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Monthly Archives: September 2011

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart or St. John Chrysostom: whence did Juan Crisóstomo come from?

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Mozart takes no offence. While Lady Gaga and Kesha will be forgotten in a matter of two years, his music will be listened to for many generations to come. His work is timeless.
gabbcia, YouTube user—

The name Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart is no doubt one of the most familiar names to have come out from the 18th century. He is known throughout the world from Antarctica to Somalia as perhaps the greatest composer of all time. However, in today’s world dominated by the Lady Gagas and Justin Biebers, who actually enjoys listening to his music aside from classical music enthusiasts?

Little do we know that much of his most famous musical pieces are still being played today, but relegated usually to TV and radio commercial jingles as well as phone on hold music. We hear his music almost everyday in various audio-visual media not knowing that these are actually masterpieces of the Austrian prodigy.

Since we’re at it, it is also not widely known that Wolfgang’s full name is quite kilometric: Johannes Chrysostomus Wolfgangus Theophilus Mozart. To Filipinos exposed to Romance languages, the first two names ring a bell. When translated into Spanish, it becomes Juan Crisóstomo.

For us Filipinos, Juan Crisóstomo is the first name of the country’s most well-known fictional hero: Juan Crisóstomo Ibarra y Magsalin of Rizal’s Noli Me Tangere. Like Rizal, it is interesting to note that Wolfgang was a Freemason. Could it be that Rizal named his novel’s protagonist in honor of one of Europe’s most famous Freemasons? Was the literary gesture done to honor a brother Mason?

But there is another Juan Crisóstomo to consider: Saint John Chrysostom, the Early Church Father who was also the Archbishop of Constantinople from 398 to 404. Although a warrior of the Church, Saint John fought against certain ecclesiastical abuses he encountered during his time, actions that would have put a smile on every hardcore Freemason’s face such as Rizal the Idealist.

So could it have been Saint John Chrysostom? One of his symbols is a pen, a writer’s tool.

It is still doubtful, however, if it was Saint John Chrysostom. The saint fought only abuse of authority within the Church, not exactly the Church. Mozart, therefore, is the more possible candidate especially since Freemasonry played a very important role in his life and music. However, although the musical genius joined Freemasonry, he remained loyal to the Catholic Church. In fact, he received a Catholic funeral service (evidence that he may have abjured from Freemasonry).

Or maybe Rizal wasn’t thinking of anyone after all when he baptized his creole hero Juan Crisóstomo. The possibilities are endless.

The above theories may be irrelevant and a waste of time to many. However, trivialities such as these make the study of Philippine Filipino History highly interesting and engaging.

On another note: could it be that Mozart was named after St. John Chrysostom? 😀

That is no longer our concern. So to wrap this blogpost up, I share to you my most favorite Mozart piece called Piano Concerto No. 21 in C major, K. 467…

Makes me wonder if Rizal enjoyed Mozart’s music, not as a Mason but as a connoisseur of things beautiful.

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161st birthday anniversary of Plaridel

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prop·a·gan·da /ˌprɒpəˈgændə/ [prop-uh-gan-duh] (noun)
information, ideas, or rumors deliberately spread widely to help or harm a person, group, movement, institution, nation, etc.

Finally, we have fulfilled a promise to Lola Bening by visiting her grandfather’s shrine in Bulacán. And we did so during a timely event.

Last month, August 30, the town of Bulacán commemorated the 161st natal day of its most celebrated son, Marcelo H. del Pilar, aka Plaridel. For his nationalistic writings mostly published in La Solidaridad and various pamphlets, del Pilar is widely regarded as the Father of Philippine Journalism. Many sectors also add another title to Plaridel’s hallowed name: the Father of Philippine Freemasonry.

For this year, the theme was “Talas ng Panulat at Talino, Inspiración ng mga Filipino” (Sharpness of Pen and Mind, Inspiration of all Filipinos). In a speech given by Bulacán Governor Wilhelmino M. Sy-Alvarado, the provincial leader made mention of the media killings and harassment during the past administration (Arroyo’s), noting that while it continues, the power of journalism then as now will always prevail against the forces of evil.

In such speeches celebrating historic milestones of our national heroes, understandably borne out of subtle “mind-conditioning” in schools, there is always an almost unconscious temptation of painting the past in a darker picture, as if the very air that our heroes’ breathed at that time were smothered in smoke deadlier than the smoke fumes we have today from factories and vehicles. That the sharpness of Plaridel’s pen cannot be denied. That his patriotism can even be at par with that of José Rizal’s, or even far greater, more sublime, deeper and more profound.

But it should be understood thoroughly: what did Plaridel really fight for? How did he put to good use the talas of his panulat?

To simply say that Plaridel “fought against Spanish abuses and tyranny” is mere elementary school talk, very shallow, a premise totally unacceptable in scholarly conversations. An unbiased reassessment of the past will clearly show that the Bulaqueño native belonged to the second wave of the “Propaganda Movement” (the first wave included creoles such as Padres Pedro Peláez and José Burgos, Miguel Rodríguez Varela, etc.), a movement strictly anti-clerical not so much that they were anti-Catholics but that the movement, inspired by a wave of revolutions in Europe, particularly France, saw in itself as carrying the cudgels of reform for a modernized/liberalized Filipinas. In the eyes of these intellectuals —”Europeanized” due to their language, Spanish—, the Philippines was very left behind in terms of economy and technology, arts and culture.

On a side note: if the propagandistas were alive today and then noticed at how that “backward culture” they loathed so much produced, ironically, renaissance men such as themselves —an endangered species in our supposedly modernized/liberalized milieu— I’m sure that they would have been laughing at their follies. Del Pilar would have been roaring the loudest out of sheer disappointment and despair: his nationalism cost him years of precious fatherhood.

