Yes, Halloween is a Catholic event!

Did you know? Before Halloween became a creepy holiday for fans of Michael Myers, Freddy Krueger, Jason Voorhees, and other assorted ghosts, ghouls, and goblins, it was actually a Catholic event. According to Fr. Jojo Zerrudo, parish priest at the Most Holy Redeemer Church in Quezon City and current Catechetical Director and Exorcist of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Cubáo, Halloween is one of the most important feast days of the Catholic Church (see video below).

Make no mistake, Halloween is simply a modern contraction of the archaic term “All Hallows’ Eve” which simply means All Saints’ Eve since the following day is All Saints Day (in the same manner that December 24 is the eve before Christmas Day). In fact, Halloween is part of a triduum, a religious observance which lasts for three days. Halloween actually is the first day of this triduum; the second day is All Saints’ Day on November 1, followed by All Souls Day on November 2.

I will not venture on tracing how Halloween, a holy Christian feast day, ended up as a ghoulish freak show lest this blogpost turns into an encyclopedic article. You may read all about that topic here. Rather, I’ll just share to you this short video interview of Fr. Jojo that was produced by the Diocese of Cubáo’s Media and Communications Ministry and uploaded on YouTube on 4 October 2016. Here, Fr. Jojo explains how Catholic Halloween really is, its connection to All Saints’ Day and All Souls Day, and how we can reclaim it.

“Let us conquer again —for Christianity— Halloween”, says Fr. Jojo, “because it was really meant to honor all the Saints”.

In another inteview prior to the production above, Fr. Jojo said that “dressing up children as zombies, devils, and the like for Halloween gives them the impression that evil spirits are fun and friendly.” So instead of decorating your homes and offices with jack-o’-lanterns, skulls, spiderwebs, and other freakish decors, and instead of dressing up like someone who had gone super crazy after losing millions in a horrid casino game, just contemplate on the lives of Saints. Venerate them, study their biographies, emulate their holiness, and offer prayers and Masses to our dearly departed loved ones. Because this triduum belongs to them, this triduum belongs to us, not to the minions of satan. It’s high time we reclaim Halloween for our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

Happy Halloween!

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Hoy en la Historia de Filipinas: el nacimiento de Antonio Luna

Hoy conmemoramos el aniversario de nacimiento de Antonio Luna, general del ejército filipino en la Guerra Filipino-Estadounidense (1899-1904). También fue farmacéutico, científico, escritor, y fundador de la primera academia militar de Filipinas (se puede considerar como el precursor del Philippine Military Academy). Ya que hoy es su cumpleaños, considero apropiado y oportuno volver a publicar una biografía suya en español que apareció en el libro de texto Biographies of Filipino Heroes (Textbook for Spanish 4 N) por Josefina O. Ignacio que solía ser profesora de español en el Philippine College of Commerce, ahora conocido como el Polytechnic University of the Philippines. El dicho libro de texto fue publicado y distribuido por Webster School & Office Supplies en Manila en 1976. Ya no está en uso en ninguna escuela hoy, así que pensé en rescatarlo de olvido (empecé con esta tarea con el cumpleaños de Apolinario Mabini hace tres meses). El título del libro está en inglés pero el contenido está en español.

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ANTONIO LUNA
El Famoso Batallador
29 de octubre de 1866 — 5 de junio de 1899

BIOGRAFÍA

El General Antonio Luna nació en Manila en una casa de la calle de Urbiztondo No. 8431, el día 29 de octubre en 1868. Antonio Luna era el menor de los siete hijos de Joaquín Luna de San Pedro y Laureana Novicio, hermano de Juan Luna, el Laureado Pintor.

A la edad de seis años, empezó aprender las primeras letras del Maestro Intong. Ingresó en el Ateneo de Manila. A medida que iba avanzando en sus estudios demostraba su profunda afición a la literatura y la química. Presentaba indicios literarios escribiendo preciosas poesías y entres ellas un álbum de sentidos versos dedicados a varias colegialas de la Concordia y que se titula “Las Estrellas del Cielo”.

