Don Guimò: a tribute to an extraordinary Filipino

Last July 25, the Academia Filipina de la Lengua Española conferred honorary memberships to two well-known and deserving hispanistas: Georgina Padilla y Zóbel de Mac-Crohon and Gaspar “Gus” Vibal y Asunción. Doña Georgina belongs to the illustrious Zóbel de Ayala clan while the young Don Gaspar is the executive director of Vibal Group, Inc.

Due to the ongoing pandemic, the Academia Filipina was not able to physically confer to them the honorary titles, hence a recorded online tertulia and concert was instead produced by Vibal Group. But before the program proper, a short video tribute for Señor Guillermo Gómez Rivera, the current president of the Academia Filipina, was shown (see video below). Many of his friends from the academe and beyond (including yours truly) paid their respects to the undisputed King of Filhispanic Literature.

Don Guimò, as Señor Gómez’s close friends and family members call him, is a man of many hats: a multilingual author, journalist, historian, poet, playwright, fictionist, linguist, folklorist, cartoonist, recording artist, Spanish language teacher as well as instructor of Spanish dances (considered as our country’s “maestro de flamenco”). Aside from his mastery of Spanish, he is also fluent in the following languages: Hiligaynón, Quinaráy-a, English, and Tagálog. In addition, Don Guimò also has a working knowledge of Chabacano Zamboangueño, Cavitén (Chabacano Caviteño), French, Hokkien, Cebuano, and Portuguese. He has also won many writing awards, among them the prestigious Premio Zóbel in 1975 (Doña Georgina’s grandfather, Enrique Zóbel de Ayala, was the one who established it in the early 1920s) and, more recently, the Premio Antonio Abad.

While we were preparing for the surprise video tribute for Señor Gómez, fellow history blogger Arnaldo Arnáiz remarked that it is about time that people start acknowledging his value especially since he is already in his twilight years (he turns 85 today). “It is important to express our gratitude to people that touched our lives while they’re still around”, Arnaldo wrote on his Facebook page a few days after the online event. It is because many tributes that are being done nowadays are posthumous — how would recipients be able to appreciate them?

Despite his age, Señor Gómez’s mind is sharper than ever before. He is still able to continue the difficult struggle for the recognition of our true national identity. A great man like Don Guimò only comes once every one hundred years. That is why I call him as the GREATEST FILIPINO alive today. There is simply none other.

¡Feliz cumpleaños, Don Guimò! ¡Qué cumplas muchos más!

Patron saint against pandemics

The name “San Roque” easily evokes a feeling of countryside nostalgia, especially among Filipino “provincianos”. After all, close to three hundred barrios (barangays) all over Filipinas are named after him. In Sámar del Norte, there is a municipality named San Roque as well. But this European saint’s pastoral reputation may have been made famous by a Filipino folk song titled “Doón Po Sa Amin, Bayan ng San Roque” in which four beggars miraculously overcame their physical disabilities in joyous fashion (you may listen to it here). It should be noted that San Roque (Saint Roche in English) is the patron saint of epidemics/pandemics and plagues. And today is his feast day.

San Roque“, 17th century oil on canvas by Spanish painter Francisco Ribalta (1565–1628).

San Roque, ruega por nosotros. Qué termine esta pandemia. 🙏

Screenshot of my last visit to Barrio San Roque (March 13 this year) here in San Pedro Tunasán, La Laguna. Its chapel can be seen at right. ¡Feliz fiesta, Barrio San Roque! 🥳

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Are our businessmen willing to do the ultimate sacrifice?

Ñgayón namin cayó cailañgan.

Photo collage: GMA News Online.

A few months ago, Rappler reported that the wealth of many of our country’s billionaires grew despite the pandemic. Ten or so of these billionaries are prominent, but there are actually more of them. To my estimation, at least thirty.

Now, it’s back to square one for the government, with Metro Manila going back to a hard lockdown (Enhanced Community Quarantine) starting tomorrow due to a rising case of the dreaded Delta variant, a more dangerous strain of the COVID-19 virus circulating around the globe. Region IV-A might even follow suit (this according to a recent Facebook post by Cavite Gov. Jonvic Remulla). For sure, more livelihoods and businesses will be affected.

