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Category Archives: Provincia de Batangas

Ultranationalism: what does it really mean?

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It has been observed that the term ultranationalism has become a pejorative description for nationalists who display an extreme fervor to or advocacy of the interests of their country. Those who claim to be “citizens of the world” are the ones who are quick to calumny nationalists, often accusing them of being this so-called ultranationalism.

But what, really, does ultranationalism connote? Legendary nationalist Claro M. Recto had this to say:

It is evident that our brand of nationalism is different from that of our accusers. We have no desire and we have never attempted to deny the national self-interest of other peoples in their own countries. We merely want to defend our own, in our own territory. We are nationalists but we can live in harmony with other nationalists, because all nationalisms can work out a plan for coexistence which will not detract from the sovereignty of any one nation. Those who are bent on carrying their nationalisms beyond their national frontiers in order to overrun other nationalisms have ceased to be true nationalists and have become ultra-nationalists, which is another word for imperialists. Ultra is a Latin word which means beyond in space, as in the terms plus ultra and non plus ultra. An ultra-nationalist, therefore, is one who wants to be first not only in his own country, but also in other countries to which he is a foreigner; that is, an imperialist.

We would rather take the meaning of ultranationalism from a master of words and an expert in etymology (many critics in literature regard him as our Filipino version of Miguel de Cervantes) than from those with shallow understanding of the true import of nationalism. Nevertheless, we have to admit that there really are nationalists who do show an extreme kind of nationalism to the point that they have disregarded or neglected the interests of other countries. But such people are a minority and do not really represent the lofty ideals of nationalism. The kind of nationalism they adhere to can be classified as bigoted or chauvinistic. But it doesn’t really matter. What matters the most is placing ultranationalism in its proper etimological perspective, that ultranationalism is imperialism after all. Period.

And speaking of bigotry or chauvinism, there are actually no “ultranationalists” (to borrow from anti-nationalists’ twisted definition of the term) in Filipinas. What we have are regionalists who claim that their province or region or town/city or ethnicity is better than the rest. Take this photo, for instance:

Photo taken at the border of Tagaytay, Cavite and Nasugbú, Batangas last 13 September 2011.

“Welcome to the Province of the Brave”, says this welcome arch, signifying that travelers are about to enter the Province of Batangas. Aside from the “warm welcome”, what does the message really want to imply? That Batangas is the only province of the brave? And what does that say of the other provinces? You see, there are many ways to promote provincial or regional pride without overdoing it or putting others down. Regionalism is not only anti-nationalist but anti-Filipino as well. We have to remember (and treasure) that the concept of the Filipino is what united our once divided and warring ethnolinguistic groups.

Other than the parochial message, this arch is a total waste of tax payer’s money. As if the arch behind it is not enough (they could’ve just added the name Batangas with that of Nasugbú).

Vandalism in Mount Batuláo!

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Now THIS is an OUTRAGE!

The vandalized boulder you see in the two photos above is not an ordinary boulder. It is one of those iconic boulders you encounter in Monte Batuláo’s breathtaking peak (Camp 10). Tapos ganitó, binaboy ng mg̃a tarantadong itó, masabi lang na nacaratíng silá sa taás ng Batuláo.

And who did this desecration two days ago? Thankfully, the idiots were stupid enough to leave more evidence of their environmental CRIME.

Click on their names below to get to their Facebook accounts:

1. Janet Páyad

2. Robert Paul Ador

3. Ermel Atendido

4. Eduard Palima

5. Erland Fajardo

6. Mark Anthony Abarracoso

7. Rocy Flores is one lucky scoundrel because I couldn’t find his (or her?) Facebook account.

To you who read this, I encourage you to send these filthy animals some “love”.

I’ve been to Batuláo’s peak only once and that was many years ago. Yet the  spellbinding beauty of its surroundings makes me feel as if I just climbed there yesterday. That’s how unforgettable the place is.

And now this?! I never thought that these bozos from View Park Hotel had the tendency to revert into cavemen-like behavior.

To the management of View Park Hotel: what do you intend to do about this? Because each time we pass by your place, or even just hearing your hotel’s name, we will always be reminded of this vandalized mountain boulder of majestic Monte Batuláo.

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

Special thanks to my mountaineer cousin Paolo Raphael Balicao and his group for sharing these photos. May the protection of our mountains against brainless scums such as those from View Park Hotel be every mountaineer’s advocacy and responsibility.

Church ruins of Lumangbayan in Nasugbú, Batangas

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To many Metro Manileños, Nasugbú, Batangas is a place that is synonymous to family and barcada beach outings. The first time I was here was way back in college together with my neighborhood friends. And since then (until now), that is the only thing I know about Nasugbú: its famous beaches.

