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Monthly Archives: August 2009

PNP: No More Kidnap-For-Ransom Groups (¿No Más Competencia?)

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The country's FINEST!!! Do FINEST and SLIMIEST rhyme? They do... HEY! I'm just rhyming, OK?!

The country's FINEST!!! Do FINEST and SLIMIEST rhyme? They do... HEY! I'm just rhyming, OK?!

Philstar.com reports that big kidnap-for-ransom gangs are a thing of the past. This, according to the Philippine National Police (PNP):

“Wala na halos yung mga dreaded at notorious organized crime groups. Halos accounted for at nakakulong na sila [while] undergoing trial,” Senior Superintendent Leonardo Espina said in a radio interview.

Somehow, I fear a successful monopoly.

The Palace Simply Fears Noynoy

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This is Inquirer.net‘s headline posted just this afternoon (no thanks to Deputy presidential spokesman Gary Olivar):

Palace to Noynoy: Be your own man

Here’s what I suggest to Senator Noynoy:

Noynoy to GMA: Be a president

Deputy presidential spokesman Gary Olivar: "Be a man and shut up!"

Or better yet:

Noynoy to Olivar: Be a man!

WordPress Connectivity Problem?

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I had a momentary scare just a few minutes ago. It’s because I wasn’t able to access this English-language blog of mine. Darn, I’ve already posted more than 30 blogposts, and even included unpublished essays and some poems!

This connectivity problem lasted for almost 10 minutes or so. Surely, it wasn’t an internet connectivity issue because I was surfing the net when it happened. I was able to access other websites without any hassle. But just to make sure, I sent my friend April Katigbak (through the chat application in Facebook) the link for FILIPINO SCRIBBLES just to check if the connection problem is on my laptop. But moments later, she replied and told me that she couldn’t access the page as well (the infamous “page cannot be displayed” also appeared on her screen).

I tried visiting WITH ONE’S PAST, TRAVELER ON FOOT, and FLESH ASIA DAILY (FAD 3.0). I also tried accessing WORDPRESS itself — but I couldn’t. I suddenly felt weak, ready to puke out the late lunch I was eating. The problem reminded me of what happened to Arnold’s WITH ONE’S PAST last year; it somehow got deleted while he was tweaking it. But I wasn’t tweaking mine!

I tried connecting to these WORDPRESS sites several times. Finally, I was able to get hold of FAD 3.0 but with much difficulty. I was still alarmed, though, because although FAD 3.0 is powered by WORDPRESS, the domain is already owned by JB Lazarte whereas WITH ONE’S PAST and TRAVELER ON FOOT are still hosted for free.

My wife was getting concerned, too, because she knows how important my writings are to me. She even thought that maybe the IT people of Malacañang did something to close it down (haha!) Too bad, I don’t have copies of what I wrote anymore. So I started to write fear-filled messages on my Facebook account’s Wall (https://filipinoscribbles.wordpress.com is missing…” and “Holy smokes! WordPress cannot be accessed! I’m visiting other wordpress weblogs — THEY COULD NOT BE ACCESSED!!!”)

Then, before I thought of banging my face across my laptop monitor, I was finally able to connect to FILIPINO SCRIBBLES and to other WORDPRESS sites. April also replied to one of my Facebook posts, confirming that she can already access my blog.

Whew! Talk about scary.

WORDPRESS, what in blue blazes happened? Could you please explain???!!!

Wordpress has just scared the hell out of me!

Wordpress has just scared the hell out of me!

And to other bloggers who read this, I have a friendly reminder: make sure that you have an extra copy of each and every article that you plan to post in your respective blogs, so just in case something like this happens, there won’t be any suicidal thoughts.

Applying Anne Frank’s Thoughts on the National Scene

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The below essay was written sometime in 2002 when I was still in college.

I still remember the night when I was trying to send it via email to the contest authorities. I was in some internet shop in Pásay City where I used to live when me and my wife still only had one child. I was trying to beat the deadline; the submission was due in less than an hour. But stupid me, I was still unfamiliar in using most of Yahoo‘s gadgets, especially in attaching files. Thus, I wasn’t able to send the essay. Had I sent it successfully, it would’ve won first prize hands down, LOL!!!

Here it is…

Anne Frank (1929-1945), a victim of man's classic stupidity.

Anne Frank (1929-1945), a victim of man's classic stupidity.

THE ANNE FRANK ESSAY CONTEST
(APPLYING ANNE FRANK’S THOUGHTS ON THE NATIONAL SCENE)
José Mario S. Alas

“I don’t believe that the war is simply the work of politicians and capitalists. Oh no, the common man is every bit as guilty; otherwise, people and nations would have rebelled long ago!“

Such words, such thoughts, written by so young a girl, could easily stir such an emotion of amazement by those who read the excerpt from that child’s war-time diary. Yet a sentiment of pity would also bubble from within when the reader realizes that the diary from which the statement is taken was written by that same girl who was herself a victim of war’s conflagratory effects.

That diary, written by a keen, young girl called Anne Frank, has survived not only that war, but has also survived time up to today’s global war-paranoid atmosphere. And this very particular entry from little Anne poses a question so crucial for every nation, particularly the Philippines, involved in national and international disturbances.

Here in the Philippines, little Anne’s indignant words that even the common man is every bit as guilty in relation to the existence of conflicts rings true. Our country, since its bold declaration of a Third Republic right after the Second World War, has had countless blunders and bloodshed. This is not to say that such a sad and humiliating reality is unique in our country alone, but this is an opportune time to unveil its maladies in the light of a young child’s philosophy that had contemplated on human nature within the confines of a hidden refuge away from a rampaging Holocaust.

