Where have our heroes taken us?

All writers seek fame, or at the very least, a certain level of attention from a niche audience. Those who deny this are downright liars. For what writer wouldn’t wish for his works to be read? That’s the purpose of writing something in the first place, in order for it to be read.

I might never become a well-known writer anymore for various reasons (or excuses): I’m a full-time, night shift employee; I have a severe case of complex regional pain syndrome, thus debilitating my thought processes, and; I procrastinate too much. My circumstances at home are not what one might consider as conducive for a writer, let alone researching. Then there’s this cute little thing called the Internet taking much of my time. But why shouldn’t I use it? After a stressful night’s work and a horrible commute to and from the office, I’m left with less energy to even lift a book. I’d rather watch Momoland’s mind-boggling choreography just to relax my mood (yes, I am a frustrated dancer, no kidding), or check for updates regarding the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Or look for some annoying celebrity to bash on Twitter.

Having been exposed to too much Internet usage through the years, I also noticed that my attention span has gotten short. While researchers are still divided on the issue, I can tell from experience and self-observation that it has really contributed to my reading and writing woes. There were times that whenever I read a book, I couldn’t finish a page without doing something else on the side. And while browsing through pages, my mind compels me to look for links to click whenever I encounter unfamiliar words or terms, or to even scroll down further to hasten my reading, looking for just the juicy parts. It’s gotten that bad.

You might say that at least, I can still blog. Well, yeah, but not as prolific and as capable as I used to when I was still blogging in ALAS FILIPINAS or FILIPINO eSCRIBBLES. So if the skies have dimmed my chances of becoming a writer, what more of becoming a well-known historian? At any rate, whether or not my above-mentioned reasons (excuses!) hamper my researching and writing, I still find it impossible for me to become recognized as a historian, no matter how hard my wife tries to market me as a “young historian” (what the hey, I’m nearing forty, and there are many other historians younger than me who are now rivaling the great Ambeth Ocampo in terms of prominence).

I don’t want to sound like I’m self-pitying or anything like that, but it’s true. I cannot become a recognized historian for three major reasons. Number one, I’m not a good public speaker. Number two, I do not belong to the academe (I’m not a history teacher, just a corporate slave). And lastly, my views on Filipino History are raging against the flow. Like mad, I should add.

If you notice, many popular historians today deliver speeches and give out lectures, seminars, and interviews (that’s why I call them celebrity historians, haha). While I may have done the same a few times in the past, I didn’t sound as good nor as convincing as them. As I always say, I’m more of a scribbler than a talker. Whenever I receive invites to do speaking engagements, there is always hesitancy from my part. It’s either I find it hard to say no, or my excited wife successfully prods me to accept them. Then there’s the second part: I am not a history professor. Many people online have mistaken me for one, and I find it very flattering, of course. But I am a mere slave to my corporate boss, always cowering down whenever I receive bad grades at work (and I always do, maybe because my heart and mind are somewhere else — treading the cobbled streets of 19th-century Intramuros, haha 😔).

But even if I could talk like a mesmerizing statesman and teach history in a famed university, I still find it highly unlikely that I’d become a well-known and respected historian. As I have mentioned earlier, I go against the flow. I’m not saying that many other historians before me didn’t. Many of them up to now still disagree with each other. But my views regarding popularly accepted history are so unpopular that the National Historical Commission of the Philippines might as well send me to jail. 😂

I don’t consider Andrés Bonifacio and his KKK cohorts as heroes; I brand them as terrorists. I don’t consider Ninoy Aquino, Jr. as a martyr; I brand him as a traitorous opportunist. I don’t consider Juan Luna as a patriot; I consider him only as the greatest painter in our country’s history; I don’t consider Marcelo H. del Pilar as the “Father of True Filipino Masonry”; I’d rather call him as a True Filipino Penitent. I don’t consider the Silang couple of Ilocos as heroes; to my eyes, they were traitors. I don’t consider Lapu-Lapu as the “first Filipino hero”; I brand him as a delicious fish served in Magallanes Square Hotel.

Poor Pedro Paterno has been painted as a villain to the point that we have become convinced to ignore his contributions to scholarship and literature which I believe are still important (El Problema Político de Filipinas; Nínay [the first Filipino novel]; La Antigua Civilización Tagala; etc.).

