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Monthly Archives: June 2014

Philippine-Spanish Friendship Day

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Today, June 30, we celebrate Philippine-Spanish Friendship Day, which coincides with the 115th anniversary of the Siege of Baler — a lengthy military operation of Filipino forces against the final holdout of Spanish troops in the Philippines who were garrisoned in the church of Baler, now the capital of the province of Aurora. It ended with Spanish capitulation. President Emilio Aguinaldo granted the survivors safe passage to Manila, en route to their return to Spain, as a tribute to the loyalty and gallantry they had displayed. This act of chivalry and military honor would later form the basis for the promulgation of Philippine-Spanish Friendship Day, by virtue of Republic Act. No. 9187, s. 2002.

As its contribution to the commemoration, the Presidential Communications Development and Strategic Planning Office (PCDSPO) is featuring an account of the Siege of Baler by Spanish Captain Don Saturnino Martín Cerezo titled “Under the Red and Gold,” on the Presidential Museum and Library website. Cerezo’s chronicle is a story of the valor of Filipinos and Spaniards alike in the 11-month siege toward the close of the Spanish-American War.

Día de la Amistad Hispanofilipina.

 

From June 27, 1898 to June 2, 1899, 53 Spanish soldiers and four officers, under the command of Captain Enrique de las Morenas y Fossi, garrisoned themselves in Baler Church as Filipino troops under Teodorico Luna Novicio began their attack. The Spanish flag was installed at the highest point of the bell tower, which had already been fortified. The Spaniards also dug trenches and boarded up the church windows as additional defense.

Click here for the rest of the story.

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Let’s make it official: the Philippines was founded on 24 June 1571

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It’s that time of the year again when I and a few others remember a very significant date in our national lives: 24 June 1571, the date when our country was founded. So once and for all, let us all join hands in petitioning Malacañang Palace to make this hallowed date an official one. Please sign the petition by clicking here.

The “Indias Orientales Españolas” (Spanish East Indies) were the Spanish territories in Asia-Pacific from 1565 until 1898. Its seat of government was Manila. The territory covers the islands of what we now call the Philippine archipelago, Guam and the Mariana Islands, the Caroline Islands (Palau and the Federated States of Micronesia), Sabah, parts of Formosa (now Taiwan), and the Moluccas. From 1565 to 1821, these territories, together with the Spanish West Indies, were under the Viceroyalty of Nueva España which was based in México City. After Mexican independence, they were ruled directly from Madrid. There was a shorter name for the Indias Orientales Españolas: it was simply called FILIPINAS. =)

 

In the meantime, let me greet my beloved patria a Happy 443rd Anniversary! 😀

Eugenio Ynión, Jr. appears to be gearing up for murder

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San Pedro Tunasán’s favorite barangáy chairman, Eugenio “Jun” Ynión of Barrio San Antonio, is at it again.

Is Eugenio Ynión, Jr. preparing to murder me and my family?

Those six targets look so familiar – two adults, four kids. Who could they be? (video uploaded on June 6).

Watch him on this Facebook video… if he hasn’t deleted it yet (because the guy’s got a penchant for deleting posts).

Of course it is not a coincidence that Barrio San Antonio Chairman Eugenio Ynión, Jr. chose six human coreflutes —two adults and four kids— as his civilian targets. At first glance, I might have had ignored it. But on another video, this time with a shotgun, he really insisted on shooting at two adults and four kids. Other than that, what kind of a brute would even think of practising his shooting skills on kiddie-sized civilian targets? Indeed, this poor soul is one of a kind.

In the light of Eugenio Ynión’s death threats against me (coupled with his mentally unstable brother Rommel’s threats against my family), there is no shadow of a doubt that this pathetic target practice of his is meant to intimidate and threaten me and my family once more. Besides, since he is online most of the time, I’m sure that he is already aware that I filed a blotter against him and his brother for threatening our lives. Our city police chief himself, Superintendent Fernando Ortega, even took time to assist me on that matter. Heck, many people in San Pedro, even those who have no social media accounts, are already aware of this death threat issue (San Pedro’s just a small city, in fact the smallest in the whole province of La Laguna). But because of this video, Ynión has shown his impudence and imprudence towards the blotter case. Nagháhamon talagá. Palibhasa maraming pera.

Captioning the video, Ynión wrote:

Rusty but what the heck! In the real world of violence, you don’t get to prepare for your enemies. They won’t say, “be ready, here I come”. It’s always a surprise attack be it an ambush or a stab behind the back. So these shooting exercises are just about de stressing and bonding with friends…

When Ynión says something about surprise attacks, backstabbing, and ambush, trust him on this, for he seems to be an expert himself. Remember when he promised that he will get to see me the least I expect it?