The national and local governments are in a quandary. They are running out of funds (if they haven’t yet) for alleviation programs. Imagine if our billionaires would chip in at least ₱1 billion to government efforts. How much would be the total?

Ramón Ang
Alfredo Benítez
Mark Cojuangco
David Consunji
Teresita Sy-Coson
Robert Coyiuto Jr.
Lance Gokongwei
Andrew Gotianun Sr.
Roberto Oñgpín
Manny Pacquiáo
Manny Pañgilinan
Ricardo Po Sr.
Enrique Razón Jr.
Michael Romero
Edgar Sía II
Andrés Soriano
Elizabeth Sy
Hans Sy
Harley Sy
Herbert Sy
Henry Sy Jr.
Andrew Tan
Lucio Tan
Tony Tan Caktiong
George Ty
Cynthia Villar
Manny Villar
Fernando Zóbel de Ayala
Iñigo Zóbel de Ayala
Jaime Zóbel de Ayala

That’s a total of ₱30 billion pesos. With that amount, they would be able to help millions of Filipinos who are financially suffering from this pandemic.

Baca ñga culang pa ang mg̃a billonario na iyán na nasa listahan, eh.

And believe me: even if each of them will shell out a billion pesos or more from their own pockets (not from their companies), never will they become impoverished. They will continue living la vida loca. Their wealth machines will continue producing for them tons of moolah for years to come.

The question is: are they willing to do that for their countrymen?

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¡Feliz 30° aniversario al Instituto Cervantes!

¡Felicitaciones, Instituto Cervantes! A través del Instituto Cervantes de Manila, ya sois parte de la cultura filipina moderna. Y muchas gracias también por ayudarnos a salvar nuestra identidad nacional y reintroducirla a la juventud filipina de hoy. PLUS ULTRA!


Laguna@450… or Laguna@286?

La Laguna (shortened nowadays to simply Laguna), my family’s adoptive province since 2004, is celebrating its 450th foundation year today. But this annual event only began during the administration of its current governor, Ramil Hernández. He started recognizing it immediately at the start of his governance, or in 2014. Full-blown celebrations commenced the following year and onwards. Prior to all that, the province never had any foundation day celebration. In fact, the provincial government nor any other historian in the country didn’t have an inkling as to when the province was established. I was even told that previous administrations sent various local historians on a mission here and abroad to look for that elusive foundation date.

Humility aside, I had a hand in the discovery of the province’s foundation date. In 2012, I was commissioned by then Governor E.R. Ejército to write a history book about our province (in coffee table book format). In the course of my research, I stumbled upon the date: 28 July 1571. La Laguna started out not as a province but as an encomienda. The Philippine Daily Inquirer reported about it, and the next thing I knew, I was the next big thing in local historiography. People started tagging me as a “young historian” although Xiao Chua, who was already then a popular public historian, was five years my junior. He deserved that title more than I did.

But my discovery was also met with criticism. It was, in fact, hotly contested especially by history buffs from Batangas (of all places). They argued that my discovery pertained not to the encomienda of Laguna de Bay but to that of Laguna de Bonbón (today’s Lake Taal). I challenged them to instead counter an academic paper that I wrote pertaining to the topic. Another hurdle was the National Historical Commission of the Philippines (NHCP) which was also unreceptive to my findings. According to one of their researchers, the book from which I found the date (Historia General de Filipinas, volume 2, by Fr. Pablo Pastells, S.J., published in 1926 in Barcelona) was not a primary source. The NHCP would rather recognize a royal decree from Spain or any other related document signifying the creation of La Laguna as a province.

What this researcher told me was correct. My source for the date isn’t a primary source. However, my argument was this: due to the absence of such a royal decree, and a lack of other primary sources, we can, for the meantime, recognize 28 July 1571 until such a time when the pertinent documents that they’re looking for suddenly appears. In the end, the NHCP agreed. They collaborated with the provincial government to officially recognize the date. The history book for the province which I was writing was also on the final stages of editing. Unfortunately for me, all this happened when Gov. Ejército was suffering political persecution from the Liberal Party. In the end, he was ousted from his seat and was replaced by Hernández, his Vice Governor who belonged to a rival political party. This also explains why the Hernández administration has never invited me in their celebration of the province’s foundation, nor did they give recognition to my findings. It’s because I’m associated with Ejército. I get that. It’s politics.

