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Category Archives: Metro Manila

Graffiti art in Intramuros?

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Dear National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA) and Intramuros Administration (IA),

Good day!

How are you? I hope you’re doing fine. First of all, I would like to applaud the both of you for all your past and present efforts in championing Filipino culture, heritage, and the arts within and outside the Walled City…

Aw, the heck with formalities! Enough with the niceties! You two actually disappoint me!

Let me first direct my attention to you, NCCA. Several days ago, you did a commendable act when you condemned DMCI’s Torre De Manila for desecrating the visual skyline of the Rizal Monument. Hurrah. Kudos. Party balloons. But now, take a look at this photo:

I assume that you’re the one who took it because you tweeted about it. “Street art in ” was your proud declaration on your Twitter account. And worse, your friend IA retweeted it! But first, what is wrong with this picture that has been the source of my displeasure? Because this graffiti which you call “street art” is not even national. It is associated with hip hop culture which originated from the toughies of South Bronx in New York. Furthermore, graffiti’s status as an art form is still questionable. So is that what you are promoting now? Secondly, why did you allow a questionable subculture art form within the historic walls of Intramuros? I would have just let it pass without comment had this kind of graffiti been painted elsewhere (face it: one usually encounters graffiti art in latrined walls and dank alleys near rowdy neighborhoods). But no, it was done within Intramuros!

To the people who make up the IA, may I remind you your reason for being. And that’s Presidential Decree No. 1616. It goes a little something like this:

The Administration shall be responsible for the orderly restoration and development of Intramuros as a monument to the Hispanic period of Philippine history. As such, it shall ensure that the general appearance of Intramuros shall conform to Philippine-Spanish architecture of the Sixteenth to the Nineteenth Century.

Before you go smart-alecky on me, don’t even start that graffiti is not architecture. But hey, this is not just about architecture anymore but about the Walled City’s general appearance which you guys swore to protect and conserve. And of all people, you should know what general appearance I am talking about. My golly, is graffiti even Hispanic? Is graffitti even Filipino? And while I may not be against graffiti so long as it is on its proper place (preferably in an MMDA-sponsored “Metro Pogi” colony), it has no place within the historically hallowed walls of Intramuros.

My friends, it was in Intramuros where the Filipino State was established on 24 June 1571. For centuries, it was the seat of political power — of royal political power. Its walls laid witness to a thousand traditional processions and events which both devout and heathen now consider as legendary. Intramuros was where many of our patriots and great thinkers were educated. Intramuros was our country’s little Europe, the medieval city of the Far East, the citadel of baroque and gothic architecture, of carromatas and genteel people, of cobbled roads and revolution, of gas light and romanticism, of gallantry and Filipino Identity.

My friends, in Intramuros were trained our first real painters.

If you can find time criticizing the Rizal Monument’s photobombing problems, please do the same by cleaning your own background. And if you have no more regard for national aesthetics, at least do show an ounce of respect for national history.



¡Agradecemos a todos los que nos ayudaron!

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Aunque soy cristiano, tengo una tendencia a ser pesimista. Pero los acontecimientos recientes han restaurado completamente mi fe en la humanidad.

Tantas personas respondieron a mi petición de ayuda la semana pasada, y algunos de ellos ni siquiera hemos conocido aún en persona. Es la hora para mostrar mi humilde gratitud.


Yeyette en el hospital, un día después de su parto e histerectomía. Las flores son de mi hermana Jennifer.

Más de una docena de personas, de una u otra forma, nos ayudaron durante este episodio más difícil de nuestras vidas. De parte de mi mujer Jennifer “Yeyette” Perey de Alas, me gustaría dar mi agradecimiento especial a estos ángeles: mis hermanas Jennifer y Jessica, mi suegra Teresa Atienza de Perey y su paisana Jene Alfaro, mi suegro Jaime Perey, la Familia Catáquiz de San Pedro Tunasán (la srᵃ alcaldesa Lourdes Catáquiz, su marido Don Calixto Catáquiz, su hijo Aris Catáquiz, y su sobrino León Buenavista), mi tío Ramón Alas, el gran filipinista Señor Guillermo Gómez Rivera, Antonio Marques Sans (salimos del hospital principalmente a causa de él), Shee-Ann Meneses, Diego Pastor Zambrano, José-Rodaniel Cruz, Luis María Cardaba Prada, nuestra vecina Flor Junio de Pérez (por cuidar de nuestros otros niños durante nuestra estancia en el hospital), Ronald Yu, Sylvia Santos de Pineda (bisnieta de Marcelo H. del Pilar), Jennalyn Carmona y Jingky Sumañga (respectivamente del departamento de facturación y una enfermera de St. Clare’s Medical Center), y mi mejor amigo Arnaldo Arnáiz.
Gracias también a los médicos que trabajaron arduamente para salvar la vida de Yeyette: la ginecóloga obstetra Drᵃ Catherine Pujol de Azores y su cirujano marido Dr. Rouel Azores, el anestesiólogo Dr. Gerald Vita, y otra ginecóloga obstetra Drᵃ Orpha Montillano de Corrado.

Junífera Clarita en el cuarto del bebé del hospital.

Y por supuesto, mil gracias también a todos los innumerables y valiosos amigos y parientes nuestros que oraron por la seguridad y recuperación de mi mujer y nuestra nueva bebé, Junífera Clarita. ¡Muchas gracias a todos ustedes! Gracias por el apoyo y el aliento espiritual y moral. Yeyette ahora disfruta de su segunda vida en la Tierra con nuestros cinco hijos hermosos. Somos muy afortunados de tener a todos ustedes en nuestras vidas.

