RSS Feed

Category Archives: Breaking (The) News

Finally, a new batch of National Artists!

Posted on

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?

Advertisements

2013 in review

Posted on

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2013 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

The Louvre Museum has 8.5 million visitors per year. This blog was viewed about 140,000 times in 2013. If it were an exhibit at the Louvre Museum, it would take about 6 days for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

Our fifth child — coming soon!

Posted on
PSALM 127
1 Unless the Lord builds the house, those who build it labor in vain.
Unless the Lord watches over the city, the watchman stays awake in vain.
2 It is in vain that you rise up early and go late to rest, eating the bread of anxious toil;
for he gives to his beloved sleep.
3 Lo, sons are a heritage from the Lord, the fruit of the womb a reward.
4 Like arrows in the hand of a warrior are the sons of one’s youth.
5 Happy is the man who has his quiver full of them!
He shall not be put to shame when he speaks with his enemies in the gate.

RH Law is evil and stupid!
Yeyette has just confirmed that she’s heavy with our fifth child. We already have one daughter (Krystal) and three sons (Momay, Jefe, and Juanito). This time, hopefully, it’s going to be a girl. Para may casama na si Krystal. 🙂
¡Gracias a Dios!

My adoptive hometown’s cityhood is near

Posted on
I just saw this a few minutes ago in RAPPLER:

San Pedro in La Laguna to hold cityhood plebiscite on December 28

BY MICHAEL BUEZA
POSTED ON 12/18/2013 6:32 PM  | UPDATED 12/19/2013 8:43 AM

MANILA, Philippines – Four days before the year ends, registered voters in San Pedro, La Laguna, will either approve or reject the conversion of their town into a city.

The Commission on Elections (Comelec) scheduled for Saturday, December 28, a plebiscite to ratify San Pedro’s cityhood. Voting hours will be from 7 am to 3 pm.

If majority of the 160,777 voters write “yes” on their ballots, San Pedro would become the 6th city in the province of La Laguna, after Biñán, Cabuyao, Calamba, San Pablo, and Santa Rosa.

San Pedro was converted into a component city through Republic Act 10420, signed by President Benigno Aquino III on March 27, 2013.

RA 10420 states that Comelec should conduct a plebiscite within 30 days after the law’s approval, but the poll body resolved to hold off all plebiscites until after the October 28 barangay polls.

The plebiscite period in San Pedro started on November 28, and will last until Jan 2, 2014. A gun ban is implemented throughout the plebiscite period, while a liquor ban will take place on the eve of the plebiscite and on plebiscite day. The counting of votes will be done manually.

The town’s Comelec office is gearing up for the plebiscite. “We will be putting up tarpaulins in every barangay hall to inform voters about RA 10420 and the plebiscite,” said Mario Loyola, a staff member of the Comelec-San Pedro municipal office. Rappler.com

I can still vividly remember the first time we moved in to San Pedro. It was during the Philippine presidential elections of 2004. That was almost a decade ago. No disrespect to the former mayor back then, but the place was really topsy-turvy when me and my family arrived: potholes in major roads, rowdy vendors, rugby boys, piles of garbage in sidewalks, etc. Whether or not it is the fault of San Pedrenses, command responsibility will always come to mind whenever new arrivals have a first impression of a place.

I can say that I am proud of having witnessed all the positive changes in this place throughout the years. Sana ñga lang, maquisama din ang lahát ng tagá San Pedro, maguíng tubo man dito o dayo tulad ng familia co, sa  positibong pagbabago na itunutulac ng casalucuyang pámunuan.

A hearty congratulations to Mayor Lourdes S. Catáquiz and her team. Of course, former mayor and now San Pedro’s First Gentleman Calixto R. Catáquiz shouldn’t be left out in the acknowledgments; all this was, after all, his brainchild when he was still the Sampaguita Capital’s chief magistrate.