Anyway. Early this year, on the morning of February 23, I was scouring the web for digitized books on Filipino History. While reading the entry for La Laguna province in Historia Geográfica, Geológica y Estadiśtica de Filipinas, I encountered this:

This appears in page 173 of Historia Geográfica, Geológica y Estadiśtica de Filipinas by Agustín de la Cavada and Méndez de Vigo. It was published in 1876. Thankfully, this book has been digitized and is now available online.

Esta provincia, que toma su nombre de la Laguna de Bay, se creó en 1735…” This province, which took its name from Laguna de Bay, was created in 1735. It’s crystal clear: our province turns 286 years old this year.

I murmured under my breath: it looks like I will have to debunk myself. 😆 But of course, I thought of it out of jest. There is no contradiction: both complement each other. 1571 was the year when La Laguna began as a political entity, or as an encomienda to be exact. It was then reorganized into a province in 1735. The only problem is that Historia Geográfica didn’t mention an exact date.

For sure, when this new find gets presented to the NHCP for validation, they will immediately dismiss Historia Geográfica as merely a secondary or probably a tertiary source. Nevertheless, my earlier argument will remain strong: while there is no primary source, we recognize this one for the time being.

A reprinting of Historia Geográfica, Geológica y Estadiśtica de Filipinas (image: Amazon).

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What INC contribution?

As part of the Iglesia Ni Cristo‘s 107th anniversary celebration which occurred yesterday, the sect’s TV network interviewed a famous public historian to discuss the said group’s worth in Filipino History, particularly its contributions to Filipino culture. This public historian gave emphasis on architecture. He mentioned that the neo-Gothic temples of the INC were designed by famous Filipino architects (one of whom was a National Artist). While he implied that the style was hardly Filipino since it is neo-Gothic, an architectural movement that originated from Europe, he said that okir designs from the Maranáos were added, thus making it Filipino.

First of all, okir is hardly Filipino. It is indigenous, strictly limited only to the Maranáos who were Islamized even before the Spanish advent. Secondly, the concept of what is Filipino, as I have already discussed numerous times in this blog, is Hispanic. Three attributes make up a Filipino:

1) Hispanic culture, with Austronesian/Malayo-Polynesian elements as a substrate.
2) The Spanish language.
3) Christianity (Roman Catholic religion).

It was a process that took three centuries, a cultural evolution that led to the creation of the Filipino Identity, the very same cosmos that nurtured and was breathed in by Rizal, del Pilar, Bonifacio, the Luna Brothers, Mabini, Aguinaldo, and many well-known patriots who, cognizant of what they had become, developed the temerity to defy the Mother Country. It was in this same cosmos in which the best writers our country has ever produced (Recto, Apóstol, Balmori, Guerrero Family, Bernabé, Gómez Wyndham, etc.) were able to charmingly flirt with the Muses in order to weave the most patriotic Spanish verses ever written in our history.

In view of the foregoing, the Maranáos are simply Filipino citizens. But their national identity is nary Filipino at all (the intellectuals among them will agree to this).

In the end, this public historian failed to really enumerate what contributions the INC gave to Filipino culture. Furthermore, those two architects who had a hand in the design of the INC’s distinct church architecture were themselves nurtured by the type of architecture which also originated from the same cosmos which I speak of.

Sa madalíng salitâ, balictád ang nañgyari. It was Filipino culture that contributed to the INC’s being (Christianity and architecture), not the other way around. So no, the INC has zero contributions to Filipino culture. And I say this with no disrespect to their oftentimes spiteful sect.

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“El Idioma Español”, poema de Flavio Zaragoza Cano

Santiago Matamoros, siglo 18. Pintor peruano desconocido.

Hoy celebramos el Día del Idioma Español en Filipinas que coincide con la fiesta de Santiago de Matamoros, el santo patrón de la Madre España, y el 101° aniversario del Premio Zóbel. Para conmemorar este evento nostálgico, comparto a ustedes este poema patriótico escrito por Flavio Zaragoza Cano (1892-1965), un poeta ilongo que era uno de los maestros del Señor Guillermo Gómez. Este poema, titulado “El Idioma Español”, es una de tantas poesías de su libro “Cantos a España” que fue publicado en Iloílo en 1936, año de nacimiento de Don Guimò que también ganó el Premio Zóbel en 1975. ¡Viva nuestra lengua divina!

