NHCP starts tweeting history!

Good news to all social media enthusiasts: the National Historical Commission of the Philippines (NHCP), the government agency tasked to promote Filipino History and cultural heritage, is now on Twitter!

Click on the image below to start following them.


The NHCP is also active on Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube.

¡Enhorabuena, NHCP!

You might also want to follow my personal Facebook account, Facebook page, Twitter, and Instagram.

El Filipinismo Facebook page



EL FILIPINISMO now has a Facebook page! You may like/follow it by clicking on the image above, or right here.

This Facebook page, however, is not new. Actually, it is the old Facebook page of my defunct blog FILIPINO eSCRIBBLES. I just renamed it for possible monetization (I don’t think Facebook monetizes personal accounts such as mine). I thought of overhauling my social media presence especially since I’ve been receiving a lot of requests from friends and officemates to set up a vlog (more on that in a future blogpost). Humorously, my wife already beat me to it as she had just launched her own vlog last night (please subscribe to her channel; it’s her diversion from her cancer). Her first vlog is raw, unedited, especially since we are not that tech-savvy when it comes to video editing. But we’ll get into that one day. Hopefully.

My other Facebook page, Alas Filipinas, an offshoot of my Spanish-language blog which I also shut down in 2016, is still up. But I only use it whenever sharing Spanish-language content and whenever I feel the urge/need to write in Spanish here in EL FILIPINISMO.

You may also follow me on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

Today is the feast day of Our Lady of Fátima as well as the sixteenth birthday of my eldest son Mómay (who could very well turn out to be our video editor). ¡Feliz día!

Fr. Centina washed himself for another wake

The dreaded coronavirus pandemic has taken another notable person who is a pillar of contemporary Filhispanic poetry as well as a vanguard of rare Catholic poetry.

Fr. Gilbert Luis R. Centina III, O.S.A. (19 May 1947–1 May 2020), was a rarity. An award-winning friar-poet, he has authored several books of poetry as well as other writings in four languages: English, Spanish, Tagálog, and Hiligaynón. He entered the Augustinian Monastery in Intramuros and graduated cum laude in each of his four ecclesiastical degrees from the University of Santo Tomás (BA classical, Ph.B., STB, and STL). He later earned an MA in comparative literature at the University of the Philippines and briefly served as a missionary in Perú after his ordination where he taught literature as a professorial lecturer. He also served as a school chaplain for many years and as pastor of a parish church in Manhattan, New York.

Throughout all his priestly and administrative tasks, Fr. Centina still found time to edit a scholarly journal on Saint Augustine and write hundreds of newspaper columns, magazine articles, and verses in four languages. When he was still in Filipinas, he wrote maintained a column for the now-defunct Newsday under the pen name Jorge Seurat. He also delved on history. Many years ago, he maintained a column in People’s Tonight. I wrote him two reaction letters which he published in full (I was then in my early 20s). I am forever grateful for that.

His final years were spent in Spain, one of the hardest hit countries of the ongoing pandemic. He succumbed to COVID-19 on Labor Day. His death is a big blow to Filhispanic poetry which is suffering from a dearth of writers.

I am now sharing to you one of his poems, “Myself I wash for another wake”, which was included from his collection of poetry “Glass of Liquid Truths” (Bayanihan Books, 1979). This poem somehow eerily echoes his exaunt yesterday (Yesterday has died, today is | Dying; tomorrow will soon be dead) as well as a reflection on today’s global crisis (This world explodes with daily wakers).


Que descanse en paz eterna, Padre Gilbert. Vaya con Dios.

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La Identidad Filipina (videoconferencia)


El Instituto Cervantes de Manila ofrecerá varios coloquios en los que intelectuales filipinos dialogarán sobre aspectos de la identidad filipina ligados a la huella hispana. En esta primera conferencia de la Tribuna Quijano de Manila, el antropólogo Fernando Ziálcita disertará sobre la identidad filipina. ¡No te pierdas esta experiencia!