Since the intellectuals of that time knew that the friars held prestige and influence on government affairs, these hapless men of the cloth became the main target of attack in the propagandistas‘ campaign for societal changes. Del Pilar was among the first to fire a salvo of anti-friar attacks, writing and distributing defamatory pamphlets and organizing rallies among students who have read liberal writings from Europe. On 1 March 1888, del Pilar helped organize the strongest anti-friar rally ever held during that time: the protesters marched to the office of José Centeno, the civil governor of Manila at that time. Their petition? To ask for the expulsion of Manila Archbishop Pedro Payo as well as all the friars in the Philippines. In the words of historian-priest Fr. Fidel Villaroel, “never before had Manila watched such a bold demonstration against the religious institutes and their Archbishop.” Steeped in knowledge of Church laws, the rallyists’ manifesto (strongly believed to be authored by del Pilar) quoted heavily from the Canon Law and the Leyes de Indias to support accusations against the friars: that they were hostile to authority, ambitious, despotic, etc.

This massive anti-friar protest —probably the first in Philippine History— was the main reason for del Pilar’s escape to Spain, for he was afterwards branded as a filibustero and even anti-Spanish. A legal action was subsequently filed against him, prompting the Commissioner Judge of the legal case to deport del Pilar (probably to faraway Marianas or elsewhere). To escape legal persecution, del Pilar opted to leave Manila for Spain on 28 October 1888, leaving his wife and two daughters behind.

He never saw them ever again.

But in Spain he still continued to fight for whatever reforms he had in mind. Still bitter on his apparent loss against the friars in the Philippines, del Pilar joined their ancient enemy, the Freemasons.

In an interview last year, Lola Bening told me that the main reason why her grandfather affiliated himself with Freemasonry was out of convenience. For a reformist during those days, joining Freemasonry was the most logical thing to do. Del Pilar joined Freemasonry not because he hated Christianity (although later on, estranged for too long from the faith of his forefathers and family, he did become a deist). Del Pilar did so because in Spain he saw an “atmosphere of freedom”, the very same atmosphere he had been yearning for for his beloved country.

During Spanish times, the friars were not just influential over the course of government affairs; the friars were also very much a part of every Filipino family. Unlike today, the cura párroco made it a point to literally look after the lives of his flock by visiting their homes every now and then and as much as possible. Strict Christian ideals and discipline were imposed in every home. Probably “choked” by all this for centuries, and seeing that it was no longer the norm in Spain (for the liberals were already winning during that time), del Pilar et al. called it quits and yearned for “more freedom” from a “stifling” religious life.

For the Freemasons, it was a win-win situation to have del Pilar, a very talented writer in both Tagalog and Spanish, join their ranks. For Freemasonry, nothing more can be sweet but to see the Church of Christ, i.e., the Catholic Church, to be laid to waste.

While in Spain, del Pilar rose through the ranks in Freemasonry quite fast (I do not doubt that he could have been a Freemason already while still in the Philippines). In La Solidaridad, a newspaper that is still very unfamiliar and misunderstood today because it is in Spanish, he wrote scathing essays and even more defamatory articles against the friars in the Philippines. He and his allies continued the “pamphleteering” (hence the name “propaganda”). But unprecedented events and in-fighting within the propagandistas, particularly between del Pilar and Rizal, proved to be fatal for the reform movement in Spain. In the end, an embattled and frustrated del Pilar wrote to his brother-in-law, Deodato Arellano, to organize a more radical group in the Philippines to finally overthrow the Spanish government and not just the friars anymore. Arellano took action and formed the underground movement known as the Katipunan, erroneously known to be a brainchild of Andrés Bonifacio. This fact, therefore, makes del Pilar the indirect founder of that group which directed the destiny of the nation. But that’s for another blogpost.

And since the Propaganda Movement was wasted in the end, the Freemasons saw no more use for del Pilar. In the end, they left him on his own to die on a lonely hospital in Barcelona. But the Freemasons abandoning him was fortuitous, for it allowed del Pilar to have silent moments with God. It is always said that only during the last hours of a man’s life does he take into account all the good and bad things that he has done throughout his existence, and to realize the “existential insignificance” of this ethereal life of ours.

He took the Holy Communion shortly before he died, thus reconverting to the faith of his fathers.

Taking note of all this, it is somehow disappointing to see Freemasons during special days held in honor of both del Pilar and Rizal and hear them lay claim to still having a brotherhood with both heroes in spirit. To a logical person, it should not be difficult to accept cold, hard facts: that both del Pilar and Rizal swallowed their pride and died as Christians. There lies their greatest heroism that should be emulated by all Christians and prodigal sons, an action that is sung not only on Earth but as it is in Heaven. If it is not ignorance from the the part of these Freemasons, then it is sheer desperation to continue acknowledging that Rizal and del Pilar are their brothers. To quote Fr. Villaroel, “what is important is to establish the historical facts and arrive at the truth, whether it pleases or not.

Familia del Pilar (left to right): Rev. P. Vicente Marasigan, Leticia Marasigan de Balagtás, Doña Marciana del Pilar (Plaridel's wife), Antonia Marasigan de Gadi, Sofía H. del Pilar (Plaridel's eldest daughter), Marcelo Marasigan (the baby), Anita H. del Pilar de Marasigan (Plaridel's youngest daughter and mother of Lola Bening), Josefina Marasigan (Madre Mª Aurora of the "Order of Pink Sisters"), Benita Marasigan de Santos (Lola Bening).

El Santuario de Marcelo Hilario del Pilar y Gatmaitán (Marcelo H. del Pilar Shrine). Lola Bening (del Pilar's granddaughter) told me that the original house was torn down. This house is just a replica of the original (much like the case of Calambá's Rizal Shrine). On this very site stood the original. This is where Plaridel was born and where he spent his youth. The whole property was reacquired later on by Lola Bening. It measures 4,027 square meters, but she had no qualms of donating it to the government for the sake of national patrimony. The shrine is now under the custody of the National Historical Commission of the Philippines.

