Hapís at Hinagpís: Lenten Season at Kape Kesada Art Gallery

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Happening right now at Kape Kesada Art Gallery…

HAPÍS AT HINAGPÍS
–Francis Valdecantos–

All men are crowned with thorns.
All men must bear a cross.

Pain is akin to everyone. It is the great denominator that is known by every man. Not only because we can relate to it, but because we seek to be relieved of it. All men are destined for great and unfortunate things. Pain both hinders and fulfills — it is the fuel that drives man to do the unimaginable. Pain pushes man to endure until he comes face to face with his Creator.

Patricio “Peping” Balquiedra (b. 1946) is no mere artist; no ordinary sculptor. He not only chips away at blocks of wood, but creates meaning and form with every swing of the hammer and every bite of the chisel. His gift is enough to capture the essence of both man and divine. He enables the viewer to see, feel, and experience the life and soul resonating from his works. This humble creator from the storied town of Paeté has spent a lifetime in mastering his craft.

The sculptures brought to life by Peping make excellent use of wood such as baticuling, narra, and ebony. It highlights not only the artistic vision and passion of the sculptor but also the natural beauty of the medium. Even in the twilight of his life, Peping’s inherent skill is still as sharp and precise as the tools he wields.

The origin of “Juan de la Cruz”

The name Juan de la Cruz has been part and parcel of Filipino culture and even national identity. Almost every day, we hear and read this name in the media whenever the latter reports or opines about the travails and foibles of the ordinary Filipino. Even the rock band that pioneered what came to be known as Pinoy Rock was named after this famous appellation. If the Northern Americans have Uncle Sam or John Doe to represent them, the Filipinos have Juan de la Cruz.

But did you know that Juan de la Cruz was of Scottish origin?

Juan de la Cruz was coined by Robert McCulloch-Dick, the editor and publisher of The Philippines Free Press magazine which he founded in 1908. McCulloch-Dick was born on 22 January 1873 in Edinburgh, Scotland. At the age of 19, he emigrated to the United States of América where he did odd jobs and entered into other ventures. It was in the US where he became a journalist. When word came out that English-speaking newsmen were needed in Filipinas (its US conquerors had already renamed the archipelago as The Philippine Islands), he immediately procured a ticket and quickly set sail for Manila.

Upon his arrival, McCulloch-Dick found employment as a reporter with the Cablenews-American, one of the pioneer US-owned newspapers in the country. In 1902, he transferred to the then US-owned The Manila Times as a court reporter. A keen observer, McCulloch-Dick noticed the frequency with which the name Juan de la Cruz appeared on police blotters, court dockets, and baptismal certificates. It was during his stint at the Manila Times when he began using that name as the “Filipino everyman” in his reportage. Later on, after establishing his own magazine (The Philippines Free Press), he began writing small verses about Juan de la Cruz. The character was often depicted narrating petty crimes committed by the locals.

Juan de la Cruz is associated with the image of a naïve-looking man wearing a salacót, a camisa de chino, native trousers, and slippers. Jorge Pineda, a resident cartoonist of The Philippines Free Press, first drew the image of Juan in 1912. To this day, media people continue referring to the Filipino everyman as Juan de la Cruz.

Mi Patria

Este bello poema patriótico, escrito por el Príncipe de los Poetas Filipinos en español, Fernando Mª Guerrero (1873-1929) de Ermita, Manila, fue publicado en la primera edición del periódico revolucionario La Independencia el 3 de septiembre de 1898. Guerrero, que también fue el Poeta de la Revolución Filipina contra los invasores yanquís, era uno de los escritores del dicho periódico que fue editado por el famoso General Antonio Luna. Mi Patria es considerado como uno de los mejores poemas de Guerrero. Sus versos exaltan la belleza física y espiritual de Filipinas.
MI PATRIA
Fernando Mª Guerrero

I     Filipinas es un nido
formado de hermosas flores;
es un idilio de amores
sobre un mar embravecido;
es el delirio querido
que mi cerebro obsesiona;
es la impávida matrona
que, heredera de titanes,
tiene por solio volcanes
y centellas por corona.

