simple task I failed.

And then there’s my family’s financial status that has been bugging me each time I attempt to write something. We’ve been in terrible financial straits ever since my wife was forced to stop going to work (don’t let my family’s out-of-town trips fool you into thinking that we’re well-off than you). With our debts ballooning, we eventually lost the house we’ve mortgaged eight years ago, adding to my vexations. This financial pressure is one reason why I couldn’t even pay my dues with QPHC. Hilarious.

I was once active in the struggle to have the Spanish language brought back to the Filipino mainstream. Any article I encounter online degrading our Filipino History, one that is based on our Hispanic identity, would have immediately received an online beating from me. I take joy and pride that many in our “clique”, including one well-known constitutionalist, have considered me as Señor Guillermo Gómez‘s successor. Of course there is no person living today who can replace let alone duplicate what Señor Gómez had done for the country, but words like that was an additional motivation for me to carry on the national identity struggle with much gusto. But with the way things have been going in my mind lately, that will seem highly unlikely anymore. I’ve been quiet for a long time in that quixotic struggle, anyway.

So to TNT, QPHC, and to the Hispanic community, I would like to apologize for letting you all down. Feel free to curse at me. I deserve it, really.

Lest I forget, I just came off a two-week physical therapy to treat my reflex neurovascular dystrophy. This painful condition has been been giving me severe discomfort whenever I sit down and use the keyboard and mouse even for just a few minutes. This has been going on for the past few years which started to worsen about two years ago. Unfortunately, PT didn’t work. My hands, fingers, forearms, arms, shoulder, armpits, and upper back are is till in total pain even as I write this sorry blogpost. So just imagine the kind of hell my body goes through each and every time I buckle down on my office cubicle for a lonely eight-hour night shift surrounded by annoying schleppers and the most unbearable philistines who don’t have an inkling as to the root cause of why we’re all there in the first place.


Me in EDSA on my way to work.

The preceding paragraph reminds of what I believe is the worst contributor to my sorry mental state: my shifting night schedule as a wage slave. I’ve been a clock-punching night shifter for more than a decade already, having been employed in various companies; I didn’t fare well in all of them and have had issues. Not that I care, but my heart simply doesn’t belong to employment (“I am not like them. I am divine. I was meant to work with my intellect, not with my hand. I sweat aesthetically, but since they do not see, they think I am a sloth,” says José García Villa). I just had to do it because of my family. And for the past five years, I’ve been facing EDSA’s horrendous traffic, sometimes waiting for the world to die inside a bus for three hours just to get to the office (there’s no freaking way you’ll be able to make me take the more vicious MRT). Unfortunately, such a routine has taken a severe toll on both mind and body to the point that I no longer wake up without a headache, nor could I sleep six hours straight. And whenever I’m awake, I feel sleepy most of the time and feel dreamy and teary eyed at the sight of the afternoon sun. There are times when I just sit on the bathroom floor after a tiring shift, thinking of all those things that I needed to write but couldn’t because of my circumstances, so I end up helplessly and unconsciously chuckling alone, the echoes of my snickers bouncing off creepily against the tiles, with showers of water streaming down my face… or were those tears?

Maintaining three blogs, nay, struggling to keep awake just to read and write has become an inoperative endeavor through the years. With ideas piling up every day but without enough time for me to channel them out resulted into stress which in turn led to frustration. They’re all dammed up right there (points to the temple), but they couldn’t get out. My tired mind feels like an empty glass pitcher that’s been gradually filling up with water, then placed inside a freezer until it freezes and expands, breaking the pitcher in the process.

Taking into account all of the above and mixing them all up together, the result is a mind that has been sapped of its verve to write. Creativity has been stymied. All that is left is frustration. Whatever creative wittiness, spunk, or humor I may have had in the past, they’re all gone.

How I miss those days when I could blog several times in a month. There were even times when I could blog almost every day. They may not be of top quality compared to other seasoned writers/bloggers, but the point is that I was productive compared to today. I still want to write about so many things. In fact, I’ve been cooking up some short fiction, but couldn’t even continue beyond character development. Several blogposts have already been lined up for this blog and my two other blogs, but they continue to remain in the back burner because of the above-mentioned reasons (excuses?). I could no longer remember the last time I wrote poetry. No rhyme. No verse. Not even the blank type.

Shucks, I just couldn’t go on like this anymore.

Both my ambition and status have consumed me. In order to save myself, all that I yearn for now is a permanent vacation, with trees and flowers, crisp-cold rivers amidst cold a mountain air, perhaps a touch of morning sea breeze…

And fireflies at night.


I have come to a point in my life when I could no longer believe in myself. I now doubt my abilities and even question myself what I really wanted to do in my life. To my ego’s delight, I was once tagged as a budding young historian. But that was long ago. Looking back, I find that all laughable. Hilarious even. How can I be an efficient historian when I am wasting whatever skills I may have in an office cubicle each and every freaking night for the past decade when I should be connected in the academe and doing more research? I couldn’t even find time to answer that proud online historian who thinks that he is right and the likes of Nick Joaquín and León Mª Guerrero, who both had lived in a Filipino tradition he had never experienced, are wrong. But I’m done with arguing online. Years of doing that with Hispanophobes brought me nor my advocacy nowhere. I see no hope for this fight in sight. Even Claro M. Recto’s motivation to struggle for the good cause (ha de amar la lucha por el puro placer de luchar) now feel like dead leaves falling slowly to the ground. I am sorry.

Working in the academe or applying for a newspaper job is no longer an option considering the fact that I have five children to raise. I’m not from a rich family. I’ve been on my own since I’ve become a young dad of two kids and I’ve never depended on anyone, not even on my parents whose espousal I couldn’t even save (and that adds more to my anxieties). The study of history is not a trifle matter. It is certainly not a hobby. Like all forms of art, it requires full attention and concentration, inspiration even, especially since much of what is written about our history is a farce. Historical research requires constant care and passionate patience, much akin to the construction of beguiling verses. I used to practice that while alternating between office work or helping out in day-to-day household chores, something I could no longer continue doing because of the above-mentioned reasons. I’m so burnt out already.

No, I do not blame my family. No one can deny that I care for them so much. That is why I’m doing this. I choose them over my dreams.


In a poem, Manuel Bernabé wrote that if you have left your dreams behind and your passion is dead, you are old (…si has renunciado al vuelo de tu quimera en flor… y se ha apagado el fuego de tu última esperanza… entonces, eres viejo). Then so be it. I am old. But for the record, I have given up on writing…

…because it’s writing that has given up on me. Why should I continue courting a damsel who does not love me?


