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Doy Laurel in history

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Today’s version of democracy seems to be more conducive to trade liberalization, an unfair economic setup that benefits only imperialist powers such as the US and China. Never smaller economies such as the one we have. Democracy is like a dinner plate in which to put capitalist grub on. It only fosters gobble-ization. That is why I no longer support it.

But back in the days when Martial Law was the golden calf, democracy must have probably been the best antidote to that era’s political strife. It was, in a way, excusable, an adhesive bandage sort of thing, just to stop the nation from bleeding further. Salvador “Doy” Laurel et al. realized that when they organized the United Democratic Opposition, later to be known as the United Nationalist Democratic Organization (UNIDO), at the onset of the 80s. UNIDO served as the catalyst to the political upheavals during the crucial first half of that decade. It later chose Doy to be its standard bearer to challenge strongman Ferdinand Marcos in the 1986 polls. Eventually, however, the reins of the lead war horse was given to recently widowed Corazón “Cory” Aquino.

And the rest, as they always say, is history.

Since then, the nation has been celebrating the victory of democracy every 25th of February, the day Marcos stepped down from Washington’s satellite office which we all know as the Malacañang Palace. Commemorations here, there, and everywhere, toasting the personalities involved—both the self-proclaimed and the wannabes—in Marcos’s downfall, and all that Pinoy hullabaloo we all get from the media all the time the EDSA People Power crops up on our calendars. Sin, Aquino, Marcos, Enrile. These are the familiar names we always hear every February 25. We could just use their initials and come up with SAME to keep it short and simple.

But what of the others? What of Doy the artist and genuine statesman? What happened to UNIDO? Why are they rarely discussed in an important historical event such as the one we’re commemorating today? Unbeknownst to many, the Laurel-led UNIDO was the sole opposition force to defy the Marcos regime when the dictator’s main rival, Benigno “Ninoy” Aquino, left for the US in 1980 for his heart bypass. The proceeding videos (shown last week in Global News Network‘s Republika ni Érik Espina) provide some answers coming from Doy’s grandchildren: José L. Delgado IV and rock artist Nicole L. Asensio:

ESPINA: Do you ever wonder why his name isn’t in the history books as it should be?

DELGADO: My personal opinion is because the winners write history. The winners are the ones who have a final say as to what is put inside the history books.

Right on, hitting the proverbial nail on its head. But Nicole pretty much sums up why their grandfather and UNIDO are rarely discussed, if at all, in history classes and other EDSA-Revolution-related topics: media is controlled.

That strong statement rattled the host a little, provoking him to say that she’s been saying so many things already. Fodder for conspiracy theorists, one might say (guilty much?). However, the term conspiracy theory was originally meant for those who secretly conspire to accomplish something vile before that term was made synonymous to Jerry-Fletcher type characters. But enough of that. The Laurel cousins’ matter-of-factly statements have now invoked a lot of questions. Who controls the media? And why the cold-shoulder treatment given to Doy? Is it because he opposed Marcos out of  principle rather than on a personal level (they were very good friends before the Martial Law years)? Or is it because the powers-that-be could simply not stomach another potential headache, something that they never experienced with the yellow crowd (whose heroine, by the way, once called Doy a “lañgao” or “fly”)?

If you will ask me, I’d prefer an artist, an idealist, a statesman, a writer over a politician to lead this country. A philosopher king, as Plato would have it. Because a life focused on politics tends to debase the mind. But the arts refine the soul and the celestial spheres.

*******

Have I said too much as well? Because of the foregoing, I am now inclined to publish Bongbong Marcos’s EDSA People Power Revolution statement published a few hours ago in his official Facebook fan page (because the content simply makes pure sense):

Good evening Facebook friends!

It’s that time of the year again (EDSA 1 Anniversary) which, as time goes by, must get more confusing for those that were too young to appreciate history in the making. There’s been a lot of talk about “historical revisionism” as of late, and the need to “get the story ‘right’ for future generations.” As to who holds the “complete and accurate story”, perhaps, belongs to one or two protagonists no longer alive, or a historian that is yet to be born. There is a scramble from many sides to validate their respective points of view through books, documentary films, theatre, TV ”specials” (propaganda) with their endless re-runs, and all kinds of media. I have often stated that a complete and accurate picture of events leading up to EDSA 1 will only be possible when passions have died down and vested interests, political expediencies, and propaganda machineries, are no longer present.

Additionally, there is another way of propagating one’s version of history and that is through legislation, thus, including it in the annals of the State’s statutes that are usually archived in protected government buildings, and classified as “official” for future historians to take note of. In today’s world, they may be stored, too, in some internet “cloud,” either in government computer servers or in a third party cloud provider’s data center.

Recently, a bill was ratified by Congress called the “Human Rights Victims Reparation and Recognition Act of 2013″ which among other things, grants compensation to the victims of human rights violations during Martial Law up to 1986. In as far as compensating human rights victims is concerned, I, personally, have no problem with that. As a legislator, I did not participate in the discussions and deliberations on the bill knowing very well the futility of my views being heard without people presuming me biased. Some parts of the bill, nevertheless, are by themselves reasonable and more importantly, are fittingly imbued with compassion. However, it begs some questions to be asked: what about the other human rights victims of the last 27 years? Why did the legislators have a mind to address the human rights issue selectively? Why differentiate between a person tortured in the 70s and one tortured in the 90s? By default, the victims of human rights violations from 1987 onward get nothing in compensation for the atrocities they suffered solely because they happened under another administration. To treat their situations with less concern and sympathy is blatantly and cruelly discriminatory and unjust. The bill also ignored the soldiers of the Republic that were captured, tortured, and pitilessly killed by insurgents during the same period that the bill covers — 1972 to 1986. Wives of brave soldiers were widowed at very young ages and their children, made fatherless. The legitimate human rights victims during Martial Law deserve the compensation they will get but why should the other likewise legitimate human rights victims not deserve it, too? Do not these “tradpols” sense the weariness of our people when listening to the same voices pontificate from their podiums blind, by choice, to the fact that their audience are still mired in poverty, joblessness, and privation? And that their only wish is for their lives to improve as was promised to them 27 long years ago and still, they wait. These same politicians are wont to cover up the fact that nothing much has changed since 1986 and they do this by resurrecting old bugaboos, and reviving hackneyed and over-used excuses and scapegoats. The fact is, twenty-seven years later, the chasm between the rich and the poor has widened, and poverty has become more widespread.