II     Filipinas es la maga
cuyos oráculos santos
calman los lloros y espantos
del corazón que naufraga;
es vino cordial que embriaga
con su ardor la fantasía;
es hechizo que extasía,
y es, en fin, eterna palma
que un henchido de calma
con sus lágrimas rocía.

III     Mi tierra es noble y hermosa,
porque es su asiento el Oriente;
tiene estrellas en su frente
y en sus labios miel de rosa.
Cuando sonríe amorosa
la aurora le da sus rayos;
mas si padece desmayos
porque la hieren abrojos
brotan tristes de sus ojos
los crepúsculos malayos.

IV     Frente a lujosa floresta
donde un río se destaca,
recostada en una hamaca
duerme el sopor de la siesta.
Las auras forman su orquesta,
un palio azul la sombrea,
y cuando la noche ondea
su obscuro y tupido manto,
hirviente arrullo de llanto
por sus mejillas serpea.

V     Mi tierra es hada divina
que a mil caprichos se entrega:
suspira, retoza y juega
bajo la onda cristalina:
rompe el tul de la neblina
que arropa selvas de cañas,
y al trepar a las montañas
rojas al sol de la tarde,
bendice la lumbre que arde
en las pajizas cabañas.

VI     Mi tierra noble y bendita
no cría en sus bosques fieras,
sino palomas ligeras
y flores de sampaguita.
Quien sus rincones visita
halla sombra hospitalaria:
¡aquí se abraza hasta al paria,
porque mi encantado suelo
es un pedazo de cielo
puesto en la mar solitaria!

VII     Aquí son las alboradas
una ignición de rubíes;
aquí son nuestras huríes
tan tiernas y apasionadas
que funden con sus miradas
hasta las almas de hielo,
que dan, en un beso, el cielo
y que, con la fe de un niño,
fían a nuestro cariño
su corazón, sin recelo.

VIII     ¡Oh, tierra de mis amores,
santa madre de mi vida,
que vertiste, en mi alma herida
el aroma de tus flores!
Llora, si tienes dolores,
si sueñas ser grande, espera;
pero te juro que fuera
para mí suerte afrentosa
ver nacidas en mi fosa
hierbas de savia extranjera.

Filipinas, no Philippines

El nombre de mi país es FILIPINAS, no Philippines ni Pilipinas. No importa si un filipino habla en inglés o si habla con una persona de habla inglés. En cualquier idioma, el nombre propio que un filipino se utiliza para referir al país debe ser FILIPINAS por la razón sencilla que no somos WASP usenses. Ya estábamos filipinos, incluso antes de que los “americanos” nos invadieron. Nuestra identidad es hispánica. Nuestra identidad se formó durante de más de tres cientos años dentro de la matriz amada de Madre España.

¿No les han dado cuenta? Las otras hijas de Madre España: Argentina, Bolivia, el Perú, México, Uruguay, etc. no tienen nombres equivalentes en inglés. Pues, ¿por qué insistir de llamar a nuestro país como Philippines o Pilipinas (el segundo es una abominación de los nacionalistas retorcidas y equivocadas)? Si nosotros filipinos debemos considerarnos como hispánicos también, pues necesitaríamos negar esta abominación llamado Philippine Identity y devolver la identidad auténtica basada en la hispánica que es la IDENTIDAD FILIPINA.

Imagen de Gelaxyblog.

No debemos adoptar el nombre Philippines incluso con la excusa de que sólo es un exónimo. Los exónimos deben provenir de nosotros filipinos. Pero el término Philippines nos fue impuesto. No lo elegimos como nuestro exónimo — lo hicieron los imperialistas. Llamar nuestro país como FILIPINAS en vez de Philippines o Pilipinas es un buen comienzo.

