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Monthly Archives: October 2009

Sa loób ng Maynilà (Intramuros)

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“In October, a breath of the north stirs Manila, blowing summer’s dust and doves from the tile roofs, freshening the moss of old walls, as the city festoons itself with arches and paper lanterns for its great votive feast to the Virgin. Women hurrying into their finery upstairs, bewhiskered men tapping impatient canes downstairs, children teeming in the doorways, coachmen holding eager ponies in the gay streets, glance up anxiously, fearing the wind’s chill: would it rain this year? (But the eyes that, long ago, had gazed up anxiously, invoking the Virgin, had feared a grimmer rain—of fire and metal; for pirate craft crowded the horizon.) The bells begin to peal again and sound like silver coins showering in the fine air; at the rumor of drums and trumpets as bands march smartly down the cobblestones, a pang of childhood happiness smites every heart. October in Manila! But the emotion, so special to one’s childhood, seems no longer purely one’s own; seems to have traveled ahead, deep into time, since one first felt its pang; growing ever more poignant, more complex—a child’s rhyme swelling epical; a clan treasure one bequeaths at the very moment of inheritance, having added one’s gem to it. And time creates unexpected destinations, history raises figs from thistles: yesterday’s pirates become today’s roast pork and paper lanterns, a tapping of impatient canes, a clamor of trumpets…” –NICK JOAQUÍN, (Guardia de Honor)–

ESCUDO DE MANILA

¡Manila de mis amores!

I’ve been wanting to do this for a long, long time. Ever since I rejoined the Catholic Church last 2003, I’ve been longing to do a visita iglesia within the historic walls of Intramuros, “the original Manila”. Seven were the original churches of the Walled City. But only two are left (and one still lay in ruins). Finally, I had the chance to fulfill that dream a few days ago, October 28. The weather was absitively, posolutely perfect: very windy, very cool, very October, much like the days of Imperial Spain in the Philippines. And what better way of fulfilling that dream trip than tagging along my partner for life, Yeyette Perey de Alas.

We were like historical researchers. As a guide, we brought along with us a copy of the Philippine Daily Inquirer’s highly informative Intramuros (published in 1988), edited by the late great National Artist for Literature, Nick Joaquín.

Nick was a true-blooded Manileño born and bred. He had witnessed so much about the final living years of Spanish Intramuros. Most of Nick’s works are a fine testament of how the Filipinos, particularly the Manileños within and without the Walled City, lived and breathed their every day Intramuros lives. And if I only had my way, I will revive everything that used to be in the original capital city. Because that’s simply the way it should be. Period. No amount of restoration will bring back Intramuros’ old glory as long as squatters are allowed to live within the Walled City, as long as Dick Gordon’s shameful and hispanophobic Light and Sound Museum continues to exist, and as long as the five of the original seven churches aren’t brought back by the Intramuros Administration, the local Catholic Church, and the Philippine Government in general. In the words of Nick, “Intramuros was a collective high altar formed by its churches.”

INTRAMUROS

“And from childhood no amount of familiarity could dull for me the mysterious wondrousness of Intramuros as the very vitals, the hid heart, the secret soul of my city. Every going into it was a penetration — and in there, for a Manileño, it was always like coming home. He was back to his original, essential, eternal island. He was back to roots. Sa loob ng Maynila.” –NICK JOAQUÍN–

PUERTA DEL PARIÁN

Puerta del Parián

LYCEUM OF THE PHILIPPINES

Lyceum of the Philippines

JOSÉ P. LAUREL

José P. Laurel, the founder of Lyceum of the Philippines and the third president of the Philippines.

The only ATM we found in Intramuros.

Revolucionario-turned-traffic enforcer.

BALUARTE DE DILÁO

MAPÚA CARDINALS GYM

The playground of the Mapúa Cardinals.

MAPÚA INSTITUTE OF TECHNOLOGY
TOMÁS MAPÚA HISTORICAL MARKERS

Did you know that Tomás Mapúa y Bautista was the very first registered Filipino architect?

MAPÚA INSTITUTE OF TECHNOLOGY

Manila High School

COLEGIO DE SANTA ROSA

Colegio de Santa Rosa (1750), one of the two remaining original schools (the other one's Colegio de San Juan de Letrán) in Intramuros.

A view of Colegio de Santa Rosa along Calle Beaterio which leads to the Manila Cathedral (the domed cathedral is visible from here).