Moreover, for those that make the lame comparison between the Martial Law years and the Holocaust, they could be offending the Jews without knowing it with their lack of sensitivity and plenty of nincompoopery. There are Generals and other high ranking officers of the AFP during the 70′s who are still alive today. They can correct me if I’m wrong on whether they implemented and enforced, as heads of their respective commands in the AFP, a state-sponsored, systematic mass execution akin to the holocaust where ten million people were killed in gas chambers and by starvation.

The “freedom fighters”, both the self proclaimed and the wannabes, will say we have a liberated press today and I, too, join them in celebrating “freedom of the press”, and I hasten to add, that should include the Internet. Yet, strangely enough, the Philippines has only recently been called “the most dangerous country, not at war, to live in for a journalist”. This was never the case at anytime up to 1986; so, though we may have a free press today, the extraordinarily high number of murdered journalists that gave us the notorious label of “most dangerous” as aforementioned above, occurred many years after 1986 and the killings have continued unabated to this day. Again, these victims, from the ranks of media no less, have not been given the attention they deserve.

Conclusively, the obvious and glaring question is: what about the tens of thousands of human rights victims of the post Marcos era — the last twenty seven years? That question is like an “elephant in the room” that some politicians, the typically glib, sanctimonious, and self righteous, pretend not to see. In addressing only the human rights violations from 1972 to 1986, a total of 14 years, and ignoring the thousands of documented violations that were committed in the last 27 years (that’s double the number of years covered by the bill), what emerges from that is a writing on the wall that screams: POLITICS. The people have seen twenty seven years go by with no substantial changes in their lives; in fact, millions have had to leave their families to seek work abroad. More politics is the last thing they need from their leaders.

The level of politics in this country has become such that when I ran for Senator some three years ago, there were a few that vigorously campaigned against my election, urging the people to make sure that I would not be elected or we would again be placed under Martial Law. Firstly, I ran for Senator and not for President; and secondly, the act of declaring Martial Law is not genetic in nature. There is a saying that goes: “never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity.” You can add to that: “though it could be both”.

Either way, I have chosen to ignore such attacks coming from politicians, the “tradpol” types and those that will use this law to reinvent themselves as “freedom fighters against tyranny”. I will continue to focus on ways to unify our country, specially among our youth, and help in creating a more egalitarian society, and a developed and inclusive economy — a goal that is simple, yet formidable and daunting, but achievable. Last year’s GDP was a significant improvement over the dismal year before, and we should commend the administration for that. My unsolicited advice, though, is that job creation and ways of attracting more FDIs should be undertaken incessantly and relentlessly and if we can manage significant progress in both, then we can look forward to a sustainable year-after-year growth that will be felt by everyone; and that it be “felt by everyone” is the crucial and essential metric. We need that 6.6% GDP to trickle down. Enough of the politics that divide us,the “blame game” that delays us, and the excuses that derail us. The people are sick and tired of it, the young are baffled by, and frustrated with it; and ultimately, it does not put food on the plates of the hungry nor does it create jobs. So I hope this 27th anniversary not be again a celebration of polarization or division. It’s time to focus, move forward, and get things done as one indivisible nation. Maraming salamat pô. ¡Mabuhay ang Filipino!

Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos, Jr.

“History belongs to the youth, the
largest and most idealistic and energetic segment of our
population.”

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Which constitution killed the Spanish language in the Philippines? A clarification

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Many Hispanists blame the late president Cory Aquino for removing the Spanish language as an official Filipino language. But many individuals interested in this subject might start to wonder: why blame Tita Cory for the removal of the Spanish language when it seemed to be no longer official as far back as 1973 under Ferdinand Marcos?

This blogpost attempts to clarify the whole issue once and for all. It also provides some background of the Spanish language vis-à-vis the evolution of the Philippine Constitution.

The Spanish language during the days of empire

Since 24 June 1571 (the founding date of the Philippines), Spanish has been the official language of government and court offices. There was no written constitution back then since the Philippines was an overseas territory under the Spanish crown. But the Leyes de Indias (Laws of the Indies) oversaw the social, political, and economic life of Filipinos. Also, many educational institutions such as the Ateneo Municipal de Manila and the Universidad de Santo Tomás taught its students using Spanish as a medium of instruction. And all church documents were written in that same language. All this for obvious reasons.

It may be true that the Spanish language was not the mother tongue of the majority of natives who lived during the Spanish times. But that does not mean that it was not spoken on a national level.

When Tagalog rebels revolted against Spain and proclaimed the independence of the country on 12 June 1898, it should be noted that they still chose Spanish as the official language of the First Philippine Republic (1899-1901) under President Emilio Aguinaldo. And this was made official when the Constitución Política de Malolos (Malolos Constitution) was promulgated on 22 January 1899.

Filipino Army officers outside Iglesia de Barasoaín, Malolos, Bulacán (01/23/1899).

Article 93 of the said constitution states:

El empleo de las lenguas usadas en Filipinas es potestativo. No puede regularse sino por la ley, y solamente para los actos de la autoridad pública y los asuntos judiciales. Para estos actos se usará por ahora la lengua castellana.

(Translation: The use of languages spoken in the Philippines shall be optional. Their use cannot be regulated except by virtue of law, and solely for acts of public authority and in the courts. For these acts the Spanish language may be used in the meantime.

When the US took over, the republic was naturally dissolved, and there was no mention again of the ill-fated Malolos Constitution. As such, the Philippines went under the jurisdiction of the Federal government of the United States. Subsequently, the English language was enforced in the country.

But the Philippine Independence Act (more commonly known as the Tydings-McDuffie Act of 1934) prepared the Philippines for self-government after a period of ten years. And it authorized the drafting of a new constitution for the Philippines as an independent country. This constitution came to be known as the 1935 Commonwealth Constitution.

Commonwealth

It was not a smooth road for the framers of the 1935 Constitution, particularly on deciding which official language should prevail. Heated debates ensued among the 1934 Philippine Constitutional Convention delegates who were involved in the language issue. Some were for Spanish. Some were for the native languages. Yet some were even for English!