Mrs. Sylvia Santos de Pineda, daughter of Lola Bening and great granddaughter of Marcelo Hilario del Pilar y Gatmaitán.

Bulacán Mayor Patrick Meneses, Bulacán Provincial Governor Wilhelmino M. Sy-Alvarado, Senator Aquilino "Koko" Pimentel III, Plaridel's great granddaughter Sylvia Santos de Pineda and husband Patricio Pineda, and Bulacán Vice-Governor Daniel Fernández

Click here to view more photos and details of del Pilar’s 161st birthday!

The Filipino eScribbler, Patricio Pineda, Sylvia Santos de Pineda, and Vicente "Bong" Enríquez (manager of Bulacán-based VSE Productions, a private theater ensemble).

A bright future for Cavite’s “Hispanized dialects”

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This was news several days ago in Manila Bulletin’s website, but I just learned about it today…

Ternate moves to preserve chabacano
Anthony Girón

TERNATE, Cavite, Philippines — Mayor Lamberto D. Bambáo and the Sangguniang Bayan (Town Council) led by Vice Mayor Jayson D. Cabana have approved an ordinance that will preserve and promote the chabacano dialect in the area.

Ternate, a fourth-class municipality in Cavite, is one of the only three areas in the Philippines where chabacano, a dialect based on Spanish, is spoken. The two others are Cavite City and Zamboanga City in Southern Mindanáo.

The Ternate ordinance was acknowledged by Vice Governor and Sangguniang Panglalawigan (Provincial Board) Presiding Officer Recto M. Cantimbuhan during the last regular Monday session at the Capitol in Trece Mártires City.

With the approval of the ordinance, Chabacano would be taught in schools in the two municipalities and public signages in the areas would have to be in Chabacano as among moves in a bid to restore and promote the language.

My wife Yeyette (left) and daughter Krystal (right) at Ternate's welcome arch.

This is just perfect! But Chabacano Ternateño (Bahra) is not the only one taking the lion’s share of good news. Before the above article was published, Chabacano Caviteño (Cavitén) already had its share of good tidings way back January of this year:

Cavite City revives Chabacano
Anthony Girón

CAVITE CITY, Philippines — Mayor Romeo G. Ramos and the 13-man City Council approved recently the ordinance that will revive the “Chabacano” dialect in this city.

The ratified ordinance was forwarded to Sangguniang Panlalawigan for provincial approval. Vice Governor and Presiding Officer Recto M. Cantimbuhan and Majority Floor Leader Dino M. Chua have acknowledged the decree during their recent session.

The decree, titled “An Ordinance Preserving, Restoring and Promoting Chabacano in the City of Cavite,” was signed by Ramos upon approval by the council led by Vice Mayor Lino Antonio S. Barón last December.

The officials tagged the ordinance as “must” to save the Chabacano tongue from extinction in the city. The councilors unanimously approved the decree.

Cavite City, the former capital of Cavite province, is noted as one of the only three areas in the Philippines where Chabacano, a Spanish-like dialect, is spoken. The two others are Ternate, also in Cavite, and Zamboanga City.

Councilor Eduardo G. Novero Jr., the sponsor of the ordinance, and Local Tourism Officer Remedios Sto. Domingo-Ordóñez said that based on surveys, only seven percent of the 106,824 city population or more or less 7,000, can speak Chabacano nowadays.

The fabled Samburio of Ciudad de Cavite.


Between the two Chabacanos of Provincia de Cavite, I believe that Cavitén needs more attention and care. When I visited the place a few years ago with friends, I encountered very few people who spoke Cavitén. All the ones I found were elderly people. But in Ternate, the case was different. I brought my wife and daughter there last month for a field trip. There were so many speakers of Bahra left and right, especially in the town proper and in Barrio San José.

These initiatives from the local governments of Ciudad de Cavite and Ternate are a welcome move. Finally, culture heroes can be found in Cavite’s government offices!

Mindoro’s nature-filled Port of the Galleys (Puerto Galera, Mindoro Oriental)

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Stormy days such as what we’re having right now (due to tropical storm Pedring) sometimes make me want to reminisce a couple of memorable sunny days of my life. Puerto Galera immediately comes to mind.

I’ve been to Puerto Galera many times that I already lost count (it’s just beside my wife’s hometown of Abra de Ilog in Mindoro Oriental). But each time I visit the place I never fail to find new things to discover, explore, and enjoy. People go there mostly for the whitish sands and crystal clear waters. My family visits the place for the beach and more. Suffice it to say that there can never be a dull moment when one is in Puerto Galera, the poster town for environmental sustainability aside from simply being a tourist haven.

While the more internationally renowned island of Boracay boasts of three beaches —in reality, only one of its beaches, White Beach, is famous— Puerto Galera is host to not just one but several coastlines, pocket beaches, and romantic coves (some tinged with fresh mangroves) that can be enjoyed by all types of nature lovers, not just beach goers. Due to the municipality’s perpetually curving coastlines, particularly the lovely cove-filled bay nestled between the green terrains of Isla de Boquete, Isla de San Antonio, Muelle (at the town proper), Palañgan, and the small peninsula of Sabang, Puerto Galera landed a spot in the list of the world’s most beautiful bays.

Puerto Galera’s beaches may not be at par with Boracay‘s powdery white sands and almost-invisible waters. But still, no one can ever deny Puerto Galera’s pristine beauty especially when we consider its proximity to polluted Metro Manila (the island is a mere four- to five-hour commute from the capital!). Like Ciudad de Tagaytay in Cavite, Puerto Galera relies heavily on tourism all year round. Thus, sustainable development is an imperative in this nature-filled municipality. I learned from the people there, particularly from talks with entrepreneur and Puerto Galera native Captain Peter Manalo of White Beach’s famous Peter’s Inn, Bar, & Restaurant, that the local government works doubly hard with resort owners on how to conserve the beauty of Puerto Galera.