I refer to my country as Filipinas whether in English or in Spanish; Philippines and Pilipinas are aberrations created by misled/twisted nationalists schooled in an English-only educational system (that’s why I use “Filipino History” instead of “Philippine History”). Unlike many Filipinos, I do not disrespect my national identity by calling myself as Pinoy or even Pilipino. I abhor Taglish. I still use the original orthography whenever I write in Tagálog. And the only national language that I still recognize —as recognized by most national heroes that we enshrine today— is the Spanish language.

I do not and cannot accept that the three centuries of Spanish colonization were generally oppressive and cruel in light of clear documentation to the contrary. I couldn’t for the life of me even call it “colonization”. The polo y servicios were boon, not bane. And the uprising that occurred during the late 1890s was not a revolution but a rebellion.

Today, we again celebrate National Heroes Day to remember the heroism of our forefathers who fought against foreign oppression. But what foreign oppression comes to mind whenever we are called to remember the sacrifices of our patriots? In the introduction to the first book that I wrote (the biography of World War II hero Abelardo “Captain Remo” Remoquillo), I took the opportunity to rant about this.

Perhaps due to either rote memorization or desensitization, or both, Filipino students have somehow become accustomed to the idea that all of our National Heroes existed in the same era. This is understandable because whenever we speak of our country’s past, it would almost always be about our three centuries under the Spanish Empire. But then, there’s always this sinking feeling that most of our heroes existed only during the Spanish Occupation. For instance, the bulk of our National Heroes comes from that bygone era: José Rizal, Marcelo H. del Pilar, Emilio Aguinaldo, etc. Only to an interested few will the realization sink in that some of those heroes who we thought were from the Spanish era were in fact more active during our country’s war against the United States of América than they were against the Spaniards. These were Apolinario Mabini, Antonio Luna, and Miguel Malvar to name a few.

But when it comes to the three-year Japanese regime, we could hardly remember names. There’s Josefa Llanes Escoda, José Abad Santos, and Vicente Lim, but they ring a bell only because their faces and names are plastered in one thousand-peso notes. Outside of currency, do we even know what kind of heroism did they display during those fearsome years under the Land of the Rising Sun?

All this doesn’t mean that I refuse to accept historical facts. Of course I do. I simply refuse to accept opinions. Facts and opinions are different from each other. I accept hard data presented by historical research, but not opinions formed by them, especially opinions formed by an English-only education with an agenda that has little to zero understanding of our country’s Spanish past. Take the Katipunan rebellion of 1896, for instance. When government forces discovered the existence of the Katipunan in late 1896, what happened next were bloodshed and the senseless killing and torture of innocent Spanish friars and other individuals who went against the rebels’ 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. While it is a fact that there were Katipunero recruits from all over the country, the truth was that there was no national sentiment that supported the Katipunan rebellion against Spain. Civil society was against it.

It should be noted in the preceding paragraph that the Katipunan was discovered by government authorities. Keep in mind that it was an underground organization. Simply put, the Katipunan was an ILLEGAL ASSOCIATION no matter how hard a Pantayong Pananaw zealot will try to picture it with dainty colors of patriotism and love of country. Such zealots might argue that the Katipunan 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 patriots and martyrs of (their fantasy land called) Bangsamoro. Should we consider them heroes too?

Mimicking the Katipunan’s belligerence towards lawful society, Senator Antonio “Sonny” Trillanes IV and his Magdalo group did the same thing twice in the past against the administration of former 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 rebelled against the Arroyo government to fight corruption and injustice, didn’t they?

The New People’s Army has been waging a “revolution” for decades. If they win, Bonifacio will surely displace Rizal as our country’s leading national hero. That’s why most of the time, I’m tempted to believe in that cynical saying that history is written by the victors.

One man’s hero is another man’s villain, so the saying goes (hello, Apo Marcos!). So after reading this, I entreat you, dear reader, to reflect the significance of today’s celebration. It’s a holiday, anyway. Ualáng pasoc, cayá maraming horas para mag-isíp-isíp. Having said that…

Why are we so obsessed with national heroes? It seems to me that we are the only country in the world with a surfeit of patriots. And we keep on looking for more. Our government has enshrined such heroes as models that we should look up to and emulate. And yet we are still one of the most corrupt countries in the world.

