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Category Archives: Nationalism

Pío Andrade, Jr.: the scientific historian! (podcast)

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Few people today remember Pío Andrade, Jr.; he created quite a stir among the intelligentsia back in the late 1980s when he published his book unmasking the true character of revered statesman Carlos P. Rómulo. Shortly after that, he replaced popular historian Ambeth Ocampo as the Philippine Daily Inquirer’s resident history columnist when the latter entered the cloister.

During that brief stint with the Inquirer, Andrade was attacking various historical personages left and right, dead or alive. Unlike Ocampo, the columns he wrote were not simply trivial and informative but combative as well, for Andrade was a nationalist and a fearsome hispanista. This concerned a friend of his, a well-known official from the Film Archives of the Philippines, who had warned him to tone down his fighting stance as it might endanger his career, if not his safety (this was told to me by fellow history blogger Arnaldo Arnáiz). But it was too late. The fearsome historian since then has become a marked man: marked to become forever marginalized.

Unlike many historians we have today, Andrade treats his historical researches as pure science. But this should come as no surprise since he is an acclaimed chemist who has made significant contributions on the studies of local medicinal plants, radiation chemistry, textile chemistry, food product development, pesticide chemistry, ethnobotany, and biomass energy. His profound knowledge of scientific research assisted him in uncovering many truths about our country’s historical truths. For one, he was able to raise more doubts about the authenticity of Rizal’s alleged execution photo. Also, he can tell a hispanophobe point blank, and with sources to boot, that the Spanish language was indeed widespread in Filipinas during the Spanish times.

With all his achievements in the local scientific community, he could have easily garnered a lucrative career overseas. But he never chose that easy path. His reason? Love of country.

Without further ado, here’s good ol’ Arnaldo’s interview with Señor Don Pío Andrade, Jr. last November in episode 5 of our podcast venture. Unfortunately, I was absent in episode 5 because I had to tend to a farm that day (cubicle farm, that is). The interview is a long one, that’s why Arnaldo had to cut it into two parts (part two will be available soon). But for those who are interested in Filipino History, an hour-and-a-half interview with probably the country’s most adroit and fearsome historian today is even “bitín“.

Prepare to be intrigued by a barrage of information overload.

Stay tuned for part two!

Baybayin is not Filipino

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As per the research of scholar Trinidad Pardo de Tavera.

At the 4th Baybayin Festival Rizal held at the Ynares Center in Antipolo City last November 22, Senator Loren Legarda announced that she filed Senate Bill No. 1899 which calls for the use of Baybayin in all official logos of government agencies, departments, and offices.

While her bill will impact only official government logos, the fact remains that the good senator is still campaigning for its eventual general usage. This became evident when, on the same event, she said:

Marahil ñgayón ay hindí na maunauaan ng caramihan ang cahalagahán ng Baybayin dahil sanáy na tayo sa sistema ng pagsusulát na ating nacagisnán. Ñgunit capág binalicáan nátin ang ating casaysayan, ang baybayin ang símbolo ng civilización ng mga sinaúnang Filipino, bago pa man táyo mapasailálim sa pamumuno ng mg̃a dayuhan. (Perhaps today, many no longer understand the importance of Baybayin because we are already accustomed to the current system of writing which we have been using. But when we look back at our history, Baybayin is the symbol of civilization of the first Filipinos, right before we were subjugated by  foreign rule.)

This statement only implies her full support for Baybayin.

More than one Baybayin

Baybayin, as many of us all know, is an ancient pre-Filipino script that was used by major ethnolinguistic groups in the country such as the Tagálogs, Cebuanos, Ilocanos, etc. It has always been taught to us that the Baybayin (mistakenly referred to as Alíbata years ago) was the original Filipino system of writing. This is, of course, a false notion. For one: before the Spaniards arrived, our country was not yet created. Hence, there were still no Filipinos during that time (the first Filipinos were actually criollos or insulares; the term “Filipino” itself was coined by one). Second, and more importantly, there are several variations of Baybayin.

As can be seen from the chart above, there are more than one version of Baybayin. The Baybayin of the Visayans is not the one used by the Bicolanos, the Baybayin of the Ilocanos could neither be read by the Pampangueños, and so on and so forth. Even Tagálog has five versions! So how can Senator Loren Legarda incorporate the usage of this ancient script when it varies according to linguistic region? Will she do an eeny, meeny, miny, moe? Or will she arbitrarily use Tagalog since it is the basis of the national language? But again, WHICH Tagalog Baybayin? And if she chooses a different script other than Tagalog, that will make the other ethnolinguistic groups feel left out as well.