But with his several armed goons surrounding him all the time, who would even dare ambush him in the first place? And as far as I can remember, I don’t recall any politician brandishing his or her shooting skills on social media. What for, really? Yes, Ynión and his trigger-happy minions (and one of them is a complete INGRATO, by the way) have the right to do some target practice, if that’s what their “trip” is. But is it proper for him to post it on Facebook especially since his threats to me (and his brother’s to my family) have been made public already? Speaking of which, Ynión got so rattled when I exposed his evil side on Facebook that he even added as friend those who shared that “death threat” post of mine.

So, to all those living in the City of San Pedro: is this the kind of man you want to lead you? At this early, he’s already starting to intimidate people. What more if he becomes mayor? He threatened to kill me just because I kept on answering back at his backstabbing antics on Facebook against the more popular and effective Mayor Lourdes Catáquiz.

But no, me and my family are not threatened at all. Because his bullets, like his pathetic display of “courage” in his videos, are mere rubber. And if he ever succeeds in killing me and my family, he’s the unlucky one, not us.

Trust me on this, Eugenio. Evil men like you are not forever.

Shoot, coward, you are only going to kill a man.
—Che Guevara—

Finally, a new batch of National Artists!

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At long last! After a very long wait, Malacañang Palace has finally announced our country’s new set of National Artists:

Alice Reyes – Dance
Francisco Coching (Posthumous) – Visual Arts
Cirilo Bautista – Literature
Francisco Feliciano – Music
Ramón Santos – Music
José María Zaragoza (Posthumous) – Architecture, Design, and Allied Arts.

Of the six, I am only familiar with two: Cirilo Bautista, one of my favorite writers, and the late Francisco Coching, known among local graphic novelists as our country’s undisputed “King of Komiks” and as the “Dean of Philippine Comics”.

Francisco Coching (1919-1998). He’s done with “Spic” here, and is about to start with a “Span”.

Aside from being a comic book illustrator, Coching was also a writer, a craft he acquired from his father Gregorio, a novelist for Liwayway magazine. Using his skills as an illustrator and weaver of stories, Coching created memorable characters that have been etched in the imaginations of Filipinos, even to those who are not fans of comic books. Some of his well-known characters were Don Cobarde, Hagibis, and Pedro Penduko, probably his most famous creation (it even spawned four films and two fantasy TV series in ABS-CBN).

Coching’s first nomination as a National Artist was in 1999, a year after his demise. Nothing came out of it. But since then, his name has always cropped up each time there were plans of elevating new culture icons among our pantheon of National Artists. Nevertheless, I’ve always referred to him as a National Artist especially since he was one of the pioneers of the (now dead?) local comic book industry. The prestigious award was long overdue.

One of his daughters, former model Maridel, is also inclined to painting. Maridel’s daughter Valerie, a friend of mine, has also imbibed the artistic skills of both her mom and illustrious grandfather. And like her mom, Valerie also enchants the stage through flamenco; she graduated under the tutelage of renaissance man Señor Guillermo Gómez Rivera. So in a way, Valerie and I were “classmates” since both of us were trained by Señor Gómez: she under Flamenco and me under Philippine Studies.

Yeyette and sultry Valerie, the granddaughter of legendary graphic novelist Francisco Coching. My wife is forcing Valerie to smile; there’s a jungle knife on her right hand.

The second awardee who I’m also most familiar with is, of course, Cirilo Bautista, the inimitable genius behind the epics Sunlight On Broken Stones and The Trilogy of Saint Lazarus. Inspite of the daily grind and toils of teaching creative writing and literature in various universities throughout the years, Bautista still made it a point to produce books showcasing his beautiful prose and poetry, without any trace of hurriedness of a clock puncher, while maintaining a weekly column as well as being the literary editor of the Philippine Panorama (Manila Bulletin‘s Sunday magazine).

I have learned so much from that column of his called Breaking Signs (been reading it on and off since high school). In it, Bautista discusses the ways and methods of how to read a work of fiction, particularly poetry, as well as other genres of creative writing. He engages his readers on how to decipher the hidden meanings in verses (hence the name of the column), and also tackles on various topics related to Philippine Literature in particular and World Literature in general. Some of his best essays from Breaking Signs were compiled in The House of True Desire, a book which I highly recommend to all those whose passion for both ink and pen never wavers. There is some strange quality in each essay of his that frees the mind from being hampered by some unseen mental blockade. Perhaps this queer feeling is best explained in his foreword to the said book:

In writing my column, I have no particular audience in mind. I do not want my creativeness to be limited by an unseen force with its own demands on my literary act. And so to those who ask, “For whom do you write?” I answer, “If you read my column, then I write for you.” That is the closest I can get to defining my readers—not by their quality but by their response.

