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Monthly Archives: July 2012

Happy 441st anniversary to the province of La Laguna!

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A blessed day to you all!

Today, 28 July 2012, is a very historic day for all of us Lagunenses. On this day we commemorate our province’s date of becoming. Today is a celebration of life…

The province of La Laguna —commonly known today as Laguna— marks its 441st foundation anniversary today!

But this is no ordinary foundation day celebration because on this day we mark the first time in its long history that the province of La Laguna will commemorate its date of inception! And what makes it more unique is that this first ever foundation anniversary is being celebrated online!

Why online? Unfortunately, since the controversial resolution regarding the date’s recognition is still in limbo (no thanks to hispanophobic ultranationalism), La Laguna Governor E.R. Ejército is unable to physically celebrate it today. He, however, sent his greetings earlier this afternoon. Be that as it may, we have the internet to celebrate this memorable event. Since the date was discovered in the age of Facebook and Twitter, I believe it is appropriate to celebrate it for the first time right here on the web!

Spread the good news! And I invite my fellow Lagunenses to take a moment of silence and thank the Lord God Almighty for giving us this wonderful province as our home!

Today we truly have a festival of life!

I would also like to acknowledge all those who have strongly supported this date against detractors. Each and every one of them had a special participation on this and, in one way or another, shared their inputs, time, and knowledge to push for the date’s annual celebration. They are (in alphabetical order):

1) Mr. Albert A. Abárquez — Chief: Provincial Sports and Games Development Office.
2) Mr. Delto Michael “Mike” Abárquez, Jr. — Provincial Government Department Head: Laguna Tourism, Culture, Arts, and Trade Office (LTCATO).
3) Mr. Gil Nielo Almendral — Creator/administrator: About Laguna (Facebook group).
4) Mr. Bong Arcángel — Chief: International Relations and Trade Office.
5) Ms. Regina B. Austria — Chief: LTCATO Tourism Division.
6) Professor David Dwight Diestro — Associate Professor of History: UP Los Baños College of Arts and Sciences.
7) Señor Guillermo Gómez Rivera — Academic Director: Academia Filipina de la Lengua Española.
8) Hon. Neil Andrew N. Nocon — Board Member: La Laguna 2nd district (author of Draft ORDINANCE NO. 44, s. 2012*).
9) Ms. Daisy Pelegrina — Assistant to BM Nocon.
10) Dr. Nilo Valdecantos — proprietor: Kape Kesada; arts patron of Paeté; tourism consultant to the governor.
11) Mr. Ronald A. Yu — Publisher/editor/photographer: In-Frame Media Works.

Ron (the publisher/editor/photographer of my forthcoming coffee table book about La Laguna) has exerted so much of his strength, time, and even finances for the right to celebrate our province’s birthday. I don’t know of any other Lagunense who knows so much about the history as well as every nook and cranny of our province, not to mention the passion and love he has for it. Take a bow, my friend!

Special thanks to Alex Pascual for the slick foundation day logo. Fact: he did it in just a couple of hours with his hands tied while blindfolded!

And of course, there’s my lovely wife, Yeyette Perey de Alas, who has never faltered in her support for what I believe is right. ¡Te quiero mucho!

Again, a big HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO THE BLESSED PROVINCE OF LA LAGUNA! ¡MABUHAY ANG BAGONG LA LAGUNA: UNA SA LAHÁT!

Pepe Alas,
A Proud Lagunense
:D

*******

RELATED ARTICLES:
1) 28 JULY 1571: THE FOUNDATION DATE OF THE PROVINCE OF LA LAGUNA
2) 28 July 1571: The story behind the discovery of La Laguna’s foundation date.
3) The truth about the encomienda (FILIPINO eSCRIBBLES’ 3rd anniversary special)
4) La Laguna, Una Sa Lahát (music video)

*AN ORDINANCE DECLARING JULY 28, 1571 AS THE FOUNDING DATE OF THE PROVINCE OF LAGUNA AND RECOMMENDING TO THE HON. GOVERNOR JEORGE “E.R.” EJÉRCITO ESTREGAN TO PROVIDE FUNDS THEREOF RELATIVE TO ITS GRAND ANNUAL CELEBRATION

The truth about the encomienda (FILIPINO eSCRIBBLES’ 3rd anniversary special)

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I didn’t know that my accidental discovery of La Laguna province’s foundation date was going to dance with controversy. Instead of receiving magnanimity from the powers that be, it was, sadly, received with vehement opposition.

First, the National Historical Commission of the Philippines (NHCP) contended that 28 July 1571 should not be recognized because on that date, La Laguna was founded not as a province but as an encomienda. I told them that it should not be made an issue. There is no question that La Laguna —now referred to simply as Laguna— did not begin as a province on that date, but the NHCP had overlooked what a foundation date really is. My argument is really simple: when La Laguna came into being. Not as a province per se, but as La Laguna itself.

Up to now, nobody knows exactly when La Laguna became a province. Ron Yu, the editor of the coffee table book that I’m writing about the province, theorized that it could have been 1581 when Bay was made the first capital of La Laguna (many in the provincial capitol, including yours truly, agree with him). But the problem is that there is no exact date. Nevertheless, whether we have an exact date or not, it will NEVER negate the fact that La Laguna already existed prior to 1581. Oddly, concerned individuals over at the NHCP either fail to understand this or they simply don’t want to accept it.

In the end, when they could no longer withstand the strength of the logic of what a foundation date really is, one of them found a loophole: that it would be unpatriotic if Lagunenses will choose La Laguna’s foundation as an encomienda simply because this system connoted slavery! Yes, this gentleman mentioned the word slavery. And he crumbled right before my very eyes.

But did the encomienda really connote slavery? Let us first study the background of the problem.

What is an encomienda?

In elementary and high school classes, Filipino students are generally taught that an encomienda was a piece of land given to a Spaniard for a certain period of time. Included on that land are the indios (natives) who were the original settlers. The receiver of the encomienda is called an encomendero. The encomendero had the right to exploit the natives for labor but without enslaving them.

Unfortunately, it is hardly taught that an encomienda was a quid pro quo affair. What is hardly taught these days is that it was the duty of the encomendero to:

1) protect the natives from tribal enemies
2) to educate them, i.e., to teach them the Spanish language, and
3) to indoctrinate them into the Christian faith.

