Whatever happened to Filipino dignity?

I don’t post stuff like this, but this is too much. It made my blood really boil!

This shameful video went viral a few days ago. It’s about a Turkish national, later identified to be a certain Yuksel Ibrahim, disrespecting a traffic enforcer along Buendía Avenue in San Pedro Macati (Makati City). For sure, he made a traffic violation, the reason he was flagged down (it was later discovered that he was driving without a license). But he refused to budge, resisted arrest. As can be seen on this video, the Turk even laid his hands on the traffic enforcer (reports say his name is Michael Orcino) and shoved his motorcycle down to the concrete pavement.

It is unthinkable for Filipinos to behave in such a way in other countries, especially in Muslim land. We are very obedient, polite, and law-abiding overseas. Why let foreigners behave like this in our own native land? What’s infuriating about this video is that there are lots of Filipinos around, but they couldn’t put a stop to this imbecilic Turk. Filipinos swallow their dignity and pride in other countries. Why do the same in our own native land?! This is too much!

Yuksel Ibrahim is an Arabic name. He is most probably Muslim. And he’s going for lost in a Catholic country! Could you imagine a Catholic doing the same in a Muslim country?

But the Filipinos seen in this video (including Orcino) are, to my eyes, not true Filipinos. I call them “Bobong Pinóy“. They’re no longer the true Filipinos in the mold of José Rizal, Marcelo del Pilar, Apolinario Mabini, Claro M. Recto, etc. These are the moronic cowards who grew up speaking in Taglish, Anglo-Saxonized (Americanized) to the core, lapsed Catholics who attend only the Novus Ordo (and whenever they feel like it), and who enjoy teleseryes, Pinoy Big Brother, and other TV garbage from sunrise to sunset as if they have become part of their very existence.

A long time ago in Madrid, a hot-tempered Antonio Luna slapped, spat at, and challenged Mir Deas, a Spanish journalist, to a duel when the latter made insults to the former (Mir Deas even mistook Antonio for his brother Juan the painter). And to think that Antonio wasn’t even in Filipinas. A long time ago in Mindanáo, Filipinos (to say “Christian Filipino” during that time was redundant; Filipino was enough) under Governor-General Juan Antonio de Urbiztondo routed pesky Muslim pirates in Joló and other parts (Rizal even wrote a poem about it). Whatever happened to Filipino dignity? Has it gone yellow because of too much acquiescence to both Chinese and US imperialism? Perhaps other countries already noticed this softening of the once mighty Filipino spirit. No wonder they disrespect us. No wonder they ship containers filled with garbage to our ports.

So don’t blame me if I approved of that beating those imperious Aussie cagers got from Gilas Pilipinas several months ago. Don’t blame me if I cheered when Mayor Herbert Bautista slapped an arrogant Chinese drug dealer twice on national TV years ago.

If only I were there in Buendía, I swear, I would have bloodied this Turk’s face and destroyed his car. I would have even cursed at the traffic enforcer for cowardice. I am not a violent person. I do not condone violence. But I cannot for the life of me allow this infuriating scene to happen in front of my eyes. I can never for the life of me allow a Muslim, an agent of شيطان, wreak havoc in a Christian land. No, certainly not in my house.

Porque soy FILIPINO ORGULLOSO, no soy Bobong Pinoy.

Hoy en la Historia de Filipinas: el Catálogo Alfabético de Apellidos

HOY EN LA HISTORIA DE FILIPINAS: 21 de noviembre de 1849 — El Gobernador General Narciso Clavería y Zaldúa (Conde de Manila) decretó la impresión del “Catálogo Alfabético de Apellidos” para asignar y estandarizar los apellidos de los filipinos.

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Image: Paul Morrow.

Un mito prevaleciente hoy es que cuando tienes un apellido español, significa automáticamente que tienes un antepasado español. Si bien esto puede ser cierto para algunas pocas familias seleccionadas, esta noción no se puede aplicar a todos los filipinos con apellidos hispanos. Cabe señalar que a lo largo de los tres siglos de dominación española, muy pocos españoles llegaron al archipiélago. De hecho, la mayoría de los españoles que llegaron aquí eran miembros del clero.

Antes de que España creara Filipinas en 24 de junio de 1571, la mayoría de los nativos tenían un solo nombre, generalmente descriptivo de la persona. Durante el resto del período español anterior al lanzamiento del dicho decreto, los filipinos comenzaron a usar cualquier apellido español que se ajustara a su gusto. Los recién cristianizados, por ejemplo, suelen elegir los nombres de los santos para sus apellidos. Incluso hubo miembros de la misma familia que tenían apellidos diferentes, por lo que confundieron el registro del censo, la recaudación de impuestos, y otras formas y medios de gobernancia. Los apellidos de ese entonces ni siquiera se transmitían de padres a hijos, ya que los adultos tenían la libertad de elegir el apellido que quisieran usar para sí mismos; José Rizal era un remanente de esta práctica, aunque se puede argumentar que lo usó en diferentes circunstancias).