Instituto Cervantes de Manila will offer various colloquia wherein Filipino intellectuals will discuss some aspects of Filipino identity with Hispanic traces. In this first lecture, anthropologist Fernando Ziálcita will talk about the Filipino identity. Don’t miss this opportunity!

Forever grateful

Hi. I have made a list of all the kind-hearted people (in alphabetical order) who had reached out to my desperate call for help last March 4 and made the extra effort to share their hard-earned money, offer special Masses and fervent prayers, as well as technical/medical assistance and advise for my wife’s battle against breast cancer.

Leigh Abaña
Camilla Abatecola
John Paul Abellera
Ishmael Ahab
Amador Alas
Gloria Punzalán-Alas
Coach Louie Alas
María Rubia Alas
Maurice Almadrones
Angel Alon
Walter Ian Along
Claudette Álvarez-Alonsabe
Pía Alpaño
Lorna Cruz-Ambas
Aris Andaluz
Leonardo Atienza & Diane Genosa-Atienza
Fátima Autor
Nicole Baes
Chara Chávez-Banaag
Fritz Barredo
María Anna Berroya-Báky
Tere Belardo
Atty. Ceferino Benedicto Jr.
Jing Bolaños
May Bolígao
María Grace Brobson
Giselle Cabrera
María Christina Capacete
Chel Carandang
Angelo Joseph Carcallas
Dan Carmona & Ann Luz-Carmona
Meng Casácop
Councilor Aaron Catáquiz
Abraham Catáquiz & María Ángela Catáquiz
Calixto Catáquiz
Mayor Lourdes Catáquiz
Amboy Cortez & Chámeng de la Cruz-Cortez
Anna Cosio
Julie Cox
María Victoria Cristi
Mark Anthony Cristi
Jennifer Amanda Cruz
Jennifer S. de la Cruz
Gilda Atienza-Custodio
Ai Chua
Audrey Kerstin Dánac
Sheila Déximo
Kathleen Perey-Diezon
Dennis Dolojan
Elizabeth Palmos-Dolor
Gayle Emeterio
Alex Évora
Angelito Évora & Cora Évora
Ceres Fe Évora
Paul Évora III & Corina Unson
Rafaelita Évora
Raymond Évora
Jaime Fábregas
Ángela Alas-Feasey
Lelanie Alas-Fernández
Karen Joyce Fiel
Fr. Paul Martín Gápuz
Guillermo Gómez
Guillermo Felipe Gómez
Thelma Isaac-Grey
Olive Guiao
Heide Hildebrandt
Rosey Patricio-Israel
Tonette Izon
Ivan José
Nenè Junio
Sem. Anthony Koa
Hanna Aranda-Lara
Joe Bert Lazarte
Jeanette Sy-Leocadio
Hanz Lombos
Jeity Macalálad
Maylene Macandog
Miguel Madárang
Jordan Maderada
Merry Jean Peña-Magboo
Bing Santillán-Mago
Baby Marie Malabanan
Christian Málig & Mary Ann Antazo
Aprille Manalo
Dave Arjie Manandeg
Anmie Samson-Martínez
Jorge Mojarro & Jem Balúyot-Mojarro
Shenna Kudo-Monroy
Katrina Napigkit
Mª Kresna Navarro
Mark Hugh Neri
Ambeth Ocampo
Jaynie Ocampo
Divina Olivárez
Richard Órgano & María Cecila Alas-Órgano
Buenafé de Padua
Yesa Polínag-de Padua
Kristin Cruz-Palacol
Carlos Antonio Pálad & Estie Santos-Pálad
Myles Parás
Myla Irene Penson
Ría Peñarubia
José Perdigón
Jaime Perey
Teresa Atienza-Perey
Jameela Pérez
Orion Pérez
Jemuel Pilápil
Greg Quimado
Jhoncent Quiocho & Sheng Barrameda-Quiocho
Riah Ramírez
Radney Ranario
Ederlyn Revilla
María Corazón Ribón
Von Rosales & Marie Grizelle
Marco Salonga
John Ly Santos
Henry Siy
PCPT Jervies Soriano & Jennifer Ann Soriano
Joy Soriano y Évora
Michelle Dimaculañgan-Tarriela
Antonia “Nonia” Tiongco Joanna Tscharntke
Anthony Clark Uy
Antonio Saturnino Velasco
Liza Villagarcía
Arlene Villaluz
Cheryl Villapando
Jaira Marie Amuráo-Villavicencio
Malou Villegas
William Wolf (Guillermo Lobo)
Roseflor Ygar
Diego Pastor Zambrano
Fr. Jojo Zerrudo
Irish Zoleta

