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My Filipiniana wedding! (part 3)

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¡Mi familia maravillosa!

Exactly a year ago today, our dreams finally came true — a wedding that was 14 years in the making!

Our wedding rings on my wife’s Filipiniana bouquet composed of sampaguita, gumamela, ylang-ylang, pandacaqui, camia, and champaca flowers. The bouquet was designed by renowned florist Serge Igonia, a native San Pedrense.

Right after our wedding at the San Pedro Apóstol Parish Church, San Pedro Tunasán, La Laguna.

If there is one most important thing that we learned on that beautiful Friday the 13th wedding, it is this: the weddings of today are focused on the couples, but traditional weddings are focused on the wedding itself, that it is a covenant between God and the newly weds, thus emphasizing that a wedding is not merely a ritualistic union but a holy sacrament. A wedding is not your usual earthly event.

But wedding receptions? Oh, yeah! That’s the newly wed couple’s preferable moment to shine! :D

Jardín de San Pedro is located along Calle Luna, just a stone’s throw away from the church.

Yeyette and I agreed to have our wedding reception held at our adoptive hometown, and at a place just near the church so as not to tire our guests. Jardín de San Pedro was the obvious choice. Aside from being very near the church, we really dig its name because it’s very Filipino. We have already been to the place when Krystal’s elementary graduation rites were held in 2012. I immediately had a liking for it because of the natural ambiance and the “Filipino feel” of the place. And yes, as its name connotes, it is really filled with sampaguita flowering plants. It is unmistakably a clear nod to San Pedro Tunasán’s title as the country’s sampaguita capital. That first visit to Jardín de San Pedro provided a positive impression upon me which further spurred my dreams of pursuing that belated wedding which I have been planning on my mind for years.

When we first consulted the Legaspi Family, the owners of the venue, the menu offering they showed to us were not to our liking because not Filipino. All meals were “International” (pot roast beef with gravy, caesar salad, penne bolognese, etc.) and “Chinese” (shrimp with quail eggs, crispy canton noodles with crab meat sauce, corn and kani soup, etc.). The packages were completely out of sync to our Mozarabic Rite wedding. But we’re glad that the Legaspis could think out of the box. Although unavailable, they opted to customize their wedding packages for us! So on our next meeting, we were delighted to see an updated menu of theirs which since then included a buffet that is completely Filipino.

We also planned on other stuff: the decors, the sound system, and everything else. We requested the theme to be as Filipino as possible. What I had in mind was not to have the usual wedding reception which people today are accustomed to. I had in mind of reviving, at least for a day, the nearly forgotten “<em>tertulia filipina</em>”.

Tertulia literally means a social gathering. But in the Filipino sense, it was not just a social gathering where people eat and discuss. At a time when there was still no television, radio, or Internet, Filipinos celebrated arts and culture during such gatherings. In a tertulia filipina, there is much poetry reading, music, and dancing. So again, as in our church wedding where the focus was on our union as a covenant, I decided to put the focus on the event itself instead of us bride and groom. The event was the “<em>bida</em>”, not exactly us. We took the opportunity to introduce to our friends and relatives how “partying” was like during the Spanish and early US period.

We are Filipinos. We’re not US citizens. We’re not Chinese. Neither are Japanese, Indians. etc. So why celebrate with that kind of theme?

A revival of cultural pieties is what we did. And we hope we got the message through.

And yes, we had no wedding planners. I planned all this (Yeyette and our dear college friend Michael Lim had a small role, hehe!). Who knows? I could be your next wedding planner — so long the theme is Filipiniana. :D

Sampaguita buds all over the tables. We’re not called the sampaguita capital for nothing. :-)

Our modest two-layered wedding cake crowned with santán flowers.

Classic sorbetes to welcome our guests. It was a bestseller!

My mother-in-law checking out the vintage decorations.

Our dear college buddy, Michael Vincent U. Lim, hosted our tertulia filipina wedding reception.

