Close encounters with Nick

During the first few days of the enhanced community quarantine, I still had three bottles of my favorite San Miguel Cerveza Negra inside the fridge. But during that time, I wasn’t aware of any liquor ban as I was fixated more on the rising cases of COVID-19 patients. I gulped down my final bottle about a week into the ECQ. Now I regret doing that because I have nothing to quaff anymore during “Nick Joaquín Week”, a modest online initiative started in 2018 by Pangasinán-based teacher Dave Arjie Manandeg who himself is a big Nick Joaquín fan (I also suspect that he is one of the administrators of the Facebook page Nick Joaquín. He Lives.). He does this by simply publishing Joaquinesque-related posts on social media using the hashtag #NickJoaquínWeek. The commemoration begins on the anniversary of Nick’s death (April 29) up to anniversary of his birth (May 4).

I first heard of the name Nick Joaquín in the same manner that most Filipinos today have first known about him: in school, during literary class. It must have been his “Three Generations” that we tackled, but I wasn’t so sure because during elementary and high school, I wasn’t interested in Filipino Literature in English just as yet (I couldn’t even remember having read that short story in full). I was more into foreign reads and comic books. However, his name has already become a byword. That means that even without having read any of his works, one is already so sure of his value and quality as a writer. After all, he’s been a National Artist for Literature since 1976.

Interest in Filipino Literature in English came during my tertiary years. I encountered his name again during election season of 1998, the first time that I was to join the electoral process (I was then 18). I was at a bookstore when I saw a biography of presidential candidate Alfredo Lim. I was then an admirer of Dirty Harry, drawn by his constant public condemnation of crime and drug use. Since I had the money for a book or two, I decided to grab a copy. My decision to buy that biography (with the corny title of “May Langit Din Ang Mahirap: The Life Story of Alfredo Siojo Lim“, for sure an idea of the presidentiable). But before doing so, I browsed its pages and read a few lines. I didn’t immediately like what I read, in fact it was a let-down. The English was way too off for me. I could clearly remember saying to myself: “Is this really Nick Joaquín?” It was my first time to really read something from him.

Joaquinesquerie

Little did I know back then that Nick had his own brand of English, a variation which literary critics refer to as “Joaquinesque” or Spanish-flavored English, the kind of literary language that helped catapult him to the top. And I think the reason for the momentary comedown is that my mind had already been ensconced to too much superhero fiction written in Yankee idiom. But after reading the book, I gradually developed an interest in his other works. His biography of Mayor Lim was not simply a life story as it was peppered here and there with historical riddles that whetted my appetite even more. For instance: why in the world did he even include the story of a Chinese mestizo in Emilio Aguinaldo’s army whose daughter got pregnant which caused trouble in her family? What is the relevance to Mayor Lim’s life story of those treasure-filled pushcarts that were delivered to the poor Chinese mestizo’s daughter? At first, the first-time Joaquín reader would be thinking that the author was simply rambling, trying to fill up pages perhaps to thicken a commissioned biography.

Years later, however, after having read his other works (poetry, essays, novels), I realized that he was hinting at something else. In fact, he usually does these “peppering” in many of his non-fiction. It seems that Joaquinesquerie is not just about language and style but about essence — his life’s work, from personal verses to seemingly sell-out biographies, was all part of a much grander design, but a design that was hinged upon his historical essays, the core of his thinking, his philosophy on national identity.

This could explain why José García Villa, the “divine poet” who had placed our country on the map of English-language poetry, once declared that Nick was the only Filipino writer with a real imagination…

“…that imagination of power and depth and great metaphysical seeing — and which knows how to express itself in great language, who writes poetry, and who reveals behind his writings a genuine first-rate mind.”

Hermanas Marasigan

My second Joaquinesque experience was Nick’s most famous work: “A Portrait of the Artist as Filipino”. It was in college, and I was already in a relationship with the beauteous but hilarious Yeyette Perey, my future wife who was then my classmate. She was already a few weeks pregnant during that time. We were both in drama class. But our professor, Mr. Joey Dividina (now Project Director of the Children’s Museum and Library), did not require us to read the play in full. Since it was a drama class, we were just instructed to act out certain scenes for a major school stage play at the Saint Therese Auditorium (now the Adamson Theatre). Our class was divided into groups. Humorously, my group’s assignment was to portray that sad practice blackout scene between Cándida and Paula Marasigan. Since Yeyette was the only female actress in our group, I had to go drag just to be able to portray Paula to Yeyette’s Cándida. But that’s OK because according to Sir Dividina, the scene, although sad, really had to be comical. The intention was to make the audience laugh using burlesque acting.