I am now closing this blog. For good. My other blog will follow soon. Because of our debts, I’ve been wanting to shut down my family’s travel blog too but my wife said no. It’s for our children’s childhood memories, she said. Besides, traveling is part of their education. She is correct. Besides, they have to see for themselves whatever beauty is left of the countryside before this country completely goes whack. So from now on, my wife will handle that blog (just bear with her, please, coz she’s not a writer). What I cannot leave behind at the moment is the SPCHC because of two things: I still have a contract with them, and I owe the family of Mayor Baby Catáquiz quite a lot for helping me out when my wife had a life-threatening childbirth two years ago. I still have one more project to accomplish with the SPCHC. But after that, I’m through.

To the very few people who have been following this blog, I am sorry. And thank you. I will not delete this blog. I’ll just let it stay here online to rot, and to remind everyone that failure and losers are a stark reality. If I may add, I am specifically drawn towards Marvel’s Jessica Jones TV series which I have just finished watching with my three boys. Jessica once tried it out as a superhero but ended up like me — a failure (we are both of us pieces of sh*t). And what Jim Carrey in the film Bruce Almighty had said was very apt for myself. To paraphrase him: “I’m pushing forty, and what have I got to show for it? I’ve hit some kind of a ceiling here. There’s an anti-Pepe barrier I can’t get pass.”

But no, I do not mean to discourage, nor do I beg for pity. I am just exposing a sickening truth to the much-accepted fantasy that “all dreams do come true, just don’t give up”. That is not true. God knows how hard I have been trying to do that. You may go ahead and say that I never fought hard enough — despite my revelations in this final blogpost, you still don’t know nor do you feel what exactly I’m going through. I did struggle to achieve my dreams. Countless times. But there’s a barrier that I just couldn’t pass. And that barrier’s made of steel. I’m just flesh and blood. I’ve given up on this world. We’re not going to be here forever, anyway. This life is just a phase. I’ll just focus on how to get my family go through this difficult phase as safely and as happily as possible…

I really don’t ask for much. Just a chance to have my wife and children go through life with the least physical pain. That isn’t much to ask, is it? But in this bloody country, when a millionaire has a cold he goes right away to a fancy clinic in New York. And me, I can’t even afford to have my head examined.
—F Sionil Jose (through Godo in “The Pretenders”)—

So, if I do not mean to discourage, then what? I guess the moral of my sob story is this:


Also, sacrifices had to be made. No matter how I’m repulsed to being an employee rather than following my heart, I cannot give it up. It’s for my family. I have to choose family over anything else. One just cannot have everything in the world.

To my only true friends in the world (Arnaldo and Señor Gómez), I am sorry for failing you. I just can’t do this anymore. Lo siento mucho.

So what’s next for me after blogging/writing? I don’t know. They say ignorance is bliss, so I might as well go towards that path. But as much as possible, I will stay away from social media (I have not been using my Facebook account that much, anyway; you’ll see nothing in my Twitter account but weird AlDub tweets, and I’ll be inactive there after my 37th birthday). Maybe contact some old friends and hang out, and try to act like an ordinary mortal. I’ll stop thinking too much. Just happy thoughts. If there’s one thing I’m sure of right now, it’s this: my family will never turn our backs to the much-hated truth that has already been ingrained to our souls: that we Filipinos are Hispanic, and we manifest that identity through our Catholic faith.

Will I ever go back to writing? Well, reading and writing are two things that I really love doing. But with the state of mind and body that I am in right now, I couldn’t tell. So it’s maybe or maybe not.

I’ll just let God lead me the way.

Gracias y adiós.

Meet our presidential runners-up

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During the aftermath of presidential elections, most especially when the oath-taking of a new president has taken place, we seldom hear from the runners-up ever again, unless they opt to remain active in politics. But only a few of these second-placers were able to revive their political careers especially since losing in a presidential bid is the most devastating defeat of all political aspirations. In the recently concluded elections last May 9, Manuel “Mar” Roxas ended up as second string to popular Rodrigo Duterte. In this blogpost, we feature those who could’ve been presidents of Filipinas throughout our Republican history… if only fate —or the voters— had been kinder.


From Bonifacio to Roxas.


ANDRÉS BONIFACIO General Emilio Aguinaldo declared himself “El Presidente de Filipinas on 12 June 1898. Prior to this, he had already assumed leadership of the rebel forces that were trying to wrest the country from Spain. However, history has taught us that he became the rebels’ undisputed leader only after the controversial Katipunan convention which was held in Barrio Tejeros, San Francisco de Malabón, Cavite. The convention sought to consolidate the already fractured rebellion against Spain by deciding upon its leaders through an election. As theirs was a rebellion, only Katipunan members were allowed to vote. Of the 256 voters, 146 (57.03%) chose Aguinaldo over Bonifacio who only got 80 votes (31.25%). A third candidate, Mariano Trías, received 30 votes (11.72%). At the end of the proceedings, Trías ended up as Aguinaldo’s Vice Presidente while Bonifacio became Director del Interior. The rest, as we are now wont to say, is history.

EMILIO AGUINALDO Years after disappearing from the limelight, Aguinaldo participated in the US-sponsored presidential elections of 1935 (September 16) which was to determine the leaders of the newly established Commonwealth of the Philippines. He lost to Manuel Quezon, garnering only 179,349 of the total number of votes cast (17.54%) against latter’s 695,332 votes (67.99%). By the time Aguinaldo ran, he was already considered by many as an old guard, a beaten-down warrior from another era. There were whisperings that he was, in fact, under house arrest and was merely given as prey for Quezon, already a US favorite, to be pounced upon especially since national elections were still in its “experimental phase” (it should be noted that the 1935 elections were the first nationwide at-large election ever held in our country’s history). Others who didn’t make it were renegade priest Gregorio Aglípay (148,010 votes or 14.47%) and Pascual Racuyal (158 votes or 0.00%), our country’s original nuisance candidate.

JUAN SUMÚLONG The presidential elections of 1941 (November 11) was still under the US-sponsored Commonwealth of the Philippines. President Quezon sought for another term. A sickly Juan Sumúlong, the great-grandfather of outgoing President Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III, challenged Quezon but only got 298,608 votes (18.22% of the total number of votes cast) against the reelectionist’s 1,340,320 (81.78%). He died two months after his defeat. Had he won, he would’ve been the first Filipino journalist to have become president. Another contender, Hilario Moncado, didn’t receive a single vote, the first presidential candidate in our history to have received such a pathetic feat.

SERGIO OSMEÑA Quezon’s second term was put to a halt when the Japanese invaded the country during World War II. Actually, his government went in to exile while José Laurel took over the country as president of a Japanese-sponsored republic. After the war and the defeat of the Japanese, the US was all set to grant Filipinas its much-sought independence. On 23 April 1946, national elections were held to determine major governmental positions, from the presidency all the way to local government units. Sergio Osmeña was then the president, having replaced Quezon who had died while in exile (he served as Vice President under Quezon). Challenging him was then Senate President Manuel Roxas who had just formed the Partido Liberal and had full support from the US. During the campaign period, only Roxas was visible; Osmeña was busy helping his constituents who were still suffering from the ravages of war. The result: Roxas received 1,333,392 (53.94%) of the total votes. But Osmeña wasn’t too far behind with 1,129,996 (45.71%) of the votes. Nuisance candidate Moncado gave it another run, but only received 8,538 votes (0.35%).