Tulfo: I saw people walking aimlessly like zombies

Posted on

Veteran journalist Ramón Tulfo’s account of his visit to Yolanda-ravaged Tacloban city has just been published a few hours ago and is worth reblogging. Manong Mon formed a medical and mercy mission to help out in the relief efforts. As a result of his stay there, he gives us a very clear description of the horrors of the aftermath of arguably the strongest typhoon in world history, as well as emotional insights from himself and his team. What he and his staff witnessed traumatized them.

Reading his account traumatized me too. Especially this scene:

I saw two children, aged between 5 and 9, separated from their parents as they were taken away to ride on a PAF C-130 plane. The parents had been barred from boarding by soldiers, as the plane was already full.

Poor little ones. My heart bleeds, especially since I couldn’t be there to personally extend my help. I just had to hug my kids after reading this. 😦

In the light of the misery and hunger going on in many parts of Visayas, I guess it’s OK if all of us seated in our comfy chairs get “traumatized” a little bit…

Photo by Danny Pata.

Tulfo: I saw people walking aimlessly like zombies.

By 

I was not prepared for the scenes of suffering that would haunt me for the rest of my life as we landed at the Tacloban City airport.

I had formed a medical and mercy mission of 12 doctors from St. Luke’s Hospital and six nonmedical people, including myself, that landed in the city three days after Supertyphoon “Yolanda” struck. One doctor had backed out so we became a 17-member mission.

From the air, the once-bustling city of more than 200,000 people looked desolate. Everything was a total mess. It was as if an atomic bomb had been dropped.

As the Philippine Airlines (PAL) plane prepared to land, I saw people walking aimlessly like zombies.

Navy Capt. Roy Vincent Trinidad, officer in charge of the airport, asked our group—the first nongovernment medical mission to set foot in Eastern Visayas after Yolanda struck—if we wanted to go to Guiuan in Eastern Sámar. The place was supposedly more devastated than Tacloban.

He offered to take us to Guiuan—three hours by car on a normal day from Tacloban—on a helicopter.

Dr. Sammy Tanzo, head of the medical side of the mission, said our group should just stay in the premises of the airport—then crawling with soldiers and police—for security reasons.

Read more: http://newsinfo.inquirer.net/527527/tulfo-i-saw-people-walking-aimlessly-like-zombies#ixzz2keJCQFT0
Follow us: @inquirerdotnet on Twitter | inquirerdotnet on Facebook

November 8, 2013 will forever be etched in the annals of Philippine History, a tragic date that will never be forgotten.

Everything you need to know about Aling Yolanda

Posted on

Sorry I’m not able to blog here regularly anymore. Life is always on the way. Been too much of a busy bee that I wasn’t even able to blog about last month’s heritage-killer quake (but I did mention it here in brief).

As I write this, Filipinas is now bearing the brunt of one of the most powerful super typhoons in history (the winds are howling like mad outside our apartment unit). So powerful it is that I have no other choice but to “invoke my right” to be absent from work tonight. Also, I thought of sharing to the lazy internet user what I found out about Super Typhoon Haiyan, known locally as Yolanda (usually preceded by a hashtag by the social media addict):

Super Typhoon Haiyan (Yolanda) comes from a Chinese word which means “petrel”, a tube-nosed seabird. From time to time, you might stumble upon the characters 海燕 just to emphasize its being Chinese.
Wind: 270 KPH (as of 11/8/2013, 2:00:00 PM [Malay Peninsula Standard Time])
Location: 11.4N 237.4E
Movement: W at 25 mph

Below are some of the strongest monster twisters in world history:

Super Typhoon Nancy (1961), 215 mph winds, 882 mb. Made landfall as a Cat 2 in Japan, killing 191 people.
Super Typhoon Violet (1961), 205 mph winds, 886 mb pressure. Made landfall in Japan as a tropical storm, killing 2 people.
Super Typhoon Ida (1958), 200 mph winds, 877 mb pressure. Made landfall as a Cat 1 in Japan, killing 1269 people.
Super Typhoon Haiyan (2013), 195 mph winds, 895 mb pressure. Made landfall in the Philippines at peak strength.
Super Typhoon Kit (1966), 195 mph winds, 880 mb. Did not make landfall.
Super Typhoon Sally (1964), 195 mph winds, 895 mb. Made landfall as a Cat 4 in the Philippines.
(Source: Dr. Jeff Masters’ wunderground.com)

It ain’t called super for nothing: tropical cyclone Haiyan/Yolanda strikes the typhoon-prone municipality of Guiuan in Sámar Oriental, like a freaky boss.

• Super Typhoon Haiyan had winds of 195 mph and gusts of 235 mph. This is one of the highest wind speeds ever recorded in a storm in world history.
• It made landfall as the most powerful typhoon or hurricane in recorded history, as based on wind speed measurements from satellites.
• The strength of Haiyan is equal to that of an extremely powerful Category 5 hurricane in the Atlantic. (Typhoons are the same type of storms as hurricanes).
• No hurricane in the Atlantic has ever been this strong; Hurricane Camille hit the U.S. Gulf Coast with an estimated wind speed of 190 mph.

Fight web surfing remissness! Click here for more!

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

“Many might wonder if the proper name Yolanda is Latinate. Yes, it is Latinate. In Latin, it is Violanda or Violans, which, respectively, means ‘she who shall be violated’ or ‘the violating one’.”
Dei Præsidio Fultus

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

My paternal grandfather, Sr. Don Godofredo Alas y Sarmiento (1925-1997) of Unisan, Tayabas, would have turned 88 today. Requiescat in pace.

Norvic Solidum, Mayor of San… Vicente?

Posted on

Two days ago, the Manila Times ran a rather disturbing story about a political “tug of war” that is happening in the erstwhile municipality of San Pedro in La Laguna province:

Tug of war over La Laguna town seethes

Published on 03 April 2013
Written by ROSELLE AQUINO CORRESPONDENT
SAN PEDRO, La Laguna: Machinations by políticos and their minions seeking to carve their turf in a huge section of this highly urbanized municipality has stirred residents and old-timers into a furor.

Frantic San Pedro residents are begging Malacañang to speed up the conversion of their municipality into a city to thwart attempts at chopping off a large portion of their town.

Officers and members of the San Pedro Chamber of Commerce and Industry and Rotary Club of San Pedro, who asked not to be named for fear of political reprisal, expressed apprehensions over ongoing attempts to slice off Barangay San Vicente —a big portion of San Pedro— and convert it into another municipality.

“San Pedro has a lot of economic potentials that are waiting to be harnessed and a key to unlocking these potentials is the conversion of this booming municipality into a city,” the concerned leaders said, adding that San Pedro’s neighbors Biñán, Santa Rosa, Cabuyao, and Calambâ have turned into booming cities.

Behind the alleged move to split San Pedro into two municipalities is a group led by Vice Mayor Norvic Solidum and his erstwhile political protégé, San Vicente barangay chieftain Allan Mark Villena.

The two successfully swayed the entire Sangguniang Barangay of San Vicente to approve Barangay Resolution No. 11-33 on August 12, 2011 asking La Laguna Governor ER Ejército and the Sangguniang Panlalawigan to create the new San Vicente town. The one-page Resolution 11-33 was signed by Villena and barangay councilors Vicente Solidum, Jr., César Caísip, Vicente Facundo, Wilfredo Álvarez, Lolito Márquez, John Dell Blay, and Alfredo Flores.

Solidum and Villena then teamed up in arguing their case before the La Laguna Sangguniang Panlalawigan in a hearing on September 19, 2011. Records released by the SP legislative staff of the La Laguna SP showed that they formally presented their case to the Joint Committee on Laws and Procedures and Barangay Affairs, presided by La Laguna board member Benedicto Mario “Bong” Palacol. Also in attendance during the hearing were board members Floro Esguerra, Gab Alatiit, Rey Parás, and Juan Único.