 

Cirilo Bautista, multi-awarded bilingual writer (English and Tagalog). Now a National Artist. And now he’s got The Undertaker’s urn, too.

Prior to his announcement as National Artist for Literature last Thursday, this Manileño wordsmith has already been receiving countless awards left and right. His name has long glorified various award-giving bodies such as the Carlos Palanca Memorial Awards, Philippines Free Press Awards, and the Gawad Balagtás.

I remember one special day when I gifted myself on my 22nd birthday (18 July 2001). Weeks before that, I read somewhere that Bautista was to give a lecture on Ricardo M. de Ungria’s poetry at the Philippine Normal University, if memory serves correct. With excitement, I scrimped and saved just to have something to pay for that lecture (not that it cost much, but my allowance as a student-dad wasn’t that much), and to see Bautista in person on how he deciphers the cryptic codes in a poem. It was a rainy afternoon when I got there, and the room where he was to give his lecture was crowded (Alfredo “Krip” Yuson was there, back then still sporting a rather thin pony tail). In fact, many were left without chairs. But the crowded room and the pelting rain didn’t stop us from being mesmerized by the magic of Bautista’s ideas transformed into an authoritatively poetic human voice. I’ve learned so much during that 60-minute or so lecture (and I still ended up as a blogger-slash-keyboard warrior, haha).

It is a pity that I don’t have anything to say about the other four National Artists (Reyes, Feliciano, Santos, and Zaragoza) because, admittedly, I really don’t know much about them. However, I am confident that they are all deserving, unlike the last time when the National Artist award was heavily tainted with controversy. I hear that there’s some noise going on about Nora Aunor being left out of the final list, but my only comment on that is a query: if National Artist Nick Joaquín didn’t go “baquiâ” on her, why did the Palace?

Rizal wrote a patriotic letter to Blumentritt on his 26th birthday

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I wonder: if the Sandiganbayan did not issue a hold departure order against Senator Jinggoy Estrada, would the latter have left the country to escape allegations of his involvement in the telenovela that is the PDAF scandal?

Meanwhile, another co-accused, Senator Ramón “Bong” Revilla, Jr., openly declared that he will not leave the country and will squarely face the charges against him.

Both senators, despite their ordeal, are still determined to pursue their political plans in the next national election on 2016. As always, “public service” is their mantra, nay, excuse for doing so. But in fairness to them, their decision to stay put in the country rather than escape means that there is indeed an intention for them to clear their names, that they could be, perhaps (and just perhaps), innocent of the charges filed against them. We are then reminded of an incident not too long ago of a former senator, Pánfilo “Ping” Lacsón, who sneaked out of the country rather than face the charges against him in connection to the grisly murder of publicist Salvador Dacer and his driver Emmanuel Corbito 14 years ago. Rather than fight it out tooth and nail, he opted for the safe way out: by flying out of the country (his ordeal later on inspired a film). On the other hand, it is difficult to blame the former Director-General of the Philippine National Police (who once declared that he hated politics and politicians) for he was up against a formidable wall: the Arroyo Administration.

These three lawmakers’ varying decisions on how to deal with high-profile court cases now remind us of how our national hero, whose birthdate falls today, comported himself in times of crisis. We all know how José Rizal got himself into trouble when he joined Freemasonry and started attacking the friars through his writings, particularly his novels and essays. During his first trip to Europe, the Calambeño wrote and published there his first novel, Noli Me Tangere. It was published in early 1886, and one of the first copies was sent to his Austro-Hungarian BFF, Ferdinand Blumentritt. Copies were subsequently sent to Filipinas.

Rizal and Blumentritt met only once, but they had been sending each other tons of letters for many years since 1886 (the last of this snail-mail correspondence was written from Rizal’s Fort Santiago cell on the eve of his execution); in an age when there was still no Internet and electricity, we can say that the two formed part of an earlier generation of social media users. Even though they were miles apart, they had formed a kindred bond, like that of brothers. So when Blumentritt finished reading Rizal’s first novel, alarm struck his heart for he realized the potential danger caused by his dear Filipino friend’s pen. He advised Rizal to just stay in Madrid for good and from there continue his Propaganda activities.

Rizal responded to Blumentritt. In a letter dated 19 June 1887, the patriot wrote:

Su consejo de quedarme en Madrid y escribir allá es muy benévolo; pero no puedo ni debo aceptarlo. No puedo soportar la vida en Madrid; allá todos somos “vox clamantis en deserto”; mis parientes quieren verme y yo quiero verlos también; en ninguna parte la vida me es tan agradable como en mi patria, al lado de mi familia. Todavía no estoy europeizado como dicen los filipinos de Madrid; siempre quiero volver al país de mis aborígenes. “La cabra siempre tira al monte”, me dijeron.