During the early 80s, said Captain Manalo, the scenery at White Beach (Puerto Galera’s most popular beach front) was postcard-perfect, a true island paradise. Back then, there were no resorts to be found. One had to live there like Robinson Crusoe. But the beach was already a turf of regular white visitors aka foreigners (mostly rich Europeans). Ironically, it was they who first saw the potential of Puerto Galera to become the next international summer sensation in the Philippines. Captain Manalo even told me that these white beach goers served as the first guides to Filipinos vacationing from Metro Manila. Laughable but true. I think it was the same case with Boracay.

Captain Manalo was actually one of the pioneers of setting up a commercial establishment in White Beach. But in the following years, especially during the 90s, Puerto Galera became so popular to local and foreign tourists that several capitalists who are not even from town took advantage of the situation. They setup several bars and hotels. The imminent danger of congestion soon followed, and so Captain Manalo, together with other concerned locals and resort owners, took up the cudgels of doing environmental activism, perpetually disturbing the Municipal Hall to come up with environmental projects and viable solutions to curb the ballooning number of resorts. So the last time I heard, the municipal government of Puerto Galera now prohibits the establishment of additional resorts. That is why the eastern part of White Beach remains vacant to this day. Also, the municipal government has written various ordinances protecting the beach, the mangrove forests, etc. One instance: it has ordered resort owners to maintain their establishments from a certain distance from the coastline.

Now that’s sustainable development at work. Kudos!

*******

In case the people of Puerto Galera do not know yet, their lovely municipality will turn 200 years old two years from now. Although the place was first explored by Martín de Goiti and Juan de Salcedo in 1570, the town of Puerto Galera was created through a superior decree only on 23 August 1813. I try to imagine how the Spanish friars who built the población felt when they saw the site for the first time. Having lived in cold Europe, their adventurous hearts must have surely been energized by a surge of excitement, joy, and awe while planning to build a parish there. If Puerto Galera’s beauty continues to mesmerize people today, what more when it was first visited by the indigenous and the Europeans hundreds of years ago? Certainly, in the minds of those friars, building a parish there was tantamount to building a paradise on Earth. There was nothing like it in Europe or perhaps even in the Americas.

When Puerto Galera was founded on that date as a religious mission (all original Philippine towns were), Isla de Mindoro was not yet divided into east (Oriental) and west (Occidental). During those days, the jurisdiction of Puerto Galera was very large: it used to encompass much of the island, stretching as far as the towns of Sablayan and the old parish of Mangarin (now San José), both of which are now in Mindoro Occidental; Puerto Galera itself remained oriental since 1950.

Port of Galleons?

Puerto Galera’s name also deserves attention because it has been said many times in numerous websites and printed articles that the town’s Spanish name was derived from its English equivalent, the “Port of Galleons”. It implies the notion that Puerto Galera’s safely tucked bays and coves provided safe anchorage for the historic Manila-Acapulco galleon ships in times of typhoons. Indeed, de Goiti and Salcedo first explored the place aboard a galleon ship called San Miguel, and that there is a record of another galleon ship that took anchor there during the early 1600s (the Almiranta 2). But those two were not the reasons why Puerto Galera was named as such. It is because Spaniards visited the place, as well as other smaller islands throughout our archipelago, via smaller galleys. Docking bigger galleons in shallow waters were usually cumbersome, time-consuming, and even perilous. Logically, smaller ships are needed. One usually sees this in today’s movies depicting the days of European conquests like in Walt Disney Animation Studios’ Tarzan (1999) and the arrival of the Spaniards in Mel Gibson’s Apocalypto (2006).

Let us also study the meanings of the words galeón and galera as well as differentiate them from one another. As can be gleaned from the preceding paragraph, a galleon and a galley are not the same. In Spanish, a galleon is translated as galeón, not galera. A galleon was a large 15th- to 17th-century sailing vessel which was used as a merchant ship for trade and, occasionally, as a warship in times of threat from the Dutch, Chinese, and Muslim pirates. A galleon was square-rigged on the foremast and mainmast and generally lateen-rigged on one or two after masts. On the other hand, a galley is much smaller compared to a galleon; it is a seagoing vessel propelled mainly by oars (sometimes with the aid of sails).

Galeones were used to cross large oceans. They were transpacific as well as transatlantic. These were what the Spaniards used to travel to faraway lands and transport huge and multiple cargoes as well as passengers. But galeras were inter-island vessels, meant only for short voyages (thus the usage of oars).

That being said, let us then move to an 1871 map of Puerto Galera that was published years ago in Spain. That map’s title? Plano [inédito] del Puerto de Galera y Ensenada del Varadero en la Isla de Mindoro. In English, it means “Map (unpublished) of the Port of the Galley and the cove of the drydock in the Island of Mindoro”.

Go figure why the Spanish language is very important to us Filipinos of today. 🙂

More than just a beach

Puerto Galera is more than just a beach destination. Aside from beaches and water sports such as diving, snorkeling, and parasailing (I tried that one! it was an exhilirating experience!), Puerto Galera offers several activities for various types of adventurous people: one can go mountain climbing at Monte Malasimbo; there’s high-altitude golfing at the Ponderosa Golf Club situated about 2,000 feet above sea level (also at Monte Malasimbo); in nearby Barrio Baclayan, one can visit a Mañguián (or Mangyán) village and observe how life would have been today in the Philippines had not the Spaniards arrived — static, indigenous; for spelunkers, they can visit Cueva de Pitón (Python Cave) near Barrio Tabinay (I’m just not sure if there are pythons there for I haven’t been to the cave yet); one can go explore the lush forests around the town and near the beaches, or go off-road biking there; have saltless-water fun at Cáscada de Tamaráo (Tamaraw Waterfalls) and Cáscada de Talipanan (Talipanan Waterfalls); and so much more!