But there is obviously no tug of war happening. Vice Mayor Norvic Solidum —if the merits and motives of Resolution 11-33 are indeed true— does not appear interested in wresting the whole of San Pedro from his rival, San Pedro Mayor Calixto “Calex” Catáquiz. He is only interested in slicing off a piece from the cake. And that tasty slice, according to the said report, is Barrio San Vicente. At 665 hectares, it is San Pedro’s second largest barrio (or barangay). Before becoming Vice Mayor, Solidum was its capitán del barrio. His brief stint as the head of that barrio must have inspired him to come up with such an ambitious plan.

Or had it?

Reading the news report further:

Homeowners associations leaders, led by Rosario Complex president Ding Latoja, and barangay leaders led by Santo Niño barangay chair Nap Islán, said that should Solidum and Villena succeed, San Pedro will not qualify as a city and would revert and be doomed to a third class municipality status.

San Pedro electorate deplored Solidum and Villena’s attempt to sabotage the town’s cityhood bid via a “backdoor move” to separate San Vicente from San Pedro.

Resolution 11-33 was filed with the La Laguna SP after La Laguna 1st District lawmaker Dan Fernández has filed on August 22, 2010 with the Committee of Local Government of the House of Representatives House Bill No. 5169 entitled “Converting the Municipality of San Pedro in the Province of La Laguna into a Component City to be known as City of San Pedro”. The filing of Resolution 11-23 was suspiciously timed to pre-empt approval by the House Committee of the bill which had scheduled a public hearing on December 2011. The Committee unanimously approved the San Pedro cityhood bill in that hearing.

San Pedro Mayor Calixto Catáquiz vehemently opposed Solidum and Villena’s proposal in a letter to the La Laguna provincial board on September 19, 2011, arguing that the Sangguniang Bayan of San Pedro was bypassed because it “was not notified and given opportunity to be heard”. The Local Government Code requires that all barangay resolutions and ordinances should be submitted to the Sanggunian for review.

Both the House and Senate has passed the cityhood measure which has been submitted to the President for enactment.

A plebiscite will be held upon the President’s approval of the bill. San Pedro’s conversion into a city is expected to further spur its development and further enhance delivery of basic social services to its people, particularly in public health, social welfare, education, employment and infrastructure.

So there. If we are to believe the veracity of this news report, then what do we San Pedrenses make of Vice Mayor Solidum?

Unfortunately for his supporters, it is difficult to doubt this news report. Aside from the fact that it’s not coming from the “Balanced News, Fearless Views” camp, the report made mention not only of the resolution number but also members of the provincial board who participated in the public hearing to hear it out. If this plan of making Barrio San Vicente as a new Lagunense municipality was merely hearsay, then Manila Times has just placed itself in the lion’s den where there are no big cats but big libel charges ready to pounce on it (that is, if Mr. Solidum is the kind of man who does not allow anyone to trample upon his dignity).

So what if you chose San Pedro? No disrespect, but are you some kind of a gem that we should be proud of? My golly. Vice Mayor, your campaign slogan reeks of egomania if you haven’t noticed it yet. Better fire all of your PR staff.

The Manila Times, however, failed to disclose the text of the controversial Solidum-Villena resolution. What was really the motive behind this wretched plan? I say wretched, because there is really no need to make San Vicente into a new town, whether its revenues are increasing or not. And if the the barrio”s internal revenues indeed have risen, then why separate it from the town matrix? Is that reason enough? What kind of greed is this? And how about the people? Walk through the streets of San Vicente and ask around; they will certainly say no to any plans of separating their beloved barrio from their beloved San Pedro.

