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There’s a party in Manila Bay — and I hope it remains a party all through the night

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Miley Cyrus at the Mandarin Hotel in Ciudad de Macati yesterday.

As I write this, American actress and teenage pop singer-songwriter Miley Cyrus is currently partying with thousands of her Filipino fans at the SM Mall of Asia.

I just hope that she performs one of her popular songs and then change one of its lines to ♪ there’s a party in Manila Bay… ♫ to fit the setting.

And while she’s out there strutting her stuff in that huge Chinese-owned mall in Manila Bay, the Bureau of Immigration has alerted its intelligence people to be on the lookout against any possible terrorist attacks in the metro:

MANILA, Philippines – The Bureau of Immigration (BI) has alerted all its intelligence operatives following reports that members of the Asian terror group Jemaah Islamiyah were working with Abu Sayyaf group to bomb targets in Metro Manila, Commissioner Ricardo David, Jr. said Friday.

David also instructed BI operatives in the different ports of entry to be on heightened alert and be on the lookout for foreign terror suspects who might attempt to slip into the country.

At the same time, David ordered BI Intelligence Chief Maria Antonette Mangrobang to closely coordinate with military and police intelligence officials in verifying the report about the alleged presence of foreign terrorists here.

A scary scenario: what if —God forbid— they launch an attack on that Miley Cyrus concert tonight (I’m sure those Jemaah Islamiyah creeps would love to have her)?

A likely result: China will continue bullying the Philippines over the disputed Spratly Islands (a group of islands that is rightfully our own). In the end, those slit-eyed pseudo-commies will occupy them. And the Philippines will not be able to lift a finger because the US WASPs will not back us anymore due to that carnage in Manila Bay.

In the long run the Chinese will attack the whole country to avenge the destruction of their darling boy Henry Sy’s money-making machine along our historic bay. The old Chinese-Filipino families (Ongpín, Tantoco, Tuazon, Yuchengco, Cojuangco, etc.) might even throw their support to the new invaders.

So better pray. Pray that that party will have a happy ending. And that Miley will still be able to sing See You Again to her Filipino fans (heaven forbid that one, too).

Oh, why do I think morbid thoughts…?

Jerry Acuzar and heritage conservation

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For the heritage conservationist, San Nicolás in Manila is a well of opportunities to tap into one’s worth as a cultural worker. It is because this fabled district is filled with decaying centuries-old Filipino houses that are yet to be saved by the government and other concerned sectors. It is but unfortunate that there has been no move yet to salvage these historical treasures from the deathly claws of urbanization and civil apathy. Around three years ago, me and my friends Arnaldo Arnáiz and Will Tolosa visited the place and took pictures of almost all the antique houses. One that stood out from among the rest was the so-called Casa Vizantina.

BEFORE: A picture that I took of a decrepit-looking Casa Vizantina when it was still in the corner of Calles Madrid and Peñarubia, San Nicolás, Manila in 2008.

AFTER: Casa Vizantina restored to its former glory by Jerry Acuzar when we visited it last year in its new home in Las Casas Filipinas de Acuzar in Bagac, Bataán.

I am very familiar with Casa Vizantina’s façade. Whenever we go to my mom’s home in Tondo, we often pass by San Nicolás, right in front of this house. Throughout my growing-up years of traveling to and from Tondo, I do notice this house’s gradual deterioration. Year after year, the house turns more uninhabitable although several squatter families still live inside it.

It is interesting to note that the popular Casa Manila in nearby Intramuros was modeled after Casa Vizantina. This San Nicolás gem was built in the late 1800s by a certain Don Lorenzo del Rosario. During the First World War, the house was leased out to the Instituto de Manila (former president Manuel Roxas once studied there! today, the school proper is in Sampáloc district and is now known as the University of Manila). When all of Manila was being burned and bombed by the Japanese Imperial Army and the US WASPs, almost all of San Nicolás was miraculously spared. But what the war did not do to this once majestic arrabal the neo-poor did. Casa Vizantina, for instance, was leased out to “various tenants”. Little by little, the house was apparently abandoned by its original owners. Sadly, this once-upon-a-time palace became a castle of various squatter families —a “legacy” of US WASP governance— from the Visayas and elsewhere. Many other old houses in San Nicolás were being toppled down almost every year. And this alarming travesty continues to this day. It is very disheartening to hear that in every regime change, promises of a booming economy are continuously thrown at our faces. But we never hear anything from them about conserving our past treasures such as these San Nicolás houses that could even rival those in Taal, Batangas. The San Nicolás houses have a very big potential to attract tourists especially our Spanish, Latin American, and even Southeast Asian friends (remember that the bahay na bató is a perfect blend of Oriental and Occidental). Since the dawn of the internet, blogging, and Facebook, we have been seeing so many self-appointed heritage advocates clamoring for the conservation of various heritage sites throughout the country. But the government paid attention to other duties. And hardly do we find any philanthropical action dedicated towards the conservation of our past architectural masterpieces.

Enter Jerry Acuzar in the picture.

This self-made millionaire from Quiapò, Manila has been collecting heritage houses (bahay na bató) from all over the Philippines for several years already. As a young boy, he used to pass by Calle Hidalgo on his way to school. In his growing-up years, he witnessed how the beautiful Filipino ancestral homes found in the said street deteriorated. He then wondered why these houses were not being taken cared of by both the owners and the local government. Years later, he took it upon himself to save prominent but abandoned/semi-abandoned antique houses found all over the country. After buying them from their respective owners, Acuzar had these houses dismantled (his critics use the word “demolition”), had them transported to his seaside hacienda in Bagac, Bataán, and from there resurrected to how they originally looked like. Originally, Acuzar planned to make his Bataán property his own private getaway, but changed his mind. He then opened his 400-hectare seaside resort to the general public. The once private hacienda became known as Las Casas Filipinas de Acuzar.

Casa Vizantina is one of the houses he was able to save from further humiliation, neglect, and possible destruction. It is now back to its former glory, albeit in a different site.

This herculean effort of Acuzar, however, received both praise and negative criticism from various sectors. Indignation against him reached its crescendo last year when the nation learned that he already bought and started dismantling the ancestral home of the national hero’s mother in Biñán, La Laguna. The dismantling was put to a halt when heritage conservation groups led by Dr. Rosauro “Bimbo” Sta. María of the United Artists for Cultural Conservation and Development, Inc. (UACCD) pressured the local government. As of this writing, the impasse between the City of Biñán and the UACCD vs Jerry Acuzar and Gerry Alberto has yet to be resolved. Over the past few months, my ambivalent stance towards the actions of Mr. Acuzar remains to be unresolved as well. Me and my wife had the opportunity to visit his estate late last year. Right after that visit, it dawned upon me that if it is possible to dismantle houses from their original locations, is it not possible to return them there as well? Shouldn’t we just consider Acuzar’s estate as a temporary haven for these houses, as a “safe-keeping” enclave where they will be maintained everyday until their local governments and/or original owners will be able to afford to take them back?