Take for example the recent events that took place during the regime of ousted president Joseph Estrada. During the campaign season for the 1998 national elections, the whole Filipino electorate was pathetically divided, and it was aggravated further by the anti- and pro-Estradas such as the Church, the elite, Leftist and Rightist elements, and other troublemongers. Estrada who was undoubtedly very popular among the majority of the masses, apparently basked on his new-found national glamour. And he himself took advantage of the situation, making promises here and there, even though some of them were obviously hollow or pies-in-the-sky. It appears that such actions are wont to be committed by every aspiring national leader.

But where is the blunder here made by the common Filipino? Well, the question “where did we go wrong” was only realized during the last days of Estrada’s troubled regime, during the calls for his ouster, and the status of the government in between two people powers: EDSA 2 and EDSA 3.

It was a period of uncertainty and fear. The people have realized how flimsy their government was, and how corrupted and untrustworthy the governance of these islands is executed. But, to use again Anne Frank’s exceptional assessment of society’s failures as well as the advantageous pitfalls perpetrated by scheming individuals in power, it is perhaps better for the common Filipino to stop for a while and ask himself “where did I go wrong?”

Every Filipino citizen who is able to contribute his services for the sake of the Motherland has a hand in the course of the country’s journey towards redemption. It is everybody’s responsibility on how to steer the course of the Philippines towards the right path. It is a cowardly, irresponsible, and unpatriotic excuse if one will say that it is solely the job of politicians and other national leaders.

Such a coarse excuse is now prevalent among the masses. It is quite unfortunate that even the youth, whom national hero José Rizal hoped to be at the forefront of social change, has been nonchalant about this. One reason to blame for this defect is due to the fact that education is on a widespread slump. The masses, especially the youth, has abused their time for self-enrichment, and are thoroughly contented with the ease, comfort, and pleasure that technology brings with it. They no longer care to take part in the debates over current issues regarding social concerns. What they care about are only themselves. It is not enough to be caring and thoughtful solely towards family relations and friends. Thus, it is selfish if such affectionate sentiments are not shared with the country.

Education is the solution to all these mishaps and chaos. If only the Filipino masses were efficiently educated, not just academically but socially as well, then nothing like the Estrada and post-Estrada tragedies would have happened. Furthermore, this education on self-appraisal should be emphasized so as to give political and social maturity in the minds of the Filipinos.

We can still make it before next year’s national election arrives. It’s not enough to say that we want to believe that the system is right. If there are defects, then we should change it no matter what. The best way to give it a first shot is to be more scrupulously participative in the 2004 elections. This, however, has not yet been done before.

In capsule, we shouldn’t wait for us to experience the sufferings of Anne Frank during the last global war before we begin to think like her.

*******

A few days from now (September 1), the world will commemorate World War II. It was during these bloody years when Anne experienced the brutality of humanity. May we never have another stupid war.

Stupid war? Hmmm… that sounds redundant already.

Filipino Catholics From The Eyes of a Foreigner

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This was emailed to me by my former Adamson University instructor, friend, and historian José Mª Bonifacio Escoda (author of the bestselling Warsaw of Asia: The Rape of Manila)…

La Iglesia de San Agustín, where countless Filipino masses have been held throughout the centuries (photo from my online pal Traveler on Foot).

La Iglesia de San Agustín, where countless Filipino masses have been held throughout the centuries (photo from my online pal Traveler on Foot).

FILIPINO CATHOLICS FROM THE EYES OF A FOREIGNER

Filipino Catholics
Here’s something very positive written by a foreigner named Steve Ray, about Filipinos. Steve Ray authored many bestselling books, among which are, Crossing The Tiber (his conversion story), Upon This Rock (on the papacy), and just recently John’s Gospel (a comprehensive bible study guide and commentary).

STEVE RAY’S OPEN LETTER TO THE FILIPINO CATHOLICS:

We stepped into the church and it was old and a bit dark. Mass had just begun and we sat toward the front… We didn’t know what to expect here in Istanbul, Turkey. I guess we expected it to be a sombre Mass but quiet and sombre it was not – I thought I heard angels joyously singing behind me.

The voices were rich, melodic and beautiful. What I discovered as I spun around to look did not surprise me because I had seen and heard the same thing in other churches around the world. It was not a choir of angels with feathered wings and halos but a group of delightful Filipino Catholics with smiles of delight and joy on their faces as they worshiped God and sang His praises. I had seen this many times before in Rome, in Israel, in the United States and other countries. Filipinos have special traits and they are beautifully expressed as I gazed at the happy throng giving thanks to God. What are the special traits which characterize these happy people? I will share a few that I have noticed -personal observations- as I have travelled around the world, including visits to the Philippines

FIRST, there is a sense of community, of family. These Filipino Christiansdid not sit apart from each other in different isles. They sat together, closely. They didn’t just sing quietly, mumbling, or simply mouthing the words. No, they raised their voices in harmony together as though they enjoyed the sense of unity and communion among them. They are family even if they are not related.

SECOND, they have an inner peace and joy which is rare in the world today. When most of the world’s citizens are worried and fretful, I have found Filipinos to have joy and peace – a deep sense of God’s love that overshadows them. They have problems too, and many in the Philippines have less material goods than others in the world, yet there is still a sense of happy trust in God and love of neighbour.

THIRD, there is a love for God and for his Son Jesus that is almost synonymous with the word Filipino. There is also something that Filipinos are famous for around the world – their love for the Blessed Mother. Among the many Filipinos I have met, the affectionate title for Mary I always hear from their lips is “Mama Mary.” For these gentle folks Mary is not just atheological idea, a historical person, or a statue in a church – Mary is the mother of their Lord and their mother as well, their “mama.”