On the night of the play, I was wearing a classmate’s skirt that was too small for me. It failed to hide the hair on my legs, prompting a gay student to shout “¡Balbón!“, much to the amusement of everyone inside the jam-packed auditorium. There was laughter all throughout. I didn’t know if it was the burlesque acting or if it was because of my attire. At any rate, we were able to pull it off.

It was not until a few years later when I finally decided to read the play in full, and I did so while I was taking in customers’ phone calls as a nightshift call center agent. Life was already hitting me hard during those times, but I had Nick’s writings to accompany me for (mental) survival. In between phone calls, I witnessed (in print) the steadfastness of the Marasigan sisters toward heritage and tradition. Their deaths at the end of the play left me in tears, much to the amused wonderment of another gay colleague seated beside me. I don’t usually cry after reading a very sad tale. But Nick was able to make me do so. His Portrait strengthened my resolve to fight for the survival of heritage structures, even as an armchair activist.

Champion of beer

It is but natural for a fan to mimic his idol. One facet of Nick that I copied was his fancy for beer. Nick was not just a National Artist for Literature. He was also one of the country’s most celebrated beer drinkers. During my younger years, I thought it was cool to imitate his beer-guzzling, Bohemian lifestyle. But his signature beer, San Miguel Pale Pilsen, was something hard for my system to tolerate. I experimented with Colt 45, but it made me do unspeakable things in college (running away from guards just for the heck of it, throwing a cardboard box in the middle of another stage play in which I was a part of, toppling down auditorium speakers backstage during a rock concert, puking here and there, etc.). That is why I had to make do with Cerveza Negra, a drink which I discovered when I was already a call center agent (but it was love at first taste).

I read somewhere that, because of his publicized attachment to Pale Pilsen, he was invited by no less than San Miguel Corporation to do a TV commercial (together with other well-known writers) for their flagship product. His widely-read column in the Philippine Daily Inquirer was titled “Small Beer”, a clear influence of his love for the alcoholic drink.

I sometimes wonder if the profoundness of his writings was partly a result of his drunken state (a la Edgar Allan Poe).

Near encounters

In the biography written for him by his nephew Tony Joaquín, there is a section there on testimonials from other famous Filipinos who had the blessed opportunity to have rubbed shoulders with the Manileño legend. One of the most memorable (at least to me) was that of artist Migs Villanueva wherein she recounted a hilarious first-time visit to Nick’s house (she was actually being reintroduced to the National Artist by fellow writer Gregorio Brillantes since Nick had the weird tendency to forget people he had already met). During that rainy day, Villanueva experienced first hand Nick’s sardonic humor in spite of his octogenarian state. It was also found out that Nick was an unfaithful beer drinker:

Nick now offers us beer, and when we accept, he barks for them. One of his boys produces three cold bottles of Beer na Beer and an unopened pack of white table napkins. He puts them on the bare coffee table.

Greg complains. He wonders why there is no San Miguel beer.

“I drink this at home, I drink San Miguel elsewhere, to divide my culture,” Nick says.

Wala ka bang pulutan, Nick?” Greg says.

“Whoa!” Nick roars. The man is 84, and he has the vocal chords of a 20-year-old. “Where do ya think ya are, the Holiday Inn?” Within minutes, his attendant comes out with plates of tapa, hotdogs and toast bread.

Near brush with greatness

How I wish I had been introduced too to the man who had indirectly instilled in me a deep love of country and national identity. Actually, it did almost happen —twice— sometime in 2002 (or was it 2003)? During that time, I was working part-time as an editorial assistant to Señor Guillermo Gómez Rivera’s Nueva Era, the last Spanish-language newspaper in Filipinas. Señor Gómez was a good friend of Nick. He had told me lots of personal stories between them which I, as a huge fan, listened to intently. I then shared to him how great my admiration was for his famous friend, and that one time, I even played Paula in drag. He was amused and told me: “You make an ugly Paula!” followed by his hearty Iberian laughter.

