Barangay Ginebra in Filipino History

Photo from PBA Images

Photo: Rappler.

Last Friday night, all roads led to the Philippine Arena in Bocaue, Bulacán when Barangay Ginebra San Miguel, the country’s most popular basketball team, successfully defeated Meralco Bolts, 101-96, in Game 7 of the Philippine Basketball Association’s (PBA) 2017 Governors’ Cup finals. There were 54,086 screaming fans, making the event an all-time attendance high for the PBA (and the second most-attended event at the Philippine Arena, next to “Eat Bulaga!: Sa Tamang Panahon” which featured AlDub). Two days later, the country is still euphoric over the win.

Incidentally, last Friday night’s championship was a rematch of last year’s Governor’s Cup wherein both PBA ball clubs found themselves also as finalists. Ginebra also won that conference in four games against Meralco’s two wins. A few days after that game, GMA Network’s Kapuso Mo, Jessica Soho had a feature segment about Ginebra’s championship win. Soho was able to capture the festive mood of Filipinos who went into a frenzy when their favorite team had won. Such joy reminds Filipino sports fans of those exciting days when news of then rising star Manny Pacquiáo emerged victorious over Mexican pugilists abroad.

This, my friends, is called the “Barangay Ginebra Phenomenon”.

I have always been baffled by this basketball team’s huge popularity. Sometimes I wonder if it has something to do with Robert S. Jaworski, Sr., the legendary playing-coach who once donned a Ginebra jersey for years. More likely, yes. His exciting game plays and “never say die” attitude infected not only his teammates but also their huge fan base during Ginebra’s early years. But he’s already retired a long time ago. The Chicago Bulls’ popularity dwindled when Michael Jordan left. But this never happened to Barangay Ginebra San Miguel when the Big J retired.

Then I realized something else: could this so-called Ginebra Phenomenon have something to do with historical memory?

Remember that the product that this hugely popular basketball team represents is Ginebra San Miguel, the world-famous fiery gin which was originally produced by the “Destilería y Licorería de Ayala y Compañía” (Distillery and Liquor Store of Ayala & Co.), now known as Ayala Corporation. The Destilería, located in Quiapò, Manila, was the first distillery in the country. It introduced their trademark gin in 1834 during the reign of Governor-General Pasqual Enrile y Alcedo, or 27 years before José Rizal’s birth. The Manila-Acapulco Galleon Trade has already ended two decades prior. It was also a time when Filipinas was already enjoying its first lottery games.

During the Tagálog rebellion of the 1890s, it’s interesting to note that the Katipuneros used “cajas de ginebra” (gin boxes or cases) to surreptitiously transport their weapons from the prying eyes of government troops. One could just imagine where the bottles of Ginebra went. 😛

Sometime during the 1910s, renowned artist Fernando Amorsolo designed the “marca demonio” (usually called “marcáng demonio“) product label for the gin brand which is still in use today. Amorsolo later on became our country’s first ever National Artist.

Image: Lou Gopal.

In 1929, the Destilería was acquired by “La Tondeña” (The Tondo Girl). Then in 1987, the San Miguel Corporation, another Spanish-era conglomerate, acquired a 70% stake in La Tondeña and renamed it as La Tondeña Distillers, Inc. It underwent another name change, Ginebra San Miguel, Inc. and became a publicly listed corporation. Since 2012, Ginebra San Miguel has become the largest-selling gin in the world.

Through the years, Ginebra San Miguel has made its mark as a Filipino icon, becoming as Filipino as the sampaguita and the Santo Niño. And this reverence for the product has somehow been transported to the PBA where it became a phenomenon since 1985. No other PBA team, not even the San Miguel Beermen, could lay claim to such historical parallelisms as only Barangay Ginebra San Miguel can. Fans happily call themselves “Barangay Ginebra”, barangay being our country’s smallest political unit. And with such popularity come the bashers. Ginebra haters love to roast them by relating their losses to “kañgkuñgan” (swamp cabbage plantation) and Borácay, where losing PBA teams usually go after being eliminated since they don’t have any games to play anymore. 😛

Ginebra, if I may add, is also a Spanish word for “gin”. My youngest daughter’s name (Junífera) is a derivative of Ginebra. Other derivative names are Jenever, Genever, Genièvre, Geneva, and Jennifer. Ginebra San Miguel is also the only distilled beverage that rendered me unconscious back in 2001. 😛

And may we not forget another important fact: Ginebra San Miguel is probably the only alcoholic beverage in the world that is named after an archangel: Saint Michael. This same archangel looms large in Filipino History, as he is the patron saint of the province of Cebú, the municipalities of Argáo (also in Cebú) and San Miguel in Bojol (now spelled as Bohol), the barrio of Landayan in San Pedro Tunasán in the province of La Laguna, and the district of San Miguel in Manila. In fact, the name of Ginebra San Miguel’s parent company, San Miguel Corporation, was inspired from both its former location (San Miguel, Manila) and the fact that on 29 September 1890, the feast day of Saint Michael the Archangel, “La Fábrica de Cerveza San Miguel“, which was the forerunner of San Miguel Corporation, was declared open for business.

