What makes a hero?

Many years ago, while rummaging through costly books in one popular bookstore, I found for the first time Dr. Onofre Córpuz’s famous work, “The Roots of the Filipino Nation”. I didn’t have money then, so I just leafed through the pages. On page 223 (of volume II), I found a commentary of his about the “Kataas-taasang, Kagalang-galangang Katipunan ng̃ mg̃á Anak ng̃ Bayan“, popularly known as the Katipunan. On that page, Córpuz wrote that this time-honored “revolutionary group” was “the first active embodiment of the Christian Filipino nation”.

During that time, I had just reconverted to the Catholic Church (after a couple of years toying around with godlessness and other “isms”). My zeal back then towards the faith of my forefathers was freshly strong, and so I immediately sensed —with much chagrin— that there was something disturbingly wrong with Dr. Córpuz’s assertion. I asked myself, how could someone like him, a giant in the academe, had written something as incomprehensible as the Katipunan embodying a Christian nation when that group was an offshoot of Freemasonry? As many Dan-Brown-educated kids should know by now, Freemasonry is the ancient enemy of the Church. As a Christian student of history, I was deeply intrigued toward the extent of the late Dr. Córpuz’s knowledge about the role of Freemasonry during those tumultuous final years of our country’s history under Spain. But was Dr. Córpuz really unaware of the Katipunan’s Masonic roots as well as its motives? I find it hard to believe that. Or did he leave that fact out conveniently because he was a Freemason himself, or perhaps its sympathizer? But if he was, wouldn’t it still be ridiculous for a Mason like him to say that a violent group who tortured and chopped off the heads of friars just because they were Spaniards embodied the Christian Filipino nation?

To those who are still unaware, Freemasonry has been condemned numerous times by the Catholic Church. To my knowledge, there had been at least 24 papal pronouncements regarding this matter (perhaps the most famous was Pope Leo XIII’s papal encyclical  “Humanum Genus” which was released in 1884). As one of the best academicians our country ever had, it strikes me as odd as to why Dr. Córpuz had failed to emphasize the Masonic origins of the Katipunan in that controversial conclusion of his. A little research will show that the Katipunan’s third and final Supremo, Andrés Bonifacio (you read that right: he wasn’t the first), joined the Logia Taliba (No. 165) and from there imbibed his radical and anti-friar ideas. Bonifacio also joined Rizal’s Liga Filipina in 1892. The group was in fact a Masonic lodge in the making (or was it already?). These organizations, not to mention their members, were hardly Christian at all, if we are to view them from Catholic lenses.

La imagen puede contener: una persona

After the failure of the Liga Filipina and the arrest and deportation of Rizal to Dapitan, the campaign for peaceful reforms had hit the glass ceiling. Thus, an agitated and disenchanted Marcelo H. del Pilar, himself a high-ranking Mason and a rabid propagandista who had been on self-exile in Spain for years, wrote to his brother-in-law Deodato Arellano and urged the latter to form a much more radical and violent group to finally end Spain’s reign in Filipinas. Arellano thus gathered other members of the beleaguered Liga to form the Katipunan (yes, it was Arellano, and not Bonifacio, who founded the Katipunan as instigated by del Pilar).

When government forces discovered the existence of the Katipunan in late 1896, what happened next was bloodshed and the senseless killing and torture of innocent Spanish friars and other individuals who went against the Katipuneros’ 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. There was no national sentiment that supported the Katipunan rebellion against Spain (see “One Woman’s Liberating: The Life and Career of Estefanía Aldaba-Lim” by Nick Joaquín).

It should be noted in the preceding paragraph that the Katipunan was discovered by accident. Keep in mind that it was an underground organization. Simply put, the Katipunan was an ILLEGAL ASSOCIATION no matter how hard one tries to paint it with dainty colors of patriotism and love of country. One might say that it 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 martyrs of their delusional Bangsamoro. Should we consider them heroes too?

Mimicking the Katipunan’s belligerence towards lawful society, Senator Antonio “Sonny” Trillanes IV and his Samahang Magdalo did the same thing twice in the past against the administration of then 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 fought corruption and injustice, didn’t they?

Seeing now that the Katipunan was a bastard child of Freemasonry, the ancient enemy of the Christian religion, how in the world did Dr. Córpuz come up with the idea that the Katipunan was the first active embodiment of the Christian Filipino nation? The Katipuneros made incisions on their arms to sign membership papers using their own blood. They swore loyalty to the Katipunan in front of a human skull. They swore to kill even members of their families for the sake of the Katipunan’s secrecy. Where is Christianity in all that?

This is not to say that Bonifacio was an evil man; only God can judge whether he was or not in spite of the many friars he had shamed and ordered tortured and killed, and churches burned and desecrated. Going beyond the rebellion, we will never know much about his character for he was not as chronicled as Rizal. For all we know, Bonifacio could have been a virtuous man. But that is not the point. Whatever personal distinction he may have had was not the reason why we now have several monuments for him, nor was it the reason why we commemorate his birthday every November 30th.