Various hispanistas and conservation heritage advocates such as popular travel blogger Ivan Henares and my Círculo Hispano-Filipino contertulios Gemma Cruz de Araneta and Dr. Fernando N. Ziálcita maintained that heritage structures should remain in situ. As Henares put it, “structures should remain where they are, preserved together with the environment they were built in”. But should these houses continue to remain where they are even if their very own environment starts neglecting them? That will no longer be heritage conservation.

Based on my observation (and experience), perhaps 99% of local governments all over our country do not have heritage conservation on the top of their to-do list. About a decade ago, I was working part-time for the now defunct Nueva Era newspaper which Señor Guillermo Gómez edited. It was the last Spanish-language newspaper in the Philippines. Me and Señor Gómez usually went around Metro Manila taking photos of all ancestral houses that our eyes could catch, for we feared that they will not remain standing in the next few years (before I joined the old man, he was already traveling around the country taking photos of various bahay na bató). We would then publish the photos in the said newspaper (those were the days before blogging, Facebook and Twitter ruled the universe). To our quixotic minds, since we are powerless to physically save those houses from being torn down, we were at least able to record historical memories for posterity’s sake. And browsing through past issues of Nueva Era, our fears proved to be true after all. We noticed that year after year, these Filipino houses continue to be demolished to give way to modernity. No worth at all is given for their historical value. Our patrimony was placed further into the darkest background. A bahay na bató was turned into nothing more but a mere bahay na bató that has no more place in modern times. It seemed as if nobody even cared to save these houses anymore.

But Acuzar is doing exactly that — saving Filipino structures from years and decades of neglect by having them transferred to his estate where they will remain taken cared of for good. Of course, the thought that he will earn money from it should be taken out of the question in the meantime. The fact remains that Acuzar will shell out money regularly to have these ancestral houses he had “snatched away” from neglect and ruin to be well-maintained and preserved for ages. Henares will definitely counter this. He wrote in his blog that the best solution is to educate the masses about the importance and worth of heritage structures found within their locality. I agree, or should agree. But is anybody doing this? With all due respect to Mr. Henares, has he or anybody else offered any concrete steps on how to do this? Who exactly should be responsible to educate the masses? And more importantly, who and how will this project be funded? And will this “education” immediately save the Alberto Mansion? Remember: around 20% of that structure was already dismantled last year. Only an official verdict is keeping it from being totally transported from Biñán to Bagac. Also, the owner, Gerry Alberto, needs no education on heritage; he is a highly educated man, and a distant relative of Rizal himself.

Henares also added that Acuzar should just build replicas in his hacienda instead. Still, building a replica of, say, the Alberto Mansion will not exactly save the Alberto House in Biñán. Gerry Alberto gave up on it already due to financial problems of maintaining it. If he hadn’t sold it to Acuzar, then he would have sold it to other people. And if that ever happened, perhaps a more terrible scenario could have occurred to the house itself. But in Acuzar’s hands, at least future generations will still be able to see it. And, as I have mentioned earlier, there is always the possibility of bringing the whole house back to Biñán once the Biñenses are truly ready to take care of it.

Going back to the Alberto House, what matters here now is how it should be conserved. And Acuzar was able to find a more viable solution. Before the Acuzar purchase, almost nobody ever gave a damn as to what this house is all about. But when the purchase and dismantling commenced, out came the “concerned” activists. Out came the “angry voices”. Out came Facebook pages trying to save the Alberto House. I guess what I hate about this hullaballoo is why do we have to wait for an Acuzar to enter the picture before we TRULY act? Now, it’s almost too late.

I would like to stress out that I am not against movements such as the UACCD. It’s just that their protestations came out a little too late. And although I am saddened by the thought that the spot where the Alberto house still stands might become vacant soon, I admit that I have now become somewhat soft against Acuzar’s ancestral-house purchases because to date only he has provided the most viable solution against the destruction of Filipino ancestral homes. Sometimes, unwanted methods had to be used for the sake of heritage conservation. Such are the methods of Acuzar. So let me make this clear once more: what I dislike about this heritage controversy is the apparent tardiness of Filipinos. They usually make noise only when the trouble has started to make serious damages.

I received some flak against members of the UACCD for my rather unfriendly remarks against their protest rally last year. One member even dared me on my sentiment about not writing anything about Biñán anymore. But let bygones be bygones. Right now, what is important is for all people concerned to save Doña Teodora Alonso’s ancestral house in situ. Besides, Dr. Sta. María himself revealed to me that he and his group has finally made some “strategic plan” to save the Alberto ancestral house. I have yet to interview him to know more about this. It is still worth a try. It might save not only the Alberto Mansion but also all ancestral homes in San Nicolás as well as those found all over the country.

But if this proves to be another failure, then let us all leave Jerry Acuzar alone.

Lastly, if P-Noy is really sincere in attaining everything good for our country’s sake, then may he be able to transfer the still existing military slush funds into saving the Alberto Mansión. With political will, he can do that in just a snap of a finger. Turn bad money into good.

Heritage conservation should not rest solely on non-governmental institutions such as the UACCD. It should be one of our government’s top priorities. Conserving our patrimony will help us map out our future because through it, we will be able to catch a glimpse of our future by reflecting on images of our beautiful past. And glimpses of our beautiful past are still within our midst.

Not everything is lost yet. Just look around; you might be able to see a bahay na bató “shimmering” alone on a street corner…

More “new propagandists” to the Filipino cause!

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It has been a little over a year since I quixotically boasted of a new “Filipino supergroup”, a group of “new propagandists” who will face the leyenda negra that has been twisting the minds of millions of chicharón-munching Filipinos. We had talked and agreed of consolidating our ideas, our advocacy, into one coherent and compact body whose nucleus would be a website with a search-engine-attractive name (yeah, something with the name “Filipina” in it — porn surfers beware!). But, as mentioned, it has been over a year…

So where’s the multi-zillion-euro website that I’ve been tellin’ everyone?

Due to time constraints, lack of technical know-how, personal matters, paella fever, and finances (contrary to popular belief, we’re not made of money), this cute little project of ours kept on stalling like MRT coaches. But the dream hanged in there, like a trapo politician.

Then suddenly, one very cold December morning, I bumped into a rocker dude (through a mutual friend who’s actually the niece of a living legend in Filhispanic literature), and he’s into designing and developing webs! The rocker dude is Santos “Tuts” Trangía. His cool-soundin’ last name, aside from complementing his cool attitude and friendliness, reminds me of Old Manila’s Frisco-like tranvías (makes me wanna wish that my last name’s República). He’s an axeman for the indie rock band At Helen’s Wake, whose first EP will be out soon. And whoever Helen is, I have no idea; I’ll ask Tuts when I get the chance. So at gunpoint, I was able to make him agree to help us out with this website once and for all. We hope to begin this weekend.

Another good news: I finally found someone! And man, that did knock me off my clammy feet! And that someone is someone who is feared by many WASP-educated “nationalist kunô” UP historians et al. who shamelessly worship images of Zeus Salazar inside their respective toilets. Without further adieu, this someone is none other than controversial historian, the great Pío Andrade, Jr., “the Scourge of Carlos P. Rómulo”, the número uno investigative historian, the next big thing in Philippine historiography! Yes, sir Pío has promised yours truly a few days ago to deliver the goods once our website is up and running (hopefully on or before this summer).

