Lucena turns 140

This coming Sunday, November 3, on the occasion of the 140th anniversary of Lucena City’s establishment as an independent town of Tayabas Province, the Konseho ng Herencia ng Lucena will hold a week-long series of cultural activities. See the images below for the schedule and venues. Everyone is invited.

Sa loób ng Maynilà (Intramuros)

“In October, a breath of the north stirs Manila, blowing summer’s dust and doves from the tile roofs, freshening the moss of old walls, as the city festoons itself with arches and paper lanterns for its great votive feast to the Virgin. Women hurrying into their finery upstairs, bewhiskered men tapping impatient canes downstairs, children teeming in the doorways, coachmen holding eager ponies in the gay streets, glance up anxiously, fearing the wind’s chill: would it rain this year? (But the eyes that, long ago, had gazed up anxiously, invoking the Virgin, had feared a grimmer rain—of fire and metal; for pirate craft crowded the horizon.) The bells begin to peal again and sound like silver coins showering in the fine air; at the rumor of drums and trumpets as bands march smartly down the cobblestones, a pang of childhood happiness smites every heart. October in Manila! But the emotion, so special to one’s childhood, seems no longer purely one’s own; seems to have traveled ahead, deep into time, since one first felt its pang; growing ever more poignant, more complex—a child’s rhyme swelling epical; a clan treasure one bequeaths at the very moment of inheritance, having added one’s gem to it. And time creates unexpected destinations, history raises figs from thistles: yesterday’s pirates become today’s roast pork and paper lanterns, a tapping of impatient canes, a clamor of trumpets…”

–NICK JOAQUÍN, (Guardia de Honor)–

¡Manila de mis amores!

Exactly 10 years ago today, my wife and I did an unconventional visita iglesia within the historic walls of Intramuros, “the original Manila”. Unconventional because more than half of those churches are gone, and the visita iglesia was done in October. Seven were the original churches of the Walled City. But only two are left; one just got reconstructed but will serve only as an ecclesiastical museum.

I revisited those churches again last October 20, a Sunday. Of course I’m a frequent visitor to Intramuros but during those ten years that my wife and I did that rather odd visita iglesia, I didn’t have time to revisit the old sites of those long-gone churches. There were several changes already: new street signs with information cards, cleaners streets, more tourists, etc. Unlike a decade before, the weather that Sunday was hot, as if it was summer (climate change?). I brought along with me again my copy of the Philippine Daily Inquirer’s highly informative Intramuros (published in 1988), edited by the late great National Artist for Literature, Nick Joaquín.

Nick was a true-blooded Manileño born and bred. He had witnessed so much about the final living years of Spanish Intramuros. In fact, it was part of his childhood and growing up years. Most of Nick’s works are a fine testament of how the Filipinos, particularly the Manileños within and without the Walled City, lived and breathed their every day Intramuros lives. And if I only had my way, I will revive everything that used to be in the original capital city. Because that’s simply the way it should be. Period. No amount of restoration will bring back Intramuros’ old glory as long as squatters are allowed to live within the Walled City, as long as Dick Gordon’s shameful and hispanophobic Light and Sound Museum continues to exist, and as long as the four of the original seven churches aren’t brought back by the Intramuros Administration, the local Catholic Church, and the national government in general. In the words of Nick, “Intramuros was a collective high altar formed by its churches.”

“And from childhood no amount of familiarity could dull for me the mysterious wondrousness of Intramuros as the very vitals, the hid heart, the secret soul of my city. Every going into it was a penetration — and in there, for a Manileño, it was always like coming home. He was back to his original, essential, eternal island. He was back to roots. Sa loob ng Maynila.”

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Entering the original Manila through Puerta Victoria.

Seven were the churches of Intramuros. Let’s re-enact the itinerary. Entering through Victoria Gate and going up Solana, you reached San Francisco, which was a double church, for beside the main one (its creamy pillared façade rose five stories high) was the V.O.T., the chapel of the Franciscan third order, where was venerated a crowned St. Louis robed in ermine.