PLAZA DE SANTO TOMÁS

PLAZA DE SANTO TOMÁS

Commemorative plaques of the Santo Domingo Church and University of Santo Tomás (Plaza de Santo Tomás).

ARZOBISPO MIGUEL DE BENAVIDES, O.P. (1550-1605)

Monument of Archbishop Miguel de Benavides, O.P., founder of the University of Santo Tomás.

BANCO FILIPINO

The original Universidad de Santo Tomás used to stand here.

REY FELIPE II (1527-1598)

Did you know that our country is the only one that was named after a Spanish monarch? Yep, Las Islas Felipenas was named after King Philip II.

PHILIP II, KING OF SPAIN

THis statue was erected in honor of King Philip II, King of Spain, from whom these islands were named after him.

ADUANA

The Aduana was the original Customs House.

THE ROMAN CATHOLIC ARCHBISHOP OF MANILA

The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Manila

PALACIO ARZOBISPAL

Siesta beside the site where the Ateneo Municipal used to stand.

Calle Real esquina Calle Santa Lucía. Behind the massive walls is the San Agustín Church and Convent.

PUERTA DE SANTA LUCÍa

Puerta de Santa Lucía

Captured!

CALLE SANTA POTENCIANA

Calle Santa Potenciana is the oldest street in Intramuros. This is at the rear wall of San Agustín Church. Notice the original ancient engraved name of the street above the modern tiled lettering. My precious!!!

The building of the National Commission for Culture and the Arts.

NATIONAL COMMISSION FOR CULTURE AND THE ARTS

Ironically, the National Commission for Culture and the Arts is in front of something uncultured and unaesthetic -- a slum area, the bane of contemporary Intramuros. And it has been like this for several years already.

GUSALING CORAZÓN C. AQUINO (PAMANTASAN NG LUNGSOD NG MAYNILA)

Here once stood the Cuartel de España (fronting the Lourdes Church and Convent). This is where the popular sport of basketball was first introduced to Filipinos by the Americans.

KNIGHTS OF COLUMBUS FRATERNAL ASSOCIATION OF THE PHILIPPINES, INC.

ANDA STREET

Calle Anda, named after the great Governor-General Simón de Anda who refused to surrender to the British forces who invaded our country in 1762. Instead, he waged a guerrilla warfare against them. Without a shadow of a doubt, de Anda is one of the greatest Filipino leaders of all time.

MONUMENTO DEL REY CARLOS IV

The bronze statue of King Carlos IV in Plaza Roma was installed in 1824 as a tribute to him for bringing into the country the first smallpox vaccine. The vaccine saved countless lives. Smallpox was then a deadly disease.

The four corners of Plaza Roma used to have balete trees. I'm not really sure if this balete tree --the only one in Plaza Roma today-- is one of them.

COLEGIO DE SAN JUAN DE LETRÁN

Colegio de San Juan de Letrán (Calle Beaterio side).

Colegio de San Juan de Letrán was once an orphanage.

CATEDRAL DE MANILA

The Walled City's Manila Cathedral is the mother of all Catholic churches in the Philippines.

***********************************

Seven were the churches of Intramuros. Let’s re-enact the itinerary. Entering through Victoria Gate and going up Solana, you reached San Francisco, which was a double church, for beside the main one (its creamy pillared façade rose five stories high) was the V.O.T., the chapel of the Franciscan third order, where was venerated a crowned St. Louis robed in ermine.

1. CHAPEL OF THE FRANCISCAN VENERABLE THIRD ORDER & THE SAN FRANCISCO CHURCH AND CONVENT

CHAPEL OF THE FRANCISCAN VENERABLE THIRD ORDER

Chapel of the Franciscan Venerable Third Order. The site is now occupied by the Mapúa Institute of Technology.

CHAPEL OF THE FRANCISCAN VENERABLE THIRD ORDER

ST. RITA'S CHAPEL

St. Rita's Chapel (inside the Mapúa Institute of Technology campus) now stands on the very site where the Chapel of the Franciscan Venerable Third Order used to be.

SAN FRANCISCO CHURCH AND CONVENT

San Francisco Church and Convent

*********************

At the end of Solana was Santo Domingo, magnificently gothic and rose-colored, with a side portal opening out to the Plaza de Santo Tomás.