Need we mention that San Miguel in Manila is the seat of our country’s political power since the late 19th century?

But at the end of the day, history and archangels would have to take a backseat on this one. For why would sensible Filipino basketball fans, especially those in Metro Manila and its environs, side with a team that represents a company notoriously known for its exorbitant electric rates? 😆 Ginebra San Miguel, the historic Filipino gin, is all about the celebration of life.

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Was Unisan really founded in 1521?

Resulta ng larawan para sa unisan quezon

Welcome arch leading to the población or town proper (photo:

Unisan, Quezon Province, formerly known as Calilayan, Tayabas Province, is the seaside hometown of my dad and my maternal grandmother. I didn’t grow up there, but I got to enjoy the place during summer vacations as a kid.

Unisan prides itself as the oldest town in Filipinas, having been founded in 1521! Searching for it in the Internet, one will always encounter the information below:

Unisan, originally called Kalilayan, is perhaps one of the oldest towns in the Philippines. As early as 1521, the town of Kalilayan was founded by Malayan settlers. All other towns in the country were established not earlier than 1565, when Spain formally occupied the Philippines as a colony.

But was Unisan really founded on that year?

First of all, the real name was Calilaya (or Calilayan in some accounts), not Kalilayan. Secondly, the creation of townships commenced only after the arrival of the Spaniards. Record keeping before that, particularly with the use of specific years or dates, was not yet in use for the simple reason that it was the Spaniards who introduced the Gregorian calendar. How then could have those “Malayan settlers” known that they established a town on that particular year? Lastly, the first settlers of Unisan were not Malayans but Malayo-Polynesian peoples.

What is on record is that Calilaya (now known as Unisan) was founded in 1578 by two Franciscan friars: Fr. Juan de Plasencia and Fr. Diego de Oropesa. But due, perhaps, to economic reasons, it subsequently became a barrio of Pitogo. In 1874, it became a town once again, but with a different name: San Pedro Calilaya, or simply San Pedro (that is why the parish there is dedicated to Saint Peter the Apostle). What I have not yet discovered is how San Pedro Calilaya became known as Unisan (even the uni sancti story one finds in Wikipedia is the stuff of a very creative imagination).

Sometimes, I am tempted to think if there is any strange link to the fact that my roots are from San Pedro Calilaya, Tayabas and here I am living with my family in faraway San Pedro Tunasán, La Laguna for the past 13 years. Wonder no more if my family has chosen Saint Peter the Apostle to be our patron saint.

Vaya con Dios, Cardenal Vidal…


Noticias tristes: falleció esta mañana el arzobispo emérito de Cebú, Cardenal Ricardo Vidal Jamín, el cardenal más antiguo de Filipinas.

“Con gran tristeza anuncio la muerte del Cardenal Vidal,” dijo Monseñor Joseph Tan, el portavoz de la Arquidiócesis de Cebú. “Regresó a la casa del Padre a las 07:28 de hoy.” Lo han confinado en el Perpetual Succour Hospital (Hospital de Perpetuo Socorro) desde el 11 de este mes debido a la fiebre y dificultad de respirar. Fue en ese hospital donde respiró su último.

Aunque Monseñor Tan dijo que todavía no tenía detalles completos de la causa de muerte del Cardenal Vidal, sospecha que su corazón puede haber dado el último aliento debido a su vejez. El cardenal tenía 86 años.

El cardenal nació el 6 de febrero de 1931 en Mogpog, Marinduque a Faustino Vidal de Pila, La Laguna y Natividad Jamín de Mogpog. Fue quinto entre seis hermanos. Su primera comunión fue especial porque la recibió durante el Congreso Eucarístico Internacional cuando se celebró en Manila en 1937. Asistió a la Escuela Primaria de Mogpog (Mogpog Elementary School) para su educación primaria y luego estudió en el Minor Seminary of the Most Holy Rosary (Seminario Menor del Santísimo Rosario, ahora conocido como Our Lady of Mount Carmel Seminary o el Seminario de Nuestra Señora del Monte Carmen) en Sariaya, Tayabas. Luego estudió en Saint Francis de Sales Seminary (Seminario de San Francisco de Sales) en Lipa, Batangas donde estudió filosofía. También estudió teología en el San Carlos Seminary (Seminario de San Carlos) en Macati, Metro Manila.