On 16 February 1921, the Philippine Legislature, under the auspices of US Governor-General Francis Burton Harrison, enacted Act No. 2946 making November 30 of each year a legal holiday to commemorate the birth of Bonifacio. The holiday has since been known as Bonifacio Day, ultimately making the Katipunan a Filipino national hero.

But in view of the foregoing Masonic events surrounding Bonifacio and the Katipunan, especially from the lens of a Christian observer, should a Catholic still consider him a hero?

It is, of course, difficult to accept that Bonifacio should be removed from our pantheon of heroes. After all, we’ve been hearing about him even before we started going to school (I still remember clearly how my dear paternal grandmother —may she rest in peace— was teaching me how to recite that “Andrés Bonifacio / hatapang hatáo” mock poem when I was around three years old so that it would evoke in her a hearty laugh!). But isn’t it about time that we all start to think on our own instead of relying on years of spoon-fed artificial food? You will say, of course, that the Katipunan was formed as a reaction towards Spanish tyranny. But what tyranny to be exact? I’ve been hearing about this tyranny all my life yet no one could still point out accurately what exactly it was all about. What’s always been taught to us are hazy and hasty generalizations. Is there tyranny in the towns that Spain created for us? Was Spain tyrannical when it shipped to our country countless items (tomato, calendar, piano, wheat, books, polo, pantalón, chico, bougainvillea, violin, watermelon, guava, printing press, etc.) and concepts (chivalry, palabra de honor, philosophy, law, land ownership, Western art, age/birthday, Christianity, etc) that have made us what we are today — as Filipinos? We adore old mementos from our past (bahay na bató, traditions, etc.) and decry their dwindling number and alarming disappearance. But such mementos were from the hated Spanish period. So why bother saving and conserving them if they all come from such a tyrannical era?

We all miss our grandfathers who used to bring us to Church on Sundays and carry us on their shoulders so that we’d be able to see saints’ processions from right above a thick crowd; we all miss our grandmothers who never tire praying the rosary day and night. All these are vestiges from that tyrannical period. Why bother missing them at all?

Spain virtually created this country. We wouldn’t be having Luzón, Visayas, and Mindanáo today if not for Spain. What kind of tyranny is that? Numerous tribes (the politically correct will tell me it should be called ethnolinguistic instead) such as the Tagálogs, the Visayans, the Bicolanos, etc. were united under one language (Spanish), under one government, under one faith (Roman Catholicism) so as to keep us one, so that we will no longer be at war against each other. We were given schools (escuelas pías, Universidad de Santo Tomás, etc.). Pray, tell, where is the tyranny in that?

This is not to say that all Spanish officials and even friars during the Empire days were all good and just. No, of course not. But that is not the point. The point here is what untold promises did Freemasonry inspire upon Rizal and del Pilar to rebel, and for Bonifacio and his band of Katipuneros to rise against civil society. “For the sake of freedom”, is the usual answer. But what freedom did violence bring? No wonder the late Fidel Castro was both hated and loved by his people. The support for and against him is heavily polarized to this day.

We have had so much distrust towards our government. From Ferdinand Marcos all the way to President Rodrigo Duterte. Shouldn’t we all follow the Katipuneros of old and organize stealth groups to undermine the present government, all for the sake of freedom?

If I will use the hashtag #NotAHero, it would be appropriate to attach it to that Masonically misled man from Tondo whose birthday we methodically commemorate today, because instead of thinking something that would have truly helped and uplifted the lives of the unfortunate Filipino masses of his time —by establishing something such as the Kadiwa Public Market, for instance— Bonifacio brought instead bloodshed which led not only to his own death but also to the downfall of what Spain had strongly forged for more than three centuries.

And if I may add: no, he was not our country’s first president. Don’t even start with me.

So what makes a hero? ¿Mag-rebelde ca lang, bayani ca na caagád? At capág nasa poder ca at nilabanan mo ang isáng rebelión, ¿masamá ca ná?

Follow me on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram!

Yorme Iskô, ¡mabuhay ca!

Alarmantemente estamos perdiendo gran parte de los recuerdos de nuestro país. Me refiero a nuestro patrimonio, tanto tangible como intangible. Y esto me deprime todos los días. Pero el Señor Alcalde Francisco “Iskô” Domagoso Moreno de Manila me da esperanza. Me inspira a ser un mejor filipino. Me inspira a no renunciar a luchar por la supervivencia de los recuerdos de nuestro país.

 

We are alarmingly losing much of our country’s memories. I am talking about our heritage, both tangible and intangible. And this depresses me every day. But Manila Mayor Isko Moreno gives me hope. He inspires me to be a better Filipino. He inspires me never to give up fighting for the survival of our country’s memories.