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Iglesia de San Francisco de Asís y Capilla de la Venerable Orden Tercera (source: The Urban Roamer).

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St. Rita’s Chapel inside the Mapúa University now stands on the very site where the Chapel of the Franciscan Venerable Third Order used to be.

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Mapúa University (formerly known as Mapúa Institute of Technology) now occupies the site of the Chapel of the Franciscan Venerable Third Order and the San Francisco Church and Convent.

At the end of Solana was Santo Domingo, magnificently gothic and rose-colored, with a side portal opening out to the Plaza de Santo Tomás.


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Iglesia de Santo Domingo de Guzmán (source: Nostalgia Filipinas).


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The Bank of the Philippine Islands now occupies the former site of Santo Domingo Church. The new church is now in Quezon City.

Crossing this plaza and passing the university, you came upon the Cathedral, which had wide porches instead of a patio, iron-grille balustrades and, just inside the entrance, a small bronze statue of a seated St. Peter whose toes had been worn smooth by the kisses of the faithful.


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Basílica Menor y Catedral Metropolitana de la Inmaculada Concepción (source: Salvador Pérez).

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The Manila Cathedral is actually a Roman Catholic Minor Basilica, the cathedral of the Archdiocese of Manila. As such, it is the mother of all Filipino churches. The throne of the Archbishop of Manila is inside this centuries-old holy edifice.

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The cathedral’s tympanum has a Latin inscription dedicated to the Virgin Mary: “Tibi cordi tuo immaculato concredimus nos ac consecramus“. It means “We consecrate to your immaculate heart and entrust to you for safekeeping”.

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Past the Cathedral, a left turn at Calle Arzobispo brought you to San Ignacio, wedged between the Ateneo and the episcopal palace; very high iron grilling enclosing the narrow court that formed a portico to this red-brick church, also known as Jesuitas.


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Iglesia de San Ignacio de Loyola (source: Blessed Justo Takayama Ukon).

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The recently reconstructed Church of San Ignacio de Loyola is now an ecclesiastical museum known as Museo de Intramuros. The last time I was here (2013, with my family), this church was still in ruins, but preparations for the construction were already taking place.

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The reconstructed church / museum now houses ecclesiastical masterpieces such as paintings and images as well as other church antiquaries from across the archipelago.

At the end of Arzobispo was San Agustín, with its double convent: the main monastery beside the church and the separate business quarters (or procuration) adjoining the Ateneo.


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Iglesia de San Agustín de Hipona (source: John Tewell).

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San Agustín Church is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

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This church is a very popular wedding venue.

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San Agustín de Hipona.

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Going down Calle General Luna and turning left at Calle Escuela, you found yourself at the Recollects’ Iglesia de San Nicolás, least visible of the Intramuros shrines, and with a cobbled patio in front and along one side.


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Iglesia de San Nicolás de Tolentino (source: Nostalgia Filipinas).

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Manila Bulletin now stands on the ground where the San Nicolás de Tolentino Church and Convent once reigned supreme.

Turning right on Recoletos and doubling back on General Luna, you reached Lourdes Church, or Capuchinos, youngest of the Walled City’s temples. with a painting of the Virgin on its façade.


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Iglesia de Nuestra Señora de Lourdes (source: Apostles Filipino Catholic Community).

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Silahis Arts and Crafts and the Ilustrado Restaurant, both located in Amanecer Compoun, now occupy the former site of the Lourdes Church and Convent. The new church is now in Quezon City.

