Segundo domingo de Adviento 2019

(Lectura del santo Evangelio según San Mateo 3, 1-12)

Por aquel tiempo se presentó Juan Bautista y empezó a predicar en el desierto de Judea; éste era su mensaje: «Renuncien a su mal camino, porque el Reino de los Cielos está cerca.» Es a Juan a quien se refería el profeta Isaías cuando decía: Una voz grita en el desierto: Preparen un camino al Señor; hagan sus senderos rectos. Además de la piel que llevaba colgada de la cintura, Juan no tenía más que un manto hecho de pelo de camello. Su comida eran langostas y miel silvestre. Venían a verlo de Jerusalén, de toda la Judea y de la región del Jordán. Y junto con confesar sus pecados, se hacían bautizar por Juan en el río Jordán. Juan vio que un grupo de fariseos y de saduceos habían venido donde él bautizaba, y les dijo: «Raza de víboras, ¿cómo van a pensar que escaparán del castigo que se les viene encima? Muestren los frutos de una sincera conversión, pues de nada les sirve decir: “Abrahán es nuestro padre”. Yo les aseguro que Dios es capaz de sacar hijos de Abrahán aún de estas piedras. El hacha ya está puesta a la raíz de los árboles, y todo árbol que no da buen fruto, será cortado y arrojado al fuego. Yo los bautizo en el agua, y es el camino a la conversión. Pero después de mí viene uno con mucho más poder que yo, – yo ni siquiera merezco llevarle las sandalias – él los bautizará en el Espíritu Santo y el fuego. Ya tiene la pala en sus manos para separar el trigo de la paja. Guardará el trigo en sus bodegas, mientras que la paja la quemará en el fuego que no se apaga.

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

Hoy también es la fiesta de la Purísima Inmaculada Concepción, un día santo de obligación para los catolicós romanos.

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“Inmaculada Concepción”, óleo sobre lienzo por Giovanni Battista Tiepolo (pintado desde 1767 hasta 1769).

Dios te salve María
llena eres de gracia
el Señor es contigo;
bendita tú eres
entre todas las mujeres,
y bendito es el fruto
de tu vientre, Jesús.
Santa María, Madre de Dios,
ruega por nosotros, pecadores,
ahora y en la ahora
de nuestra muerte. Amén.

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Spanish and the Filipino Identity

The blogpost that I wrote about Andrés Bonifacio received too much backlash (even from a writer friend whom I thought has already freed herself from Hispanophobia). But it was to be expected because the Supremo has been highly revered for many decades as a freedom fighter who went up against “tyrannical Spain”. In the said blogpost, I also took the opportunity to include how Spain virtually created our country, that we were united under one language which is Spanish. That line also triggered another emotional comment from a well-known academic whom I also thought to know better than I do.

No, they’re not united under one language!” he said.

Time and again, I have always contended that the Spanish language is the basis and the foundation of our Filipino National Identity. Why? Because it is the language that united our various ethnolinguistic groups, forming themselves into one “Filipino nation”. To begin with, one must first understand that the term Filipino is merely a concept; there is no such thing as a Filipino race because our country, even up to modern times, is made up of several “races” or “tribes” (anthropologist Jesús Peralta would rather call them ethnolinguistic groups) such as the Tagalog, Cebuano, Bicolano, etc. Secondly, the early history of our country, much of it written in Spanish, serves as basis for my views. In our history under Spanish rule, these tribes became united under one umbrella group which we now call FILIPINO. To make a long story short, our identity was forged during the more than 300 years of Spanish rule, and not before nor after it. There were no Filipinos yet before the Spanish advent. And even if we were not colonized by the US, our identity was already in existence — created, completed. It was already intact. Buó ná ang paguiguing Filipino natin bago pa man tayo sinugod at sinacop ng Estados Unidos de América. There was nothing more to add to it.

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A typical Filipino family during the Spanish times (photo supplied by the Biblioteca Nacional de España to ABC).

But to make it more clear, the Filipino Identity is the product of the Filipino State that began to exist in Spanish on 24 June 1571. The Filipino State was founded together with Manila on that same date, with the government having Spanish as its official language. Since then, the tedious process of cultural amalgamation among the more than 170 tribes / ethnolinguistic groups (particularly those who accepted the King of Spain as their rightful sovereign during the Manila synod of 1599) began. Cultural dissemination (which included Christianization and the Humanities) from the West assisted in this long process.

We Filipinos are essentially Hispanic —have become Hispanic— by virtue of History and Culture. And even Faith. And the Spanish language, more particularly its literature as embodied by the works of Rizal, del Pilar, Mabini, Guerrero, Paterno, Apóstol, Balmori, Bernabé, etc., proved to be the unifying thread in this development. No wonder former Senator Recto wrote that “el español ya es cosa nuestra, propia, sangre de nuestra sangre, y carne de nuestra carne“.

At this point, I should say that realizing the importance of our national identity will give us more dignity and nobility than this so-called “Pinoy Pride” that we have been harping around since the arrival of social media in our country. Let me just add that because of the Spanish language, together with the Culture and Faith it brought with it, I now know where I stand in the midst of the ongoing onslaught of neocolonization/globalization. 😉

It is, therefore, wrong and anachronistic to say that Islam arrived in our country first. What country? As mentioned above, there was no Filipinas yet when the first Muslim scholars, traders, and imams arrived. And they were not scattered all throughout. They were only in limited places such as those very few areas in Mindanáo. Even Manila wasn’t a practicing Muslim enclave (they were to some extent converted, but those who converted them did not stay long enough, unlike the Spanish friars who remained here and died with the natives). Also, and quite obviously, Islam did not unite our disunited tribes (that was one of the greatest errors of the Arab missionaries). Because if they did, then we wouldn’t have those heritage churches and bahay na bató that we marvel at today. Besides (then as now), the Moros were into looting and pillaging towns and kidnapping non-Muslims (most especially the Visayans) for their slave trade.

The foregoing is in no way anti-Islam but simply history. They really did it. And up to now, the Abu Sayyaf is still continuing that “legacy”.

To cap this off: by not using Spanish, by not incorporating it to our daily lives, we are in effect betraying Rizal and those many other great personas from that bygone glorious past who we have either enshrined or accepted as our national heroes. Much of our country’s (true) history is written in that language. Moreover, it is one of the most widely spoken languages all over the globe and is even the second most spoken language in neocolonialist United States of América. Indeed, the Spanish language opens up not just a gateway to appreciate our oft-misunderstood past but also a path towards the opening of new trade horizons with more than a dozen Spanish-speaking countries that will surely enliven our economy.

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Primer domingo de Adviento 2019

(Lectura del santo Evangelio según San Mateo 24, 37-44)

La venida del Hijo del Hombre recordará los tiempos de Noé. Unos pocos días antes del diluvio, la gente seguía comiendo y bebiendo, y se casaban hombres y mujeres, hasta el día en que Noé entró en el arca. No se dieron cuenta de nada hasta que vino el diluvio y se los llevó a todos. Lo mismo sucederá con la venida del Hijo del Hombre: de dos hombres que estén juntos en el campo, uno será tomado, y el otro no; de dos mujeres que estén juntas moliendo trigo, una será tomada, y la otra no. Por eso estén despiertos, porque no saben en qué día vendrá su Señor. Fíjense en esto: si un dueño de casa supiera a qué hora de la noche lo va a asaltar un ladrón, seguramente permanecería despierto para impedir el asalto a su casa. Por eso, estén también ustedes preparados, porque el Hijo del Hombre vendrá a la hora que menos esperan.

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What makes a hero?

