It’s coming next weekend, folks! See you there!
It’s coming next weekend, folks! See you there!
CAPTAIN REMO: THE YOUNG HERO
Anatomy of Abelardo Remoquillo, the pride of San Pedro Tunasán, La Laguna
¿Dónde está la juventud que ha de consagrar sus rosadas horas, sus ilusiones y entusiasmo al bien de su patria?
On 8 December 1941, nine hours after the fall of Pearl Harbor, the Commonwealth of the Philippines was attacked by the Imperial Japanese Army (IJA). The Filipinos, confident as they were, were caught in surprise at the swift entry of Japanese troops in many parts of the country. Despite the practice brownouts that were done in preparation for an impending attack, many of them were still caught in shock at the brazen display of Japanese aggression towards what was then deemed unconquerable — the United States Army Forces in the Far East (USAFFE).
It is fortunate that the whole country did not suffer the wrath of Japanese aggression. As can be gleaned throughout World History, wars were usually fought in capital cities and other major areas. In the old town of San Pedro Tunasán in the province of La Laguna, it was relatively peaceful throughout the three years of Japanese occupation. Even during that one bloody month in 1945 (February 3 to March 3) when both Japanese and US artillery flattened Intramuros into rubble, San Pedro Tunasán was spared despite the scary fact that it stood only 29 kilometers away from the country’s capital.
One might think it odd why a promising young man from San Pedro Tunasán joined the painful resistance against the Japanese invaders. As a bright student taking up law, Abelardo Remoquillo had an exciting life ahead of him. He could have declined the conscription (such cases happen in real life), made excuses, or simply escaped with his family away from the frightening violence of war. But he didn’t. And when his military commanders sent him and other young men home because resisting the Japanese offensive was already hopeless, he took a different road: he joined the guerrillas instead, much to the puzzlement and surprise of those who had been observing his life, a life that was, from childhood, reared in a loving, peaceful home. From that daring decision of his alone to continue taking up arms against the Japanese can we trace the first few glints of heroism. We can, furthermore, assess the assertiveness of education into the lives of the studentry during those times. It must be emphasized that Abeling did not take up military science as a college course. His military training was merely a subject, a school requirement. Nevertheless, when the country needed its young men to take up arms against foreign invasion, those conscripted were already geared up for battle even without formal training in a bona fide military school such as the Philippine Military Academy (PMA).
Abeling, as how he was called by those who knew him personally, was a true blue San Pedrense. He first saw the light of day on 27 December 1922, at a time when the country was occupied by the United States of America, during the unpopular regime of Governor General Leonard Wood. He was the eldest in a brood of ten (eight boys, two girls). His father, José Remoquillo, was then the municipal treasurer (agent-collector) while his mother, Valeriana Hermosilla, was a full-time housewife who oversaw the upbringing of all their children. The Remoquillo brood were as follows (from eldest to youngest): Abelardo, Vicente, Felicitas, Jaime, Benjamín, Angustia, Manolo, Galileo, Frolín, and José. As was the custom during those days, all the children were born through a comadrona (midwife)…
…With the kind of life that Abeling had led, a fateful death was only a matter of time. But Abeling himself didn’t foresee a hero’s death. In fact, and inspite of his dangerous situation, he never planned on dying at all. For him, he was merely fulfilling a mission; he was still raring to come home. But it was Fate that willed his untimely death. His first and last letter to his father, written in matter-of-factly English, reveals this:
March 1, 1945
Please receive two hundred tablets of sulpatiazole (sic) from Lt. (José) del Rosario. This medicine is part of our loot from the Los Baños Interment Camp.
Itay, please secure some chicos for him so he could take it to Manila for his mother. This fellow is a very good friend of mine and he has helped me all the days in my stay here in Pila so it is time for me to pay him back thru you. Extend to him all the facilities — accommodations and food. The medicine he is giving you is from him — he gave it to me.
Itay, tell Inay and others that I am well and fine here — so do not worry about me. I didn’t even get a scratch. I hope to go home when Calamba and Los Baños are completely liberated then these places will be cleared of Japanese. Somehow I have to stay here, our work is still unfinished.
So long and sweet kisses to everybody there.