Era el estudiante mas asiduo y visitaba más frecuente de la biblioteca y del laboratorio. Terminó su bacillerato en el Ateneo el 1880-1881.

Su inclinación a los estudios de química se manifestó más como vocación. Estudiaba la farmacía en la Universidad de Santo Tomás, a la edad de 19 años.

SU CARÁCTER DE NIÑO

Aunque por sus travesuras se lastimaba, nunca lloraba ni se quejaba. En 1885 por invitación de su hermano, el pintor Juan Luna, pasó a España para continuar el estudio de la farmacia, licenciandose en este ramo de saber en la Universidad Central de Madrid en 1890. El doctor Antonio Luna volvió a Filipinas como comisionado por el gobierno de España para hacer estudio bacteriológicos de las enfermedades contagiosas.

SUS CONTRIBUCIONES A LA CAUSA FILIPINA

Ya en Filipinas Antonio Luna fué designado en diciembre de 1895 como químico del laboratorio municipal de la ciudad de Manila. Luna, activo patriótico y llena de pundonor, hizo trabajos de mucho méritas comprobados en documentos oficiales. Al estallar la revolución con el grupo separatista, de Andrés Bonifacio, pues era tan sólo reformista. Fue sospechado filibustero y a consecuencia de esta sospecha fue detenido y enviado a España en febrero de 1897, como desterrado política. Más tarde fué puesto en libertad Luna pasó a España a Gantes, a Bélgica y a Alemania donde perfeccionó sus conocimientos militaristas. Volvió a Filipinas el 2 de junio del año 1898 el tiempo que se proclamaba en Cavite la separación política de Filipinas del gobierno con grado de General de Brigada.

Lo primero que hizo Luna era crear una academia militar para instruir y preparar convenientemente a la oficialidad del ejército. Después de asistir en varios hechos de armas con activación brilliante fué ascendido a General de Brigada.

Luna se opusó a la rendición a los americanos y se hizo enemigo de varios miembros del gabinete como Paterno, Buencamino, y otros puestos que Luna consideraba como señal de cobardía la proposición de Aguinaldo y de algunos miembros del gabinete de tener paz con los americanos.

El 7 de junio 1899 durante el apogeo de la guerra filipino americana Luna con su edecán Francisco Román fueron a Cabanatúan, Nueva Écija para conferenciar con Aguinaldo. Aguinaldo no estaba y mientras bajaba la escalera del convento de Cabanatúan un soldado de las guardias llamaba Pedro Castilla le fusiló cayendose Luna y Román muerto el 7 de junio de 1899.

El General Español Antonio de los Ríos decía de él, “Su derramada sangre ha borrado la breve historia militar de Filipinas”. Como escritor Juan Villamor decía esto: “Él pertenece a la categoría de un apóstol, un ferviente propagandista con la capacidad y virtudes de su raza”.

De su periódico “La Independencia” el mismo Villamor tenía esto que decir “Era una poderosa luz eléctrica en una oscura noche, iluminado la confusión a fin de mitigar, los ultrajes de una armada revolución deseosa la libertad para el beneficio de la humanidad y de la cultura.

Su nombre de pluma era Tagailog. Sus obras El Siglo Médico, La Farmacia Española en Filipinas y La Ilustración Filipina.

Spanish in our history

I stumbled upon this interesting video by Paul who manages YouTube’s Langfocus regarding the brief history of the Spanish language. In just a little over eight minutes, he was able to explain its origins, how it spread out to different parts of the globe, commented on the Spanish-Castellano controversy, and even mentioned the countries that still use it as an official language.

At the 1:13 mark, however, Paul mentioned something hurtful (at least to me). “It also used to be an official language of the Philippines but it is not anymore”, he said.

