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Monthly Archives: October 2014

Was the famous Leyte Landing of 1944 reenacted?

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Today our country commemorates the 70th anniversary of the famous Leyte Landing. That historic event from World War II features the landing of General Douglas MacArthur in Leyte Gulf to begin his campaign of recapturing and liberating our country from Japanese occupation, as well as to fulfill his now iconic “I shall return” promise. Together with him were President-in-exile Sergio Osmeña, Lieutenant General Richard Sutherland, Major General Charles A. Willoughby, Brigadier General Carlos P. Rómulo, and the rest of the Sixth Army forces. From his book The Fooling of America: The Untold Story of Carlos P. Rómulo, chemist-turned-historian Pío Andrade writes:

On October 20, 1944, following preliminary landings in Sulúan, Homonhón, and Dinagat islands between October 17-19, American soldiers landed in Leyte to begin liberation of the Philippines from the Japanese. After several waves of troops had landed, MacArthur landed at Red Beach, Palo, Leyte. It was a historic moment for MacArthur and the Philippines.

The above photo, now regarded as one of the most memorable images from World War II, is what the whole world knows about the Leyte Landing. However, in the same book, Andrade has more to reveal:

MacArthur’s Leyte landing has been firmly etched in the mind of the public thus: the general wading in knee-deep water with Philippine President Osmeña and Carlos P. Rómulo. Actually, there are doubts whether that picture is the real first Leyte landing of MacArthur. A daughter of one of President Quezon’s military aides told this writer that the picture was a reenactment. There were three shots of the Leyte landing picture taken from different angles thereby giving the impression that the landing was rehearsed. The New York Times reported that President Osmeña came ashore in Leyte on October 21, meaning that the famous Leyte landing picture was not taken the day MacArthur first stepped on Red Beach. MacArthur, himself, signed and dated a different Leyte landing picture which showed neither Osmeña nor Rómulo.

And that photo which Andrade was referring to? Here:

 

 

 

Real or reenacted, Rómulo was flamboyantly dressed in the Leyte landing picture. While professional soldiers Generals MacArthur, Sutherland, and Willoughby wore military caps, paper soldier Rómulo wore a steel helmet, the better to show his brigadier general’s star. Though he knew he would be in the rear headquarters, Rómulo dressed as if he was going to the combat zone. He had a pair of leggings and his revolver hang on a shoulder holster like an FBI agent instead of on a belt holster required by military regulations. Rómulo was trying hard to project himself as a real soldier.

But Rómulo’s KSP attitude, of course, is another story. Today, the Leyte Landing is immortalized by the MacArthur Landing Memorial National Park at Red Beach, on the same site where MacArthur and his party landed. Which now leads me to a recent heritage crime: the unceremonious removal of the Simón de Anda Monument from Bonifacio Drive in Manila to make way for a much larger highway to ease traffic. On deciding of removing the monument, DPWH-National Capital Region head Reynaldo Tagudando said that the de Anda Monument has “no historical value”. Tagudando thus revealed his complete ignorance of who Simón de Anda y Salazar was.

De Anda was an oidor or member judge of the Audiencia Real (Spain’s appellate court in its colonies/overseas provinces) when the British, on account of the Seven Years’ War, invaded Filipinas in 1762. While many high-ranking government officials, including then interim governor general and Archbishop Manuel Rojo del Río, already surrendered to the invaders, de Anda and his followers refused to do so. Instead, he established a new Spanish base in Bacolor, Pampanga and from there launched the country’s first ever guerrilla resistance against the British. He thus proved to be a big thorn on the side of the British until the latter left two years later.

During those tumultuous two years under the British, de Anda made no promises and neither did he leave Filipinas. He stuck it out with Filipinos through thick and thin and gave the enemy an armed resistance that they more than deserved. But “Dugout Doug” was all drama when he said “I shall return”, leaving the Filipinos to fend for themselves against the Japs. And when he did return, it was a disaster: the death of Intramuros, the heart and soul of the country.

If there was anything good that came out from last year’s destructive Typhoon Yolanda, it was the damage done to that memorial park at Red Beach. When it comes to WWII commemorations, even the forces of nature know which monument has no historical value.

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Podcasting with Señor Guillermo Gómez Rivera

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For “episode 3” of my podcasting venture with Arnaldo Arnáiz (his idea, actually), we featured our friend and mentor, the veritable and venerable Filipino scholar, Señor Guillermo Gómez y Rivera. On this episode, we talked about the importance of the Spanish language in Filipinas.

The sound quality for episodes 1 and 2 were poor. But for episode 3, there was significant improvement, thanks to Arnaldo’s new recording gadgets. The only thing here which didn’t improve was my voice. 😀

Without further ado, here’s our September 20th podcast with the renaissance man himself, Señor Gómez (WARNING: Be prepared to be blown away with TONS of historical info).

TOF Home

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Art connoisseur Glenn Martínez calls his comfy San Mateo abode as “TOF Home”. TOF of course are the initials of his well-known travel blog Traveler On Foot. Having been blogging about his travels all over the country with his son Joaquín since 2008, he can be considered as one of the pioneer travel bloggers in the country. But his online travel journal is different from the rest of the pack. For one, he endears his readers to have a patriotic attachment towards the places that he visits by revealing, and putting emphasis on, their historical and cultural side. Simply put, he is a Filipino travel blogger. Secondly, he refuses to “commercialize” his blog (despite its popularity, he has never bought his own domain name yet), making his advocacy more admirable.

Me and fellow blogger Arnaldo Arnáiz first met Glenn in 2008 during an Ambeth Ocampo lecture in Macati (or just a few months after he started TOF). The three of us have been communicating ever since. A couple of years ago, tragedy struck his first home in San Mateo when Typhoon Ondoy inundated it, destroying not just his belongings but his precious collection of Filipiniana, many of which were already out of print!

I would have died if it happened to me.

But Glenn rose back like a phoenix. Just last month, he invited me and Arnaldo to have lunch at his new home. We were astounded by what we saw — his new home has become a virtual art gallery!

Works of internationally acclaimed Paeteño painter Dominic Rubio.

A collection of miniature baskets on top of an antique marble-topped mesita (foreground), accumulated from various towns which Glenn and his son Joaquín had visited

More paintings and miniature wood sculptures will greet visitors by the stairs going to the third floor.

A sketch by Celso Pepito.

Father and son.

A collection of Ambeth Ocampo‘s highly informative books.

More Filipiniana volumes adorn this antique estante.

Glenn has transferred to a then bland-looking three-story house —this time farther from the Mariquina River— which he has since styled into an artist’s haven. He has decorated the interiors, from first floor to third, with various art pieces by renowned painters and sculptors he had met during his travels, purchased miniature items, handicrafts, and other interesting trinkets from various indigenous cultures he had visited, and salvaged parts of old ancestral houses and churches which were otherwise considered as junk. His taste in Filipino art was surprisingly something new, an enthusiasm developed by his travels and the friendships he had made with many artists through the years. He has become so immersed in the local art scene that he could even lecture me about the inanities of differentiating “low art” and “high art”, whatever that means (now you understand the “art connoisseur” tag at the beginning of this blogpost).

Glenn’s bedroom, at left, is on the second floor. At right bottom is part of the stairway which leads to the third floor where most of his art collection and books are located.

Joaquín’s bedroom, also at the second floor, has four framed graffiti by Rai Cruz.

Antique dining table (foreground) and sala furniture pieces at the background. A calado from an old ancestral house in Pila, La Laguna hangs above.

Potteries and baskets from various parts of the country displayed safely inside this nostalgic armario.

“You have to live by what you write” is what Glenn told us during that afternoon visit, hence helping us understand why his home, a modern-looking house from the outside, looks and feels so nostalgic, so homely, so familiar, so Filipino. The place is complemented by Glenn’s effusively positive outlook towards life. I remember how he gave me some old-fashioned encouragement during one time when I was having another fit of depression. And with genuine concern, he even gave me advice on how my family should travel. And then there’s his smart boy Joaquín, a very fortunate chap who is being showered not only with paternal love but also with the lovely culture that has shaped our national identity. Joaquín is even keen on learning Spanish, the language of our forefathers! TOF Home also has its doors open to all of Glenn’s artist friends because he wants to consider them as a “family extension” of sorts for his son Joaquín, one of the country’s youngest travelers.

Visiting TOF Home inspired me to do some major makeover on my own home. I’ve been dreaming of owning my own bahay na bató for my family, but I have to accept the reality that it might never happen anymore. But having experienced Glenn’s house made me realize that it is still possible to Filipinize one’s home even if it is not an ancestral house.

That evening, the four of us attended Mass at the nearby parish of Our Lady of Aranzazu.

Enfrente de la Iglesia de Nuestra Señora de Aranzazu, San Mateo, Provincia de Morong. Izquierda a derecha: Glenn Martínez, Arnaldo Arnáiz, y yo. Al frente es Joaquín, único hijo de Glenn.

And here’s our podcast (“episode 2”) with Glenn Martínez, the one and only Traveler On Foot, last September 7 at his Filipino home in San Mateo, Morong.

Pardon us for the sound quality; birth pains of rookies, y’know. The podcast with Glenn took more than an hour, but Arnaldo had to cut it to around 30 minutes because much of our conversation was garbled. Fortunately, Arnaldo recently purchased some new equipment. That’s why for “episode 3” of our podcast with Señor Guillermo Gómez Rivera (I’ll blog about it very soon), the sound quality finally came out A-OK. We’ll do much better next time.

For more photos of TOF Home, click here. You may also want to buy this month’s issue of Real Living magazine wherein the said publication features Glenn’s rustically modern home.

¡Hasta luego!

The arrogance of some Spaniards

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A Spanish Internet troll who is well-known among Spanish-speaking Filipino web users for his contemptible arrogance took offense at my usage of the words “racial caste system” in yesterday’s blogpost. In the said article, I showed a classification of racial mixtures in Filipinas during the Spanish times. But according to this arrogant friend of ours, it was not a system but a denomination. And worse, he accused me that it was my intention to insult, in an insidious way, those Filipinos who lived during that time.

Like, wow. As if all the stuff that I’ve been scribbling on this blog (and Alas Filipinas) for years were all for naught.

I am not as fastidious as this guy is with terminologies (we once had a useless argument regarding the real meaning of the word hispanista). But I think he missed the point of all this (my fault, because yesterday’s blogpost had no explanatory notes). The reason why I wrote that article is to serve as a guide to those few readers of mine who are still uninitiated towards that part of our history’s racial categorization.

Let me put it this way: many Filipinos today think that José Rizal was brown-skinned, that he was moreno. Heck, he was not. He was tisóy because he was a tornatrás or a mestizo terciado (take not of this, Alden Richards). Same case with Padre José Burgos. He wasn’t brown. He was white.

So, the above-mentioned cases are the main reason why I came up with that blogpost which irritated our arrogant Spanish friend. The purpose on my part was not to imply that there was some kind of hierarchy in place. But to some extent, there really was some sort of racial hierarchy, though not profoundly similar to the caste system in India and other similar cultures which, I suspect, is what this arrogant Spaniard had in mind. The one in India was the classic caste system, a case of social stratification. But yesterday’s blogpost did not describe any social stratification at all. It was strictly racial, meant for taxation purposes. As such, it was a colonial caste, very far from the one he had in his twisted mind. But because of an arrogance innate to his being, he totally forgot (or maybe he didn’t know at all) that during the latter half of the 19th century, there was an intense racial rivalry between the Español Insular and the Español Peninsular.

When our country was still ruled by Spain via the Virreinato de Nueva España (México), choice administrative and military positions here were held mostly by Spanish insulars (who called themselves “Filipinos”, the first to do so). But when México became independent from Spain in 1821, Filipinas came under direct rule from Madrid. Our country’s Gobernador General during that time, Mariano Fernández de Folgueras, was loyal to King Fernando VII de Borbón. Fernández de Folgueras was the reason why we did not become part of the First Mexican Empire. He then proceeded to give administrative posts to his fellow peninsulars, thus angering the insulars who had been holding on to such governmental positions for ages. This racial rivalry, spurred by the arrogance of the peninsular and the molested feelings of the insular, caused the Andrés Novales revolt of 1 June 1823.

