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Finding Nick Joaquín through podcasting

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Podcasting‘s not my thing. But if it’s about Nick Joaquín, then I’m in.

A tête-à-tête between FILIPINO eSCRIBBLES and WITH ONE’S PAST last August 31st about Nick Joaquín’s significance to Filipino History. We usually spend hours talking about history and related topics. But the difference this time around is that we had it recorded.

At least twice a month, or whenever we could, Arnaldo and I will podcast many of our informal “cuentuhan tuncól sa casaysayan” for our niche audience. For our first outing, we thought of discussing about our favorite historian, 1976 National Artist for Literature, Nicomedes “Nick” Joaquín y Márquez, and his significance to Filipino History.

But why do a podcast?

Arnaldo has been an avid listener to podcasts and is familiar with people who are known for it (like Joe Rogan, for instance). He was the one who broached the idea to me. However, it is more precise to say that it was his wife Mhaan who spurred him to pursue it. You see, Arnaldo has been lecturing weird stuff to his wife; I’ve been doing the same thing to my family, too. That weird stuff I’m referring to, of course, is Filipino History (I refuse to call it Philippine; more on that in a future blogpost… podcast). Weird, because I’m sure that many of our friends and family members find us peculiar whenever we talk about the past — national heroes, the return of the Spanish language in our country, vintage photographs, ancestral houses, old names of streets, etc. To many people, such topics are confined only in history books (or perhaps restricted only for aging scholars whose backs have become crooked due to years of study). Anyway, this podcasting project about Filipino History was technically —and perhaps inadvertently— an idea of Arnaldo’s wife. According to Arnaldo, Mhaan chided him once that instead of giving out unsolicited “lectures” to her, most of which remain unrecorded or unblogged, why not put them all in a podcast? She may not have been serious when she said that, but it was a light-bulb moment for With One’s Cookbook.

And why not? We both think it’s a wonderful idea because it’s going to capture a lot of stuff that we couldn’t write much about. And our ideas just might reach another online audience that prefers to listen than to read. Admittedly, though, I still have my reservations because I’m not that much of a talker. When it comes to discussing history and related subjects with like-minded people, I prefer to listen, ask questions, then write. Arnaldo, Señor Gómez, and JMG know about this (I am talkative about the subject only to my wife and kids, hehe!). I’m a slow thinker, too. My mind tends to process thoughts quite longer before I am able to speak them out, and in a cluttered manner at that. Furthermore, my spoken voice is hoarse, raspy, unpalatable to the ear (a usual problem for good looking men 😀 ). And according to Eugenio Ynión, Jr., the ever respectable multibillionaire CEO of Yngen General Holdings, I sound like a faggot (yes, he’s the same saintly gentlemen who threatened to kill me last summer).

But the most important thing about this podcasting activity of ours (which could probably be the very first podcast in the country to focus on Filipino History) is that we are able to record many important facts that we fail to jot down in our respective blogs, and then broadcast it later on. You see, we cannot submit 100% of our time to what we are doing online. The two of us are not well-heeled scribblers of the past; we need to survive, too. As such, mundane tasks take away much of our energy to think and to write, and that is a major factor (or should I say a big blow) as to why we irregularly update our blogs. Especially in my case. I’ve been living like a vampire for almost a decade and have five kids to raise with my wife. So it’s not an easy lifestyle for a struggling pundit like me.

Whenever Arnaldo drops by at our place, or whenever we meet up with Señor Gómez (and very rarely with JMG), hours seem like minutes as we discuss the day away with many aspects of all things Filipino, and how this affects our national identity. We never tire talking to one another. It’s just disappointing that, after a wonderful and intellectually productive day spent with these dear scholarly friends, I couldn’t seem to have the energy to write the important things that we have talked about. And so the ideas start piling up, becoming a burden to the mind as it becomes difficult on which topic should be written first. I’m pretty sure Arnaldo feels the same way. So yes, podcasting our off-the-cuff discussions should do the trick.

As mentioned earlier, our podcast will consist of our usual informal discussions. Parang nagcucuentuhan lang talagá camí. So please don’t expect it to sound like a radio talk show. It isn’t. For this first episode of ours, however, I did notice that we sounded a bit stiff because we were conscious that we’re recording our chat. We’ll try to do better the next time around.

So, without further ado, here’s to Nick. 🙂

Incidentally, it’s going to be Nick’s 97th birthday this coming Monday, September 15th.