 

But it’s true, anyway. Spanish was our country’s official language beginning 24 June 1571 but was unceremoniously booted out from the 1987 Constitution, the main reason being that there are only few Filipinos who speak it. While arguments about this reason continue to this day, particularly in various Facebook groups and pages concerning the Spanish language in Filipinas, it cannot be denied that the non-inclusion of the Spanish language in our present constitution is an act of gross disrespect towards our country’s history. In the words of the late Senator Blas Ople, we have “disinvited ourselves” from the Hispanic world when the framers of our present constitution removed Spanish. Just ponder over the following instances…

The proclamation of our independence was read out in Spanish. Our first constitution, the Constitución de Malolos, was written entirely in Spanish. The deliberations of our first congress, the Congreso de Malolos, were in Spanish. The official decrees and correspondences of our first president (Emilio Aguinaldo) and first prime minister (Apolinario Mabini) were in Spanish. Our newspapers which fought against Spain and the United States were in Spanish. Our poets (Claro M. Recto, Cecilio Apóstol, Jesús Balmori, Fernando Mª Guerrero, etc.) who decried US colonization wrote their anti-imperialist verses only in Spanish. THE ORIGINAL LYRICS OF OUR NATIONAL ANTHEM WERE IN SPANISH! The name of our country, Filipinas (and this does not exclude its variations Pilipinas and Philippines), is Spanish! Even our last names and our native cuisine are in Spanish!

Millions of ancient papers documenting our country’s history that are stored in our national archives are in Spanish, still unread, still waiting to be deciphered. That is why this language is an important part of our history and culture. And even in the realm of economics, Spanish is crucial nowadays. Multinational companies pay bigger salaries to Filipinos who can speak the language compared to those who use only English. That is why Spanish should not be made an optional subject in schools. It should be mandatory.

Finally, we have our national hero, José Rizal, who wrote his final love letter to all of us using the Spanish language. Yet here we are now, taking that love letter for granted by reading it only through translations.

Fellow Filipinos, think about it.

Señor Gómez appears in Inquirer 990 Television

Señor Guillermo Gómez Rivera, multilingual author, historian, poet, educator, Spanish dance choreographer, and linguistic scholar, made a guest appearance yesterday in Inquirer 990 Television’s “Everyday Goodwill” hosted by María Teresa Cancio (owner of Goodwill Bookstore) and journalist Ricky Brozas where he discussed the language problem in Filipinas. He also peppered the discussion with tidbits about the real score behind our country’s history under Spain. Click on the screengrab below to watch the interview.

PEPE ALAS

Inquirer 990 Television is a free-to-air television news channel owned by Trans-Radio Broadcasting Corporation, a subsidiary of the Philippine Daily Inquirer. It is the television counterpart of DZIQ 990.

2018 National Artists

The Order of the National Artists of the Philippines is the highest national recognition given to Filipino individuals who have made significant contributions to the development of fine arts in the country, namely: Music, Dance, Theater, Visual Arts, Literature, Film, Broadcast Arts, and Architecture and Allied Arts. The order is jointly administered by the National Commission for Culture and the Arts (by virtue of President Ferdinand Marcos’s Proclamation № 1001 of 2 April 1972) and the Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP). The award is given irregularly and is conferred by the President of Filipinas upon recommendation by both institutions.

Through the decades since the first National Artist medal was awarded to critically acclaimed painter Fernando Amorsolo in 1972, many of the biggest names in Filipino arts and literature have graced the ranks of the Order of the National Artists such as writer Nick Joaquín (1976), musician Levi Celerio (1997), and film director Eddie Romero (2003). Selecting a national artist is based on a broad criteria, and the selection process for nominees is strict. Works of art of those who are nominated should not only conform to set standards of aesthetics; they should have also distinguished themselves among their peers by having pioneered a mode of creative expression or style, and they should have made an impact on succeeding generations of artists, among other criteria. In fact, back in 2009, controversy erupted when some of the nominees were blocked by several incumbent National Artists (including the indefatigable F. Sionil José), members of the Concerned Artists of the Philippines, and various academicians who claimed that their nomination was politicized by then President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo when she favored them due to friendship over artistic quality. The issue even reached the Supreme Court (in the end, the court of last resort voted to boot out those nominated by Arroyo).

