The Friars of Rizal’s “El Filibusterismo”

A few days ago, my daughter Krystal asked me if I have Renato Constantino’s controversial “Veneration Without Understanding” and Gregorio Zaide’s ubiquitous “José Rizal: Life, Works, and Writings of a Genius, Writer, Scientist, and National Hero”. She needed them for a school assignment under the subject “Rizal’s Life and Works”, a consequence of the late Senator Claro M. Recto’s Republic Act No. 1425*, otherwise known as the Rizal Law. This plea for assistance reminded me of an essay of hers when she was still in Grade 10, or three years ago. She was assigned by her religion teacher to write an essay comparing the friars of El Filibusterismo to the friars of today. My daughter, unfortunately, is a non-writer and doesn’t share the same passion that I have for our country’s history. So she asked me for help. But since I’m busy with other matters, I just gave her relevant reading materials for reference (while chiding her on the side that it’s her assignment, not mine). And as a guide, I cautioned her that it is not just to compare fictional characters to real people.

On the day that she was to pass her essay, I asked for it so that I could review it, but she left immediately. She didn’t want me to read it out of shame, haha.

But she forgot to delete her work from our laptop. So here it is, haha. She wowed me upon reading it. I decided to share it on my Facebook account; I originally published it here.  I am posting her essay again via this blog, again without her knowledge, haha.

Through the years, I have been lecturing my children about the important components of a true Filipino. So even though they are not as passionate as I am towards the study (and reevaluation) of Filipino History, I am still happy that they still carry on with them the spirit of our authentic national identity. That, I believe, is victory enough.

La imagen puede contener: 5 personas, personas sonriendo

Jewel Krystal Rose Alas

10 – Prophet Jeremiah


It is already well-known that the friars in the Philippines during Spanish times were cruel and tyrannical. This image of a bad Spanish friar is best portrayed in the novels of national hero José Rizal, particularly in his El Filibusterismo. But is this image of bad Spanish friars in Rizal’s El Filibusterismo factual?

During the foundation of our country, the friars are the ones who gave us blessings, particularly when it comes to urbanization. They taught us our mannerisms, how to speak, talk, and eat. The friars were the ones who gave us food that we still eat up to this very day. They also taught us how to be cultured and be morally urbanized (gracious manners). In other words, they were the ones who created the Filipino as they were capable of spreading the Christian faith in our country. Aside from religious activities they did for the natives as teachers of the Faith, they were also farmers, architects, writers, scientists, doctors, etc. The friars also had authority in the administration of the colony.

The friars of Rizal’s novels Noli Me Tangere and El Filibusterismo who were depicted to show negative traits are only fictional characters. But why would Rizal imagine the friars back then as cruel? It is because he was a Freemason at the time that he was still working on the novels. Freemasons are anti-Catholics which explains why Rizal wrote negatively about the friars. Fortunately, before he was executed, he reconverted to Catholicism.

Unlike those friars in his novels, we all know how they are being respected the right way today. We see them every Sunday inside the church as they teach us the Word of God. But the fictional friars of El Filibusterismo are very much different compared to the friars today. But let’s say that we really have to compare them, we could find some similarities, but not everything. For example, some friars or priests today sometimes handle the Holy Mass in a wrong manner. We know about that priest who rode a hoverboard while singing a gospel song. Others I heard have seduced young teens and other horrible deeds. But these are isolated cases and are condemned, of course, by the Catholic Church. And let us remember this: our country will not be what it is today, a bastion of Christianity, without the friars who taught us the Catholic FAITH.

*The full name of the law is “An Act to Include in the Curricula of All Public and Private Schools, Colleges and Universities Courses On the Life, Works and Writings of José Rizal, Particularly His Novels Noli Me Tangere and El Filibusterismo, Authorizing the Printing and Distribution Thereof, and for Other Purposes.” Follow me on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram!

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).

Follow me on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram!

Facebook shut down my account

UPDATE (1:21 PM, 27 January 2020): Facebook already reactivated my account this morning. But I am not able to make any posts or comments until February 2. And they still have not informed me why they deactivated my account in the first place.

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


Just a few minutes ago, I was sharing my latest blogpost about Catholicism’s influence on Filipino Masonic thought to a few Facebook groups where I belong and to pages that I manage. It’s what I’ve been doing for the past few years. But as I was doing this, FB suddenly decided to shut down my account without any clear explanation. The number of shares has not even reached ten yet.

I immediately disputed the deletion and sent them all the information that they needed from me. My dispute is still under review, but they did not explain to me why they canceled my FB account nor did they tell me how long this review will take. While they did allow me the chance to recover my account, shutting it down without any clear explanation is still very unfair. To the best of my knowledge, I did not violate their terms and conditions. So why was my account shut down?

There is nothing I can do but to wait for them to reactivate my account… if they ever will. If they don’t, I have no intention to create a new one. What for? If I create a new account, they can delete it again anytime without any fair warning. In the meantime, you may follow me on Twitter. I’m not sure if I should still promote (nor even continue using) my Instagram account because Facebook owns it.

I don’t want to sound like a conspiracy theorist but I just hope that my Catholicism vs Freemasonry blogpost has nothing to do with this deactivation.


¡Ha entrado en erupción el Volcán Taal!

El Volcán Taal en la Provincia de Batangas ya ha mostrado signos de una erupción inminente en los últimos meses, pero fue sólo esta tarde cuando estalló (freática). Este volcán, singular porque se encuentra en medio de un lago, se considera el más pequeño del mundo. Pero en realidad, su parte inferior está sumergida bajo el agua. Sólo el cráter es visible. Debido a esta peculiaridad, este volcán batangueño se ha convertido en uno de los lugares turísticos más famosos de mi país.

