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Happy 442nd birthday to La Laguna, my beloved adoptive province!

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Soon after my discovery of La Laguna province’s long-lost foundation date last year, ordinance #44 , s. 2012 was drafted by then provincial board member Neil Nocon who also chaired the committee on education, tourism, history, arts, and culture.  But up to now, the ordinance has not yet been passed, mainly perhaps because of the previous elections (and Mr. Nocon sadly did not make it to the winners’ circle). Nevertheless, Dr. Nilo Valdecantos, tourism consultant to Governor ER Ejército, did not have to wait for its approval to have the date celebrated. He organized a simple yet lively festivity which took place in his avant-garde café-art gallery called Kape Kesada last night as we welcomed the 28th of July with much music, poetry, and booze!

Last year, the date was celebrated only in our humble abode (and online by a few concerned Lagunenses such as Gil Nielo Almendral of ABOUT LAGUNA). So last night’s event can be considered as the the very first grand celebration of this special occasion as we await the passing of the ordinance that was drafted by the very active and passionate Neil Nocon.

Left to right: me, Dory Colcol, historian Nonia Tiongco (of the Santa Rosa Studies Center), and Dr. Nilo Valdecantos (owner of Kape Kesada and organizer of the event).

Homegrown talents of Paeté.

“Ang La Laguna ay isáng nápacagandang lugar. Mayaman sa calicasan, cultura, at casaysayan. Daluyan ng macasining na camalayán at mg̃a obra. May auit ang bauat diuang malayà.”

—Dr. Nilo Valdecantos—

Mario Valdellón rocks the house!

Many talented and well-known Paeteños graced the affair. Also in this photo are three of Paeté’s best talents, below us seated by the window (left to right): former Paeté mayor Elmoise Afurong (now DTI member for the Micro, Small, and Medium Enterprise Development Council; he also owns Exotik Restaurant in nearby Kalayaan), world renowned neo-genre painter Dominic Rubio (right below me), and famous movie and TV actor Leandro Baldemor.

With BOSERO photographers of Paeté (left to right: Aieen Tanay, Jade Cadang, Mira Umali, and me).

¡Muchísimas gracias por el apoyo, Señor Nilo Valdecantos! ¡Eres un amigo de buen corazón! =)

With my publisher and editor Ron Yu of In-Frame Media Works.

CLICK HERE for more photos! And watch out for my debut book LA LAGUNA The Heart of the Philippines (an In-Frame Media Works publication) coming out before the year ends! 😀

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Breaking news for the upcoming coffee table book “LA LAGUNA The Heart of the Philippines”…

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It’s now official: renowned historian, scholar, and linguist, Señor Guillermo Gómez y Rivera, will write the foreword to my debut book, LA LAGUNA The Heart of the Philippines!

Meeting last Sunday night (04/07/2013) at J.Boy Japanese Fast Food Shop in Macati City. Man, their noodles there are almost as thick as my fingers! (L-R: me, Ronald Yu of In-Frame Media Works, and Señor Gómez).

To those who do not know yet, Señor Gómez— as he is called by friends, students, admirers, and critics—is currently one of the board of directors of the prestigious Academia Filipina de la Lengua Española, the oldest state institution in the Philippines. From 1971 to 1973, he was the secretary of the National Language Committee of the Philippine Constitutional Convention. For many years, he taught Spanish language and grammar as well as Philippine History, Geography, and Philosophy of Man at Adamson University (my alma mater). In 1974, the Department of Education condecorated him for his work as a teacher and writer with the Plus Ultra Filipinas award. The next year, he won the Premio Zóbel for his play El Caserón, but primarily in recognition for his efforts in preserving the Spanish language and culture in our country. He has since been a longtime master of ceremonies for the said award-giving body until its demise in 1999. Prior to this, Señor Gómez won second place in the Premio Manuel Bernabé for an essay on the historical and nationalistic value and import of the Spanish language in the Philippines.

Señor Gómez has authored many books, among them El Conflicto de Soberanía Territorial Sobre las Islas Malvinas, Georgias, y Sándwich del SurThe Conflict Over Territorial Sovereignty on the Malvinas, Georgias, and Sandwich Islands of the South (Manila, bilingual edition, 1984), FilipinoOrigen y Connotación, y Otros Ensayos (Manila: Ediciones Solidaridad Filhispana-El Maestro, 1966), and various textbooks on Spanish grammar and history such as Español Para Todo El Mundo and Texto Para Español 4-N: La Literatura Filipina y Su Relación al Nacionalismo Filipino (both used in Adamson University and Centro Escolar University). He is also active in Filipino dance and music. He is currently an instructor of various Spanish dances, particularly flamenco (he is in fact considered as the undisputed maestro of Flamenco in the Philippines).

Aside from sharing his knowledge of Flamenco, he has made several researches on Philippine songs, dances, and costumes, especially those of Hispanic influence, which he was able to contribute to the internationally acclaimed Bayanihan Philippine National Folk Dance Company. In fact, most of the Spanish-influenced native songs and dances choreographed by the said group can trace their origins from Gómez’s researches, which earned him an advisory role for Bayanihan. He also released an LP back in 1960 when he was still the producer of La Voz Hispanofilipina, a radio program of DZRH. He made research about “lost” Filipino songs that were originally sung in Castilian during the Spanish colonization of the Philippines. He reintroduced the songs through recording. The successful LP was entitled Nostalgia Filipina. He was the one who sang in all of the songs, accompanied by the late Roberto Buena’s rondalla (on 14 August 2006, he relaunched a digitally mastered version of this album at the Instituto Cervantes de Manila through financial support from the Spanish Program for Cultural Cooperation).

In 1997, he was a segment host of ABS-CBN‘s defunct early morning program Alas Singko Y Media. In the said show, he hosted a five-minute Spanish lesson.

In addition to his contributions to Philippine literature, culture, and history, he was also a journalist; he used to publish and edit the El Maestro magazine which served as the organ of the Corporación Nacional de Profesores Filipinos de Español, Inc., and also contributed to various newspapers, magazines, and websites (Philippine Daily Inquirer, The Philippines Free Press, Revista Filipina, etc.). Aside from the weekly newspapers The Listening Post and The Tagalog Chronicle, he also edited Nueva Era, the only existing Spanish newspaper in the Philippines in modern times (these three, owned by the late Batangueño publisher and businessman Emilio M. Ynciong, were accessible only via subscription; I used to be Señor Gómez’s editorial assistant for these papers, now out of print, from 2001 to 2003).

Señor Gómez is also an accomplished linguist and polyglot. He speaks and writes fluently in his native Hiligaynón as well as in English and Tagalog. Aside from being an acclaimed master of the Spanish language in the country, he is also conversant in Italian, Portuguese, French, Quiniráy-á, Cebuano, Hokkien, and has made an extensive study of the Chabacano and Visayan languages (he was crowned Diutay ñga Príncipe Sg Binalaybáy sa Binisayà at the age of 13).

It is a little known fact that Señor Gómez, although a Bisayà, can also be considered a Lagunense: he traces his Gómez Spanish ancestor to Pagsanján, and has many Rivera relatives in Pila.

Indeed, the writer of the book’s foreword is a virtual heavyweight compared to the lowly writer himself. But hey, I am humbled with all of this. I admit now that is difficult for me to imagine somebody else writing the foreword to my very first book. And if I’m not mistaken, this would be the fourth time that Señor Gómez will write a foreword/introduction for somebody else. The first time he did so was for multi-awarded multilingual poet Federico Espino (Premio Zóbel awardee, 1978) for his bilingual collection of poetry, Ave En Jaula Lírica / Bird in the Lyric Cage (Solidaridad Filipino-Hispana, 1970). The second was for Conchita Huerta (another Premio Zóbel awardee, 1965) for her Arroz y Sampaguitas (Ediciones Fil-Hispanas, 1972), a collection of essays and short stories. And the last he did was for Perspectives in Politics: Public and Foreign (UST Publishing House, 2005) by UNESCO Commissioner and international political analyst José David Lápuz.

This is truly a huge dream come true for me. 😀

LA LAGUNA The Heart of the Philippines is a collaboration between the historic Provincial Government of La Laguna (Gov. E.R. Ejército) and In-Frame Media Works (Mr. Ronald Yu).

Book launching will be announced soon! 😀

Almost done with the final edits!

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The final editing of my first book, LA LAGUNA The Heart of the Philippines, is nearing completion! Yay!

Photo by Yeyette Perey de Alas

 

Remember the Maine

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Later investigations have shown that the reason why the USS Maine (ACR-1) exploded was because of either spontaneous combustion of the battleship’s coal bunker or an explosion of its forward magazines. It is now safe to conclude that the sinking of the Maine was purely an accident. At any rate, speculation won over reason, and it was probable that warmongers used this horrific incident to precipitate war against Spain.

—Culled from my debut book “LA LAGUNA The Heart of the Philippines“, coming very soon!—

Pascuhan sa La Laguna

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Opening their gifts! This is an age-old Filipino custom that my family is conserving every 6th of January. Some far-flung barrios of La Laguna are still doing this (particularly those in the eastern part). But it appears that we’re the only ones who are celebrating this old Filipino tradition here in San Pedro.

 

Aside from the lively Three Kings festivities in Mabitac, some parts of La Laguna still celebrate the centuries-old custom of Christmas gift-giving on that date (6th of January). A few remote barrios in Liliw, Mabitac, Nagcarlán, Pagsanján, and Santa Cruz still practise the old “pascuhan” tradition wherein children visit their godparents for Christmas freebies, and parents surprise their children with gifts. This custom is obviously of Hispanic origin and is still being practised by many Spanish-speaking countries. The gift-giving commemorates the famous Nativity scene wherein the Three Wise Men from the Orient (popularly known as the Three Kings, a Catholic tradition) visited the child Jesus and gave him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh, thus recognizing Him as the newborn King of the world.

Culled from my debut book, LA LAGUNA The Heart of the Philippines. Coming very soon! Happy Three Kings everyone! 😀

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