JOSÉ P. LAUREL Roxas was not able to complete his term as he had died of a heart attack in 1948. Replacing him was Vice President Elpidio Quirino. Quirino decided to continue his presidency by joining the 1949 presidential elections (November 8). Challenging him were former president Laurel and Senator José Avelino. Quirino won another mandate when he got 1,803,808 (50.93%) of the votes. Laurel and Avelino received 1,318,330 (37.22%) and 419,890 (11.85%), respectively. This was the second time that a former non-elected president ran for the highest office of the land (the first was Aguinaldo). In addition, the 1949 elections was the only time when the duly elected president, vice president and senators all come from the same party (Liberal Party).

ELPIDIO QUIRINO The 1950s belonged to Defense Secretary Ramón Magsaysay, already popular by thwarting the Communist threat, particularly the Hukbalahap movement. He was already a shoo-in for the 1953 elections. The result was overwhelming: 2,912,992 (68.90%) of the total votes cast went to him while Quirino got 1,313,991 votes (31.08%). Joining the race was Gaudencio Bueno, a political unknown who received only a total of 736 (0.02%) votes. Carlos García was the Vice President during Magsaysay’s term.

JOSÉ YULO The 1957 presidential elections marked the first time in our history where a president was elected by a plurality rather than a majority because seven people —including legendary poet and nationalist Claro M. Recto— aspired for the position. It was also the first time when the winning presidential and vice presidential candidates came from different parties. García was already president during this time, replacing Magsaysay who had died in a plane crash. He decided to run for a full term and won. He got 2,072,257 (41.28%) of the votes; Retired Chief Justice José Yulo ended up second place with 1,386,829 (27.62%) votes; Manuel Manahan, head of Magsaysay’s Presidential Complaints and Action Commission, ended up third with 1,049,420 (20.90%) votes; at fourth place was Senator Recto who received 429,226 (8.55%); Judge Antonio Quirino, brother of former president Quirino, garnered 60,328 (1.20%); cult leader Valentín de los Santos got 21,674 (0.43%), and; US annexationist leader Alfredo Abcede got 470 (0.01%). Had Yulo won this election, he would have been our first president who had become Chief Justice of the Supreme Court.

CARLOS P. GARCÍA Dubbed as “The Poor Man From Lubao”, Diosdado Macapagal won the 1961 presidential elections with 3,554,840 (55.05%) while reelectionist President García followed not so far behind with 2,902,996 votes (44.95%). Others who joined this contest were never got more than 10 votes each. These were Abcede with 8 votes, Germán Villanueva and Gregorio Llanza with 2 each, and Praxedes Floro with 0. Floro became the second presidentiable to have received a zero vote, after Moncado. After his loss, García retired as an ordinary citizen though he made a brief appearance a decade later when he was elected as a delegate to the Marcos regime’s 1971 Constitutional Convention. He died of a heart attack days after his election.

DIOSDADO MACAPAGAL The 1965 presidential elections were participated in by 12 aspirants, the most for a presidential election by that time. Among the candidates was President Macapagal. Despite the number of candidates, his fiercest rival was then Senate President Ferdinand Marcos of the Partido Nacionalista. Marcos popularized himself by claiming that he was a World War II hero, a claim that is now contested. On election day, Marcos garnered 3,861,324 (51.94%) votes, deposing Macapagal who received 3,187,752 942 (88%) votes. Third place was Raúl Manglapus who got 384,564 (5.17%) votes. The rest were considered nuisance candidates: Gaudencio Bueno with 199 votes; Aniceto Hidalgo with 156; Segundo Baldovi with 139; Nic Garcés got 130 votes; a returning Villanueva improved with 106; Guillermo Mercado and Antonio Nicolás, Jr. garnered 27 votes each; Blandino Ruan got 6, and; Floro finally received 1 vote after receiving none on his first try four years earlier. The nuisance candidates thus shared 0.01% of the total number of votes cast. Macapagal retired from politics after his loss, returned in 1971 to become the president of a constitutional convention, and eventually became a vocal critic against the Marcos dictatorship, even publishing a book against the strongman.

SERGIO OSMEÑA, JR. The 1969 presidential elections saw Marcos winning for a second term, the only presidentiable to do so. He got 5,017,343 (61.47%) votes against Senator Sergio Osmeña, Jr.’s 3,143,122 (38.51%) votes. Serging filed for an electoral protest citing massive cheating. The protest dragged on for years but was rendered moot with the declaration of Martial Law. Third place was Racuyal with 778 votes (0.01%). Others who participated, also sharing 0.01% of the total number of votes cast, were as follows: Baldovi with 177 votes; Pantaleón Panelo with 123 votes; Villanueva with 82; Bueno with 44;  Ángel Comagón got 35; César Bulacán with 31, and; Espiridión Buencamino, Garces, and Benilo José got 23 each. Osmeña, Jr. subsequently retired and died of a heart attack in 1984. He was the second Osmeña to have placed second in a presidential elections.

CORAZÓN AQUINO The 1986 presidential elections proved to be the weirdest in history because it was the only time when the second placer in the presidential polls became president.  It was an election called earlier than expected (“snap elections”) as Marcos, who still had more than a year left on his term, was facing an escalating public discontent borne out of his declaration of Martial Law and was under pressure from foreign allies, particularly from the US. While Marcos received the most number of votes: 10,807,197 (53.62%) against Cory Aquino’s 9,291,716 (46.10%), allegations of massive cheating from the camp of Benigno Aquino’s widow, as well as the ensuing coup d’état led by AFP Vice Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Fidel Ramos and Defense Minister Juan Ponce Enrile (a long story which I assume all of you already know), resulted in his ousting. Others who participated were Reubén Canoy who got 34,041 (0.17%) votes, and Narciso Padilla  who got 23,652 (0.12%).

MIRIAM DEFENSOR de SANTIAGO The feisty lady from Iloílo was leading the 1992 presidential elections for the first five days. But on the sixth day, she was was overtaken by Ramos who was fresh from his stint as Cory’s Secretary of Defense. In the end, Ramos won with 5,342,521 votes (23.58%)  against Santiago’s 4,468,173 (19.72%). They were followed by Eduardo Cojuangco, Jr. with 4,116,376 votes (18.17%), Ramón Mitra, Jr. with 3,316,661 (14.64%), Imelda Marcos with 2,338,294 (10.32%), Jovito Salonga with 2,302,123 (10.16%), and Salvador Laurel with 770,046 (3.40%). Losing by only a margin of 874,348 votes, Santiago filed an electoral protest citing power outages in several voting precincts. But the protest went nowhere. She participated in two more presidential elections: the one in 1998 which was one by Joseph Estrada and this year’s elections won by Duterte. But she was no longer as popular as she used to be in 1992. After Cory, Santiago was the second lady presidentiable who ended up second place in a presidential election. The difference is that Cory ended up as president.