“What alone survives of the old churches, San Agustín, looks extremely lonely without the busy company it had enjoyed for ages sa loob ng Maynila. And San Agustín has practically given up the public celebration of its old fiestas. St. Rita is no longer borne in procession on a float of Maytime roses; and the Virgin of Consolation no longer rides her silver carroza through the streets of Intramuros on the second Sunday of September — a cult commemorated in Fernando Zóbel’s Carroza. To repeat, Intramuros was the conjunto, of all its traditional temples; without its other colleagues, even the Cathedral and San Agustín are merely crown jewels without a crown. “Maybe a revival of piety (using the term in its Latin sense) will in the future inspire the return to Intramuros of all its former churches, chapels, convents and beaterios. Only then will Intramuros be really “restored” — when again it has a San Francisco with its Tuesdays of St. Anthony; a Santa Clara with its unseen choir of vestals; a Lourdes with its Saturday girl crowds; a Santa Isabel with its shrine of the Santo Cristo; a Recoletos with its Friday pilgrims and December feria de Santa Lucía; a San Ignacio with its fashionable confessionals; an Ateneo and a Santo Tomás back on original ground; a Santa Catalina and Beaterio and Santa Rosa come home again; a San Agustín resuming its public ceremonials; a Cathedral restoring the votive function of St. Andrew the Apostle as patron of the Noble and Ever Loyal; and a Santo Domingo again celebrating La Naval de Manila in old Manila. “Only then will Manileños again have a high altar round which they can gather as a coherent community — sa loob ng Maynila.”

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Our country’s history and identity are in Spanish

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La Cruz de Borgoña, our first flag.

The history of our country was documented in Spanish. Let me briefly count the ways…

The forging of our islands into one nation was done in Spanish, from the day it was founded to the day it was defended from rebels. The writers who asked for reforms from Mother Spain wrote in Spanish. The proclamation of our independence was read out in Spanish. Our first constitution (Constitución de Malolos) was written entirely in Spanish. The deliberations of our first congress (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 that fought against the US invaders were in Spanish. Our poets who decried US colonization (Claro M. Recto, Cecilio Apóstol, Jesús Balmori, Fernando Mª Guerrero, etc.) wrote their anti-imperialist verses only in Spanish. THE LYRICS OF OUR NATIONAL ANTHEM WERE ORIGINALLY IN SPANISH.

José Rizal’s final love letter to all of us was written in Spanish.

Think about it.

United Nations Avenue

United Nations Avenue, also known as U.N Avenue, is a major thoroughfare in Ermita, Manila. It is quite well known not only in Manila but throughout the country. It has that recall among people not just because of its catchy, famous name but because it lies right smack in the country’s busy capital. This 1.9-km avenue is a landmark even to non-Manileños due to the fact that major establishments are found here such as the National Bureau of Investigation, Manila Doctors Hospital, the 780-seat Philam Life Auditorium (an international style structure designed by famous architect Carlos Argüelles), and of course LRT’s student-filled United Nations Avenue station.

Not many people know, however, that U.N. Avenue was not always known by that name. It was first called Calle Isaac Peral. Who could this person be? Isaac Peral y Caballero (1851–1895) was actually a Spanish engineer (and also an officer of the Spanish Navy) who built the Submarino Peral or the Peral Submarine in 1888. It was the first electric battery-powered submarine in the world.

In 1962, during the 17th anniversary of the United Nations, Calle Isaac Peral was renamed United Nations Avenue to honor the mentioned intergovernmental organization tasked to maintain international peace and security, develop friendly relations among nations, achieve international cooperation, and become a center for harmonizing the actions of nations.


United? These two street signs couldn’t even agree with each other 😂 (photo: Wikimedia Commons).

Today, as the world yet again celebrates United Nations Day, it is important to note how hollow and hypocritical this event has been through the years considering that among its major founding members —the United States of Uncle Sam— is an industrious instigator of war and warmongering. But let’s not even look far outside ourselves. Here we are, annually celebrating United Nations Day yet we continue hating a glorious past of which both Señor Peral’s country and the city of Manila used to be a part of. It is no wonder why we couldn’t tread on the correct avenue towards progress: we both refuse to move on and assess our past.

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Como padre de familia soy un fracaso

Soy esposo y padre de cinco niños. Pero he perdido la ascendencia moral para dirigir a mi familia. He pecado gravemente contra ellos. No entraré en detalles (porque no puedo). Los he lastimado tanto con mis labilidades emocionales, berrinches, y otras excentricidades que un esposo y un padre no deberían haber hecho.