Still more good tidings! Tourism expert —and our group’s dearest online friend from dear old Spain— Juan Luis García (not related to fellow propagandist José Miguel García, a full-blooded Filipino guerrero) is now part of our “online clique”, le guste o no le guste, ¡jajaja!. Juanlu has been very supportive of our group and our advocacy since day one. Also, he has a couple of tourism projects in mind for our country (this he discussed personally with José Miguel when he visited the country last year) — and all this being thought of by a Spaniard, for crying out loud! So what better way to gift him than with a “free membership” into our group? And this free membership comes with a freebie as soon as he comes back to the Philippines for a visit: a Regular Yum with Cheese value meal from Jollibee courtesy of Arnaldo!

Coincidentally, today marks the first year anniversary of Juanlu’s pro-Filipino blog, VIAJAR EN FILIPINAS! Congratulations are in order!

We still await for Chile-based writer/historian Elizabeth “Isabel de Ilocos” Medina‘s response. She’s a distant relative of both Arnaldo and Señor Guillermo Gómez Rivera. Also, another heavyweight scholar will join us. But that’s for another blogpost, folks!

Fun days are expected — on our part, that is.

WASPos, anti Filipinos, “Abakada” Pinoys, and all the others who like to go back worshipping trees and scribblin’ on tree barks… your happy days are numbered.

Because THE TRUTH is on our side.

Y todo esto es para el gran honor de Dios, el fuente de nuestra identidad verdadera.

Wisdom of the ages: la Señora Doña Benita Marasigan vda. de Santos

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With the granddaughter of national hero Marcelo H. del Pilar, la Señora Doña Benita Marasigan vda. de Santos

“Anó ang nangyari sa buhay có? Namulubi lang ang familia co. Ualáng nangyari sa mañgá guinauá co…” thus said a dying and remorseful Marcelo H. del Pilar, as relived by his 92-year-old granddaughter, Atty. Benita Marasigan-Santos.

Del Pilar died for country and principles. But precious time that was supposed to be for his wife and two young daughters Sofía and Anita went with him to the grave. Despite of it all, Lola Bening was still proud of his Lolo Celo for his patriotism.

Last 5 September, I had the rare opportunity to “speak with history” when a cousin of my dad, Paul Évora III, happened to read the article that I wrote about del Pilar which coincided with the national hero’s 160th birth anniversary. He was the one who arranged my lunch meeting with Lola Bening. And since, to the best of my knowledge, I have never met Uncle Paul all my life (I found him only through this wonderful online creature called Facebook), little did I know that his partner, Corina Unson, is actually the youngest daughter of Lola Bening.

We were welcomed by Uncle Paul and his gracious better half at their homely enclave within the bustling party district of Malate. For me, it was a queer sight to see such a handsome bahay na bató in highly urbanized Manila, still standing proudly and mysteriously behind a youngish narra tree (the house sometimes spooks the wits out of unknowing passersby, Uncle Paul told me).

The Marasigan-del Pilar ancestral house. At the gate are Uncle Paul, Yeyette, and Auntie Corina.

Lola Bening, despite her old age (she was born on 4 April 1918), was still sharp of mind. Very sharp. Like her grandfather, she used to be a writer. In fact, her English translation of her grandfather’s Spanish letter to her Tía Josefa landed a spot in Dr. Celedonio G. Aguilar’s Readings In Philippine Literature (Rex Book Store, Ciudad de Quezon, 1994). Trained as a laywer, she wrote numerous articles but mostly about her favorite subject: Philippine History.

“When I was a student at the University (of Santo Tomás), I befriended the librarian there. Once, I asked her if I could gain access to the archives to read the works of my grandfather, “La Frailocracía Filipina” and “La Soberanía Monacal en Filipinas“. I was hoping that I could translate them (from Spanish into English). When I was not allowed access, I spoke with the rector who explained to me that ‘the times have already changed’, that it is really not necessary to read them anymore.” I immediately understood the reason why she was denied access. I explained to her that due to the anti-Catholic content of the two essays, the Catholic university thought it best not to have them exposed to a new generation of Filipinos who no longer deserved a useless war between the religious and secular thought. But I assured her that translations are now available everywhere, including the internet.

If not for her blindness, I am quite certain that Lola Bening would still be writing.

Lola Bening also recounted how her family lost their fortune due to her grandfather’s costly eight-year self-exile in Barcelona, Spain. Whenever they could, the family sent del Pilar money to sustain himself as well as to keep his anti-clerical activities up and running. Although a devout Catholic, Lola Bening seemed not to be ashamed of her grandfather’s stance towards the friars because she believed that what del Pilar did was right and was for the benefit of the masses.

After del Pilar’s death, the family was somehow able to rise from the ashes of poverty due to the hero’s youngest daughter’s marriage to businessman Vicente Marasigan.

“On the day of my mother’s marriage, she was crying the whole time because she never wanted to marry my father,” said Lola Bening. The reason? “It was a planned marriage. And besides, my mother preferred to study than get married.” She then bade us to a sepia photo hanging on the sala wall to examine the countenance of her then young mother who was with her father. The photo was taken shortly before the marriage.

Portrait of Lola Bening's parents: Anita del Pilar and Vicente Marasigan.

“Take a good look. Notice the sadness in her face. She was crying before that picture was taken,” Lola Bening added.

The downcast countenance of Marcelo del Pilar's youngest daughter.

The wedding rings of Lola Bening's beloved parents, made of pure gold. They were married on 12 March 1912. The date is engraved in Anita's ring (the one with the name of Vicente engraved on it).

The couple's wedding rings with 13 gold coins or arras dating back to the Spanish times. The custom of giving 13 arras originated from Spain.

Fortunately for the rest of the family, Anita learned to love Vicente in the course of the marriage (Auntie Corina said that she and her siblings used to call them Lola Tâ and Lolo Tê respectively). The marriage produced nine children. As a testament of Anita’s background of grief, their first two children died. But as compensation —and quite ironically for the “Father of Philippine Masonry”— the Marasigan brood grew up to be god-fearing individuals. They were never influenced by their grandfather’s reputation as a high-ranking Mason. In fact, there were two religious among Vicente and Anita’s children: Ateneo de Manila University’s Fr. Vicente Marasigan, S.J., and; Sr. Mother Mary Aurora Marasigan of the Holy Spirit Adoration Sisters (she globally headed the “Pink Sisters” a record four times). Lola Bening herself had her schooling in two Catholic institutions: the University of Santo Tomás (which was then in Intramuros) and Saint Paul University Manila. She eventually took up law, but was never able to practice it fully; she taught law and history at Saint Paul and also served time as a corporate lawyer. However, her husband, the late Justice Arturo B. Santos, took her place in the practice of law and served as judge of the Court of First Instance of Tarlac, Branch II.