The Philippines is a Catholic nation -the only such nation in Asia- and this wonderful country exports missionaries around the world. They are not hired to be missionaries, not official workers of t he church. No, they are workers and educators, doctors, nurses and housekeepers that go to other lands and travel to the far reaches of the earth, and everywhere they go they take the
joyous gospel of Jesus with them. They make a sombre Mass joyful when they burst into song. They convict the pagan of sin as they always keep the love of Jesus and the Eucharist central in their lives.

My hope and prayer, while I am here in the Philippines sharing my conversion story from Baptist Protestant to Roman Catholic, is that the Filipino people will continue to keep these precious qualities.. I pray that they will continue loving their families, loving the Catholic Church, reading the Bible, loving Jesus, His Mother and the Eucharist. As many other religions and sects try to persuade them to leave the Church, may God give the wisdom to defend the Catholic faith. As the world tempts them to sin and seek only money and fame and power, may God grant them the serenity to always remember that obedience to Christ and love for God is far more important than all the riches the world can offer.

May the wonderful Filipino people continue to be a light of the Gospel to the whole world!

*******

We also have to thank our Spanish past for what Steve Ray had observed. Have a blessed weekend everybody! =)

Skeptical Response to the SONA’s Promises: The Widespread Perception of the Disgruntled Hoi Polloi

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Since the nation (or those who are concerned, whoever they may be) is still reeling from last month’s spite-filled SONA by Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, I thought it best to publish another scathing essay which I wrote in response to one of her earlier SONAs, her second to be exact (2002).

Actually, the following essay was originally written to be delivered in an oratorical contest by Adamson University’s English Department (now the Foreign Languages Department). I just don’t remember the details of the contest anymore (who the orator was, which particular contest it was entered, etc.).

After reading this essay again, I’m so surprised that –seven years after the 2002 State of the Nation Address– we still haven’t progressed under the Arroyo Administration. Then as now, she consistently boasted of the country’s economic growth in all of her SONAs, but a seemingly undying poverty and discontent are as consistent as they’ve ever been as well. This is not to say that we worsened under her questionable presidency. Pero ang masasabi co lang, hindí pa rin natin naáabot ang La Gloria na ating ináasam…

The mugshot everybody wants to see.

The mugshot everybody wants to see.

SKEPTICAL RESPONSE TO THE SONA’S PROMISES: THE WIDESPREAD PERCEPTION OF THE DISGRUNTLED HOI POLLOI
José Mario S. Alas

More than anything else, this nation, like all of the other impoverished Third World countries, is a hoping nation. Insofar as President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s second State of the Nation Address, or SONA, is concerned, it is safe to surmise that the masses, however, have all the more reason to become more hopeless upon hearing the annual state briefing. And “why?” is a stupid question to that assumption; just like in last year’s SONA, this year’s version which was broadcast this past July at the Batasang Pambansâ was pelted with an avalanche of protests and cries of disillusionment, despair, and distrust. The president, despite displaying a braggadocio posture while claiming of a “strong republic” topped with numerous economic achievements, no longer have in her manacles the full support, not to mention the trust, of many Filipinos, rich and poor alike. Besides, she took over the reins of our country via a well-organized power grab.

President Arroyo’s unusual rise to power could perhaps give light on why the Filipino hoi polloi cannot fully give their whole confidence to her authority. Whether we admit it or not, she never had the charisma, not to mention the movie star allure of her beleaguered predecessor. Likewise, her elitist-friendly stance and socio-politically harmful foreign policies that are in relation to the national economy further dragged her name down from popularity surveys. The toiling masses’ eyes are keen and open. Their senses are made sharp to social observation because of the hunger pangs that are spurring them to stay alive in this hunger-filled world. It has been like that for several decades, and their condition only gets worse each day. Thus, their bitter existence can never complement the sugar-coated promises and feats of the Arroyo administration. Moreover, I am certain that many will never forget President Arroyo as one of the senators who pushed for the ratification of the notorious General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade back in the mid-90’s.

Let us now, therefore, analyze the public’s response to the president’s SONA. It is de rigueur that a SONA must be addressed to Filipinos regardless of social classes in order to draw out a favorable response. It has achieved, in its final written form, the way to unify each and every sector of a liberal democratic economy, which includes the working class. By emphasizing that a strong republic is independent from sectoral and class interests, which would stand for the benefit of all, and not just for the privileged minority, President Arroyo was successful in evoking a unified response from her national audience. Or so she thought.

The 50 or so ovations that her SONA had elicited during its delivery were dwarfed by a multitude of disgruntled militants who knows better what the real state of the nation is. And those protesters who were at the Batasan gates were seconded indirectly by millions of sullen and vexed Filipinos who were encountering the SONA through multi-media. Still, many of them did not even care to give a small piece of hell on the issue at all. We could already imagine them scoffing and yawning throughout the delivery of that national speech.

Such apathy towards national concerns may be attributed to rhetorical politics that has reached ad nauseam. Certainly, too much politics results into adverse complications. Either it results into social apathy or it could lead to Leftist or opportunistic Rightist continuity. For how could progressive-minded individuals allow such an almost inoperable social cancer to spread throughout their beloved country in wild abandon? All of a sudden, in sheer panic, somebody might think of instigating another EDSA.

Yes, the masses have had enough of politics. The non-productive bickering in Congress which seem to be ad infinitum, the self-interest-motivated sashaying of political fidelities, the existence of an alien éminence grise in our government, and the gaping chasm which further widens the gap between rich and poor is all but enough for the hoi polloi to shout “¡pátria o muerte!” Give me liberty, or give me politics.