One day, he told me what if we visit Nick Joaquín in his San Juan residence. I had no reason to hesitate. It was to be an experience of a lifetime!

And that day finally came. We drove in his car from his house in San Pedro Macati (Makati City) but agreed to make a brief stopover in Santa Ana, Manila to take pictures of old ancestral houses that were still there for a future issue of Nueva Era. After about an hour or so, we set off to continue our visit to Nick’s place. But just as we entered his car, his cellphone rang — there was an emergency back home, and we had to go back to Makati (I couldn’t remember anymore what the emergency was all about, but it wasn’t something fatal or anything like that). We had to reschedule the trip to Nick’s house. I was successful in hiding my disappointment on our way back.

The second brush with Nick came a couple of months after that first disappointment. With nothing else to do, Señor Gómez again thought of bringing me to Nick’s house. Unfortunately, visitors to his dance studio —he was then active with his Flamenco engagements— came in trickles. And then the dances didn’t stop until evening. The trip to Nick’s house was completely forgotten. I didn’t remind him anymore after that.

Fast forward to 30 April 2004. I was already a corporate slave working for a data science company in Parañaque. It was a balmy Friday morning. During an idle moment at work, I browsed the Internet for the day’s news. One headline froze me from where I sat: I felt like a cat about to meet its death from a speeding truck.

There was a momentary gasp not from the chest but from deep within me. All sound had deafened. My surroundings appeared like paper images.I had wanted to share the news to my officemates but they were pure muppets when it came to anything literary. With nobody else to share my grief, I slowly stood up, left my cubicle, and sought to find a solitary place where I could compose myself and gather my thoughts. I saw one corner much farther away from all the cubicles: a floor-to-ceiling glass wall right beside the stairway. A handful of robots (my brutally honest description of office workers) passed by during that time. From that area, an airy view of far off Mount Maquiling could be seen. I stood there gazing at the storied lagunense mountain from a distance. I suddenly remember that during Martial Law, Nick had been there (at the Philippine High School for the Arts), delivering a speech at a ceremony that was attended by  Imelda Marcos. It is said that he made an invocation to María Maquiling (from whom the mountain was named after) during that speech, angering the First Lady, because the invocation touched on the importance of freedom. He was never again invited by the Marcos regime to address formal cultural occasions.

At that moment of recall, the tears fell down. Silently. I didn’t care anymore if anyone saw. But I think nobody did because my gaze was against the glass wall, fixated toward the hazy blue mountain from afar.

Champion of the Rosary

My daughter Krystal and I were there at the Cultural Center of the Philippines to participate in the nostalgic celebration of Nick’s birth centennial three years ago. Many literary celebrities who had become part of Nick’s life and career were also in attendance. I’m not the type who gets starstruck when seeing celebrities, but I really got excited to see that Nick’s youngest sister (and only living sibling), Carmen Joaquín de Enríquez, was there as well. I had wanted a photo opportunity with her but couldn’t gather the courage to go near her. It took a long while for my daughter to finally pull me toward her for a photo-op. That, I think, was the closest encounter I’ve ever had with my idol.

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There was also zero fascination with all the famous people I spoke with (or chatted with on Facebook) who have already met Nick. The conversations that I have had with the likes of Cocoy Laurel, Gemma Cruz Araneta, F. Sionil José, Danilo Dalena, Chino Trinidad, etc. almost always had Nick in mind. In one way or another, I had asked them questions about what Nick was like, how he dressed up, how his voice sounded like, etc. I tried the best I could just to be “near him”, perhaps to compensate for those two aborted meetings.

Sometimes I wonder: what it would be like if we had met? Would he have liked my company? Would we have become friends? Would he have tried my Cerveza Negra? Would he have time to assist me to combat my mediocrities? Would we have prayed the Rosary together? Oh yes, how I’d love to tell him that he (together with my dearly departed grandmother) was my greatest influence as to why I pray the Rosary. And why I have come to like beer (black beer, that is).

How I’d love to tell him in person that I consider him as the “Padre del Filipinismo“. But that will not happen anymore. I only have his books, his philosophy, to cherish.