2. SANTO DOMINGO CHURCH AND CONVENT

SANTO DOMINGO CHURCH AND CONVENT

Santo Domingo Church and Convent

The neo-Gothic architecture of this legendary church thrilled my wife so much!

BPI

The Bank of the Philippine Islands now occupies the former site of Santo Domingo Church. The church is now in Quezon City.

*********************

Crossing this plaza and passing the university, you came upon the Cathedral, which had wide porches instead of a patio, iron-grille balustrades and, just inside the entrance, a small bronze statue of a seated St. Peter whose toes had been worn smooth by the kisses of the faithful.

3. MINOR BASILICA OF THE IMMACULATE CONCEPTION (THE ROMAN CATHOLIC CATHEDRAL OF MANILA)

MANILA CATHEDRAL

The Manila Cathedral is actually a Roman Catholic Minor Basilica, the cathedral of the Archdiocese of Manila. The throne of the Archbishop of Manila is inside this centuries-old holy edifice.

MANILA CATHEDRAL

The Roman Catholic Cathedral of Manila

The historical marker behind me was one part of the Manila Cathedral which survived heavy bombing during World War II.

PALACIO DEL GOBERNADOR

My wife poses at the steps of the Manila Cathedral. The Palacio del Gobernador is at the background. It used to be the Governor-General's residence.

Plaza Roma is at the background (in front of Manila Cathedral).

Manila Cathedral

MANILA CATHEDRAL

*********************

Past the Cathedral, a left turn at Calle Arzobispo brought you to San Ignacio, wedged between the Ateneo and the episcopal palace; very high iron grilling enclosing the narrow court that formed a portico to this red-brick church, also known as Jesuitas.

4. SAN IGNACIO CHURCH

RUINS OF THE JESUIT SAN IGNACIO CHURCH

San Ignacio Church

SAN IGNACIO CHURCH

Could you just imagine that a multitude of faithful Manileños used to pray here?

SAN IGNACIO CHURCH

This red-brick church is also known as Jesuitas.

SAN IGNACIO CHURCH

SAN IGNACIO CHURCH

This church can still be revived.

San Ignacio Church

SAN IGNACIO CHURCH

My wife is so thrilled to have touched more than a hundred years of historical bricks.

SAN IGNACIO CHURCH

SAN IGNACIO CHURCH

I climbed up the spiked iron gates just to get inside the ruins. And what do I see? An excavation instead of renovation.

SAN IGNACIO CHURCH

SAN IGNACIO CHURCH

Details of a double-column attached to the exterior walls of La Iglesia de San Ignacio.

SAN IGNACIO CHURCH

The letters IA stand for Intramuros Administration, not Inutile Administration, LOL!

*********************

At the end of Arzobispo was San Agustín, with its double convent: the main monastery beside the church and the separate business quarters (or procuration) adjoining the Ateneo.

5. SAN AGUSTÍN CHURCH AND CONVENT

SAN AGUSTÍN CHURCH AND CONVENT

San Agustín Church and Convent

The moss-covered walls of the San Agustín Monastery along Calle Real.

SAN AGUSTÍN CHURCH

The green moss covering the monastery walls of San Agustín.

SAN AGUSTÍN CHURCH AND CONVENT

SAN AGUSTÍN CHURCH AND CONVENT

SAN AGUSTÍN CHURCH AND CONVENT

San Agustín Church and Convent

The cobbled street of Calle Real del Palacio (now Calle General Antonio Luna). To the right is the Church of San Agustín.

CHURCH OF SAN AGUSTÍN

San Agustín Church is the first church in the Philippines. It was also the last church standing in Intramuros after World War II.

SAN AGUSTÍN CHURCH AND CONVENT

San Agustín Church is a World Heritage Site -- BE PROUD OF IT!!!

SAN AGUSTÍN CHURCH AND CONVENT

One of the beloved stone lions of San Agustín Church.

SAN AGUSTÍN CHURCH AND CONVENT

The old monastery is on the left side of the church. Inside is the San Agustín Museum. Fr. Pedro Galende, O.S.A., is the curator.

SAN AGUSTÍN CHURCH

Simply majestic...

SAN AGUSTÍN CHURCH

The church's intricately designed domed ceiling. Still intact for centuries.

SAN AGUSTÍN CHURCH

The church's stylish pulpit. It's no longer used due to its fragility and age.

SAN AGUSTÍN CHURCH

The funny looking upside-down pineapple underneath the pulpit.