The Excavation Museum

Even culture lovers won’t be left out. At the town proper, within the vicinity of scenic Iglesia de la Concepción Inmaculada (because it’s on top of a hill overlooking the small cove of Muelle), there’s the Excavation Museum dedicated to the memory of Fr. Erwin Thiel, S.V.D. (1902-1982), a German friar much loved by the parishioners.

The small museum (which we learned from then curator Merly Javier) said that The Excavation Museum was under the auspices of the National Museum in Manila. It is sad to note that this small museum was in poor condition, considering the fact that it contains a vast array of artifacts dating to the time before the arrival of the Spaniards. Clay jars, burial jars, plates, cups, soup bowls, and other fragile objects made of porcelain were on display. All these treasures were recovered by archaeologists through the efforts and sponsorship of the late German priest (thus the dedication to him).

But instead of focusing on the artifacts, I couldn’t help but notice the myriad of eyesores in the small, rather cramped up one-storey structure: the museum was not in a good condition; the walls were stained with dirt; there were holes in the roof where rain drops fall (I saw an old map already damaged because of this); there were many red ants taking ​​refuge within the walls of the museum; worse of all, it was very hot inside. And smoke fumes from vehicles plying a nearby road could easily enter the museum All those ancient artifacts, I believe, have to be air conditioned.

But all this was in 2008. I fervently hope that things have already changed there for the better. Fr. Thiel worked very hard to collect these artifacts for posterity. So if the people of Puerto Galera want to honor Fr. Thiel, they should do more than just attaching his name to that of the Excavation Museum.

*******

Personally, I prefer Puerto Galera over Boracay. Budget wise, Puerto Galera is the more viable alternative. As enumerated above, more activities can be done here, not just swimming. And with the recently opened (and very scenic!) Star Tollway, this island resort has become very near Metro Manila. Puerto Galera is simply put, la perla de la Isla de Mindoro.

Below are some photos of our unforgettable Puerto Galera sojourn (21 to 23 May 2008):

On top of White Beach Hotel!

Enjoying the sea together!

Visiting the población.

Hundura Cove.

Iglesia de la Concepción Inmaculada.

Inside the Excavation Museum.

At the municipal hall.

Snorkeling at the crystal-clear waters of the Coral Garden.

With Captain Peter Manalo, owner of Peter's Inn Bar & Restaurant.

This time with the whole family (24 May 2010).

Click here for more photos and text of our 2008 visit (but in Spanish).

Another Facebook rumor

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I just saw this one from a couple of Facebook friends’ walls:

FACEBOOK JUST RELEASED THEIR PRICE GRID FOR MEMBERSHIP. $9.99 PER MONTH FOR GOLD MEMBER SERVICES, $6.99 PER MONTH FOR SILVER MEMBER SERVICES, $3.99 PER MONTH FOR BRONZE MEMBER SERVICES, FREE IF YOU COPY AND PASTE THIS MESSAGE BEFORE MIDNIGHT TONIGHT. WHEN YOU SIGN ON TOMORROW MORNING YOU WILL BE PROMPTED FOR PAYMENT INFO…IT IS OFFICIAL IT WAS EVEN ON THE NEWS. FACEBOOK WILL START CHARGING DUE TO THE NEW PROFILE CHANGES. IF YOU COPY THIS ON YOUR WALL YOUR ICON WILL TURN BLUE AND FACEBOOK WILL BE FREE FOR YOU. PLEASE PASS THIS MESSAGE ON IF NOT YOUR ACCOUNT WILL BE DELETED IF YOU DO NOT PAY

Es gratis (y lo seguirá siendo).

Probably crafted by those who were not happy with the recent changes in Facebook.

Reminds me of those pesky SMS rumors back in the days when cellphones were still kings of social networking. Just don’t believe this cr*p. Facebook has not released an official statement about charging its members. Just yet. And they won’t do anything dumb like this, especially now that they have competition (with sleek designs as well) which does not charge anything. And if Facebook will start charging its account holders, then they should prepare themselves from netizens who will not hesitate to go ’round in “circles”, if y’know what I mean.

Facebook+ anyone? (wink! wink!)

So for now, don’t pee on your pants just yet. I’m about to login on Facebook, and I see this welcome note staring at my face: It’s free and always will be.

Why can’t we do something like this?

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The video below shows President Teodoro Obiang of Equatorial Guinea (Guinea Ecuatorial in Spanish) declaring last 30 June 2011 that the Spanish language is now one of the official languages of the African Union:

Before the historic June declaration, the African Union only had four official languages: English, French, Arabic, and Portuguese.

President Obiang is also the chairman of the African Union.

President Obiang’s country has Spanish as one of its official languages. Like the Philippines, it was a former Spanish overseas province. Curiously, aside from Spanish, Equatorial Guinea also has French as an official language when (to the best of my knowledge) it was not even colonized by France!

Equatorial Guinea was able to accomplish what seems to be impossible for this supposedly Hispanic country of ours. No offense (in all honesty, I am an admirer of Obiang’s linguistic policies), but between the two nations, we are more Hispanic than the Equatoguineans. So why couldn’t we do something like this? Oh wonder of wonders…

Felicitaciones Señor Presidente Obiang por un trabajo bien hecho. Sin duda, usted es un héroe del idioma español no sólo en África sino el mundo hispánico.

FILIPINO eSCRIBBLES Facebook Page

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Family trees

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I’m a family tree freak, being a history buff. I even astonish my wife for being one, especially because I know more about her ancestors than she does.

For years I’ve studied the lineage of renowned Filipino families: Araneta, Cojuangco, Salvador, Zóbel de Ayala. Now that we have a new laptop, I can start writing about these families and publish them in this blog very soon. But of course I will also need to research on my own family tree.