Among the native Filipino languages, Tagalog was the most controversially discussed and debated idiom. But that’s another story.

In the end, the following compromise amendment presented by 24-year-old delegate Wenceslao Vinzons was approved:

National Assembly shall take steps toward the development and adoption of a common national language based on all existing native dialects.

Until otherwise provided by law, English and Spanish shall be the official languages.

However, the abovementioned amendment was written in a slightly different way in the constitution’s final draft. That version appeared in the book The Framing of the Constitution of the Philippines (1934-1935) authored by delegate Miguel Cuaderno (published in 1937 by the Philippine Education Company, Inc., Manila). It says:

The National Assembly shall take steps toward the development and adoption of a common national language based on one of the existing native languages. Until otherwise provided by law, English and Spanish shall continue as official languages.

If we may swerve for a moment. Note that the contention was still focused on which native language should be prioritized (although English and Spanish still dominated the constitution). Notice also that the Vinzons amendment contained the phrase “based on all existing native dialects”. But in the draft which appears in Cuaderno’s book, it was replaced by “based on one of the existing native languages”. This goes to show that a language problem was already beginning to surface (but again, it’s for another story).

Sadly, the more preferrable Cuaderno version was further revised by the constitutional convention’s committee on style. And that revision was approved and consequently included in the constitution (ratified on 14 May 1935) as Section 3 of Article XIV (General Provisions):

The Congress shall take steps toward the development and adoption of a common national language based on one of the existing native languages. Until otherwise provided by law, English and Spanish shall continue as official languages.

Section 10 of the same article further states that:

This Constitution shall be officially promulgated in English and Spanish, but in case of conflict the English text shall prevail.

Two years later, on 31 December 1937, Tagalog was chosen as the country’s national language. This, however, did not affect the Spanish language’s status as one of the country’s official languages. But the number of Spanish-speakers (many of whom were murdered during the Philippine-American War) began to decline. The statistics grew worse during World War II, particularly during the Liberation of the Philippines from the Japanese.

Japan preferred Tagalog

It is interesting to note that during the Japanese Occupation of the Philippines (1942-1945), the Spanish as well as the English languages both lost their status as co-official languages when the Japanese invaders established on 14 October 1943 what is now known as the Second Philippine Republic. It, of course, had an accompanying constitution. Article IX (General Provisions), Section 2 of the 1943 Constitution states:

The government shall take steps toward the development and propagation of Tagalog as the national language.

Oddly, the Japanese opted for Tagalog instead of their own language to be included in the constitution. But this twist of linguistic fate was short-lived: the US reclaimed the Philippines two years after that Japanese-sponsored constitution was ratified.

This bloody reclamation was almost like a death-blow to the number of Spanish-speaking Filipinos. It also totally wiped out the Chavacano-speaking community of Ermita, Manila (Ermiteños).

The years that followed the war were years of poverty and misery. The number of Spanish-speaking Filipinos dwindled miserably as well. The few who survived migrated either to Spain, the US, or Australia and beyond. Those who opted to stay behind stayed because they could not just abandon nor sell their properties and businesses (this also explains why almost a majority of Spanish-speaking Filipinos remaining today are from the landed gentry and the elite).

Martial Law

Fast forward to 1970. The 1935 Constitution continued all the way to the Marcos years. On Marcos’ fifth year in the presidency, a constitutional convention was called to change the then existing law of the land. Special elections for the constitutional convention delegates were held on 10 November 1970.

The actual convention lasted around two years. Renowned linguist and scholar Señor Guillermo Gómez was chosen as the Language Committee Secretary of the 1971 Philippine Constitutional Convention. Under his helm, the same heated debates on language that happened in 1934 happened again. Once more, the Tagalog-language issue was raised. This resulted in Article XV (General Provisions), Section 3, sub-sections 1:

(1)This Constitution shall be officially promulgated in English and in Pilipino, and translated into each dialect spoken by over fifty thousand people, and into Spanish and Arabic. In case of conflict, the English text shall prevail.

In the foregoing section, the term language was erroneously called dialect. Tagalog was masked under the name Pilipino. And worse, the Spanish language was removed.

To further complicate the status of Spanish, sub-sections (2) and (3) of the same section further states:

(2) The National Assembly shall take steps towards the development and formal adoption of a common national language to be known as Filipino.

(3) Until otherwise provided by law, English and Pilipino shall be the official languages.

Knowing fully well that the number of native Filipino Spanish-speakers have dwindled throughout the decades, Señor Gómez, an ardent hispanista, thought it wisely to fight for Tagalog to become the country’s national/official language. As a polyglot and linguist, he knew fully well that the key to bring the Spanish language back to the mainstream was by propagating Tagalog, particularly the alphabet (including correct orthography) that represents it: the 32-letter Abecedario, the same alphabet used by Tagalogs and other Christianized natives during the Spanish and early American periods. According to him, all Filipino languages (i.e., the languages of Christianized lowlanders) are Chavacanos, but in varying degrees. Excluding the Chavacano languages of Ciudad de Cavite, Ternate, and Zamboanga, Tagalog is closest to Spanish, even closer to Hiligaynón, one of his native languages. And that is one major reason why Tagalog today is “Pilipinized” (again, another long story).

The 1973 Philippine Constitution was ratified on 17th of January, four months after the declaration of Martial Law.

Señor Gómez, however, had no power over the “renaming” of Tagalog as Pilipino, nor was he able to reinstate Spanish as a co-official language in the said constitution.

1973 Constitution absolved

Fast forward once more, this time to 25 February 1986, when Marcos was ousted due to popular outcry. His nemesis’ widow, Tita Cory, took over. During the transition period, a military-assisted constitution called the Freedom Constitution temporarily replaced the 1973 Constitution. The Freedom Constitution had no provisions at all about an official language due to its transitory nature. However, its successor, the 1987 Constitution —the one which we still use today—, states the following in Sections 7 and 8 of Article XIV (Language):

Section 7. For purposes of communication and instruction, the official languages of the Philippines are Filipino and, until otherwise provided by law, English.

The regional languages are the auxiliary official languages in the regions and shall serve as auxiliary media of instruction therein.

Spanish and Arabic shall be promoted on a voluntary and optional basis.

Section 8. This Constitution shall be promulgated in Filipino and English and shall be translated into major regional languages, Arabic, and Spanish.