Stay tuned for upcoming episodes. For episode 2, we will feature another Filipinista, well-known travel blogger Glenn Martínez of Traveler On Foot. In fact, we have already interviewed him last Sunday. We will also be “guesting” more interesting people to make our podcasts more lively, more interesting, and to expand more knowledge about what we are really advocating about — not Filipino History per se but the recovery of our true Filipino National Identity.

And yeah, pardon me for my faggot-like voice on the podcast (Kapitan Jun Ynión‘s words, not mine). I’ll take some salabát next time. I might even sing a song or two.

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La Familia Viajera — not just another travel blog

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Finally, a travel blog that I could call my own!

Actually, not just mine, but my family‘s. 🙂

LA FAMILIA VIAJERA, probably the country’s first and only family travel blog (if there’s already a Filipino blog that has claimed the title first, feel free to pinch my ears when you get to see me). The blog features our very humble exploits wherever our itchy feet take us. It was soft-launched last October 21, two days after we roamed the ancient streets of Intramuros and took photos of fancy stuff there.

Fancy stuff that is our heritage.

Since LA FAMILIA VIAJERA is a family oriented blog, I will be much tamer there. I will try my best not to sound belligerent, no anti-imperialism remarks, no clenched fists raised high above the air, and no Rage Against the Machine blurting out in the background. All that indignation is reserved only for FILIPINO eSCRIBBLES and ALAS FILIPINAS (I said I will try my best).

OK. I’ll shut up now and let my third blog do the talking. Please click here for my family’s first entry to its online travelogue.

And oh, did I forget to mention? My long-time nemesis Carlos Celdrán is featured there. Believe it or not. 😀

PS: And since I’d be traveling with my wife and four kids in LA FAMILIA VIAJERA, there will be no more travel blogposts in ALAS FILIPINAS and FILIPINO eSCRIBBLES from now on.

 

The truth about the encomienda (FILIPINO eSCRIBBLES’ 3rd anniversary special)

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I didn’t know that my accidental discovery of La Laguna province’s foundation date was going to dance with controversy. Instead of receiving magnanimity from the powers that be, it was, sadly, received with vehement opposition.

First, the National Historical Commission of the Philippines (NHCP) contended that 28 July 1571 should not be recognized because on that date, La Laguna was founded not as a province but as an encomienda. I told them that it should not be made an issue. There is no question that La Laguna —now referred to simply as Laguna— did not begin as a province on that date, but the NHCP had overlooked what a foundation date really is. My argument is really simple: when La Laguna came into being. Not as a province per se, but as La Laguna itself.

Up to now, nobody knows exactly when La Laguna became a province. Ron Yu, the editor of the coffee table book that I’m writing about the province, theorized that it could have been 1581 when Bay was made the first capital of La Laguna (many in the provincial capitol, including yours truly, agree with him). But the problem is that there is no exact date. Nevertheless, whether we have an exact date or not, it will NEVER negate the fact that La Laguna already existed prior to 1581. Oddly, concerned individuals over at the NHCP either fail to understand this or they simply don’t want to accept it.

In the end, when they could no longer withstand the strength of the logic of what a foundation date really is, one of them found a loophole: that it would be unpatriotic if Lagunenses will choose La Laguna’s foundation as an encomienda simply because this system connoted slavery! Yes, this gentleman mentioned the word slavery. And he crumbled right before my very eyes.

But did the encomienda really connote slavery? Let us first study the background of the problem.

What is an encomienda?

In elementary and high school classes, Filipino students are generally taught that an encomienda was a piece of land given to a Spaniard for a certain period of time. Included on that land are the indios (natives) who were the original settlers. The receiver of the encomienda is called an encomendero. The encomendero had the right to exploit the natives for labor but without enslaving them.

Unfortunately, it is hardly taught that an encomienda was a quid pro quo affair. What is hardly taught these days is that it was the duty of the encomendero to:

1) protect the natives from tribal enemies
2) to educate them, i.e., to teach them the Spanish language, and
3) to indoctrinate them into the Christian faith.

To wit, an encomienda was a legal system employed by the Spanish crown during the colonization of the Americas to regulate Native American labor. And this system was later applied to the Philippines.

Hardly slavery.