JOSÉ DE VENECIA Vice President Joseph Ejército Estrada won in a landslide victory with 10,722,295 votes (39.86%) against rival José de Venecia’s 4,268,483 votes (15.87%) in the 1998 presidential elections. Third place was Raúl Roco with 3,720,212 votes (13.83%). They were all followed by: Emilio Osmeña (former President Osmeña’s grandson) with 3,347,631 votes (12.44%); Alfredo Lim with 2,344,362 votes (8.71%); Renato de Villa with 1,308,352 votes (4.86%); Santiago’s second try got her only 797,206 votes (2.96%); Juan Ponce Enrile received 343,139 votes (1.28%); Santiago Dumláo got 32,212 (0.12%), and; Manuel Morató, who ran simply as an irritanto to Erap’s presidential campaign, got 18,644 votes (0.07%). Erap, however, was not able to complete his term when he was ousted by another EDSA revolt. Replacing him in controversial fashion was his Vice President, Gloria Macapagal de Arroyo, who was mandated by the Supreme Court to complete the remaining term for Erap (up to 2004). Erap was eventually imprisoned, tried, and sentenced to lifetime imprisonment. He was later pardoned by Arroyo. Many people though, believe that his trial and sentencing was a farce.

FERNANDO POE, JR. Though an effective and highly productive leader, President Arroyo proved to be highly unpopular because of the fact that she was never voted to the presidency. Challenging her at the 2004 presidential elections was Erap’s best friend: movie legend Fernando Poe, Jr., known throughout the country as FPJ. FPJ’s popularity was more enormous compared to Erap’s. However, Arroyo still won with 12,905,808 (39.99%). FPJ trailed not very far behind with 11,782,232 votes (36.51%). Because of the small lead, allegations of cheating naturally followed. The allegations proved to be true after all when, on the following year, audio recordings of a phone conversation between Arroyo and then Election Commissioner Virgilio Garcillano, allegedly talking about the rigging of the 2004 national election results, were released to the public. But nothing came out of it because Arroyo was saved by her allies in congress from an impeachment case. Other candidates in this elections were: Pánfilo Lacson with 3,510,080 votes (10.88%); Roco with 2,082,762 votes (6.45%) on his second try, and; cult leader Eddie Villanueva with 1,988,218 votes (6.16%). Had FPJ won, he would have been the second film actor to have been president. He died later that year due to complications from a stroke.

JOSEPH EJÉRCITO ESTRADA It was expected to be a three-way fight between Noynoy, businessman-Senator Manuel Villar, and Arroyo’s annointed one, Gilberto Teodoro.  But the results of the 2010 presidential elections proved to be surprising when a dark horse emerged. That dark horse was none other than former President Erap who got 9,487,837 (26.25%) of the total number of votes cast. But still, 15,208,678 voters (42.08%) sent Noynoy to the presidency. Nevertheless, his victory was later deemed by political analysts to be the result of sympathy voting because his mother, former President Cory Aquino, had just died of cancer a few months prior to the elections. Following Erap was Villar who got 5,573,835 votes (15.42%). The administration’s standard bearer, Teodoro, ended up fourth place with 4,095,839 votes (11.33%). Rounding up the rest of the candidates were: cult leader Villanueva, on his second attempt, received 1,125,878 votes (3.12%); outgoing Senator Richard Gordon got 501,727 votes (1.39%); sustainable development activist Nicanor Perlas got 54,575 votes (0.15%); outgoing Senator Jamby Madrigal received 46,489 (0.13%), and; John Carlos de los Reyes, the youngest among the candidates, received 44,244 (0.12%).

MANUEL “MAR” ROXAS From the get-go, Duterte was already a shoo-in for the presidency. The tough-talking mayor from Daváo City got a huge 16,601,997 votes (39.01%) while Mar received only 9,978,175 (23.45%). Grace Poe, the adopted daughter of former movie legend and presidentiable FPJ, received 9,100,991 (21.39%) of the total number of votes cast. At fourth place with 5,416,140 votes (12.73%) was Vice President Jejomar Binay who suffered from his very first electoral lost. Veteran presidentiable Santiago was at the tail end with only 1,455,532 votes (3.42%). Had Mar won this one, he would have been the second Roxas to become president. After Mar’s emotional speech while conceding to Duterte last May 10, the last time we heard of him was he was having a burger.



Happy 1K to my Facebook page!

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I thought this day would never happen. After 333 years of idleness, my Facebook page has finally received its 1,000th like yesterday! And to think that I was mulling of shutting down this blog and that page for good. No kidding (more of this soon). Anyways, thanks a lot to those patient few who are still following this site. And special mention to Joel Estrada for making this feat happen. I appreciate all this online love.


The amistad between Nick Joaquín and Guillermo Gómez Rivera

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This newspaper clipping was published exactly 24 years ago today. It appeared in the now defunct Newsday and was written by one Jorge Seurat (never heard of such a columnist before; probably didn’t make it that big after Newsday folded up). The column explains the relationship as well as the converse similarity between writers Guillermo Gómez and Nick Joaquín.


The great Nick Joaquín, proclaimed “National Artist” during the glorious years of Ferdinand Marcos, has turned seventy-five. Three-fourths of a century. And as he ages into immortality and mythology, the English language appears to be on the way out in the Philippines. Overpopulation, lack of funds, and diploma mills are seeing to that.

This is so, because English has not taken root as Spanish did take root. And if the English language has a Filipino writer like Nick Joaquín, it is because Nick Joaquín’s real language is Spanish. By Hispanizing English, he has succeeded in Filipinizing it. And lo, in the very Filipino works of Nick Joaquín, English has become Filipino! After 92 neocolonial years of deception and bitterness, we only have this writer who can be considered significant in what we may call “Philippines Literature.”

But Nick Joaquín had to will this Filipinization of English. Rizal and Recto did not have to Filipinize Spanish through their writings. Spanish was already the Filipino Language when they wrote in it without having to choose it from English or “Filipino.”

Nick Joaquín,s merit according to his ardent follower, Don Guillermo Gómez Rivera, is his having been able to pour into English a good part of the essential message of what has been Filipino since 1571. No other writer in English has done this.

Gómez Rivera, a generation or two younger than Nick Joaquín, is the Nick Joaquín of contemporary Filipino literature in Spanish. Were Gómez Rivera to write in English as he does in Spanish, he would sound almost, if not exactly, like Nick Joaquín. If Nick Joaquín is a continuation of Claro M. Recto, who wrote in Spanish in local English letters, Gómez Rivera is the continuation of Nick Joaquín back in the same language of Rizal and Recto.

