Apo Ni Isaac II

Kape Kesada Art Gallery, the de facto cultural center of Paeté, La Laguna, will celebrate the opening of Apo Ni Isaac II, an art exhibit featuring the paintings and sculpture of the famed Cagandahan siblings: Odette Cagandahan-Monfero, Glenn Cagandahan, and Christine “Tintin” Cagandahan-Aquilo. It is a belated sequel to Apo Ni Isaac which was exhibited nine years ago at the same venue.

Odette is a painter while Tintin and Glenn are sculptors.

The exhibit will run starting this Saturday, September 22, until October 30. For more details, please send a private message to the Facebook page of Kape Kesada  Art Gallery or to its owner, Dr. Nilo Valdecantos.


How to understand Joaquín’s “A Question Of Heroes”

As a supplement to Goyo: Ang Batang Heneral, a movie based on Gregorio del Pilar’s life and death, Esquire published a few days ago suggested reference books to give the curious moviegoer more information about the historical epic film’s background.

So if you’d like to appreciate the film better from a historical standpoint, consider partaking of the research that its writers did. Jerrold Tarog, who directed the film and co-wrote it with Rody Vera, has prepared a list of books worth reading—before or after seeing the film—to get a better sense of everything that Goyo: Ang Batang Heneral has on its mind.

I haven’t seen the movie yet. But I’m glad that the filmmakers did consult Telesforo Carrasco’s diary which was translated to English by Nick Joaquín from the Spanish original (Carrasco was a Spaniard). According to Director Tarog himself, Carrasco’s diary “provided a more believable version” of the Battle of Tirad Pass. And speaking of the 1976 National Artist for Literature, the director and his team also consulted the famed writer’s A Question of Heroes: Essays in Criticism on Ten Key Figures of Philippine History, the same book that they used as one of the reference materials for their 2015 blockbuster Heneral Luna. Says Esquire about the book:

Here, writer and historian Nick Joaquín poses unprecedented questions about some of our country’s well-known heroes (including Gregorio del Pilar) as a way of providing a fresh perspective on history. This was also one of the materials that Tarog referred to as he made Heneral Luna. Today, he has only this to say: “This book keeps getting me into trouble.”

La imagen puede contener: 4 personas

Because it really is troubling, especially to those who have been accustomed to immaculate Filipino heroes. In this book, first published in 1977, Joaquín bravely raised questions which were then almost unthought of: how “Filipino” was Fr. José Burgos? what was the real motive behind Andrés Bonifacio’s killing? why did José Rizal opted for a half-breed instead of a “pure Filipino” to be the protagonist of his novels?

And in relation to Tarog’s film: should Gregorio del Pilar be considered a hero considering his tainted record?

When I first read A Question of Heroes years ago, my perception of our national heroes changed, particularly of General del Pilar. He wasn’t that blameless, after all. He too had blood on his hands. I have since not forgotten that part on how he, on orders from above, had liquidated the followers of General Antonio Luna, particularly the Bernal brothers (Manuel and José).

This is not to say that del Pilar should immediately be painted as a villain. He wasn’t. The point here is to show that our national heroes are not demigods to be worshiped blindly. They were as human as you and me. However, lest this blogpost becomes a commentary or a book review on A Question of Heroes, I’d rather let readers find out for themselves more about those examined heroes by grabbing hold of that precious book, perhaps the only book that stands out from Esquire’s list (my opinion, of course).

But just a word of advise: since A Question of Heroes is actually a collection of historical essays, the best way to unlock its “hidden knowledge” is by reading all of them consecutively, not randomly. If you do this, I’d be very surprised if you don’t end up wasted with hopeful tears of nationalistic rage upon reading the very powerful but poignant final paragraph of the book (in the chapter “When Stopped The Revolution?”), for that final paragraph serves as the grand concert to the book’s preceding chapters of dress rehearsals, rehearsals that are meant to prep up the dazed and confused Filipino mind on what should be done to better the status quo.