¡MABUHAY CA, YORME ISKÓ MORENO! ¡Nauáy palagui cang pagpaláin at gabayán ng Pañginoóng Dios! 😇

¡Síganme en FacebookTwitter, e Instagram!

Jones Bridge: a November to remember

My memories of Jones Bridge were always bleak, more so because of its decrepit state than for anything else. I’ve been crossing it since I was a kid because I used to live in nearby Tondo at my mom’s place. I’ve always known the bridge to be dirty and grimy, and that the only best way to cross it was to be inside a vehicle rather than use its very narrow sidewalks. Of course it didn’t always look that way. But that’s how I already saw it growing up, having been born decades after the war. There is much nostalgia over it among heritage advocates, but that’s just about it. There was no intent to bring it back to its early 20th-century glory.

The first and last time that I crossed that bridge together with my wife and kids was five years ago, right after visiting the beleaguered El Hogar Filipino Building. It was towards the end of November. We were inside a jeepney on our way home. The bridge looked slovenly, and street urchins were everywhere. My wife Yeyette’s necklace was almost even snatched by one of them!

Incidentally, exactly a year ago today, I happened to pass by the bridge on foot. While the bridge was newly painted at that time, it still looked drab with a lifeless feel to it.

La imagen puede contener: noche, cielo y exterior

For the past several weeks, Jones Bridge has been on the news because of a massive overhaul. Using a ₱20-million donation from the Filipino-Chinese Chambers of Commerce and Industry, Mayor Isko Moreno is hell-bent of bringing it back to its former glory, as he has been doing to the rest of Manila’s remaining heritage sites.

And now, as I type these words, Yorme Isko (as he is popularly known) is leading the celebration of the bridge’s reinaugural rites and lighting. At last I have a happier November to remember this bridge for!

Imagen

Photo: Ed Salamat.

Imagen

Photo: Ed Salamat.

Imagen

Photo: Ed Salamat.

Imagen

Photo: Ed Salamat.

La imagen puede contener: 4 personas, personas de pie y exterior

Photo: Ed Salamat.

Photo: Ed Salamat.

La Madre Filipina. Photo: Ed Salamat.

Photo: Ed Salamat.

Photo: Ed Salamat.

Photo: Ed Salamat.

Now, with a new mayor at the helm, things are looking bright for this historic bridge. And not just for this bridge but for the whole city of Manila as well. Thank God he won in the last elections.

¡Enhorabuena, Ciudad de Manila! ¡Muchas gracias, Señor Alcalde Isko Moreno! ¡Pagpaláin po cayó ng Pañginoón! 😇

Follow me on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram!

Hoy en la Historia de Filipinas: se establece el Surian ng Wikang Pambansa

No hay ninguna descripción de la foto disponible.

HOY EN LA HISTORIA DE FILIPINAS: 13 de noviembre de 1936 — Se establece el Surian ng Wikang Pambansa (Instituto de la Lengua Nacional). Se le encomendó elegir el idioma nativo de Filipinas que se utilizaría como base del idioma nacional. En 1937, el Surian, bajo su primer director Jaime C. de Veyra, recomendó que el tagalo sea adoptado como lengua nacional. Así, en 1940, el Surian publicó dos libros: una gramática y diccionario oficial conocido como el “Balarila ng Wikang Pambansa” (Gramática del Lenguaje Nacional) escrito por Lope K. Santos, y el “Tagalog-English Vocabulary” (Vocabulario Tagalo-Inglés).

Deseaba el Surian a contribuir no sólo al desarrollo de la lengua nacional (tagalo) sino también al desarrollo de la literatura y la crítica literaria a través de la publicación de trabajos críticos, la entrega de premios anuales en poesía y ensayo, y la celebración de foros, simposios, y seminarios.

En 1987, en virtud de la Orden Ejecutiva N° 117, el Surian se convirtió en el “Linangan nga mga Wika sa Pilipinas” (Instituto de Lenguas Filipinas). En agosto de 1991, se volvió a transformar en Komisyon sa Wikang Filipino (Comisión de la Lengua Filipina) mediante la Ley de la República Nº 7104 (implementada en 1992). El Komisyon fue encargada de realizar, coordinar, y promover investigaciones para el desarrollo, la propagación, y la preservación de Filipino y otras lenguas filipinas nativas. El presidente actual es Virgilio Almario, Artista Nacional para la Literatura (2003).

Con la elevación de la lengua tagala como una lengua nacional, se puede decir sin temor a equivocarse que el Surian ng Wikang Pambansa que hoy en día se llama Komisyon sa Wikang Filipino fue uno de los factores que contribuyeron a la muerte de la lengua española en Filipinas.

Our country’s history and identity are in Spanish

Flag of Cross of Burgundy.svg

La Cruz de Borgoña, our first flag.