And of course, special thanks to Dr. Rouel Azores for the splendid job he did during the mastectomy (he is, by the way, the same surgeon who had operated on all of Yeyette’s five caesarean deliveries, with the last one involving a fatal placenta percreta).

There are those who sent us financial help but sent word that they do not want to to be acknowledged. Still, there are others who, because of various predicaments, couldn’t help out financially but instead sent messages of prayers and support. Thank you, thank you, thank you. But please note that the abovementioned people did not request to be acknowledged as well. This show of gratefulness is my call, not theirs.

Some of our friends and relatives apologized for not being able to send money. Dear people, there is no need to apologize. We fully understand that everybody has money problems, even those in the upper class. It’s the thought and concern that always count.

But Yeyette’s ordeal is not yet over. A month after her surgery, it was discovered that her breast cancer has progressed from stage 2 to stage 3. She will need to undergo a six-month chemotherapy. More prayers and financial support are needed for her full recovery. But because of the coronavirus pandemic, we are not pressuring anyone.

Bank of the Philippine Islands account number: 9829-0918-41
BPI Account name: José Mario S. Alas
BPI branch: Ortigas Emerald (Unit 101 G/F Jollibee Plaza Condominium, F. Ortigas Jr. Road, Brgy. San Antonio, Ortigas Center, Pásig City 1605)
Swift code: BOPIPHMM

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My wife has read all your messages (including Facebook reactions) sent to us through various social media and SMS. She is forever grateful for the overwhelming support and love. All of us in the family are. Gracias por vuestra caridad. Maraming, maraming salamat pô. 😇

Will Martial Law be imposed soon?

This document has been going the rounds in social media, particularly in private messages.



Apparently, President Rodrigo Duterte is bound to declare Martial Law anytime soon… IF there is any legitimacy to this document which is already spreading like wildfire. It should be noted, however, that the present Constitution (Section 18, Article VII) does not include the prevention of pandemics as one of the reasons to declare Martial Law:

The President shall be the Commander-in-Chief of all armed forces of the Philippines and whenever it becomes necessary, he may call out such armed forces to prevent or suppress lawless violence, invasion or rebellion.

There is no provision at all for the suppression of pandemics, unless the president’s legal advisers wittingly use pandemic-induced “lawless violence” as an excuse. Another impediment: the president can only declare Martial Law if Congress will allow him to. There has to be a legislative procedure first. But since the majority of Congress is on the president’s side, they will likely approve and expedite its enactment like what they did to the speedy passing into law of the Bayanihan to Heal as One Act.

Could the foregoing hindrances explain why the document in question has the words “Martial Law-type role” in it? But why bother with this document when it hasn’t even been acknowledged as official or legitimate? It should be remembered that leaked documents about the imposition of a lockdown in Metro Manila to quell the coronavirus pandemic were also being shared early last month. Those documents were denied by Malacañang through the Department of Health. ABS-CBN was also the first to report about them, but they deleted the news from their social media accounts. A few days later, however, the lockdown did happen.

And just a few nights ago (April 16), the president, in one of his “late show” speeches, made a stern warning to those who kept on defying quarantine/lockdown measures. He said that he might put the military and the police on standby. “They will be in charge,” he said. “It would be similar to martial law. You choose. I don’t like it but it’s necessary if the country will suffer because you have no discipline.”

To my observation, this document —provided that it’s really legit— could probably be a preparatory order of some kind to the military of what is to come. It is not yet per se an official announcement to the general public that Martial Law will be imposed. Nevertheless, let us still wait for Malacañang’s official announcement… or denial.