The Spanish language made a comeback in the 1987 Constitution (proclaimed on 11 February 1987), but not as an official language. The clauses specified above gave credence to the fact that the drafters of the 1987 Constitution no longer gave Spanish the same importance that it had before. Héctor S. de León, in his widely used Textbook on the Philippine Constitution (Rex Book Store), summed it up this way:

The use of the Spanish language as an official language is no longer justified in view of the lessening influence of the language in the Philippines. It is not used by most Filipinos, English and Pilipino being preferred by them…

…Spanish and Arabic are languages of world importance spoken by many Filipinos. However, since they are not official languages, the government is not bound to promote their use They shall be promoted on a voluntary and optional basis.

Now, let us go back to the original question: why point an accusing finger at Tita Cory for the removal of the Spanish language when it is now apparent that its officiality became null and void since the 1973 Marcos Constitution?

Not exactly.

Many Filipinos do not know that on 15 March 1973, two months after the 1973 Constitution was ratified, Marcos issued Presidential Decree No. 155 recognizing Spanish (alongside the English language) as one of the Philippines’ official languages! Below is the full text:

PRESIDENTIAL DECREE No. 155 March 15, 1973

RECOGNIZING THE SPANISH LANGUAGE AS AN OFFICIAL LANGUAGE IN THE PHILIPPINES FOR CERTAIN PURPOSES

WHEREAS, Section 3 of Article XIV of the 1935 Constitution of the Philippines provided that “until otherwise provided by law, English and Spanish shall continue as official languages;”

WHEREAS, Section 3(3) of Article XV of the new Constitution provides that “until otherwise provided by law, English and Pilipino shall be the official languages;

WHEREAS, a sizeable part of documents in government files are written in the Spanish language and have not been officially translated into either English or Pilipino language;

WHEREAS, it is advisable to maintain the legal admissibility of important documents in government files which are written in the Spanish language pending their translation into either English or Pilipino language; and

WHEREAS, Spanish language is a part of our priceless national heritage, which we share with the great Hispanic community of nations.

NOW, THEREFORE, I, FERDINAND E. MARCOS, President of the Philippines, by virtue of the powers in me vested by the Constitution as Commander-in-Chief of all the Armed Forces of the Philippines, and pursuant to Proclamation No. 1081 dated September 21, 1972, and General Order No. 1 dated September 22, 1972, do hereby order and decree that the Spanish language shall continue to be recognized as an official language in the Philippines while important documents in government files are in the Spanish language and not translated into either English or Pilipino language.

This Decree shall form part of the law of the land and shall take effect immediately.

Done in the City of Manila, this 15th day of March, in the year of Our Lord, nineteen hundred and seventy-three.

The presidential decree can speak for itself. No more explanation is needed as to why the 1973 Constitution should be absolved from “deleting” the Spanish language from our patrimony.

Please be advised that this blogpost is not meant to accuse nor to lay blame on anyone regarding the disappearance of the Spanish language from our country’s written statutes. This is simply meant to avoid any misunderstanding that might occur in future researches regarding the said topic. Marcos’ presidential decree is not widely known today, and it is high time that this should be explained online on the light of an apparent resurgence of interest in reviving the Spanish language. Several Business Process Outsourcing companies, regarded today as a “sunshine industry”, are in dire need of Spanish-speakers. President Noynoy Aquino’s predecessor, Gloria Macapagal de Arroyo worked with former Secretary of Education Jesli Lapus, the Spanish Embassy in Manila, and the Instituto Cervantes de Manila to bring back the teaching of Spanish in Philippine schools.

And thanks to the internet, the clamor for the return of the Spanish language has found a new medium. Various online forums are now discussing the importance of Spanish in our history, culture, and identity as a nation. Several websites and blogs promoting the Spanish language in the Philippines are starting to appear. Even Facebook does not want to be left behind.

Indeed, now is the time to treat our past in a more positive light and a keener eye, and to grasp the real score —the unbreakable link— between the Spanish language and the Filipino national identity.

Will current President Noynoy Aquino, whose grandparents on either side of the family spoke Spanish, do the correct thing and reciprocate Marcos’ intelligent move in saving our hispanic heritage?

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This now-forgotten Marcos decree (presidential decree no. 155) was taken from Chan Robles Virtual Law Library.

Last Monday’s Manila Hostage Crisis was a possible act/effect of injustice

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Anger may be foolish and absurd, and one may be irritated when in the wrong; but a man never feels outraged unless in some respect he is at bottom right. –Victor Hugo–

In 1872, a secular priest who was about to be executed in the killing fields called Bagumbayan was literally crying out for justice against a mutiny which he did not instigate. One hundred thirty-eight years later, last Monday to be precise, in the very same place which we now call Rizal Park, another man, apparently another victim of injustice, was provoked to do the unthinkable, the inhumane, the insane. Unlike the secular priest, who took no lives with him and peacefully accepted his fate during the final minutes of his life, this man we speak of disrespected the lives of others out of sheer desperation. And in the aftermath, several Hong Kong nationals who visited our country for a vacation met a tragic end…

Mendoza (man on the steps of the bus) speaking to a negotiator. Many times he was seen at the entrance of the bus, in the line of fire, an easy target. But why, why, why wasn't he shot?

Yesterday, President Noynoy Aquino issued Proclamation No. 23 as a consequence of last Monday’s hostage-taking incident in the Quirino Grandstand in Rizal Park, Manila. Eight Chinese tourists from Hong Kong were mercilessly executed while others were injured. The hostage taker himself, a deranged cop who lost his job, was killed rather belatedly.

Now that the smoke has been cleared, reports over what had transpired are also getting much clearer, as well as its damning effects: once more, public perception and trust over our police force worsened; our tourism industry is now in jeopardy, and; our country has garnered international embarassment.

The principal cause

The criminal who instigated all this polemic bloodbath was, ironically, a former high-ranking, highly decorated commissioned cop from Náic, Cavite whose name will forever be damned in the history of Philippine international relations.