Clavería resolvió este problema lanzando un catálogo de 60,662 apellidos españoles y nativos para ser distribuidos en las provincias de todo el archipiélago en orden alfabético. La lista también se amplió con la inclusión de los nombres de lugares, plantas, animales, minerales, rasgos de carácter, e incluso apellidos hispanos de origen chino.

La lista de apellidos se distribuyó de acuerdo con los alcaldes mayores que luego enviaron una parte de la lista a cada cura párroco bajo su jurisdicción provincial. Dependiendo de lo que pensaba que era el número de familias en cada barrio o barangáy, el sacerdote asignó una parte de la lista a la cabeza de barangay (jefe de la aldea) quien luego pidió la ayuda del miembro más mayor de cada familia para elegir un apellido para el resto de los miembros de su familia. Al registrar el apellido elegido, el individuo involucrado así como sus descendientes directos lo utilizarían como un apellido permanente.

Extracto del discurso inaugural del Presidente Aguinaldo

Tuve el raro privilegio de asistir una conferencia de historia en el Palacio de Malacañán, la residencia oficial del presidente de Filipinas, el pasado viernes por la tarde. Después de la conferencia, se nos permitió recorrer el histórico edificio de Kalayaan (palabra tagala para la libertad) que es la parte más antigua del palacio. Este edificio alberga el Presidential Museum and Library (museo y biblioteca presidencial).

PEPE ALAS

Dentro de la biblioteca en el segundo piso, me di cuenta de este retrato de Emilio Aguinaldo, primer presidente de Filipinas, con un mensaje en español. Resulta que es un extracto de su discurso inaugural cuando le declararon como presidente de la Primera República de Filipinas.

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Simplemente no importen los errores tipográficos.

Este discurso fue pronunciado el 23 de enero de 1899 en Malolos, Bulacán, en un momento en que España acaba de perder el control de Filipinas, y los EE.UU. esperaban con ansias codiciosas la adquisición del archipielago. Pero este extracto del discurso inaugural de Aguinaldo muestra su confianza y optimismo que, además de la rebelión contra España, nuestra independencia será reconocida por la comunidad de naciones. En caso de que no puedan leer el texto de la foto de arriba, pueden hacerlo a continuación:

Ya no somos insurrectos, ya no somos revolucionarios, es decir, somos desde hoy republicanos, esto es, hombres de derecho con quienes hermanar todos los demás pueblos, mediante el mutuo respeto y el recíproco cariño. Nada falta, pues, para que podamos ser reconocidos y admitidos como Nación libre e independiente…

Grande es este día; gloriosa es esta fecha; y será eternamente memorable el momento este en que se eleva nuestro amado pueblo a la apoteósis de la Independencia.

Tomen nota que este discurso fue leído principalmente a delegados de habla tagalo pero fue leído en español. ¿Algo no está bien? ¿O algo no está mal? 😉

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Remembering Stan Lee and his “Soapbox”

The Punisher is my favorite character from Stan Lee’s astonishing Marvel Comics universe. I remember those days when I scrimped on my allowance, saving every coin to buy copies of various Punisher titles that used to come out per month.

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Those were the 90s, a time when physical simplicity and digital complexity were at the crossroads. During those happy days, when sociability was not yet confined to an android, Stan Lee maintained a column in each Marvel comic book. Titled “Stan’s Soapbox”, he gave us fans a glimpse of the ins and outs of Marvel Comics’ exciting plans for the future as well as other happenings in connection to Marvel’s creative crew that had a cult following of their own (the tandem of Chuck Dixon and John Romita Jr. was my favorite). At a time when social media was still a fevered dream, Stan Lee and his happy caboodle were our go-to-guys regarding all sorts of geekery. But from time to time, Stan Lee used his column as a platform to air his views about almost anything, some of which were controversial, nevertheless just.

Even through print, he engaged fans as if he was your friendly neighborhood grandfather that you could tell your problems to. Whenever I read him, I tried to imagine the kind of voice that he might had; years later, when he started appearing in cameos for various Marvel films, I was astonished to find out that the way I had imagined his voice would be came out quite accurately! And his grandfatherly voice as well as his gentle features perfectly fit the way he wrote: jolly and lively. There was many a time when I looked forward to his soapbox with as much excitement as I had towards the pulse-pounding storylines contained in The Punisher titles. His column also introduced me to the wider Marvel Universe, beyond the blood and bullets of The Punisher.

