“I shall return”

TODAY IN FILIPINO HISTORY: 20 March 1942 — An escaping General Douglas MacArthur who arrived at Terowie, South Australia makes his famous speech regarding the fall of Filipinas to the Imperial Japanese Army in which he says: “I came through and I shall return”. That declaration has become one of the most iconic lines from World War II and in all of World History.

On a personal note, this speech reminds me not of MacArthur but of another historical figure who is almost forgotten in our country’s history: Simón de Anda, the irrepressible Spanish Basque Governor-General of Filipinas from 1770 to 1776.

De Anda was then an oidor or member judge of the Audiencia Real (Spain’s appellate court in its colonies/overseas provinces) when the British, on account of the Seven Years’ War, invaded Filipinas in 1762. While many high-ranking government officials, including then interim governor-general and Archbishop Manuel Rojo del Río, already surrendered to the invaders, de Anda and his followers refused to do so. Instead, he established a new Spanish base in Bacolor, Pampanga and from there launched the country’s first-ever guerrilla resistance against the British. He thus proved to be a big thorn on the side of the British until the latter left the archipelago two years later.

During those tumultuous two years under the British, de Anda made no promises and neither did he leave Filipinas. He stuck it out with Filipinos through thick and thin and gave the enemy an armed resistance that they more than deserved. But “Dugout Doug” was all drama when he said “I shall return”, leaving the Filipinos to fend for themselves against the Japs. And when he did return, it was a disaster: the death of Intramuros, the heart and soul of the country.

Update on my wife’s cancer situation

Buenos días, amigos y parientes.

Yeyette’s breast cancer surgery was successful. Thanks be to God. 😇

I am now making an accounting of all the financial help we received for my wife Yeyette‘s hospitalization (I will post it only on my Facebook account, not here on my blog). Hope to finish it today. Also, her severed right breast is undergoing lab tests to find out if the cancer cells have totally been eliminated from her system, and to determine if she would still need chemotherapy or not. We will receive the result within a week. So yes, this is not yet over. Fervent prayers are still needed for her full recovery. May she no longer go through that torturous procedure.



La imagen puede contener: una persona, de pie, gafas de sol, sombrero y primer plano

Selfie with the Sacred Heart of Jesus at the ground floor of ManilaMed on our way home last night. This hospital is the most Catholic health institution I have ever visited. The building’s penthouse has a neat-looking chapel and even has an office for the clergy. My eldest son Mómay took this photo. He came in handy during my wife’s confinement.

La imagen puede contener: 3 personas, personas de pie

We made it home before the lockdown! No social distancing here! ¡Gracias a Dios!

I have also received feedback about my Facebook post last Friday in which I shared a photograph of my wife’s severed breast tissue. When I did that, I was in a daze, filled with frantic confusion, wonderment, and joy (because the surgery was successful) mixed with sleeplessness and exhaustion. I also had in mind Rizal’s vertebra and Aguinaldo’s appendix (you know, for posterity and stuff, hehe). But looking back, I didn’t realize that what I did was offensive and elicited disgust among some people. My profuse apologies.

I would also like to apologize to the many people whose offer of help and assistance were not heeded. Please know that you were not ignored. While there may be many solutions to her breast cancer, we can afford to choose only one. I had to respect my wife’s decision no matter how stubborn it may seem to some. Nevertheless, I am truly grateful for your show of concern and eagerness to help out.

I would also like to extend my gratitude to those who were not able to provide financial assistance (due to unavoidable circumstances) but still took time to pray for my wife’s recovery.

Again, from the bottom of my heart, I would like to thank each and every one of you who prayed for my wife and showed their incredible generosity. I really felt like Captain America in Avengers: Endgame’s now-famous portals scene. I thought I was all alone. I didn’t know that all of you were there right behind me, ready to fight with me. ¡Gracias, gracias, muchísimas gracias!

Yeyette will reach out to all of you soon. Just give her time.

Keep safe from COVID-19


Pepe Alas

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.
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.

A review of Brother Andrew González’s “Language and Nationalism: The Philippine Experience Thus Far”

I am reposting an undated book review written many years ago by the late chemist-historian Pío Andrade Jr. He was a researcher and regular contributor to the Filipino-Chinese weekly magazine “Tuláy” published by Teresita Ang-See in Binondo, Manila. Andrade was the author of the best-selling and controversial book “The Fooling of América: The Untold Story of Carlos P. Rómulo“. In this book review, Andrade countered the claim that Spanish was not widespread in Filipinas during the US colonial period.