Lola Bening proudly said that her father once owned a handsome house along Calle Isaac Peral (now United Nations Avenue in nearby Ermita) which eventually became the model of and setting for Nick Joaquín‘s Portrait Of An Artist As Filipino (even the Marasigan last name Nick adopted into that play’s main characters, but in no way do the fictional Marasigan players reflected the lives of the real ones, said Auntie Corina). They had another house near the Remedios Circle. It was there were Lola Bening spent her earlier years before transferring to their present home (built in 1929) in Calle Miguel Malvar (first known as Tennesse street; renamed Mindoro Street during the Japanese Occupation).

At the height of the controversial snap presidential polls of 1986, Lola Bening was one of the leaders of the National Citizen’s Movement for Free Elections. During that stint, she was interviewed by a then struggling correspondent who later on became an Emmy-Award-winning journalist: Jim Clancy of CNN International.

During our lunch meeting, I was actually expecting to learn more about del Pilar (the man, not the hero) that I have never read nor heard before. Quite embarassingly, I was told of the anecdote of “Ang Piso Ni Anita“, something quite famous in the academe but was totally unfamiliar to me. However, I learned more about Anita and her pains throughout her life. Throughout her childhood, she was yearning for fatherly love. Lola Bening said that as a child, her mother used to look at photos of her dad, contemplating on how he looked like in person, asking her elders more about how her father’s physical appearance beyond the photos.

As history had taught us, Anita and her Ate Sofía (whom Lola Bening took care of during her final years) never saw their father again when the latter left for Spain in late 1888. All for the love of country. They saw him one last time, though — inside a coffin on a cold December day in 1920 amidst cheers from Masons and government leaders at the Manila pier. Then many years later, just as when Anita had learned what love is with Vicente, the latter was dead set on offering his services to join the struggle against the 14th Imperial Japanese Army. All for the love of country. A dramatic confrontation ensued, as witnessed by Fr. Marasigan (Auntie Corina shared that —fortunately for Anita— Vicente’s love of family prevailed over him).

Anita’s death was perhaps as painful as her depressing moments in life. In 1955, she suffered a stroke and was in comatose for 40 days before Death finally took pity on her.

Anita’s life was a revelation. Something about her story made me love my wife and kids more and more, for they never had to endure the sufferings of a sorrowful wife and fatherless children.

Lola Bening continued sharing her thoughts not only about her grandfather and Philippine history (she even knows the controversial and delicate issue of “Le Fableux Doña Ysidra” but was careful not to mention any name), she was also up to date with current events. A few years ago, at the height of the much-publicized Subic rape case, she advised close friend Fr. James Reuter, S.J. to be cautious in the issue that was then confronting American Lance Cpl. Daniel Smith. And wisely so because the much-beloved Jesuit became spiritual adviser to the accused and their respective families. His task indeed should be more spiritual than mundane. Fr. Reuter thus avoided the controversial political aspects where he would have been up against a much powerful force: the radical feminist groups who were behind Smith’s “victim”.

“In the end, to settle the issue out of court, they (the US government) gave her (Nicole, Smith’s purported rape victim) a US visa which appeared to be what she wanted in the first place,” said Lola Bening, “because, strangely, her relatives got to the US ahead of her!”

She also asked us about what we thought of Noynoy. I wisely decided not to comment since it’s too early into his presidency to do so. But she was an anti-charlatan when it comes to opinion. She was, after all, basing her viewpoints on account of her age and experience throughout the decades. She wisely observed that our country, throughout its sad history, has been led too much by the elite (Auntie Corina kidded her on this comment, pointing out as if she’s in a glass house throwing stones!). She observed how our country’s natural resources have been exploited by outsiders, and how the WASPs have thrown their weight around our national leaders. Classic features of neocolonialism, I commented. To which she replied:

“Maybe it’s time that we recover our identity.”

Indeed it is time.

I would have asked her more about Intramuros and the Spanish language during her heyday. But out of courtesy, I didn’t — the family invited me mainly because of what I wrote about Marcelo H. del Pilar, so it was expected that I ask more about the propagandist. Hopefully, I’d be able to talk to her again to learn more about my beloved Walled City which she saw before the last war destroyed it.

Throughout the end of the visit, Lola Bening exhorted me and Yeyette to visit the 4,027-square-meter Marcelo H. Del Pilar Shrine in Bulacán, Bulacán, the land of which she donated to the government in 1983. She was beaming with pride on how she had helped build the shrine together with the government, and contributed to its many modifications for the sake of national posterity.

As we said our goodbyes while promising her that we will visit her dear grandfather’s shrine very soon, my mind was somehow drifting towards that lonely Barcelona room where a tubercular propagandist, more in pain from being away from his wife and daughters than from his ailment, was quietly weeping while writing letters to his loved ones. And as my mind drifted, I dreamily promised Lola Bening that “we will visit the Mabini Shrine very soon.”

The 92-year-old lady, still sharp of wits, corrected this absent-minded 31-year-old blogger of his unforgivable mistake:

“Del Pilar Shrine! Not Mabini, Pepe!”

Undoubtedly, Lola Bening’s grandfather would have been as alert as her if only he had reached his 90s. But such is the grand design of our history.

Uncle Paul, Auntie Corina, Lola Bening, Yeyette, and del Pilar's mascot.

The true Filipino language is OFFICIALLY back on track!!!

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¡Mecachis! Is this true?

IT IS TRUE!!!

Spain, Philippines sign agreement on Spanish language

Spain will help the Philippines reintroduce Spanish language instruction at public schools in the southeastern Asian country under an agreement signed Tuesday between the two nations.

The study of the language is currently voluntary at public high schools in the Philippines, a former Spanish colony, but the government plans to make its availability widespread from 2012.

Under the agreement signed Tuesday, Madrid will help train Spanish language teachers in the Philippines, help develop the curriculum and provide electronic teaching aids as well as technical advice, the Spanish foreign ministry said.

It was signed by the Philippines’ Education Secretary Jesli Lapus and the Spanish education ministry’s director for international relations, José Manuel Mart¡nez Sierra in Barcelona, it added in a statement.

In 1987 the Philippines abolished Spanish as one of its official languages as well as a requirement that college students had to learn it.

The language, one of the world’s most spoken, has since largely vanished from everyday use in the country of just under 100 million people, with English and the local languages now commonly used.

Unlike in Madrid’s colonies in Latin America, the Spanish language was never as widespread in the Philippines, mainly because of the small number of Spanish settlers in the archipelago.

English was introduced to the country when it passed from Spanish to American control after the Spanish-American war of 1898. (Inquirer.net)

Mr. Lapus has been tirely working on this effort since Gloria Arroyo’s last official visit to Madrid in late 2007. Kudos to Mr. Lapus for an incredible achievement in Filipinism!

This is a great leap forward to recovering our true national identity which was taken away from us through a systematic leyenda negra perpetrated by neocolonial WASPs and their local lackeys. With the Spanish language all set to be taught in public schools, this will enable the ordinary Filipino youth to finally realize their “innate Spanishness”. And through this realization, the incontrovertibility of our “latinoness” will come into fruition.