There is not a single day that I don’t remember him. Not a single day. Because I have already enshrined an altar for him in my mind (an altar with beer and rosary). Everything Filipino that I see or seem always has his imprint…

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Guadalupe Church: Macati City’s undying watcher

Today’s feast day of Our Lady of Guadalupe reminds me of a brief visit that I made to the centuries-old Guadalupe church a decade ago (22 September 2019) just days before the great flood of Metro Manila. History blogger Arnold Arnáiz was with me during that early afternoon visit. The skies were blanketed by endless gray clouds that day, giving out a bleak mood throughout the slums that were neighboring the silent, hulking gray walls of the Baroque church. The deprived people living nearby —almost mindlessly doing routine tasks each and every dying day of their lives— don’t have any idea at all about the significance of this almost forgotten church in Filipino History.

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Iglesia de Nuestra Señora de Gracia, commonly known as Iglesia de Guadalupe. All photos on this blogpost were taken on 22 September 2019.

 

Curiously enough, the stillness and quiet surrounding this ancient church is a far cry from the discombobulating noise of infamous EDSA which is surprisingly just a few minutes walk from this spiritual sanctuary.

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What’s on the marker? — “The foundations of this church and monastery of the Augustinian Order were laid in 1601 and construction work was finished in 1629. Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe was chosen Titular Patroness in 1603. After the Chinese uprising of 1639, this sanctuary served as a seat of devotion for the Chinese. The buildings withstood the earthquakes of 1645, 1658, 1754, and 1863; the masonry roof of the church collapsed in the earthquakes of 1880 and the structure was rebuilt in 1882 by Rev. José Corujedo, O.S.A. Site of an orphan asylum and trade school administered by the Augustinian Order for the benefit of the children of the victims of the cholera of 1882. Both church and monastery were gutted by fire in February, 1899, during the early skirmishes between Americans and Filipinos.”

 

As written on the historical marker, the Augustinians began constructing the church in the early 1600s. The Provincial Chapter declared the monastery a domus formata on 7 March 1601. A domus formata is a religious house in which reside at least six professed members (four of which should be priests), and this one in San Pedro Macati (now Makati City) was placed under the advocacy of Our Lady of Grace. Construction was completed in 1629. The church was named after the world-famous and miraculous Basílica de Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe in México City, México.

The first domus formata was composed of three priests and a lay brother. Much later, the Provincial Chapter of 30 November 1603 received a petition from the Spanish community in Manila and from other prominent Filipinos to change the advocacy. They prevailed when the Provincial Chapter approved the petition. Thus, Our Lady of Grace became Our Lady of Guadalupe.

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Details on one of the windows.

 

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Epistle side.

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It was not until the shrine had its third prior administrator when stone construction commenced. This administrator was Fray Juan de Montes de Oca. But he was not able to finish the project because he was transferred to another mission outpost. And so those who took over his spot continued the construction.

The church has had its share of countless (and historically famous) Priors Administrator, some of them renowned friar-scholars:

Simón Dantes — widely believed to be the first prior of the Guadalupe Shrine.
Juan de Montes de Oca — started the construction of the stone sanctuary.
Francisco Coronel — published the book Artes y Reglas de la Lengua Pampanga (1617) when he was still in Pampanga.
Hernando Guerrero — became Archbishop of Manila in 1635; best remembered for his feud with Governor General Sebastián Hurtado de Corcuera.

In my opinion, perhaps the most famous friar who had ever served the altars of this church was Fray Manuel Blanco of Navia, Zamora, Spain. He entered the Augustinian order when he was just 16 years old. Aside from his religious duties, he was also an erudite and multifaceted scholar who excelled in history, languages, medicine, and even my “favorite” subject — mathematics! 😆 When he was assigned to the San Agustín Church, he maintained a garden there (now fondly called as Fr. Blanco’s Garden). But he is best known for his contributions to natural sciences, particularly botany. This led to the publication of the groundbreaking Flora Filipina. Because of this book, plants can now be classified according to their species, class, and genus. His blessed remains are interred somewhere inside this church.

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Dark nights of the Shrine.

The period of seventy years from the War of Independence up to the Second World War was the darkest for the sanctuary. The termination of the Spanish-American War brought about by the ratification of the Treaty of Paris on December 10, 1898 caused the Filipino-American conflict to flare up into an all-out war. Manila was the immediate theater of destruction. It did not take long for the superior American forces to rout the Filipino forces.