Mayor Lourdes Catáquiz graciously welcomes our guests, most of whom are from out of town.

With the wedding sponsors. L-R: Former Mayor Calixto Catáquiz, the groom, the bride, Señor Guillermo Gómez, and Señora Josefina Láus de Alas

My best buddy Arnaldo Arnáiz delivering his heartwarming brindis.

L-R: Former Mayor Calex and his wife, incumbent Mayor Lourdes Catáquiz, the groom, the bride, and Señor Gómez.

Musical prodigy Satcheil Amamangpang and young church historian Jesson Allerite perform several Filipino folk songs in Spanish. They were also part of the four-man choir during our wedding.

L-R: my sister Jennifer Alas, my dad Josefino Alas, my cousin Cuya Ángelo Joseph Carcallas, my maternal grandmother Norma Soriano, my daughter Krystal, my cousin Paolo Raphael Balicao, my cousin Jam Alas, Jennifer’s fiancé Chock de Guzmán, and dad’s cousin Uncle Joel Évora.

L-R: Yeyette’s sister Kathleen Diezon, my father-in-law Jaime Perey, Tita V-Beth Atienza, my mother-in-law Teresa Perey, Tita V-Beth’s friend Liez de León, and Kathleen’s daughter Krishna. The two gentlemen behind my mother-in-law are Yeyette’s stylists.

Jardín de San Pedro customized a Filipino meal upon our request. The package included: menudo, pancít cantón guisado, oven baked chicken lemon grass, rellenong bañgús, Jardín de San Pedro beef steak Tagalog, steamed rice, leche flan, buco pandán, and sago & gulaman.

Poet-musician Joms Púnay delivers his Tagalog verses “Sa Bus” and Bituín“.

Flamenco dancer and indie actress Jameela Pérez reads her Spanish poem “En Mis Ojos Hasta Que Me Levanto“.

Pinay Poet Imee Rabang delivers her English poem “Every Night”.

Veteran flamenco dancers Kenneth Gaerlán and Valerie Devulder wow the audience with their moves.

My cousin Josh Alas (right) and his instructor Leo Laher (left) performing Johann Pachelbel’s famous “Canon in D major”.

Joms backs up the violinists with his guitar strums.

Joms Púnay on guitars, Roxanne Guivencán on vocals, and Bernard Cadawas on the cajón. This nameless band from Paeté performed several acoustic performances, among them the Chavacano hit song “¿Por que?.”

Dancing with my wonderful bride to this tune!

Kenneth and Jam in a powerful performance!

You get to hear my cousin Jam over at Magic 89.9, but she doesn’t sing there like what she did here! And it’s damn high-pitched I thought I’d never get to use my ears again afterwards! On this photo, me and her brother Josh troll her without her knowledge!

Yeyette’s friend Arlene Umali serenaded us with her a cappella rendition of “Gaano Co Icáo Camahál”, one of our favorite Tagalog love songs.

Closing remarks, acknowledgments, and a bit of long overdue drama. :-)

¡Gracias, gracias, muchísimas gracias!

1) Please CLICK HERE to view all of our photos!
2) Please CLICK HERE to read part 2.
3) Please CLICK HERE to read part 1.

¡Enaltecer la familia para la gloria más alta de Dios!

Pilipinas vs Filipinas (in defense of the KWF)

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Hi folks!

It’s been four years since the last time you heard of our unified voice. It was a huge hit because our collective take on the state of Filipino History disturbed and ruffled a few feathers, proving our effectiveness in annoying people, hehehe! It even alarmed a former cabinet member of a former president (no kidding), prompting her to send a cautionary email. So we thought of “volting in” once again, this time to defend National Artist Virgilio Almario’s stand on what should really be the name of our country.

Should it be FILIPINAS or PILIPINAS/PHILIPPINES?