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Marvel trading card released in 1990 by Impel Marketing, Inc. This particular card was my first introduction to who Stan Lee was.

And do I really have to describe his language, his style of writing? The adjectives preceding some of Marvel’s iconic titles (AMAZING Spider-Man, UNCANNY X-Men, INCREDIBLE Hulk) may well be regarded as apposite laurels to his astounding talent and infinite well of imagination. His column, even though meant simply to inform readers about the goings-on in Marvel’s “House of Ideas”, is written in beautifully sculpted language. It is always an exalting experience for me whenever I read it. For a non-native English speaker, it was a challenge skimming through Stan Lee’s vast array of colorful vocabulary. It was simply impossible not to have a dictionary at hand when tackling his soapbox. But it was to my advantage: little did I know that it was to be my “training ground” as I was able to ace my English composition and grammar lessons at school.

Photograb from Anthony Oliveira.

Whenever Stan Lee wrote, he soared not like his caped heroes but like Shakespeare and Byron exposed to (red alert: Marvel jargon up ahead!) Terrigen Mists.

If you opine that my English is noteworthy, don’t. I am not an exceptional scribbler; whatever worth that I have as a writer, I simply got from years of reading Stan Lee. And yes, he was a major factor as to why I have come to love reading and writing. The best part of this all is that Stan Lee and Marvel Comics inadvertently led me to the world of English Literature.

Photograb from The Geeksverse.

I am so devastated at his passing. I’ve always thought he’d reach up to a hundred. He will be dearly missed.

Excelsior to infinity and beyond! ‘Nuff said…

Amihan

Hace mucho frío en este momento aquí en nuestro lugar (San Pedro Tunasán, La Laguna). ¡Ciertamente han llegado el “amihan”, y me encanta!

¿Qué es amihan? Se refiere a la estación dominada por los fríos vientos alisios o los “easterlies” en inglés porque vienen del noreste. Se dice que es la temporada en que el hielo en Siberia al norte comienza a derretirse, y el aire frío viaja hacia Filipinas. Normalmente ocurre esta actividad climática desde los fines de octubre hasta los primeros días de marzo. Los días más fríos ocurren desde diciembre hasta principios de febrero.

La palabra amihan se deriva de la mitología filipina prehispánica, estrictamente entre los tagalos si no me equivoco. En la dicha mitología, Amihan es una deidad (dios menor pero sin género) que representa como un pájaro y es la primera criatura que habitó el universo, junto con los dioses principales Bathalà y Aman Sinaya. Según el folclore de los tagalos, fue Amihan quien rompió el enorme bambú que contenía los primeros seres humanos, Malacás (significa “fuerte”) y Magandá (significa “hermosa”). Malacás y Magandá son la versión tagala de Adán y Eva. Pero todavía tengo que descubrir la conexión entre Amihan el ave divina y los fríos vientos alisios que originan en Siberia.

Una imagen satelital del archipielago grabada el pasado 5 de octubre, por cortesía de PAGASA, el acrónimo tagalo del “Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical, and Astronomical Services Administration” que en español significa la Administración de Servicios Atmosféricos, Geofísicos, y Astronómicos de Filipinas. El acrónimo en sí es también una palabra tagala que significa “esperanza”. Los hilillos y delgados y grises en la parte superior de esta imagen son los fríos vientos siberianos.

En realidad, la frialdad de amihan ya comenzó el mes pasado, en el norte de Luzón, pero es sólo ahora que se siente aquí en el sur de Luzón.

Soy un amante del frío. De hecho, la temporada de amihan es mi favorita. Me produce una emoción silenciosa, una emoción que generalmente se siente desde la infancia. Pero con razón, porque la llegada de amihan es una clara señal de que se acerca rápidamente la temporada navideña en Filipinas. Estoy seguro que muchos otros filipinos sientan la msma emoción que yo siento. 😃

Sustainable development: the key to protecting the environment

This morning, the Manila Cathedral held the launching event for the Living Laudato si’ Philippines movement.

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If you will recall, Laudato si’ is the second encyclical of Pope Francisco published three years ago. This encyclical dealt with wanton consumerism, irresponsible development, environmental degradation, and global warming. Through Laudato si’, the pontiff called all peoples of the world to take a swift and unified global action to save the environment through sustainable development.