During our 12th-year anniversary at Muntíng Buhañgin Beach Camp, Inc., Násugbu, Batangas last year, 13 September 2011. Yep, that’s beach-addict Mrs. Alas.

The second time I visited it was last year, during me and my wife’s 12th-year anniversary last year (13 September). After a drizzly afternoon of swimming at picturesque Muntíng Buhañgin Beach Camp, we visited the old población, like what we usually do whenever we go out of town, to take pictures of ancestral houses and the center of activities in each Filipino town during the Spanish times: the town church.

We got a bit confused when we started asking around for the location of the town church, especially when we did see the towering structure of the town’s Saint Francis Xavier Parish Church.

Iglesia de San Francisco de Javier, Nasugbú, Batangas. Its interiors, albeit humble, is one of the most beautiful I have ever seen.

The tricycle driver whom we asked for directions insisted that it was not the town’s original church. I was starting to believe him, especially since the structure is indeed very modern. He led us to someplace else, outside the town proper. We had no idea what church was this guy talking about, nor where he was taking us. But we felt that we’re off to another adventure.

And I was right.

My wife (wearing orange) examining the ruins in Barrio 6, Lumangbayan.

Upon seeing the ruins, I felt a bit ashamed of myself. Here I am, parading myself as a passionate online history buff, but how come I haven’t even heard of this?! Fail.

Inside the structure.

Spanish-Filipino war? There was no war. Rebellion is the correct word.

I learned that the name of this church was Iglesia de Nuestra Señora de la Escalera or Our Lady of the Staircase (probably in reference to the Loretto Chapel in Santa Fe, Nuevo México, but I could be wrong). According to stories from the locals, this church was burned by the Spaniards at the height of the Katipunan rebellion (the so-called Philippine Revolution).

Huh? Something’s quite wrong with the picture.

The Spaniards burned their own structure? A structure they considered holy?

I began to realize that the site has become yet another perfect example of the notorious, malicious, and twisted leyenda negra.

This 19th-century church was said to have been destroyed during the skirmish between the Spanish troops and the Filipinos (Katipuneros). In the Nasugbú Tourism Quarterly (April-June 2000 issue), Francisco Villacrusis wrote that after imprisoning the townsfolk inside this church, the Spaniards burned it down, killing the people inside. But Villacrusis did not cite any reference. And his claim is preposterous. Here are my reasons:

1) The Spaniards, being devote Catholics, would never have done such an atrocity.
2) There were only a few Spaniards in the Philippines, from start (1565) to finish (1898). As a matter of fact, during that time, the only “white face” that one usually encounters in far-flung villages is that of the friar.
3) To the best of my knowledge, there was no other instance of “church-burning” that was instigated by the Spanish troops in other places in the country outside of Násugbu.

The only church-burner that I know of are the Katipuneros themselves. Andrés Bonifacio was a church-burner himself. As a matter of fact, he attempted to burn the church in nearby Indang in Cavite province. And he did considerable damage to the church.

In view of the foregoing, all accusing fingers should point to the Katipuneros, not the meager Spanish troops.

And many of these so-called “Spanish troops” were native Filipinos, by the way…

Click here to view the whole album.

Meanwhile, in my adoptive province of La Laguna, there’s another church left in ruins, and it’s in Calauan…

Iglesia de San Isidro Labrador y San Roque (1860-1925?), Calauan, La Laguna. Photographed by Ronald A. Yu during our visit there last weekend (18 August 2012).

But that’s another story (coming very soon!).

Batangas City’s basilica was vandalized on Christmas Day!

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Last Sunday, Christmas Day, the parishioners of the Basilica of the Immaculate Conception in Batangas City were shocked to find out that a seemingly crazed man, armed with a metal candlestick, attacked the altar and the image of the Santo Niño. Photos (with captions) of the carnage were immediately posted by Fr. Leonido C. Dolor, the basilica’s Director of the Archdiocesan Commission on Social Communication and Mass Media, on his Facebook page and has since become viral on the said social networking site.

As of this writing, the album already has 103 shares.

The description on Fr. Dolor’s album reads:

At around three in the afternoon, Christmas day itself, a man for reason not yet assessed, took hold of one of those big candelabras at the altar of the Basilica of the Immaculate Conception, Batangas City and laid waste the marble altar (see photos) and then took a swing at the altar of Sto. Nino, breaking the glass panel and deforming the crown of the Child Jesus! Is this his way of saying “Happy birthday, Jesus?” He later fought the “tambays” outside the Basilica who tried to apprehend him.