Flavio Zaragoza Cano.

Flavio Zaragoza Cano

Para la Colonia Española de Filipinas, con motivo del Día Español

¡Sabios, vates e hijos todos
de mi pueblo idolatrado!
Olvidemos este día
las penas de nuestro estado
Y ofrezcamos nuestras almas
a la ibérica nación,
Nuestros cánticos resuenen
por las célicas regiones.
Se confundan abrazados
nuestros nobles corazones
Y de júbilo palpiten
como un solo corazón:
En honor de la grandeza
de una raza de gigantes,
De Pelayo, Hermenegildo,
Magallanes y Cervantes
Que embellecen con sus lauros
el hispano pabellón;
De esa raza creadora
cuyo genio sin segundo
Encurvó los meridianos,
descubriendo el Nuevo Mundo,
Con la hipótesis profunda
del geógrafo Colón…

Tierra noble de los mártires
de Bailén y de Numancia,
Respetada por las águilas
napoleónicas de Francia
Y temida en Covadonga
por el genio musulmán,
Que a la sombra –de oro y gualda–
de su enseña victoriosa
En Lepanto y en Otumba,
San Marcial y Zaragoza,
Ha mostrado que sus hijos
tienen alma de titán,
Rudos músculos de atleta
y son héroes bizarros,
Herederos de la sangre
de los Cides y Pizarros,
Los Felipes, Carlos Quintos,
los Legazpis y Cortés
Cuyas mágicas espadas
desgarraron mil trofeos,
Y llevaron sus banderas
más allá de sus deseos
Y tuvieron al planeta
por peana de piés…!

Es sinfónico su idioma;
de riquezas soberana,
Copia el ritmo de las liras
multicolores de Quintana,
–El poeta de altos vuelos,
el cantor del Trafalgar–
De Espronceda, De la Rosa,
Jovellanos y Zorrilla,
Pregoneros de las glorias
de la Alhambra y de Castilla,
Que supieron de su tierra
las grandezas ensalzar.
Es relámpago en los labios
de sus bravos oradores,
Enseñanza en el cerebro,
de sus sabios pensadores,
Luz de auroras en las cátedras
y en los templos oración:
¡Es idioma del espíritu
por los ángeles escrito,
Que interpreta los misterios
de lo abstracto y lo infinito
Y traduce las bellezas
de la santa inspiración…!

En las cántigas de Bécquer
melancólico suspira,
Apostrofa con denuedo
de Núñez de Arce, en la lira,
En el sistro filosofa
del genial Campoamor.
Con Francisco de Quevedo
se reviste de agudezas
Por destruir corazones
impregnados de vilezas,
Como un dardo que clavarse
venenoso y punzador.
En el púlpito retumba
Con el verbo de Granada
Y en las cámaras políticas
refulgie como una espada
Con los párrafos sonoros
del insigne Castelar,
Cuando viera profanados,
en poder de los Borbones,
De la efímera República
de Septiembre los pendones
Que adornaron fugazmente
el ibérico solar!

Es idioma que no pierde
sus bellezas, mientras brote
De las almas el ensueño,
mientras brillen del Quijote
Los tesoros metafóricos
y figuras de dicción,
Mientras haya sinfonías
en las cuerdas inspiradas
De la cítara de Rueda
que simula en sus baladas
Del temblante Manzanares
la melódica canción;
Y resuena la elegancia
de sus métricas sonoras
En las hojas del “Tenorio,”
“Diablo Mundo,” las “Doloras,”
En las coplas y cantares
del ingenio popular,
En la mística “Cristiada,”
la patriótica “Araucana,”
“Pequeñeces,” “Galatea”
y Gil Blás de Santillana:
Frutos de oro de la mente
de una raza intelectual!

Es que el ritmo inimitable
del idioma castellano
Ha brotado misterioso
del atlántico oceano,
Cuando riman sus poemas
los ciclones al rugir,
De las ondas rumorosas
de las mares españolas
Donde alegres pescadores
cantan tiernas barcarolas
Ó en las márgenes del Ebro
y del real Guadalquivir;
Ha emanado de los élitros
de recónditas cigarras,
Bajo el grato y refrescante
cielo raso de las parras
Saturadas de verdura,
de perfumes y de luz,
Y ha nacido de la ardiente
travesura de las “jotas”
Que vihuelas y bandurrias
acompañan con sus notas,
O de tristes “soleares”
de algún patio andaluz.