In this scheme, the Spanish crown grants the encomendero a specified number of indios (for a limited time period) for whom they were to take responsibility by accomplishing the aforementioned duties. That is why it is called an encomienda in the first place: it is from the Spanish verb “encomendar” which means “to entrust”. In return, the encomendero could extract labor from their wards in the form of labor, gold (if available), or other products (mainly agricultural produce). There was, therefore, a mutual obligation from both encomendero and indio.

What should be firmly noted in this system is the existence of the aforementioned mutual obligation between the encomendero and his subjects. In the first place,there would be no encomienda at all without either of the two parties involved. At the onset, pre-Philippine societies were not yet organized into township communities, i.e., they were not yet set up in a way the Spaniards had wanted them to be. These communities were small and scattered. Many were forest dwellers. And those living in river and lakeshore communities were not as compact as well. Naturally, it took some time and effort for an encomendero to organize the indios in his encomienda in order for the mutual obligation to materialize. Thus, it is safe to say that the encomienda served as the prototype (or it laid the groundwork) for the reducción, at least in these islands.

Important note: this is not to say that the encomienda preceded the reducción. In the early years of Spanish rule, both encomienda and reducción have taken place at the same time. But in Laguna, this seemed to have been the case.

To wit: the distribution of land during the early years of Spanish rule had to start somewhere, and that was done through the encomienda system. The encomendero was also required to support the missionaries and to train the indios assigned to him how to grow various crops and raise farm animals. Through the encomienda system, the indios learned modern farming methods. Through the encomienda system, the carabao was imported from Vietnam to facilitate rice farming. All this stimulated modern agriculture.

This is not to say that the encomienda system was perfect. Did it become corrupt? Yes, but not to the extent which ultranationalist anti-Hispanics wanted it to appear in our minds. True, abuses and corruption did take place (that is why the friars later on opposed it). But which regime on Earth at any point in history was considered heaven? And if we are to compare the encomienda system to our modern political landscape, the encomenderos of yore would have looked like saints compared to our politicians today.

For the sake of argument, let us say that the encomienda was filled with nothing but hardship and suffering for our indio ancestors. Should we still consider 28 July 1571 as La Laguna’s foundation date? Of course. In the case of La Laguna and 28 July 1571, the doctrine of res ipsa loquitur should come to mind. “The thing speaks for itself.” It doesn’t matter anymore if the encomenderos were drunkards or rapists. What is written on paper (i.e., the chart where the foundation date of La Laguna appears) should still be recognized and respected and should not be mixed with opinionated bull.

It’s like this: suppose that a man was the product of rape, why should he be disallowed to celebrate his birthday?

Anyway, back to the encomienda. The creation of provinces did not happen overnight. It had to evolve. And it did evolve from the encomienda. And even if the encomienda system did not become corrupt, it would have been abolished, nay, replaced in the first place. The encomienda was the basis for the creation of provinces. If not for the encomienda, there would have been no provinces in the first place.

In closing, subscribing to the leyenda negra will never do us anything good at all. Hating everything that Spain did to us only harms all the more. Ultranationalism is the problem here. It leads us to blind hatred. Attacking our Spanish past is tantamount to shooting ourselves in the foot. For good or for worse, the encomienda is part of our history, and is already history. It helped create modern Filipino society.

But to these NHCP historians, the encomienda system was bad, bad, and bad. The Spanish colonization of the Philippines was bad, bad, and bad. It makes me wonder why one of them still uses the surname Encomienda. He should change it to, perhaps, Lapu-lapu or Gat Páñguil.

Or Datu Putî.

Aw, shucks. Good vibes, Pepe… it’s FILIPINO eSCRIBBLES‘ third birthday today! 😀

“Bloggers’ Hour” at the NCCA

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The first ever "Bloggers' Hour" organized and hosted by the National Commission for Culture and the Arts.

FILIPINO eSCRIBBLES and ALAS FILIPINAS are honored to have attended the first ever “Bloggers’ Hour” this morning. The event was organized by the National Commission for Culture and the Arts. Click here for the story.

FILIPINO eSCRIBBLES Facebook Page

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Hello!

If you like (or are at least interested in) the topics written here in FILIPINO eSCRIBBLES, please do take the time to “like” our Facebook Page by clicking right here.

Thank you! 🙂

New and improved FILIPINO eSCRIBBLES!

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It’s official: starting today, my age is no longer included in the calendar…

Boo!

Whatever.

Anyways, welcome to the new and improved FILIPINO eSCRIBBLES!

Yehey! (clap! clap! clap! clap!)