SAN AGUSTÍN CHURCH

There’s a light at the end of every tunnel, err, corridor, hehehe! This leads to the museum and convent/monastery.

SAN AGUSTÍN CHURCH

Capilla de la Asunción

SAN AGUSTÍN CHURCH

Tomb of Jacobo Zóbel y Zangróniz in the Chapel of the Assumption (Capilla de la Asunción). He was a former mayor of Manila, polyglot, scholar, renowned numismatist, pharmacist, construction magnate, businessman... whew! This guy's the man!

SAN AGUSTÍN CHURCH

Did you know that the lower part of this wooden entrance was cut down by the crazed Japanese Imperial Army to accomodate their machine guns? But by the time this photo was taken, it accomodated only the Irrepressible Brother Pepe, LOL!!!

SAN AGUSTÍN CHURCH AND CONVENT

At the right side of the church (Calle Real del Palacio).

*********************

Going down Calle General Luna and turning left at Calle Escuela, you found yourself at the Recollects’ Iglesia de San Nicolás, least visible of the Intramuros shrines, and with a cobbled patio in front and along one side.

6. SAN NICOLÁS DE TOLENTIONO CHURCH AND CONVENT

SAN NICOLÁS DE TOLENTINO CHURCH AND CONVENT

The Church and Convent of the Recollects

SAN NICOLÁS DE TOLENTINO CHURCH AND CONVENT
SAN NICOLÁS DE TOLENTINO CHURCH AND CONVENT / MANILA BULLETIN

Manila Bulletin now stands on the ground where the San Nicolás de Tolentino Church and Convent once reigned supreme.

*********************

Turning right on Recoletos and doubling back on General Luna, you reached Lourdes Church, or Capuchinos, youngest of the Walled City’s temples. with a painting of the Virgin on its façade.

7. LOURDES CHURCH AND CONVENT

LOURDES CHURCH AND CONVENT

Silahis Arts and Crafts and the Ilustrado Restaurant now occupies the former site of the Lourdes Church and Convent.

LOURDES CHURCH AND CONVENT

Lourdes Church and Convent

LOURDES CHURCH AND CONVENT

*********************

“What alone survives of the old churches, San Agustín, looks extremely lonely without the busy company it had enjoyed for ages sa loob ng Maynila. And San Agustín has practically given up the public celebration of its old fiestas. St. Rita is no longer borne in procession on a float of Maytime roses; and the Virgin of Consolation no longer rides her silver carroza through the streets of Intramuros on the second Sunday of September — a cult commemorated in Fernando Zóbel’s Carroza. To repeat, Intramuros was the conjunto, of all its traditional temples; without its other colleagues, even the Cathedral and San Agustín are merely crown jewels without a crown. “Maybe a revival of piety (using the term in its Latin sense) will in the future inspire the return to Intramuros of all its former churches, chapels, convents and beaterios. Only then will Intramuros be really “restored” — when again it has a San Francisco with its Tuesdays of St. Anthony; a Santa Clara with its unseen choir of vestals; a Lourdes with its Saturday girl crowds; a Santa Isabel with its shrine of the Santo Cristo; a Recoletos with its Friday pilgrims and December feria de Santa Lucía; a San Ignacio with its fashionable confessionals; an Ateneo and a Santo Tomás back on original ground; a Santa Catalina and Beaterio and Santa Rosa come home again; a San Agustín resuming its public ceremonials; a Cathedral restoring the votive function of St. Andrew the Apostle as patron of the Noble and Ever Loyal; and a Santo Domingo again celebrating La Naval de Manila in old Manila. “Only then will Manileños again have a high altar round which they can gather as a coherent community — sa loob ng Maynila.” —NICK JOAQUÍN—

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Metro Manila is being pummeled right now by Typhoon Santi.

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I went outside with an officemate just a few minutes ago. It’s no longer raining here in Alabang, Muntinlupà City. But hours ago, it was raining dogs and cats and cows and other assorted mammals. Man! The wind’s like crazy! The last time Metro Manila suffered a direct hit like this one was three years ago, and it was Typhoon Milenyo.

I went to the parking lot, which was almost empty, and looked up to the sky. Huge gray clouds were slowly moving in one hellish circle!

Typhoon Santi is here!

And too bad I don’t have a video camera with me. That’s what I’ll buy for myself this Christmas season.