En las alas celestiales
de la diosa Poesía,
Ha salvado las fronteras
la vibrante melodía
Del idioma de Castilla,
más allá de Gibraltar,
Derramandio sus arpegios
en la América Latina,
Con los aires modernistas
de la dulce Sonatina
Del genial Rubén Darío,
el del léxico sin par;
Con la Atlántica gloriosa,
decorada con las rimas
Bellas y épicas de Andrade
que ha bajado de las cimas
Á mojar del río Plata
su cerebro en el raudal
Y, ginete sobre el lomo
poderoso de un pegaso,
Se remonta á las alturas
del gigante Chimborazo,
Donde fulge deslumbrante
la alborada sideral!

La sublime gentileza
del lenguaje castellano
Ha empapado las estrofas
de Andrés Bello, de Chocano,
Vargas Vila, Avellaneda,
Castellanos y Escobar;
Á manera de caricias
y suspiros de terneza,
Se perciben sus dulzuras
en los metros de Dios Peza
El cantor de las delicias
de la pátria y del hogar;
En los cantos quejumbrosos
y románticos de Acuña,
Que una lira de sonidos
meláncolicos empuña,
Entonando su Nocturno
á la ingrata de su amor…
¡Y serán siempre perennes
las riquezas de ese idioma,
Mientras canten colibríes
y en los campos haya aroma,
En los cármenes conciertos,
mariposas en la flor…!

Los ingenios y los vates
del terruño filipino,
Aun remojan en las fuentes
del idioma cervantino
Los cordajes armoniosos
de su rítmico laúd:
Riman líricas estrofas
á los rayos de la luna
Que, en las márgenes del Agno
y de Bay en la Laguna,
Embellecen a los árboles;
su selvática quietud.
Nuestros sabios oradores,
dignos nietos de Jaena,
hoy procuran con la idea
sacudir nuestra cadena
Y hasta el grito que pronuncia
la malaya juventud
Es un grito que castellano,
cuando dice en sus cantares:
“¡Corazones invencibles,
defendamos nuestros lares
Contra el yugo vergonzoso
de la nueva esclavitud!”

En la obra “Noli Me Tángere,”
donde lucen y palpitan
Los conceptos del ilustre
desterrado de Dapitan
En las páginas que enseñan
la justicia y la verdad,
Se reviven las bellezas
del ibérico lenguaje
Saturadas de tristezas,
con satírico coraje,
Con lamento por los exilios,
por querer la libertad;
Y rebrama en los profundos
hemistiquios de “Mi Raza”
Como un ábrego que ruje
y a los páramos arrasa,
Proclamando en sus estrofas
el orgullo nacional.
En el númen del Guerrero
se estremece con ternura,
En los cánticos de Apóstol
se enandeces con bravura…
¡Precursores del ingenio
de los hijos de Rizal!

Y, mientras que enriquezcamos
nuestros múltiples lenguajes
Procurando que sus términos
sean ricos y perfectos,
Para ser fieles intérpretes
de nuestra alta inspiración:
No olvidemos el idioma
de las musas granadinas,
De los bardos españoles
cuyas tiernas mandolinas
Ensalzaran las bellezas
de su amada y su nación,
Conservemos en las almas
su armonía placentera
Y en el triángulo estrellado
de nuestra única bandera,
Bajo la orla esplendorosa
que destella nuestro sol,
Cuando robe nuestra herencia
la avaricia del tirano,
Escribamos nuestras cóleras
en idioma castellano,
Escribamos nuestros gritos
de protesta, en español…!

Pueblo triste que suspiras
al rumor de tu guitarra
Tus amargas elegías
y el dolor que te desgarra,
Contemplando en el presente
tu inseguro porvenir:
Haz que España siempre viva
respetada en tu memoria,
Que el tesoro de su idioma
y los lauros de su gloria
En los pliegues de tu mente
nunca lleguen a morir:
Porque fué en tiempos pretéritos
una madre santa y buena
Y si un día Filipinas
arrastró alguna cadena,
Fué por obra de tiranos
de malvado corazón:
Aquellos traidores fueron
enemigos de sus Reyes
¡Por no acatar sus humanas
y sus protectores leyes…
No fue obra de Madre España
del Rey Sabio la Nación…!