So, as a shameless birthday gift to my fabulous self, I have decided to change the theme of my blog. The WordPress theme/design that you now see is called Liquorice. True to the themes’ stated deliverables, Liquorice waxes a bit “poetical” with its nostalgic light “sand-brown” mood with a clean motiff, thus making the text easy to read. The pictures appear bigger and the captions are no longer stressed. Even quoted texts appear to have a life of their own.

But wait! There’s more!

Not only have I changed the design of this blog. I also had the header personalized!

The header is designed by blogger and fellow hispanista David Salcedo Sánchez of Ciudad de Cagayan de Oro, Misamis Oriental.

Due to a sorry lack of technological know-how, I initially commissioned my best friend Arnaldo Arnáiz of WITH ONE’S PAST to make one for me. For those of you who may not know yet, Arnaldo was the one who designed the banner of my other blog, ALAS FILIPINAS, more than three years ago. He did make a header for FILIPINO eSCRIBBLES. Unfortunately, he wasn’t able to finish it due to his busy schedule. And since I made today —my thirty-second birthday and this blog’s second anniversary— as my self-imposed schedule (told ya: I’m so finicky with special dates), I thought it best to seek David’s assistance whose header in his own blog FILIPINAS ¡QUÉ HERMOSA ERES! is as impressive and creative as it can be!

The images that David used for this blog’s header are a combination of Spanish and indigenous images. Truth be told, these icons are just perfect for my blog’s chosen theme: Philippine Identity and History (or —like what I always brag— true Philippine History). The mixture of Spanish and indigenous cultures is what makes up our identity as Filipinos.

David is but one of a handful of young Filipinos today who had take off the blindfold of ignorance. This is what he has to say regarding our national identity:

Indigenous Culture + Spanish Culture = Hispanic

In the case of our country:

Malay/Indigenous Culture + Spanish Culture = Hispanic Filipino/Filipino Culture

Sample:

La mano = The hand

PagLAMANOhay = to shake hands with

In Latin America:

Aztec, Mayan, Incan, Moche, Taino, Arawak etc. (Indigenous Culture) + Spanish Culture = Hispanic

Mexicans are as hispanic as Venezuelans, Argentines, Puerto Ricans, Ecuadorians, Peruvians, Guatemalans, Cubans etc. Hispanic as Filipinos? Yes! =p

Although Hispanicity was also derived from something Spanish, it’s a different identity.

So with whom you share culture & history with?

Being mestizo is not something bound with genes alone. Our country is mestizo. Our culture and history is mestizo. It’s not only in our languages but it’s almost everywhere! Why hate that part? It made it whole after all.

It’s really that simple. At di dapat icagalit ni icahiyâ ang parteng yaón ng ating nacaraán. 🙂

In closing, I would like to take this opportunity to thank each and everyone of you (conti lang namán cayó, eh, ¡hehehe!) who regularly visit this humble site of mine. I want all of you to know that I do read all of your comments, and sorry if I’m unable to answer all of them; I’m a second-rate, trying-hard married historian with four kids to feed and raise, thus my day usually ends with drained and saturated energy. But I am hoping to one day buy my whole time from capitalist enslavement in order for me to write full-time.

My apologies, too, if sometimes I sound too cranky and proud on some of my replies. I’m trying my best to avoid it. It is unnecessary and unfriendly, I know.

Once more, thank you for the visits, the comments, and the criticisms. May God bless us all!

2010 Filipino of The Year — President Noynoy Aquino!

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For the hope and inspiration that he gave to politics- and poverty- weary Filipinos during the last presidential elections, FILIPINO eSCRIBBLES and ALAS FILIPINAS would like to honor President BENIGNO SIMEÓN III AQUINO Y COJUANGCO this year’s not-so-prestigious (but soon to be!) 2010 FILIPINO OF THE YEAR!

Thank you, President Noynoy, for inspiring the Filipinos to move forward with optimism and hope. That is so important to a nation long battered with all sorts of bull. But not all presidential reigns end up in roses; remember your unpopular predecessor and her predecessor, most especially. So we will be watching — and continue hoping. And as long as you remain steadfast —and sincere— to your promises of a corrupt-free Philippines, then the whole nation will continue to rally behind you.

May all Filipinos welcome 2011 the way they welcomed Noynoy to Malacañang many months ago!

*******

2009 FILIPINO OF THE YEAR

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