At this early stage, we can already feel the ineffectiveness of Baybayin. It will only espouse more division than unity other than confusion to an already uneducated Filipino studentry.

From Baybayin to Abecedario

We do, however, understand the nationalist stance of Senator Legarda. It is the same sentiment shared by many other nationalists, particularly those from UP Dilimán. But it is a kind of nationalism that is twisted and not rooted to historical reason and analysis. Had the good senator and those supporting her bill looked beyond their textbook knowledge as basis for this ancient script’s usage, they would have realized its inefficacy (eventually realizing their misplaced nationalism). Baybayin was actually scrapped not because the Spanish friars thought of it as the “workings of demons”, as we are wont to hear from hispanophobic historians, but for the simple fact that it was not an effective medium in disseminating novel thoughts and ideas to a people who were about to be taught the rudiments of contemporary literacy — book culture.

We can point out to Tomás Pinpín, our country’s first typographer and printer, as the culprit behind the disuse of the Baybayin. But he did it for practical reasons. When Pinpín was commissioned by the Dominicas to print the first Christian booklets for each native language, different typographical sets of Baybayin had to be manufactured. It was a very tedious process considering the fact that during his time (late 16th to early 17th century), wooden letter chips which were used to form each word that had to be printed were then handmade. It dawned upon Pinpín that it would take a lot of time, possibly years, to complete so many sets of Baybayin even before he could begin printing a book.

The archaic xylographic method of printing was a tedious process. Just imagine your first book being published in this manner using just one writing system. What more if it will be published in other systems of writing? You would have lost more hair by then compared to this guy in the picture.

But being of Chinese origin, Pinpín was aware that mainland China also had many languages. The difference, however, is that the Chinese always had one common system of writing, something which our country didn’t have at that time. And so this gave our first typographer and printer a marvelous idea: why not standardize the system of writing of all indigenous groups in Filipinas? Instead of using the various kinds of Baybayin, Pinpín (with the blessings of the Dominicans) decided to adopt for all the native languages the writing system that the Spaniards have been using — the Roman alphabet.

Not only did this move save Pinpín tons of time and labor in printing the first set of books meant for religious missions. It also gave the several groups in the archipelago, from Aparrí all the way to Joló, a sense of unity, of oneness, and of identity. And that is also the reason why up to now, we are still using the same system of writing.

Hardened nationalists who despise the present use of the Roman alphabet and yearn for the return of the Baybayin should take note that Pinpín’s decision to discard the latter not only gave him and future printers the ease of work. Inadvertently, it also paved the way for the introduction of two new vowel sounds: the “E” and the “O” (before the Spaniards arrived, the natives only had three vowel sounds: “A”, “I”, and “U”). It also assisted the natives into learning not only the Spanish language but also other European languages using the same alphabet. In the long run, the Filipinos developed their own alphabet, different but somewhat similar. It was called the Abecedario Filipino.

Bring back the Abecedario Filipino

If Senator Legarda’s intention of bringing back the Baybayin from obscurity is to instill nationalist pride among Filipinos, then she’s barking up the wrong tree. If one were to analyze it, Baybayin will only foster regionalism rather than nationalism. This alarming observation is already evident in local Pampangueño historian Michael Raymon Pañgilinan‘s patronization of the Culitan, the Capampañgan term for their version of Baybayin. Pañgilinan and his followers’ preoccupation for the Culitan did not instill in them love of country but love of region. As a result, Pañgilinan himself disdains of being called a Filipino and is obsessed with talks of a fairy tale “Kingdom of Luzón“.

What Senator Legarda and other leaders in government tasked to handle cultural and heritage issues is to bring back instead not the Baybayin but the 32-letter Abecedario Filipino, the true Filipino orthography which developed from Pinpín’s ingenious move to use the Roman alphabet instead of the awkward Baybayin.