Manila, 25 de julio de 1912

Georgina Padilla y Zóbel de Mac-Crohon y Gaspar Vibal: Académicos de Honor

Guillermo Gómez Rivera

Me honro, como el miembro más antiguo de la Academia Filipina de la Lengua Española, correspondiente de la Real Academia Española, y como su actual Diretor y Presidente, en conferirles a Georgina Padilla y Zóbel de Mac-Crohon y a Gaspar “Gus” Vibal el título de Académicos de Honor por sus relevantes méritos como propulsores del idioma español en Filipinas mediante la publicación de obras filipinas en español, muchas de ellas habiendo sido galardonadas por el Premio Zóbel desde 1920 hasta el año 2001.

Fuente: SunStar Cebú.

GEORGINA PADILLA ZÓBEL de MAC-CROHON se ha distinguido durante casi toda su vida como autora y patrocinadora de sendas actividades literarias y docentes para custodiar, enaltecer, y difundir el idioma español y la cultura filipina que representa además de encargarse del mecenazgo que siempre representó el otorgamiento anual del Premio Zóbel durante muchos años hasta verse obligada por ciertas circunstancias dadas en el país en suspender temporariamente el premio. Sin embargo, por propia voluntad y determinación, ha empezado con la publicación de las obras premiadas, traduciéndolas al inglés con un equipo de traductores bajo su supervisión técnica demostrando, durante el transcurso de este trabajo, sus dotes de escritora y traductora. Es por esta labor heróica que le hacemos este conferimiento de honor que bien se merece. No es en vano que Georgina sea nieta del fundador del citado Premio Zóbel y co-fundador de la Academia Filipina, Don Enrique Zóbel de Ayala.

GASPAR VIBAL, por su parte, y a pesar de su juventud venturosa, no es solamente el alto ejecutivo de la empresa Vibal Foundation que se encarga de imprimir en papel los libros de textos docentes de estas islas sino que intelectual estudioso como es domino el idioma español y construyó toda una fundación dedicada a publicar las obras filipinas de relevancia, escritas en español por prohombres filipinos, y traducidas al inglés, a fin de salvarlas del olvido y la violencia del tiempo para la posteridad filipina que bien necesita de los conocimientos acumulados por el pasado a fin de asegurar el continuo de la cultura filipina quebrantada por intrusiones modernas que tienen, inadvertidamente, los tesoros del pasado. Cada libro que Gus Vibal produce es un alhaja de la filipiniana que cada filipino cabal ha de atesorar. Es por esta su labor heróico y rebosante de méritos que nos honramos en conferirle el título de Académico de Honor.

El acto pertinente queda recogido en un vídeo que se ofrece al público este domingo, 25 de julio, Día de Santiago Apóstol, Dia Español de Filipinas.

May Pope Francisco’s modernist heart soften up

Last year, my birthday wish was for my wife’s cancer to take a hike. It seems that my prayers as well as the prayers of those who care for her have been answered because she is on the road to recovery! Her recent check-ups were found to be positive, i.e., the cancer cells did not spread to other parts of her body. The next and final step, though, is a long one: she has to undergo five years of daily and expensive medication. For now, barring other unforeseen tragedies (God forbid), I think we can sail through that easily. Thank you again to all those who have assisted us in our struggle!

My birthday wish for this year is reserved for the current pontiff, Pope Francisco, who has gotten into my nerves lately when he issued his latest motu proprio which gives severe restrictions to the Tridentine Mass, more popularly known as the Traditional Latin Mass (TLM). Insultingly, he decied to release the document during the feast day of Our Lady of Mount Carmel.

The TLM is an ancient Catholic rite that my family adheres to, the rite which is very close to my heart, the rite which gives hope to my sometimes wobbly faith. I am not about to give a lecture on the merits of the TLM, how it differs from the Mass that you are all familiar with (Novus Ordo Missae), why it matters, or why it is still significant to the modernist Church. I am aware that not all of you are attached to this sort of thing. Suffice it to say that it played a major role to my reconversion to the Catholic fold after years of being bedfellows with Marxist–Leninist atheism. The TLM and all the other ancient rites of my faith —the historico-traditional treasures of the Church— changed my perspective towards life. I even made it a point to have my wedding with my longtime partner celebrated in Mozarabic rite. A few years after that, my youngest daughter was baptized in ancient rituals as well.