As I’ve been harping for many years, Spanish is crucial to the Filipino character. No less than the great Senator Claro M. Recto summarized it this way…

It is certainly not for sentimental motives or deference to the great Spanish nation that gave her religion, language, and culture to half of the world that we profess devotion to this language but because of national egoism and because of imperatives of patriotism, because Spanish is already ours, our own, blood of our blood and flesh of our flesh, for so willed our martyrs, heroes and statesmen of the past and without it the inventory of our cultural patrimony would be wrong.

My comrade Arnaldo is correct in so many ways: our Spanishness makes us more Filipino.

A very special thenks to The Showroom Manager for the timely heads up!

The Thomasites, before and after

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THE THOMASITES, BEFORE AND AFTER
Guillermo Gómez Rivera

They were called thus not due to St. Thomas of Aquinas but because they came in a cattle cargo vessel called the “S/S Thomas”.

And they came to teach English as part of the “policy of attraction” after the 1898 República de Filipinas was blown up to smithereens by a superior invading military force.

It was obvious that the main content of the so-called policy of attraction was to compulsorily impose English as the only medium of instruction. Benevolent assimilation was to be advanced by “education in English”. If no working knowledge of English was acquired by the native Filipinos, education was unilaterally deemed not to have taken place among them. Without English, a Filipino is deemed illiterate even if he can correctly write and speak in Tagalog or any of his major native languages.

Indeed, before the benevolent Thomasites did come, native children had for their English teachers the McKinley soldiers that claimed to educate “them Injuns with the crank and the kragg”. This claim dovetailed the Mckinleyan motto “to Christianize, to educate, and to uplift” the Filipino.

But were the Filipinos of the 1900s who were already drinking real potable water; who knew what cheap electricity and silk was; who called friends by note, postcard, phone and telegram, and who grandly celebrated Christmas and Lent, really asking the Thomasites to “educate” them in the English language?

An American linguist of the time, Mary I. Bresnahan, answered that question in the following manner:

“In any case, it continues to be speculative if the Filipino’s purported desire to learn English was genuine or not. Documents tell us about Filipinos trembling with fear inside their huts built on stilts as they expected the intrusion of the cruel Americans reputed to be blood thirsty giants bent on killing even the most trusting among them. Unsure about the real motives of the invaders, the Filipinos did what they thought would please the Americans the most. And that was to learn their language, — English.” (see “The Americanization of the Philippines, The Imposition of English during the 1898-1901 Period” by Alfonso L García Martínez, Law College of Puerto Rico, Vol. 43, pages 237 to 270, May 1982).

To change this general perception, the so-called Thomasites came and were accepted.

Even a secondary Spanish school like Colegio de San Juan de Letrán wrote a textbook to teach the English language as early as 1902. This was a help to the beleaguered Thomasites. The book was entitled Mañga Onang Turô sa Uicang Inglés written by Tagalog Professor P. Ulpiano Herrero and Spanish Dominican P. Francisco García. (Imprenta UST, Manila, 1902). In this book of 482 pages English language lessons were effectively explained in both the Tagalog and Spanish languages.

But the pro-English language efforts of the Thomasites appeared nil. Too much was expected of them by the American authorities themselves.

By 1916, their hard work was criticized in a report prepared by Henry Ford to President Woodrow Wilson. Wrote Mr. Ford:

“There is, however, another aspect in this case which should be considered. This aspect became evident to me as I traveled through the islands, using ordinary transportation and mixing with all classes of people under all conditions. Although, as based on the school statistics, it is said that more Filipinos speak English than any other language, no one can be in agreement with this declaration if they base their assessment on what they hear on the testimony of their hearing… Spanish is everywhere the language of business and social intercourse… in order for anyone to obtain prompt service from anyone, Spanish turns out to be more useful than English… and outside of Manila it is almost indispensable. The Americans who travel around all the islands customarily use it.” (The Ford Report of 1916. Chapter 3. The Use of English, pp. 365-366.)

What had appeared to be a big deception was the earlier report of Director of Instruction David P. Barrows which said:

“It is to be noted that with the increased study and use of English, there has been an increased study of Spanish. I think it is a fact that many more people in these islands have a knowledge of Spanish now than they did when the American Occupation occurred” (The 1908 School Report, p. 96).”

“Spanish continues to be the most prominent and important language spoken in political, journalistic and commercial circles. English has, therefore, active rivals as the language of trade and instruction. It is equally probable that the adult population has lost interest in learning English. I believe it is a fact that many more people now know the Spanish language than when the Americans sailed for these islands and their occupation took place… The customary prerequisite for dispatchers is for them to know English and Spanish. Through the great upsurge in numbers and circulation of newspapers and publications, there is much more reading matter in Spanish than before… (Op. Sit. p.9)

But the Thomasites plodded onward. Upon their shoulders was thrown what was thought of as the great task to make Filipinos speak English. This thought was, however, not shared by Filipino educators born out of the Katipunan and the Primera República’s Universidad Literaria like Dr. Leon María Guerrero and Don Enrique Mendiola, co-founders of the Liceo de Manila, Librada Avelino, founder of the Centro Escolar de Señoritas, Mariano Jocson, founder of the Colegio de Manila, Las Maestras Avanceña and Don Manuel Locsín, founders of the Instituto de Molo, Iloilo, Doña Florentina Tan Villanueva, foundress of the Escuela de Cebú, and Gran Maestra Rosa Sevilla de Alvero founder of the Instituto de Mujeres.

These native educators were for the use of Spanish and Tagalog, with Visayan and Ilocano, as media of national education. They viewed English as “a language of economic conquest”. (See: The Life of Librada Avelino, Bilingual edition in Spanish and English, by Francisco Varona and Pedro de la Llana, Vera & Sons, Publishing Co., 1935, Manila, p.241).

The Thomasites were not only hampered in their task by native resistance, albeit passive. They were also made to know, outright, that English would never become the language of the Filipino masses because it is not written as it is spoken in the same manner that the native languages are done. The century-old Tagalog phrase “mahirap ispiliñgin” (difficult to spell) attests to this reality. Mr. Henry Ford himself refers to this fact when he wrote in his mentioned report the following:

“The use of Spanish as an official language has been extended to January 1, 1920. Its general use seems to be spreading. Natives acquiring it learn it as a living speech. Everywhere they hear it spoken by leading people of the community and their ears are trained to its pronunciation. On the other hand, they (the natives) are practically without phonic standards in acquiring English and the result is that they learn it as a book language rather than as a living speech. “(P.368, Historical Bulletin. Ford Report on the Philippine Situation).

The italicized part is true up to the present time. More so when many children, out of economic hardship brought about by a balooning foreign debt and the increased price of gasoline, electricity and potable water, can not attend primary and secondary schooling. That must be why English is fast becoming a minority language in these islands today. The government and the private schools do not have enough money to pay teachers a truly living wage. And the English speaking elite, as well as the politicians, find themselves forced to campaign in Tagalog, or Filipino, for votes. In other words, the Filipino language ecology has started to self-destruct with the de-emphasis of Spanish, the link between English and Tagalog, Bisayà and Ilocano.