Where have our heroes taken us? Or better yet: what has our idolatry for these heroes done for our country?

Oh, and one more thing: Rizal retracted and there’s really NOTHING you can do about it.

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Uicang Español = Uicang Filipino (Buwan ng Wika)

At dahil “Buwan ng Wika” ñgayón, pahintulutan niyó po munà acóng gamitin ang uica na sariling atin.

Ñgunit…

Ang español ay uicang Filipino. Hindî itó uicang bañagà. Atin itóng pag-aralan, pagyabuñgin, mahalín, at gamitin sa pang-arao-arao na paquíquipagtálastasan sa capua nating Filipino. Sapagcát sa uícang itó nabuô ang ating pambansáng identidad (identidad nacional). Sa uicang itó nahubóg ang ating nacionalismo. Sa uicang itó binigquís ang ating mg̃a isla, at pinagbuclód ang ibá’t-ibáng raza sa ating archipiélago/capuluán. Yumaman ang vocabulario ng ating mg̃a uicang catutubo (tagálog, bisayà, ilocano, etc.) dahil sa uicang español. Itó ang uicang guinamit ng ating mg̃a bayani para macamít ang ináasam-asám na casarinlán… ¿Hindí ñga bat itó ang uica ng ating pambansáng bayani? Sa pamamaguitan ng uicang español, nilabanan ng maguiguiting na Filipino ang mg̃a manlulupig at mananacop. Sa uicang español din cumalat at tumibay ang ating cultura. Ang tunay na casaysayan ng Filipinas ay nacasulat sa uicang español. At higuít sa lahát, ang ating pananámpalataya sa Dios ay umiral at namulaclác sa pamamaguitan ng uicang español.

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Hindí mababauasan ang ating pagca-Filipino capág tayo’y nagsásalita ng español. Bagcús, maguiguing más completo pa ang ating pagca-Filipino sa uicang itó.

Samacatuíd, ang tunay na Uicang Filipino ay español, hindí tagálog.

¡Mag-aral na ng uicang castila sa Instituto Cervantes de Manila!

 

Duterte and Rizal

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I noticed how many local Facebook groups and pages, as well as anti-Catholic individuals, are taking advantage of President  Rodrigo Duterte’s childish tirades against the Catholic Church (including God Himself) by using a dead writer as an attack dog to support their disgust of anything that has to do with Catholic priests. I’m referring to Dr. José Rizal. Several memes about our national hero’s anti-friar attacks have been spreading around like wildfire, feeding the liberal happiness of those who loathe the “Bride of Christ”. I’ve even read comments from some die-hard Duterte fans who compared the president to the national hero.

May I remind everyone that using Rizal’s works to back-up the president’s severe lack of breeding are totally useless. Rizal already retracted his anti-Catholic ideas hours before he was to face eternity. To those who do not believe the retraction, I invite you to go to the library and read Fr. Jesús Mª Cavanna’s 682-page-thick “Rizal’s Unfading Glory: A Documentary History of the Conversion of Dr. José Rizal” (4th edition). As the title suggests, the book (my friend Gimo Gómez, son of historian Guillermo Gómez Rivera, nicknames it as “The Blue Book” because of its blue-colored cover) is documented. Heavily. With several photos of evidence. And with testimonies from credible witnesses, including some from Rizal’s family members. Even the National Bureau of Investigation got involved. Therefore, to say beforehand that this book is biased because it was written by a friar is as childish as our president’s crybaby attempts to ridicule an institution that has survived calumnies and persecution for the past two thousand years.

Fr. Cavanna wrote the book as an investigator and as a scholar, not as a priest. Once you’ve read through the book’s entirety, then that’s the only real time that you can argue about Rizal’s stand towards the Catholic Church.

Until then, feel free to shut up.

First published here.

Serendipity in history

I’m always obsessed in trying to link present dates (or celebrations to be more precise) or even persons to historical events. I’m not sure if all historians practice the same, but for me, I find it fun and highly riveting as it somehow reveals a new perspective to a modern event or person.