Having 32 letters (five letters more than its Spanish counterpart), the Abecedario Filipino is clearly one of the longest alphabets in the world. Most of its consonants are read with the Batangueño inflection “eh”:

A (ah), B (be), C (se), CH (che), D (de), E (eh), F (efe), G (he), H (ache), I (ih), J (hota), K (ka), L (ele), LL (elye), M (eme), N (ene), NG (nang), Ñ (enye), ÑG (ñga), O (oh), P (pe), Q (ku), R (ere), RR (erre), S (ese), T (te), U (uh), V (ube), W (doble u), X (ekis), Y (ih griega), Z (seta)

As mentioned earlier, the introduction of the Roman alphabet by Pinpín which paved the way for the development of the Abecedario Filipino augmented the phonemes of the local languages with the addition of new vowel (“A”, “I”, and “U”) and consonant (“F”, “Ñ”) sounds. The Abecedario Filipino is also the same alphabet utilized by Francisco Balagtás when he wrote his now classic Florante at Laura. It was the same alphabet used by our forefathers, and that included Rizal and his contemporaries, in writing literature and in corresponding among themselves. Whether a Filipino back then spoke a different native language, his usage of the Abecedario Filipino is one proof that he has assimilated himself into the Filipino cosmos,

The Abecedario Filipino is thus the orthography that must be put back to full usage because of its unifying characteristics. Other than that, the Abecedario Filipino will prove once and for all that Tagalog, Cebuano, Capampañgan, Bicolano, etc. are not inferior to English.

This obsession for a mythical glorious past should stop because it is retrogressive and very un-Filipino. But if Senator Legarda still insists of having her worthless bill passed into law, then she might as well push for all Filipinos to go back to writing on banana leaves and tree barks.

The Baybayin NEVER united our archipelago. It never did. And it never will. On the other hand, the Abecedario Filipino has already proven its effectiveness in strengthening our collective identity as Filipinos.

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!

Captain America is anti-American

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Now that the worldwide screening of Captain America: The Winter Soldier is finally over, I deem it’s time to write about it, as I do not wish this blogpost to be tagged as a movie review of the said blockbuster film.

As a nationalist, I have long been aware of the economic harms of patronizing foreign products, particularly those from the United States of Uh-Me-Rica. But I have to apologize this early, because if there’s any stateside produce that I cannot resist, it’s gotta be those from Marvel Comics, especially its current incarnation on the silver screen: Marvel Studios. I grew up with it. And that’s probably a safe excuse. :D

Hollywood movies coming out from Marvel Studios (but only those from its senses-boggling Marvel Cinematic Universe franchise) are the only films that me and my family watch in theaters. I have to admit that I’m a Marvel Comics fanboy. I’ve been hooked into it since my elementary years. Well-known hobbyist and cosplay celebrity Glenmarc “Flash” Antonio, a childhood classmate of mine for many years, was the who introduced me to the world of Stan Lee’s “Make Mine Marvel” universe of interestingly disturbed, troubled, and oftentimes melodramatic “superheroes and supervillains in the real world”, characters that are deliciously three-dimensional (or even four-dimensional, if you’d classify philosophic Adam Warlock and those creepy worshippers at the Universal Church of Truth that way). It was Flash who first explained to me that the ever famous Spider-Man who most kids back then knew existed only on cartoon shows was actually a Marvel Comics character, and arguably the face of the company. Flash also introduced me to the actual comics, who Stan Lee was, the concept and definition of mutants, etc. At school, all the boys were collecting Marvel Comics trading cards. It was through those cards where I got acquainted with both major and minor characters of the Marvel Comics Universe. But I took fancy on one character only: Frank Castle, better known as The Punisher. I got curious with the guy coz he’s basically an ordinary fellow with no superpowers shooting down the bad guys, and he gets the job done the old-fashioned way: blood, sweat, and teeth (literally). A little later, I bought my very first Marvel comic book: a copy of The Punisher: War Zone. Since then, my love affair with Marvel Comics, most especially with Frank Castle’s vigilante capers, never subsided, even now that I have many children.

Fast forward to today: Marvel Comics seems to be already done publishing monthly issues of its famous characters. And I’m no longer a comic book collector (but still a fan at heart). Marvel Comics has already morphed into a huge money-making machine using the silver screen as a medium, and film-making appears to be their main focus. Their concept of establishing a shared universe called the Marvel Cinematic Universe was virtually unheard of in Hollywood, and has been a huge hit not only to comic book fans but to the general movie-going public as well. I myself have been hooked to it to the point of checking out the Internet every so often just get hold of the latest updates (Kevin Feige, if you’re reading this: please bring back Frank Castle and have him mingle with The Avengers or S.H.I.E.L.D.!).