Former Senior Inspector Rolando Mendoza’s resumé is indeed a handsome one. With a degree in BS Criminology from the Philippine College of Criminology, he entered the police force through the defunct Integrated National Police in 1981 as a patrolman. When he was a 31-year-old officer in 1986, during the height of the EDSA Revolution, he and his men caught a van which was carrying 13 crates of filthy lucre which an exiting Ferdinand Marcos was purportedly trying to stash out of the country. This merited Mendoza a Ten Outstanding Policemen of the Philippines award from the Jaycees International later that year.

Aside from the TOPP prize, Mendoza received more than 10 other awards and commendations from the Philippine National Police (PNP) throughout his outstanding career, including multiple citations of the Medalya ng Papuri (PNP Medal of Commendation), the PNP Badge of Honor, the Medalya ng Kasanayan (PNP Efficiency Medal), Medalya ng Kagalingan (PNP Merit Medal), and the Medalya ng Paglilingkod (PNP Service Medal), as well as a Letter of Commendation.

A decade after entering the police force, he was absorbed into the PNP with the rank of Senior Police Officer 3 with “Manila’s finest”, the Western Police District (WPD, now known as the Manila Police District). In 2002, he was promoted to Inspector. And after only three years, he was made Senior Inspector as well as chief of the Mobile Patrol Unit.

But all these admirable accomplishments –very rare nowadays among policemen– vanished into thin air when, early this year, the Office of the Ombudsman expelled him and four of his colleagues from the police force. Worse, they were stripped of their retirement benefits (Mendoza was supposed to retire next year) and were barred from holding any position in government service.

This punishment stemmed from a case filed against him by a certain Christian Kálaw (interestingly, Kálaw is also the name of the street where the Manila Police District is based), a chef of the Mandarin Hotel. According to police records, Mendoza and the other policemen who were dismissed along with him accosted the chef for illegal parking, driving without license, and use of illegal drugs two summers ago in Malate, Manila. They accused Kálaw of being a drug user and tried to extort P3,000 from him. The records also showed that, at the headquarters of the Mobile Patrol Unit of the Manila Police District where the police brought Kálaw, the former manhandled the latter by forcing him to swallow a sachet full of crystal meth (commonly known as shabú in the Philippines). Furthermore, they tried to extort an additional P20,000 from the poor chef.

Several days later, administrative charges were filed against Mendoza and his men. Two months after the incident, there were plans of assigning Mendoza to faraway Autonomous Region for Muslim Mindanáo but it never happened because he served a 90-day suspension instead. In August of that year, the Manila Prosecutors Office Eighth Division also dismissed the case after Kálaw failed to appear during the preliminary proceedings of the case. Two months after that, the PNP Internal Affairs Service recommended the dismissal of the case after Kálaw again failed to attend the dismissal proceedings. Regardless of the case’s dismissal and the 90-day suspension, Mendoza and his cohorts were all terminated from the police force.

Up to his very last breath two days ago, Mendoza denied the crime he reportedly committed against the Mandarin chef.

Metaphysics of the crime

This blogpost is not intended to defend Mendoza’s vile actions. It only seeks to understand why this shameful massacre occurred, and how it can be avoided in the future.

As we have observed by perusing Mendoza’s background as a police officer, it is safe to assume that he was a good cop, a clean one. That by turning over the stash of cash which he and his men confiscated from a Marcos van two decades ago, as well as his steady climb to his industry’s higher echelon, speaks of his dedication to his job. Notwithstanding all the accomplishments he garnered during his career, the probability of getting those awards through “police politics” is now immaterial, almost improbable even. The message here is clear: he got those awards because he was a straight cop. But the fruits (i.e., his retirement benefits) of his labors were all taken away from him by this one single incident over illegal parking, manhandling, and extortion. Was he even proven guilty? He cried foul, pointing at the unjust way he was expelled from service. He claimed that there was no due process over his expulsion. He even attempted to appeal his case, but nothing was heard about it.

Could it be true?

Let us examine further: Mendoza was the principal efficient cause of last Monday’s bus carnage in Rizal Park. But what was the final cause (or motivation) behind his seemingly “senseless” act? Speaking through the mass media (which also grossly erred in this hostage drama), he said that all he wanted was to get his job back, as well as his retirement benefits.

Mendoza was an angry old man. But looking through this anger and disorder, one can sense a bit of “logic” cloaked behind it. For if he was indeed guilty of this crime committed against Kálaw, he would not have held hostage innocent tourists enjoying the candy-wrapper-and-cigarrette-butt-strewn streets of Manila the way his co-accused remained silent (besides, Mendoza claimed that it was them who did it, not him — could that be a reason why they “did not lose their senses”?). The usual impulse for those whose arms are caught inside the cookie jar is to wallow in shame and guilt and silence. Mendoza didn’t. Out of desperation, he used “collateral damage” in crying out for justice in a country which seemed to have lack of it. Ask P-Noy himself.

It is easy to blame Mendoza for what had happened, for the happy lives he took, for the international shame he brought to P-Noy’s infant presidency. But what good will it do us? Besides, he’s about to join the earthworms. What should be reviewed now is if his claim of lack of due process on his case was true? Somehow, FILIPINO eSCRIBBLES is inclined to believe that he was a victim of injustice. And in a country lacking the caressing arms of Lady Justice, what would an embattled policeman do? Or more appropriately, what did it do to his sanity?

On national TV, he shamelessly asked for his job back. Looking through Mendoza’s nearly-insane behavior, what did his desperate demand tell us? This is beyond “cacapalán ng muqhâ“. Something is amiss.

He was a victim of injustice.

Although he used twisted means, what he desired was good (getting his old job back). In philosophy, only the good can motivate an agent. Only the good can act as a final cause. But in this bloody hostage-taking, the agent (Mendoza) thought something to be good (taking hostage of the ill-fated Hong Kong nationals) which was really evil. In this case, Mendoza was the efficient cause of the evil indirectly.

Injustice for all

What then should be considered as the per accidens of Mendoza’s murdering of the tourists?

Some people blame the mass media for its lack of sensitivity. It was known that the hostage taker had access to radio and that the tourist bus also had a TV monitor. He was thus able to see and hear what was happening around him. And when he learned that his brother was apprehended by the police for earlier entering the bus without coordinating with them, Mendoza lost what little was left of his sanity. So he started firing at his frightened and defenseless victims. But blaming the media won’t do any good. It will never budge. Ever. For mass media practitioners, bad news is good news. And good news reaps good ratings and more commercial success.