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Vintage Coca-Cola poster in Spanish

Because I’ve been with Facebook for more than a decade, I always look forward to its “Memories” functionality every day because it enables me to see all of my previous posts, posts in which I’ve been tagged in, anniversaries, and other insane and melodramatic moments that I’ve committed online on a daily basis. Facebook has somehow become a virtual storehouse of memories, memories that have been digitalized. In the future, it might even become a serious archival mine for historians.

Just this morning, my Facebook notification alerted me to all the posts that I’ve done and have been shared to me throughout the years on April 18. One of them captured my attention, a photo that I have almost forgotten: a vintage Coca-Cola poster written in the Spanish language. This poster can be found inside Ilustrado Restaurant located within the Walled City of Intramuros.


I have seen this poster many times but never did I even stop to read it with full attention nor interest, nor did it enter my mind to even take a photo of it (the above photo was shared to me on Facebook exactly a decade ago by a Spaniard who was a reader of my defunct Spanish-language blog Alas Filipinas). The last time I saw it was last month, but it was already covered with some hideous platform or wooden plank of some kind and I don’t know why the restaurant’s management allowed that eyesore (I hope it’s no longer there).

As I reviewed the text, I noticed something odd: the word “fontificante“. I have never encountered that word before. So I consulted the ever-reliable Diccionario de la Lengua Española (21st edition) published by the prestigious Real Academia Española (gifted to me a few years ago by José María Fons, cultural affairs coordinator of the Instituto Cervantes de Manila). True enough, no such word exists. But the verb fortificar does: it has two definitions:

  1. Dar vigor y fuerza material o moralmente (To give vigor and physical or moral strength).
  2. Hacer fuerte con obras de defensa un pueblo o un sitio cualquiera , para que pueda resistir a los ataque del enemigo (To make a town or any place strong with defense works so that it can resist enemy attacks).

It turns out that the fontificante on the poster is actually a typographical error. It should have been written as fortificante, a deverbal adjective (adjetivo deverbal) form of fortificar. Now the text on the poster makes more sense:

No hay bebida tan deliciosa y fortificante como el Coca-Cola. Pruébelo y verá como quita la jaqueca y apaga la sed.

I added the missing diacritical marks. Right below is my translation:

There is no drink as delicious and fortifying as Coca-Cola. Try it and you will see how it removes your headache and quenches your thirst.

I haven’t tried drinking Coke during a headache, so I’ll keep that in mind when that happens. Anyway, what makes this poster doubly interesting is that it was used as promotional material for the Filipino consumer. The address below it is the giveaway: Misericordia 12, Manila. There must have been a soda fountain there during that time. Today, this long but narrow street in Santa Cruz district is now known as Tomás Mapúa Street (named after the first licensed Filipino architect and founder of the Mapúa Institute of Technology). Interestingly, too, is the three-digit phone number that was in use during those days.

Even though the advertising material is in Spanish, it can be gleaned that it used to circulate during the US colonization of Filipinas because it was they, the US WASP invaders, who introduced the product to the archipelago in 1912 during the term of Governor-General William Cameron Forbes. During the entry of this famed soft drink, Filipinas was already under the shackles of the Bald Eagle for the past 14 years. Compulsory teaching of the English language had already been existing for more than a decade. But it appears that after all those years of strict English-language instruction, Spanish still had to be used by the colonizer to communicate with the general populace. They didn’t even use Tagálog! This poster, of course, is just one of many supporting evidence of the prevalence of the Spanish language in our country during the US colonial period. Throughout much of the period, several newspapers in Spanish were published, movies in Spanish were shown, and poetry books featuring celebrated bards (poetry reading was still in vogue during that time) were selling good.

To say that much of our countrymen never learned Spanish is one of our history’s greatest lies. In fact, one of the greatest ironies of our history happened during the US colonial era — it was during that time when the language of Rizal became widespread.