On the term “pre-Hispanic Philippines”

When we say “pre-Hispanic” or “pre-Spanish”, it pertains to a period in a particular nation’s history that was not yet colonized by Spain. In the phrase “pre-Hispanic Philippines”, pre-Hispanic is the adjective while Philippines is the proper noun. Looking into the term more closely, the adjective pre-Hispanic is composed of two words: the prefix “pre” (meaning “before”) and the adjective “Hispanic” which relates to, is characteristic of, or is derived from Spain (or Spanish-speaking nations).

In scholarly circles and (most especially) history classes, the term pre-Hispanic Philippines is a by-word. It ascribes to the period either before 16 March 1521 (the coming of Fernando Magallanes) or 27 April 1565 (the coming of Miguel López de Legazpi).

In both dates, historians contend that prior to the advent of the Spaniards, we Filipinos already have our own culture, our own civilization. They speak as if we were already a nation, as if the concept of the term Filipino was already in existence. That is not even half-truth but a total falsity. The nominative plural pronoun “we” is used here in a rather anachronistic sense. This is because before the coming of the West, there was no Philippines/Filipinas nor Filipinos to speak of. The concept of the Filipino Identity had not yet been perceived (by Philippines/Filipinas we mean the country which we know and speak of today, i.e., all the political and geographical attributes that are comprised of by the Luzón, Visayas, and Mindanáo regions). What the Spaniards found or discovered in this part of the world which we speak of right now was but a multitude of islands whose inhabitants had been in perpetual war against each other (or either that, had been distrustful of one another). In short, there was no Philippines/Filipinas yet to speak of.

A bigoted nationalism

The trouble with the term pre-Hispanic or pre-Spanish is that it is commonly used by hispanophobic nationalist purists to forward their claims of a mythical and blissful past  (Maharlika, anyone?) that was halted and stunted by Spain. The coming here of the West they keep on negating as not Filipino at all, thus the need to come up with such terms as pre-Hispanic and pre-Spanish to describe what they claim as a time when our nation was not yet “invaded” and ruled by a “foreign” nation.

But then, if the Tagalogs, Pampangueños, Cebuanos, etc. all migrated here from neighboring Malay islands (using ancient boats called barangáy or balañgáy), and we are all in agreement that the pygmy Aetas were our country’s first inhabitants, then aren’t they considered foreigners, too? It is because this archipelago we speak of is not their native soil anymore if they are from other lands. In this case, the definition of the term “foreign” fades into oblivion. But that is another story.

When the Spaniards arrived in this part of the world, they forged the myriad of islands that they discovered into one, single, and compact nation. Thus, it is also safe to assume that their incumbency here, including everything else that they disseminated into our culture (as astutely observed by history blogger Arnaldo Arnáiz), ceased to be Spanish but Filipino. Take, for example, the stately architecture of the bahay na bató. Misled nationalists claim that it is merely a Spanish-style house or —worse— a colonial house, but it is not. Although it has influences from Western architecture, it is discourteous to deny that it is not a product of Filipino architecture. Noted cultural anthropologist Fernando Z. Ziálcita pointed out that it is first important to distinguish between two types of nationalist discourses in order to appreciate (and eventually realize) Filipino architecture: dialectical and reductionist. Applying his observations (based on undisputable analogies from various cultures), it is best, if not imperative, that we utilize a dialectical approach in studying Filipino History in order to comprehend the nature of our identity.

Thus, when Spain brought here, say, the cuchara and tenedor, they ceased to become anything Spanish but Filipino. When the Spaniards brought here the cooking technique called the guisado, it ceased to become Spanish; it became Filipino. Even Christianity was Filipinized. And so were the Spaniards who were born here — the insulares or creoles, although purely Iberian, were naturally more loyal to their patria chica (Filipinas) compared to their patria grande (España). In short, although still Spaniards (albeit being born here), they ceased to become Spaniards but Filipinos. And that is why they are called —and should be regarded as— the First Filipinos.

This could go on and on.