Pío Andrade Jr.

Brother Andrew González’s treatise “Language and Nationalism” was praised in the foreword by Cecilio López as “the most exhaustive and up-to-date treatment of the language problem in the Philippines”.

It may have been up-to-date when it was published, but by no means could it be described as exhaustive. One look at the list of references shows the absence of very important sources such as the following:

1.) The Official Census of 1903.
2.) The Ford Report of 1916, which shows that the use of Spanish was more widespread than commonly admitted.
3.) Pío Valenzuela’s History of Philippine Journalism.

There are many big and important facts on the language question that are not mentioned at all in Brother Andrew’s book, such as the fact about Spanish being the language of the Revolution, the role of Spanish in effecting the unity of the various Filipino ethnic groups which made the 1896-1899 Revolution possible, the role of the Chinese Filipinos in disseminating the language of Cervantes all over the country due to the fact that the Philippines was the most thoroughly educated Asian colony in the last decades of the 19th century, and the fact about the much higher circulation of Spanish language dailies than either the Tagálog or English dailies in the 1930s.

Brother Andrew González, FSC, uncritically accepted the figure of 2.8% as the percentage of Filipinos who can speak and write in Spanish at the turn of the century given by Cavada Méndez y Vigo’s book. This book was printed in 1870, just seven years after the establishment of the Philippine Public school system in 1863 by Spain.

Surely by 1900, more than 2.8% of the Filipinos were speaking and writing in Spanish and there was incontrovertible proof behind this assertion.

Don Carlos Palanca’s Memorandum to the Schurman Commission listed eight Spanish-speaking provinces in the islands in addition to the 9 Tagalog-speaking provinces which, according to him, are also Spanish-speaking. To this total of 17 Spanish-speaking provinces, Don Carlos added that there were only five other provinces where “only a little Spanish is spoken”. Don Carlos Palanca was the gobernadorcillo of Binondo and the head of the Gremio de Mestizos (Chinese Christians were the ones referred to as mestizos since the Spanish half-breed was called criollo).

William Howard Taft’s 1901 statement after his tour of the Philippines clearly says that Spanish was more widespread than Tagalog.

This fact about Spanish being even more widespread than Tagalog in the entire archipelago is further attested to by the well-documented fact that American soldiers during the Fil-American war had to speak bamboo Spanish to all Filipinos —not bamboo Tagalog— in order to be understood without any interpreter. There is still that other fact about the early occupational government of the American Military in the Philippines having to publish in Spanish, not in Tagalog, all its official communications in order to be understood by the Filipino people. An English translation was appended whenever necessary for the consumption of the Americans themselves.

This official use of Spanish by the Americans themselves went on up to 1910 when they started to issue communications in English but still followed by a corresponding Spanish translation of the same. In view of this fact, if a Filipino national language needed to be established other than English, the correct choice should have been Spanish, not Tagalog.

A big fault of Brother Andrew’s book lies in his uncritical acceptance of Teodoro Agoncillo’s “The Revolt of the Masses: The Story of Bonifacio and the Katipunan”. Agoncillo’s history book has already been proven to be heavily distorted by omission of facts, false interpretation of events and documents, and by outright lies. The omission of these other facts was done because the same could not be reconciled with Mr. Agoncillo’s own personal bias in the narration and teaching of Philippine history. An example of Brother Andrew’s fault with regard to his uncritical acceptance of Agoncilo’s distortion of history is the conclusion that the founding members of the KKK (Katipunan) were Filipinos of lowly origin. The founding Supremo of the KKK is Andrés Bonifacio and it is not so that he is of lowly origin. Bonifacio was definitely not a poor man when he got into the Katipunan.

Nor were the other Katiputan charter members. Agoncillo also failed to mention that the Philippine economy was booming during that decade and that Bonifacio, unlike most other Filipinos, approved of the torture of a captive friar.

The years 1900 to the Commonwealth period (1935-1941) were not well researched by Brother and Doctor Andrew González. Thus, the language issue affecting the Filipinos then was not well discussed. Had Brother Andrew researched more on the language issue of that period, he would have found out that as late as the 1930s, Spanish dailies outcirculated either the Tagalog or English language dailies.