The book will be launched soon, this October!
“It was Yank and Jap together that razed Intramuros. A dual crime.”
Learn from past mistakes in order to build a better future. Let us make 2016 a meaningful one. Happy New Year! And may God bless and guide us all!
Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.
Before I begin, I would like to apologize to Jon Royeca for not having responded immediately to his blogpost last September 13 which was his reply to my “Clarifying a misconception on the definition of ‘Filipino’” article because I’m still reeling from all this AlDub craze that’s sweeping the country (and, bit by bit, the world). Thankfully, Lola Nidora is now OK with Bae Alden and Yaya Dub seeing each other without any hindrance, so I believe this is the “tamang panahón” to answer him back.
By hinting that what I did last time was amateurish, I guess I have to be less courteous this time: the gist of Royeca’s understanding of the term Filipino is SHALLOW, I’m very sorry to say (I say this not to insult him; he simply inspired me to be frank). It’s as if he has already boxed himself to the shock of having encountered something “new”, i.e., Fr. Pedro Chirino’s definition of the word Filipino. There is more to it than that. But let’s first begin with his belittling of my use of Luis Rodríguez Varela’s poem “Qué Todos Seamos Buenos Filipinos“.
Royeca claims that “poems belong to the ambit of creative literature” and that “they can be purely fictional”. He “respectfully” added:
And so utilizing them as a source for one bold historical claim—like the peninsulares were the original Filipinos—is an amateurish and slapdash crack at historiography.
The above statement is merely his opinion, and I have to respect that no matter how condescending he may have sounded. Nevertheless, Rodríguez Varela’s poem was very much straight to the point. If only Royeca had an inkling of my language (Spanish), he should have realized that Rodríguez Varela made no hidden meanings in that poem. There were no ambiguities, no symbolisms, nor any other unfathomable forms of poetic diction. What you see is what you get.
Los primeros filipinos, vasallos son de Felipe. The first Filipinos were the vassals of King Felipe II.
These were Miguel López de Legazpi and those peninsular Spaniards, both military and friar, who were with him, who opted to stay here and die here. In effect, they ceased to become Spaniards. They became Felipenos or those who saw King Felipe II as their sovereign (in the same vein that the vassals of Carlos XI of Sweden were called Carolinos, the vassals of King Fernando VII Fernandinos, and so on and so forth).
Also, it is unfair to limit a historian to focus only on documents that have nothing to do with literature. Take, for example, a historian who wants to know more about the moods and sentiments of Filipino intellectuals towards the US invasion and occupation of Filipinas. Don’t tell me that the anti-US poetry of Claro M. Recto (“Oración Al Dios Apolo”), Cecilio Apóstol (“Al Yankee“), Jesús Balmori (“A Blasco Ibáñez“), and a host of others cannot be used as research material just because they “belong to the ambit of creative literature” (Royeca’s words).
And when I challenged Royeca to “point out any indigenous individual who called himself a Filipino during the Spanish times”, he answered back with “Jose (sic) Rizal and his fellow natives” which is, to borrow his words, a colossal blunder. The fact that I wrote indigenous individual in bold type and even underlined it is to emphasize something. Because, for sure, José Rizal was NOT an indigenous. He was a native of Filipinas but he was certainly NOT an indigenous individual.
To wit: indigenous and native may be slightly synonymous but are completely two different things. I am a native of Parañaque City but I’m certainly NOT an indigenous individual.
I trust that the historian in Royeca did no amateurish or slapdash crack in the comprehension of simple historical terms that experts like him should already know.
But Royeca, for FAILING to CATEGORICALLY define what a Filipino is, simply opted to beat around the bush. Nevertheless, I should not be too hard on him even if he belittled my use of poetry as a source material. After all, he has already boxed himself to the shock of encountering Fr. Chirino’s definition of Filipino. So I’ll just let him enjoy this refractory period of his.
Remember, boys and girls: declaring a historical evidence to the public to point out something is not enough. It always has to be interpreted with a good amount of critical thinking. And to end this, Royeca (and his partner Nonoy Regalado) should understand that IDENTITY has to stand on what you call YOURSELF and not what others CALL YOU.
AlDub You all,