So even if I did not use the term “racial caste system”, we can see that there already existed some sort of “hierarchical arrogance” going on. I did not imply it. It was already there. Our arrogant Spanish friend just didn’t notice it because he was so obsessed with using John Bowring to take potshots at me. And Bowring, being English, surely had the Indian caste system in mind as well. Anyway, while this hierarchical behavior may have already dissipated today, whatever “peninsular arrogance” of Mariano Fernández de Folgueras had still exists up to now and has evolved into a much wicked form within the pompous minds of certain Iberians such as Rafaél Martínez Minuesa and other uncultured Spaniards. Some sort of sick legacy, I suppose. Whereas the arrogance of Fernández de Folgueras was borne out of patriotism to Spain, Martínez’s arrogance is meant to glorify himself as a hostile Don Sabelotodo. But thank goodness that there are only a handful of these unlikeable Spaniards, like small pebbles on boiled rice. Because most of those who I met easily became my friends. As a matter of fact, I have encountered only two pendejos españoles in my lifetime: Martínez and his mentally disturbed friend, Dr. Emilio Soria. Both of them, most especially Soria, have a history of disturbing peaceful conversations in many a Facebook group dedicated to the return and/or promotion of the Spanish language in our country. All the rest I have met, online or in person, are warm-hearted.

But the most laughable attack which our arrogant Spanish friend hurled at me can be regarded as a backlash against himself because he committed a classic error in logic called the slippery slope fallacy. Based on yesterday’s blogpost, the arrogant fool concluded that I was “trying to judge the people of that time by today’s standards. It’s like saying that they were so backwards back then because they had no computers, without mentioning that no one had them.” But, my golly, it is quite obvious that yesterday’s blogpost was an unopinionated one (again, my bad). Those racial classifications were hard facts, without a grain of opinion from my part. So how in the life of me could I even try to judge the people of that time the way this arrogant peninsular is now judging me?

Goodness gracious, this guy’s dumber than I thought he really was. This obnoxious character is the type of Spaniard which makes Filipinos embrace the leyenda negra even more.

Speaking of John Bowring, this Englishman’s observations here about the lack of racial prejudice is nice, a good revelation, a must read. But that was just one foreigner’s observation. Our arrogant Spanish troll mustn’t have heard of other visitors that we had such as German Fedor Jagor who wasn’t as delighted as Bowring during his trip to Filipinas. Needless to say, I am on Bowring’s side. And I would like to reiterate: whenever I use the term “racial caste system” to pertain to our country’s racial classification during the Spanish times, I do not have other cultures’ racial caste system in mind. Ours is a very peculiar and benign one.

I guess this arrogant Spaniard needs to study first what Spanish castas were before he starts ranting again like a weasel on my Facebook page.

Y ¡basta ya con este Seminario de Inodoro y otras formas de baladronada! ¡Nosotros filipinos no los necesitamos!

Racial caste system during the Spanish times

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RACIAL CASTE SYSTEM* DURING THE SPANISH TIMES

1. CHINO CRISTIANO — Christianized full-blooded Chinese. Example: Co Yu Hwan (許玉寰), the ancestor of President Benigno Simeón “Noynoy” Aquino III and the rest of the Cojuangco clan. He changed his name to José when he was baptized.

2. ESPAÑOL INSULAR — Full-blooded Spaniard born in Filipinas. Also known as “Filipino”. Best example is Luis Rodríguez Varela of Tondo Manila, the first man to use the term FILIPINO. He even called himself “El Conde Filipino“.

3. ESPAÑOL PENINSULAR — Full-blooded Spaniard born in Spain. Example: Governor General Ramón Blanco and Miguel Morayta.

4. INDIO — Full-blooded native (Austronesian). Examples: Cali Pulaco (popularly known as “Lapu-Lapu”) and Apolinario Mabini.

5. MESTIZO ESPAÑOL — Half Spaniard, half native. Also known as “criollo”. Example: Fr. Pedro Peláez, one of the first priests who supported secularization (he died when the Manila Cathedral collapsed upon him during the devastating earthquake of 1863).

6. MESTIZO SANGLEY — Half Chinese, half native. Example: Jaime Cardinal Sin.

7. MESTIZO TERCIADO — Part Chinese, part native, part Spanish. Also known as “tornatrás”. Best examples are Dr. José Rizal and Fr. José Burgos.

8. NEGRITO — Aeta.

*The term “racial caste system” here has nothing to do nor is related with that of the one in India. Racism in Filipinas was almost non-existent during the Spanish times. Racial caste system was just used here for lack of a better/familiar term.

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