The Americans, having cleared the city of the Filipino forces, proceeded eastward to Makati as far as San Pedro. The Filipino soldiers, tipped off of the advancing Americans, positioned themselves in Guadalupe. They outnumbered their enemies. The Americans sensed this, and not having enough troops that would stay behind to safeguard the place from being retaken by the Filipinos, they halted for a day waiting for reinforcement. The next day, the American forces under the command of General Lloyd Wheaton advanced to attack Guadalupe.

Having advanced for a mile, the Americans started to subject Guadalupe to artillery fire together with that of the gunboat Laguna de Bay along the Pásig river. The siege was fierce. The Filipinos under General Pío del Pilar, unable to resist the stronger forces, retreated, but not before they burned the church and the monastery. It was like adding insult to injury because the shrine had already been battered by American artillery fire. This even marked the end of Guadalupe shrine whose aisle Filipinos and Spaniards alike, for almost three centuries, used to throng to manifest their devotion to Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe.

After the War of Independence, the Guadalupe shrine and the monastery became a foreboding place because it was shrouded by the grasses and trees. Even on its walls the trees grew, dissolving little by little the bricks, the stones and the lime. (“The Guadalupe Shrine” by Rodolfo M. Arreza, O.S.A., Globalcomp, Manila, 1991)

The gross disrespect for God’s home in Guadalupe, Macati didn’t end here. What was left of the abandoned church was further razed to the ground by both U.S. and Japanese artillery during the final days of World War II. In the words of Fr. Arreza, “the walls of the monastery and the shrine became the only standing skeletons left that served as a mute witness of the many misfortunes in the past”.

But Guadalupe couldn’t just die like that.

On 29 July 1970, the Augustinians were recalled to Guadalupe. Patiently, they began reconstructing the church of their predecessors, the church that has harbored countless candles during Tridentine Masses of yore.

And so the magic of Guadalupe persists to this day.

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The undying Watcher of the City of San Pedro Macati…

 

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Un poco sobre mí

Una confesión: estoy ruidoso en los medios sociales. Me encanta discutir en línea, sacar ventaja sobre mis enemigos. En diversas ocasiones incluso podría convertirme en un troll (provocador), jaja. 😂

Pero de carne y hueso, no soy un buen conversador. Soy el tipo que prefiere escuchar que hablar. Así que, cuando nos vemos, no te sorprendas ni te decepciones si me encuentras en silencio, simplemente mirando a ti. Simplemente significa que estoy esperando para que hables porque me encanta escuchar historias y recibir información.

Sin embargo, Cerveza Negra existe. Y cuando lo zampo… ¡las cosas se ponen divertidas!

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¡Feliz fin de semana!

Película 2019 — 18th Spanish Film Festival

Instituto Cervantes de Manila, in cooperation with the Embajada de España en FilipinasTurespaña, and other related cultural organizations brings us once again one of the most anticipated annual film festivals in the country: Película. Now on its 17th edition, Película features a selection of quality films of various genres (comedy, drama, suspense, animation, documentary, and short film) from the Spanish-speaking world. It is a perfect opportunity for Filipino students of the Spanish language to hone their listening skills as well as to get acquainted with contemporary Hispanic culture. Below are the schedules as well as the press release (both in English and Spanish) from Instituto Cervantes de Manila…

PELÍCULA is a Spanish Film Festival organized every October by the Instituto Cervantes (Manila), in collaboration with the Embassy of Spain to the Philippines. Created in 2002, this event shows award-winning Spanish and Latin American films. The Film Festival has grown through the years to become the most important exhibition of Spanish Cinema in the Southeast Asian region. PELÍCULA 2019 will treat you to a collection of good quality movies, many of which have been awarded in prestigious festivals. Comedy, drama, thriller, animation, documentary, short film are some of the many element inside the festival’s program. Enjoy PELÍCULA!

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Creado en 2002 por el Instituto Cervantes de Manila, PELÍCULA se celebra cada octubre en colaboración con la Embajada de España en Filipinas. El Festival ha crecido a lo largo de los años hasta erigirse en el más importante escaparate de cine español en el Sudeste Asiático. En esta XVIII edición te invitamos a disfrutar de una selección de obras de calidad, muchas de ellas premiadas en festivales de prestigio internacional. No se trata únicamente de una cita con el cine español, pues el Festival también propone una mirada al cine latinoamericano y a las voces surgidas de un continente que se expresa mayoritariamente en español. Comedia, drama, suspense, animación, documental y cortometraje, son algunos de los géneros que encontrarás en la programación de PELÍCULA 2019. ¡No te lo pierdas!