El Cardenal Vidal fue ordenado como diácono el 24 de septiembre de 1955 y como sacerdote el 17 de marzo de 1956 en Lucena, Tayabas (la ciudad tayabeña donde nací hace 38 años) por el Obispo Alfredo Obviar. El difunto Papa Juan Pablo II (se convirtió en un santo hace sólo tres años) nombró al Cardenal Vidal como arzobispo coadjutor de Cebú en 1981. Más tarde se convirtió en arzobispo el 24 de agosto de 1982, sucediendo al cardenal Julio Rosales.

El 25 de mayo de 1985, se convirtió en cardenal-sacerdote de Ss. Pietro e Paolo a Via Ostiense, y fue uno de los electores cardinales que participaron en el cónclave papal de 2005 que eligió al Papa Benedicto XVI. Fue el único cardenal filipino que lo hizo debido a la mala salud del Cardenal Jaime Sin. De 1986 a 1987, Cardenal Vidal fue presidente del Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (Conferencia de Obispos Católicos de Filipinas).

No mucha gente sabe que el cardenal Vidal también fue hispanoparlante (al igual que el obispo que lo ordenó como sacerdote) y fue miembro de la Academia Filipina de la Lengua Española (fue colega de los Sres. Guillermo Gómez, Edmundo Farolán, ex-presidenta Gloria Macapagal de Arroyo, y muchos otros). Aparte de sus deberes religiosos, también fue un defensor de la preservación del idioma español en Filipinas. Con su fallecimiento, hemos perdido otro genuino filipino. Oremos por el eterno descanso de su alma.

Fátima 100

Image result for 100 centenário das a das aparições de nossa senhora

La historia mundial ha alcanzado otro parteaguas hoy. El 13 de mayo de 1917, la Santísima Virgen María se apareció a tres niños pastoriles en Fátima, Portugal. Durante los siguientes meses, siguió apareciendo a estos tres, instándoles a difundir la noticia de la sincera oración y la conversión a pecadores e incrédulos. Ella también prometió que sucedería un milagro el 13 de octubre de ese mismo año. Pronto, las noticias de las apariciones se extendieron por todas partes, atrayendo a miles de personas curiosas.

La Santísima Madre de Dios apareció por última vez hace cien años hoy a los tres niños, pero para la curiosa multitud que se había reunida en un campo en Cova de Iria (también en Fátima), se les mostró el ahora famoso “Milagro del Sol”. El milagro ocurrió después de un período de lluvia. Las nubes oscuras se rompieron y el sol apareció como un disco opaco y giratorio en el cielo. Se decía que era significativamente más apagado de lo normal, y que proyectaba luces multicolores en el paisaje, la gente, y las nubes circundantes. Se informó que el sol se había carenado hacia la tierra antes de volver a zigzaguear a su posición normal. Esta extraña ocurrencia fue presenciada por más o menos cien mil personas, y algunas viven a varios kilómetros de distancia de Cova de Iria. También según cau causó la conversión de muchos ateos.

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Una gran multitud en Cova de Iria, Fátima espera una aparición prometida el 13 de octubre de 1917.

Dos de estos tres niños, Jacinta y Francisco Marto, fueron canonizados como santos. Su prima, Lúcia dos Santos, quien falleció hace doce años, todavía está pasando por el proceso de la canonización.

Las visiones reportadas en Fátima reunieron gran atención, ya que numerosos peregrinos comenzaron a visitar el sitio. Después de una investigación canónica, el Obispo de Leiria-Fátima declaró oficialmente las visiones de Fátima como “dignas de creer” en octubre de 1930, permitiendo oficialmente la creencia de Nuestra Señora de Fátima.

El legado más importante de este milagro, en mi opinión, es cómo la Santísima Virgen María exhortó a Lucía y sus primos a alentar a la gente a arrepentirse de sus pecados. A Lucía se le mostraron visiones de la ira de Dios (infierno), pero la esperanza permanece a través de oraciones y reparaciones. Siento que hemos llegado a la encrucijada de nuestra existencia. Pues, todo depende de nosotros. Dicho esto, ¿cuándo fue la última vez que rezaste el Rosario?