In the words of José Miguel García, another history blogger, what Spain bequeathed to us has become part of our so-called “national developmental code”:

Can we exist as a nation without having been born acquiring a unique identity? Could we as a nation have been born without having been conceived? Could we as a nation have been conceived without having parents undergoing through a process of developmental intercourse? There are the Iberians, the natives of a group of islands now known as Filipinas, the North Americans, the Chinese, and the Japanese. Who among these entities could have engaged in a developmental intercourse that resulted to our conception and, finally, birth as a nation as Filipinas? If based on information, we have come to know WHO we really are; if based on information, we have come to know that WHO we really are has been lost; if based on information we know that WHO we really are is our inheritance as part of our national developmental code; then it is our birth right to recover it. But based on information, where can we find our inheritance?

Obviously not from our bleak and dark “pre-Hispanic past”.

Pre-Philippine/Filipino, not pre-Hispanic

Here then lies the predicament surrounding the term pre-Hispanic Philippines or pre-Hispanic Filipinas.

If we delete the prefix “pre” from “pre-Hispanic”, what will remain solely is the adjective Hispanic (Hispanic Philippines/Filipinas). But, using Professor Ziálcita’s dialectical approach towards Filipino History as an analogy, there should be no such thing as Hispanic Philippines/Filipinas. It is but incorrect to impose the adjective Hispanic to a nation that had just been born. Although it is true that Spain created our country, upon inception it was not Hispanic anymore but simply Filipino.

Therefore, it is high time we get rid of the term pre-Hispanic Philippines/Filipinas from our historical vocabulary. It should be replaced with the more correct term PRE-PHILIPPINE or PRE-FILIPINAS whenever we refer to events before 1565 or 1521, an obscure era when we were still but a scattered group of heathen islands.

And may we all stop degrading ourselves by looking for a past that was never there.

La Familia Cuenco de Cebú (foto: Cecilia Brainard).

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Himno al Volcán de Taal

Hi there. I thought of sharing this century-old Filipino poem (in Spanish, of course) because it’s very timely. It’s written by none other than Claro M. Recto (1890–1960), one of the greatest Filipino nationalists who had ever lived. Millennials and many other unlettered peeps will easily recognize the name only as that busy, infamous road in Manila where one can obtain fake diplomas and other doctored documents. It should be made known that Recto was not all about that. He was a prodigy in poetry, a forceful playwright, a brilliant lawyer, a fiery senator, a just jurist, a clear-cut and consummate constitutionalist, and a champion of the so-called Identidad Filipina or Filipino Identity which is based on our Spanish past.

Surprisingly AND laughably, he was also the grandfather of incumbent Senator Ralph Recto, but let’s not go there anymore. 😂

Due to time constraints and other tasks at hand (and it’s my son Jefe’s 13th birthday today), I am not able to translate this poem in its entirety. But let me just share to you a brief backgrounder and other interesting tidbits about it. Titled Himno al Volcán de Taal, Recto composed this poem shortly after the cataclysmic Taal Volcano eruption that occurred on 30 January 1911 and took the lives of more than 1,300 people. He dedicated the poem to journalist Fidel A. Reyes (1878–1967), a fellow Batangueño (both are from Lipâ) who years earlier was entangled in a highly controversial libel case because of an editorial that he wrote for the newspaper El Renacimiento (The Renaissance) titled “Aves de Rapiña” or “Birds of Prey”. The editorial made references to a US official who allegedly took advantage of his position to exploit the country’s resources for his own personal gain.

Taal Volcano a day before it erupted on 30 January 1911 (photographed by Charles Martín for the National Geographic Magazine, volume 23, 1912).

No names were mentioned in the editorial, but Dean C. Worcester who was then the Secretary of the Interior of the Insular Government of the Philippine Islands felt alluded to. He sued Reyes as well as El Renacimiento’s editor (Teodoro M. Kalaw) and the publisher (Martín Ocampo). El Renacimiento lost the case, was heavily fined, and subsequently closed down. Nevertheless, the editorial team was considered as heroes by Filipino nationalists, including a young Recto who was then only in his teens when the celebrated libel case was ongoing.