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Película will run for 10 days, from October 3 to 13 at Greenbelt 3. Click here for more information. ¡Nos vemos allí!

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Cincuenta años en Hollywood

La temporada de tifones junto con las lluvias monzónicas estaban en su apogeo la noche del primer aniversario de la muerte de la legendaria escritora Carmen Guerrero Nákpil, como si los cielos aún estuvieran de luto por su pérdida. Pero incluso las lluvias no pudieron detener el lanzamiento del último libro de su famosa hija: la reina de belleza y se convirtió en historiadora, Gemma Cruz de Araneta.

Gemma ha publicado varios libros, la mayoría de los cuales tratan sobre la historia y la cultura de Filipinas. Este, que se lanzó la noche lluviosa del 30 de julio en un elegante salón de Manila Polo Club en Forbes Park, Ciudad de Macati, no fue diferente. Sin embargo, como su título indica, trata principalmente sobre las aventuras y desventuras del gobierno colonial de los Estados Unidos de América en nuestras islas.

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El libro titulado “50 Years in Hollywood: The USA Conquers the Philippines” (50 Años en Hollywood: los EE.UU. conquista Filipinas) es una colección de ensayos históricos que Gemma ha escrito a través de años en su columna muy leída Landscape (significa paisaje o panorama) que aparece en el Manila Bulletin, un importante periódico filipino en inglés. Se trata de la transformación de la sociedad y la psique filipina poco después de que los estadounidenses nos invadieron y nos arrebataron del Reino de España y del gobierno revolucionario de Emilio Aguinaldo.

El libro recibe ese título para rendir homenaje a su madre Carmen quien había acuñado la famosa cita que se ha vuelto muy popular entre los historiadores y muchos otros escritores. El completo mensaje es “trescientos años en un convento, y cincuenta en Hollywood”. Era la forma en que Carmen describía, de manera breve pero ingeniosa, la historia de nuestro país bajo España y los EE.UU, respectivamente. En su columna publicada el 27 de junio de este año, Gemma, radiante de orgullo para su estimada madre, tiene esto que declarar:

“Así fue como Carmen Guerrero Nákpil describió la historia de Filipinas en pocas palabras. Esa es su cita más inolvidable, pero lamentablemente la más plagiada, robada, y pirateada.

“Me atrevo a decir que nadie más, ni historiador ni cronista, poeta o ensayista, podría haber ideado una descripción tan condensada pero brillante de nuestra historia. Ni el eminente Teodoro Agoncillo, ni el temible Renato Constantino, ni los pioneros Epifanio de los Santos y Gregorio Zaide, ni ningún otro escritor (ni siquiera Nick Joaquín), periodista, novelista, o historiador, filipino o extranjero, joven o viejo, podría haber pensado en una cláusula tan deliciosamente sardónica que destila la esencia de nuestra historia desafortunada. Luego otorgue crédito cuando sea necesario. Nunca más se debe atribuir ese aforismo inimitable a otra persona que no sea Carmen Guerrero Nakpil.”

(Mi traducción del inglés a español)

En dicho libro, Gemma no ofrece disculpas, justificaciones ni juicios sólidos sobre lo que ocurrió en nuestro país durante esos 50 años fortuitos bajo la colonización de los EE. UU. Pero su reportaje, respaldado por fuentes verdaderas y verificables, es brutalmente franco. Ella es justa en sus escritos pero sigue siendo implacable cuando se trata de eventos que hicieron sufrir a los filipinos. Después de todo, su madre estaba en contra de la toma de nuestro país por parte de los invasores de América del Norte.

Es apropiado que el libro de la hija se haya lanzado en el aniversario de la muerte de la madre.

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El lanzamiento del libro contó con la asistencia de un quién es quién de la alta sociedad filipina incluidos académicos en historia y cultura.

 

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Con el historiador famoso, Xiao Chua. A pesar de su renombre, lo que es realmente notable de él no es su conocimiento de la Historia de Filipinas (no estoy de acuerdo con muchos de sus puntos de vista) sino su humildad y afabilidad. Fue Xiao quien se acercó a mí, un virtual don nadie, para presentarse, como si necesitara más presentación. Así que no es de extrañar por qué es tan querido tanto por los alumnos de la historia como por los miembros del mundo académico. Para mi observación, Xiao Chua es el próximo Ambeth R. Ocampo.