In view of the above, I am reminded of the late National Artist Nick Joaquín’s observation regarding this immature practice of slicing up towns to create new ones:

Philippine society, as though fearing bigness, ever tends to revert the condition of the barangay of the small enclosed society. We don’t grow like a seed, we split like an amoeba. The moment a town grows big it becomes two towns. The moment a province becomes populous it disintegrates into two or three smaller provinces. The excuse offered for divisions is always the alleged difficulty of administering so huge an entity. But Philippines provinces are microscopic compared to an American state like, say, Texas, where the local government isn’t heard complaining it can’t efficiently handle so vast an area. We, on the other hand, make a confession of character whenever we split up a town or province to avoid having of cope, admitting that, on that scale, we can’t be efficient; we are capable only of the small. The decentralization and barrio-autonomy movement expresses our craving to return to the one unit of society we feel adequate to: the barangay, with its 30 to a hundred families. Anything larger intimidates. We would deliberately limit ourselves to the small performance. This attitude, an immemorial one, explains why we’re finding it so hard to become a nation, and why our pagan forefathers could not even imagine the task. Not E pluribus unum is the impulse in our culture but “Out of many, fragments”. Foreigners had to come and unite our land for us; the labor was far beyond our powers. Great was the King of Sugbú, but he couldn’t even control the tiny isle across his bay. Federation is still not even an idea for the tribes of the North; and the Moro sultanates behave like our political parties: they keep splitting off into particles.

“The moment a town grows big it becomes two towns,” Nick astutely quipped. This is especially true in San Pedro’s case. It has really been growing these past few years, so now outside forces wanted it to be split. However, San Pedro’s growth was already unstoppable; just last month, March 27, it was proclaimed a city by virtue of Republic Act No. 10420:

Republic Act No. 10420

If Solidum still has plans of continuing his political adventurism in San Pedro, it is rather too late. San Pedro is now the newest city in the prosperous province of La Laguna. 😀

In his campaign posters spread all over the city, Solidum proudly states: “San Pedro ang Bayan Ko, Ito ang Pinili Ko!” (San Pedro is my town, it is what I chose). It should be noted that Solidum is a native of Romblón. He is not a native San Pedrense like Mayor Calex but has been living here for about three decades already. But still, he wishes to show his adoptive people of his supposedly genuine love and concern for San Pedro. Well and good. If that is true, which at this point is highly doubtful, then why does he want San Vicente to be taken off from San Pedro’s map? Is it merely to embarrass Mayor Calex’s cityhood efforts for San Pedro? And as respect for his adoptive hometown’s history and heritage, shouldn’t Solidum instead create plans of keeping San Pedro intact and united and progressive? San Vicente has been a part of San Pedro since Spanish times. It took centuries and a time-honored history for it to bloom into a thriving San Pedrense community that it is today. And now it will take only a single (and immature) action of just one ambitious OUTSIDER to uproot it from its stronghold?

There is also speculation of a lust for power on Solidum’s part. As main petitioner, he would have automatically become mayor of San Vicente in case the divisive Resolution 11-23 has come into fruition. This is reminiscent of Nagcarlán’s case during the early 1900s. Fortunato Arbán, a municipal councilor, led two of his colleagues in filing a petition to separate the barrios of Antipolo, Entablado, Lagúan, Maytón, Paúlî, Poóc, Tuy, and Talaga to form a new municipality. Their petition was granted which gave rise to a new municipality: Rizal (of Tayak Hill fame). And as main petitioner, Arbán became its first municipal president (or town mayor). This kind of setup has also happened in other towns inside and outside of La Laguna.

Was this Solidum’s plan all along?

With the 2013 Philippine general election just a month away, Vice Mayor Solidum has a lot of explaining to do.٩(•̮̮̃̃)۶

*******

Incidentally, today is the fiesta of Barrio San Vicente. The barriofolk of San Vicente should have a double celebration: to honor its Spanish patron saint San Vicente Ferrer, and; of its continued status as a proud barrio/barangay of La Laguna province’s newest City of San Pedro!

¡Feliz fiesta al barrio san pedrense de San Vicente Ferrer! ¡Viva!

%d bloggers like this: