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La Naval de Johannesburg

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The World Cup fever may have already subsided, but I just couldn’t ignore one glaring trivia related to last month’s Spain-Netherlands tussle.

Only a few people today know that last month’s 19th FIFA World Cup™ wasn’t the first time that Spain faced and defeated the hardy Dutch boys. In World History, the Netherlands used to be a part of the huge Spanish Empire under King Charles V. The subjugation continued up to the reign of the king’s son, King Philip II (yep, we got our country’s name from him). During the revolt against Spain, the Dutch also sent their naval force to battle the Spaniards in another Spanish colony: the Philippines.

There were five great battles which occurred right here on our turf, mostly in 1646:

16 March — Five Dutch fleet attacked Isla de Mariveles (near Isla de Corregidor). There were only two Spanish galleons at that time, but, through the intercession of the Holy Virgin Mary (thanks to the frightened crew’s recitation of the Holy Rosary, as written by chroniclers during the said event), they were able to ward off the Dutch invaders.
29 July — The Dutch returned with seven large vessels and almost a thousand men. The battle, fought in the waters between Romblón and Marinduque, was said to be one of the bloodiest naval battles during that time, lasting from seven in the evening up to four in the morning. Again, the Dutch lost the battle.
31 July — The escaping Dutch were pursued by both Spaniards and Filipinos, catching up with them in the waters of Mindoro. Much more damage were inflicted on the supposedly battle-ready Dutch.
15 September — In Manila, one more Dutch squadron remained. The Spanish galleons who figured in the preceding battles against the Dutch invaders had been reinforced a newly constructed galleon that was intended for México, but now prepared for war. The three galleons sailed from Cavite and saw their parley in Cabo de Calavite (Calavite Point). The Dutch were overwhelmed after a five-hour battle, forcing to escape the scene.
4 October — Coincidentally, the Dutch were defeated a final time during the month of the Holy Rosary. But the following year, the Dutch returned for a vengeance (particularly in the Spanish port of Cavite). They, however, faced the same humiliating defeat.

In all these naval victories, all the men –both Spaniards and Filipinos– fervently prayed for the intercession of the Virgin of the Most Holy Rosary. All these victorious naval battles against the Protestant Dutch were considered miraculous since most of the ships which defended the young nation were not intended for battle. They were galleons in the first place, ships intended for trade. That is why the once mighty city of Manila (Intramuros) used to celebrate an extravagant feast during October called the La Naval in thanksgiving for Mother Mary’s intercession. And up to now, the city of Ángeles in Pampanga still holds a feast in honor of its patroness, Nuestra Señora del Santíssimo Rosario de La Naval de Ángeles.

Some wise guys claim that these great battles should never be taught in the study of Philippine History because it was not part of Philippine History at all but of Spanish History in the Philippines. Really now. But they fail to recognize that these naval battles were indeed crucial to the study of Philippine History. The Philippines was still young, still fortifying itself into becoming the nation that we know today. Although we always say that there are no ifs in history, it is still interestingly scary to note that if the Dutch did defeat the gallant Spaniards and Filipinos, then the Philippines would have been a Protestant nation rather than Christian. Or worse, there would have been no Philippines (i.e., Luzón, Visayas, and Mindanáo) to speak of.

From naval battles to soccer, it seems that the Dutch are no match for the Spaniards. History does repeat itself sometimes, albeit in a different setting. =)


Pineda in, Panlilio out: COMELEC strikes again

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Speaking of COMELEC blunders, check this out from

Pineda declared winner in recount

What’s in a name?

For Lilia Pineda, a close ally of President Macapagal-Arroyo popularly known as “Nanay Baby”, it meant finally getting the gubernatorial seat of Pampanga.

On Thursday, the Commission on Elections (Comelec) unseated Pampanga Gov. Eddie “Among Ed” Panlilio, a Catholic priest-turned-politician, and declared Pineda, whose husband is widely known as a “jueteng,” or illegal numbers, kingpin, the winner of the 2007 elections.

The Comelec Second Division said Pineda, a former provincial board member, was the “duly elected governor” of Pampanga after an appreciation of the votes from 21 towns and cities in the province showed that she had an edge of 2,011 votes over Panlilio.

“I don’t know if I’ll be happy or sad,” Pineda said. With an expected appeal, she said the case was far from resolved.

“I’m not even giving it attention,” she added.

“A priest has no capability to harass,” Panlilio countered. “A candidate with no party in 2007 does not have the machinery to cheat and buy votes.”

Malacañang urged the parties to abide by the Comelec ruling.

“We accept the wisdom and discretion of the Comelec,” said Gary Olivar, deputy presidential spokesperson. “We urge everyone to get into the habit of respecting due process whether we like it or not.”

It was the latest in a string of controversial decisions that the Comelec Second Division had issued. It earlier annulled the win in the 2007 vote of Bulacán Gov. Joselito Mendoza and kicked out the polio-stricken Isabela Gov. Grace Padaca. The two belong to the opposition.

In reaching the decision, the Comelec division considered as valid the votes for “Nanay Baby” that were previously set aside, giving Pineda the gubernatorial seat three months before the May 10 general elections, where the two will again face off for the same post.

The ruling penned by Commissioner Nicodemo Ferrer said that Pineda got 190,729 votes, while Panlilio received 188,718 votes, which erased his 1,147 lead in the 2007 count.

But wait! There’s more!

The appreciation of the votes was not unanimous among the three members of the division, however.

Commissioner Lucenito Tagle had a different computation of the contested votes.

Tagle, in his separate concurring opinion, said Pineda was still the victor in the 2007 race at 190,819 votes, but her lead was much smaller.

He placed Panlilio’s total votes at 190,463, putting the difference between the rivals a mere 356 votes.

Tsk tsk tsk. Qué desastre.

A known jueteng personality –and an Arroyo ally at that– finally made it to the fading cut. With the May 10 election looming just around the corner (it’s just less than three months from now!), what does this tell us?

Sometimes, I seriously think that we’re better off going back to a monarchial form of government.

I don’t believe in the right of suffrage anymore. Because I don’t want to suffer.

José Escaler, lawyer extraordinaire

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It’s a pity that nowadays, it’s almost impossible to find a principled lawyer made from genuine intellectuality such as José Escaler of Pampanga. What we have instead are unprincipled lawyers molded from genuine lies.

It’s also a shame that the glory brought by this illustrious Pampangueño to his fellow Cabalens would years later be tainted by the arrival of perhaps the most corrupt president this archipelago has ever known.

Today we commemorate his birth anniversary. Below is a brief biographical sketch of this lawyer extraordinaire from Apalit, Pampanga. It was written by Héctor K. Villaroel (from the 1965 book Eminent Filipinos which was published by the National Historical Commission, a precursor of today’s National Historical Institute).


José Escaler, intellectual, lawyer, industrialist, and businessman, was born in Apalit, Pampanga, on January 19, 1885, the eldest of six children of Manuel Escaler and Sabina Sioco.

He obtained his early education from private tutors; afterwards, he studied at San Juan de Letrán, where he finished his segunda enseñanza at the head of his class in 1897. His studies were briefly interrupted during the Revolution. When peace was restored, he studied at the Liceo de Manila, where he received his Bachelor of Arts degree with highest honors in 1903. In 1905, he earned his Bachelor of Laws from the Escuela de Derecho at the head of his class; after which he left for the United States and Europe and studied briefly at Yale and Oxford universities. In 1909, he returned to the Philippines and took and passed the bar examinations.

In recognition of his educational attainment, he was elected president of the Philippine Columbian Association for several terms and made vice-president of Club Filipino. Meanwhile, after a brief apprenticeship in the law office of William Kincaid, a noted American lawyer, he was made the latter’s junior law partner. Later, he established his own office in Intramuros, with Quintín Salas as his partner.

As a public servant, he started as clerk of the Philippine Assembly; then became attorney of the City of Manila; and, in 1916, was appointed first Assistant Director of Education. The following year, he was appointed Undersecretary of Justice; and, in 1918, acting President of the University of the Philippines, where he had served earlier as member of the Board of Regents and as professorial lecturer.

Escaler was one of the most active businessmen of his generation. He was at one time vice-president and director of several commercial enterprises. A firm believer in the country’s economic progress, he stressed that government intervention in the economic realm was inevitable, that technical know-how must be developed, and that research facilities and laboratories should be established.

Not being a person of very strong constitution, his health soon broke down. He left for Europe to rest and recuperate, but it was too late. He returned to Manila in January 1927, and died on February 17 of a heart ailment. Escaler married Aurea Ocampo on June 26, 1915, by whom he had seven children.

Oh where have all the gentlemen from the old school gone?

GMA gunning for a House seat: an all-time low for her character

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Gloria has done it all.

First, she stole the presidency from Erap in 2001. Then in 2004, she lied about not running anymore, but she did. Then came the infamous “Hello Garci” scandal which divulged massive election fraud during the 2004 Philippine National Elections. FPJ should’ve been the president.

Several scandals followed her after that, the most infamous of them all was the ZTE-NBN scam which put all previous Erap accusations to shame.

But now, what is this?

GMA wants House seat

Ending speculation about her political plans, President Arroyo declared yesterday that she is running for Congress representing the second district of Pampanga next year.

Speaking over government-run Radyo ng Bayan, Mrs. Arroyo said she realized after “much contemplation” that “I am not ready to step down completely from public service.”

“As you know, the people of my home district in Pampanga want me to remain in public life,” she said in a mix of Filipino and English. “So after much soul-searching, I have decided to respond affirmatively to their call.”

Mrs. Arroyo said she hopes to be a champion for the poor in Congress and work to uplift the economy.