So nowadays, who cares to listen to a dubious SONA? Well, last year’s SONA was filled with boldfaced promises to combat poverty. This year, the president said that she had “detailed a long list of measurable targets that would show a government on the move, marking progress by swift sure steps, despite the turbulent state of domestic and global affairs.” She also declared “tangible results in the delivery of government services,” and went on to flaunt the immediate crises that have been resolved.

Surprisingly, though, she did not disclose the fact that more than 5 million Filipinos today have no jobs. Just this April, unemployment rates peaked at 13.9%, a high percentage within the last two years. She also did not acknowledge a Population Commission data stating that 40%, or roughly 32 million people from a population of almost 80 million crises-hardened Filipinos, are subsisting in a shocking P38 daily budget! And a few days ago, the children of a prominent solon were kidnapped!

These, my friends, are just but some of the innumerable manifestations of today’s real state of the nation. This kind of degenerating situation is what President Arroyo blatantly omits during public fora and briefings. But the masses, even though majority of them are unschooled, cannot be fooled. They know the truth, because they are experiencing it. They feel it. The putrefaction, the stink, the lies within this obvious distortion of reality is only made manifest in the grumbling, hungry stomachs and unreachable dreams of the disgruntled masses! I am sure that when the honorable president of this debt-ridden republic was delivering her rhetorical hilarity, the masses were laughing, if not mocking, at her. To paraphrase a line from a popular Freddie Aguilar song way back in the 80’s, “tawanan na lang natin ang ating mga problema.”

Let’s just, instead, laugh at our troubles. After all, laughter is a temporary respite from all this highfalutin fabrications of society.

Restless in Mendiola

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Last Wednesday’s violent lightning rally organized by a combined group of various militants (Anakbayan, League of Filipino Students, etc.) reminded me of the oratorical piece below which I wrote in early 2003 if memory serves right. It was supposed to be delivered in some college contest but it never materialized when the Adamsonian who was to deliver it (I forgot his name) chickened out. So now I give it the dignity it rightfully deserves.

And when I reread this piece earlier, it seemed to me that it was written not by a student-activist Pepe Alas but by some melodramatic highschool nerd, ha!

I dedicate today’s blogpost to Benigno “Ninoy” Aquino, Jr., another illustrious Filipino who fought for freedom and the downfall of both oligarchy and dictatorship. His death from a cowardly bullet is commemorated today.

And if not for his death, we wouldn’t be paid double today (peace, that’s just a joke).

But seriously, the indignation within shall never fade.

MENDIOLA MASSACRE

RESTLESS IN MENDIOLA
Unveiling a Strong Republic
José Mario S. Alas

Today, Chino Roces Bridge, with all the urban hullabaloo that an impassive Manila brings to it, remains restive. Amidst the honks of vehicles and roaring engines, underneath the unfeeling treads of human and vehicular traffic, in the thick exhaust fumes surrounding the area, the uneasiness, the passion, of that hallowed spot awaits a change –a change that will forever clear the blurry path of this country towards political Canaan.

Today, I feel that Chino Roces is still burning inside. It swells with the blood of those thirteen poor souls who craved for nothing more but social justice for the peasantry. The place still boils with the blood of countless others who had yearned for a soothing hand from a government that is supposed to be caring and free from suzerainty and blame. Today, despite the belittled and almost helpless cries of protesters which Chino Roces still witness from time to time, that historic little thoroughfare is still anticipating for the better.

But through the thick industrialized air, I could smell the impatience of that anticipation. Suddenly, I was very much surprised to realize that the restlessness thriving in the place is within me. The ghost of Chino Roces, which is historic Mendiola, possessed me with an ardor so great I could almost hear the long-dead voices of thousands upon thousands of dissidents from turbulent years past.

When I walked in the very same spot where the cries for the redress of grievances were answered by cowardly bullets, the restlessness transformed into indignation — a volcano ready to spew fires of rage. I said to myself that I shouldn’t be alone in this. I shouldn’t be the only one possessed. I shouldn’t be the only one crying inside.

With such earnestness and patriotic blithe, the sick urbanities of Mendiola seemed to me very distant. Here lies no longer the schools, the police outposts, the commercial establishments, nor the bridge and the vagabonds. During that contemplative walk, I fancied that Mendiola was a battlefield, complete with our soldiers — the soldiers of change. In Mendiola shall the setting of an epic battle for Filipino freedom and democracy be recognized.

It matters not whether this battle should be taken figuratively or otherwise. What is important is that there is a battle to be fought and won, a battle wherein a conviction for social change is necessary, and a mission to exorcise this country of malice, devious usurpers, and potbellied masters.

Most of all, there must be a strong conviction that this nation, the republic to be more precise, is never weak, was never weak, and can never be weak. Philosophically, a republic is just a universal idea, but it should be treated with high regard and evaluation. Why? Because semantically, it infers to something universally good. A republic is incorporated into reality through practice, and serves as the people’s embodiment for a humane society. In addition, the view that at the center of human polity, particularly Filipino polity, is the idea of a republic, is what binds our sociality and civility within the borders of civilization.

What is weak, therefore, is not the idea but the practice.

And this practice, the vile corruption of the utilization of a body politic, is what makes us think that our republic, our government, our country, is nothing but a decrepit pile of bricks. We were, in some way or another, made to believe that the system is feeble and weak-kneed. Thus, it twisted our concepts of self-determination, independence, stability, and nationhood as a whole.