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Con Tita Ester Azurín, bisnieta de Paciano Rizal, hermano mayor del héroe nacional José Rizal. Ella es una prima tercera de Gemma porque esta última es la bisnieta de María, una de las hermanas de Paciano y José.

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Con la estrella de la noche.

Pero basta de muertes. Es hora de celebrar la vida y lo que depara el futuro. 😊

¡Feliz cumpleaños, mi comadre Gemma! 🎂🥂 Que tengas más años felices por venir y que también publiques más libros. Y espero que el próximo libro que publiques esté en la lengua materna de tu madre: la castellana. ¡Un abrazo fuerte!

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Este libro está disponible en los sucursales de Fully Booked, Solidaridad (Ermita, Manila), sucursales de National Book Store, Popular Bookstore (Calle Tomás Morató, Ciudad de Quezon), Ortigas Foundation Library (Ortigas, Ciudad de Pásig), Silahis (Calle Real del Palacio, Intramuros), TriMona Co-op Café (112 Anonas Extension, Sikatuna Village, Ciudad de Quezon), y Tesoro’s en Macati y Manila. Para pedidos internacionales, pueden enviar una consulta por correo electrónico a ggc1898@gmail.com.

 

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Mi Último Adiós (recital de poesía)

Unos días antes el Día del Libro 2019 (27 de abril), el Instituto Cervantes de Manila anunció en sus redes sociales que producirá un recital del famoso poema “Mi Último Adiós” de José Rizal. Invitó a filipinos hispanohablantes y estudiantes del idioma a participar. El recital fue grabado el mismo día dentro de la Biblioteca Miguel Hernández del instituto, y fue dirigido por el actor Pepe Gros. Se le dio una estrofa del poema a cada participante que luego recitó frente a la cámara, pero sólo se mostró una línea en el resultado final para dar cabida a más participantes. Krystal aparece en la sexta pantalla, y yo en la novena. El vídeo fue lanzado el miércoles pasado. ¡Feliz viendo!

Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe y la fe filipina

En 2017 asistí una Santa Misa en el Santuario Nacional de Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe en San Pedro Macati (nombre original de la Ciudad de Makati) en celebración de la fiesta de Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe. Durante la Misa que fue celebrada por Cardenal Gaudencio Rosales, de repente tuve una comprensión: me di cuenta de que cada vez que practico mi fe católica, doy esplendor a mi identidad filipina, y cada vez que profeso mi identidad filipina, rindo homenaje al catolicismo.

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Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe, Patrona Celestial de Filipinas, ruega por nosotros.

¡Viva la Virgen de Guadalupe! 😇

Whatever happened to Filipino dignity?

I don’t post stuff like this, but this is too much. It made my blood really boil!

 

This shameful video went viral a few days ago. It’s about a Turkish national, later identified to be a certain Yuksel Ibrahim, disrespecting a traffic enforcer along Buendía Avenue in San Pedro Macati (Makati City). For sure, he made a traffic violation, the reason he was flagged down (it was later discovered that he was driving without a license). But he refused to budge, resisted arrest. As can be seen on this video, the Turk even laid his hands on the traffic enforcer (reports say his name is Michael Orcino) and shoved his motorcycle down to the concrete pavement.

It is unthinkable for Filipinos to behave in such a way in other countries, especially in Muslim land. We are very obedient, polite, and law-abiding overseas. Why let foreigners behave like this in our own native land? What’s infuriating about this video is that there are lots of Filipinos around, but they couldn’t put a stop to this imbecilic Turk. Filipinos swallow their dignity and pride in other countries. Why do the same in our own native land?! This is too much!

Yuksel Ibrahim is an Arabic name. He is most probably Muslim. And he’s going for lost in a Catholic country! Could you imagine a Catholic doing the same in a Muslim country?

But the Filipinos seen in this video (including Orcino) are, to my eyes, not true Filipinos. I call them “Bobong Pinóy“. They’re no longer the true Filipinos in the mold of José Rizal, Marcelo del Pilar, Apolinario Mabini, Claro M. Recto, etc. These are the moronic cowards who grew up speaking in Taglish, Anglo-Saxonized (Americanized) to the core, lapsed Catholics who attend only the Novus Ordo (and whenever they feel like it), and who enjoy teleseryes, Pinoy Big Brother, and other TV garbage from sunrise to sunset as if they have become part of their very existence.