Already an ardent nationalist at a young age as can be gleaned from many of his poems, the Aves de Rapiña editorial and libel case must have had surely made an impact on Recto’s young mind, thus the dedication of Himno al Volcán Taal to Reyes who was twelve years his senior. A connection should now be made between the poem in question and the libel case involving Reyes — Himno al Volcán Taal was not all about the 1911 eruption. Recto cunningly used the disaster to subtlely attack the whole Insular Government. He declaimed his composition two weeks after the disaster, on February 15 (or shortly after his 21st birthday), during a soiree held for the benefit of the victims of the aforementioned eruption. In his poem, Recto described Taal Volcano’s greatness by personifying it as a giant Greek statue (Colossus) and a powerful Titan from Greek mythology (Prometheus), and as a symbol of his “race”, i.e., the Filipino people, who were meek and humble but can become aggressive against the “adventurous vulture” who is the “thief of liberties”: Eres tú todo un símbolo del alma de mi Raza: | manso y humilde pero agrede y despedaza | al buitre aventurero, ladrón de libertades; Clearly, he was referring to the US colonial invaders, the birds of prey (personified by the “buitre aventurero”), who took upon themselves to conquer us in 1898 without our willing consent.

Recto also decried why Taal killed its own people during the previous month’s explosion: ¿Por qué fueron tus víctimas los hijos de tu tierra, | los mismos paladines del triunfo de mañana? But he immediately shrugged off his own question when he concluded that the explosion was a punishment for the Filipinos’ complacency (angrily calling it “suicidal apathy”) toward their US colonial masters: Castigaste del pueblo la suicida apatía, | porque no predicamos la santa rebeldía | ante el feroz empuje de la ambición humana.

But the nastiest attack against the US colonial government can be found in this poem’s penultimate stanza, which is my favorite part because of its striking imagery and very moving message. Here he belittled the light coming out from the “torch of New York” (the Statue of Liberty, another famous US symbol), saying that its weak light can never reach our shores, and that may the high column of fire coming out from Taal Volcano be our brilliant torch during our “long night” (years under colonial yoke): Sea la alta columna de fuego que vomitas | en nuestra noche larga la tea refulgente; | la antorcha neoyorquina iluminando el mundo | es tan débil y exigua que su brillo infecundo | no llega á las comarcas de esta Perla de Oriente. Although sarcastic, Recto was still benign in this poem if we are to compare it to an earlier poem of his titled “Oración al Dios Apolo” (Prayer to the God Apollo, October 1910) wherein he implored that both the volcanoes of Taal and Mayón explode (que… revienten sus cráteres el Taal y el Mayón) in order to vanquish those “voracious eagles” who came to our shores in droves (vinieron Águilas voraces en tropel, a clear allusion to the US invaders’ other famous symbol: the bald eagle).

With Recto’s persistent use of buitres and águilas to corroborate Reyes’s editorial, Dean C. Worcester could be correct with his suspicion all along: he and the government he represented were indeed birds of prey.

Taal Volcano’s phreatic explosion at 18,000 feet from the ground taken yesterday by Tito Johnny On, a family friend who is a pilot.

HIMNO AL VOLCÁN DE TAAL
–Claro M. Recto–

Para Fidel A. Reyes

Coloso encadenado, invicto Prometeo,
que enseñas hoy al mundo el inmortal trofeo
de tus hazañas trágicas de tirano sañudo:
llegue á tí, como un himno de encarnizada guerra,
como un coro de truenos, como un temblor de tierra,
este salmo que emerge de mi salterio rudo.

Son ingentes tus triunfos, son grandes tus hazañas
porque un nuno maléfico alienta en tus entrañas,
fabricante de rayos de vengadoras furias;
hechura del malayo, alma del pueblo nuestro,
legatario de todas las iras del Ancestro,
bizarro é inexorable castigador de injurias.

Hay en tu seno puestas por la Naturaleza
energías que guardan tu secular grandeza
de las profanaciones de las garras voraces.
Y así cuando te violan, tus iras se desatan,
é incendian y aniquilan, y destruyen y matan,
ante el espanto mudo de todos los rapaces.