The police? Partly. Besides, it is ancient news among astute observers that our police force is generally a bunch of inutile and useless eaters, sworn to protect primarily (aside from themselves) the rich and their bank accounts. Twelve hours? C’mon.

Arnaldo shared to me of a similar incident which happened in Singapore. A hostage taker was shot point blank by a police officer posing as a negotiator. Clever move. No hostage was killed. Other than that, there was a news blackout. Thus, Singapore did not face international embarassment.

Lessons to be learned: never negotiate fairly with a hostage taker; it is not necessarily a bad idea to block media coverage, especially when lives are at stake; it is high time to strenuously train the police force over hostage-taking situations…

I am going off on a tangent here. So let us go back to the main question: what is the per accidens of all this madness?

Injustice. Injustice is what instigated Mendoza’s criminal act. Indirectly, injustice is what is causing P-Noy too much headache now. Indirectly, injustice is what angered the international community towards the police force’s failure to save the hostages (perhaps not even Venus Raj’s admirable “major, major mistake” could help ease the heat that we are receiving from foreign nations, particularly Hong Kong). Injustice is the last cause of all this because its very opposite was what the efficient cause (Mendoza) tried to accomplish, therefore producing its bloody effect.

Injustice drives weak men, the helpless, the voiceless, to do the the unthinkable, the inhumane, the insane. Injustice is what drove those militant farmers to Mendiola in 1987, only to meet a tragic fate. How much more casualties, indignation, and insanity can we take due to the absence of injustice?

President P-Noy should be exhorted to combat not just corruption, but injustice.

Tilapià

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My family usually consume tilapià once or twice a week. We eat it either fried or sinampalucan. I prefer the former, but the rest of the family loves the latter. Sinampalucang tilapià is a fish broth which has, aside from the fish, sampáloc or tamarind (brought here by the Spaniards from México). In addition as a sour flavoring, the tamarind also gets rid of the lansá or stench of the tilapià.

If I remember correctly, it was former president Ferdinand Marcos who had the tilapià imported from Africa; the fish is not native to the Philippines. Now, it is the country’s second most important food fish for mass domestic consumption next to bañgús or milkfish, which is considered as the pambansáng isdâ. Moreover, the Philippines was ranked as the fourth largest producer of “tilapià world aquaculture” in 1998 by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. Truly, the tilapià has gone a long way.

Due to strong demand perhaps, a kilo of tilapià costs ₱100.00 (between three to five pieces) in the wet market nowadays. And at the market, one should buy this fish ALIVE to assure of its freshness. Yes, the fish can live for hours out of water. And that fact fascinates me. Whenever I accompany Yeyette to the market, I never tire of watching these fishes in fish stalls gasping for air (or water, I should say), leaping for dear life. I pity them most of the time, and feel glad that I am not a fish. And then I remember a line from Kurt Cobain’s “Something In The Way”: It’s okay to eat fish, ’cause they don’t have any feelings.

Below is a video of Yeyette buying a couple of these fishes who live pitiful lives for the sake of our existence (uh, not for the faint of heart):

After Yeyette chose a couple of tilapià, the fish vendor then hits the fish’s head with a hard object to knock it out of its wits. This keeps the fish from struggling but not actually killing it. Afterwards, these fishes are scaled alive (notice how their fins stiffen in pain!). Then their hasang or gills are cut out. Finally, they are cut into pieces.

But hey — they still survive for a couple of seconds or minutes after being hacked and chopped to death! Many times I’ve felt these chopped fishes still moving inside their plastic bags!

I am so glad I am not a fish (especially a tilapià), although we somehow live a fish-like existence in a capitalistic/imperialistic realm.

Enough about that for now. Here’s an entry of this poor fish from everybody’s favorite, Wikipedia:

Tilapià

Tilapià (pronounced /tɨˈlɑːpiə/) is the common name for nearly a hundred species of cichlid fish from the tilapiine cichlid tribe. Tilapià inhabit a variety of fresh water habitats including shallow streams, ponds, rivers and lakes. Historically they have been of major importance in artisan fishing in Africa and the Levant and are of increasing importance in aquaculture. Tilapià can become problematic invasive species in new warm-water habitats, whether deliberately or accidentally introduced but generally not in temperate climates due to their inability to survive in cool waters, generally below 60 °F (16 °C).

Etymology

The common name tilapià is based on the name of the cichlid genus Tilapià, which is itself a latinization of thiape, the Tswana word for “fish”. Scottish zoologist Andrew Smith named the genus in 1840.

Tilapià go by many names. The moniker “St. Peter’s fish” comes from the story in the Christian Bible about the apostle Peter catching a fish that carried a shekel coin in its mouth, though the passage does not name the fish. While the name also applies to Zeus faber, a marine fish not found in the area, a few tilapià species (Sarotherodon galilaeus galilaeus and others) are found in the Sea of Galilee, where the author of the Gospel of Matthew accounts the event took place. These species have been the target of small-scale artisanal fisheries in the area for thousands of years. In some Asian countries including the Philippines, large tilapià go by pla-pla while their smaller brethren are just tilapià.

Señor EDSA

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Perhaps the most prominent highway in modern Philippine History is EDSA.

A portion of EDSA.

Formerly known as Highway 54, it was constructed during the American Occupation of the country. This 23.8-kilometer circumferential road runs through five cities (Pásay, Macati, Mandaluyong, Quezon, and Caloocan) and actually stands on what was then a very long coastline hundreds of years before the place was occupied by humans (that is why workers in construction sites along the area usually find seashells during a dig).

EDSA became famous throughout the world during the tumultuous decade of the 1980s not because of its length nor its notorious traffic. It is because this highway was the site of the bloodless 1986 coup which toppled strongman Ferdinand Marcos and his cohorts from Malacañang Palace.

It is sad to note that only a few Filipinos today know that this highway was named after the initials of an illustrious Filipino writer and historian who lived during the Spanish and American era. His name is Epifanio De los SAntos, and his birthday falls today.

No festivities along the highway named after him?

Anyway, below is a brief biographical sketch of this “gentleman from the old school” written by Renato J. Mendoza (from the 1965 book Eminent Filipinos which was published by the National Historical Commission, a precursor of today’s National Historical Institute).