Almario is currently the chairman of the Komisyon sa Wikang Filipino (Commission on the Filipino Language), the official regulating body of the national language which is based on Tagalog. I have attacked this institution on numerous occasions in various online forums and even wrote a scathing commentary about it on this very blog due to its apparent cluelessness on what should really be our country’s national tongue. But me and my friends think that it’s high time to defend it, not on the national language issue (incidentally, the country is now celebrating Buwan ng Wika or Language Month) but on the controversial decision of its chief executive to restore the original name of our country which is FILIPINAS.

For over a year, a huge majority of local netizens have continuously bashed Almario and the KWF over their decision to push for the return of our country’s original name. I have read several blogs, websites, online news, and social media commentaries heavily criticizing and even making fun of the issue. And judging by these people’s comments, I notice that most of them are even unaware of the real reason why the KWF has been insisting on the name Filipinas. Hilariously, many of these bashers even find the name Filipinas “too gay” compared to Pilipinas (obviously, these kids didn’t even bother to read the whole story but instead relied on headlines and images). And I have yet to find a blog/website that supports KWF’s patriotic decision to stand firm on what is historically correct. But I am saddened to realize that there are really only a handful of Filipino netizens who are sensible towards our country’s history.

If you have time, please read what we have to say about this controversial issue in our respective blogs:

1) Juan Luis García in VIAJAR EN FILIPINAS.
2) José Miguel García in PATRIA.
3) Señor Guillermo Gómez Rivera in FILHISPÁNICO.
4) Arnaldo Arnáiz in WITH ONE’S PAST.
5) And me in ALAS FILIPINAS.

We do not wish to wage war against those who are “anti-Filipinas“. All we ask is for you to listen. Read carefully what we have to say before you even decide on letting prejudice consume you.

Remember what your idol José Rizal wrote during his final moments on Spaceship Earth…

Mi patria idolatrada, dolor de mis dolores,
Querida Filipinas, oye el postrer adiós.
Ahí te dejo todo, mis padres, mis amores.
Voy donde no hay esclavos, verdugos ni opresores,
Donde la fe no mata, donde el que reina es Dios.

Have a nice day!

Un llamado desesperado en busca de ayuda…

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Queridos amigos,
 
Como algunos de ustedes ya saben, mi mujer Yeyette dio a luz el lunes pasado, la fiesta de Santa Clara de Asís, a nuestra nueva niña que es nuestro quinto prole. Y era su quinto parto por cesárea.

Junífera Clarita Alas y Perey unas horas después de su nacimiento (foto tomada por mi suegra, Teresa Atienza de Perey).

Desafortunadamente, sufría de una rara complicación llamadaplacenta percreta. Su placenta adhirió y creció a través de su útero y se extendió a su vejiga. Es por eso que después de dar a luz a Junífera Clarita, inmediatamente se sometió a un procedimiento de histerectomía. Perdió grandes cantidades de sangre, por eso que se requiere transfusión de sangre.
 
Casi perdió dos veces su vida durante la operación de seis horas.
 
Pero gracias a sus oraciones, sobrevivió. Se someterá a su última transfusión de sangre entre este día. Sí, se está recuperando rápidamente. Pero ahora, tenemos otro problema: debido a los intentos médicos para salvar su vida, nuestras cuentas de hospital ahora se ha disparado a €2.050 y se acumulan cada día.
 
No estábamos preparados para este problema. Lo siento muchísimo. Sólo tenemos suficiente dinero para su parto. Así que por eso apelando desesperadamente por una ayuda monetaria. Lo sé, lo sé. Lo que estoy haciendo ahora mismo es muy embarazoso. Tiempos desesperados requieren medidas desesperadas, creo. Al contrario a la creencia popular, no soy rico. En realidad, soy un pobre ciudadano filipino. Tengo un trabajo decente, pero estoy endeudada. Tengo muchos parientes y amigos ricos pero de alguna manera no tengo los pantalones de pedirles ayuda monetaria. Y no tengo la fortuna de tener relaciones íntimas a los miembros ricos de mi clan.
 
A veces, es la mejor opción a tratar de contactar a las personas anónimas en estos momentos de necesidad.
 