In the process of this unholy circumstance, the Filipino people have grown tired and hopeless. Their confidence towards political stability has become abjective and stale. What most Filipinos are unaware of is that our republic, strong as it really is, is being exploited shrewdly by the devils in parliament. It is they who use the strong powers of our republic to their desired design and control. But save for a select few Filipinos, the legacy of Mendiola’s firepower and its defiance against tyranny and oppression lives on. And this restlessness shall never be pacified until the true worth, strength, and dignity of La República Filipina has been unveiled.

Mendiola, where many a great nameless heroes contributed to the concept of a country of practical imperativeness rather than a dependency on the country itself, shall inspire the change that I feel. And I am confident that a lot more Filipinos are gradually waking up, heeding the calls of this implacability to unveil a strong republic.

What Should Be The Title of Carlo J. Caparás’ Life Story?

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Just give the poor guy a National Komiks Award to stop this furor which should've been concentrated on the current administration instead.

Just give the poor guy a National Komiks Award to stop this furor which should've been concentrated on the current administration instead.

The furor over Gloria Macapagal Arroyo’s questionable choice for this year’s National Artists have now reached the hallowed steps of the Supreme Court. Several National Artists, members of the Concerned Artists of the Philippines, and various academicians are petitioning Lady Justice to declare a temporary restraining order on the conferment of the rank and title of National Artist on the folowing: National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA) Executive Director Cecille Guidote-Álvarez; architect Francisco Mañosa; fashion designer José “Pitoy” Moreno, and; cartoonist-filmmaker Carlo J. Caparás.

Among the four, Caparás has elicited the loudest disapproval. And for good reason.

And so for weeks, instead of eating his humble pie, an angry Caparás (together with an equally spiteful missus Donna Villa) is all over the media, lashing out at his critics, appealing to authority that the real reason why those who don’t want him to become a National Artist is because he’s from the lower class, a former security guard at that, and that he didn’t reach college.

A lame premise.

In the future, would teachers of film appreciation and theories be able to stomach the harsh reality that they’ll have to require their students to watch Caparás’ sleazy massacre films vis-à-vis the brilliant, moving, and thought-provoking artistry of the obras of Lino Brocka et al.? Many of Caparás’ movies are –massacre films or not– without doubt blockbusters. But that doesn’t make one a National Artist for Film.

Now let’s take a peek at some of National Fartist Caparás’ works, particularly his so-called massacre films of which he is very known for:

The Myrna Diones Story (Lord, Have Mercy!)
Humanda ka Mayor!: Bahala na ang Diyos
God Save Me!
The Cecilia Masagca Story: Antipolo Massacre (Jesus Save Us!)
The Vizconde Massacre Story (God Help Us!)
The Untold Story: Vizconde Massacre 2 – God Have Mercy on Us
Lipa Arandia Massacre (Lord Deliver Us from Evil)
The Maggie dela Riva Story (God… Why Me?)
Victim No. 1: Delia Maga (Jesus, Pray for Us!)
The Marita Gonzaga Rape-Slay: In God We Trust!

The taglines of the abovementioned true-to-life massacre films are actually “shout outs” toward the heavens (God Help Us!, Lord Deliver Us From Evil), as if implying that God was deaf toward the pleas of the massacre victims whose bloody fates were encapsulated in his poorly acted films. I do not know for sure what Caparás’ religious leanings are. But bloody hell, he is mocking God in these films whose titles can stand on their own without having blasphemous taglines.

Instead of saving face and “shaming” his critics by declining to accept the National Artist medal, Caparás remains adamant that he deserves the highest award reserved for a true harbinger of Philippine Arts.

And now that he is on the receiving end of a wrathful mass of Filipino artists nationwide while playing on the sympathies of the spectators of this “oh you poor, poor Carlo!” show, maybe it’s about time for his film-producer wife to make a true-to-life movie of his now controversial hubby.

So what should the title be?

THE CARLO J. CAPARÁS STORY: OMG!!!

A Gibberish Language Month

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MULA BALER HANGGANG BUONG PILIPINAS

MULA BALER HANGGANG BUONG PILIPINAS

August is the Philippines’ Buwan ng Wika (Language Month, formerly known as the week-long Linggo ng Wika), but which among the more than 170 languages should we really consider as our mother tongue? What is really our wikang pambansâ?

These questions have been wading like a lost fish within the convoluted sea of thoughts of concerned linguists and scholars for almost a century now. But regardless of legal pronouncements and declarations, the matter over our national language hasn’t been officially resolved yet. And with the series of unfortunate events that have been pounding us like ferocious typhoons all these years, it might even be impossible for our generation to witness our country to finally obtain an undisputed national language.

The controversial 1987 Constitution unclearly states that “the national language of the Philippines is Filipino.” However, in a historical sense, the term Filipino pertains not to a language but to a group of Spaniards who were born in the Philippines at the height of Spanish rule (they were introduced to us in our elementary school days as insulares). In a nationalistic sense, and as politically defined, the term Filipino means the native inhabitants of the Republic of the Philippines. Thus, this vague statement that Filipino is the national language is just that — simply vague. And the authors of this confusing constitutional passage chose Tagalog as the basis of our national language. Anyway, from Aparri to Joló, it’s unthinkable nowadays to encounter someone who doesn’t know how to speak or understand it. Mass media, which utilizes Tagalog exclusively, is the main disseminator of the language. Thus, is it safe to assume that the constitution is right after all, that we should all concede to Tagalog as the nation’s lingua franca?

But that’s beside the point of all this.

A la tagale

The Komisyon sa Wikang Filipino (KWF) recently declared that this month’s theme is Mula Baler Hanggang Buong Pilipinas, implying that Tagalog is indeed the national language, with Baler being the birthplace of the Father of the National Language, Manuel L. Quezon (who ironically thought, wrote, and spoke more in Spanish).