By following that reading process, one will realize that General del Pilar is but part of a chain, a sad chain of events that up to now has not yet been given a happy conclusion. It is a chain that has yet to be completed.

Goyo: Ang Batang Heneral is now showing in cinemas nationwide.

The Battle of Tirad Pass: myth and reality

Goyo Ang Batang Heneral poster.jpg

In less than a month, Director Jerrold Tarog‘s “Goyo: Ang Batang Heneral” will premiere in major cinemas all over the country. It is a sequel to the 2015 sleeper hit “Heneral Luna” (also helmed by Tarog) which chronicled the life of temperamental General Antonio Luna. This time around, General Gregorio del Pilar will take center stage as actor Paulo Avelino portrays the so-called “Hero of Tirad Pass”.

Textbook Filipino History teaches us that only 60 Filipino soldiers defended the pass against 300 US troops who were out to capture “runaway president” Emilio Aguinaldo. Naturally, since they were outnumbered, the Filipinos lost. But according to historians, Goyo died a romantic hero’s death since he was the last Filipino standing. It was said that he fought the US invaders until his last breath.

In the language of Millennials, Goyo was a true LODI who had a different kind of WERPA. Biro niyó, ualá na siyáng cacampí, lumalaban pa rin. PETMALU😂

But is this account of the boy general’s death accurate?

There was an eyewitness account to what had really happened to the “Boy General” during the first few moments of the battle, and it appears in the diary of Telesforo Carrasco, one of Goyo‘s men. Here it is, translated from the original Spanish by none other than National Artist for Literature, Nick Joaquín…

…we saw the Americans climbing up, only fifteen meters away, whereupon the soldiers started firing again. The general could not see the enemy because of the cogon grass and he ordered a halt to the firing. At that moment I was handling him a carbine and warning him that the Americans were directing their fire at him and that he should crouch down because his life was in danger — and at that moment he was hit by a bullet in the neck that caused instant death. I myself was also hit by a bullet in the hat that caused me no damage. On seeing that the general was dead, the soldiers jumped up as if to flee but I aimed the carbine at them saying I would blow the brains off the skull of the first to run, whereupon the body of the general was being removed to the next trench…

It is safe to assume that Carrasco’s eyewitness account of Goyo’s death is believable because Carrasco never intended to have his diary published in the first place. And he had no beef with the young general. Carrasco, although a Spaniard, was loyal to his Filipino allies, to the president, and to our country. He was not a writer. He must have kept a diary just to keep his mind busy, to fight boredom, during those lonely days of trekking and hiding from their pursuers. It was his children who had his diary published after his death. They commissioned Nick Joaquín to translate it into English.

Judging from Carrasco’s account, the boy general died not because of romanticized heroics. He died because of careless curiosity.

Now I’m interested as to how the movie will portray the Battle of Tirad Pass. Did Tarog stick to del Pilar’s dramatized death that was taught to Filipino students for decades? Or did he even consult Carrasco’s diary as reference? We’ll see on September 5th.




Estreno del documental “El Idioma Español en Filipinas” en la Casa Azul

Mañana (4 de agosto), a las 15:00, en la Casa Azul, nueva sede del Instituto Cervantes de Manila (a lo largo de la Calle Real, cerca de la Iglesia de San Agustín) en Intramuros, Manila, se proyectará el documental “El Idioma Español en Filipinas” del Señor Javier Ruescas de la Asociación Cultural Galeón de Manila. El documental presenta a Georgina Padilla y Zóbel de Mac-Crohon, Gemma Cruz Araneta, Manuel “Manoling” Morató, Guillermo Gómez Rivera, Maggie de la Riva, un servidor, y otros prominentes hispanohablantes de Filipinas. El documental está en español pero tiene subtítulos en inglés.

La imagen puede contener: cielo, árbol, casa, planta y exterior

La entrada es gratuita, pero se asignará por orden de llegada debido a los asientos limitados.