The history of our country was documented in Spanish. Let me briefly count the ways…

The forging of our islands into one nation was done in Spanish, from the day it was founded to the day it was defended from rebels. The writers who asked for reforms from Mother Spain wrote in Spanish. The proclamation of our independence was read out in Spanish. Our first constitution (Constitución de Malolos) was written entirely in Spanish. The deliberations of our first congress (Congreso de Malolos) were in Spanish. The official decrees and correspondences of our first president (Emilio Aguinaldo) and first prime minister (Apolinario Mabini) were in Spanish. Our newspapers that fought against the US invaders were in Spanish. Our poets who decried US colonization (Claro M. Recto, Cecilio Apóstol, Jesús Balmori, Fernando Mª Guerrero, etc.) wrote their anti-imperialist verses only in Spanish. THE LYRICS OF OUR NATIONAL ANTHEM WERE ORIGINALLY IN SPANISH.

José Rizal’s final love letter to all of us was written in Spanish.

Think about it.

2019 Seal of Good Local Governance (Region IV-A)

Congratulations are in the offing to the winners of this year’s 2019 Seal of Good Local Governance (SGLG) for CALABARZON (Region IV-A). It is an award given annually by the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) to outstanding local government units (LGU).

But what exactly is the SGLG all about? The DILG Region IV-A’s official Facebook account has a succinct explanation:

The SGLG is a progressive assessment system that gives LGUs distinction for their remarkable performance across various governance areas such as Financial Administration, Disaster Preparedness, Social Protection, Peace and Order, Business-Friendliness and Competitiveness, Environmental Management, and Tourism, Culture and the Arts.

La imagen puede contener: texto

Out of all the cited LGUs on October 17, two are close to my heart: San Pedro Tunasán in La Laguna and Imus in Cavite. San Pedro Tunasán (simply known today as the City of San Pedro) is where my family has been living for the past fifteen years. I was once its consultant for historical, cultural, and tourism affairs as well as its historical researcher from 1 December 2015 to 12 July 2017. On the other hand, I’ve been with Imus as history consultant as well as a translator of their Spanish-era documents from 9 November 2016 up to the present.

But in citing favorites, I cannot exclude Santa Rosa and nearby Biñán, both of which are also in La Laguna Province. Santa Rosa almost never fails to invite me whenever its historic Cuartel de Santo Domingo holds an important event, and for that I am truly grateful. As for Biñán… well, let me just put it this way: I have something exciting cooking up with its LGU, and I’d rather keep mum about it for now. Because the last time I got too talkative with a historical project, it only went up in smoke, haha. 😞😂

It is interesting to note that both San Pedro Tunasán and Imus are consistent recipients of various DILG awards. Having said that, congratulations to Mayor Baby Catáquiz and Mayor Manny Maliksí (including their respective teams) for a job well done! Congratulations as well to all the other LGUs for this citation! May your tribes increase throughout the archipelago!

Click here for the complete list of awardees nationwide.

¡A Dios sea toda la gloria y la honra!

 

50% administrator, 50% politician

I’ve been long cynical against politics, until I met Mayor Calixto R. Catáquiz, the beloved former chief magistrate of San Pedro Tunasán, La Laguna and the architect of its cityhood (now known as the City of San Pedro, Laguna Province). It was he who opened my eyes that politics cannot be all that bad, and that there is more to it than what we usually hear from the news. A businessman first before he got involved in politics, Mayor Calex’s strategy of being a “50% administrator and 50% politician” worked wonders for the congested former municipality. In 1995, for instance, he was able to raise the coffers of the municipal treasury from ₱6.41 million to a staggering amount of ₱70 million. This, despite the lack of industrial sites.
Critics and other cynics will of course easily shrug him off as just another traditional político. But Mayor Calex cannot be categorized as such. A born realist, the soft-spoken mayor’s honesty during private conversations will stagger his listeners. His matter-of-factly manner of sharing his political ups and downs will elicit surprise, laughter, and tears. His biography is not just about the story of his life and political career but also the story of San Pedro’s journey from a mere rural municipality to a bustling city.

Lunch at Bricx Café & Bistro Bar. Mayor Calex holds the draft of his biography.

I’ve been chronicling his life story for more than ten years already. Finally, it’s done! It is now on its final stages of review, and will be edited soon by his friend, veteran journalist Chit Lijauco. Another friend, multi-awarded photographer George Tapan, will take care of photography and the book cover. God willing, Mayor Calex’s biography will be published and launched sometime next year, just in time to wrap-up our city’s Road Map 2020, a long-term development plan that was conceptualized and launched in 2010.
If my other writing gigs will not prosper soon, then Mayor Calex’s biography might just well become my second book after 2017’s “Captain Remo: The Young Hero“.

¡A Dios sea toda la gloria y la honra!