Many years ago, while rummaging through costly books in one popular bookstore, I found for the first time Dr. Onofre Córpuz’s famous work, “The Roots of the Filipino Nation”. I didn’t have money then, so I just leafed through the pages. On page 223 (of volume II), I found a commentary of his about the “Kataas-taasang, Kagalang-galangang Katipunan ng̃ mg̃á Anak ng̃ Bayan“, popularly known as the Katipunan. On that page, Córpuz wrote that this time-honored “revolutionary group” was “the first active embodiment of the Christian Filipino nation”.

During that time, I had just reconverted to the Catholic Church (after a couple of years toying around with godlessness and other “isms”). My zeal back then towards the faith of my forefathers was freshly strong, and so I immediately sensed —with much chagrin— that there was something disturbingly wrong with Dr. Córpuz’s assertion. I asked myself, how could someone like him, a giant in the academe, had written something as incomprehensible as the Katipunan embodying a Christian nation when that group was an offshoot of Freemasonry? As many Dan-Brown-educated kids should know by now, Freemasonry is the ancient enemy of the Church. As a Christian student of history, I was deeply intrigued toward the extent of the late Dr. Córpuz’s knowledge about the role of Freemasonry during those tumultuous final years of our country’s history under Spain. But was Dr. Córpuz really unaware of the Katipunan’s Masonic roots as well as its motives? I find it hard to believe that. Or did he leave that fact out conveniently because he was a Freemason himself, or perhaps its sympathizer? But if he was, wouldn’t it still be ridiculous for a Mason like him to say that a violent group who tortured and chopped off the heads of friars just because they were Spaniards embodied the Christian Filipino nation?

To those who are still unaware, Freemasonry has been condemned numerous times by the Catholic Church. To my knowledge, there had been at least 24 papal pronouncements regarding this matter (perhaps the most famous was Pope Leo XIII’s papal encyclical  “Humanum Genus” which was released in 1884). As one of the best academicians our country ever had, it strikes me as odd as to why Dr. Córpuz had failed to emphasize the Masonic origins of the Katipunan in that controversial conclusion of his. A little research will show that the Katipunan’s third and final Supremo, Andrés Bonifacio (you read that right: he wasn’t the first), joined the Logia Taliba (No. 165) and from there imbibed his radical and anti-friar ideas. Bonifacio also joined Rizal’s Liga Filipina in 1892. The group was in fact a Masonic lodge in the making (or was it already?). These organizations, not to mention their members, were hardly Christian at all, if we are to view them from Catholic lenses.

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After the failure of the Liga Filipina and the arrest and deportation of Rizal to Dapitan, the campaign for peaceful reforms had hit the glass ceiling. Thus, an agitated and disenchanted Marcelo H. del Pilar, himself a high-ranking Mason and a rabid propagandista who had been on self-exile in Spain for years, wrote to his brother-in-law Deodato Arellano and urged the latter to form a much more radical and violent group to finally end Spain’s reign in Filipinas. Arellano thus gathered other members of the beleaguered Liga to form the Katipunan (yes, it was Arellano, and not Bonifacio, who founded the Katipunan as instigated by del Pilar).

When government forces discovered the existence of the Katipunan in late 1896, what happened next was bloodshed and the senseless killing and torture of innocent Spanish friars and other individuals who went against the Katipuneros’ way. Did ordinary civilians welcome the “revolution” participated in mostly by Tagálogs? No they didn’t. For most Filipinos living far from where the action was, life went on. There was no national sentiment that supported the Katipunan rebellion against Spain (see “One Woman’s Liberating: The Life and Career of Estefanía Aldaba-Lim” by Nick Joaquín).

It should be noted in the preceding paragraph that the Katipunan was discovered by accident. Keep in mind that it was an underground organization. Simply put, the Katipunan was an ILLEGAL ASSOCIATION no matter how hard one tries to paint it with dainty colors of patriotism and love of country. One might say that it had lofty ideals of freedom and nationhood, thus excusing it from illegalities. But so does the Moro Islamic Liberation Front and the Abu Sayyaf who try to picture themselves as the martyrs of their delusional Bangsamoro. Should we consider them heroes too?