But just a few years ago, the KWF celebrated this theme — Ang Buwan ng Wikang Pambansa ay Buwan ng mga Wika sa Pilipinas — the language month is the month of all Philippine languages. With this theme, it seems that the Komisyon is putting more confusion into the minds of Filipinos, especially the studentry. Are they now telling us that all Philippine languages are considered and accepted as the national language in lieu of Tagalog? If they were just speaking metaphorically, then the simple, impoverished, and half-starved Pinoy pitifully missed their point. Fortunately, the Filipino studentry do not seem to care about the Komisyon’s confusing theme; they’re more concerned over Lady Gaga, The Pussycat Dolls, Korean soaps, personalized shirts, fruit-flavored condoms, and the like.

But at the rate this language crisis is going, I think I’d rather have the Filipino youth’s eyes be ensconced in Scarlett Johansson’s cleavage and Hugh Jackman’s six-pack.

Pinoy tower of babel

The Philippines is an archipelagic Babylon, a maelström of tongues. This issue over our country’s national language has been an ageless controversy that has not been given much limelight in national issues and public fora. Anyway, the Philippines has so much laundry to do, so why should it bother with a “harmless” little critter in the form of a pesky language turmoil?

For one: language is a national and social phenomenon. It’s more important than one’s daily Kapamilya or Kapuso schedule.

A long time ago, a mighty language from the West (ever since the advent of our neocolonized patrimony, Spanish has been maligned and taught to us by a neocolonial education as nothing but a foreign atrocity) united the more than a hundred tongues (and united the more than a thousand islands, as well as hundreds of tribal kingdoms) in the Philippines which resulted in the country’s short-lived independence in 1898 (sorrowfully, since the American invasion, we were never able to look back to that glorious and legendary self-governance with impartiality and kindness). But this 1898 event served as the impetus for a very few well-intentioned politicians of the Commonwealth of the Philippines to continuously disturb the US colonizers for our country’s complete freedom (which up to now seems to be futile).

During the Commonwealth wherein Manuel L. Quezon was then president, the creation of a national language was naturally inevitable. On 31 December 1937, Tagalog was chosen as the country’s national language (this became the basis as to why the current constitution still uses Tagalog for our national language), eventually earning Quezon the title Ama ng Wikang Pambansa (Father of the National Language).

This is when the controversy actually began. And it worsened when, in 1959, Tagalog was renamed Pilipino. But it reverted back to Tagalog under the 1973 Constitution.

It’s not only the terminology that’s in question here but the orthography of the language as well. It is well known that Tagalog, including all the rest of the native languages, used an ancient alphabet (from a vague Arab influence) called alíbata (some say that it should be called baybayin). Propagandistas and literate indios used this alphabet, as well.

During the US occupation, the Americans were able to murder, bit by bit, almost all traces of our Spanish heritage. One of the victims was the abecedario, already part and parcel of the Filipino soul for more than three decades. The change of alphabet took ominous form when, in 1937, the Commonwealth created the National Language Institute which made a study and survey on which national language should be used. Tagalog won amidst the chagrin of other natives who spoke other languages. But US desecration of our country’s language never stopped there.

The Santos Debacle

On 18 June 1938, the Commonwealth’s National Assembly created the Institute of National Language (not to be confused with the National Language Institute). This new language body was tasked to prepare a dictionary and grammar. Thus was born the erroneous, faulty, and clumsy Balarila ng Wikang Pambansa authored by none other than the great Filipino lexicon and writer, Lope K. Santos. He was the J.R.R. Tolkien of his time in terms of inventing words. But Santos’ work was of no great help in the development of a national language. It only made things worse. It virtually murdered the Filipino alphabet, killing many Filipino words in the process.

And I suspect that he knew that.

Santos was a journalist who was entangled in the celebrated libel case of the newspaper he was working with during the early 1900s. On 30 October 1908, his newspaper El Renacimiento (The Rebirth) published an editorial entitled Aves de Rapiña (Birds of Prey). It was a “blind item” meant for then Secretary of the Interior Dean C. Worcester, but the American diplomat immediately felt that he was the one being alluded to by the attacks mentioned in the editorial, e.g., that he was economically exploiting certain parts of the Philippines (particularly Benguet and Mindanáo). He filed a lawsuit against the newspaper’s owner and men, which included Santos. The trial lasted for several years. Worcester won the case.

During the course of the trial, it wasn’t impossible that Santos may have been under duress from a Worcester payback…

The composition of the Balarila must have began during those years. Most probably, during the younger years of the 1900s, the US government in the Philippines, under the auspices of Worcester, have been plotting all along on how to destroy the foundation of our language: the abecedario. It should be noted that even during the final years of Spanish rule, Worcester was already in the Philippines. So I won’t be surprised if, in a future historical discovery, he was acting as a spy for the US. Therefore, plotting out the destruction of our language must have begun several years before the Commonwealth.

Now, many scholars say that the decision to choose Tagalog over other languages in the country is that the said language is the language of the nation’s capital, Manila. Furthermore, alongside Spanish, it was the language of the 1896 Revolution and the violent Katipunan. And again, the center of action during the Revolution was in Tagalog Manila. Another reason is that Tagalog has a vast treasure trove of literary works. Tagalog has published more books compared to other native languages. But for all we know, another factor could be president Quezon’s Tagalog origin.

But if we are to look closely into this matter, then one would find out that something fishy is going on.

It’s not easy to convince the Filipinos to accept Tagalog as the national language since we have several languages to consider. So the plotters have found a very reliable weapon in the persona of National Hero José Rizal.