A long time ago in Madrid, a hot-tempered Antonio Luna slapped, spat at, and challenged Mir Deas, a Spanish journalist, to a duel when the latter made insults to the former (Mir Deas even mistook Antonio for his brother Juan the painter). And to think that Antonio wasn’t even in Filipinas. A long time ago in Mindanáo, Filipinos (to say “Christian Filipino” during that time was redundant; Filipino was enough) under Governor-General Juan Antonio de Urbiztondo routed pesky Muslim pirates in Joló and other parts (Rizal even wrote a poem about it). Whatever happened to Filipino dignity? Has it gone yellow because of too much acquiescence to both Chinese and US imperialism? Perhaps other countries already noticed this softening of the once mighty Filipino spirit. No wonder they disrespect us. No wonder they ship containers filled with garbage to our ports.

So don’t blame me if I approved of that beating those imperious Aussie cagers got from Gilas Pilipinas several months ago. Don’t blame me if I cheered when Mayor Herbert Bautista slapped an arrogant Chinese drug dealer twice on national TV years ago.

If only I were there in Buendía, I swear, I would have bloodied this Turk’s face and destroyed his car. I would have even cursed at the traffic enforcer for cowardice. I am not a violent person. I do not condone violence. But I cannot for the life of me allow this infuriating scene to happen in front of my eyes. I can never for the life of me allow a Muslim, an agent of شيطان, wreak havoc in a Christian land. No, certainly not in my house.

Porque soy FILIPINO ORGULLOSO, no soy Bobong Pinoy.

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Una exposición de arte por una buena causa

Ayer por la tarde asistí la apertura de una exposición de arte por una causa organizada por mi amigo, el Dr. Nilo Valdecantos. Él es un dentista de profesión pero un patrón de arte por vocación. Después de todo, es de Paeté, un pueblo (municipalidad) en la provincia de La Laguna que es famoso por sus escultores. Pero a través de los años la tradición escultórica de Paeté se vio aumentada por una nueva generación de artistas: pintores y también músicos. Por lo tanto, Paeté ahora puede ser considerado como un refugio para artistas.

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Kalikasan, Kultura, at Kasaysayan” en LRI Design Plaza, Ciudad de Macati.

El Dr. Valdecantos es un sobreviviente de cáncer. Fue capaz de sobrevivir a esa dolorosa experiencia porque tenía los medios para hacerlo. Pero durante esa dolorosa experiencia, pudo conocer a otros pacientes de cáncer que no eran tan afortunados como él porque eran pobres. No podían pagar la costosa medicación ni la quimioterapia. Así, su destino quedó sellado.

Después de sobrevivir a su terrible experiencia, el Dr. Valdecantos no olvidó a los otros pacientes de cáncer que había conocido durante su paso inolvidable. Por eso lanzó una exposición de arte para una causa se llama “Kalikasan, Kultura, at Kasaysayan” (Naturaleza, Cultura, e Historia) para el beneficio de los pacientes de cáncer. El evento presenta las obras de arte (pinturas y esculturas) de los mejores artistas de Paete en la actualidad como Fred Baldemor, Glenn Cagandahan, Ysa Gernale, y mucho más. Una gran parte de los ingresos de sus magníficas obras de arte serán para los pacientes con cáncer que están internados en St. Frances Cabrini Medical Center en Santo Tomás, Batangas. Kalikasan, Kultura, at Kasaysayan se encuentra en LRI Design Plaza en la Ciudad de San Pedro Macati (Makati City) y se extenderá hasta el 16 de octubre.

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“Three Graces Series” (Serie de Tres Gracias), una escultura en bronce por Fred Baldemor, considerado como el “Miguel Ángel de Filipinas”.

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“Fiesta”, óleo sobre lienzo por Amador Barquilla.

El Dr. Valdecantos, un patrocinador genuino de las bellas artes, espera que muchos otros patrocinadores del arte como él organicen más eventos como este. Que Dios bendiga su hermosa alma.

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El Dr. Nilo Valdecantos y yo. Detrás de nosotros está Joey Ayala, un famoso músico, junto con su percusionista vocalista de respaldo.