Mimicking the Katipunan’s belligerence towards lawful society, Senator Antonio “Sonny” Trillanes IV and his Samahang Magdalo did the same thing twice in the past against the administration of then President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo. Should we, therefore, erect monuments to Trillanes as well and consider his rebellious friends as the new Katipuneros? After all, they fought corruption and injustice, didn’t they?

Seeing now that the Katipunan was a bastard child of Freemasonry, the ancient enemy of the Christian religion, how in the world did Dr. Córpuz come up with the idea that the Katipunan was the first active embodiment of the Christian Filipino nation? The Katipuneros made incisions on their arms to sign membership papers using their own blood. They swore loyalty to the Katipunan in front of a human skull. They swore to kill even members of their families for the sake of the Katipunan’s secrecy. Where is Christianity in all that?

This is not to say that Bonifacio was an evil man; only God can judge whether he was or not in spite of the many friars he had shamed and ordered tortured and killed, and churches burned and desecrated. Going beyond the rebellion, we will never know much about his character for he was not as chronicled as Rizal. For all we know, Bonifacio could have been a virtuous man. But that is not the point. Whatever personal distinction he may have had was not the reason why we now have several monuments for him, nor was it the reason why we commemorate his birthday every November 30th.

On 16 February 1921, the Philippine Legislature, under the auspices of US Governor-General Francis Burton Harrison, enacted Act No. 2946 making November 30 of each year a legal holiday to commemorate the birth of Bonifacio. The holiday has since been known as Bonifacio Day, ultimately making the Katipunan a Filipino national hero.

But in view of the foregoing Masonic events surrounding Bonifacio and the Katipunan, especially from the lens of a Christian observer, should a Catholic still consider him a hero?

It is, of course, difficult to accept that Bonifacio should be removed from our pantheon of heroes. After all, we’ve been hearing about him even before we started going to school (I still remember clearly how my dear paternal grandmother —may she rest in peace— was teaching me how to recite that “Andrés Bonifacio / hatapang hatáo” mock poem when I was around three years old so that it would evoke in her a hearty laugh!). But isn’t it about time that we all start to think on our own instead of relying on years of spoon-fed artificial food? You will say, of course, that the Katipunan was formed as a reaction towards Spanish tyranny. But what tyranny to be exact? I’ve been hearing about this tyranny all my life yet no one could still point out accurately what exactly it was all about. What’s always been taught to us are hazy and hasty generalizations. Is there tyranny in the towns that Spain created for us? Was Spain tyrannical when it shipped to our country countless items (tomato, calendar, piano, wheat, books, polo, pantalón, chico, bougainvillea, violin, watermelon, guava, printing press, etc.) and concepts (chivalry, palabra de honor, philosophy, law, land ownership, Western art, age/birthday, Christianity, etc) that have made us what we are today — as Filipinos? We adore old mementos from our past (bahay na bató, traditions, etc.) and decry their dwindling number and alarming disappearance. But such mementos were from the hated Spanish period. So why bother saving and conserving them if they all come from such a tyrannical era?

We all miss our grandfathers who used to bring us to Church on Sundays and carry us on their shoulders so that we’d be able to see saints’ processions from right above a thick crowd; we all miss our grandmothers who never tire praying the rosary day and night. All these are vestiges from that tyrannical period. Why bother missing them at all?

Spain virtually created this country. We wouldn’t be having Luzón, Visayas, and Mindanáo today if not for Spain. What kind of tyranny is that? Numerous tribes (the politically correct will tell me it should be called ethnolinguistic instead) such as the Tagálogs, the Visayans, the Bicolanos, etc. were united under one language (Spanish), under one government, under one faith (Roman Catholicism) so as to keep us one, so that we will no longer be at war against each other. We were given schools (escuelas pías, Universidad de Santo Tomás, etc.). Pray, tell, where is the tyranny in that?