Si ustedes están dispuesto a ayudarnos, por favor nos envíe una donación por hacer clic aquí. Y nos pueden contactar a +639084842013.
 

Antes de terminar, quiero que sepan esta verdad: no soy el tipo de persona que comparte mis problemas especialmente si tiene algo que ver con el dinero. Pero esta cantidad (€2.050) es enorme. Irónicamente, en un país lleno de políticos asquerosamente ricos, no tengo prácticamente ninguna idea de dónde puedo pedir ayuda monetaria. Por favor. Ayúdenos. =(

Puede que no seamos capaces de devolver su amabilidad. Pero estoy seguro que el Señor Dios les devolverá. Muchas gracias.

Sinceramente,

Pepe Alas

Congratulations to La Familia Viajera for “Junífera Clarita”!

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And here she is!

 

Junífera Clarita Alas y Perey

Junífera Clarita Alas y Perey is the great great granddaughter of Don Paulo Évora (Calapán, Mindoro) and Doña Rafaela Bonilla (Unisan, Tayabas). She was born earlier this afternoon, on the feast day of Saint Clare of Assisi, and at the hospital bearing the name of the said saint. Providence? =) (photo by Jessica Alas)

 

Click here for more info about her!

The story behind the assassination of Fernando Manuel Bustamante

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Earlier today, in Palacio de Malacañán‘s official Facebook page, the below post was published:

#todayinhistory — On August 9, 1717, Fernando Bustamante y Rueda assumed his post as the Spanish Governor-General of the Philippines. He stirred trouble with the religious orders and also with the archbishop, which lead to his assassination by mob.

I just find it irritatingly odd that instead of commemorating the reforms and projects of the Bustamante administration since today is the anniversary of his installation as Gobernador-General de las Islas Filipinas, Malacañán’s Facebook handlers found time to instead harp on the governor-general’s assassination. Shouldn’t they have, instead, posted the above info on the anniversary of his death which falls every 11th of October (1719)? Because it’s more timely that way. And is the assassination the only thing our historians remember about Bustamante? Furthermore, how much do we even know about his character?

The said Facebook post has garnered several shares already, not to mention eliciting another round of those now classic “frailocracy at its finest” and “Padre Dámaso” comments. Open-minded people will then start to wonder if the said post was meant to make people not really to remember but to  “keep on hating”. And when you ask these anti-Catholic bashers (deplorably, many of them are Catholics themselves) what’s the real score behind the assassination, they will not be able to provide a decent answer.

So what’s the real story behind this infamous scene in our history? Let us now hear it from historian extraordinaire, Nick Joaquín:

What’s often cited against the 18th century are grisly happenings like the killing of Governor Fernando Manuel Bustamante — happenings that seem to indicate a priest-ridden society still groping about in the Dark Ages.

Bustamante was a reform governor (1717-1719) with good intentions but a violent temper. He used the militia to terrorize the public. He filled the jails to overflowing but his prisoners were not all government crooks he had caught; some were people who merely disagreed with him. When he jailed the archbishop of Manila, it provoked a demo.

Angry mobs marched to the palace waving banners and crucifixes and yelling: ‘Church, religion, and king!’ They were met on the palace stairway by Bustamante, who wielded a gun in one hand, a sword in the other. ‘Death to the tyrant!’ shouted his visitors, rushing up the stairs. The governor plunged his sword into the first body to approach him and then could not pull out the sword fast enough to drive back those who were surrounding him. He was cut down with dagger and spear. A son of his who came to his rescue was likewise stabbed to death.

The mob then stored Fort Santiago and released the imprisoned archbishop. The prelate would assume the governorship, as interim head of state. He decreed a pension of a thousand pesos for the family of Bustamante but the widow rejected it.

Me, Juanito, and Krystal at the foot of the massive EL ASESINATO DEL GOBERNADOR BUSTAMANTE Y SU HIJO, an oil on canvas completed in 1853 by Félix Resurrección Hidalgo y Padilla, at the National Museum (photo taken on 10/30/2012 by my wife).