To wit, an encomienda was a legal system employed by the Spanish crown during the colonization of the Americas to regulate Native American labor. And this system was later applied to the Philippines.

Hardly slavery.

In this scheme, the Spanish crown grants the encomendero a specified number of indios (for a limited time period) for whom they were to take responsibility by accomplishing the aforementioned duties. That is why it is called an encomienda in the first place: it is from the Spanish verb “encomendar” which means “to entrust”. In return, the encomendero could extract labor from their wards in the form of labor, gold (if available), or other products (mainly agricultural produce). There was, therefore, a mutual obligation from both encomendero and indio.

What should be firmly noted in this system is the existence of the aforementioned mutual obligation between the encomendero and his subjects. In the first place,there would be no encomienda at all without either of the two parties involved. At the onset, pre-Philippine societies were not yet organized into township communities, i.e., they were not yet set up in a way the Spaniards had wanted them to be. These communities were small and scattered. Many were forest dwellers. And those living in river and lakeshore communities were not as compact as well. Naturally, it took some time and effort for an encomendero to organize the indios in his encomienda in order for the mutual obligation to materialize. Thus, it is safe to say that the encomienda served as the prototype (or it laid the groundwork) for the reducción, at least in these islands.

Important note: this is not to say that the encomienda preceded the reducción. In the early years of Spanish rule, both encomienda and reducción have taken place at the same time. But in Laguna, this seemed to have been the case.

To wit: the distribution of land during the early years of Spanish rule had to start somewhere, and that was done through the encomienda system. The encomendero was also required to support the missionaries and to train the indios assigned to him how to grow various crops and raise farm animals. Through the encomienda system, the indios learned modern farming methods. Through the encomienda system, the carabao was imported from Vietnam to facilitate rice farming. All this stimulated modern agriculture.

This is not to say that the encomienda system was perfect. Did it become corrupt? Yes, but not to the extent which ultranationalist anti-Hispanics wanted it to appear in our minds. True, abuses and corruption did take place. But which regime on Earth at any point in history was considered heaven? And if we are to compare the encomienda system to our modern political landscape, the encomenderos of yore would have looked like saints compared to our politicians today.

For the sake of argument, let us say that the encomienda was filled with nothing but hardship and suffering for our indio ancestors. Should we still consider 28 July 1571 as La Laguna’s foundation date? Of course. In the case of La Laguna and 28 July 1571, the doctrine of res ipsa loquitur should come to mind. “The thing speaks for itself.” It doesn’t matter anymore if the encomenderos were drunkards or rapists. What is written on paper (i.e., the chart where the foundation date of La Laguna appears) should still be recognized and respected and should not be mixed with opinionated bull.

It’s like this: suppose that a man was the product of rape, why should he be disallowed to celebrate his birthday?

Anyway, back to the encomienda. The creation of provinces did not happen overnight. It had to evolve. And it did evolve from the encomienda. And even if the encomienda system did not become corrupt, it would have been abolished, nay, replaced in the first place. The encomienda was the basis for the creation of provinces. If not for the encomienda, there would have been no provinces in the first place.

In closing, subscribing to the leyenda negra will never do us anything good at all. Hating everything that Spain did to us only harms all the more. Ultranationalism is the problem here. It leads us to blind hatred. Attacking our Spanish past is tantamount to shooting ourselves in the foot. For good or for worse, the encomienda is part of our history, and is already history. It helped create modern Filipino society.

But to these NHCP historians, the encomienda system was bad, bad, and bad. The Spanish colonization of the Philippines was bad, bad, and bad. It makes me wonder why one of them still uses the surname Encomienda. He should change it to, perhaps, Lapu-lapu or Gat Páñguil.

Or Datu Putî.

Aw, shucks. Good vibes, Pepe… it’s FILIPINO eSCRIBBLES‘ third birthday today! :D

¡Salamat, Dolphy!

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The Philippines has lost another icon: the one and only King of Comedy, RODOLFO “Dolphy” QUIZON y VERA (25 Jul 1928 – 10 July 2012)…

In the hearts of millions of fans, Dolphy will always be a National Artist no matter what.

Thank you for the happiness you gave to three generations of Filipinos, Dolphy. The Filipino cosmos will never ever be the same without you, and it pains us just with the thought of it. You will surely be missed.

The North American Invasion of the Philippines Continues

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Below is a grueling exposé of how the evil US military forces have once again occupied our nation.

THE NORTH AMERICAN INVASION OF THE PHILIPPINES CONTINUES

José Miguel García

From identifying ourselves with our nation in the 1900s when we were a newly born nation, we had reverted back to identifying ourselves with only ourselves, our family, or our clan just like when we were not yet a nation before the 1600s. An indication of how we identified ourselves with our nation was demonstrated in a letter by Ellis G. Davis, Company A, 20th Kansas about us in the 1900s: “They will never surrender until their whole race is exterminated. They are fighting for a good cause, and the Americans should be the last of all nations to transgress upon such rights. Their independence is dearer to them than life…”1

Today, the North Americans of the United States continue to violate our nationhood. The difference is that today, we Filipinos continue to defend their violation.

In the 1960s, the United States of the North Americans provided landing facilities inside their base here in the Philippines to the Air Force of Great Britain during our conflict against the latter over the Sabah territorial dispute.2

There is now a US military base inside the camp of the AFP Western Mindanáo Command yet the AFP has no control over it. Filipino soldiers among us do not have access inside without permit from the US occupational forces. As of this day, we have no control of foreigners like the North Americans of the United States on what they do in our own country. The senate rejection of the US bases in the Philippines in 1991 is only true within our minds. But they are not true beyond our minds.3

On July 2002, a Filipino among us, Buyong-buyong Isnijal was shot by US Sgt. Reggie Lane in Tuburan, Basilan.4 In November 30, 2007, North American occupational forces led by a certain Master Sgt. Ronburg ordered the staff of the Panamáo District Hospital in Panamáo, Sulú to shut down operations after sundown, threatening to shoot us if they did not follow his orders. Filipino military officers among us were impotent in leading our forces to defend us Filipinos in that part of the country against such violation of our nationhood. This deprived 40,000 among us Filipinos of that area, of medical care every night for around one month.5 The commission on human rights and the Sulú Desk reported on the involvement of US troops in the wanton carnage and absolute mayhem of nine filipinos which included a Philippine Army soldier on vacation, a pregnant woman, a four-year-old, and a nine-year-old in Ipil, Maimbung, Sulú on February 4, 2008. The provincial governor denounced this atrocity.6,7,8

A certain Filipino military official of Western Mindanáo Command admitted that he disapproves the practice of higher-ranking Filipino officials among us saluting lower ranking US troops or acting as bodyguards for them.9 Another Filipino official among us, Philipine Navy Lt. Nancy Gadián also told the media that US troops behavior towards Filipino soldiers even of higher rank is that of a human master towards a dog.10

Under these circumstances is the official mission of the US military in the Philippines today: to train us Filipino soldiers hardened for decades of combat against terrorists in a jungle, in a hot and humid tropical environment, home-ground of the latter who have also been veterans as well as slippery in-fighting and, most notably, have been products of CIA-directed: recruitment; training; funding, and; combat experience in engaging Soviet paratroopers in the deserts and mountains of Afghanistan during the US-caused Afghan-Soviet War.11,12 What combat skills, techniques, and tactics will the US soldiers with less experience in these types of combat and terrain than we have as we have been directly involved with for decades, can they teach us?13,14

In Vietnam, they lost. In Afghanistan, they were never generally engaged in the daily face to face battles in every corner of the local terrain.15 In Iraq, they engaged their enemies with heavy reliance on massive technology and firepower only after they have softened defenders in their homegrounds after they have intervened in the domestic social affairs processes. Aside from local insurgents with which their original motive they corrupted, the US also transmitted local insurgent looking foreigners to increase the strength of the local insurgents. It is these insurgents who were generally engaged in the daily face-to-face battles in every corner of the physical and social terrain with the enemies of the United States of the North Americans. What they achieved in the Middle East was that they were able to destroy their supposedly military enemies only after they have destroyed the whole of the nation of their enemies. It is this whole nation who happened to be the collateral damage — a term they very often used conveniently. Therefore, it is not so much the combat techniques and tactics that they can teach us. Rather, it is their brand of military strategy —the whole of the subject nation being destroyed in order to destroy the subject enemy— that they can teach. The Abu Sayyaf issue is just one of the results of the CIA creation of religious fighters from Muslim regions including Mindanáo to fight a proxy war against the Soviets in Afghanistan. Based on US media reports themselves, Abu Sayyaf has a relationship with Al Qaeda which the US created to fight a proxy war in Afghanistan.16,17,18,19,20,21,22

A brother filipino, Gregan Cardeño, was recruited as a security guard with Skylink Security and General Services, an agency based in Zamboanga City and a subcontractor of DynCorp International, a contractor of the US military. On January 30, 2010, he signed a contract with the agency to work as a security guard for the American military personnel assigned to the Joint Special Operations Task Force-Philippines (JSOTF-P) in Maguindanáo. However, on February 1, 2010, Gregan was brought to the JSOTF-P military barracks of the North American of the United States occupying the Philippine Army’s 103rd Battalion Headquarters in Camp Ranao, Marawi City, to work not as a security guard but as an “interpreter” for the US troops. On February 3, 2010, inside the US facility in Marawi City, Gregan was reported to have died. The local police, headed by one SPO3 Ali Rangiris, told Carivel, the sister of Gregan, that when he arrived at the scene of the incident, he found the body of Gregan on the floor and the area already “contaminated.” Filipino investigators have been blocked by the North Americans of the United States occupational forces in Mindanáo to conduct investigation inside their facility. Captain Javier Ignacio of the Western Mindanáo Command helped the family of Cardeño in the investigation. On March 25, 2010, Capt. Ignacio was gunned down by unknown motorcycle-riding gunmen in March just before he was about to execute an affidavit regarding his knowledge about the circumstances of the death.23 A Filipina was gang-raped by members of the United States Marine Corps in Subic in 2005. The case however was dismissed inspite of the overwhelming evidences.24 Another Filipina whose name was hidden was raped by a North American in Macati City in April 2009. But due to fear of ending up like another case of Nicole, she did not charge her rapist in court.25

Are we already independent? Except for Carlos García, we never had any president who could not be controlled by the United States of North America and stay long as president.26 All these presidents are products of US-tampered development of our educational system. The guns are the tools of the North Americans to destroy our defenses and control our archipelago. The English language is the tool of the North Americans to destroy our identity and control our minds.27

This US control of our national developmental code is the cause of why despite of our Asian neighbors having already overtaken us in defense status today, despite of our having had an excellent defense system in 1898 up to the early 1900s, having been able to militarily maneuver for years against being caught, locked, and controlled by the world power US aggressor forces until they resorted to massive kidnapping and extermination of the civilians among us, and despite of decades of US pumping of military aid, training, guidance, and tutelage to us, we are still dependent on US and impotent in defending our nation against foreign invaders today.

Have we not been an invaded territory by the United States of the North Americans until today?

*******

ENDNOTES

1. Kipling, R. Letters from the Front: An Insight into the Filipino-American War
2. Vizmanos, D. 2002. Rejoinder to Pro-Balikatan Arguments. Bulatlat, Vol.2, Number 7. http://www.bulatlat.com/news/2-7/2-7-reader-vizmanos2.html
3. Citizens Peace Watch. 2008. Report of the Fact-Finding Mission to Zamboanga City and Sulu, pp. 3-6, 64. Quezon City.http://www.focusweb.org/philippines/docs/CPWReport.pdf
4. Conde, C. 2002. Terrified Basilan Woman Swears U.S. Soldier Shot Her Husband. Bulatlat.com. http://bulatlat.com/news/2-25/2-25-basilan.html
5. Alipala, J. 2007. Talks of U.S. Interventions Prompts Sulu Meetings. Philippine Daily Inquirer.http://newsinfo.inquirer.net/inquirerheadlines/regions/view/20071231-109541/Talk_of_US_intervention_prompts_Sulu_meetings
6. Citizens Peace Watch. 2008. Report of the Fact-Finding Mission to Zamboanga City and Sulu, pp. 6-9, 64. Quezon City.http://www.focusweb.org/philippines/docs/CPWReport.pdf
7. Alipala, J. 2008. Sulu ‘Massacre’ Survivor Claims Seeing U.S. Soldiers. Mindanao Bureau.http://newsinfo.inquirer.net/breakingnews/nation/view/20080207-117398/Sulu-massacre-survivor-claims-seeing-US-soldiers
8. Watson, P. 2008. U.S. role in Philippine raid questioned, Los Angeles Times.
9. Citizens Peace Watch. 2008. Report of the Fact-Finding Mission to Zamboanga City and Sulu, p. 10. Quezon City.http://www.focusweb.org/philippines/docs/CPWReport.pdf
10. Calonzo, A. 2009. U.S. Troops Joined Combat In Mindanao, Says Navy Wistleblower. GMANews.TV.http://www.gmanetwork.com/news/story/170796/news/nation/us-troops-joined-combat-in-mindanao-says-navy-whistleblower
11. Chossudovsky, M. 2002. The Nobel War Prize.http://globalresearch.ca/articles/CHO210B.html
12. Bengwayan, M. 2002. US Forces in the Philippines Facing CIA-Trained Abu Sayyaf Terrorists.http://www.officialconfusion.com/oldsite/terrorfiles/phillipines/abusayyaf.html
13. Citizens Peace Watch. 2008. Report of the Fact-Finding Mission to Zamboanga City and Sulu, p. 10. Quezon City.http://www.focusweb.org/philippines/docs/CPWReport.pdf
14. Vizmanos, D. 2002. Rejoinder to Pro-Balikatan Arguments. Bulatlat, Vol.2, Number 7. http://www.bulatlat.com/news/2-7/2-7-reader-vizmanos2.html
15. Blum, W. Afghanistan- 1979-1992: America’s Jihad. U.S. Military & CIA Interventions Since World War II. http://killinghope.org/
16. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Dqn0bm4E9yw
17. http://www.yonip.com/main/articles/intervention.html, International Solidarity Mission, Statement of the, “Against U. S. Armed Intervention in the Philippines July 24-31, 2002,”
18. http://www.yonip.com/main/articles/philippines.html, A six-part series The United States in the Philippines: post-9/11 imperatives, By Larry Chin
19. James M, & Cooley J. 2001. The Abu Sayyaf-Al Qaeda Connection. ABC News. pp. 1-2. http://abcnews.go.com/International/story?id=79205&page=1#.T8i4KajLb-s
20. Chin, L. 2001. The Abu Sayyaf. The United States in the Philipines: Post 9/11 imperatives, Part 6, Yonip Library Section – Visiting Forces Agreement and Balikatan Exercises.
21. Santuario, E III. 2007. Abu Sayyaf: The CIA’s Monster Gone Berserk. Constantine Report. http://www.constantinereport.com/allposts/abu-sayyaf-the-cia%E2%80%99s-monster-gone-berserk/
22. Cooley, J. 1999. Unholy Wars: Afghanistan, America, and International Terrorism. Pluto Press, 345 Archway Road, London N6 5AA and 22883 Quicksilver Drive, Sterling, VA 20166-2012, USA
23. Zarate, C. I. 2012. Gregan. Philippine Daily Inquirer. Chino Roces Avenue corner Yague and Mascardo Streets, Makati City, Metro Manila, Philippines. http://opinion.inquirer.net/27799/gregan
24. Rodis, R. 2009. The Subic Rape Case. Inquirer.net.http://www.inquirer.net/specialreports/subicrapecase/view.php?db=1&article=20090509-203985
25. Olea, R. 2009. Another ‘Nicole’: Filipina Accuses US Marine of Rape; Case Heightens Junk-VFA Call. Bulatlat.com.http://bulatlat.com/main/2009/05/14/another-%E2%80%98nicole%E2%80%99-filipina-accuses-us-marine-of-rape/
26. Carlos P. García. Wikipedia.http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carlos_P._Garcia
27. http://thefilipinomind.blogspot.com/2006/03/making-of-americanized-filipino-minds.html

New “Pepe Alas” page photo!

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Check out this blog’s “PEPE ALAS” page! It has a new image!

Special thanks to Mr. Gilbert Atento, cartoonist extraordinaire and a former colleague of mine from APAC Customer Services. For caricatures, send your inquiries to geelburt@gmail.com or you may contact him at (0905)963-1298. Just pay him a couple of peanuts and a beer! :D

I’m telling you, Gilbert can even do a bad@ss caricature of the famed Spoliarium. No kidding.

28 July 1571: The story behind the discovery of La Laguna’s foundation date.

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Good day, dear readers, particularly to my fellow Lagunenses. For this blogpost, I am sharing to you the story behind my discovery of our province’s foundation date, as well as the ongoing process of having the date passed as an ordinance (as of this writing, the case is still pending approval). This is a historic find, so I thought that all of you deserve to know about this, especially since there is still no news yet regarding this matter.

Before anything else, please allow me to refer to our province as La Laguna, not just Laguna alone. The article La was removed from Laguna sometime during the US occupation of the Philippines. Since there is no logical reason for its removal, I refuse to address my adoptive province as such. We should always refer to it by its original, complete, and correct name: LA LAGUNA.

The discovery of the date

OK now. Last January, I revealed in my other blog, ALAS FILIPINAS, that I will be writing my first book, a coffee table book actually, about the history and culture of the Province of La Laguna. I even said bye bye for a while in my social media accounts in order to concentrate on my writing. It’s going to be my first book. I don’t want to screw it up. And just a few weeks ago, during our national hero’s birthday, I also announced about something big that will change the history of our province. So here it is, right on this blogpost…

During the course of my research for the said book that I’m writing, I happened to stumble upon the foundation date of La Laguna. I discovered the date just last month, in the morning of 13 June, when I was about to sleep (right after my night shift). My hair was still wet because I just had a morning bath. So while drying it, I grabbed from my bookshelf one source material —a very old one: 1926— and started fumbling through its pages. Then in one of its delicate and yellowing pages, I unexpectedly found the date: 28 julio 1571.

How providential, indeed. Had I slept earlier, I would have never discovered the page/chart where 28 July 1571 appears. And I wasn’t even in full-research mode!

I do not claim to be the first researcher to have encountered this chart. Perhaps other historians before me have seen this already. However, they must have surely overlooked the fact that this chart reveals when La Laguna (and perhaps other Philippine juridical entities today) was established.

This date is important to all Lagunenses, especially to the provincial government. Why? Because up to now, they do not know when their province was founded. This was revealed to me by my editor, Mr. Ronald Yu (publisher/editor/photographer at In-Frame Media Works), a few months ago after a short talk that I had with Biñán City’s tourism officer designate, Ms. Jasmín Alonte, who in turn told me that their city doesn’t have a foundation date too. I found out that this foundation date is a big deal. Ron explained that during the administration of former Governess Teresita “Ningning” Lázaro (2001-2010), a “bounty” was to be awarded to anyone who might find the missing foundation date. There were even individuals who went to some archive in Spain just to search for it, but to no avail. Fast forward to a few weeks ago: I learned from Mr. Peter Uckung of the National Historical Commission of the Philippines (NHCP) that even famed Pagsanjeño historian Gregorio Zaide was also searching for La Laguna’s foundation date, but to no avail.

I never had any serious intention of hunting for that date. If historians already went to Spain looking for it, not to mention the legendary Gregorio Zaide failing to find it, then I thought that there’s no chance for me to be able to come across the date.

The formulation of the case

And so going back to the morning of 13 June when I stumbled upon the date right inside our apartment unit. I actually have a collection of antique Filipiniana which I have gathered over the years (acquired or purchased from antique shops and various individuals who no longer need them), and it is in one of those volumes where I discovered the date. I didn’t even gave it much importance at first glance, especially when the date says that La Laguna was given as an encomienda to Martín de Goití. It didn’t state that La Laguna was a province during the date that the region was accorded to Goití.

But after a few days, it hit me.

After further research, cross-referencing through other books and documents, and much deliberation, I finally came up to the conclusion that 28 July 1571 was indeed the date when La Laguna began. Not exactly as a province but as something else. The analogy is like this: Adamson University, my alma mater, began as the Adamson School of Industrial Chemistry in 1932. It became a university only in 1941. However, 1932 is still regarded as Adamson’s foundation year, not 1941, for the simple reason that Adamson was established on that year. It’s transformation into a university years later never negated the fact that Adamson was already in existence. That was the case of La Laguna. It began as an encomienda in 1571, not exactly as a province. It only became a province, (as observed by Ron), when Bay was made the capital of La Laguna in 1581. But there is no denying the fact that La Laguna already existed, that it was already established. Just like Calambâ City. It became a city only in 2001. But that doesn’t mean that Calambâ never existed before its cityhood.

Ron paid me a visit in my San Pedro home last 17 June to see the antique book where I found the date. After clarifying questions from him and clearing up other arguments, we both found out that the case for La Laguna’s foundation date proved to be strong. Actually, I was already composing a scholarly paper when he visited me since I do not want the date to be misconstrued as just another date in the pages of Philippine history. It wasn’t finished yet when I showed to Ron the draft of the paper.

Reporting the discovery to the governor

Ron confirmed the discovery to Governor Emilio Ramón “E.R.” Ejército, especially since the book that I’m writing is the latter’s project. The governor was very excited upon hearing this. We then presented my discovery to him last 18 June at the Cultural Center of Laguna (during the memorial celebration of Dr. José Rizal‘s 151st birthday). Before speaking with the governor, Ron introduced  me to various Lagunense figures, among them Mr. Uckung, senior researcher at the NHCP, and Hon. Neil Andrew Nocon, provincial board member of La Laguna’s 2nd district. Little did I know that I would be “working” with these people in the coming days.

Afterwards, Dr. Nilo Valdecantos, one of Governor E.R.’s consultants, facilitated our quick meeting with the latter (it’s Governor E.R.’s policy that you fall in queue to speak to him regardless of social standing and whether you’re a government official or just an ordinary civilian). The governor was already weary due to the day’s activities, for right after the 151st José Rizal memorial rites, his weekly “People’s Day” followed. But upon showing to him the old book where La Laguna and the date appears, his energy came back, and admitted to having had goosebumps all over! He was so amazed over the coincidence of the recently concluded La Laguna Festival, which he conceptualized, to what I have discovered. Little did I know that he had no idea that La Laguna was actually the original, complete, and correct name of the province he governs. But then, almost all Lagunenses in particular and Filipinos in general do not know that fact. And so I took that opportunity to tell him that it is perhaps high time to bring back the name. He did not respond to it, probably still elated with the find. He then said that he will endorse it to the Sangguniang Panlalawigan ng Laguna (SPL) to have it filed as a resolution. A few days later, I received a phone call from BM Nocon’s secretary, Ms. Daisy Pelegrina, requesting for documents pertaining to the date. I learned that the filing of the resolution was already on its way. The ordinance was to be authored by BM Nocon since he was the chairman of education, tourism, history, arts and culture, and public works. I told Ms. Pelegrina that I was actually composing a brief dissertation regarding the matter, and that I will just email them the paper once done.

Realizing that the 28th of July is near, Ron advised Governor E.R. that the foundation date would be one of his greatest legacies to his constituents. Therefore, it is best that the province’s very first foundation date be celebrated immediately, especially since it’s going to be election season next year. Midterm legislative and local elections will be held on 13 May 2013. Nobody knows who’s going to win or not. Governor E.R.’s extreme popularity among Lagunenses is not always a guarantee that it will win him another term. That is why it is best that he commemorate La Laguna’s very first foundation day celebration —technically its 441st— the soonest possible time while he is still governor. The governor agreed (later on, he decided to moved his first State of the Province address to 28 July to coincide with the province’s very first foundation day celebration; the SOPA was originally scheduled for August).

Señor Gómez enters the scene

Shortly after finishing my paper, Ron advised me to email the paper to renowned scholar and historian Señor Guillermo Gómez Rivera to have it reviewed and validated. Ron was thinking forward: he heard from BM Nocon that the NHCP will have to review and write a recommendation on my discovery before the ordinance could be passed. No disrespect to the NHCP, but both Ron and I somehow felt that the NHCP might write a negative recommendation on my find, as the case might fall on opinionated grounds (a few days later, our hunch proved to be correct). So he thought of having it validated by another neutral party: Señor Gómez. For my editor’s part, he is respectfully questioning whether the NHCP has any authority at all to have a final say whether or not a date should be declared as the province’s foundation date.

Afterwards, we visited the governor’s house (Don Porong Mansion) in Pagsanján on 23 June to personally present to him the scholarly paper which I wrote regarding the La Laguna’s foundation date (PLEASE CLICK HERE to read my dissertation). The next day (coinciding with the Philippines’ 441st anniversary), I received a positive reply from Señor Gómez which he also forwarded to members of the online group Círculo Hispano-Filipino.

¡Enhorabuena Pepe Alas! Has escrito una tesina de primera fuerza porque está muy bien documentada y, sobre todo, porque todo lo que deduces está fuertemente investido con la lógica y el sentido común que todo escritor e historiador de su propio país debe tener. Y es una tesina escrita independientemente porque se levanta por si sóla. Y está escrita magistralmente por un puro filipino como lo eres tu de espíritu y talante. Sugiero que lo pongas todo en español más tarde y lo publiques en tu blog Alas Filipinas. En horabuena de nuevo y un fuerte abrazo. Nos enorgulleces a todos los que te conocemos de cerca.

Afterwards, I also emailed the paper to Ms. Pelegrina for BM Nocon’s reference since it will also serve as an aid of legislation. On the morning of 25 June, I visited Señor Gómez to retrieve from him his signed recommendation letter. I then hurried off to the capitolio in Santa Cruz and met up with Ron to submit an edited version of my paper, Señor Gómez’s recommendation letter, as well as reproductions of the page where the date appears. Mr. Valdecantos again facilitated our quick meeting with the governor, and for that he had a run in with the governor’s arrogant Chief-of-Staff. And while waiting for an audience with the governor, this rude power-tripper actually thought he was funny so he acted like a clown and proceeded to make fun of what I wrote and even questioned Señor Gómez’s reliability (if he had said that in Malacañang, the President himself would have laughed at his total ignorance of Señor Gómez’s persona). But I was glad that I was able to keep my cool (a very difficult task on my part). Anyway, after that unfortunate incident, Ron was finally able to speak with the governor; I was no longer in the mood to speak to Governor E.R. after all the insults that I’ve heard from his “highly respectable” Chief-of-Staff. The governor then informed us that he is endorsing the date not as a resolution but as an ordinance! Earlier that morning (during the weekly flag ceremony), we learned that the governor already announced to all employees about the foundation date, and that they will all receive an annual bonus every 28th of July (amounting at least to ₱3,000 per employee). This, of course, is good tidings for the provincial employees. However, the ordinance will still have to be passed first and foremost in order for the said bonus to take effect. Before leaving the capitol, BM Nocon informed me and Ron that we will all go to the NHCP in Ermita, Manila the next day, together with the governor himself, to report my discovery and request from their office any technical assistance as well as a recommendation and/or guidelines on the legality of declaring 28 July 1571 as La Laguna’s foundation date.

NHCP visit

The next day, an afternoon, we all went to the NHCP. Our party was composed of Governor E.R., his wife (Pagsanján Mayor Maita Ejército), my editor Ron, BM Nocon, Mr. Valdecantos, and other capitolio political consultants. There were actually three agendas: the construction of the country’s first sports museum (to be constructed on the capitolio grounds), the setting up of a historical marker to La Laguna’s old capitol building, and the historic date which I discovered. We were received by NHCP Executive Director Ludovico Bádoy and his staff.

As expected, my discovery was met with opposition. During the meeting, Ron and I had an argument with Mr. Uckung and a colleague of his, Mr. Ogie Encomienda (of all surnames). They argued that the date I discovered cannot be accepted since it does not pertain to La Laguna’s creation as a province. But that wasn’t the case we wanted to present. Our argument is that La Laguna was founded on 28 July 1571, period. Whether or not it was a province, La Laguna began on that date (please see related link above to read my arguments on my paper). Finally, straight from their mouths, they agreed that my paper is correct. However, they just couldn’t accept the fact that La Laguna must recognize its founding as an encomienda. In Mr. Uckung’s opinion, it does not seem to be apt to celebrate La Laguna’s founding as an encomienda because, according to him, the encomienda connoted “slavery”. Good heavens, I thought. These people subscribe to the leyenda negra (as expected). And worse, Mr. Encomienda even suggested to us to just write an ordinance declaring 28 July as the province’s foundation date, but 1571 cannot be recognized as the province’s foundation year because, according to him, it is highly questionable that La Laguna was founded earlier than Manila. To Mr. Encomienda, Manila was founded on 1574! Goodness gracious. Anyway, I refused to argue about that anymore; it’s a different issue and will only prolong the argument. Anyway, the meeting was at a stalemate. Governor E.R. was still excited over the date, and mandated Mr. Uckung to speed up his research to corroborate with my findings. However, right after the argument that we with Mr Uckung and Mr. Encomienda, I already knew right there and then that they will disapprove my discovery.

The SPL hearings

Ron attended the first hearing 27 June which was also attended by Vice Governor Caesar Pérez, various board members, representatives from the budget office, and other political consultants. I wasn’t able to attend because of my night shift. It was during that meeting that Ron hypothesized that La Laguna could have become a province when Bay was declared as the provincial capital on 1581. The problem: the date is still missing up to now. Furthermore, that doesn’t negate the fact that La Laguna already existed, but as a different political/juridical entity.

Two days later, during a meeting of the Laguna Tourism Council (facilitated by Monsignor José D. Barrión) last 29 June held at the Santo Sepulcro Shrine in San Pedro, Mr. Delto “Mike” Abárquez, chief of the Laguna Tourism, Culture, Arts, and Trade Office (LTCATO) announced to the members about the discovery of the province’s foundation date.

Mr. Mike Abárquez, seated at right, during the Laguna Tourism Council 2nd quarter meeting at the Santo Sepulcro Shrine last 29 June 2012 (photo courtesy of Le Voyageur International-Travel.

On 2 July, the date when the ordinance was officially stamped as received by the Office of the SPL, I made my first appearance to the deliberations of the SPL. It was actually the public hearing regarding the ordinance. A lady official from the LTCATO had Mr. Uckung on the line and gave the phone to BM Nocon. The lady official seemed to be a big supporter of NHCP. Ron and I had no idea why. After the phone discussion, the public hearing began. Laguna’s Supervising Tourism Operations Officer, Ms. Regina Austria, was also in attendance. I explained my case to the panel and also gave a brief lecture about what an encomienda is, and how this encomienda metamorphosed into a province (limited only to the case of La Laguna; probably not all provinces began as an ancomienda). BM Nocon also revealed that he had already distributed my scholarly paper to all municipal and city governments throughout La Laguna, as well as various educational institutions in the province which of course includes the University of the Philippines Los Baños (UPLB).

The plot thickens

The next day, I was with San Pedro Mayor Calixto Catáquiz and his friends in Rockwell, Macati discussing with him his biography which is still in developmental limbo. Ron sent me a rather alarming txt message: an anonymous person was heckling him on his cellphone, ridiculing him for his ardent participation on the 28 July 1571 issue. We already have a suspect. But why was she doing it?! I mean, what for?

The next day after that, on 4 July, there was another brief hearing at the capitolio. I wasn’t able to attend due to lack of sleep (imagine doing all this while working at night!), but Ron was able to attend. LTCATO chief, Mr. Abárquez, was also there. He assisted Ron in defending the merits of the date.

Three vs one

Finally, last Friday, 6 July, I had another showdown with the NHCP right inside the Governor’s Office. The governor, however, was absent during the proceedings. Unfortunately, Ron wasn’t with me during that time (he had a fever). There were three of them (Mr. Uckung, Mr. Encomienda, and another one whose I wasn’t able to get) against my lonesome self. Mr. Encomienda this time, had a different tune: instead of arguing that it cannot be accepted that La Laguna came first before Manila (which is erroneous because Manila was founded as the capital of the Philippines by the Spaniards on 24 June 1571), he instead referred to his notes and said that he had found another data stating that La Laguna was founded as an encomienda in 1572, not in 1571. He now forwarded the problem on how to “synchronize” both 1571 and 1572. But the answer to that is rather simple: choose the earliest date, for crying out loud. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to say that, since I have not yet verified his finding. He mentioned to me both Manuel Buzeta and Félix de Huerta as his sources. Well, I have Buzeta’s Diccionario Geográfico-Estadístico-Histórico de las Islas Filipinas (co-authored with Felipe Bravo) at home. I reviewed it last night and found no mention of 1572 pertaining to La Laguna at all. I’m still to review Félix de Huerta’s Estado Geográfico, Topográfico, Estadístico, Histórico-Religioso de la Santa y Apostólica Provincia de San Gregorio Magno. But regardless of whether or not the year 1572 also points to the founding of La Laguna as an encomienda, common sense will still dictate that the earliest year declared must be considered, especially if there is basis. In this case, it’s 1571.  Although I understand that Buzeta and Huerta’s respective books were published way before Fr. Pablo Pastells’ book (my source) was even conceptualized, one should not focus on the book’s year of publication alone. Fr. Pastells did not simply write 28 July 1571, as was the case with what Buzeta and Huerta did. Fr. Pastells’ chart itself was a primary source that was taken from the Archivo General de Indias in Seville, Spain. The chart itself that was used by Fr. Pastells was an official document whose authenticity can never be questioned.

Also present during the meeting was UPLB professor Dwight David Diestro, co-author of the book Nineteenth-Century Conditions and the Revolution in the Province of LagunaHe had read my paper and actually supported my discovery. But he also stated his opinion that if it were him, he would rather recognize the date when La Laguna became independent from Spain. I argued, however, that independence is different from being established as a political entity. Then the mention of the encomienda again as a form of slavery was raised, until the discussion came to a point that I was already defending Spain’s “creation” of the Philippines. A very debatable matter, Mr. Uckung retorted, to which I had to agree so as not to swerve from the main issue.

The questionable case of Pangasinán’s foundation date

But I believe that I won that round. Why?

At the end of the meeting, I respectfully questioned NHCP’s “authority to meddle” in the ordinance proceedings because of the Pangasinán case which was researched by Ron a few days prior (You may read the whole account of the case here). It turned out that La Laguna has a similar case to that of Pangasinán. In Pangasinán’s case, it was also founded as an encomienda: on 5 April 1572. Later on, it was organized into a province in 1580, but the exact date is missing up to now. After thorough deliberations on the researches made by members of the committee, it was finally decided to just mix up the dates: 5 April 1580 was then declared as the foundation date of Pangasinán. Not only is it highly questionable. It was also laughable and illogical. How come the NHCP let this historical travesty go away just like that? It reminded me of Mr. Encomienda’s suggestion to us when we were at the NHCP, that July 28 can be be passed as an ordinance, but not 1571. So is he suggesting that we do another Pangasinán?

I really told them, but in a respectful tone, that Pangasinán’s case was mangled, and that I will never allow the same error to happen to my beloved province in case they’re planning to do the same. They all kept quiet.

Sadly, nothing was concluded. BM Nocon still awaits that recommendation from the NHCP. He then said that the next meeting will be on Friday the 13th.

And so my fight continues.

Before I end this narrative —and I hope that the people over at the NHCP reads this—, I would like to remind all of you that whether or not this ordinance is passed, it will not make me famous like Myrtle Sarrosa. It will not even make me rich. Perhaps I might receive some sort of recognition, but I am not expecting it. Besides, I’m sure that most of the credit will go to Governor E.R. and BM Nocon. But that’s OK. I am doing this not for myself, anyway. Not even for the governor. No matter how corny this may sound to all of you, I am doing this for the province of La Laguna. Aunque no lo creáis. Because this will give me and all Lagunenses the satisfaction of priding ourselves with a complete history of our province.

At walá pong mawáwala sa aquin cung hindí maipápasa ang ordenanzang itó. Who’s going to lose? Me? My credibility? No. Never. The biggest loser here will still be the people of La Laguna who will forever miss this chance of celebrating the province’s birthday.

So many things have happened since I discovered the date. It was a whirlwind experience. The coffee table book that I’m writing for the governor was even put to a halt to focus on the ordinance. But I will have to continue writing the book starting today. And whatever happens, 28 July 1571 will always remain as La Laguna’s foundation date. It began as an encomienda, whether we like it or not, which later on metamorphosed into a province probably in 1581.  And this logical FACT will appear in the coffee table book which will be launched before the year ends. So there.

He dicho.

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

Draft ORDINANCE NO. 44 , s. 2012

AN ORDINANCE DECLARING JULY 28, 1571 AS THE FOUNDING DATE OF THE

PROVINCE OF LAGUNA AND RECOMMENDING TO THE HON. GOVERNOR

JEORGE “E.R.” EJÉRCITO ESTREGAN TO PROVIDE FUNDS THEREOF

RELATIVE TO ITS GRAND ANNUAL CELEBRATION

Author: Hon. Neil Andrew N. Nocon

Whereas, Laguna has been in existence for many centuries already but has failed to commemorate and celebrate its inception due to the lack of a founding date;

Whereas, since the Philippines has been declared independent on 4 July 1946, the Tagalog-speaking province of La Laguna, now simply referred to as Laguna, in the CALABARZON region is still incognizant of when exactly it came into being;

Whereas, it has become an important tradition for almost all individuals, organizations, and territorial units (places) to commemorate how they first came to be;

Whereas, no official declaration or any royal decree has been made affirming the creation or existence of Laguna as a province consisting of several reducciones or towns;

Whereas, research findings revealed that Laguna was founded as a juridical entity on 28 July 1571;

Whereas, this date appears in volume 2 of Fr. Pablo Pastells, S.J.’s Historia General de Filipinas which was published in Barcelona, Spain in 1926;

Now, therefore, upon motion, be it resolved, as it is hereby resolved by the Sangguniang Panlalawigan of Laguna in a session assembled that:

Section 01. Title- This Ordinance shall be known as “AN ORDINANCE DECLARING JULY 28, 1571 AS THE FOUNDING DATE OF THE PROVINCE OF LAGUNA AND RECOMMENDING TO THE HON. GOVERNOR, JEORGE “E.R.” EJÉRCITO ESTREGAN TO PROVIDE FUNDS THEREOF RELATIVE TO ITS GRAND ANNUAL CELEBRATION”

Section 02. Definition of Terms — for purpose of this ordinance, the following terms are defined as follows:

a. commemorate – to call to remembrance, to mark by some ceremony or observation.

b. incognizant – lacking knowledge or awareness, unaware of the new political situation.

c. juridical – of or relating to the law and its administration.

d. reducción – a colonially designed resettlement policy that the Spaniards (the friars in particular) used in Central and South America.

e. rekindle – to inflame again, to rouse anew.

f. reminisce – a narration of past incidents with one’s personal experience, that which  is recollected or recalled to mind.

g. reverently – showing deep sense of respect.

h. unheeded – unnoticed or disregarded.

Section 03. Objectives of this Ordinance.

1. To help establish the founding date of Laguna because this province has been in existence for many centuries already but has failed to commemorate and celebrate its inception due to the lack of a foundation date.

2. To officially declare 28 July 1571 as the founding date of Laguna and relative to its celebration, request the Provincial Governor for the provision of funds thereof.

Section 04. Information, Education, and Communication Campaign. Upon approval of this Ordinance, the province shall conduct massive information, education, and communication campaigns using quad media (print, radio, television, and internet) in the conduct of rekindling this foundation date.

Section 05. Deputation of Officials. All municipal and city officials are automatically deputized by the Provincial Governor for the strict and effective implementation of this ordinance.

Section 06. Mandate. The government through the Laguna Tourism, Culture, Arts, and Trade Office is hereby mandated to provide a program wherein activities shall be implemented for one day celebration which shall commence every 28th day of July of every year/s ahead.

Section 07. Implementation. This Ordinance shall be implemented right after the date of its approval.

Section 08. Separability Clause. If any part of this ordinance is declared juridically as unconstitutional or unlawful, such declaration shall not affect the other parts or sections hereof that are not declared unlawful or unconditional.

Section 09. Repealing Clause. All previous ordinance inconsistent with this ordinance shall be deemed repealed or modified accordingly.

Section 10. Effectivity. This Ordinance shall take effect upon its approval from the Sangguniang Panlalawigan.

APPROVED: ??????

Queen Sofía of Spain visits the Philippines!

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Click here for the latest news on Queen Sofía’s Philippine visit!

ALSO:

http://globalnation.inquirer.net/42995/queen-sofia-arrives-at-spanish-envoy%E2%80%99s-makati-residence

http://globalnation.inquirer.net/43029/affection-in-dinner-menu-%E2%80%98fit-for-queen%E2%80%99

http://lifestyle.inquirer.net/55585/queen-sofia%E2%80%99s-visit-to-reaffirm-strong-cultural-ties

http://globalnation.inquirer.net/42557/spains-queen-sofia-arrives-in-philippines

http://www.philstar.com/Article.aspx?articleId=824156&publicationSubCategoryId=63

Congratulations, Senator Angara!

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A hearty congratulations to Hispanista/Filipinista Senator Edgardo Angara for being inducted to the Hispano-American Royal Academy of Science, Arts and Letters! He is the only Asian and non-Spanish speaker in the ranks of the exclusive academy.

Senator Angara is the only lawmaker today who is carrying on the fight to preserve the Filipino Identity through the promotion of our Hispanic ties. And right now, he is clamoring for the return of the Spanish language into K+12 program. He is reminiscent of past great senators such as Claro M. Recto, Enrique Magalona, Cipriano Primicias, and Vicente Sotto, among many others. The truth is that Senator Angara is struggling for an unpopular cause, especially since history has bedeviled our Spanish past. But he does not care about this. He is after nothing but the historical truth.

¡Viva Señor Angara, el héroe moderno del cosmos filipino!

It started in Baler: Angara’s ‘highest honor’ as 1st Asian, non-Spanish speaker royal academy member

The century-old Real Academia Hispano Americana de Ciencias, Artes Y Letras in Cádiz, one of Europe’s oldest cities and the Iberian Peninsula’s center of culture and the arts, last month inducted Sen. Edgardo Angara into its elite roster of intellectuals, recognizing the lawmaker for furthering Philippine-Spanish relations within and outside the government.

Click here for more!

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