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Pagpupugay canilá Krystal at Mómay

Gusto co lang ipagmalaquí ang aquing mg̃a anác na siná Krystal at Mómay. Ámbabaít nilá, palaguing maaasahan. Sa mura niláng edad (si Krystal ay 19 años na samantalang si Mómay namán ay 15 años), maaasahan na silá sa pamimilí sa palenque at sa paglulutò, marurunong na siláng magsipaglinis ng tirahan namin (casama na ang baño), marurunong nang magcumpuní ng cung anú-anó — mg̃a bagay na hindí co natutunan (at ayao cong matutunan, hehehe). Maaasahan din silá sa pag-aalagá ng tatló pa niláng nacababatang mg̃a capatíd. Palagui din nilá acóng hinahaínan ng pagcáin at pinagtítimpla ng café… at cung mayroón, Milo arao-arao (sa inglés: Milo every day). Natútuwà acó at napalaquí silá ng asaua co na mg̃a responsable. Dahil sa tulong nilá, más nadádagdagan ang horas co sa págsusulat at págbabasa — mg̃a bagay na hiráp co nang gawín nitóng mg̃a nacalipas na taón.

Paquirámdam co tulóy señorito acó. 😂

Nang nagca-cáncer ang caniláng iná ay más na-obsérvahan co ang caniláng payác na págmamahal sa aming familia. Si Krystal ang naiuan sa aming muntíng tirahan para bantayán siná Jefe, Juanito, at Junífera Clarita samantaláng si Mómay namán ang umalalay sa aming mag-asaua sa hospital. At ñgayóng may pandemia, si Krystal namán ang aming inaasahan na mamilí ng aming mg̃a cácailañganin sapagcát siyá lamang ang may pase de cuarentena (quarantine pass); hindí pa puede si Mómay dahil siyá’y menor de edad pa lamang (lalong hindî acó puede dahil bucód sa acó ang caniláng señorito, mahina na ang baga co; tiyác na tigóc acó caagád ‘pag nadapúan ng COVID-19).

Capagca minsan acó’y nañghíhinayang dahil ualá ni isá sa mg̃a anác co ang napahilig sa mg̃a bagay na quinahihiligan co: ang págsusulat at págbabasa. Ñgunit hindí co silá puedeng pilitin sa cung anóng pasión ang gusto niláng piliin sa buhay. Ang mahalagá’y lumaquí silá biláng mabubuting Cristiano at mg̃a anác na puno ng respeto at págmamahal.

Hindî acó naguíng perfectong amá sa canilá. Dahil acó’y alipin ng págsusulat, marami siláng excentricidad na tiniís sa aquin. Cayá’t sa tiñgín co’y lahát ng pagquilala sa magandáng pamamalaquí at cabutihang asal sa canilá ay dapat matoón sa aquing maybahay.

Casama ng ibá pa naming mg̃a anác ni Yeyette, siná Krystal at Mómay ay tunay na mg̃a biyaya sa amin ng Pañginoóng Dios. At dahil dito’y lubós acóng nagpapasalamat.


Siná Krystal at Mómay noóng silá’y mg̃a musmós pa lamang sa Abra de Ilog, Mindoro Occidental noóng 2006. Ang retratong itó ay cuha co sa malaparaísong Ilog Tagbóng na matátagpuan malapit sa bahay ng familia ng asaua co.

¡Os amo mucho, Krystal y Mómay!


Cuha canina laang dine sa aming muntíng apartamento sa San Pedro Tunasán, La Laguna.

PD: Ñgayóng araó na itó ay guinúgunita natin ang ica-499 na macasaysayang unang Misa sa Filipinas na guinanáp sa Mazaua. Sa isáng taón ay ise-célebra ang quincentenario aniversario ng cristianismo sa bansâ, isáng malaquíng celebración na matagál nang pinagpaplanuhan ng gobierno filipino at ng local na Iglesia Católica. Bucas namán ay ang ica-11 na caarauán ng bunsó cong lalaque na si Juanito. 😊

A simple way of defeating the 2019–20 coronavirus pandemic

The burning question on everyone’s mind right now is this: when will the pandemic end?