This kind of weather always excites me. I don’t know why. I was screaming like a child outside as the wind was blowing up all over my body. And Dustin (my officemate) was very amused. Well, I told him earlier that a storm chaser’s my dream job.

This typhoon is a work of art! A magnificent creation of God!

Or should I say, of man?!

Climate change, anyone?

TYPHOON SANTI IS HERE IN METRO MANILA!

Typhoon Santi is here in Metro Manila!

¡Halalan na! But before that…

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When the King of Philippine Movies, Fernando Poe, Jr., was brazenly cheated in the 2004 Philippine National Elections, I swore to myself that I’ll never ever vote again. And I proudly tell this to everybody I meet who talks about politics.

But that’s one reason why the infamous adage “promises are made to be broken” was conceptualized. I think I have to eat my humble pie — I have to vote in the upcoming 2010 Philippine National Elections. I’ll do this not because my faith in the electoral process has returned. I’m doing this for a friend. And I believe this friend’s sincerity in his words. His “San Pedro 2020” vision is something that is promising and truly beneficial not only to his constituents in San Pedro, but something that all Lagunenses would be proud of.

I’m beginning to sound biased here. OK. So be it. But all I can say is this: like the way I chose my preferred candidates last 2004, I’ll go for the “lesser evil” in next year’s elections.

Besides, if politics is corrupt, local governments are less corrupt compared to the national government based in Malacañang Palace.

So to all those who want to waste their precious time, or to those who still have faith left in the electoral process, tomorrow is your last chance to register. Me and my wife went to the municipio this morning to register. But we were surprised by what we saw…

San Pedro, Laguna's Municipal staff attending to those who would like to become registered voters for next year's highly anticipated national elections.

30-10-09_1049

Each San Pedrense is waiting for his/her turn to register because this is the second to the last day for registration.

The long queue. Tomorrow's the last day for registration.

The final days of registration are always crowded. Ang mga Filipino nga namán...

Wait a minute… tomorrow’s the last day to register. But something’s cooking in the Pacific…

TYPHOON SANTI

Nature vs... politics?!

Typhoon Santi! Nature must be doing everything it can to delay next year’s elections. If it be true, I wonder why? (and I wonder why even wondered, LOL!).

Special thanks to mi amor, Yeyette Perey de Alas, FILIPINO eSCRIBBLES’ photographer for the day.

Harpy Halloween

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Tomorrow, many countries will celebrate Halloween. It’s not a Filipino nor a Christian celebration. But this “horrible holiday” is getting stronger and more popular each passing year in this country.

Already, television channels are showing various fright-related programs and movies since the beginning of the month. Many still remember how they await the Halloween episode of Noli de Castro’s popular and current affairs program, the now defunct Magandang Gabi, Bayan. And many businesses such as fastfoods, bookstores, and malls display halloween decors and other related paraphernalia.

Even my favorite source of news is into it! LOL!

The following article from Inquirer.net scared the $h!+ out of me. For one: it’s from a reliable and credible source (a Man of God)!

Exorcist’s tales: ‘Hair on my arms stood on end’

Walking toward the squat bungalow on a narrow street in Mandaluyong City, the priest wondered why his friend had requested “a lot of holy water” for the blessing.

“I thought I was going to bless a big house. It was only a bungalow surrounded by tall trees,” Fr. Armand Tangi said, remembering that rainy afternoon in 1984.

Tangi, then a freshman priest of the Society of St. Paul, saw nothing strange about the house that was inhabited only by his friend’s uncle.

But as soon as his friend (let’s call him Rey) opened the front door, “it was so cold even with all the windows closed,” Tangi said. “The hair on my arms stood on end.”

Tangi, Rey and their companions—two women, both office subordinates of the latter—walked in.

Looking around, the priest noted that there were no religious statues or objects to be seen—something he found odd in a house owned by a Catholic family.

Rey introduced him to the elderly uncle seated on a rocking chair. But the latter’s “thoughts seemed somewhere else,” the priest said.

Having arranged the holy water and the prayer cards brought by Rey, Tangi put on his stole and opened his book of prayers at the appropriate page.

Moaning

“I started the prayer and I could hear moaning, a male voice, as though in pain. It wouldn’t stop,” Tangi said.

He and the women exchanged glances anxiously.

Praying aloud, they walked around the house, with the moaning growing louder each time they entered a room.