This is so because both Nick Joaquín and Guillermo Gómez Rivera actually belong to the same Filipino tradition even if they don’t write in the same language. Of course, if Nick Joaquín were to write in Spanish, he would in turn sound almost, if not exactly, like Guillermo Gómez Rivera. Don Lorenzo Marasigan’s portrait for his two daughters, Cándida and Paula, has become alive, both artistically and literally. The young man, Anchise, is Guillermo Gómez Rivera, and the old man is Nick Joaquín, and the burning city that both are leaving behind is our country, ravaged and ruined in almost every sense of the word by this despicable galungóng-brained “democracy” that would condemn our people with the Bataán Nuclear Plant. And, possibly, vacuum of power after frustrating so brazenly the national elections without our people really knowing about it until after a few months, or years, later.

And Guillermo Gómez Rivera wrote a poem in homage of Nick Joaquín after the latter had dedicated to him a copy of his play, Portrait, in book form, saying in Spanish, “A Guillermo Gómez Rivera, el nuevo Colón de la música filipina…” this was so, because Gómez Rivera, after recording his third long-playing of Filipino songs, in their original Spanish versions, asked Nick Joaquín to listen to them. Nick Joaquín obliged and enjoyed listening to Gómez Rivera’s singing of “El collar de Sampaguita” with Bert Buena’s rondalla. He went to Gómez Rivera’s office library, that of Solidaridad Filipino-Hispana, Inc., at the third floor of the Citadel Bldg. on Bonifacio Street, way back in 1969. Since then, Gómez Rivera has held Nick Joaquín in utmost reverence and, as a member of the Academia Filipina, he has suggested to the Fundación del Premio Zóbel, to adjudicate, one of these years, the said prize to Nick Joaquín.

The poem titled “Nick Joaquín prismático,” is worth transcribing and translating here:

Traductor de la historial por toda una / generación perdida en inglés./ Maestro / que enseña la verdad: / —luz opurtuna / para los que no tienen / ni alma ni estro

(“History’s translator / for entire generations / lost in the English language. / A teacher who teaches / the truth, that pertinent light / needed by those / who misplaced / their soul / and their poetry of life.”)

Pues,  el candor y el arte. / La sapiencia de toda una cultura: / —la cultura que es la de Filipinas— es la ciencia; / es la gloria; / es toda la emvoltura / de este gran hombre prismático — trazluz / del madero / que alzamos hoy en cruz.

(“Because candor, art / and the knowledge / of an entire culture / which is Filipino / is the science, the glory, and the whole shroud / of this great and prismatic man / who stands / as the background light / for the planks of wood / we’d now lift into a cross.”)

Ese es  / Don Nicolás Joaquín, / flamante / fragua de este país / de sordociegos, / tabla de salvación / del ignorante / que perdió sus estribos / y sus pliegos.

(“That man is / Nick Joaquín, / the burning torch, / over this country of deaf-mutes… / He is the phalanx / of redemption / for those that ignore / what is truly Filpino / because they have lost / their documents / and the running board / upon which they could have stood.”).

Who really deserves to be mayor of San Pedro Tunasán, La Laguna?

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For the past several months, I’ve been itching on writing a blogpost against Eugenio Ynión, Jr., the gentleman who threatened to kill me two summers ago. “What better time than now,” I thought, “because it’s election time. His kind simply has to be stopped.” To those unaware, he is gunning for the mayoralty post of San Pedro Tunasán in sun-soaked La Laguna Province, my family’s home since 2007. Of course I like the idea of him helming my adoptive city very less because of what he did, or would like to do, to me. But my plan has been hindered by several factors: my night job is taking a toll on my exhausted mind, my reflex neurovascular dystrophy gives me plenty of excuses not to write too much, and of course, there’s the concern (for my family, not for myself) that he will violently retaliate.

As election day draws nearer and nearer, I’ve been wanting to discredit him all the more, to destroy his campaign online, to put him to shame. I had wanted to expose him to be the fraud that he really is. But I couldn’t. Because I’m not like him, and I don’t want to become like him. I mean, just check out his Facebook account: it’s filled with calumnies, defamation of character (directed towards his political rivals), dicey accusations, and other negative vibes. So I’d rather not. I simply thought that maybe, just maybe, it would be better to question his character, his real identity, his true motives. But then, that would be boring. As a debt-ridden man, what really interests me now is how he became a tycoon. (his words).

Yes, I admit that I’m jealous of him. Who wouldn’t? He’s got a huge building in the barrio he administers; you won’t see him in the barangay hall because he’s always holed up in that handsome building which he calls SABAK (perfectly rhymes with the Tagálog word “sápac” if you know what I mean 😎). He’s got luxury cars, regularly dines with his family and friends in the most extravagant restaurants, and can go to any dream resort any time he wants (at the expense of his duties as barrio chairman, that is). Of course he can! Because he’s the owner of that famous multi-billion peso conglomerate called Ynión General Holdings, or Yngen for short (if you’ve never heard of it, then you’re surely living under a rock). I checked its website. To be honest, I was impressed! Says the website:

Yngen Holdings, Inc. is a 100% Filipino-owned corporation based in Manila. It is a progressive holdings firm composed of competent companies in various fields and industries such as shipping and logistics, technology marketing, properties and property development, and fine food. Its subsidiaries are Le Soleil International Logistics Co., Inc., Le Soleil Shipping Agencies, Inc. Fil-Port Express Brokerate, Inc., Yngentech, Inc., Yngen Properties Inc., and OWG Coffee Co., Inc.

CEO Jun Ynión proudly declares in interviews that he’s one of the youngest shipping magnates in the country. But I wonder why his Le Soleil Shipping Agencies, apparently an exclusive representative for ZIM Integrated Shipping, created online accounts with other shipping companies but has not done any physical shipping transaction with them, if at all. Well, that statement of mine is not entirely accurate. Outside its activities with Zim, Le Soleil does have a transaction, albeit done very recently. Actually, the company ordered thousands of pounds of chicharón from the Visayas, most of which are now somewhere in Southern Luzón (interestingly, Le Soleil is both the shipper and the consignee for this shipment; such a transaction is not unusual for a logistics company, but one should take note that this chicharón shipment is the only transaction it has outside of Le Soleil for this anonymous company). But I won’t delve on that further if CEO Ynión will use it for his campaign (or perhaps as pulutan for an expected elections victory?). The point here is that if Le Soleil prides itself as Zim’s exclusive representative, then why make outside transactions with other shipping companies just to ship a couple of containers filled with nothing but chicharón? For large conglomerates, this is virtually unprofitable, a total waste of time. Shouldn’t a seasoned CEO like Ynión be aware of that?