Virgen de Fátima, ruega por nosotros…

¡Feliz Día de la Hispanidad!

La Virgen del Pilar (1780), óleo sobre lienzo por Ramón Bayeu.

12 de octubre. Una fecha que está consagrada en el corazón de todos los pueblos hispanos del mundo. Comenzó en el año 40 cuando la Santa Madre de Dios, acompañada de ángeles, apareció sobre un robusto pilar a Santiago el Mayor, «el Matamoros», alentándolo a que los paganos de Zaragoza y de la entera provincia romana de Hispania, que más tarde se convirtió en España, se convirtieran a la fe cristiana, y que su fe sería tan fuerte como la columna en la que la Santa Virgen estaba de pie. Fue la primera aparición mariana.

En virtud del Patronato Real con el idioma español como medio, esa fe se extendió por todas partes del globo, conquistando las Américas, partes de África, y un grupo de islas paganas en el Oriente que más tarde se convirtió en Filipinas. A continuación se presentan los países que pertenecen a esta maravillosa familia hispana:

Argentina 🇦🇷
Bolivia 🇧🇴
Colombia 🇨🇴
Costa Rica 🇨🇷
Cuba 🇨🇺
Chile 🇨🇱
El Salvador 🇸🇻
Ecuador 🇪🇨
Filipinas 🇵🇭
Guatemala 🇬🇹
Guinea Ecuatorial 🇬🇶
Honduras 🇭🇳
México 🇲🇽
Nicaragua 🇳🇮
Panamá 🇵🇦
Paraguay 🇵🇾
Perú 🇵🇪
Puerto Rico 🇵🇷
República Dominicana 🇩🇴
Sahara Occidental 🇪🇭
Uruguay 🇺🇾
Venezuela 🇻🇪

En este día, demos gracias al Señor nuestro Dios, porque es justo darle gracias y alabanza, a través de la intercesión de la Virgen del Pilar, nuestra patrona. Oremos el Santo Rosario.

¡Feliz Día de la Hispanidad!


Lobó, Batangas needs our dire support

I’ve never been to Lobó, Batangas. But the closest that my family and I have been there was when we visited the charming pebbled shores of Kamantigue Beach in Batangas City a few years ago, and whenever we visit the popular but still pristine beaches of Barrio Laíya in nearby San Juan. And since Lobó’s whitish coastlines are wedged between the scenic beaches of Batangas City and San Juan, it’s not difficult to surmise how they look like: paradisiacal to say the least. Of course, there’s good ol’ Mr. Google to rely on if you need to see the natural beauty of Lobó from the comfort of your homes.

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Gerthel Beach Resort (photo: My Resorts Batangas)

But Lobó’s natural beauty is in grave danger. Just this morning, a friend alerted me about a planned mining operation that could take place there anytime. He shared to me a video which was uploaded on Facebook by the Southern Tagálog Exposure three days ago (as of this writing, it now has 1,060 shares, 339 reactions, and 38,863 views). The video is actually a five-minute documentary spoken in Batangueño dialect because the interviewees are residents themselves of Lobó, including the parish priest. All of them clearly explained their reasons why they are against mining.

Monte Naguiling (photo: City Boy Tripper).

It doesn’t take rocket science to determine the ills of mining, whether government-sanctioned or not. Time and again, we keep on hearing news reports about mining companies  and their local political lackeys being the real winners while the residents barely receive a trickle of the profits, if at all. And the worst victim, of course, is nature. Because once destroyed, the damage is irreversible.

Pico de Laláyag (photo: All Events)

Five years ago, ABS-CBN’s Ted Failón made an investigative report about the pros and cons of mining in our country. Although it is well-known that Failón is anti-mining, his documentary may still be considered as well-balanced (despite its obvious derision of mining companies) because he was able to interview both pro- and anti-mining individuals in our country’s mining hotspots such as Caraga and Surigáo del Norte. President Rodrigo Duterte himself praised Failón’s documentary in his recent SONA. In the end, that Failón documentary has clearly proven that modern mining produces more ecological and social ills than economic cures.

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Punta Malabrigo Beach Resort (photo: Trip Advisor).

According to the video that was shared to me, Mindoro Resources Ltd., a Canadian-based mining corporation, is the company that is currently leading the planned mining explorations in the mountains of Lobó (and even nearby Batangas City). The company believes that the land covering these areas are high in gold, copper, and nickel content. Once they are given the go-signal by local government units and other concerned offices such as the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, then say goodbye to the beautiful beaches and mountains that you see on this blogpost. “Responsible mining”, whatever that is, is still a myth insofar as residents of mining communities are concerned. What has been in existence is irresponsible mining, something that might not be corrected in our lifetime due to rapacious greed.