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History Month 2018

August is History Month!


Proclamation No. 339, s. 2012






WHEREAS, History Week is observed from 15 to 21 September of every year by virtue of Proclamation No. 1304 (s. 1974);

WHEREAS, there is a need to transfer the observance of History Week from 15 to 21 September to the whole month of August and rename the occasion as “History Month” to emphasize the most significant turning points in Philippine history;

WHEREAS, major events in the nation’s history occurred in the month of August which concludes with National Heroes Day on 30 August; and

WHEREAS, a week of observance is not enough to undertake various activities given the richness and diversity of our nation’s history.

NOW, THEREFORE, I, BENIGNO S. AQUINO, III, President of the Philippines, by virtue of the powers vested in me by law, do hereby declare the month of August of every year as “History Month.”

Proclamation No. 1304 (s. 1974) is hereby repealed.

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand and caused the seal of the Republic of the Philippines to be affixed.

DONE, in the City of Manila, this 16th day of February, in the year of Our Lord, Two Thousand and Twelve.


By the President


Executive Secretary


Executive Secretary

Hypocrisy rhymes with stupidity

In her Philippine Star column “From A Distance” published last June 30, Carmen Pedrosa wrote that President Rodrigo Duterte’s June 22 blasphemy was not about God. In fact, the title of that issue’s column made her case very clear: “The issue is not God“.

But how could it not be about God when Duterte was pretty straightforward in his pronouncements? For her and her readers’ benefit, let us show here the exact transcript (using old Tagálog orthography) of the president’s blasphemy:

Ang guinauá niyáquináin ni Eve. Tapos si Eve, guinising si Adam… —siguro catatapos lang— ‘cumáin ca rin.’ So quináin ni Adam. Then malice was born… WHO IS THIS STUPID GOD? Estúpido talagá itóng p***** i** cung ganán. You created some, something perfect, and then you think of an event that would tempt and destroy the quality of your work!

We are aware that President Duterte has a love-hate relationship with the Catholic Church. For all intents and purposes, he may even had the Church in mind when he uttered this blasphemy. However, it is clear, crystal clear, that the President used the Genesis creation narrative —the very same story that other Christian denominations and even other religions share— as basis for his elementary understanding of God.

How then could she say that this is not about God?

We are aware that Pedrosa is a staunch, nay, blind apologist of the Duterte regime. As such, it is understandable that she will do whatever it takes to make the President spotless, even to the extent of pretending that the President did not commit blasphemy… not to mention pretending to be an expert in Filipino History.

To defend the President from the Catholic Church, Pedrosa demeans the latter by using textbook Filipino History. She begins her cerebral column by saying that José Rizal and his family were victims of what her hateful imagination calls “friar power”, stating further that the Rizal family tried to defend the land that they had cultivated. But since she was using textbook knowledge on Filipino History, she failed to mention that it wasn’t their land in the first place. To make a long story short, that land in question was merely leased to them by the Dominicans, and that the Rizal family lost in a litigation against the said friar order after a protracted land dispute. I would have also loved telling Pedrosa that Rizal’s mother was made to walk from Calamba to Santa Cruz, La Laguna not as punishment for clashing with friars (they had absolutely nothing to do with it) but because she was accused of poisoning her sister-in-law. I would have loved telling her that Rizal was shot to death not to be set as an example to future revolutionaries but simply because he was found guilty of conspiring against the government, and that his accusers were, ironically, the sworn enemies of the Catholic Church: the Freemasons (technically, the enemies of the Church did him in), and that it was the government that decided to have him executed. I would have loved telling her that Rizal was not forced to retract, that he even rejected a first draft of it, and that he accepted a modified version later on. I would have loved telling her that she should first read the documentary evidence presented by Fr. Jesús Mª Cavanna, C.M. regarding the retraction controversy before she could even start arguing for or against it. I would have loved telling her that the real villain in Noli Me Tangere was not Padre Dámaso but Padre Salvi, and that it is wrong to invoke satirically fictional characters vis-à-vis history. But I didn’t bother anymore. Anyway, to say that the GomBurZa priests were friars (when in fact they were secular priests) in that same column is more than enough not to trust Carmen Pedrosa in the telling of our country’s history. In that regard, the historical introduction to this fantastical column of hers has become null and void. So may her pen just stick to political analysis, i.e., intelligently written political speculation.