But the Thomasites could not then go on with their task to teach English. The Philippines was not a Tabula Rasa with regard to language. There already was an existing Philippine language ecology with Spanish as its nucleus. The aim to therefore replace Spanish with English as the first step to also replace Tagalog (the actual basis of Filipino or Pilipino) along with Ilocano, Cebuano, and Hiligaynón, could not take off with success. And this was the case because the imposition of English was actually going against an existing language ecology that would later get back at even the English language, as it is now starting to happen.

But the early legislative Commissions that ruled the Islands were there to really impose English no matter the cost. And to do so, some draconian measures were inevitably, albeit tyrannically, implemented to help the Thomasites go about their linguistic task. The same Ford Report gives us a glimpse of these measures that came in the form of hard laws.

“Act No. 190 of the Commission (then the legislature) provided that English must become the official language of all courts and their records after January 1, 1906… Act No. 1427 extended the time to January 1, 1911… Act No. 1946 again extended the time to January 1, 1913.” (Op. cit. p. 368).

In short, it was the American WASP regime that started the idea about a language, whether English, Spanish or Tagalog, that must be taught by force of law in order to sink it in upon the psyche of the Filipino. This precedent glaringly belies the much later argument that “the compulsory teaching of Spanish by legislation would not succeed because of its obligatory nature”.

But before January 1, 1913 came, Executive Order No. 44, issued on August 8, 1912, had to allow Spanish to continue as an official language out of sheer necessity. In view of this situation Henry Ford, sounding almost exasperated, concluded that:

“The practical impossibility of substituting Spanish for English in court proceedings and in municipal government was such that even if English was imposed as the Official Language on January 1, 1913, Spanish would still continue in use.” (Op. Cit. p. 369)

Another law was enacted by the Filipino dominated National Assembly on February 11, 1913 further extending the use of Spanish up to 1920. Of this law, Henry Ford reported:

“There is no present prospect that Spanish can be superseded any more readily in 1920 than heretofore. And from all appearances, its place as an official language is securely established.” (Op. Cit. pp. 368-369).

By 1925 a so-called “Monroe Commission” came to the islands to assess the educational system started in English by the Thomasites. With regard the advance of English, this commission concluded:

“Upon leaving school, more than 99% of Filipinos will not speak English in their homes. Possibly, only 10% to 15% of the next generation will be able to use this language in their occupations. In fact, it will only be the government employees, and the professionals, who might make use of English.”

Upon the publication of this result, Modesto Reyes, a Filipino writer in Spanish, publisher and editor of the Rizalist newspaper-magazine ISAGANI, commented that “with the same funding and efforts spent, with the same system and other modern means of instruction now employed in the obligatory instruction of English, if Spanish were instead taught to Filipinos, the proportion of modernly educated Filipinos would have been greater than the number produced with English as the medium of education. Now, because of this failure with English, we have no other just and natural alternative but to adopt Tagalog as the national and the official language.”

And Modesto Reyes bravely added: “In our humble opinion, the Philippines already had a national and official language in Spanish when it formed part of Spain. And we adopted Spanish as our own language because we were in fact Spanish citizens. But came the Americans and without first turning us into American citizens, they just went on forcing us to adopt their language through an educational system paid for by our own tax money.” ISAGANI, P.24, Year 1, No. 5, June 1925.)

The shelling and bombing of Manila in World War Two, as provoked by the landing of the American liberation forces, killed many Filipinos. Among them was a big number of Spanish speakers and writers. And the entry of the liberating American forces suddenly made English a necessary tool of communication for grateful Filipinos who came to adore the G.I. Joe with his chocolates and his pampams.

But right after the grant of the July 4, 1946 independence from the U.S.A. the Soto, Magalona, and Cuenco laws were unanimously approved by a still largely Spanish-speaking legislature. Spanish was made a regular subject of the collegiate curricula. Because the older Spanish-speaking generations of Filipinos were still alive, this language continued, in the words of Henry Ford, “as a living language”.

It is because of this that the old U.S, WASP view of Spanish as a threat to English in the Philippines was resurrected. A black propaganda about Spanish being “a dead and irrelevant language” was launched. Parents and students were brainwashed to believe that having Spanish as a 12 unit course was an economic burden. (It was previously with 24 units because the other 12 were for the study of Filipino writings in this language).

With the 1987 Cory Constitution in place, the supposed Spanish threat to the advance of English was at last eliminated from both the official and the educational spheres. Article XIV, Section 7, Paragraph 7 of the Cory 1987 constitution provides that “Spanish and Arabic shall be taught on an optional and voluntary basis”. But while CHED refuses to organize a 12-unit foreign language course for the college curricula, neither Spanish nor Arabic, nor any other foreign language can become a regular subject in the tertiary curricula of this country. But the President of the Republic can remedy the deliberate violation of this constitutional provision by executively ordering CHED and DECS to organize unit accredited foreign language courses.

But will she?

After one hundred years since the Thomasites landed all that was achieved is the replacement of Spanish as the country’s official language. Aside from this we have the almost secret policy to force into phonetic Tagalog the unphonetic base of English, as pointed out by Henry Ford. This is now being done by ramming the entire English alphabet into Tagalog and into almost all the other major native languages by a DECS circular without any clear objection from the Commission on Filipino.

What could be tragic and funny is that this deliberate alphabetical cross-breeding is resulting into a pidgin called Taglish that may just further deteriorate the common use of English as it definitely and officially damages what used to be standard Tagalog or Filipino.

But the Filipino is said to be profitably entering the global village, albeit as a derided DH and as an entertainer, with English, or Taglish. This slave-like situation of Filipino migrant workers demeans all the previous efforts of the Thomasites. Filipinos today are being “educated” with compulsory English by the tyranny of the Jones law of 1916, the country’s foreign debt and the present Philippine Constitution, just to end up as virtual slaves and prostitutes in other countries that neither have English as their language.

Is this why the teaching of another international languages like Spanish is deliberately being withheld by the U.S. WASP dominated Philippine government of today?.

Is this why a foreign language course, with credits in units in the college curricula, can not be included by the now controversial Philippine Commission on Higher Education (CHED) so that either Mandarin, Spanish and Arabic may be placed within the reach of today’s Filipino student?

Is language tyranny a part of the legacy of the Thomasites?

(originally published in eManila.com)

The purported elusiveness of our national identity

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“To accuse the Spanish, over and over again, of having brought us all sorts of things, mostly evil, among which we can usually remember nothing very valuable, ‘except, perhaps,’ religion and national unity, is equivalent to saying of a not very model mother, that she has given her child nothing except life, for in the profoundest possible sense, Spain did give birth to us — as a nation, as an historical people. This geographical unit of numberless islands called the Philippines –this mystical unit of numberless tongues, bloods and cultures called a Filipino– was begotten of Spain, is a Spanish creation. The content of our national destiny is ours to create, but the basic form, the temper, the physiognomy, Spain has created for us.