This crime is a concern not only for the Catholic faithful of Batangas City and elsewhere but for heritage advocates and travelers/tourists as well. Whenever me and my wife visit an old town, we make it a point to stop by the town proper’s old church. And although no religious services were held during the times that we get to visit these churches, we almost always gain easy access to their interiors, including the bell towers. Many of these churches’ caretakers are hospitable and accommodating whenever we request entry for photograph sessions. But this crime which happened in Batangas City’s basilica last Sunday is not just a case of vandalism but can also be considered a security breach, thus it might set a precedent: future church visits might become a pain in the neck for tourists. Many churches might even have their doors locked after a Mass.

And to make matters worse, it coincided with the gruesome bombings of about five churches in faraway Nigeria.

Via Facebook, I inquired for more details from Fr. Dolor. He replied immediately, saying that the vandal had a “brief psychotic reaction due to deprivation of food and sleep”. It was later learned that this man walked all the way from Macati City to Batangas for five days without food nor sleep! Further inquiries also revealed that this man was a Pentecostal, but that he was “angry at God”; Fr. Dolor did not elaborate further. What is sad here is that one of the “tambays” (bystanders) who tried to apprehend him was injured during the commotion (he was hospitalized; please pray for him).

On a positive note, we should still be thankful that this crazed man was in no way a terrorist, and that the damage he had wrought upon the basilica’s altar was minimal compared to what had happened to those churches in Nigeria. But as mentioned above, this might set a precedent regarding security measures. There is no problem to that. The Catholic Church as well as all the other religious denominations should really plan more about this (especially during these days when not even banks are in danger of being attacked by mindless scum). But hopefully not to the detriment of a social-networking-starved and a digital-camera-wielding public. Why, even Fr. Dolor himself has a Facebook account.

Happy 12th year anniversary, mi amor!

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At Muntíng Buhañgin Beach Camp, Inc., Násugbu, Batangas (9/13/2011).

It’s our twelfth year together! Funtabulous!

Happy 12th year anniversary, my love! I love you so much! 🙂

A quick stop in Tanauan (Tanauan, Batangas)

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Just one of many beautifully maintained Filipino houses (also known as the bahay na bató) found in Tanauan's población

Several months ago, Yeyette and I attended a birthday drinking session of a friend of hers in Tanauan, Batangas. And so I found it an opportunity to stroll around the oldest parts of the town, which is what I always do whenever I have the time to travel. It is because in the oldest parts of a Filipino town (the población, where the ubiquitous church, municipal hall, rustic town plaza, schoolhouse, and the old houses —the legendary bahay na bató— in the sector de mestizos are located) a Filipino can find and realize his identity as a nation, as a people.

Me, wifey, birthday boy Oliver (sporting a mohawk) and friends (09/26/2010).

Tanauan is one of those Batangueño towns/cities that are near Manila. It’s historical significance is mostly attributed to patriot Apolinario Mabini y Maranan and former President José Paciano Laurel y García, both of whom were natives of Tanauan.

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Former President José Paciano Laurel's ancestral house (with its unfriendly dog launching an attack).

Mabini monument.

Apolinario Mabini's monument located at the plaza fronting the city hall. Notice that in this monument, he is not paralyzed.

Wifey Yeyette posing outside the Mabini Shrine. We didn't make it on time (the shrine is open from Tuesday to Sunday, 8:00 AM to 4:00 PM.

Also, this is the hometown of Telésforo Carrasco’s wife, Dorotea Nazareth. Carrasco was a Spaniard in Emilio Aguinaldo’s army who fought against the US WASP invaders. He was also in action during the catastrophic Battle of Tirad Pass (in his journal, he mentioned in detail how General Gregorio del Pilar was shot and killed — in a not-so-heroic manner).

In Philippine Literature, Tanauan was the hometown of one of Rizal’s characters in El Filibusterismo: Plácido Penitente. The name, in fact, is an oxymoronic technique that was utilized by the national hero. The name means “calm penitent” in Spanish, in a way depicting the turmoils of the said character’s status quo in the novel. The stereotype Batangueño, however, is not known to be calm. He is a raging warrior when provoked, as shown in many Tagalog films of old.

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Pine trees!

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Wifey with Tanaueño kids.

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City Hall.

City Hall.

Batangueño thrashers.

Batangueño thrashers!

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Governor Modesto Castillo Memorial Cultural Center. Still under construction when I took this photo last September. But already looking prim.

According to the Diccionario Geográfico-Estadístico-Histórico de las Islas Filipinas (1851), the old town of Tanauan was originally established in 1581 along the banks of Taal Lake (then known onomatopoetically as Bonbón due to the sound whenever Taal Volcano explodes) together with the old town of Salá. The town as well as the church was then under the patronage of San Juan Bautista.

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Iglesia de San Juan Evangelista. The façade is a combination of Romanesque and High Renaissance architectural styles.