Early today, filmmaker Sari Dalena broke the news on her Facebook account that a new batch of National Artists has been declared. Interestingly, one of those who figured in the 2009 controversy, architect Francisco Mañosa, made it to the list. Here they are in alphabetical order:

1) Larry Alcalá (Visual Arts, posthumous)
2) Amelia Lapeña-Bonifacio (Theater)
3) Ryan Cayabyab (Music)
4) Francisco Mañosa (Architecture)
5) Resil Mojares (Literature)
6) Ramón Muzones (Literature)
7) Kidlat Tahimik (Film)

PEPE ALAS

Top left to bottom right: Larry Alcalá, Amelia Lapeña-Bonifacio, Ryan Cayabyab, Francisco Mañosa, Resil Mojares, Ramón Muzones, and Kidlat Tahimik.

Official conferment will be held tomorrow at the CCP. Congratulations to the winners!

 

Filipinization: a process

Whenever I pass by the tianguê-filled streets of Baclaran or Divisoria, I am reminded of similar flea markets that are in South América. Fruit vendors found in almost all parts of the country —even in posh Macati City— are no different at all from their Latino counterparts with regards to the manner of selling, the bodily movements in conducting trade.

The similarities are striking.

Whenever I visit my dad’s hometown of Unisan, I am astounded by the población’s network of roads: they horizontally and vertically crisscross each other. And at the heart of the small town itself is the old church. Indeed, the architecture of Unisan’s town center is a perfect trademark of the Spanish friar-engineer’s ingenuity. In fact, nearly all Spanish-era towns all over the archipelago follow this “square-shape” pattern.

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La población de Unisan, Tayabas.

Fiestas, the wheel, town cemeteries, plowing, spoon and fork, social graces, the guisadorondalla, potato, papaya, camote, La Virgen María and the rosary, paper and book culture, la mesala silla, painting, old street names and our family surnames, Holy Week and Simbang gabí, the bahay na bató, the calendar that we use, the name of our country, our nationality, etc. All these items, techniques, and concepts that were once foreign to us are now considered endemic. Without these, it is unthinkable for the Filipino to even exist. But these things that are crucial for our everyday existence are taken for granted like the clouds in the sky.

There are two simple ways to determine what a Filipino is: by his name and by what he eats. Like most Filipinos, I have a Spanish name (José Mario Alas), but my diet is Asian (I eat rice). These determinants make me a unique product of a Western-Eastern symbiosis. This blending is what makes me Filipino. I recognize both sides, but what surfaces the most is my Hispanic side for it completes my national identity. Fr. José S. Arcilla, S.J., couldn’t have said it any better:

Even if we peel off our Asian traits, we will remain “Filipino”. Remove our Hispanized ways and local idioms and we could no longer be recognized as Filipino.

“España y Filipinas” por el famoso pintor filipino, Juan Luna.

The heritage bequeathed to us by Spain is not only ubiquitous: they are part of our lives. They are, in fact, our very lives. Our Hispanic traits are what make us true Filipinos. This claim does not intend to glorify Spain, neither should it be misunderstood as a “longing to become a Spaniard,” which is very ridiculous to say the least (frankly speaking, I care less about today’s Sánchez-led Spain). This is merely an acknowledgment of facts regarding our true Filipino Identity which is based on our Hispanic heritage. Also, to acknowledge our Hispanic past doesn’t necessarily mean that we have to negate everything that came before it. That can never be undone in the first place. This is just a matter of calling a spade a spade.