¡Hogar, dulce hogar!

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

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.

Holy Week 2014 (extraordinary form of the Roman Rite)

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NCCA’s “Bloggers’ Hour”: Philippine Arts Festival 2014 — Art on the Edge

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It’s all systems go for this year’s National Arts Month!

In preparation for the upcoming Philippine Arts Festival (PAF), the National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA) held its second “Bloggers’ Hour” last Thursday in its headquarters in Intramuros, Manila. The first Bloggers’ Hour was two years ago wherein I signed up as ALAS FILIPINAS. The blogpost I wrote for it was largely ignored in this wonderful country of ours because it was written in Spanish. Although I was hoping to grab the attention of the Spanish-speaking community overseas, it was not a clever move if I had wanted a Filipino audience. Actually, I didn’t. But never mind that. Anyway. This time around, I signed up as the Filipino eScribbler. And yes, I bet this pretty blogpost of mine will garner thousands of hits. Because the NCCA said so.

Last Thursday, me and other fellow bloggers who attended the simple gathering were informed about the upcoming events for the PAF 2014. The PAF is a month-long celebration held every February in time for the National Arts Month which was created by virtue of some presidential decree which nobody has ever heard of. This year, the event will start from January 31 up to March 3.

PAF 2014 will have a “soft opening” later this morning. At exactly 8:00 AM, there will be a flash mob of various artists coupled with performances by hip hop, ballet, and Filipiniana dancers at the Doroteo José station of the Light Railway Transit in Manila. It will be followed by another one at the Metro Railway Transit’s Cubáo station in Quezon City at 10:00 AM. So slackers who plan to be late for work will have a pretty good excuse: “I was mobbed by people with fancy Bohemian clothing, and they were armed with paintbrushes, chisels, and they were talking smack verses! I was totally helpless, boss!”

I’m supposed to be there later but I couldn’t because I haven’t slept yet since yesterday morning, and I’m still wide awake listening to the howling Siberian winds outside, and it’s close to 4:00 AM as I write this, and I have a thousand other lame excuses. But I think the ever-reliable blogger Gemma San José will be there to blog about it. So stay tuned to her blog Lifelong Learning. And yes, her latest blogpost has just saved me (and probably the other bloggers) from further explaining in detail what the highly informative NCCA Chairman Felipe de León, Jr. spoke about during last Thursday’s Bloggers’ Hour. Snippets of his absorbing impromptu speech about Filipino Identity and the arts can be viewed from Hoshi‘s video below:

And yes, that pretty boy to the right of the video is me. Talicogenic pa rin.

NCCA’s Bloggers’ Hour may not be as huge as other blogger events, but I am still honored to be part of it nonetheless especially since it is organized by the country’s bastion of —what else?— culture and the arts.

Hey. It would be nice if you’d get rid of that humdrum existence of yours once in a while. Or even for just a month. Let February do that for you. It’s National Arts Month, and art is on the edge. Better be there when it happens. As they say over at the NCCA, “Halina’t maqui-sining“. It’s guaranteed to get funky and fun. :D

Click here for more photos of Bloggers’ Hour. You may also visit PAF’s Facebook page by clicking here.

2013 Filipino Of The Year — Fr. Jojo Zerrudo!

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Me and Yeyette with our spiritual hero at the Holy Family Church in Roxas District, Cubáo, Quezon City where he currently serves as parish priest. (08/04/2013)

For this year, FILIPINO eSCRIBBLES and ALAS FILIPINAS are so proud to bestow their (not-that-famous-yet) Filipino of the Year award to Fr. Michell Joe Zerrudo!

Fr. Jojo truly deserves this soon-to-be-prestigious online award (wish) not because he officiated that classic “Wedding of the Year” in San Pedro Tunasán (which has just become a city, by the way), La Laguna province last September. It’s because he has exemplified through his life, thoughts, and works the virtues of what a COMPLETE Filipino truly is. He has also been featured several times by the media throughout the year, making curious folk sit up and take notice of this humble servant of the Lord. In that regard, may they all be inspired by him to become better persons the way he has inspired the owner of the above-mentioned blogs, together with his family, to become better Christians.

My disappointment was that in teaching high school, I realized that the students (even of Catholic schools) have the impression that the Spanish friars were all corrupt and they did nothing good for us. I always ask: give me a name of a Spanish friar you know… and they will all say in unison: “Padre Damaso”. Padre Damaso??? A fictitious character of Rizal’s novel??? Students do not know how to discern fact from fiction. Even if they say that Rizal recanted just before his execution, his Noli Me Tangere and El Filibusterismo continue to exert his Masonic influence on young minds.

—Fr. Jojo Zerrudo—

That’s a courageous “against-the-flow” remark from the ranks of today’s much-maligned. Sa totoó láng, isáng tunay na Filipino na lamang ang puedeng macapágsalita ng ganián ñgayón. I bet even Rizal himself would have agreed with him. ‘Nuff said.

Congratulations, Fr. Jojo! May this award win you and your “TLM Team” a trip to Amanpulo! :D

Rizal Day thought

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It was not José Rizal who got shot in Bagumbayan 117 years ago…

…it was Mother Spain. :-(

Is this famous Rizal execution photo real, or is it just a still from a 1912 movie? Click here to find out.


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