This is not to say that all Spanish officials and even friars during the Empire days were all good and just. No, of course not. But that is not the point. The point here is what untold promises did Freemasonry inspire upon Rizal and del Pilar to rebel, and for Bonifacio and his band of Katipuneros to rise against civil society. “For the sake of freedom”, is the usual answer. But what freedom did violence bring? No wonder the late Fidel Castro was both hated and loved by his people. The support for and against him is heavily polarized to this day.

We have had so much distrust towards our government. From Ferdinand Marcos all the way to President Rodrigo Duterte. Shouldn’t we all follow the Katipuneros of old and organize stealth groups to undermine the present government, all for the sake of freedom?

If I will use the hashtag #NotAHero, it would be appropriate to attach it to that Masonically misled man from Tondo whose birthday we methodically commemorate today, because instead of thinking something that would have truly helped and uplifted the lives of the unfortunate Filipino masses of his time —by establishing something such as the Kadiwa Public Market, for instance— Bonifacio brought instead bloodshed which led not only to his own death but also to the downfall of what Spain had strongly forged for more than three centuries.

And if I may add: no, he was not our country’s first president. Don’t even start with me.

So what makes a hero? ¿Mag-rebelde ca lang, bayani ca na caagád? At capág nasa poder ca at nilabanan mo ang isáng rebelión, ¿masamá ca ná?

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To the Hispanophobic Filipino historian

Just recently, Rappler published an opinion piece by historian Jorge Mojarro (also a Spanish language teacher at the Instituto Cervantes de Manila) regarding the Elcano And Magellan controversy. In the said article, Mojarro wrote:

Philippine schoolbooks of history seem to be written not to understand the past nor to stimulate critical thinking, but to feed the students with tones of blind patriotism. If young Filipinos were learning properly the history of their nation, they would have not gotten so angry on social media with the new Spanish cartoon entitled Elcano & Magellan: The First Voyage Around the World, especially considering that nobody has seen it yet.

He was right on target. The culprit, indeed, is the current educational system that has already been structured to destroy the image of our country’s Spanish past to young students. At an early age, Filipinos have already been taught that we were invaded by Spain, that we were enslaved, that we were forced to become Christians, that the Spanish friars maligned us, that they have kept us ignorant, etc. etc. etc.

This is a form of brainwashing. Such allegations are not even substantiated by historical documents. But who exactly is to blame?

Our second guest blogger, Fr. Michell Joe “Jojo” Zerrudo (parish priest at the Most Holy Redeemer Church in Quezon City and current Catechetical Director and Exorcist of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Cubáo) points out to the culprits: the Filipino pseudo-historians behind those schoolbooks that Mojarro was referring to. The following posts were taken from Fr. Jojo’s Facebook.

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Fr. Jojo may not be a historian. But he has what many Filipino historians today do not have: a piercing I.Q.

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“Elcano And Magellan” provokes careless comments

Netizens today are careless commenters. They comment brashly and prematurely before getting to know the meat of the story. But the same thing goes to news writers. They bait readers to get more clicks to their links, and in order to do that, they come up with some of the most obnoxious headlines.

The problem is that many netizens do not read beyond headlines.

This is what I realized after reading the Philippine Daily Inquirer’s story regarding a Spanish animated film that has not even been released yet. I am referring to “Elcano: La Primera Vuelta Al Mundo” (Elcano: The First Voyage Around The World).

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The movie is being marketed in the country as “Elcano and Magellan” probably because Fernando de Magallanes (Ferdinand Magellan) is more (in)famous among Filipinos compared to Juan Sebastián Elcano who was actually the one who completed the first circumnavigation of the world. But as expected, the trailer and movie posters drew flak among netizens. And for obvious reasons. Here are just some of the vitriol that the movie, which will not be released until January 2020, has been receiving:

There’s an animated movie about Magellan and just… YIKESSSS. Stop depicting colonizers as good guys.

The title should be: ‘The beginning of 333 years of pain and suffering to all Filipinos.’

This movie should be banned in the country.