A Dubious Poem

Pepe Rizal was already a legend, an icon even before the Commonwealth. And what better way to convince the Filipinos to accept Tagalog as the mother tongue by using a poem that was allegedly authored by him: the dubious Sa Aking Mga Kabata (To My Fellow Youth).

Take into account this passage from the said poem (with an English translation).

Ang hindi magmahal sa kanyang salita
Mahigit sa hayop at malansang isda,
Kaya ang marapat pagyamaning kusa
Na tulad sa inang tunay na nagpala.

One who doesn’t love his native tongue,
Is worse than putrid fish and beast;
And like a truly precious thing
It therefore deserves to be cherished.

Nobody at that time would had ever wanted to go against the ghost of Rizal. Unlike now (what with iconoclast historians such as Ambeth Ocampo and Pío Andrade, Jr. challenging already established historical knowledge), he was almost considered a god. Everything he said in his writings can transform doubtful things into golden truth. So, why not follow his advice? Since he “postulated” that you’re but a stinkin’ blowfish if you don’t love your language, which is the language he “used” in writing Sa Aking Mga Kabata, why not believe in “his wisdom”?

But this is all hogwash. Our “educators” are very proud to say that Pepe Rizal wrote this poem at a very young age of eight.

I say, they’re high on crack.

JOSÉ RIZAL NEVER WROTE SA AKING MGA KABATA! It’s a brazen lie! Even popular historian Ambeth Ocampo himself doesn’t believe that this was written by Rizal.

To prove my point, let us again take a closer look, this time by examining two curious lines from this doubtful verse:

THE Tagalog language’s akin to Latin,
To English, Spanish, angelical tongue

The Tagalog original goes this way:

Ang wikang Tagalog tulad din sa Latin
Sa Ingles, Kastila at salitang anghel

No Meralco, no problemo.

No Meralco, no problemo.

Boys and girls, if you still remember your school days, this poem was allegedly written by Rizal when he was only eight years old. However, at that age, he wasn’t studying Latin yet (his Latin lessons began in 1872 at the Ateneo Municipal de Manila; he was then 11) Although it is known that his Spanish is superb compared to his Tagalog, he wasn’t that confident with the Castilian language during his younger years (remember the “un poco, señor” incident he had with maestro Justiniano Cruz during his early studies in Biñán, Laguna?) since he was just a freakin’ kid. And most of all, English was almost unknown in the country (or at least in Calambâ where he grew up) at that time. When he was eight years old, Rizal never knew the difference between the English language from the Spanish word puta. He never engaged in Tagalog literature. He did attempt to write a novel in Tagalog during his later years (Makamisa), but he wasn’t even able to finish it due to his poor mastery of the language. When Rizal wrote personal letters to his family members and friends, he wrote mostly in Spanish, not Tagalog. His diary was written in the language of Miguel de Cervantes. And most of all, AN EIGHT YEAR OLD DOESN’T HAVE THE INTELLECTUAL CAPACITY YET TO MAKE A CRITICAL ANALYSIS ON COMPARING VARIOUS LANGUAGES.

In addition, the Rizal home was a Spanish-speaking home. The Rizal kids are today’s equivalent of English-speaking Filipino children. During young Pepe Rizal’s naughty fits, he was scolded not in Tagalog but in Spanish.

Yes, he may have been a prodigy. But please, let us not treat Rizal as though he’s some omniscient heavenly deity that was sent back to earth as punishment for whatever shit he did up there.

So there you have it, a brief overview of the lies tucked in neatly by those who handle the language situation in the Philippines. They have masterfully erected Tagalog as the national language. Afterwards, the butchering began. We no longer have the correct and polite and respectable Tagalog. We now have an abomination of the language, a freak of linguistics called Taglish (or Engalog). And according to some friends of mine who speak other native Filipino languages, theirs too are slowly being eaten up by this unholy mixture of English, which is an unphonetic language, to that of their native languages. All Filipino languages are phonetic. Mix these two up (phonetic+unphonetic), then what do you get?

I won’t bother answer that. Let some cheap starlet dish out her language on national TV then you’ll get the picture. In the meantime, the US is basking in economic security since they have captured a permanent market in the Philippines due to the fact that almost all Pinoys have embraced English, whether or not they could understand it wholly.

So from Baler to other Philippine dominions, the wikang pambansâ is Taglish.

Filipinas, when will you ever wake up?

*****

NOTE: I originally published the foregoing blogpost here (that was three years ago today!). I just did some minor editing to help this blogpost keep up with the times. And today’s Manuel L. Quezon’s natal day, as well.

Happy language month!… is such a greeting even necessary?

The Filipino Identity

Posted on
Acó ba'y isáng "Pinoy" o "Filipino"? Basta ang alám có, CUTE acó.

THE FILIPINO IDENTITY
Guillermo Gómez Rivera and José Mario S. Alas

Since the Philippines is now witnessing a world full of turbulence and incertitude, trudging on a road leading almost to hopelessness (and quite possibly another world war), it is high time that we Filipinos should wake up and face the facts, and to discern the real cause behind all this farce and evil.

We Filipinos were stripped of our national identity upon the arrival here of our so-called liberators: the North Americans, particularly the Thomasites. From that time on, the Republic of the Philippines (the Anglicized translation of La República de Filipinas) has never been the same again. Everything that is Filipino was literally mangled, especially during the 1945 massacre of Manila courtesy of the Yankee soldiers (see WARSAW OF ASIA: THE RAPE OF MANILA by José Mª Bonifacio Escoda). Therefore, before anything of the same tragedy happens again, we better arm ourselves with the powers of historical research and delve into the truth amidst all the lies taught to us by some “idiotcators.” Remember that the past is our gateway to the future.