Recalled Tangi: “It was loudest when we reached the kitchen. I realized it was coming from the refrigerator.

“I didn’t know whether to open the ref door or not. What if whatever was moaning leapt out? What if it were a spirit and entered me or one of my companions?”

Eyes closed but still praying, Tangi grasped the vial of holy water, swung the refrigerator door open, and wildly squirted the vial’s contents inside.

He opened his eyes and saw only food and bottles of drinking water.

“I could still hear moaning inside the ref but it was getting faint. When I posted a card bearing a prayer to the Holy Name of Jesus on the door, it stopped,” the priest said.

Rey then asked Tangi to pray over his uncle, who appeared indifferent to what had just transpired.

“I stood behind him and put my hands on his head. I blessed him but I felt that something was very wrong,” Tangi said.

No one spoke as he and the others left the house.

Click here for more chills!

SAINT FRANCIS BORGIA

Saint Francis Borgia performing the Holy Rite of Exorcism (in this painting by legendary Spanish painter Francisco Goya).

DISCLAIMER: Guys, don’t expect me to follow Vice President Noli’s footsteps, i.e., featuring scary stuff in FILIPINO eSCRIBBLES (or ALAS FILIPINAS) during the Halloween season, LOL!!! I don’t consider it as a Filipino celebration (that is why today’s blogpost is related to the true Filipino faith: Christianity/Catholicism). And even if I do, it is simply not a Filipino event. Well, I have to admit that I did dress up a couple of times in the past during Halloween festivities. But that doesn’t mean I endorse the yearly event. Celebrate it just for fun? I really don’t care. Nor am I excited about it. The final (and windy) days of October, however, always excite me because it means — Christmas is near!!!

I say, this Halloween cr@p is one way of allowing Yankee trade into our market. Filipinos are systematically brainwashed to embrace everything Yankee. We ape the way they speak, the way they dress, the way they act. Simply put, WE APE THEIR WAYS.

Let’s put it in simpler words. In Halloween’s case, for instance, Halloween products and other related commodities are imported into our country for local consumption. In the end, it makes Harpy Yankee’s bank accounts happy. In the end, it leaves our economy bloodied, like a scene from a visceral horror flick. In the end, that leaves me miffed.

Happy Halloween? My bony @$$.

Jack-o'-lantern, the famous symbol of Halloween.

The Internet celebrates its 40th anniversary today!

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Happy 40th birthday to man’s greatest –and weirdest– invention: the Internet!!!

Birth of the Internet

Commemorative plaque of the birth of the Internet at the Leland Stanford Junior University.

It would already be superfluous if I write about the Internet’s history or its accomplishments. All I could write about is a supposition: what would’ve happened to modern Pinoy pop culture without the Internet?

There would have been no social networking like Friendster or Facebook or Multiply; there would have been no YouTube and the like (YouPorn?).

There would’ve been no MP3s and CD burning and music piracy (which is actually a good scenario).

The inmates of the Cebú Provincial Detention and Rehabilitation Center (see the famous viral video below) would have remained dancing among themselves within the confines of their prison grounds and not for the world stage.

Charice Pempengco and Arnel Pineda would’ve been total unknowns wherever they go (putting famous rock band Journey on a neverending –you got that right– journey for a fitting vocalist).

Could we even survive without sex scandals?! Character actress and medical doctor Maricar Reyes would’ve remained a b!tc# behind the scenes, and fellow doctor Hayden Kho would’ve remained scotfree using hidden videos to record his sexual trysts with some of the hottest babes in town (it would’ve thus been a bane to the local porn industry, LOL!!!). Nothing more can be said or written about Katrina Halili.

Articles and photos for the hugely popular Flesh Asia Daily 3.0 would’ve been distributed in pamphlets, as if they’re leftist literature, LOL!!!

Of course, who can ever forget Mark Lápid’s obnoxious “saging lang ang may puso” movie clip?

Willie Revillamé would’ve remained verbally unstoppable and more arrogant without the online petition to oust him from multimedia giant ABS-CBN.

And then we also have some acts of journalism/heroism, such as the recent controversy between Blog ni Ella and Department of Social Welfare and Development Secretary Esperanza Cabral.

And I just wonder what Manolo Quezon III (a prolific blogger and political analyst) would do with the extra hours that will be left behind when going online remained but just a fevered dream.

And the worse thing that could ever happen without the Internet: there would been no FILIPINO eSCRIBBLES and no ALAS FILIPINAS.