Out-of-school Nick had poured over first source materials and had made researches in various libraries and archives. He had spent so much of his time in such places more than any schooled historian that I know of. And since Spanish was his language, it was easy for him to decipher the “encrypted stories” about our country’s oft-misunderstood past. That is why the PhDs and the MAs of the world fear and respect him. And that is why I trust him more about the Bustamante story more than anyone else’s version of it, most of which are twisted anyway.

To continue, the cause of Bustamante’s assassination was not exactly done out of religious sentiments. In a time when there were still no senators nor congressmen, when the political climate was still different, it was actually the Church who served as the “opposition” against a form of governmental setup that had all the potentials of turning into a dictatorship. Although violent and bloody, the demo against Bustamante was our country’s first dealings with democracy.

The happening is ugly but what caused it can be equated with the system of checks and balances, a beautiful feature of democracy. Because of the distance of Manila from Madrid, the Spanish kings were persuaded to grant their Philippine royal governors almost absolute powers. In effect, the executive was also the legislative and the judiciary. He headed army and navy. And he was answerable only to the king.

Against this potentate, the only checks and balances were provided by the Church, principally the friars, who served as the opposition. The opposition was sometimes “holy”, as in the friars’ campaign against the abuses of the encomenderos, and sometimes “unholy”, as in this killing of Bustamante — though we should remember that, before the fatal demo, the governor had called out and sicked his vigilantes in public.

So much slur has been thrown at those hated Spanish friars. Bashers don’t even think that if such events did not happen, who would have stopped potentially abusive government leaders? To wit: it was the opposition (friars) who acted against the majority (encomenderos) on the continued implementation of the corrupted encomienda system. And how come I don’t see anyone praising the friars for this? Why the double standard?

Anyway, good ‘ol Nick concluded Bustamante’s assassination story with this…

…the point here is not interference between Church and State, but the natural feud between government and opposition. It’s like the clash between King Henry II of England and Archbishop Becket, with the difference that in the Philippine case it was the King Henry who got slain.

Just a piece of advice: read widely and think critically to avoid bashing benightedly.

Happy 443rd birthday, La Laguna!

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Noong Hunyo 13, 2012, sa isang kagila-gilalas na pagtuklas, nahanap ng historiador at beteranong manunulat na si José Mario “Pepe” Alas ang tunay na araw ng pagkakatatag ng dakilang Lalawigan ng Laguna. Ayon sa Historia General de Filipinas Vol. 2, isang aklat na iniakda ni Fr. Pablo Pastells, S.J., at matatagpuan sa mayaman at malawak na koleksyon ni Alas, itinatag ang Laguna noong Hulyo 28, 1571. Ang nasabing pagkakatuklas ng tunay na araw ng pagkakatatag ng ating lalawigan ay bunga ng masusing pananaliksik na pinangunahan ng inyong lingkod para sa coffee table book na ating ilulunsad, ang “Laguna: The Heart of the Philippines”. Sa pakikiisa ng Sangguniang Panlalawigan, nilikha natin ang isang ordinansya na opisyal na magtatanghal sa nasabing petsa bilang araw ng pagkakatatag ng Lalawigan ng Laguna.

Governor ER Ejército

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

Ngayong Hulyo 28, 2014, sama-sama nating ipagdiwang at gunitain ang Ika-443 Anibersaryo ng pagkakatuklas ng ating lalawigan. Sa ilalim ng ating pamumuno at agresibong pagpapasaliksik ng kasaysayan ng ating probinsya, natukoy natin ang tiyak na araw ng pagkatatag ng ating pinakamamahal at pinakatinatanging Lalawigan ng Laguna. Kaya naman, nawa’y magsilbing inspirasyon ang pagdiriwang na ito upang mas pahalagahan natin at mahalin ang kultura at kasaysayan na siyang pundasyon ng ating pagkakakilanlan. Mabuhay ang Lalawigan ng Laguna, ang Puso ng Bansang Pilipinas!