The Filipino identity is the product of the Filipino State that began to exist in Spanish on 24 June 1571. The Filipino State was founded together with Manila on that same date, with the government having Spanish as its official language (THE FILIPINO STATE by Gómez Rivera as published in emanila.com).

In 1599, the previously existing native ethnic states went into the Filipino State as co-founding members. They incorporated themselves with the Filipino State when they elected the Spanish King (Rey Felipe II) as their natural sovereign (page 23 of THE HISPANIZATION OF THE PHILIPPINES by John Leddy Phelan, University of Winsconsin Press, USA, 1959). This election was verified during a synod-plebiscite held also that year.

From that time on, and after forming part of the 1571 Filipino State, our pre-Hispanic ancestors also accepted Spanish as their official and national language with their respective native languages as auxiliary official languages. Thus, the previously autonomous Ethnic States that existed before 1599 were respectively the ones that belonged to the Tagalogs, Ilocanos, Pampangueños, Bicolanos, Visayans, Mindanáo Lumads, and the Moro Sultanates of Joló and Maguindanáo.

Aside from these indigenous or native Ethnic States, the pre-Hispanic Chinese of Mayi-in-ila Kung shing-fu, or what is now known as Manila, likewise joined the Filipino State when they accepted the King of Spain as their natural sovereign. More so, because they knew that they would become the chief benefactors of the Manila-Acapulco Galleon Trade that would in turn last for 215 years.

Hence, all of the above mentioned people became, ethnographically and politically, Filipinos as well as Spanish citizens or subjects when they freely accepted the Spanish King (Rey Felipe or King Philip II) as their natural sovereign in 1599, resided in the Philippines to do business, and paid taxes to His Majesty’s Manila government. It is because of this historical event that the Spanish language is an inseparable part of every Filipino’s individual, collective, and national identity. Because of this fact, Philippine education today, to be truly Filipino, must have Spanish as its medium of instruction as was the case before the Americans came, since without a notion of this language no Filipino can say that he is truly Filipino in his identity (Caviteños and Zamboangueños should, and can, start with their own Chabacano vernacular).

This is why a nationalist of the stature of Claro M. Recto declared that: “Without Spanish the inventory of our national patrimony as a people will be destroyed, if not taken away from us since Spanish is part of our flesh and blood as Filipinos.”

Teodoro M. Kálaw, another great Filipino, also said that: “The Filipino national identity, as well as what we know and recognize as Filipino culture, remains primarily articulated and manifested in Spanish because this is its original language. The Filipino Civilization is a beautiful blending of the Spanish and the indigenous civilizations. Without Spanish and its beneficial influence, we betray our own rights to dignity as a people and stop being Filipinos in order to sadly become economic slaves of another power.”

It is therefore a very condemnable crime against the Filipino people, in the words of Cebuano Senator Manuel C. Briones, to educate the new generations of Filipinos without any Spanish as, at least, one more subject in their curricula.

“More so,” added then Senator Manuel C. Briones, “because Spanish is also a world language!” And this is totally true because, at this writing, Spanish has around five hundred million primary speakers and another seven hundred million people as second-language speakers.

Should present-day Filipinos be left-out?

However, that is not the complete point. The main argument is that we Filipinos, before joining the battlefield against imperialism/neocolonialism, should very well know who the real enemy is. Moreover, we should realize that whenever we throw punches at the enemy, the only ones who we hit are ourselves due to the ignorance that we have about who we are and what we were. Our language, our culture, as well as our history and identity, were all distorted (this can be observed through the fiery writings of Recto, Kálaw, Briones, Jesús Lava, Renato Constantino, and even Nick Joaquín, regarding this matter; among those mentioned, perhaps it is Recto who divulged the most scathing truth on the agenda of the Americans and what they did to our country).

Even national hero José Rizal can be considered as an American-invented hero in some sense (see VENERATION WITHOUT UNDERSTANDING by Constantino). This is not to say that Rizal’s heroism was horseplay. Rizal was an ardent nationalist, a great writer and scholar, bar-none. He has every right to be our national hero for he instilled in his followers the importance of nationalism and national identity. However, the American regime managed to distort everything about him, and even used his tussle with the Spanish government in the Philippines when in truth, Rizal, who was a Freemason, was solely against the Spanish friars particularly the Dominicans who ordered the expulsion of his family, together with other Calambeños, from Calambâ, Laguna due to a land dispute.

The scheme of using Rizal’s “hatred” (kunô) against Spain was taught in all the schools, public and private, from pre-school up to college, little by little conditioning the minds of young Filipinos into accepting the absurd notion that the real villains were the Spaniards and that our saviors were the Americans. This alarming lie being done in our school systems still exist, quite obviously.

So now that it is made clear what a Filipino is, perhaps the question should be rephrased: should present-day Filipinos remain unconcerned about what those foreign oppressors did to us and are still doing to us?

circa 2001

*******

GUILLERMO GÓMEZ y RIVERA — is a Filipino writer, journalist, poet, playwright, historian, linguist, polyglot, and scholar of Spanish and British descent. He was appointed Secretary of the Committee on National Language for the 1970-1971 Constitutional Convention. In 1974, the Department of Education condecorated him for his work as teacher and writer with the Plus Ultra Filipinas Award. In 1975, he was awarded the Premio Zóbel, the oldest literary award in the Philippines. And if I go on, this profile of Señor Gómez would have outworded the foregoing essay. :D
JOSÉ MARIO “Pepe” ALAS — is just an ordinary blogger with simple dreams but higher hopes. :-)

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