For example, when I was researching about the life of Captain Abelardo Remoquillo of San Pedro Tunasán, La Laguna, I discovered that he shared the same birthdate as the Japanese aircraft carrier Hōshō which had a minor participation in the sneak attack on Pearl Harbor. It should be remembered that the attack on Pearl Harbor was the catalyst of the Pacific War, a theater of World War II, and that Captain Remo, as he was nicknamed, was a hero of that war.

Today, July 18, I turn 39. When I made a similar research that I did on Captain Remo for my special day, I found out that a least-known historical event —but something terrifying— happened on my birthdate.

138 years ago today, an earthquake rocked Manila and the provinces of Cavite, Bulacán, La Laguna, Pampanga, and Nueva Écija. Many structures such as churches were destroyed, especially those in Manila and La Laguna.

One of these churches was the one in San Pedro Tunasán (now the City of San Pedro).

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Iglesia de San Pedro Tunasán (San Pedro Apóstol Parish Church), San Pedro Tunasán, La Laguna (photo taken on 8 March 2017, courtesy of La Familia Viajera).

This church and its parish, dedicated to Saint Peter the Apostle, were established on 18 January 1725. The church houses the once miraculous Cross of Tunasán which infamously suffered a Rizalian satirical jab in the novel Noli Me Tangere.

Incidentally, we’ve been living in San Pedro Tunasán since 2004. My sons Jefe and Juanito were baptized in its church in 2010. And it was there where my wife and I had our belated traditional Catholic wedding on 13 September 2013.

Yes, exactly 99 years before I was born, the church which was to become an important part of my life was destroyed by an earthquake. There is indeed serendipity in history.

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.

PEPE ALAS

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.

La elevación del Colegio de Santo Tomás como universidad por el Papa Inocencio X

HOY EN LA HISTORIA DE FILIPINAS

20 de noviembre de 1645 — La Universidad de Santo Tomás (UST), una de las universidades más antiguas en Asia, fue elevada al estatus de universidad por el Papa Inocencio X a instancias del Rey Felipe IV. Originalmente llamada Colegio de Nuestra Señora del Santísimo Rosario, UST fue fundada el 28 de abril de 1611 como escuela para preparar a los jóvenes para el sacerdocio. Por bula del Papa Inocencio X el 20 de noviembre de 1645 que fue pasada por el supremo consejo de Indias el 28 de julio del siguiente año, el colegio fue erijido en universidad. El nombre completo y oficial de UST (que cuenta entre sus ex alumnos prestigiosos nombres en la historia de Filipinas tales como Fr. José Burgos, Marcelo del Pilar, José Rizal, y el famoso filósofo español Fr. Zeferino González, O.P.) es La Pontificia y Real Universidad de Santo Tomás. Hoy en día, UST es una de las cuatro universidades más importantes de Filipinas y se clasifica constantemente entre las 1.000 mejores universidades del mundo.

A La Virgen María (poema de José Rizal)

En conmemoración del Nacimiento de la Virgen María que cae el día de hoy, yo quisiera compartir este poema menos conocido por José Rizal, el más ilustre de todos los héroes nacionales filipinos. Un devoto mariano durante su juventud, Rizal escribió este poema —en realidad un soneto— a finales de 1876 mientras aún era estudiante en el Ateneo Municipal (hoy el Ateneo de Manila University) en Intramuros. ¡Entonces tenía 15 años de edad cuando escribió este poema divino!

A LA VIRGEN MARÍA
José Rizal

María, dulce paz, caro consuelo
De afligido mortal! eres la fuente
Do mana de socorro la corriente,
Que sin cesar fecunda nuestro suelo.

Desde tu solio, desde el alto cielo,
¡Oye piadosa mi clamor doliente!
Y cobije tu manto refulgente
Mi voz que sube con veloce vuelo

Eres mi Madre, plácida María;
Tú mi vida serás, mi fortaleza;
Tú en este fiero mar serás mi guía.

Si el vicio me persigue con fiereza,
Si la muerte me acosa en la agonía,
¡Socórrome, y disipa mi tristeza!

¡Feliz cumpleaños a nuestra Madre, la Bendita Virgen María!

La imagen en esta publicación es la más antigua conocida de la Virgen María, como ella sostiene a su divino Niño Jesús. Se encuentra en las Catacumbas de Priscila y fue datada del siglo II.

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