Epifanio de los Santos (1871-1928).

EPIFANIO DE LOS SANTOS
(1871-1928)

Historian and man of letters, Epifanio de los Santos was born in Malabón, Rizal (the lakeside province once known as Morong –Pepe–), on April 7, 1871, to Escolástico de los Santos and Antonina Cristóbal.

When he was seven years old, he studied under a certain Maestro José Flores. He finished his Bachelor of Arts degree from the Ateneo de Manila; and his Licentiate in Law from the University of Santo Tomás in 1898.

A brilliant student, Don Panyong’s versatility covered such different endeavors as painting, music, history, literature, law, politics, and others. In his diverse studies, he became acquainted with Germans, French, and Greek literatures, not to mention English and Spanish.

Aside from his achievements in literature, he occupied the following government positions: provincial secretary of Nueva Écija; governor, fiscal of Malolos for 10 years; director of the Philippine Library.

Don Panyong spent most of his time in extensive researches and historical studies which resulted in the formation of one of the most comprehensive Filipiniana collections of his time. He died in Manila on April 18, 1928, of cerebral attack.

Señor de los Santos was also regarded by his peers (notably Cecilio Apóstol, a famous Filipino poet in the Spanish language) as one of the best Spanish-language writers during his time. Some of his notable works are Algo de Prosa (1909), Literatura Tagala (1911), El Teatro Tagalo (1911), Nuestra Literatura (1913), El Proceso del Dr. Jose Rizal (1914), and Folklore Musical de Filipinas (1920). He also wrote the biographies of notable Filipinos in history such as José Rizal, Marcelo H. del Pilar, Rafaél del Pan, and Francisco Balagtás.

Speaking of Balagtás, de los Santos 1916 translation of the former’s 19th-century Tagalog epic Florante at Laura is now considered a classic in Philippine Literature.

Fashionalism

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Collezione C2's ubiquitous My Pilipinas shirt. An unprecedented bestseller.

Like everything else, even Filipino fashion evolves.

I still remember during my younger years how kids and adults alike go gaga over foreign-branded threads such as Levi’s Jeans, Guess?, Adidas, Giordano, Esprit, United Colors of Benetton, Polo Ralph Lauren, Gap, Banana Republic, Tag Heuer, Tommy Hilfiger, Marithé + François Girbaud, and countless others. In those days, if you don’t wear them, you’re considered a pleb. It was as if locally made clothes are meant only for old-fashioned Manileños and the rural folk (called provincianos in a pejorative tone), especially for the downtrodden. Well, not all. Several stores in tourist spots have been offering locally made shirts and other fashion items for foreigners for the past several years. But that’s just it: those are meant only for tourists usually as souvenir items and not really for casual wear.

I still remember some relatives of mine who half-tucked their shirts to show the brand names of their expensive jeans. It was an appalling sight: the shirts were untucked in front, but tucked-in from behind for people to see the inverted triangle symbol of their Guess? jeans. An awful and hilarious scene, indeed!

And my basketball-fanatic childhood friends talked of Adidas and Reebok and Nike as if they were the only shoes in the world. (at hindí pa casama dian yung paguiguing fanático nilá sa mga original NBA jerseys). They didn’t even know that Mariquina is the footwear capital of the Philippines.

That is why many local brands, unable to compete with the more popular foreign branded shirts and clothes, were somehow forced to blatantly imitate foreign-made apparels just to stay above water. One can find many of these rip-offs in tiangues located in crowded places such as Baclaran, Greenhills, and Divisoria.

But before all this hilarity and “bragging rights” ever happened, I remember a time when Crispa T-shirts ruled the hearts and minds of Martial Law babies as well as New Wavers of the 1980s.

Some stories claim that Crispa was derived from the names of the said clothing line’s founders: Doña Crisanta and Don Pablo Floro. Sales of the plain and colored T-shirts were so huge that it even spawned one of the greatest PBA Teams in local basketball history: the legendary Crispa Redmanizers whose rivalry against the Robert-Jaworski-led Toyota Tamaraws is reminiscent of the NBA’s Los Ángeles Lakers – Boston Celtics rivalry.

But the popularity of Crispa shirts faded over the years. I never even had the chance to buy one. Yeyette gave me one of her Crispa shirts (a green one) when she was still my girlfriend. I used it only as pambahay because it was too small for me. But it was a queer feeling wearing one of the country’s most talked-about and legendary tees during a time when it was no longer vogue; the onslaught of stateside clothes did them in.

Too bad Crispa didn’t invoke a sense of nationalism which is heavily in fashion today. Many fashionistas and the local press call this phenomenon fashionalism, a combination of the words fashion and nationalism. But before fashionalism, there was already a local brand –in a sense a bit intrepid– who challenged the foreign giants: Pidro shirts, born in 1991. It’s owned and introduced by Danny Javier of the iconic musical group Apo Hiking Society. It was the first local clothing company which attempted to invoke a sense of nationalism and patriotism among Filipinos during the last decade of the 20th century. The name was very familiar because Javier kept on mentioning it in his group’s musical-variety show in ABS-CBN Channel 2 (Sa Linggo nAPO Sila). But it really didn’t become a household name. Guess?, Levi’s Jeans, Tommy Hilfiger and the rest of the overseas crew were still preferred by the masa although the prices of those branded clothes were notoriously high.

And then the Tommy Hilfiger controversy hit.

In late 1998, a shocking email made the rounds of the local internet scene:

Subject: FWD: Tommy Hilfiger hates us…

Did you see the recent Oprah Winfrey show on which Tommy Hilfiger was a guest? Oprah asked Hilfiger if his alleged statements about people of color were true – he’s been accused of saying things such as “If I had known that African-Americans, Hispanics and Asians would buy my clothes, I would not have made them so nice,” and “I wish those people would not buy my clothes – they were made for upper-class whites.” What did he say when Oprah asked him if he said these things? He said “Yes.” Oprah immediately asked Hilfiger to leave her show.

Now, let’s give Hilfiger what he’s asked for – let’s not buy his clothes. Boycott! Please – pass this message along.

Poor Tommy had a hard time warding off this nasty rumor. But it was too late: a lot of Filipinos believed the false email message maligning him. And here in the Philippines, the email was regarded as fact by a huge majority especially since the internet during that time was still considered young. That event somehow sparked a slight aversion against Hilfiger products as well as other high-class brand names.