Among all the films in the said franchise, Captain America: The Winter Soldier, stands out from the rest. The unique story telling, its game-changing plot, superb acting (the character development is a surprise additive), and the paucity of CGI usage in its breathtaking action scenes are all in sync with each other, and the awesome electronically inspired soundtrack, with its rhythm and tune almost in perfect synchrony to each reel, kinda wraps them all up altogether into one precious movie material, very fitting indeed to reap Academy Award nominations (my eyes might just pop out in pure disappointment if it does not receive even the most minor nomination). So yeah, I am not ashamed to declare that Captain America: The Winter Soldier has become one of my favorite films (The Punisher: War Zone — please move over). I’m even thinking of joining Flash in a cosplay event dressed up as The Winter Soldier who is now my second favorite Marvel character. But I have to beef up, of course. :D

Captain America: The Winter Soldier takes place two years after the events of The Avengers. In the movie, we see Captain America/Steve Rogers (played by Chris Evans) trying to adjust himself to a contemporary world after being frozen for almost 70 years. We Marvel fans know that Cap’s from another time. He’s a World War II veteran who bloomed from springtide during The Naughty Forties, when good ‘ol Americans were dancing to Swing music. People back then were frolicking about in butterfly and banjo sleeves, man-made fibres, and tuxedoes. The ladies styled their hair in elaborate rolls and curls. And Ernest Hemingway published his most famous novel, “For Whom The Bell Tolls”. It was an era when Betty Boop and Kilroy entertained people, when movie fans were thrilled and moved by flicks such as “Rebecca” and “How Green Was My Valley“, and kids were already contented with the Slinky. Although world peace was hinged on the backs of freedom fighters, it was still a livable world filled with manners and genteel men and refined ladies. Captain America compared his era to modern times in few but succinct words: “Well, things aren’t so bad. Food’s a lot better, we used to boil everything. No polio is good. Internet, so helpful. I’ve been reading that a lot trying to catch up.” From his words, we catch a glimpse of how modest life was during his day, but without any tone of regret.

Later on, the movie brilliantly alludes to a “new” America, an America that is modern but not so beautiful from within. An America that has gone corrupt. This was better explained in a scene where we see Cap with S.H.I.E.L.D.’s Nick Fury (played by Samuel L. Jackson) inside one of the espionage agency’s high-tech elevators:

NICK FURY: My grandfather operated one of these things for forty years. My granddad worked in a nice building, he got good tips. He’d walk home every night, roll o’ ones stuffed in his lunch bag. He’d say “Hi”, people would say hi back. Time went on, neighborhood got rougher. He’d say “Hi”, they’d say, “Keep on steppin'”. Granddad got to grippin’ that lunch bag a little tighter.
STEVE ROGERS: Did he ever get mugged?
NICK FURY: Every week some punk would say, “What’s in the bag?”
STEVE ROGERS: Well, what did he do?
NICK FURY: He’d show ‘em. A bunch of crumpled ones, and a loaded 0.22 Magnum. Granddad loved people. But he didn’t trust them very much.

I imagined myself a US guy, then I watched this scene again — it hurt me a lot.

We Filipinos, having been brought up in an Americanized system of education, have this universal idea that Americans are a freedom-loving people, champions of democracy and civil rights, of equality and manifest destiny, of rightness and righteousness. Benevolence even. Without a doubt, these are just some of the values that the Founding Fathers of the United States of America would have wanted their people and their descendants ingrained in their hears and minds. Do they still display these values? Does the rest of the world still see these noble values in good ‘ol Uncle Sam? Even Captain America himself doesn’t think so anymore. In The Avengers, we heard him complain to Fury: “I wake up, they say we won. They didn’t say what we lost”. In Captain America: The Winter Soldier, he visited his now nonagenarian love interest from the 1940s, Peggy Carter (Hayley Atwell), and we now hear the tone of unhapiness that was absent from him at the start of the film:

STEVE ROGERS: For as long as I can remember I just wanted to do what was right. I guess I’m not quite sure what that is anymore. And I thought I could throw myself back in and follow orders, serve… it’s just not the same.
PEGGY CARTER: You’re always so dramatic. Look, you saved the world. We rather…mucked it up.
STEVE ROGERS: You didn’t. Knowing that you helped found S.H.I.E.L.D. is half the reason I stay.