Esta foto impresionante fue tomada desde el Monte Maculot en Cuenca, Batangas por Anthony Matúlac (primo de mi amigo batangueño Emil Geronilla).

Pero no dejéis que su belleza os engañe: este volcán tiene un pasado mortal. Desde 1572, ha habido más de treinta erupciones registradas, y hubo cientos de muertes (su última erupción registrada fue en 1977, o dos años antes de mi nacimiento). De hecho, al menos dos ciudades de Batangas, Lipâ y Taal, se han mudado a varios sitios porque fueron devastadas por varias erupciones. Muchos no saben que los sitios actuales de Lipâ y Taal no son sus sitios originales.

Una de sus erupciones más devastadoras fue en 1911 (también ocurrió en el mes de enero), donde murieron más de mil personas.

La Ciudad de Tagaytay en la Provincia de Cavite es sin duda el mejor lugar para ver el volcán batangueño porque está situado en la cima de una cresta o barranca muy alta. La cresta en sí fue creada por una explosión taaleña masiva hace miles de años (el nombre  de Tagaytay se deriva de una antigua palabra tagala que significa cresta o barranca).

La última vez que experimenté una caída de ceniza volcánica fue cuando tenía once años durante la explosión mundialmente famosa del Volcán Pinatubò. Ahora, más de veintiocho años después, lo experimenté nuevamente, esta vez como un padre de familia. Por extraño que parezca, hay una sensación de emoción (y nostalgia) a pesar del peligro que conlleva.

La imagen puede contener: cielo, nubes y exterior

La explosión freática del Volcán Taal se puede ver desde la isla de Mindoro. Esta foto fue tomada esta tarde en Abra de Ilog, Mindoro Occidental (pueblo natal de mi mujer Yeyette; esta foto es de Jemar “Balong” García, un amigo de sus primos).

Grabé cuatro vídeos breves de la caída de ceniza volcánica en nuestro lugar (San Pedro Tunasán, La Laguna está más o menos a 40 km de Tagaytay). Haced clic aquí para verlos.

¡Síganme en Facebook, Twitter, y Instagram!

We are now 25,000 strong!

“Prize the past | the counterclockwise ticks”
Federico Espino

Good news to all members of the Facebook history group PHILIPPINE HISTORY 101 : Nostalgia: We now have 25,000 members! What a way to end 2019!

On behalf of the group’s founder, Ms. Carmen Floirendo, I would like to thank all members in making this group a huge success! The group also boasts of distinguished names in Filipino History and Culture such as Ambeth Ocampo, Guillermo Gómez Rivera, Gemma Cruz Araneta, Jim Richardson, and Xiao Chua among many others. Even Jaime Fábregas is there! This makes the group very unique and special compared to other FB groups about Filipino History.

Click here to join!

We now look forward to an exciting new decade! 🥳

La imagen puede contener: montaña, cielo, nubes, texto, naturaleza y exterior

Image: Diamond Fist.

Please follow me on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

♪ Children’s carols in the air ♫

I’d rather go for Christian Christmas songs rather than secular ones. Secular Christmas songs will only teach you that it is OK to be adulterous (♪ I saw Mommy kissing Santa Claus ♫), will teach your children to be rebellious (♫ Jingle bell, jingle bell, jingle bell ROCK! ♪), will teach you to have fun in a dangerous manner (♪ Oh! what fun it is to ride in a one-horse open sleigh, HEY! ♫), and eventually will lead you to your demise through frostbite (♪ Walking in a winter wonderland ♫). Ho ho ho! 😆😂🎄

Remember, boys and girls. There is only one reason why there is Christmas. And that is why Silent Night wins (flawless victory)! 😉

La imagen puede contener: 2 personas

“The Nativity” by Dona Gelsinger.


I am so elated! I have just been appointed as moderator of the Facebook group PHILIPPINE HISTORY 101 : Nostalgia. It is one of the largest and fastest growing FB groups today in terms of membership and engagement. I just finished an introductory message on the group, and I thought of sharing it here on my blog.

La imagen puede contener: texto

Good evening everyone!

I am happy to announce that I have just been appointed by Ms. Carmen Floirendo as moderator of PHILIPPINE HISTORY 101 : Nostalgia, one of the largest and fastest Facebook groups today in terms of membership (and engagement) that deals with our country’s HISTORY.

I emphasized the word HISTORY here so that all members will realize the theme of this group: our country’s history, of course. While there is still no description nor set of rules yet for this group (and that is what I plan to work on in the coming weeks with Ms. Floirendo), it doesn’t take rocket science to realize that the name PHILIPPINE HISTORY 101 : Nostalgia should only tackle posts related to our country’s history, particularly those that invoke nostalgia. But general Filipino History topics are welcome.

Having said that, I would like to reiterate to all members to comply with this group’s theme as implied by the name. So please Please PLEASE stop publishing non-history related posts. We will not give warnings anymore, especially since there are thousands of you here. If we see a violator, he/she will be kicked out from the group immediately. With just Ms. Floirendo and myself, it is virtually impossible for the two of us to monitor all of your activities. That is why we need your compliance and cooperation. We are all adults here. You already know what is right or wrong.

Please do not consider this message as some sort of “dictatorship”. All we want is strict compliance to protect the integrity of this group. If you feel that Ms. Floirendo or myself are abusing our powers, feel free to criticize us in a respectful manner. And having mentioned that, may we all respect each and everyone here.

Remember: we are all here to promote our country’s beautiful past. Let us all learn from each other.

Lastly, I would like to thank the mother of PHILIPPINE HISTORY 101 : Nostalgia, Ms. Carmen Floirendo, for giving me this rare opportunity to moderate it with her. It is truly an honor!

Best regards,

José Mario “Pepe” Alas

Join the group now by clicking here!