Indeed, without the internet, life could have been a total bore to computer geeks.

But this doesn’t mean that the Internet’s nonexistence would’ve made life miserable. Of course not. Just as the best things in life are free, the best literature ever written –be it dissertations or novels or historical literature– are still those that required painstaking research. Something that doesn’t require a click of the mouse, something that will require you to literally turn pages from thick tomes.

Information back then may not be as fast and readily available compared to what the internet can do. But the conditions and the environment of long time ago paved the way for the conceptualization and eventual creation of the Internet.

See you in the next 40 years, Mr. Internet!

Just don’t take over our minds.

What if my brain's connected to the Internet through wires? Man! I'd be swishing inside your servers! That would be awesome!

The origin of “Juan de la Cruz”.

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The Filipino nickname Juan de la Cruz has been part and parcel of Philippine culture and even national identity. If the Northern Americans have Uncle Sam or John Doe to represent them, the Filipinos have Juan de la Cruz.

But did you know that Juan de la Cruz was coined by a Scot?

Juan de la Cruz was coined by Robert McCulloch-Dick, the editor and publisher of The Philippine Free Press in 1900s. He noticed the frequency with which the names appeared on police blotters and court dockets. He often wrote small verses about Juan de la Cruz in The Philippines’ Free Press who was often depicted narrating the petty crimes committed by them. Later on, McCulloch-Dick widened his idea of Juan until he made Juan de la Cruz as a typical Filipino. Juan de la Cruz is associated with the image of a naïve-looking man wearing a salakot, camisa de chino, native trousers and slippers. Jorge Pineda, a resident cartoonist of The Philippines’ Free Press, first drew the image of Juan in 1912.

Click here for more!

A blast from the past! (Taal, Batangas)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A neighborhood of history and charm...

A neighborhood of history and charm…

HISTORICAL MARKER OF TAAL, BATANGAS AT THE MUNICIPAL HALL

Taal, Batangas

NATIONAL HISTORICAL COMMISSION, 1972

ANG BAYAN NG TAAL (1572)

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

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

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

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

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

This one didn't get lucky...

This one didn\’t get lucky…

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

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

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

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

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

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

Cute cubed casita.

Cute cubed casita.

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

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

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

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

An amalgam of old and new.

An amalgam of old and new.

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

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

A well-maintained bahay-na-bató.

A well-maintained bahay-na-bató.

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

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

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

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

 

PHILIPPINE HISTORICAL COMMITTEE 1955

MARCELA MARIÑO DE AGONCILLO 1859-1946

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

 

A row of Barong Tagalog stalls at the public market.

A row of Barong Tagalog stalls at the public market.

We had Lomi for lunch at the mercado público!

We had Lomi for lunch at the mercado público!

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

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

 

THE ANCESTRAL HOME OF ANANIAS DIOKNO

 

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

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

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

Ananias Diokno historical marker.

Ananias Diokno historical marker.

NATIONAL HISTORICAL INSTITUTE, 1991

ANANIAS DIOKNO

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

THE ANCESTRAL HOME OF LEÓN APACIBLE

LEÓN APACIBLE ANCESTRAL HOME

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

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MARÍA YLAGAN OROSA – FABIÁN DE LA ROSA ANCESTRAL HOUSE

YLAGAN - DE LA ROSA

Historical marker of the Ylagan – de la Rosa ancestral house

YLAGAN - DE LA ROSA 2

YLAGAN - DE LA ROSA

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BASÍLICA DE SAN MARTÍN DE TOURS

Basílica de Saint Martín de Tours

Basílica de Saint Martín de Tours

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The massive façade of the largest church in Asia.

The massive façade of the largest church in Asia.

Guardian.

Guardian.

The church's imposing interiors.

The church\’s imposing interiors.

SAINT MARTÍN DE TOURS

ESCUELA PÍA

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

PEPE ALAS EN LA BASÍLICA DE SAN MARTÍN DE TOURS

Nope. Not Europe — Batangas!

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NUESTRA SEÑORA DE CAYSASAY

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

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

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

The historic and miraculous image of Our Lady of Caysasay.

The historic and miraculous image of Our Lady of Caysasay.

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

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

Nuestra Señora de Caysasay

*******

The ancestral home of Don Gregorio R. Agoncillo.

The ancestral home of Don Gregorio R. Agoncillo.

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

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