Towards our Spanish past, especially, it is time we became more friendly, bitterness but inhibits us; those years cry for a fresher appraisal. –Nick Joaquín (La Naval de Manila, October 1943)–

So many writers and scholars have claimed that our race has no identity of its own. They say that we are still seeking an elusive national identity. Most of them somehow have this “warped” view of the subject, stating that more than three hundred years of Spanish colonization hindered the development or natural evolution of our identity. Some say that the Filipino identity started to exist only when the Philippines revolted against “Spanish tyranny and oppression”. And some argue that we still have to develop it.

“A definite national identity has continuously eluded the Filipino peoples,” declared Gabriela Network. “Colonizers and imperial powers have thwarted fledgling attempts at nationhood, redefining the archipelago for their own benefit.” The late statesman, Carlos P. Rómulo, wrote intrepidly that “our history is a record of the search for the Filipino identity,” implying thus that there is an absolute absence of it. “The examination is urgent because we are witnessing a resurgence of the spirit, expressing itself in a boldness with which we like to conceive our politics, our social organization, our intellectual and artistic tradition, our system of education, and, more significantly, the assertiveness with which we like to regard ourselves in relation to the larger context of Asia,” he continued.

Retired colonel of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (and author of the History of the Armed Forces of the Filipino People) Dr. César P. Pobre even tried to explain why there is a lack of such an identity: the country’s archipelagic nature, a deficiency of unity and unifying symbols other than the national language and flag, colonial policies, the protracted terrorism of local communist and separatist groups, and demographic diversity.

But to say that we do not have our own identity is tantamount to declaring that we have no country, that we are not a unified network of nations. Or that perhaps we are a nation of fools. From Aparri to Joló, aren’t we all proud and united in joy whenever boxing hero Manny Pacquiáo waves the three stars and the eight-rayed sun in victory over a devastated (and pre-match loudmouthed) opponent? Our nationalistic pride is always stirred up whenever a kababayan receives honors abroad. And we are angered in unison whenever we receive news that one of us is harmed overseas. Our nationalistic fervor is alive. We acknowledge each other’s united presence even in other countries. Doesn’t this prove that we already have an identity? We already have a concept of nationhood, but the problem is that this concept is somewhat bigoted and not wanting in atavistic blindness. In this age of information and ecumenism, we are no longer finicky toward racism. It’s (supposedly) a thing of the past. Why then are we still behind in identifying our very own identity as a people?

We do not need to seek nor build our own identity. It’s already here, ready to strike us in the face. What needs to be done is to simply identify it. It is already within us. We just need to tap it. And make it known among ourselves.

But what is national identity? It is generally accepted that this concept refers to a group of people’s distinguishing characteristics or specific features, making each of its member feel a warm sentiment of belongingness to that group. Sentient commonality is present regardless of racial origin (i.e., regional attributes) or creed or regional peculiarities. Its importance thus cannot be taken for granted.

“A nation strongly built is a nation secure,” remarked Dr. Pobre. “To be strong it must have unity. And to have unity it must have, among others, a national identity. Hence, the quest for national identity is an imperative to building a strong national community.” It is so true. Therefore, if we already have a national identity, why are we still a weak and blighted nation, blind with rage toward our past, particularly at our glorious Spanish past? Because we haven’t been able to identify this controversial identity. Or we refuse to do so.

The words “glorious Spanish past” has to be mentioned and even emphasized because it is exactly from that epoch that our identity was first formed and forged. Before the Spaniards came, there was no Philippines and no Filipino people to speak of. The Filipino identity is the product of the Filipino State that began to exist in Spanish on 24 June 1571. The Filipino State was founded together with Manila on that same date, with the government having Spanish as its official language. It’s as simple as that; no more need to use effusive language and pretentious arguments.

With the birth of a nation follows the birth of its people’s own unique identity. Before 24 June 1571, each tribe (called indios) living all over what is now known as the Philippine archipelago had their own petty kingdoms, languages (including a system of writing), culture, traditions and customs, beliefs, and identity. Technically speaking, they were divided as various independent states or countries. That was all changed when Spain occupied the islands and united all of them into one compact and homogeneous body (that is why those who refused this generous Spanish act should not consider themselves as Filipinos in spirit).

In nation-building, the people has to be united first and foremost. And in order to be united, its peoples should acknowledge a shared identity among themselves. Our forefathers, the first ones who synthesized the concept of nationhood back in 1571, avowed to this shared identity through concepts and newfound knowledge brought about by Spanish culture. “In our orthodox history education, it’s regrettable that the core appears to be lessons in history with a ‘nationalist’ attitude,” wrote fellow nouveau “propagandist” Arnaldo Arnáiz. “That in order to glorify the homeland, we must acknowledge that colonialism was entirely immoral and therefore never produced any meaningful transformation, that we have an obligation to focus on ways to remove its influence, and that we must to go back to our pristine origins — that the more aboriginal our mindset is, the more Filipino we become. Along this line of thinking, there are those who argue that to be a Filipino, the correct attitude must be above all that of an Asian. This essentially puristic approach is an attempt to undo the path of our evolution as a society. The trouble with this is that the Filipino’s base can only be traced in its mestizo genesis. Even the formation of its name, ‘Filipino’ and ‘Filipinas’, is the outcome of that merger.”

This is not to say that the Spaniards were pure saints and that they didn’t do us any wrong at all. “Colonialism has its faults,” says Arnáiz. But it should be noted that the Spanish takeover was mainly for evangelization because unlike other colonies, the Philippine archipelago had no spices nor any major gold deposits (save perhaps for a few places such as the one in Paracale, Camarines Norte). This country, in fact, developed into a progressive nation through the latest technologies and economic breakthroughs coming from the West. And this economic progression later on paved the way for former US President William McKinley’s infamous “Benevolent Assimilation” proclamation in 1898, thus shaming and mocking the precepts of his own country’s Monroe Doctrine.

Such a fact prompted another “modern propagandista” and foremost Filipinist/Hispanist of our time, the great scholar and 1975 Premio Zóbel winner Guillermo Gómez Rivera, to observe that “the Filipino State became so rich and so vibrant that from a mere missionary outpost it went on to become a colony, in the Spanish sense of the word. It went on to become an overseas Spanish province under a Ministerio de Ultramar until it graduated into the 1898 República Filipina which the invading American forces of the 1900s literally destroyed with an unjust war by murdering one-sixth of its total population.” Señor Gómez further adds that “the Americans claimed the Philippine Islands as a ‘territory of the United States of America’ but never gave any American citizenship status to the Filipinos as Spain did from the start of her rule. Thus, while it was the Spaniards who started for all Filipinos the organization of what was later to become their own Filipino State, the basis of their national patrimony and rights, the American WASPs* took away from the Filipinos, their own STATE.”