Also, conglomerates tend to divest non-performing assets or subsidiaries. Upon careful scrutiny of Yngen’s website, it made me wonder even more. Aside from his “well-known” logistics company, what immediately grabbed my attention was one of his products called On What Grounds? (OWG) Coffee. When me and my family went into hiding because of his and his mentally unstable brother‘s death threats, I had the opportunity to visit his coffee product’s office in Macati. Under an assumed identity, I got to talk to one of his representatives. It turned out that CEO Ynión was just a middleman for the real company  which owns OWG (if memory serves right, that company is based in Australia).

If you haven’t even tasted OWG, you’re probably from another planet. But if you insist that you’re an earthling, then that means it’s only logical for Yngen to have divested OWG a long, long time ago because there’s no chance in hell that it could compete with more well-known brands such as Nescafé and Café Puro.

I could just imagine the hilarity of OWG contributing heavily to Yngen’s bottomline.

But wait! There’s more! Who has not even heard of Yngen’s best-selling Quiti-Kill? It’s an innovative tool for the natural, safe, and effective control of mosquitoes. For sure, Yngen has profited heavily from this very familiar brand so much that CEO Ynión could afford all the riches in life.

Unfortunately for him, Baygon katol is more popular and profitable compared to his Quiti-Kiwhatever-that-junk-is, even in this day and age of airconditioned slums.

For sure, CEO Ynión will insist that the bulk of Yngen’s profits come from Le Soleil. I believe him… but he’s got his dad to thank for. 😂

As CEO Ynión’s die hard fan, I wonder why, for all his press releases of business successes left and right, he never thought of signing up Yngen to the Philippine Stock Exchange. Even more mind-boggling is the fact that Yngen never made it to our country’s list of top 500 companies.

But enough about CEO Ynión. Between him and his rivals, mud-slinging should belong exclusively to him and only him. Besides, I really don’t have that mud to sling at him. He already has his fair share of it. And from deep within that putrid mud of his own making, we see his PR man Manuel Mejorada rearing his not-so-pretty-looking head. But no, I won’t go into details on how mejorada sold his soul to his beloved “Brother’s Ynión” (the people of Iloílo will tell you that fact themselves), nor will I attack him for what he did to me after the Ynión death threats. Mejorada already destroyed himself in the eyes of the world, exposing himself to be a total buffoon of an “investigative journalist” when he relied solely on rumors, gossips, and editable Wikipedia in attacking his nemesis, Senator Franklin Drilón.

The problem with CEO Ynión is that he is overly opportunistic. After befriending former Mayor Calex, the former immediately asked the latter that he handle San Pedro Tunasán’s garbage disposal system and waterworks. But these favors are not cheap toys that could be given away in an instant handshake. Processes and certain qualifications had to take effect. Blinded by ambition and greed, this didn’t sit well with CEO Ynión. That’s why he started to rebel. Using his Facebook account (not to mention a legion of hundreds of fake Facebook accounts as his attack dogs), he started stirring up a hornet’s nest, throwing calumnies and unprovable accusations here and there.

As he allowed ambitious anger to engulf the very fabric of his mind, our poor CEO basically forgot one simple trait that would have probably endeared him to those few people who do not support his rivals: COURTESY and HUMILITY. He should have remembered in the first place that he was an outsider. He only moved to San Pedro Tunasán during the last decade. He failed to blend with the people. He had to pay (and at times slap) his way through them just to be accepted. He should have kept in mind that one does not simply go to somebody’s house and tell the people living there how to run their home or how to live their lives. But that’s exactly what he is doing to the people of San Pedro Tunasán. He made people quarrel with each other, take sides. He may have succeeded in these areas, but he didn’t realize that a true San Pedrense is against calumnying. If Super Ynión had seen anything worth saving and protecting in San Pedro Tunasán, he should have never attacked the people running it. He should have talked with them and worked with them COURTEOUSLY. But he never did.

Hindí gusto ng taal na tagá San Pedro ang táong mahilig manira ng capuà.

As an outsider, this Eugenio Ynión, Jr. failed to see (of course, because he had a different agenda in mind).

It appears that CEO Ynión was hellbent in avoiding the mistakes his imbecile of a brother had committed in Iloílo, if just to create a political niche for himself here in La Laguna Province. Unfortunately, he’s making the very same mistakes his brother did (and is still doing). He had, in fact, become his brother’s doppelgänger.

But I really shouldn’t be blogging about CEO Ynión, his crazed brother, or their gossipy, Wikipedia-minded PR slave. A family friend had advised me a few days ago about this because it will certainly endanger the lives of my loved ones. Very well then. I’ll stop here. What I really wanted to talk about is why, after declaring that I will never participate in political elections ever again, I want to reclaim my right to suffrage.

Nobody took that right away from me. It was I who threw it away. I have become apolitical towards national politics brought about by my cynicism towards democracy (whose rickety strings are attached somewhere else, anyway). However, I now would like to express my willingness to support and endorse the team of Mayor Lourdes “Baby” Cataquiz, the current chief magistrate of SPT. I believe that it is much easier to govern and administer basic public service to a city of only 9.29 sq mi with more or less 300,000 souls compared to a big archipelago, or to other larger cities and municipalities for that matter. In this area, the current administration of SPT has proven itself to be successful.

In the current government setup, the results of local government action are more quantifiable and are much easier felt in the grassroots level. Planning and development are more fast-paced, more transparent, because local government units (LGUs) such as SPT are, in fact, autonomous in several aspects of public administration. Citizen participation in governmental matters is more feasible, not to mention the smoothness of a two-way communication between residents and the LGU (a citizen could even affectionately consider their hometown or city as their “little kingdom”). In SPT, the Catáquiz administration —from former Mayor Calixto R. Catáquiz to current Mayor Baby— has shown its worth in implementing laws and reforms that proved to be beneficial to its constituents. The city is even getting close to achieving its “Road Map 2020” mission and vision.

One sterling Catáquiz achievement was the conversion of SPT from a municipality into a component city on 28 December 2013. Cityhood for SPT was a decades-old dream, almost considered impossible because the number of business establishments, particularly large-scale enterprises, is not enough to reach the annual income requirement of ₱50,000,000. Add to that the reputation (which in fact is a fact) of SPT as simply a dormitory area, mostly for those working in Metro Manila. But former Mayor Calex Catáquiz was able to weave his magic by applying effective fiscal policies, strict budgetary measures, and other workable business strategies that he learned as a seasoned businessman. In no time, SPT was able to earn over ₱350,000,000 a year!

Upon taking the leadership from her husband three years ago, Mayor Baby continued his legacy, his programs and projects, and even more. And the best part of this is that she is the type of leader who will listen to you and take action if, in her good wisdom, she deems that what you say or suggest is beneficial for the city as a whole. Once or twice, I broached to her the idea of establishing a historica group for San Pedro Tunasán. To my delight, she did. Late last year, the San Pedro City Historical Council was organized. This clearly shows her genuine concern for the city’s historical and cultural aspects.