The ecclesiastical supervision of the city was accepted by the Augustinians on 5 May 1584, and Padre Antonio Roxas became the first parish priest (see my photo of the church’s historical marker below). During the final years of the 17th century, the town’s first church was completed. It was made ​​of wood and stood along the banks of the lake. In the year 1732, the stone church was built. But due to the catastrophic explosion of Taal Volcano in 1754, the communities of both Tanauan and Salá were totally destroyed. The surviving Tanaueños moved to a place called Bañadero which later on became one of Tanauan’s barrios (barangáy). Salá, on the other hand, moved to its current site: Barrio Salá which is also in present-day Tanauan (like Bañadero, Salá became a mere barrio as well). After the explosion, the church was rebuilt by Padre José Díaz in 1881.

It is interesting to note here that the aforementioned Spanish soldier, Carrasco, had an unfriendly encounter with Fr. Díaz. It is because Carrasco eloped with Dorotea. And as a consequence of this illicit love affair (unlike today, elopement was highly scandalous during the Spanish times), Fr. Díaz didn’t have nice words to say about the matter. He even accused Carrasco of kidnapping! Since then, an irate Carrasco nicknamed him Muy Reverendo Cura del Demonio Padre José Díaz! 😀

During World War II, the church was damaged again. It was rehabilitated by architect José Mª Zaragoza under the supervision of Monsignor Godofredo Mariño in 1948. The present features of the church (particularly the interior) was the result of a renovation made during the late 1960s that was spearheaded by Fr. Leonardo Villa. The façade remains as the only original part from the church’s Spanish-era architecture. Today, the church is now known as the Church of Saint John the Evangelist (San Juan Evangelista).

The old church's historical marker.

Mass was ongoing.

Mass was ongoing. It was a Sunday when we visited Tanauan.

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Instead of the usual retablo, the altar had stained glasses for a background. Cool.

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Heavily renovated interiors. Only the façade retained its original look.

The Diccionario Geográfico-Estadístico-Histórico de las Islas Filipinas describes the parish church as made up of stone but whose roof was composed of bamboo materials (this was when Tanauan was transferred from its original site after the volcanic eruption). The church had a regular priest and is under the patronage of St. John the Baptist/Evangelist. There was an elementary school for boys and one for girls. The cemetery was outside the village, well situated and ventilated (this we didn’t visit anymore). The townsfolk were able to communicate well with those from nearby Lipâ and Santo Tomás due to well-built roads (it should be noted that the Philippines back then was densely forested).

The land was elevated and had good plains where crops were planted. Cultivated lands produced wheat, rice, corn, cacao, coffee, indigo, pepper, cotton, abaca, and various fruits and vegetables. In mountainous areas were bred many kinds of hardwood from which were obtained materials for both furniture and construction purposes (as well as honey and wax!). Tanauan also had good pastures where cattle, horses, and pigs were bred. There was also even a sesame-oil-extraction industry. Others made beautiful fabrics created out of abaca and cotton. Still others produced indigo which gave out a permanent dye.

At the time of the said book’s publication (1851), the town had less than 14,000 people. According to the latest census, there are more or less 150,000 people in Tanauan today.

Today, little of what was written above can be seen in Tanauan. I’m not even sure if it still produces the same crops that it used to produce during the Spanish times. No longer a town, Tanauan now prides itself as a city. But in the Philippines, when one mentions the word city, what comes to mind are images of skyscrapers, fancy restaurants, intimidating highways, heavy traffic, and busy necktied and stockinged office people going to and from each glass- and concrete-covered, neon-lighted structure. Tanauan is far from it (yet), even if it has two Jollibee outlets already. And that is why to my mind, I refuse to consider it as a city as much in the same way that I refuse to consider other old Filipino towns-turned-cities as newly established urban centers (such as Calambâ). Of course, this is all but romanticism from someone who thinks he was born in the wrong century. 😦

Ciudad de Tanauan, Batangas

So even if it morphs into a new Ciudad de Macati or Ciudad de Quezon, Tanauan will still be the same old Hispanic town that I came to know from the books that I’ve read about its romantic past…

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More Tanauan photos below!

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DSC09512DSC09513DSC09514DSC09515DSC09516Iglesia de San Juan Evangelista (09/26/2010)

TANAUAN, BATANGAS, a set on Flickr.

In The Garden

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Photo from ALAS FILIPINAS (Tanauan, Batangas).

IN THE GARDEN
José Mario Alas

Christ never cried in the Garden:
Instead, he sang songs in praise
Of sleep to sweet to ignore
And the blood that flowed
From his brow divine
Was too salty for everyone
To implore.

Circa 2002

Copyright © 2011
José Mario Alas
Manila, Philippines
All rights reserved.

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