Aside from fighting the leyenda negra by attempting to bring back the Spanish language in order to redeem our Filipino Identity, environmentalism is my other advocacy. In fact, If I’m ever asked which between the two I’m more concerned about, I’d choose the latter in a heartbeat. I may not write much about it, but I support it through action: I do not litter, I teach my kids to do the same, we segregate our waste, and we respect plant and animal life. Besides, so much has already been written about environmentalism that any views from me will be considered a mere drop of water in an already filled bucket. And there’s too much writing, but so little action. Anyway, all I can say is this: much of Filipinas before, especially during the supposedly “exploitation-filled” Spanish times, was a haven for nature, fauna, and flora. This beauty inspired the creativity of many a poet and artist. But many of these natural wonders today are either gone or polluted, replaced by “progress” in the guise of unmitigated real estate development and a hurried and careless urbanization of picturesque and ecologically friendly towns. All this in the name of capitalistic greed and avarice, a consequence of “gobbleization”.

When I started La Familia Viajera a few years ago, my friend Arnaldo warned me that it’s going to be a “logistics nightmare”. But the desecration of our country’s natural resources is a major factor why I wanted my family to travel with me. Traveling, at least for me, is fueled not solely by my passion to search for traces of our country’s Hispanic past, nor are they spurred exclusively by a responsibility to document maltreated Fil-Hispanic heritage sites. I wanted my family to visit our country’s natural wonders because I fear that one day, any time soon, those natural wonders will soon disappear. Or that they might meet the same fate as the Pásig River or once lush forests that are now commercial centers. That is why as much as possible, I wanted to travel regularly, with all members of my family, from my wife down to our youngest daughter, all seven of us. Those travels are not just for my enjoyment but for my children’s as well. Furthermore, traveling is not merely for enjoyment, it’s educational. And when my children grow up and those natural beauties (including heritage sites) that we’ve visited through the years will have disappeared, they would still be able to see them, at least through our blog’s photos (unfortunately, Arnaldo’s warning came to pass: we’re no longer updating our family blog because we couldn’t afford to travel anymore).

I fear not for myself but for my children with regard to environmental degradation. But of course. My generation is probably the last that did not worry about an environmental apocalypse. Let me just borrow a few lines (written in original Tagálog spelling, another one of my unpopular advocacies) from Filipino folk band Asín to explain this fear:

Ang mğa batang ñgayón lang isinilang,
¿May hañguin pa cayáng matiticmán?
¿May mğa puno pa cayá siláng aaquiatín?
¿May mğa ilog pa cayáng lalañguyán?

Right now, it’s not enough to be simply “environmental” in order to save our natural resources. Protecting the environment nowadays is not just about throwing one’s waste in a designated trash bin or turning off electrical appliances that are not in use. It is not just about tree planting events. This is not just about hating illegal logging. Environmentalism is something that “needs to be done”, but without derailing the economy.

The keyword here is sustainable development. The International Institute for Sustainable Development explains this much better:

All definitions of sustainable development require that we see the world as a system—a system that connects space; and a system that connects time.

When you think of the world as a system over space, you grow to understand that air pollution from North America affects air quality in Asia, and that pesticides sprayed in Argentina could harm fish stocks off the coast of Australia.

And when you think of the world as a system over time, you start to realize that the decisions our grandparents made about how to farm the land continue to affect agricultural practice today; and the economic policies we endorse today will have an impact on urban poverty when our children are adults.

We also understand that quality of life is a system, too. It’s good to be physically healthy, but what if you are poor and don’t have access to education? It’s good to have a secure income, but what if the air in your part of the world is unclean? And it’s good to have freedom of religious expression, but what if you can’t feed your family?

The concept of sustainable development is rooted in this sort of systems thinking. It helps us understand ourselves and our world. The problems we face are complex and serious—and we can’t address them in the same way we created them. But we can address them.

The recent case of Borácay’s controversial closure is a clear picture of what strict implementation of environmental measures can do. In only six months time, Borácay was able to heal itself from the “cesspool” that it once was due to indiscriminate business practices. Blueprints for sustainable development programs can now enter the scene in order to maintain the small island’s ecological continuity. The success of such programs can later be applied to a much bigger setting.

Going back to Laudato si’. In the said encyclical, Pope Francisco reiterates the traditional teachings of Christianity regarding the environment: that creation possesses inherent goodness (“each creature possesses its own particular goodness and perfection”), and that dignity does not depend on human utility. While we humans are a part of creation, we were set apart by God to “cultivate and care for” the gift of creation (Genesis 2:15). This responsibility is not for His sake in the first place but for ours and our children’s children.

Lastly, it will not hurt nor demean our businesses if we add some spirituality to them, or at least, some spirituality in our business objectives. Spirituality in a way tends to ward off unchecked utilitarianism in our commercial endeavors, thus evading any eventuality that might lead to environmental harms.

The foregoing makes me wonder: are there still Catholic CEOs and board of directors who pray the Rosary?

Click here and here for more information about sustainable development, and here for Pope Francisco’s encyclical on the environment and sustainable development.

We should all act NOW.