Medical technologists, virologists, and vaccine researchers are racing against time in coming up with a cure for COVID-19 which has already taken nearly 24,000 lives in almost all parts of the globe. But even if for instance they succeed today, it will still take much time to mass-produce it and to make it available in several countries. This activity, of course, will encounter funding problems, logistical and distribution issues, and other assorted types of governmental red tape. By the time a vaccine has reached a certain country, the death toll there would have already skyrocketed to alarming proportions.

But we can still put a stop to this pandemic even without that much-awaited vaccine. How?

The answer is very, very simple, and it’s staring at us right in the face — just follow your respective governments. DO NOT GO OUTSIDE OF YOUR HOMES DURING THE QUARANTINE/LOCKDOWN PERIOD. To those with quarantine passes, PRACTICE SOCIAL DISTANCING. Stay away from people; treat everyone you meet outside as if they already have the contagion. It is for your own good. Remember that transmission occurs primarily via respiratory droplets from coughs and sneezes within a range of about six feet. Even Senator Migz Zubiri, who himself has been strictly practicing social distancing (and eventual self-quarantine upon knowing that a resource person that they invited in the Senate weeks ago tested positive for the disease) got infected.

“I practiced social distancing as well as a no handshake policy but yet I got contaminated. How, I do not know. This just goes to show how easily this virus is spread and therefore it is best for everyone to stay home and stay clean.”

Indeed, that’s how dangerously infectious this bug really is!

So how will compliance with quarantines/lockdowns and social distancing help kill the virus? According to researchers, SARS-CoV-2, the virus behind COVID-29, can live up to three days. And without a human carrier, it will disintegrate.

Yes, viruses need a carrier, a human host, in order to thrive. SARS-CoV-2, is no different. So spread the word: stay inside your homes. Strictly follow the quarantine/lockdown measures. And for Pete’s sake, don’t do a Koko Pimentel.

Electron micrograph of SARS-CoV-2 virions with visible coronae

Severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), the virus which is currently wreaking havoc in all parts of the world. Image: NIAID.

I repeat: no carrier, no virus. No virus, no pandemic. So it’s really up to you how long you want to prolong this world crisis.

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Take social distancing seriously

I visited a nearby mall about a week ago for an errand. It was almost deserted because of the ongoing enhanced community quarantine all over Luzón. As I stepped inside, the guard halted me for a thermal scan. With his left hand, he cautioned me to stay away from him from a certain distance as he outstretched his right arm to scan my forehead. The scene from afar would have made other people think that he was giving me a badass headshot.

It was amusing. Here’s an ordinary guy from the working class taking social distancing to a strict level. Guess I’m not just used to it. Nobody is, really. In fact, most people today first heard of the term “social distancing” only recently because of the coronavirus pandemic. But there’s a reason for it, of course: it is part of a worldwide strategy to contain, to halt, the spread of the deadly virus.

Meet Kevin Harris, a 55-year-old electrician from Warren OH, who has a few words to say about the importance of social distancing.

In his Facebook live video (recorded last March 14 from Mercy Health — St. Joseph Warren Hospital), Harris describes in clear detail how he suffered from COVID-19 and almost died from it. He doesn’t drink, he doesn’t smoke, he never did recreational drugs. He lived a healthy lifestyle. And for his age —55 is still considered young—, he still suffered heavily from the novel coronavirus (and we thought it afflicts only senior citizens and those with weaker immune systems).

One that puzzles him is that he didn’t know how he got the virus. Nobody in his family nor in his circle of friends ever got it. The moral of his narrative is to really take social distancing seriously.

“Protect yourselves. Do not go into crowds. Do not shake hands. Stop hugging each other. Wash your hands continually,” Harris said weakly from his hospital bed. “They don’t know how I got it… no one in my circle has been sick or exposed.”

To those younger people who think that they will survive COVID-19 because of their age and health, think again. Yes, some of you might survive it (the way Harris did), but the ordeal is pure hell. Harris himself and his doctors thought that he was going to die. Listening to his frightening story, it seems to me that he really got lucky. He practically had a near-death experience.

Take social distancing seriously, guys. And don’t be too confident about your youth nor your health. COVID-19 is a deadly virus straight out of a Stephen King novel.