Peggy ended the conversation on a much gloomier note: “The world has changed, and none of us can go back. All we can do is our best, and sometimes the best that we can do is to start over.”

Captain America is the embodiment of everything that is not American today: a man who proudly displays the seemingly long-lost American principles of freedom, truth, equality, and justice. From a frozen past, he brought them all back to the fore. Surprisingly, these principles have no room for his current “employer” which is S.H.I.E.L.D. And this reality was made more evident when Cap found out that the agency’s “Project Insight” was meant to “punish” algorithmically selected people before a crime even happens. So now we see traces of that unpopular US anti-terrorism here (and that, in a way, S.H.I.E.L.D. alludes to contemporary US government). Of course, by now fans are already aware that S.H.I.E.L.D. has been infiltrated and corrupted by Hydra. But near the end of the film, Captain America decided to do away with both groups instead of salvaging whatever good that might still be left.

Does this imply that there is some sort of a “Hydra” within the confines of Washington? Because I’m sure that if Captain America were not fiction, he would have surely opposed his own government’s policies (atrocities?) against Vietnam, North Korea, Venezuela, Iraq, Afghanistan, and even China.

Heck, he would have even cursed like mad if he learned what his country did (and is still doing) to ours.

Let’s make it official: the Philippines was founded on 24 June 1571

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It’s that time of the year again when I and a few others remember a very significant date in our national lives: 24 June 1571, the date when our country was founded. So once and for all, let us all join hands in petitioning Malacañang Palace to make this hallowed date an official one. Please sign the petition by clicking here.

The “Indias Orientales Españolas” (Spanish East Indies) were the Spanish territories in Asia-Pacific from 1565 until 1898. Its seat of government was Manila. The territory covers the islands of what we now call the Philippine archipelago, Guam and the Mariana Islands, the Caroline Islands (Palau and the Federated States of Micronesia), Sabah, parts of Formosa (now Taiwan), and the Moluccas. From 1565 to 1821, these territories, together with the Spanish West Indies, were under the Viceroyalty of Nueva España which was based in México City. After Mexican independence, they were ruled directly from Madrid. There was a shorter name for the Indias Orientales Españolas: it was simply called FILIPINAS. =)

 

In the meantime, let me greet my beloved patria a Happy 443rd Anniversary! :D

Rizal wrote a patriotic letter to Blumentritt on his 26th birthday

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I wonder: if the Sandiganbayan did not issue a hold departure order against Senator Jinggoy Estrada, would the latter have left the country to escape allegations of his involvement in the telenovela that is the PDAF scandal?

Meanwhile, another co-accused, Senator Ramón “Bong” Revilla, Jr., openly declared that he will not leave the country and will squarely face the charges against him.

Both senators, despite their ordeal, are still determined to pursue their political plans in the next national election on 2016. As always, “public service” is their mantra, nay, excuse for doing so. But in fairness to them, their decision to stay put in the country rather than escape means that there is indeed an intention for them to clear their names, that they could be, perhaps (and just perhaps), innocent of the charges filed against them. We are then reminded of an incident not too long ago of a former senator, Pánfilo “Ping” Lacsón, who sneaked out of the country rather than face the charges against him in connection to the grisly murder of publicist Salvador Dacer and his driver Emmanuel Corbito 14 years ago. Rather than fight it out tooth and nail, he opted for the safe way out: by flying out of the country (his ordeal later on inspired a film). On the other hand, it is difficult to blame the former Director-General of the Philippine National Police (who once declared that he hated politics and politicians) for he was up against a formidable wall: the Arroyo Administration.

These three lawmakers’ varying decisions on how to deal with high-profile court cases now remind us of how our national hero, whose birthdate falls today, comported himself in times of crisis. We all know how José Rizal got himself into trouble when he joined Freemasonry and started attacking the friars through his writings, particularly his novels and essays. During his first trip to Europe, the Calambeño wrote and published there his first novel, Noli Me Tangere. It was published in early 1886, and one of the first copies was sent to his Austro-Hungarian BFF, Ferdinand Blumentritt. Copies were subsequently sent to Filipinas.