Through a family tree, clan members will have the opportunity to be able to know more about their respective family’s origins as well as promote closer ties to long lost relatives who share the same ancestor(s). Such is the case when I met on Facebook the relatives of my paternal great grandfather, Don Paulo Évora y Fortunato of Calapán, Mindoro Oriental. Paulo married a creole, Doña Rafaela Bonilla, of Unisan, Tayabas (now Quezon) province, and that marriage produced several children including my father’s mother.

Many of Don Paulo’s relatives are now in the US. A nephew of his, Raymond Évora y Heildebrand (son of Paulo’s brother Carlos) now serves as the Évora historian. He has a vast collection of Évora photos from yesteryears. And he even took the wondrous time of creating an online family tree for the whole Évora Clan.

Screenshot of a webpage dedicated to the Évora Family Tree.

On a related note…

Several weeks ago, a friend of mine, Antonio Saturnino Velasco y Filoteo, showed to me copies of his Spanish grandfather’s documents: birth certificate, passport, and naturalization papers. His grandfather, Don Saturnino Velasco y García was an immigrant from Arroyal, Burgos, Spain (his parents were Mariano Velasco and Patricia García). According to Cuya Tony, his abuelo married a Spanish lady. The marriage bore them Antonio María Benito Velasco who was born in Ciudad de Lucena, Tayabas (the same place where I was born).

Personal documents of Saturnino Velasco y García, a Spaniard who migrated to the Philippines and became a Filipino citizen.

Don Saturnino later remarried when his first wife died. He got himself a Manileña: Dolores Monzón of Malate, daughter of Julián Monzón and Juana Mijares. In the process, Saturnino’s son by his first marriage became Antonio María Benito Velasco y Monzón.

Antonio María, one of the managers of Coca-Cola Bottlers Philippines, Inc., married a Chavacana damsel from Ciudad de Cavite: Perla Filoteo de Velasco (daughter of Ramón Filoteo and Venancia García). The marriage produced many children, among them my friend Cuya Tony, an IT specialist in Mærsk Line Filipinas.

While checking the documents of Cuya Tony’s grandfather, I tried to imagine what was on the old man’s mind while he was taking care of his immigration papers. Did he immediately fall in love with his new home? How did he adapt to his new environment? Did he ever think ill of Filipinos? Or did he die with his heart fully transmogrified into one that is Filipino?

Don Saturnino Velasco y García and his bride. I'm just not sure if the lady is his first or second (photo taken from the Familia Velasco Facebook group).

Moving to another country is a difficult move. Although I haven’t done that myself (and I don’t have plans to), I had moved from one place to another ever since I eloped with my girlfriend (who is now Mrs. Alas). And I can tell you that in so doing, it was a hassle. The vicissitudes of having to adapt to a new environment was daunting. You’ll have to deal with different modes and schedules of transportation, new sources of daily commodities, new faces, etc. And I’m just talking about moving from one place to another within the Philippines. What more if we talk about moving to a different land whose cosmos is different from ours?

Cuya Tony told me that his late father, a former manager of one of the world’s most successful businesses, was very organized with all important documents pertaining to their family. All documents were meticulously filed, preserved, and in order. These precious files —the well-preserved Velasco documents as well as Lolo Raymund’s precious Évora photos— serve as windows to the past. That is why it is important for all of us to preserve whatever keepsakes there are at hand: receipts, scribbled notes, even electric bills. This, however, is too cumbersome for an ordinary person to do and is usually best left in the hands of history-sensitive individuals. Rizal was one such person. That is why we know so many things about him.

Indeed, a thorough study of one’s bloodline and filial traditions will help that person understand more about his clan’s religious, cultural, social, economic, and even political fluctuations throughout generations. Studying and getting to know the history of one’s family (without a tarnished past, that is) will inculcate in that person a sense of belongingness, pride, and being. The past is never dull. It is always engaging. Learning more about a past forgotten, a milieu living only in memory (and documents), will help our feet tread towards the right path.

Rizal and the Virgin of Antipolo

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¡Salve Rosa pura
Reina de la mar!
¡Salve! Blanca Estrella,
Fiel Iris de Paz …
Antipolo,
Por tí sólo
Fama y renombre tendrá.
De los males,
Los mortales
Tu imágen nos librará;
Tu cariño,
Al fiel niño
Le guarda siempre del mal;
Noche y día,
Tu le guías
En la senda terrenal.
—José Rizal (Junto al Pásig)—

Here’s a photo that I salvaged from oblivion. We’re posing for posterity in front of the historical shrine of Nuestra Señora de la Paz y Buen Viaje (circa 2008).

Standing from left to right: Arnaldo Arnáiz, Michiko Hasegawa, Señor Guillermo Gómez, and a bald version of myself. Michiko is Señor Gómez’s Spanish-speaking Japanese flamenco dancer.

This historical shrine houses the miraculous image of Our Lady of Peace and Good Voyage, also known as Our Lady (or Virgin) of Antipolo. Many people who are about to embark on a long journey or travel, especially those who will go abroad, flock here to seek guidance from Our Lord’s dear Mother.

Rizal’s mom was a devotee of this church. While carrying Rizal in her womb, she fervently prayed here that she may have a safe delivery. Years later, when Rizal grew up as a young boy fit enough to travel, he went here with his dad (on 6 June 1868) to fulfill his mother’s panatà or vow made years before: to take Rizal to the Virgin of Antipolo should she and her son survive the difficulty of delivery. Rizal’s visit here was a thanksgiving pilgrimage of sort.