Todos los días de mi vida católica, he intentado hacer todo lo posible para convertirme en una persona de la que mi familia estaría orgullosa. Quería acercarme mucho a ellos, pero fue un deseo que se hizo demasiado ansioso; creo que lo exageré. Quería que mi familia se convirtiera en una familia cristiana modelo para los demás. Esto lo he rezado a Dios. Pero no sucedió. Mis excentricidades como un escritor me vencieron. Rezo el Rosario todos los días. Pero como dicen, el hombre más piadoso es un imán para los pecados.

Soy un hombre de familia, pero he perdido la ascendencia moral para dirigir a mi familia. Me he vuelto demasiado egoísta, pensando más en mis sueños que en su felicidad. No sé si aún podría curar las heridas que les he infligido. Los he lastimado y marcado, especialmente mi esposa y mi hija mayor, debido a mi tontería. Sin embargo, si se sienten heridos, yo mismo me siento marcado por los pecados que he cometido contra ellos. Estoy traumatizado también. Yo también me duele.


Iglesia de Santa Rosa de Lima (Santa Rosa, La Laguna).


Ayer fui a la ciudad de Santa Rosa para asistir a un evento y visitar a algunos amigos. Antes de todo eso, fui directamente a su iglesia de la era española. Estaba cerrada. Sólo la capilla de adoración eucarística estaba abierta. Estaba aislada, silenciosa, desolada. Pero había una sensación de paz. Tuve que rezar. Me quité las sandalias, encontré un banco de iglesia, me arrodillé, hice la señal de la cruz …

… pero no recé. Sólo lloré. Lloré y lloré y lloré. Abrí mi corazón en esa soledad. Hay un estado momentáneo de dicha al llorar los pecados y fracasos.

A veces es bueno llorar sólo. Con sólo Dios como mi testigo.

Was the famous Leyte Landing of 1944 reenacted?

Today our country commemorates the anniversary of the famous Leyte Landing. That historic event from World War II features the landing of General Douglas MacArthur in Leyte Gulf to begin his campaign of recapturing and liberating our country from Japanese occupation, as well as to fulfill his now iconic “I shall return” promise. Together with him were President-in-exile Sergio Osmeña, Lieutenant General Richard Sutherland, Major General Charles A. Willoughby, Brigadier General Carlos P. Rómulo, and the rest of the Sixth Army forces. From his book The Fooling of America: The Untold Story of Carlos P. Rómulo, the late chemist-turned-historian Pío Andrade writes:

On October 20, 1944, following preliminary landings in Sulúan, Homonhón, and Dinagat islands between October 17-19, American soldiers landed in Leyte to begin liberation of the Philippines from the Japanese. After several waves of troops had landed, MacArthur landed at Red Beach, Palo, Leyte. It was a historic moment for MacArthur and the Philippines.

The above photo, now regarded as one of the most memorable images from World War II, is what the whole world knows about the Leyte Landing. However, in the same book, Andrade has more to reveal:

MacArthur’s Leyte landing has been firmly etched in the mind of the public thus: the general wading in knee-deep water with Philippine President Osmeña and Carlos P. Rómulo. Actually, there are doubts whether that picture is the real first Leyte landing of MacArthur. A daughter of one of President Quezon’s military aides told this writer that the picture was a reenactment. There were three shots of the Leyte landing picture taken from different angles thereby giving the impression that the landing was rehearsed. The New York Times reported that President Osmeña came ashore in Leyte on October 21, meaning that the famous Leyte landing picture was not taken the day MacArthur first stepped on Red Beach. MacArthur, himself, signed and dated a different Leyte landing picture which showed neither Osmeña nor Rómulo.

And what could that photo Andrade was referring to? Here it is:


Photo from Andrade’s book.


Real or reenacted, Rómulo was flamboyantly dressed in the Leyte landing picture. While professional soldiers Generals MacArthur, Sutherland, and Willoughby wore military caps, paper soldier Rómulo wore a steel helmet, the better to show his brigadier general’s star. Though he knew he would be in the rear headquarters, Rómulo dressed as if he was going to the combat zone. He had a pair of leggings and his revolver hang on a shoulder holster like an FBI agent instead of on a belt holster required by military regulations. Rómulo was trying hard to project himself as a real soldier.