Rizal and Blumentritt met only once, but they had been sending each other tons of letters for many years since 1886 (the last of this snail-mail correspondence was written from Rizal’s Fort Santiago cell on the eve of his execution); in an age when there was still no Internet and electricity, we can say that the two formed part of an earlier generation of social media users. Even though they were miles apart, they had formed a kindred bond, like that of brothers. So when Blumentritt finished reading Rizal’s first novel, alarm struck his heart for he realized the potential danger caused by his dear Filipino friend’s pen. He advised Rizal to just stay in Madrid for good and from there continue his Propaganda activities.

Rizal responded to Blumentritt. In a letter dated 19 June 1887, the patriot wrote:

Su consejo de quedarme en Madrid y escribir allá es muy benévolo; pero no puedo ni debo aceptarlo. No puedo soportar la vida en Madrid; allá todos somos “vox clamantis en deserto”; mis parientes quieren verme y yo quiero verlos también; en ninguna parte la vida me es tan agradable como en mi patria, al lado de mi familia. Todavía no estoy europeizado como dicen los filipinos de Madrid; siempre quiero volver al país de mis aborígenes. “La cabra siempre tira al monte”, me dijeron.

(MY TRANSLATION: Your advice for me to stay in Madrid and write from there is very kind of you, but I cannot even accept it. Life is difficult in Madrid. All of us there are but “vox clamantis in deserto”.* My relatives preferred seeing me and I feel the same way. In no place is life as nice as the one in my country, with my family right by my side. I’m still not Europeanized, as Filipinos say in Madrid. I always want to return to my native country. As they say, “the goat always goes to the mountain”.**)

Did you know? Rizal wrote in excellent German. A few years ago, I purchased volume 5 of the Epistolario Rizalino, composed of two parts, from eminent historian Benito Legarda, Jr. This letter of Pepe Rizal to his German-speaking penpal, Ferdinand Blumentritt, was written on the day the former turned 26, and it appears in the Epistolario’s first part.

The letter, originally in German, was written from Geneva, Switzerland. It was a long one and covered other topics. But the above lines stood out from the rest of the letter’s content as having more heart. It illumined our national hero’s affection not only for his country but for his family as well. We are accustomed to hear about Rizal the Patriot but rarely about Rizal the Family Guy. Of course, his courage speaks volumes here, something to be marveled at (a decade later, however, at the outbreak of the Tagalog rebellion, Rizal was singing a different tune: there was no more swagger left in him when he set sail to Cuba, but that’s another story and matter).

Rizal did not even remind Blumentritt in that letter that it was his birthday; anyway, birthdays were not celebrated back then as they are celebrated today (perhaps that fact could be another interesting topic for a future blogpost).

May this letter serve as an inspiration to our so-called public servants: country and family first, before the Self. And yes, conviction… but in the right place.

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

* “A voice crying out in the wilderness”, a reference to John the Baptist (Isaiah 40:3, Mark 1:3, John 1:23).
** A Spanish proverb which means a person’s fondness or attachment to one’s native land.

First and foremost, I am a Filipino

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Months ago, a Visayan Facebook friend of mine wrote on his wall, saying “we are Visayans, first, then second Filipinos”.

My response to his perspective: I am a Tagalog. That is my racial stock. But I am always beaming with pride whenever I say that “I am a Filipino first, then a Tagalog second”. It is because our NATIONAL IDENTITY transcends all barriers of race across the archipelago. To be proud of your race firstly only generates regionalism which then leads to animosity towards other races/regions.

That is what our national identity is all about, that is its purpose: it binds the fragility of racial tensions that we had (and still have). That is why when I visited non-Tagalog places such as San Fernando, Pampanga, Calivo, Aclán (a couple of dimwits in public office changed the spelling to Kalibo, Aklan), or Lake Sebú, Cotabato del Sur, I still felt at home. Not once did I feel alien. Because I have this burning love for each and every place that has become part of the Filipino cosmos. And this burning love inspires me to visit each place (hopefully I would be able to do so —and with my family— before I exit this sorrowful world).

Filipino army officers, circa 1899.


This nationalistic ardor also compels me to defend places that are in danger of invasion. If a foreign aggressor, for instance, invades, say, Sámar or Bícol, I’d gladly volunteer, if need be, and be willing to die for these places. Because Sámar and Bícol are also MINE even though I am a Tagalog, even though I have never been there. Because I am a Filipino firstly. My being a Tagalog comes last.

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