If only today’s generation are still Spanish-speaking like our ancestors, the abovementioned facts would have been very easy to grasp. And more facts would have been uncovered, especially those that were twisted by today’s educators who are under the influence of WASP neocolonial policies. Another colleague of ours, José Miguel García, correctly ascertained that “many of our documents, records, and literature were written in Spanish. These are records of our past. Without records of our past, we do not have access to our common origin as a nation. Without our common origin as a nation, we do not have a common identity. Without a common identity, we do not have anything to do with each other as a nation…”

Once our true Filipino Identity, an identity based on our glorious Spanish heritage, has been correctly identified and made known to all, nationalistic pride and patriotic love will have more sense and meaning. That is why it is imperative to bring back the Spanish language in this country. It is the key to identify and recover our national identity.

“Only when we become aware that we have an inheritance and how and where it was taken can we recover our national identity,” wrote García. “Only then can we recover our beautiful stock. Only then can we recover our national genetic code and regenerate once more our beautiful stock from which development of not only the once glorious Manila will again spring, but our once glorious Filipinas.”

Ladies and gents, the ball is now in our hands.

*White Anglo-Saxon Protestant

Another “Classic Post” From My Not-To-Classical Friendster Blog

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It's about to rain on them Chocos...

It's about to rain on them Chocos...

It’s either I couldn’t think of anything to write or my brain’s too stressed out to do so. That is why I’m now republishing another blog post that I wrote from (25 May 2006) my not too legendary blog in Friendster.

I really didn’t write too many posts for that Friendster blog because I somehow got JB Lazarte’s attention too soon. But whatever precious stuff I wrote there, I better transfer all of them here in FILIPINO SCRIBBLES. For all we know, Friendster might end up in smoke, just like what’s going to happen to Geocities. It’s because Facebook has been pounding Friendster mercilessly for months!

OK, I’ll shut up now. Here’s another crazed-up essay written during one, bleak rainy day (and what a coincidence… it’s raining outside!).

Here it is…

*******

RAIN GENTLY FALLS… WHENEVER WE PLAY WITH FIRE!!!

‘Tis the season I love, ¡ese!

Our country is visited (as if it’s a casual one) by 15 to 25 typhoons a year. Just recently, Caloy left the country devastated, leaving around 40 souls bodiless and hundreds of families homeless and traumatized. About P8 million worth of crops and properties were damaged, and transportation was petrified, creating a wacky domino effect on the nation’s already WASP-plundered economy. It’s still summer (NOTE: this piece was scribbled on 05/17/06), but already, we’ve got one hellacious storm.

And it left me with an impish, craven smile. Don’t get me wrong, dear reader. It’s not the destruction that I’m jovial about. It’s the freakin’ winds, the surging waves, the icy air, the menacing dark clouds, everything that a typhoon has to offer a thirsty soul.

Well, it’s not exactly the typhoon I’m excited about, but the season every school kid loves: the rainy season (¡woohoo! ¡ualáng pasoc!)!

When that I was and a little tiny boy,

With hey, ho, the wind and the rain,

A foolish thing was but a toy,

For the rain it raineth every day.

-Bill Shakespeare-

My heart pounds with excitement during the dying days of a simmering summer whenever the unforgiving heat of the summer sun cowers to the chilly embrace of the darkest of nimbus clouds. The hair on my sordid skin feels wolfish whenever the hot, still air suddenly crawls onto my skin and whispers feebly into my ear psychosomatic words brought upon by an unholy amalgam of cold and heat (“it’s happening again, m0theRfu©k€r! you cannot escape, it’s happening again, you’re a marked sonuva bIt©h! it’s happening again…”), spiralling up into the sick air full of human incorrigibilities (what disturbs me is that it stops me on my tracks because I see it — oh, mighty butterburgers on a politician’s a$s, I FU©K!N’ SEE IT!!!)

The jolly perturbation of my wild blood surges when the soft whispers of the wind climbs each decibel scale, transforming itself into a howl so lovely you can no longer hear what mortals call urban realities. Nothing but the Genesiacal sounds of the wind pervade the serotinal social dyslogia of a fabricated, sh!+ty culture.

The shrillness of the wind continues, mocking the tempestuous skies to break.

And so the skies do cave in.

A torrent of immortal waters explode, displaying a force that has so moved music and literature and the unconscious self throughout the centuries. Indeed, a vulgar display of power is unleashed (…five minutes alone!!!).

It’s happening again. I could never get away. The talons, the claws, the grip on my neck, my head (muh humps, muh humps!), pressing even harder, like a fu©k!n’ vice…

Blow, winds, and crack your cheeks! rage! blow!

You cataracts and hurricanes, spout

Till you have drench’d our steeples.

-Bill Again-

The tempest continues. I raise my drenched, sickly arms up into the sky, as if to embrace a world that is about to end in water. One couldn’t tell if the tears falling from my eyes (that has set a thousand luscious chicks, but my countenance sank em’ all…) are due to an upheaval of an unbearable melancholy, or the intensity of rational madness — or if I am just my unemotional self, welcoming this force of nature that I so dearly love.

Yesterday’s rains have come again,

Come, my damsel, revel with me.

But due to the iciness of the surroundings,

You might as well do me, do me! DO ME!!!

Hah!

-Weirdkatt-

O, Tempora! O, Mores! Poe must have screamed in fervent fervor, if, a long, long time ago, he did share this rainy season euphoria with me.

The “Seattle Spirit” has at last come back, and I’m gaining wet ground. Suffice to say that this is exactly what the Muse had been wanting from me for months — not official letters, scraggly and mundane notes, multifaceted communiqués, and other worthless stuff (as if these terminological ejaculations are normal). Yup, she’s been whippin’ my a$s and disturbing my brain to get up, stand up (STAND UP FOR YOUR RIGHTS! — oh, will ya’ please SHUT THE FU©K UP FOR A WHILE!!!), and detonate myself as do the skies do here in Filipinas from June to October (sometimes, oddly, in May), Yes. It’s happening again, psycho. There’s no turning back. There’re no locked doors. This destitute ink must find its existence in any dried up papyrus before the storm in my head destroys them all (NOTE: this is when I was still writing this piece the old-school way).

I have dawdled too long. Gotta stop pretending who I was, or who I am now. Or who I gotta be. I’ll never know for now. I’ll only know when I get there. But how will I realize it? I don’t know. For now, hadda obey what the Muse has been prodding me to do. Ostentation may be the keyword here, the hidden desire of each and every artist (thou shalt not deny lest thou be a hypocrite!!!). Hadda do something about it. Obey the Muse, the b!+©hy, pr!©k-hungry Muse, before madness overtakes me.

Freud’s a wuss. He’s “talkin’ out” method won’t work for me. Shoulda consulted a Smith treatise on the economic impact of his lie-down-on-the-couch-as-I-rape-yer-mind method. Besides, I couldn’t talk. Cannot talk. Better “write it out” instead.

The fervidity in me fades out as soon as the stinging bullets of rainwater slows down to mere droplets of prism. And in this crystal-like, technicolor world after a heavy downpour, the once merciless sun peeps sheepishly through the exiting clouds, although the wind still blows. The incorrigible air has lost its scent. Everything — the air, the vista – has been purified.

The rainy season has just begun. And I come undone.

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