Indeed, if we strip away everything Asian from our identity, the Hispanic attributes will still remain. And these attributes are the same ones that the whole world can see in each and every Hispanic country scattered around the globe. But if we take away everything Hispanic in us to give way to purist nationalist dictates, then we will cease to become Filipino. We will disintegrate back to what we were before the conquistadores came: disunited; separated into a myriad of tribal kingdoms; perpetually aggressive towards one another.

In other words, if we remove our Hispanic traits, it will not harm the Hispanic world one bit. What will remain is the “Malay” or “Austronesian” in us that never made us Filipinos in the first place. The pre-Filipino Malay/Austronesian is composed of many tribes (Tagalog, Ilocano, Tausug, Ilongo, Pampangueño, etc.) that were never one, never united as a compact nation. The scattered Malay/Austronesian tribes in this archipelago which we now call our own before the Spaniards came never aspired into uniting with one another to become a much bigger nation because each tribe already thought of itself as a nation. To a pre-Filipino Bicolano’s mind, why should they unite with the pre-Filipino Cebuanos just to become another nation?

This they never thought of. And it took a foreign power for us to realize this Filipinization that we treasure to this very day.

This is the importance of reassessing our nation’s history. I always claim that ours is perhaps the most unique in the world because it is so mangled, so distorted. We continuously badmouth the nation (Spain) that virtually created us, complaining all the time that they “raped and destroyed our culture” even though we use cuchara and tenedor during meals while eating adobo or any guisado-based dishes, look at the calendario everyday, check out the time with our relój, say para to the jeepney driver, celebrate the Holiday Seasons with our loved ones, plan to visit Spanish Vigan to see the fantastic houses there, etc. But why continue this baseless, foolish, and counterproductive hatred? The Spaniards are no longer here. And we continuously deny the strong fact that without Spain, the concept of what a Filipino truly is as we know it today would have never existed. And by attacking our Spanish past, we are only harming ourselves, not Spain.

Rather than focus on personages, dates, and places, Filipino History teachers should focus more on the process of Filipinization. The word “history” comes from the greek verb historeo which means to “learn by inquiry”. So that is what teachers of Filipino History should do: inculcate into the minds of their students to inquire about the past, their past. History should not be about memorization of dates, places, events, names, etc. History is not a memorization contest. History is not about hero worship. Although it is understandable that, as much as possible, we should just leave historical facts to speak for themselves, it could not be feasible if our educators themselves continue to condition the minds of our young students into hating a past that should not be hated at all. In our particular situation, we all must learn how to reassess and inquire about the process of Filipinization. Why? Because of this so-called crisis of national identity which many scholars today erroneously claim we have.

As I have argued before, our national identity never left us. It has been with us all this time. A systematic false teaching of Filipino History just made us think that we do not have one.

“Ang hindí marunong lumiñgón sa pinangaliñgan ay hindí macacaratíng sa paróroonan”, says an old Tagálog proverb. But how can we move forward, how will we be able to determine where we are going if we do not know where we have come from? We always look into a mythical pre-Hispanic past, yearn for it, but that era of our lives was never us. It was only the catalyst to Hispanization which was really Filipinization. And this process gave birth to who and what we are today. The “pre-Hispanic Filipino” was never us. We have to calmly accept that fact, the way we have to accept natural disasters like typhoons as part of our lives.

Más mabuti siguro tayo ñgayón cung hindí tayo sinacop ng mğa Castilà. This is a very defeatist observation that has been prevailing for about a century already, for it has no basis most especially if we are to review our country’s economic history. Why aspire of “reverting” to a pre-Filipino past that never was?

Filipinas is such an ungrateful nation. We deserve to be poor. Thus, for all the unfounded badmouthing that we have thrown against her, we owe mother Spain an apology, and not the other way around.

It is time that we Filipinos should go back to our roots. Our real roots. That way, we will be able to steer the course of our national destiny to a much better future.