Governor ER Ejército

100th registration date, not foundation, for the INC

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Renowned Catholic apologist Francis Raymund Gonzales (founder of 100% Katolikong Pinoy) hit the nail right when he said that Félix Manalo did not establish the Iglesia Ni Cristo on 27 July 1914. The INC sect was already in existence way before the said date. As a matter of fact, Manalo was already preaching his newfound doctrines in Santa Ana and Taguig a year earlier.

According to stories, Catholic-born Manalo underwent several religious conversions before finally making a hermit-like (but very brief) research sometime in November 1913 by secluding himself with religious literature and unused notebooks in a friend’s house in Pásay. This solitary confinement lasted for three days. After his self-imposed detention, he emerged from the room, announcing to everyone that he was the “restorer of the church of Christ”, “God’s last messenger”, and the “angel from the East” (Revelation 7:1–3). As a matter of fact, the first INC congregation, complete with an ordained minister, was already established in Santa Ana in 1913. And his first converts were baptized along the banks of the Pásig River on that same year.

So why in the world are they celebrating the centennial of their foundation today? Manalo merely registered his sect exactly 100 years ago with the Bureau of Commerce (today’s Department of Budget) to make the INC a legal entity. But that doesn’t mean that their group was established on the said date.

Because there is no record of the exact date when Manalo proclaimed himself as God’s final angel from the East, perhaps the INC leadership found it convenient to connect their sect’s foundation date to when their founder registered it with the Philippine government. In that regard, didn’t that act by Manalo make their group a worldy institution? And since INC members believe that the Bible is the only basis of their beliefs and practices, did it completely escape the minds of their ministers about what the Holy Book has to say regarding worldliness (Colossians 3:2, 1 John 2:15-17)?

This is rather too obvious that I’d rather have you, dear reader, make a caption out of it.

Nevertheless, although I have no intention of greeting the INC today, it is not exactly my intention to spoil their party (if the abovementioned information disturbs our friends from the INC, there’s no one else to blame here but those who have planned out their centennial festivities). What I would really like addressed here is how we Filipino Catholics react towards and/or against this thorn on the side of our Faith. Many of those who react are active on social media, particularly on the Facebook page Exposing the Iglesia Ni Cristo Cult of Manalo which I follow. I am delighted to see how the administrators of this page expose many enlightening facts about the INC, and how its more than 5,000 followers take part in the discussion. Many of those who comment are even members of the INC themselves. In YouTube are many videos of debates between INC ministers and Catholic defenders. Outside of the Internet, I am sure that there are many other conferences between representatives of both the INC and the Holy Mother Church.

But that is the problem. I notice that many militant Catholics and defensive INCs do not take part in friendly dialogue anymore, judging from what I read or see on the Internet and various media. Whenever I read the comments of each post in Exposing the Iglesia Ni Cristo Cult of Manalo, for instance, disappointment mars my heart. Because there is little or no friendly dialogue at all. What I usually encounter are insults, calumnies, and downright mudslinging.

To my fellow Catholics, the point of all these efforts is for us to supposedly convert our INC brothers and sisters, to bring them to our fold, to have them believe in us because we believe, nay, we know, that we are on the right path to salvation, that ours is the true faith. Because if the sole purpose of such debates and social media groups is to simply antagonize and to attack the INC camp, then we have failed our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ in helping Him spread the gospel to every nation and to all creatures (no pun intended, hehe!). Because with each calumny, each diatribe, that we happily hurl against the INC (as well as other sects), the more we create enmity and hatred, the more we widen the gulf that divides us, a gulf that isn’t supposed to be there in the first place.

So next time we engage the INC in a discussion, each time we create a clever meme or publish a new exposé, we have to keep in mind that our main objective is to make them realize the golden veracity of the Holy Mother Church. Because if we only generate more hateful comments and reactions from the other camp instead of making them realize that they are on the wrong side, then we have just showed the rest of the world that we are no better.

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