(MY TRANSLATION: Your advice for me to stay in Madrid and write from there is very kind of you, but I cannot even accept it. Life is difficult in Madrid. All of us there are but “vox clamantis in deserto”.* My relatives preferred seeing me and I feel the same way. In no place is life as nice as the one in my country, with my family right by my side. I’m still not Europeanized, as Filipinos say in Madrid. I always want to return to my native country. As they say, “the goat always goes to the mountain”.**)

Did you know? Rizal wrote in excellent German. A few years ago, I purchased volume 5 of the Epistolario Rizalino, composed of two parts, from eminent historian Benito Legarda, Jr. This letter of Pepe Rizal to his German-speaking penpal, Ferdinand Blumentritt, was written on the day the former turned 26, and it appears in the Epistolario’s first part.

The letter, originally in German, was written from Geneva, Switzerland. It was a long one and covered other topics. But the above lines stood out from the rest of the letter’s content as having more heart. It illumined our national hero’s affection not only for his country but for his family as well. We are accustomed to hear about Rizal the Patriot but rarely about Rizal the Family Guy. Of course, his courage speaks volumes here, something to be marveled at (a decade later, however, at the outbreak of the Tagalog rebellion, Rizal was singing a different tune: there was no more swagger left in him when he set sail to Cuba, but that’s another story and matter).

Rizal did not even remind Blumentritt in that letter that it was his birthday; anyway, birthdays were not celebrated back then as they are celebrated today (perhaps that fact could be another interesting topic for a future blogpost).

May this letter serve as an inspiration to our so-called public servants: country and family first, before the Self. And yes, conviction… but in the right place.

*F*I*L*I*P*I*N*O*e*S*C*R*I*B*B*L*E*S*

* “A voice crying out in the wilderness”, a reference to John the Baptist (Isaiah 40:3, Mark 1:3, John 1:23).
** A Spanish proverb which means a person’s fondness or attachment to one’s native land.

First and foremost, I am a Filipino

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Months ago, a Visayan Facebook friend of mine wrote on his wall, saying “we are Visayans, first, then second Filipinos”.

My response to his perspective: I am a Tagalog. That is my racial stock. But I am always beaming with pride whenever I say that “I am a Filipino first, then a Tagalog second”. It is because our NATIONAL IDENTITY transcends all barriers of race across the archipelago. To be proud of your race firstly only generates regionalism which then leads to animosity towards other races/regions.

That is what our national identity is all about, that is its purpose: it binds the fragility of racial tensions that we had (and still have). That is why when I visited non-Tagalog places such as San Fernando, Pampanga, Calivo, Aclán (a couple of dimwits in public office changed the spelling to Kalibo, Aklan), or Lake Sebú, Cotabato del Sur, I still felt at home. Not once did I feel alien. Because I have this burning love for each and every place that has become part of the Filipino cosmos. And this burning love inspires me to visit each place (hopefully I would be able to do so —and with my family— before I exit this sorrowful world).

Filipino army officers, circa 1899.


This nationalistic ardor also compels me to defend places that are in danger of invasion. If a foreign aggressor, for instance, invades, say, Sámar or Bícol, I’d gladly volunteer, if need be, and be willing to die for these places. Because Sámar and Bícol are also MINE even though I am a Tagalog, even though I have never been there. Because I am a Filipino firstly. My being a Tagalog comes last.

My Filipiniana wedding! (part 2)

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It’s that uncanny day of the year again, when people suffering from friggatriskaidekaphobia whimper on their beds, and meme makers and sharers are having a good time spooking their friends on social media. But for yours truly, Friday the 13th is a special day.

 

Me and my partner for life, Yeyette, we married on a Friday the 13th. And that was last year, 13 September 2013, when all of Metro Manila and its surrounding environs were being showered by rainfall… except for San Pedro Tunasán, La Laguna where we were wed! It was a historic date not just for the two of us but also for the (then) town because it was the first time since the late 1950s when a Mozarabic Rite wedding was held there.

Well, just reminiscing here. And just also to remind everyone that Friday the 13th is not bad at all, just mere superstition that needs to be relegated to Hollywood garbage. Even Jason Vorhees would agree.

Three months to go, and it will be our anniversary. 🙂

*F*I*L*I*P*I*N*O*e*S*C*R*I*B*B*L*E*S*

Up next in part 3: Filipiniana wedding reception at Jardín de San Pedro!

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