Rizal’s attachment to Our Lady of Peace and Good Voyage carried over to his early masterpiece, the one-act play Junto al Pásig (Along the Pásig). In this piece, Our Lady of Antipolo was mentioned twice. She was also mentioned in Rizal’s Noli Me Tangere, but not exactly in a pious light (for Rizal was already a Freemason when he wrote his first novel):

Contrastando con estos terrenales preparativos están los abigarrados cuadros de las paredes, representando asuntos religiosos como El Purgatorio, El Infierno, El Juicio final, La Muerte del Justo, La del Pecador, y en el fondo, aprisionado en un espléndido y elegante marco estilo del Renacimiento que Arévalo rabía tallado, un curioso lienzo de grandes dimensioness en que se ven dos viejas… La inscripción dice: Nra. Sra. de la Paz y Buenviaje que se venera en Antipolo, bajo el aspecto de una mendiga visita en su enfermedad á la piadosa y célebre capitana Inés.

Also, during his stay in Biñán, La Laguna, Rizal used to pray at a chapel which was also dedicated to Our Lady Of Peace and Good Voyage.

Since Junto al Pásig is mentioned here, let me comment on something: whenever we talk about Rizal’s literary skills, his two novels immediately come to mind. But these two are almost far from being literary. They are, to put it frankly, but a part of the propaganda fuel of hatred against the Catholic Church, particularly against the friars in the Philippines. Many citations in these novels are even slanderous at worst. To an honest writer and literary critic, Rizal shone at his brightest during the days when he wrote only poetry and plays, when he was not motivated by the propaganda machine, when all his writings were motivated with nothing but religious love as well as the passion for the arts.

Every merry month of May, the legendary town of Antipolo becomes a beehive of acitivity and vibrancy as thousands, from all walks of life, flock to this lovely place amongst the hills. To the lilting tune of native songs, people come to this town, primarily to pay homage to the miraculous Our Lady of Peace and Good Voyage and, secondly, to take a breather from the heat and dust of the summer months amidst Antipolo’s refreshing mountain air, rippling streams and springs.

I wish we could do another trip like this again.

Click here for more information about Ciudad de Antipolo.

Tanza Fiesta 2011 (Tanza, Cavite)

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When me, my wife Yeyette, and daughter Krystal visited Ternate last August 21, we passed by several Caviteño towns and cities. At the Antero Soriano Highway which coursed through Tanza, we noticed banners announcing that a week later, August 28, the town will celebrate the feast day of its blessed guardian, Saint Augustine. Me and my wife decided to attend the festivities.

A couple of days after our Tanza visit, I posted pictures of the event in Facebook. The photos (some are shown in this blogpost) showcase an array of handsome Philippine ancestral houses. I shared the album to a friend of mine who is a native of Tanza. Upon seeing the photos, she commented that she once read in a history book by the late historian Isagani Medina that Tanza was the only Caviteño town which sided with Spain during the tumultuous years of the Katipunan rebellion.

My first reaction upon reading her comment was that of concern. I have not read that book she was referring to, and I don’t mean to judge books that I haven’t even read yet. But based on her comments on my Facebook photos, I’m inclined to ask: was that book trying to point out that the reason for being of Tanza’s bahay na bató homes was the result of the town’s fealty to Spain during the tumult of the late 1890s? If so, then that information is misleading for I noticed that many ancestral houses in Tanza, although handsome and charming, appear not to have been built during the Spanish times. One perfect example is Casa Tahimic, one of Tanza’s oldest houses built in 1927 (see below).

But I hope that my hunch is just a hunch.

The fact is that Tanza was not the only town which sided with Spain. Many, if not all, local governments condemned the Katipunan for the single reason that their cause —no matter how honestly noble they thought it was— was nothing more but an infraction. To wit: the Katipunan was an underground movement perpetuated by conspirators who were mostly anti-friar. Local governments did not exactly put their cards in favor of this Tagalog underground movement. Rather, the movement was engineered, fueled, and powered by individual dissidents who had no powerful connection at all to each municipio/ayuntamiento around the Philippines, particularly the Tagalog region (there were a few exceptions, of course, such as the case of Emilio Aguinaldo: he was a gobernadorcillo when he joined Freemasonry and the Katipunan). That is why the Katipunan resorted to blackmail, destroying the reputation of many a rich individual who refused to support their secessionist cause.

Indeed, many factors should be taken into consideration when studying (and reassessing) the sad, sad case that is Philippine History.

Tejero Bridge connects the towns of Tanza and Rosario. Tejero was the former name of Rosario.

Iglesia de la Santa Cruz de Malabón

Like most towns in the Philippines, Tanza was very much attached to the history of its town church. Perhaps unknown to many today, a parish is not just a church: it is a territorial unit historically under the pastoral care of a parish priest. At the onset of Philippine History (or at the start of our nation’s founding on 24 June 1571), all towns started out as a parish. That is why at the heart of every old town or población, it is not unusual to find a church there, along with a plaza fronting it as well as several bahay na bató scattered around the area.

Iglesia de la Santa Cruz de Malabón.

Researching about Tanza later on, I learned that this little town used to be a barrio of San Francisco de Malabón, now known as General Trías. In fact, during its barrio days, Tanza was known as Santa Cruz de Malabón. People called it sometimes as Malabón el Chico to differentiate it from Malabón el Grande that was the población of San Francisco de Malabón (el Grande).

Tanza became an organized community in 1752. In 1760, the friars built a big residence and granary in the area. The place was eventually called Estancia (a ranch or a place for vacation). It was only seven years later when Estancia became known as Santa Cruz de Malabón. It became a full-fledged parish on 29 August 1780, just a day short after Saint Augustine’s feast day. That is why he was taken as the town’s patron saint. Today, the people fondly calls him by a Filipinized nickname: Tata Usteng.

The term Malabón was derived from either the old Tagalog words “labong” (bamboo shoot) or “mayabong“. It was said that in the early days, bamboo shoots were abundant in the area (I assume that was also the case for Ciudad de Malabón in Metro Manila). The Spanish words santa cruz (holy cross) were attached to Malabón as a testament to the people’s devotion to the sacred image of the Santa Cruz, a wooden cross said to be miraculous. The image is now on display inside the town church.