But Rómulo’s alleged KSP attitude, of course, is another story. Today, the Leyte Landing is immortalized by the MacArthur Landing Memorial National Park at Red Beach, on the same site where MacArthur and his party landed. Which now leads me to a heritage crime that happened in 2014: the unceremonious removal of the Simón de Anda Monument from Bonifacio Drive in Manila to make way for a much larger highway to ease traffic. On deciding of removing the monument, then DPWH-National Capital Region head Reynaldo Tagudando said that the de Anda Monument has “no historical value”. Tagudando thus revealed his complete ignorance of who Simón de Anda y Salazar was.

De Anda was an oidor or member judge of the Audiencia Real (Spain’s appellate court in its colonies/overseas provinces) when the British, on account of the Seven Years’ War, invaded Filipinas in 1762. While many high-ranking government officials, including then interim governor-general and Archbishop Manuel Rojo del Río, already surrendered to the invaders, de Anda and his followers refused to do so. Instead, he established a new Spanish base in Bacolor, Pampanga and from there launched the country’s first ever guerrilla resistance against the British. He thus proved to be a big thorn on the side of the British until the latter left two years later.

During those tumultuous two years under the British, de Anda made no promises and neither did he leave Filipinas. He stuck it out with Filipinos through thick and thin and gave the enemy an armed resistance that they more than deserved. But “Dugout Doug” was all drama when he said “I shall return”, leaving the Filipinos to fend for themselves against the Japs. And when he did return, it was a disaster: the death of Intramuros, the heart and soul of the country.

If there was anything good that came out from 2013’s destructive Typhoon Yolanda, it was the damage done to that memorial park at Red Beach. When it comes to WWII commemorations, even the forces of nature know which monument has no historical value.

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2019 Seal of Good Local Governance (Region IV-A)

Congratulations are in the offing to the winners of this year’s 2019 Seal of Good Local Governance (SGLG) for CALABARZON (Region IV-A). It is an award given annually by the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) to outstanding local government units (LGU).

But what exactly is the SGLG all about? The DILG Region IV-A’s official Facebook account has a succinct explanation:

The SGLG is a progressive assessment system that gives LGUs distinction for their remarkable performance across various governance areas such as Financial Administration, Disaster Preparedness, Social Protection, Peace and Order, Business-Friendliness and Competitiveness, Environmental Management, and Tourism, Culture and the Arts.


Out of all the cited LGUs on October 17, two are close to my heart: San Pedro Tunasán in La Laguna and Imus in Cavite. San Pedro Tunasán (simply known today as the City of San Pedro) is where my family has been living for the past fifteen years. I was once its consultant for historical, cultural, and tourism affairs as well as its historical researcher from 1 December 2015 to 12 July 2017. On the other hand, I’ve been with Imus as history consultant as well as a translator of their Spanish-era documents from 9 November 2016 up to the present.

But in citing favorites, I cannot exclude Santa Rosa and nearby Biñán, both of which are also in La Laguna Province. Santa Rosa almost never fails to invite me whenever its historic Cuartel de Santo Domingo holds an important event, and for that I am truly grateful. As for Biñán… well, let me just put it this way: I have something exciting cooking up with its LGU, and I’d rather keep mum about it for now. Because the last time I got too talkative with a historical project, it only went up in smoke, haha. 😞😂

It is interesting to note that both San Pedro Tunasán and Imus are consistent recipients of various DILG awards. Having said that, congratulations to Mayor Baby Catáquiz and Mayor Manny Maliksí (including their respective teams) for a job well done! Congratulations as well to all the other LGUs for this citation! May your tribes increase throughout the archipelago!

Click here for the complete list of awardees nationwide.

¡A Dios sea toda la gloria y la honra!


Un poco sobre mí

Una confesión: estoy ruidoso en los medios sociales. Me encanta discutir en línea, sacar ventaja sobre mis enemigos. En diversas ocasiones incluso podría convertirme en un troll (provocador), jaja. 😂

Pero de carne y hueso, no soy un buen conversador. Soy el tipo que prefiere escuchar que hablar. Así que, cuando nos vemos, no te sorprendas ni te decepciones si me encuentras en silencio, simplemente mirando a ti. Simplemente significa que estoy esperando para que hables porque me encanta escuchar historias y recibir información.