Ante tí nada pueden los bárbaros cañones,
con que de las inermes y débiles naciones
tan descaradamente se burlan las más fuertes;
porque las fuerzas hijas de la Naturaleza
son fuerzas absolutas, cuya ruda braveza
neutraliza las balas cuando fulmina muertes.

Eres tú todo un símbolo del alma de mi Raza:
manso y humilde pero agrede y despedaza
al buitre aventurero, ladrón de libertades;
por eso te estremecen mortales convulsiones,
cuando los ambiciosos, que ingentes aluviones
de Conquista han traído roban tus heredades.

Tus cráteres lanzaron fuego de cien mil fraguas,
lavas abrasadoras, ceniza, hirvientes aguas,
en una anunciación de hecatombe suprema;
porque ha sido violado tu mágico tesoro,
aquellos encantados gemelos toros de oro,
por los Shylocks que ostentan la explotación por lema.

¡Oh! Aquella tu ira santa lección sublime encierra.
¿Por qué fueron tus víctimas los hijos de tu tierra,
los mismos paladines del triunfo de mañana?
Castigaste del pueblo la suicida apatía,
porque no predicamos la santa rebeldía
ante el feroz empuje de la ambición humana.

Ejemplo de energía, valor y patriotismo,
ha visto el pueblo nuestro en ese cataclismo
que sembró con delirio tu saña despiadada
Tú enseñaste al pasivo morador del terruño
a abrir la boca airada y enseñar rojo el puño
a los esquilmadores de nuestra tierra amada.

Maldices la Conquista, odias el coloniaje,
pides la autonomía para el propio linaje,
porque te pesa mucho el extranjero yugo.
Y así siempre que vienen nuevos dominadores,
descargas con fierza tus rayos destructores,
como un reto de muerte al extraño verdugo.

Hace ya muchos años, á raiz del arribo
de la progenie hispana á tu solar nativo,
sembraste una catástrofe muy digna de tu historia.
Y hoy repetiste tu obra de destrucción y muerte,
para decir al amo que nuestro pueblo fuerte
no requiere tutores para vivir con gloria.

Fuiste siempre rebelde, osado, diestro y bravo.
Tú prefieres el caos á vegetar esclavo.
Diríase que alientan en tu seno las almas
de los Burgos, Zamoras, Bonifacios, Rizales,
y de todos aquellos gloriosos Ancestrales
que en lides conquistaron inmarcesibles palmas.

Fuiste siempre, ¡oh Coloso!, hostil á los tiranos,
como el Mayón y el Apo, tus augustos hermanos,
Menos también, muy llenos, de vengadora saña.
Sed como aquí Samsón, heroe de Palestina.
Arrojad vuestras lavas, que antes la propia ruina
que el vergonzoso pacto con la Conquista extraña.

Brindad á Filipinas una ilustre epopeya
que no podemos darla. Igualadla á Pompeya,
inmortal en los fastos solemnes de la historia.
Más bella es Filipinas bajo ceniza y lava,
que Filipinas paria, de otra nación esclava,
y de la gran familia humana, vil escoria.

¡Hurra, egregio coloso de glorias infinitas!
Sea la alta columna de fuego que vomitas
en nuestra noche larga la tea refulgente;
la antorcha neoyorquina iluminando el mundo
es tan débil y exigua que su brillo infecundo
no llega á las comarcas de esta Perla de Oriente.

Más unión, ciudadanos, porque nos aniquilan.
¿No veis que por un lado cañones nos vigilan
y por otro las fuerzas de la Madre Natura?
Que se unan fuertemente todos nuestros esfuerzos,
que formen un sólo haz los vigores dispersos,
y alcemos nuestra enseña sobre tanta tristura……

Febrero, 1911.
Declamada por su autor en la velada literario-musical celebrada el 15 de febrero de 1911 en el «Opera House» á beneficio de los damnificados de Batangas.