The miraculous Holy Cross of Malabón.

It is quite sad when in 1914, the name Santa Cruz de Malabón was changed and shortened to just Tanza. According to popular belief, Tanza was a corruption/mispronunciation of the word santa. The culprit of this unnecessary name change was a congressman of the American-sponsored Philippine Assembly: Florentino Joya, a lawyer from the said town. How this guy disrespected his hometown’s history I just could not fathom.

Speaking of history, Santa Cruz de Malabón’s place in Philippine History was a major one: it was here where officials of the Revolutionary Government elected in the Tejeros Convention took their oaths of office. This took place inside the convent of the Santa Cruz de Malabón Church on 23 March 1897. This event served as the prototype of the first República Filipina that was disrespected by the US WASPs later on.

A curious scene during this oath taking was the participation of a priest, Fr. Cenón Villafranca, who was said to be still under the authority of the Vatican (I’m just not sure if he was a Spanish friar or a member of the native clergy). On that same date, Fr. Villafranca administered the oath of office to Aguinaldo and other officials (elected during the Tejeros Convention), calling on “God to witness the solemn moment”. He was later denounced by Aguinaldo’s rival, Andrés Bonifacio, for having joined the Magdalo faction of the Katipunan.

On 23 March 1897, inside this convent adjunct to the church, Emilio Aguinaldo was sworn in as the first President of the Philippines. Mariano Trías was his Vice-President.

Casa Tahimic / Calle Real Restaurant

Along Calle Santa Cruz, where many ancestral homes can be found, there was this one house that grabbed our attention.

Calle Real Restaurant at the first floor of Casa Tahimic.

The house became doubly interesting when we noticed that it also serves as a restaurant. Whenever me and my wife visit old towns, we content ourselves to just taking photographs of ancestral houses. We seldom go inside for fear of disturbing the peace of its residents. But this house has a different allure and mystique to it. And since Yeyette is a food connoisseur, we both decided that this is one place that we should not miss.

So after taking pictures of other ancestral homes along that street and after attending mass at the church, we went back to Calle Real —the name of that house-turned-restaurant— for lunch. We were met by Mr. Michael Tahimic, brother of the owner of Calle Real (his sister, actually).

We were invited for lunch by Mr. Michael Tahimic, the grandson of the original owner of the house (the late Marcelo Tahimic, Sr.).

Due to the festivities, Mr. Tahimic told us that the restaurant was closed that day. Instead, he accepted us not as customers but as guests…

Because, yes, food was served inside the restaurant to celebrate the feast day of Tata Usteng!

Calle Real Restaurant is located on the ground floor of the eighty-four-year-old Tahimic ancestral house (where entresuelos are usually found). The restaurant started out in 1998. According to an article written by food expert Victoria Reyes-Ferrer for FOOD MAGAZINE (July 2003), Mildred (or Millie, Michael’s sister), and her husband Noel Lozada gave birth to this exotic-looking restaurant.

He designed and tested the menu; she dressed up the place. He takes charge of running the restaurant; she takes care of the ambiance… While Noel worked on the menu, Millie indulged in her love for interior decorating. She wanted an ambiance that suited the age and style of her ancestral home. Thus they filled the restaurant with antique and semi-antique collections from upstairs, they put on their collection of old records, hats, and old things.

The turn-of-the-century mood and ambiance of Calle Real complements the delectable Filipino dishes served here. At Calle Real, the clock seems to turn counterclockwise with every bite.

Yeyette astounded by the interior decors (and preserved critters: butterflies, beetles, and scorpions from Palawan).

Reyes-Ferrer's magazine article on Casa Tahimic/Calle Real Restaurant

Casa Tahimic was also featured in the coffee table book Sulyáp sa Lumipas: Mga Tahanang Ancestral sa Cavite written by Emmanuel Franco Calairo.

Reyes-Ferrer mentioned that the Lozada couple used antique stuff from the house’s second floor for their unique restaurant’s design on the ground floor. But not all were spirited away for business use. Just take a look at all the marvelous treasures found inside the house proper…

Going up! So excited!

Posing in front of an antique mirror.

With Mr. Tahimic.

This house used to be a duplex because there was a wall that divided the interior of this house. The other half was owned by Michael's grandfather, Marcelo Tahimic, Sr. The other half was for Marcelo's brother Cayetano Tahimic. Years later, the wall was taken down by the younger generation.

From the outside, it can be seen that this house indeed used to be a duplex.

Genuine antiques fill the house!

Familia Tahimic.

Portrait of Sofía de Guzmán de Tahimic and Marcelo Tahimic, Sr. Below it is the name of their son, Atty. Marcelo Tahimic, Jr., inscribed in marble.

The initials of Marcelo Tahimic inscribed artistically on this wood design near the ceiling.

The initials of Marcelo's brother, Cayetano Tahimic.

Left to right: Noel Lozada and wife Mildred Tahimic de Lozada, Michael (Mildred's brother), and me. The Lozada couple manages Calle Real Restaurant which is just underneath us.

FILIPINO eSCRIBBLES would like to salute La Familia Tahimic for conserving their ancestral home. They did no harm to their ancestral home’s look even though they made use of its ground floor for business. And even the ambience of their business complements the Filipino feel not only of their house but also of their community. Because of extreme care rendered to their ancestral home, Casa Tahimic now serves as one of the bridges to our nation’s past in general and to Tanza’s history in particular. No doubt, the Tahimic Family of Tanza are heritage heroes. The love, care, and pride that they have manifested towards their very own bahay na bató, the true home of the Filipino family, should be emulated by those who still have that kind of house as their property.

Calle Real Restaurant is located at #8 Calle Santa Cruz, Población, Tanza, Cavite. To avail of their catering services (only ₱10,750 per head!), please contact them at (046)505-2836. Click here for their Facebook fanpage.

Please click here for more of our Tanza fiesta walkathon!

🙂

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