The best spot to take a photo of Paeté, La Laguna’s breathtaking Iglesia de Santiago Matamoros is several feet away from its façade so that the church would appear superimposed with picturesque Mount Ping-ás (photo taken on 2 November 2014).

But no, I will not stop her from defending President Duterte. After all, she’s been given the free will to defend blasphemers. What worries me is that, in spite of her numerous columns attacking the Catholic Church, we see a couple of instances wherein she extols the legacy, artwork, and importance of the beautiful church of Paeté which is her hometown in La Laguna Province. That church, its artwork, and even the culture and tradition of her hometown were all the handiwork of the friars she loathes so much. As a matter of fact, the whole town of Paeté was founded by friars. She might as well write articles exhorting the destruction of that church and her hometown as well, for critics will easily see the hypocrisy of her Holy Week pilgrimages and whatever concern she has for the church of Paeté. And judging from her less than admirable knowledge of Filipino History, one can surely tell that she can easily fall prey to gullibility. After all, isn’t she the same columnist who fell victim to a satirical blogpost years ago?

* E * L * F * I * L * I * P * I * N * I * S * M *O *

Today, the feast day of Our Lady of Mount Carmel, has just been declared as the Day of Prayer and Penance in reparation for blasphemies, slander, and murder. There will be Masses at the Holy Redeemer Parish Church (1 Brixton Hill Street corner Landargun Street, Gregorio Araneta Avenue, Quezon City) at 6:00 AM, 6:30 AM, and 6:30 PM. The Holy Hour of Reparation begins at 7:30 PM. Carmen Pedrosa and President Rodrigo Duterte are very welcome to attend.

Cine Latino en Shangri-La Plaza

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Del 6 al 10 de este mes, diez películas latinoamericanas más seis cortometrajes mexicanos se estrenarán en Shangri-La Plaza en la Ciudad de Mandalúyong en un festival de cine apodado como Cine Latino. Debajo están los horarios.

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1. El Hijo de la Novia (comedia)
Sinopsis — A los 42 años, Rafaél Belvedere está teniendo una crisis. Está abrumado por sus responsabilidades. Ha logrado el éxito pero continúa viviendo a la sombra de su padre. Justo cuando Rafaél se siente más solo, una serie de eventos inesperados lo llevan a reevaluar su vida. Un ataque cardíaco menor lo obliga a desacelera, y una reunión con Juan Carlos, un amigo de la infancia, ayuda a Rafael a reconstruir su pasado y mirar el presente de nuevas maneras.
2. Esperando la Carroza (comedia negra)
Sinopsis — La película cuenta la historia de Mamá Cora, una mujer de unos ochenta años. Su nuera la quiere fuera de la casa porque la está volviendo loca. Mamá Cora intenta ayudar, lamentablemente, todo lo que hace, lo hace mal. La familia pasa por muchos problemas tratando de resolver qué hacer con Mamá Cora. Mientras todo esto sucede, una confusión hace que la familia crea que muera.

BRAZIL (idioma portugués)
1. Cidade de Deus (Ciudad de Dios; drama, historia real)
2. 2 Filhos de Francisco (Dos hijos de Francisco; drama)

Subterra (drama)
Sinopsis — Una historia de un levantamiento obrero que tuvo lugar en lo que era, en ese momento, la mina de carbón más grande del mundo. La búsqueda para mejorar las condiciones tanto espirituales como materiales comienza en el corazón de un hombre valiente. Pero mientras los patrones planifican la expansión de su vasto imperio, los trabajadores experimentan un despertar y comienzan a exigir un cambio.