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Monte Lobó (photo: Jovial Wanderer).

What is disturbing is that there seems to be lack of media interest (short of a news blackout, according to my source) regarding the circumstances behind the planned mining of Lobó’s beautiful landscape, as it is more focused on government-sanctioned extrajudicial killings and the suppression of fake news. But a terrible catastrophe is brewing in Batangas Province, and all of us ought to know about it. Late last month, aerial bombings were reported in Lobó’s Mount Banoí, said to be the mountain which is of high interest to Mindoro Resources Ltd. Those bombings, according to one media report, was said to be a military operation against alleged communist rebels. When my family visited Kamantigue Beach, which was just a few kilometers away from Lobó, I didn’t hear about any communist activity in the surrounding areas (I have a penchant of asking around for NPAs during our out-of-town trips to faraway places simply out of curiosity). If there was indeed any communist activity, I don’t believe that it’s that big to merit any aerial bombing. Islamic terrorists in western Mindanáo deserve better.

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Monte Banoi, considered as the fifth most biologically diverse mountain in Filipinas (photo: Discover).

If we are able to create human barricades to protect an ideal, a political cause, or even a politician, why not do the same for nature? Besides, Lobó belongs to all of us Filipinos. Only we should be allowed to determine its destiny, not some foreign entity.

222nd foundation day of Imus, Cavite

La imagen puede contener: árbol, cielo y exterior

Imus Cathedral, formally known as La Catedral de Nuestra Señora del Pilar (photo: Imus City Tourism).

Este pueblo, con la advocación de Nuestra Señora del Pilar, se erigió en curato, separándose de su matriz, Cavite el Viejo, en 3 de octubre de 1795. Por superior decreto, expedido en la misma fecha, se adjudicó su administración espiritual a los PP. Recoletos, a petición del común de principales y demás naturales del espresado pueblo, después de resuelto el expediente que al efecto se instruyó y siguió.
Su situación es en una llanura de regadío comprendido entre los 14° 26′ y los 14° 19′ de latitud occidental, a media legua de la playa. Se cosecha en este terreno mucho pálay, azúcar, y añil en poca cantidad. Abundan los árboles frutales, en especial los de mangas. Los naturales se dedican al cultivo de la tierra y a la cría del ganado vacuno y de cerda.
A las inmediaciones del pueblo corre un río, que aunque no muy caudaloso sino en tiempo de lluvias, es navegable hasta el pueblo por embarcaciones de poco porte.
Los colaterales son Cavite el Viejo y Bacoor, ambos a una legua de distancia.
Es su Cura párroco, con presentación del Sr. Vice-Patrono Real, el P. ex-Definidor Fr. Guillermo Royo de S. Juan Bautista, de 37 años de edad y 15 de administración.
Source: Fr. Juan Félix de la Encarnación, Estadística de la Provincia de S. Nicolás de Tolentino de PP. Agustinos Recoletos de Filipinas (Manila: Imprenta de los Amigos del País, 1851), 24-25.

U.S. invaders in camp at the left side of Imus Church, 1899 (photo: Arnaldo Dumindín).

This town, dedicated to Our Lady of the Pillar, was erected as a parish on 3 October 1795 when it separated from its mother town, Cavite el Viejo1. By superior decree issued on the same date, the town was placed under the spiritual administration of the Recollect Fathers at the request of its main community and other natives, after the document had been resolved which was instructed and followed for this purpose.
Its location is on an irrigation plain between 14° 26 ‘and 14° 19’ western latitude, half a league2 from the beach3. Much rice and sugar are harvested from this land, with small quantities of indigo. Fruit trees, especially mangoes, abound. The natives are dedicated to the cultivation of the land and to the breeding of cattle and pigs.
Within the vicinity of the town runs a river4 which, although it doesn’t flow that much save during the rainy season, boats of small size can still navigate it all the way to town.
The neighboring towns are Cavite el Viejo and Bacoor, both a league away.

The parish priest, with presentation of the Vice-Patrono Real, is Ex-Definer Fr. Guillermo Royo de San Juan Bautista, 37 years of age and 15 years in office.

1 now known as Kawit, but more correctly spelled as Cáuit.
2 a league is 3.462 mi.
3 Manila Bay.
4 Imus River.

🎂Happy 222nd foundation day to the dynamic City of Imus, Cavite Province!😇