He would have found out also that the use of Spanish during the following decade of 1940 was bound to even get stronger had it not been for the devastating 1943-1945 war.

The strength of Spanish is evidenced by the majority of cinema films shown between 1900 and 1940. These films, even if made in Holywood, were in Spanish subtitles and talkies. And several of the Philippine produced full-length films had all-Spanish talkies.

Another important fact not found in Brother Andrew’s book is the role of the Spanish language in assimilating and integrating the Chinese emigrants into mainstream Filipino society. The 100,000 Chinese in the Philippines at the turn of the century spoke Spanish in varying degrees of proficiency. The Philippine Chinese Chamber of Commerce since its establishment in 1904 wrote its minutes in Spanish until 1924. When they ceased using Spanish in their official meetings and minutes, they reverted to Chinese, not English. Today, strange as it may seem, the last bastion of whatever Spanish language is left are the Chinese Filipinos, and not those of Spanish descent except the Padilla-Zóbel family that maintains the annual Premio Zóbel.

Finally, Brother and Doctor Andrew González treated very superficially the question of nationalism and language. There should have been more discussions on the point that adopting a foreign tongue, or using foreign words, are not per se against nationalism. If nationalism is love for one’s country and foreign words and language can best help literacy and communication, it is nationalistic doing so.

Neither did Brother and Doctor Andrew González realize that nationalism in the question of language can be destructive as has been the case in the Philippines. Doing away with Spanish orthography and the cartilla, the educational authorities did away with a very inexpensive and very effective method for teaching reading skills to the young. Exterminating Spanish in the schools made the Filipinos today estranged to their Hispanic past and made Filipinos prey to nationalist historians who misled several generations of Filipinos in the sense that Spain had done the Philippines very little good when the contrary is true.

What is the prime purpose of language? Is it not to make us understand one another better? Yet, Brother and Doctor Andrew González’s book gives the impressions that showing nationalism is the prime purpose of language.

To be fair to Brother Andrew González, we want to think that he is a victim of too many distortions found in Philippine History including the history of language among Filipinos. Thus, the remark of Cecilio López in his introduction to Brother Andrew’s book “Language and Nationalism”, that it is “the most exhaustive and up-to-date treatment of the language problem in the Philippines”, is only true in the sense that the very few books on the same subject are mostly superficial.

Perhaps it will be correct for us to recall a Spanish saying that says: En el país de los ciegos, el tuerto es rey.

DEFENSORES DE LA IDENTIDAD FILIPINA. History blogger Arnaldo Arnáiz (left) and the late chemist-historian Pío Andrade Jr. (right). Behind Arnaldo is eminent historian Fr. José Arcilla, S.J. (photo taken on 26 June 2009 at the Instituto Cervantes de Manila‘s former site in Ermita, Manila).

What you don’t know about Emilio Jacinto

PH nhi emilio jacinto.jpg

Today is the birth anniversary of Emilio Jacinto (15 December 1875), the so-called “Brains of the Katipunan”. Historians have written how proficient he was with the Spanish language, but it is not widely known that his native tongue was not Spanish nor even Tagalog but Tondeño, a Spanish patois (or variation of Chavacano) that was spoken in Tondo, Manila. It was his friend, Katipunan Supremo Andrés Bonifacio, who taught him how to read, write, and speak in Tagalog. And since Tondeño was close to the Spanish language, Bonifacio sent him to Spanish-speaking La Laguna to take charge of the establishment of a Katipunan chapter in the said province. It was there where he died and was buried (16 April 1899).


500 years of confusion

La imagen puede contener: texto

Countdown to extinction begins today. 😂

Example of a MYTH: Maharlika was our country’s original name.
Example of a FACT: The Filipino State was founded on 24 June 1571.
Example of a MISNOMER: Lapu-Lapu is known as the first Filipino hero.
Example of an ALLEGATION: Fernão de Magalhães / Fernando de Magallanes / Ferdinand Magellan arrived in our shores to conquer, pillage, and enslave.
Example of COMMON KNOWLEDGE: The National Historical Commission of the Philippines is filled with Hispanophobic historians and researchers.

#500DaysTo500Years of what?!
#PH500 of confused nationalism.

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