“To that end, I will file my candidacy for Congress in order to serve the hardworking people of my home province,” she said.

She vowed to remain focused on her work as President until her final day in office.

Rómulo Macalintal, Mrs. Arroyo’s lawyer, and Press Secretary Cerge Remonde were present during the interview.

Macalintal told reporters “some local mayors” authorized by Mrs. Arroyo will file her certificate of candidacy (COC) today.

Mrs. Arroyo is ready for any lawsuit after she files her COC, he added.

Macalintal said it was about a month ago that Mrs. Arroyo started contemplating about running for Congress.

“About a month ago, that was talked about, she consulted her family, some supporters in Pampanga,” he said.

“She thought she was still very young and can still serve. That’s the judgment call of the President.”

He was not aware of any dissent from Mrs. Arroyo’s family on her decision, Macalintal said.

Mrs. Arroyo said she studied several options before deciding on continuing to be in politics.

“While I’m very much looking forward to stepping down at the end of my term, I have been mulling different ways to stay involved,” she said.

“I looked at going back to teaching. I have also examined working with non-profit organizations on issues ranging from the environment to women’s issues.

“I thought of many opportunities. One day I hope to pursue them… work for causes near and dear to me, like the fight against climate change, improvement of education and the cause of women.”

Mrs. Arroyo dismissed allegations that she wants to be a member of the House of Representatives to obtain immunity from the torrent of lawsuits to be filed by her political enemies after she steps down from the presidency.

“The only congressional immunity is from libel suits, from utterances made in a congressional session—that’s not what I’m after,” she said.

“This move reflects my ongoing commitment to public service. I have given careful consideration to a number of options that I could pursue upon leaving office.

“But I have come to the conclusion that I can best serve the nation from a seat in Congress should I be elected.”

Mrs. Arroyo said she is determined to champion the poor, fight for a stronger economy, and ensure that health, education and jobs are within reach of all Kapampañgans.

Once elected to Congress, she would get a chance to continue her advocacies “closer to the people,” she added.

Mrs. Arroyo said she will remain “firmly in control of our national government until the last day I am in office,” while campaigning for a seat in the House of Representatives.

“As President, my first commitment is to the nation we all love,” she said.

“My bid for Congress will be only spirited but secondary to my duty as President. I will devote very little time for my campaign for Congress.

“We have come too far and too much is at stake for me to waver in these last few months on my commitment to the people of the nation. I will keep a steady hand on the tiller of the ship of state.”

Mrs. Arroyo said she would continue to pour resources to the Comelec to ensure free, fair and open elections next year.

“And then I will work cooperatively with the incoming administration so they can hit the ground running,” she said.

OK. Let’s put this into more simpler terms. Let us just say, for one hot minute, that all her excuses were acceptable.

BUT!!! —

Whatever happened to delicadeza? She should know what the word means; the last time I heard, Spanish is her language…

Her declaration only puts a black eye to the Maguindanáo Massacre. Instead of focusing on resolving this latest smear to her already scandal-riddened administration, she selfishly thought it best to announce her greed for power.

Shame on you.

GMA should expect to see more of this -- hopefully in Pampanga.

The Country’s “Green Czar” Should Spare Pampanga’s Iconic Acacia Trees!

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A photo in the frontpage of the Manila Bulletin, formerly the nation's leading newspaper.

A photo in the frontpage of the Manila Bulletin, formerly the nation's leading newspaper.

Not too long ago, Mrs. Gloria Macapagal Arroyo appointed herself as the Philippines’ “green czar”. It drew criticisms from various environmental groups. Nobody from the green sector seemed to trust her “green leadership” especially due to several controversies she’s been involved with.

So far, she’s done nothing newsworthy for the environment. But with the above photo which I saw in today’s issue of the Manila Bulletin, I believe this is the right time for Mrs. Arroyo to make herself worthy of her designation and “dedication” to protect our country’s environment no matter how small the task or the issue at hand is.

The caption in the paper says:

OLD ACACIA TREES IN PAMPANGA. These old acacia trees in Pampanga, several of which are 50 years or older, are scheduled to be cut down to give way for a road widening project of the government. The Save the Trees Coalition has assailed the cutting of some 5,000 trees along the length of MacArthur Highway from San Fernando City to Angeles City.

Hopefully, when Arroyo gets back from her 45-minute meeting with US President Barack Obama in Washington, she’ll find some time to take this matter into her own “environmental hands” if she is really serious AND sincere about being the country’s environmental czar. Besides, Pampanga is her and her father’s hometown. She should also at least do something to save those iconic acacia trees which have beautified MacArthur Highway for many decades. The nation is already knowledgeable that she has all the political power to save these trees, to have them replanted elsewhere instead of being cut down for good. What the nation needs to know is if she has the political will to do it.

It would be hypocritical of Arroyo if she does nothing to save these trees when one of the things she would discuss with Obama is another environmental issue: climate change.

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