“U better not release this fucking film”

“Si magellan naging bida haha 👏👏👏 tapos si lapu-lupa kontra bida 👏”

Virtually thousands of similar comments in various social media platforms have been hounding this production by Dibulitoon Studio, an independent audiovisual production outfit based in Spain. The backlash prompted Atty. Lawrence Fortún, 1st District Representative of Agusan del Norte, to chime in. He allegedly called on the Movie and Television Review and Classification Board (MTRCB) to ban this film.

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The good thing that came out from this press release by Atty. Fortún was that it triggered supporters of the film and other level-minded netizens, many of whom are well-versed in Filipino History.

Upon reading one of the headlines from Inquirer (“Solon to MTRCB: Ban ‘Magellan’ movie for possible Lapu-Lapu slur” by Pathricia Ann V. Roxas, but I noticed that they already replaced “Ban” with “Review”), I thought of using Twitter to bash the said solon (I can be a mean troll at times 😂). But thankfully, I kept my composure and read the whole story first, as it should be done in the first place. Surprisingly, the gentleman from Butuán City was not calling for the film’s banning at all. He merely suggested that experts in Filipino History be tapped to review Elcano and Magellan to “provide a more in-depth perspective and ensure that the movie will not dishonor Lapu-Lapu’s rightful place in our collective memory.”

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From a Twitter exchange that I had with Hon. Rep. Fortún.

So now I guess the moral of the story is this: don’t judge brashly. Read the whole news right after reading the headlines before commenting. In the same vein, watch Elcano and Magellan first before coming up with a judgment.

Also, Inquirer’s headlines are click baits. 😂

Having said that, let me just add that Filipino have been unfair for years in treating all this Magallanes–Lapu-Lapu encounter. We have enshrined Lapu-Lapu to the highest pantheon of heroes without even having any in-depth knowledge of his history. To those who have been unkind towards Magallanes: have you even read the accounts of Antonio Pigafetta, the chronicler of the Magallanes Expedition? Magallanes, Elcano, and all the others who went with them were not exactly colonizers but explorers. During their time, many parts of the globe have not been explored. Their era, therefore, was known as the Age of Exploration. The people back then even thought that the world was flat, and that all sorts of sea monsters filled the unexplored oceans of the planet. The Magallanes Expedition during its time was equivalent to man’s first voyage to the Moon.

Also, not many people apparently are aware of Magallanes’s Catholic zeal, nor are they aware that Lapu-Lapu was not defending our country for the simple reason that it did not yet exist during his time. Does anyone here even know that Lapu-Lapu was not his real name, and that during the Spanish times, Magallanes was regarded highly by Filipinos?

Nevertheless, before I am depicted as an apologist for a movie that has not even been shown yet (although, admittedly, I really am), let me just caution readers that if it is fair for us to make films depicting Lapu-Lapu as a hero and Magallanes et al. as villains, why couldn’t Spain do the same for theirs? But more importantly, Elcano: La Primera Vuelta Al Mundo / Elcano and Magellan is not exactly a movie about the Battle of Mactán (Magallanes’s bloody resting place), for it seems that that battle is merely a footnote to the movie, as it really was to the Magallanes Expedition. The film is about the first circumnavigation of the globe, a human feat that has brought glory not only to Spain but to mankind. If the voyage to the Moon was mankind’s first giant leap, the first circumnavigation of the globe was mankind’s baby steps. As one famous rockstar put it, you have to learn to crawl before you learn to walk.


Oración contra los terremotos

Los filipinos del pasado (tiempos españoles y estadounidenses) solían recitar esta corta oración española para mantenerlos a salvo de los terremotos. Teniendo en cuenta los frecuentes temblores que hemos tenido recientemente, pensé en compartir esta oración a todo el mundo.

Aplaca Señor tu ira
Tu justicia, y tu rigor
Dulce Jesús de mi vida
Misericordia, Señor…

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Fue severamente dañado el campanario de la Catedral de Manila por el terremoto de 1880 (foto: John Tewell).