Sin embargo, Cerveza Negra existe. Y cuando lo zampo… ¡las cosas se ponen divertidas!


¡Feliz fin de semana!

Hoy en la Historia de Filipinas: el nacimiento de Máximo Viola

HOY EN LA HISTORIA DE FILIPINAS: 17 de octubre de 1857 — Máximo Viola, conocido entre los historiadores y Rizalistas como el mejor amigo de José Rizal en Europa, nació en San Miguel de Mayumo, Provincia de Bulacán. Fue propagandista, escritor, y médico.

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Dr. Máximo Viola y Sison.

Viola terminó sus estudios de medicina en la Universidad de Santo Tomás y luego se fue a España a estudiar en la Universidad de Barcelona donde obtuvo un título en medicina en 1882. Fue allí donde conoció a Rizal por primera vez y se involucró en el movimiento de Propaganda. Por invitación de este último, Viola viajó por Europa, particularmente a Alemania, Austria-Hungría, y Suiza de mayo a junio del año 1887.

Viola es mejor conocido como el financiero de Noli Me Tangere, la primera novela de su amigo Rizal. Durante ese tiempo, el primero último teniendo dificultades financieras; pensó que ya no podría publicar su novela. Viola le proporcionó ₱300, lo que le permitió al patriota publicar 2,000 copias en 1887. Como agradecimiento, Rizal le regaló a su amigo Viola la prueba de galera y la primera copia publicada de Noli Me Tangere. Esto significa que Viola fue la primera persona en leer la novela.

Proveniente de una familia acomodada, Viola también apoyó a otros propagandistas como Marcelo H. del Pilar, a quien ayudó económicamente.

En ese mismo año de 1887, Viola regresó a Filipinas para ejercer su profesión de médico. Tuvo una breve reunión con Rizal en Manila a fines de junio de 1892. Se sospechaba que ambos tenían vínculos con el Katipunán de Andrés Bonifacio. Las autoridades coloniales españolas continuaron sospechando de Viola hasta la rebelión tagala que fue instigada por los katipuneros. Con sus dos hermanos, se quedó en Biac-na-Bató, el ahora famoso barrio de su pueblo natal, durante la rebelión contra el gobierno español en Filipinas.

Si bien Viola era famosa por haber ayudado a Rizal a publicar su novela, lo que la gente no sabe sobre él es que los invasores estadounidenses lo llevaron a una prisión militar en Malate, Manila por negarse a colaborar con ellos. Viola sólo fue liberada por un médico estadounidense, un cierto Dr. Fresnell, que solicitó su asistencia ya que el segundo carecía de conocimientos sobre enfermedades tropicales que infligían a los soldados estadounidenses.

Viola estaba casada con Juana Roura con quien tuvo cinco hijos. En sus últimos años, terminó como un negociante dedicado a la fabricación de muebles hechos de camagong (Diospyros discolor), una especie de madera dura filipina. Murió en su pueblo natal el 3 de septiembre de 1933. Tenía 75 años.


A la Virgen del Pilar


Nuestra Señora del Pilar en el Catedral de Imus, Provincia de Cavite.

(Pepe Alas)

Cuantiosas sangres e idiomas:
taco del tiempo.
Numerosas islas, montes:
un reto histórico.

Vinieron Cruz y galeones,
un maremoto
de fe y civilización
que los unieron.

Taco y reto: conquistados
por la corona
no del Monarca sino de
la firme Virgen.

Los rayos que brillan de su
digna corona
son aquellos pueblos que ella
ha ministrado.

Esto es el cuento de nuestra
historia: cómo
nos convertimos en uno
de sus estrellas.

Derechos de reproducción © 2019
José Mario Alas
San Pedro Tunasán, La Laguna
Todos los derechos reservados.

¡Feliz Día de la Hispanidad!