Sofía y el Terco (comedia, drama)
Sinopsis — Sofía y su marido Gustavo viven en un pequeño pueblo en el campo colombiano. Su vida ha sido una larga repetición de hechos durante años. Crecieron y se casaron aquí, y conocen a todos en el pueblo. Ella tiene un viejo sueño: quiere ir al mar, mientras que ella siempre ha conocido nada más que montañas. Pero Gustavo siempre tiene buenas razones para retrasar el viaje: no puede dejar su tienda de comestibles porque su empleado no puede quedarse solo.

1. El Comienzo del Tiempo (drama)
Sinopsis — Antonio y Bertha son una pareja de ancianos de 90 años que se encuentran en graves problemas cuando sus pensiones se suspenden debido a una crisis social y financiera en su país. Dado que no han visto a sus dos hijos durante muchos años, la pareja se enfrenta a la necesidad de sobrevivir por su cuenta y debe enfrentar la dura realidad de vender sus pertenencias y vender tamales en la calle o recurrir a la delincuencia. Las vidas de la pareja de ancianos cambian cuando su hijo Jonas y su nieto Paco, ausentes por más de diez años, reaparecen inesperadamente en sus vidas.
2. 6 Cortometrajes Mexicanos
Sinopsis – Porcelana (drama) es una lucha entre la fantasía infantil y la realidad. / Carreteras (drama) es un romance de dos días entre Abril y Carmela. / Mirar atrás (drama) es un enfrentamiento de un fantasma de la tía de Cecilia y los recuerdos trágicos que dieron forma a su vida. / O ser un elefante (drama) es una película de ocho minutos donde Iván se obsesiona con la personalidad de los elefantes, quienes dicen que nunca se olvidan. / Papalotes rosas (drama) es una narración de dos niñas pequeñas en un mundo rosa que ven un poco más de realidad mientras su figura paterna se desmorona. / Aún nos queda el recuerdo (drama) es un retrato hablado del mundo del cine en un Morelia del pasado.

El Chance (comedia, drama)
Sinopsis – Esta divertidísima comedia cuenta la historia de Toña y Paquita, las criadas de la aristocrática familia González-Dubois. Las dos han sido maltratados durante bastante tiempo y están cansados de su situación. Entonces, cuando la familia planea un viaje de compras a Miami, las criadas tienen un plan propio: para tomar el control de la mansión. Inesperadamente, también descubrirán un secreto familiar.

1. Hermano
Sinopsis – Daniel es un delantero excepcional y Julio es el capitán de su equipo. Ambos son hermanos de crianza y juegan fútbol en su pequeño barrio “La Ceniza”. Daniel desea con todas sus fuerzas jugar en el nivel profesional mientras mantiene a la familia en Julio con dinero sucio. La oportunidad de sus vidas llega cuando un buscatalentos les invita a una prueba en el famoso equipo de la ciudad el “Caracas FC”. Pero una tragedia tiembla y ellos deben decidir cuál es más importante: la unión de la familia, el sabor de la venganza, o el sueño de sus vidas.
2. Patas Arriba
Sinopsis – El abuelo Renato, que se está quedando sin tiempo y lo sabe, le enseña a su nieta Carlota que, tiene seis años, la importancia de las cosas simples: el valor de la amistad y el respeto hacia las opiniones de otras personas. Sus hijas decidieron enviarlo a un hospital en contra de su voluntad y su hijo menor. Pero con la ayuda de su nieta, planea escapar y navegar desde Venezuela a Salvador de Bahía en Brasil, como una vez le prometió a su difunta esposa.

La entrada es totalmente gratuita pero se atiende por orden de llegada, así que es mejor llegar temprano. Todas las películas tienen subtítulos en inglés por eso es una buena forma de practicar el español de los alumnos filipinos del dicho idioma.

Imágenes: página de Facebook del Embajada de México en Filipinas.