I’m not claiming that the Catáquiz couple made San Pedro Tunasán as the most perfect city in our province. Mistakes and lapses happen from time to time. But I am of the firm belief that anything unpleasant a visitor sees in San Pedro Tunasán is no longer the fault of the hardworking Catáquiz administration but of undisciplined and highly uncooperative citizens (and political rivals) who blatantly refuse to follow even the simplest of laws.

I am confident that our young city is in good hands with Team Cataquiz-Tayao BOOOM HALAL. They are native San Pedrenses. Ergo, their love and concern for the city is genuine and pure compared to scheming outsiders like CEO Ynión. They are set to continue tried and tested strategies and achievements of the past. And more.


What perhaps stands out from this team is the remarkable humility of its members. Time and again, each and every member of Mayor Baby’s team have shown genuine concern and unselfish dedication towards their duties.

To my fellow San Pedrenses, try them. And let’s not just vote for them. LET’S WORK WITH THEM in getting rid of whatever unpleasantries our city may still have. Road Map 2020 is at hand!

PS: In the event that any member of my family disappears or is violently harmed once this blogpost has been published, you should very well know who the culprits are. Stay safe, everyone. 😉

¿Paano gumauá ng pastillas? Simple lang…

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They say that you’re not a Filipino if you have not tried pastillas de leche, the milk-based candy that has captured the sweet tooth of our countrymen from Luzón in the north all the way down to Mindanáo. It is a favorite pasalubong among travelers and can also be served either as dessert or merienda. Pastillas de leche, or simply pastillas, originated from San Miguel de Mayumò in Bulacán and became widespread throughout Filipinas, particularly in Cagayán and Masbate.

A few months ago, the word pastillas gained some notoriety when ABS-CBN, lagging behind its noontime rival‘s AlDub Phenomenon, chose to exploit a pretty lass whose whimsical YouTube video made the rounds for a couple of weeks, in the hopes of winning the ratings war. In that video, the pretty but huffy sounding lass cleverly alluded to how she was cheated on by her ex-boyfriend as she describes the pastillas making process in sarcastic fashion. She was then recruited by the media giant’s noontime variety show, earning the nickname “Pastillas Girl”, and turned into a virtual tramp in a desperate attempt to beat the rival program.

ABS-CBN lost the ratings war (and is still losing it) while Pastillas Girl has since twerked her way to show business, but to the detriment of that beloved Filipino milk candy she herself had exploited and made fun of out of spite. Since then, any mention of pastillas almost always reminds everyone of ABS-CBN’s frankenstein vamp.


How is pastillas made? Easy. Just click here to watch La Familia Viajera‘s brief “instructional video”. Then click here for the rest of the photos.

However, the coarse-mouthed, twerking vamp (or at least her YouTube video) is not that popular in faraway Abra de Ilog, Mindoro Occidental, my wife’s idyllic hometown. During a recent vacation early this month, I asked one of her teenage cousins, John-John, if he knows anything about the “Pastillas Girl Phenomenon”; he answered in the negative. Thankfully, pastillas in those parts is still spotless.

And nostalgic.

Pastillas making was introduced to the tiny Población (town proper) of Abra de Ilog by my wife‘s late grandmother, Zenaida del Mundo de Atienza, most probably after the last war. Ináy Zenaida’s roots are from Lemery, Batangas; Tito Raf, John-John’s father, believes that she got the recipe from there. While it can be argued that Abra de Ilog’s pastillas making did not reach cottage-industry levels, it is interesting to note that pastillas is not a delicacy in Lemery. The milk candy was also moderately popular during my wife’s childhood days as it was produced in many homes in the Población and enjoyed by practically all its children (Abra de Ilog’s town proper is so small one can scout all its streets in just half an hour).

Today, this milk candy is no longer as popular as before and is produced only in the home of Mrs. Priscilla Leído who also learned its production from Inay Zenaida. But the old lady and her household members produce this pastillas only when they receive orders.


My wife with Aling Priscilla at the latter’s home.

There are only two ingredients: carabao’s milk and sugar, but the flavor is surprisingly heavenly (in other parts of the country, processed or cow’s milk is a common ingredient). There is another similar pastillas in nearby Paluán, but the makers there add flour. This means that the pastillas of Yeyette’s grandmother can be considered as endemic to Abra de Ilog, indigenized there by time and tradition (my family reverently calls it pastillas de carabáo for obvious reasons).

Many old towns in our country like to take pride of something native to them, something different that only they can lay claim too (even at a communal level, our country’s many towns are looking for their own separate identities, totally independent from others). Save for its breathtaking treasure trove of environmental wonders, Abra de Ilog doesn’t have much to offer. To an adventurous outsider hungry for novel discoveries, the place has no unique traditions or festivals that one can enjoy observing, no endearing cuisine to sink in one’s teeth, no folk music to enjoy listening to, or any other symbolic cultural trappings to research on. The place has only a handful of ancestral homes to explore, and its old church doesn’t even look that old or Baroque, unfit for selfie sessions. And whatever culture the town has to offer is but indigenous: its Mañguián (or more accurately, Iraya) people. But even they are now embracing modernity, bit by bit turning their backs away from who they really are.

Abra de Ilog’s local government now has this rare chance of preserving, conserving, and even promoting something that be considered as cultural. The ball —or should I say the pastillas— is in their hands.

Simplicity, honesty, and Mayor Vicente del Mundo

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Election day is just around the corner. So I might as well blog about this.

My wife Yeyette had a public servant for a great grandfather. He was Don Vicente del Mundo, former mayor of Abra de Ilog, Mindoro Occidental.


Mayor del Mundo (1901-1975) traces his roots to Lemery, Batangas. He was married to Marieta Calivara. They had several children; Yeyette’s maternal grandmother, Inay Zenaida (the mother of my mother-in-law), was the second eldest. As mayor of postwar Abra de Ilog, it was said that he had worked for the moral and economic recovery of his town mates from the damages brought by World War II. He administered Abra de Ilog twice: from 1942 to 1947, and then from 1960 to 1963, a total of eight years.

Few people know that, in 1960, Mayor del Mundo worked for the elevation of Sitio Sablay Uway to the status of a barrio (now called barangay) as petitioned by its residents. This sitio south of the town proper had become populous anyway, with parts of a nearby forest cleared to give way to a growing community. When the municipal council approved the petition, Mayor del Mundo immediately submitted it to the provincial board.  Upon its approval by higher authorities, the sitio leaders proposed that Mayor del Mundo’s first name be made as the official name of their newly proclaimed barrio as a show of gratitude. But since it was a Filipino custom during that time to assign names of saints to newly established places, they ingeniously added San (saint) to Mayor del Mundo’s first name. The barrio was thus named after him but was entrusted under the patronage of San Vicente Ferrer of Spain. That is why Barrio San Vicente, although named after Mayor del Mundo, celebrates its fiesta every April 5th, the Spanish saint’s feast day.