Enter the 21st century. A slew of unprecedented events in the country followed during the latter half of this decade: airbrushed and personalized shirts, elevating prices, the stock market crash of 2008, the death of nationalist rapper FrancisM, and the passing of democracy icon President Corazón C. Aquino.

The proliferation of shops offering design-your-own tees were in vogue during the later years of the 20th century. They’re much cheaper, too. And since they can be customized, it was more endearing to shoppers instead of buying those which were already pre-designed and have been mass-produced. It was therefore an embarassing moment to come across a stranger wearing the exact same shirt while walking inside a mall!

Spoofs Limited shirts also created a rather short-lived craze. It parodied many foreign products on their shirts designs: Tag Hirap (an obvious parody of Tag Heuer), FedUp (a play on FedEx Corporation), Bolo (making fun of Polo Ralph Lauren), Hard Cock (for that boring music bar and restaurant), The Lord of Pranings (after the award-winning movie trilogy), and a host of others. A few years ago, Bench, a brand owned by a Chinese-Filipino, began experimenting on Pinoy-themed designs. They tried to break away from the foreign-flavored image which their shirts used to sport.

And then Team Manila and master rapper FrancisM’s respective apparels entered the local fashion scene just a couple of years back. They are actually considered as the pioneers of today’s so-called fashionalism phenomenon that is apparent in almost every nook and cranny in the country, as well as in other parts of the globe (thanks to OFWs and delighted foreigners who bring them there after vacationing in the country). Between the two, the FrancisM Clothing Co. stood out. It launched the 3 Stars & A Sun clothing brand (named in honor of the Philippine flag’s symbols). Formed in 2006, the FMCC sought to create products meant for the “urban patriot”, and the balicbayan. It instantly became a hit especially since it was FrancisM himself who promoted it. But sales of his products even became more popular right after his death last year. His previous songs –Mga Kababayan, Three Stars And A Sun, 1-800-Ninety-Six (1896), Kaleidoscope World, etc.– again ruled the airwaves. And this created a huge curiosity for his FMCC’s colorfully designed tees, caps, and other fashion items, most of which pertained to Philippine symbols such as the flag and José Rizal. Many even clamored that he be declared a National Artist for Music (he should be).

The nationalist fervor in fashion was even heightened when, a few months after FrancisM succumbed to leukemia, Tita Cory followed suit after a long battle with colon cancer. Millions of Filipinos were moved, and it ushered the come back of Cory Magic, bringing back her famed yellow color out in the streets and the laban hand sign. It also catapulted her son’s political future into the coming May elections.

The two consecutive deaths of these two Filipino icons further spurred fashionalism into sublimity. And because of this, Collezione C2’s My Pilipinas shirts have sold more than two million RTWs all over the country! The My Pilipinas design has the Philippine archipelago either embroidered or silk-screened onto the upper right side of the shirt. It was launched more than two years ago, but it can be observed that it became highly popular right after the passing of FrancisM and Tita Cory. Now, the My Pilipinas symbol is also available in sports shirts, shirt dresses, capri pants, and shorts. Even other unknown local brands imitate Collezione C2’s stroke of genius (the way they imitated foreign brands). In our office, we even gifted a French colleague who happily and proudly wore it with him back to his homeland!

And since Filipino fashion has become the in-thing, we now have “revolutionary” clothing companies that have relied more on Filipino stylistic changes and individualism. Clothing lines such as ARtwork CLothing and Y.R.Y.S. (Your Rules, Your Style) have captivated a young audience, ruling the distinct tastes of today’s fashion-sensitive youth. It offers funky and groovy clothing styles that has overturned individualism in style. Happy Days pays tribute to Filipino pop icons such as the late comedian René Requiestas, movie villain Paquito Díaz, the jeepney, and even former strongman Ferdinand Marcos! TV personality Tado also owns his own clothing company which has hilarious and funny quotes designed in front of every shirt: Di Bale Nang Tamad, Di naman pagod; Nag-Iisa Lang Ako (with his face printed on it); Mas mabuti nang magnakaw kaysa mamakla; etc.

Several days ago, Yeyette had a shirt customized with this single –and rather scary– word in front of it: SELOSA.

All these shirts come at a very cheap price, something which young Filipinos of yesteryears could not even flaunt as they are accustomed to being proud of overly priced shirts and denims.

Indeed, fashion tends to change from time to time. This fashionalism which currently rules the local fashion scene may not last for long, but it will certainly inspire more imaginative ideas from Filipino fashion designers who have finally realized that their foreign counterparts are not immortals.

Foreign branded shirts and jeans should now declare a state of calamity.

Arroyo took away the “gloria” of EDSA

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This one came straight from the horse’s mouth.

In the Inquirer.net newstory below, GMA herself admits that the spirit of the original EDSA revolution is gone. But no, she should not lay the blame on anyone else. Not on the ordinary Filipino on the street. Not on the elite. And not on her political rivals.

Her rogue administration is the reason. I thought she’s smart enough to know that. Well, yeah. She is. That’s why she made another clever remark about “glorious revolutions” and all that colorful jazz…

It’s all the same to me even if one is an anti-Erap or not… Arroyo took away the gloria of EDSA. Plain and simple arithmetic.

Arroyo: Glory of EDSA I gone
Says People Power now partisan

Claiming that the “Glorious Revolution” had deteriorated into partisanship over the years, President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo Thursday made her final appearance as the nation’s leader at ceremonies commemorating the 1986 People Power Revolution.

Ms Arroyo led officials in raising the flag at the People Power Monument on EDSA (Epifanio de los Santos Avenue) in Quezon City, which kicked off the day’s activities to mark the 24th anniversary of the uprising that ousted the dictator Ferdinand Marcos and installed Corazón “Cory” Aquino as the President.

“The Philippines has come a long way since 1986. We regained our freedom and our national pride, but somewhere along the way we became complacent. People Power gained a partisan meaning that started to divide the nation once more,” Ms Arroyo said in her speech.

Thursday was Ms Arroyo’s last appearance at the EDSA I anniversary because her term ends on June 30.

It better be her last appearance because she has a penchant for lying. Remember the time when she promised a few years back that she won’t run again for the presidency?

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