Since the global lockdowns began last year, my family and I have always attended the online TLMs of the Societas Ecclesia Dei Sancti Ioseph – Una Voce Philippines celebrated by Rev. Fr. Jojo Zerrudo of the Diocese of Cubáo. Unfortunately, they have no livestream for today. I’m still not sure if it has something to do with the Pope’s latest motu proprio. So we instead tuned in to this livestream by the Traditional Latin Mass Society of the Dicoese of Tagbilaran celebrated by Rev. Fr. Rommel Anico. We just had difficulty keeping up during the sermon because it was interspersed with Cebuano.

The pandemic somehow became a blessing in disguise when it comes to my family’s Mass attendance. You see, we attend the TLM in faraway Cubáo, Quezon City (we live in San Pedro Tunasán, La Laguna), but not regularly because of the distance. But when the pandemic forced many churches to go online with their Masses, we were able to have access to the TLM on a regular basis. We haven’t missed a single TLM celebrated by Fr. Jojo Zerrudo since the lockdown began last year. But with this motu proprio issued by the Pope, our access to the TLM stands in peril.

My heart has been troubled since this very divisive motu proprio. It claims to “unite the Church”, but Pope Francisco did not unite it; he further divided it, ruptured an already festering wound that he was supposed to heal, that his predecessors sought to cure. So this is my birthday wish, for him to turn away from his modernist ways. May his heart soften up towards the Tridentine Mass which is the “Mass of All Time”, the Mass which has nurtured and produced thousands upon thousands of saints (as compared to the Novus Ordo Missae’s zero toll), the Mass which has changed my life.

PS: The fist Mass in our country which occurred on 31 March 1521 in Butuan was celebrated in the Traditional Latin Mass. Our Filipino Identity’s spiritual side was nurtured for more than three centuries using this rite. Think about it.

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A crisis of identity

Filipinos who continue hating our Spanish past conveniently forget that the word Filipino is itself Spanish. Even the current name that we use to refer to our country, Philippines, was derived from its Spanish original: Filipinas. Our last names are either Spanish (Alas, Buenavista, Cuadrado, etc.) or Hispanized (Balicao, Cadawas, Tiongco, etc.). Our daily fare —adobo, paella, afritada, mechado, etc.— are all Spanish or Spanish derivatives.

Our Spanish past taught us how how to dress up in polo, camiseta, pantalón, saya, medias, zapatos, sombrero, etc. Our music, once rhythmic, became melodic because of Hispanic influences. Book and newspaper culture entered our archipelago because of Spain.

We enjoy fiestas and the Christmas Season, holidays which originated from our Spanish past. We know and celebrate our birthdays because of the calendar, a Spanish heritage.

We are taught to hate the “polo y servicios” yet it is that very system that created roads, bridges, dams, and churches for us, many of which we still use to this very day. Then we cringe whenever we hear news of these Spanish-era heritage structures that are about to be demolished.

We greet each other “Kumusta?” which is derived from the Spanish greeting “¿Cómo está?” Take note that there is no native equivalent for this greeting.

We are using thousands upon thousands of Spanish words every day. And here you are now, calling me “macá-castilà“.

We proudly proclaim the three stars in our flag — Luzón, Visayas, Mindanáo. Yet these three island groups were disunited before the Spanish advent. It was the Spanish Empire that united all of them. They set the boundaries that paved the way for the creation of a state which we now call our country, our nation, our home.

Our foremost national hero wrote primarily in Spanish. His famous novels as well as all his poems were written in that language.

Hispanophobic Filipinos accuse the Spaniards of enslaving our ancestors. But when pressed for historical evidence, their usual answer is this: “¡¿Hindí pa ba sapát ang mg̃a novela ni Rizal?!” 🤦

These hispanophobes continue throwing stones at Spain for what it did to us, for making us Filipinos. But Spain is no longer here. They are instead shooting themselves in the foot.

These “proud to be Filipinos” must certainly be suffering from a severe crisis of identity. They might as well move to Timbuktu and die there.

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