When my wife first brought me to his great grandfather’s house more than a decade ago (my first time in Abra de Ilog), I was utterly surprised to find it as nothing more than a modest abode. I was half expecting to see a huge bahay na bató. What I found was a small, postwar two-story house. The first floor had a low ceiling and had tree trunks for posts. I even remember seeing some of its walls in cement finish. I muttered under my breath, “This was where the mayor had lived?” I know of one mayor who, before becoming a politician, lived in a small house made of light materials. After his term, that house of his became a large bungalow.


La Familia Viajera (with family friend Ate Cora and Yeyette’s teenage cousin John-John) in front of Casa del Mundo. Click here for more photos of our visit last April 3rd.

The del Mundo house has since been renovated. The only thing original in it is its simplicity.

Yeyette doesn’t know much about his great grandfather; he had died a year before she was born (interestingly, the date of his passing is also our youngest daughter’s birth date). But if there’s one thing I’m sure about him, it’s this: he was not corrupt. He had lived as a just and honest public servant. This I remarked to Yeyette a few years ago. Puzzled, she asked me how I knew about it.

Simple: her family’s not rich.

Mayor del Mundo reminds me of Luis Rodríguez Varela (1768-1826), the nationalist creole poet who was the first to call himself a Filipino. He had been the corregidor (district leader) and capitán of Tondo. But when he passed away, it was discovered that he was penniless, with no hacienda to leave to his children. This, considering the fact that he had many opportunities to enrich himself in office.

Who among our current crop of not-so-rich political candidates will end up as honest public servants like Mayor del Mundo and Capitán Rodríguez?

Easter 2016

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Today we commemorate the most important day in all of Christendom…


Happy Easter!

PiliQUEla: the first Quezon Province Film Festival!

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It’s coming next weekend, folks! See you there!


Captain Remo: The Young Hero (Anatomy of Abelardo Remoquillo, the pride of San Pedro Tunasán, La Laguna)

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Anatomy of Abelardo Remoquillo, the pride of San Pedro Tunasán, La Laguna


¿Dónde está la juventud que ha de consagrar sus rosadas horas, sus ilusiones y entusiasmo al bien de su patria?
—José Rizal—


Monument dedicated to Abelardo “Captain Remo” Remoquillo. He died for his country fighting the Japanese invaders when he was only 22 years old. What were you doing when you were his age?

On 8 December 1941, nine hours after the fall of Pearl Harbor, the Commonwealth of the Philippines was attacked by the Imperial Japanese Army (IJA). The Filipinos, confident as they were, were caught in surprise at the swift entry of Japanese troops in many parts of the country. Despite the practice brownouts that were done in preparation for an impending attack, many of them were still caught in shock at the brazen display of Japanese aggression towards what was then deemed unconquerable — the United States Army Forces in the Far East (USAFFE).

It is fortunate that the whole country did not suffer the wrath of Japanese aggression. As can be gleaned throughout World History, wars were usually fought in capital cities and other major areas. In the old town of San Pedro Tunasán in the province of La Laguna, it was relatively peaceful throughout the three years of Japanese occupation. Even during that one bloody month in 1945 (February 3 to March 3) when both Japanese and US artillery flattened Intramuros into rubble, San Pedro Tunasán was spared despite the scary fact that it stood only 29 kilometers away from the country’s capital.

One might think it odd why a promising young man from San Pedro Tunasán joined the painful resistance against the Japanese invaders. As a bright student taking up law, Abelardo Remoquillo had an exciting life ahead of him. He could have declined the conscription (such cases happen in real life), made excuses, or simply escaped with his family away from the frightening violence of war. But he didn’t. And when his military commanders sent him and other young men home because resisting the Japanese offensive was already hopeless, he took a different road: he joined the guerrillas instead, much to the puzzlement and surprise of those who had been observing his life, a life that was, from childhood, reared in a loving, peaceful home. From that daring decision of his alone to continue taking up arms against the Japanese can we trace the first few glints of heroism. We can, furthermore, assess the assertiveness of education into the lives of the studentry during those times. It must be emphasized that Abeling did not take up military science as a college course. His military training was merely a subject, a school requirement. Nevertheless, when the country needed its young men to take up arms against foreign invasion, those conscripted were already geared up for battle even without formal training in a bona fide military school such as the Philippine Military Academy (PMA).

Abeling, as how he was called by those who knew him personally, was a true blue San Pedrense. He first saw the light of day on 27 December 1922, at a time when the country was occupied by the United States of America, during the unpopular regime of Governor General Leonard Wood. He was the eldest in a brood of ten (eight boys, two girls). His father, José Remoquillo, was then the municipal treasurer (agent-collector) while his mother, Valeriana Hermosilla, was a full-time housewife who oversaw the upbringing of all their children. The Remoquillo brood were as follows (from eldest to youngest): Abelardo, Vicente, Felicitas, Jaime, Benjamín, Angustia, Manolo, Galileo, Frolín, and José. As was the custom during those days, all the children were born through a comadrona (midwife)…


The Remoquillo family. Standing (L-R): José, Jr., Frolín, Galileo, Manolo, Benjamín, Jaime, Vicente. Seated (L-R): Felicitas, Valeriana, José, Sr., and Angustia. Photo taken sometime between the late 1960s to early 1970s (photo credit: Jimmy Remoquillo, son of Jaime).


Captain Remo’s only extant photograph (provided by Jimmy Remoquillo, son of Jaime).

…With the kind of life that Abeling had led, a fateful death was only a matter of time. But Abeling himself didn’t foresee a hero’s death. In fact, and inspite of his dangerous situation, he never planned on dying at all. For him, he was merely fulfilling a mission; he was still raring to come home. But it was Fate that willed his untimely death. His first and last letter to his father, written in matter-of-factly English, reveals this:

Pila, Laguna

March 1, 1945

Dear Father,

Please receive two hundred tablets of sulpatiazole (sic) from Lt. (José) del Rosario. This medicine is part of our loot from the Los Baños Interment Camp.

Itay, please secure some chicos for him so he could take it to Manila for his mother. This fellow is a very good friend of mine and he has helped me all the days in my stay here in Pila so it is time for me to pay him back thru you. Extend to him all the facilities — accommodations and food. The medicine he is giving you is from him — he gave it to me.

Itay, tell Inay and others that I am well and fine here — so do not worry about me. I didn’t even get a scratch. I hope to go home when Calamba and Los Baños are completely liberated then these places will be cleared of Japanese. Somehow I have to stay here, our work is still unfinished.

So long and sweet kisses to everybody there.

Your son,



The Remoquillo clan posing in front of Capt. Remo’s monument at the old town plaza of San Pedro Tunasan. The elderly gentleman in front (wearing military cap) is Capt. Remo’s younger brother Vicente. He was the one who gave the author of this blogpost much needed information about the adventurous life of young Capt. Remo. Click here for more photos of today’s event.

The book will be launched soon, this October!

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