What you should know about Graciano López Jaena

If one is to read Rizal’s Noli Me Tangere in the original Spanish, he would be surprised how the country’s foremost national hero described the infamous Padre Dámaso:

Sin embargo de que sus cabellos empezaban á encanecer, parecía conservarse bien su robusta naturaleza. Sus correctas facciones, su mirada poco tranquilizadora, sus anchas quijadas y hercúleas formas le daban el aspecto de un patricio romano disfrazado, y, sin quererlo, os acordaréis de uno de aquellos tres monjes de que habla Heine en sus Dioses en el destierro…

(My translation: “But while his hair was beginning to gray, his robust nature seemed to be well preserved. His correct features, his quite reassuring look, his wide jaws and herculean forms, gave him the appearance of a Roman patrician in disguise, and, unwittingly, you will remember one of those three monks that Heine speaks of in his ‘Gods in Exile’…”)

La imagen puede contener: una o varias personas

In case you don’t know how Roman patricians looked like (image: Brewminate).

So where did popular culture get the idea that the poor Franciscan was a balding, bloated, pot-bellied friar?

Many history buffs agree that today’s visual image of Padre Dámaso was culled from an (insane) story written by an eighteen-year-old Ilongo by the name of Graciano López Jaena who, early in his career as an aspiring político in Madrid, once declared that he was a Spaniard more than a Filipino (no wonder he was wont to prominently feature his mother’s last name; the Spanish way of writing one’s full name is to end it always with the maternal surname).

López Jaena, whose birth anniversary is commemorated today (birthdate: 18 December 1856) in his hometown of Jaro, Iloílo and elsewhere where he is still highly esteemed, wrote a story titled “Fray Botod” which in his native Hiligaynón literally means a big-bellied friar. This is how he described his story’s “protagonist”:

Baja estatura; cara abogatada en forma de disco cual luna llena. Pómulos atomatados. Gruesos labios y pronunciados; ojos chiquititos, picarescos y gatunos; nariz grande, abermellado,* de alas anchas y desplegadas, por eso olfatea á distancia como un perdiguero. Cabello amaizado, corona tabo** con cerquillo. Frente deprimida y arrugada marcanda ceño sombrío y adusto. Abdomen; sobre todo, su abdomen llama la atención por su mostruoso desarrollo, es más promontorio que abdomen, porque termina en punta cerca ombligo; la región pelviana y la pectoral coinciden en el mismo plano perpendicular determinado una curvatura central de la columna vertebral. Añádase á todo esto, un cuello corto sobre donde descansa aquella original fisonomía y tenéis acabado el retrato de cuerpo entero.

(My translation: “Of short stature with a flattened, disc-shaped face like that of a full moon. Stuck cheekbones. Thick and pronounced lips. Tiny eyes, picaresque and feline. Large nose, reddish,* with wide and unfolded wings: that is why from a distance he sniffs like a gun dog. Rich hair whose tabo-shaped** crown has bangs. Depressed and wrinkled forehead marks a gloomy and grim frown. And the abdomen —his abdomen, above all— attracts attention because of its showy development, it is more promontory than the rest because it ends at a point near the navel. The pelvic and pectoral region coincide in the same perpendicular plane with a central curvature of the spine. Add to all this is a short neck on which that original physiognomy rests, and you will have his full-length portrait.”)

*Abermellado is not even Spanish. It is Galician, a language spoken in northwestern Spain. It is a mystery as to how López Jaena got hold of that word. Perhaps at an early age he was already a Hispanophile?
**Tabo is a filipinismo, meaning that it is a Filipino word that has been incorporated into the Spanish language. A tabo pertains to the ubiquitous water dipper.

Take note, he was only eighteen when he wrote this hilarious caricature of a Spanish friar. He was virtually a kid. And his Spanish, although rich in imagery, cannot even be considered literary gold.

One wonders as to how López Jaena was influenced by anticlericalism at such young an age (he joined Freemasonry at a much later time in his life, when he was already 26), but it can be gleaned that opposition to religious authority was already in ferment during his youth. Many (Hispanophobic!) historians will readily point out that this belligerent attitude toward the “repressive” Spanish friars was the starting point of his heroism. Debatable, of course.

Now going back to his political plans… what do you make of this declaration of his to Rizal, in a letter dated 15 October 1891?

Ciertamente, si quiero ser diputado en España, es para satisfacer ambiciones personales, nada más; no tengo la pretensión de dar por mi investidura de diputado, derechos ni libertades á Filípínas, ella tíene que conquístarlos con su sangre, lo mismo que su independencia.

(My translation: “Certainly, if I want to become a deputy in Spain, it is to satisfy personal ambitions, nothing more. For my investiture as deputy, I do not intend to give rights or liberties to Filipinas. She has to conquer them with her blood, as well as her independence.”)

His colleagues, most prominently José Alejandrino among them, described his lifestyle in Spain as rather Bohemian: he was a strange fellow who loved to give impromptu speeches just for the heck of it (many of the things he said were just figments of his fertile imagination), who would rather spend more time in cafés just to while away time rather than write articles with his fellow propagandistas (they literally had to bribe him with spending money just to write). He, too, was perhaps the original “dugyót” (which means a slovenly person) as he rarely took a bath, who preferred eating sardines with his bare hands, then wiping his oily fingers on his seldomly washed clothes.

Curiously enough, Jaena rhymes with the English word hyena which is a carnivore known for its filthy and mangy behavior as a scavenger. Just a thought. 😂

There’s your hero, the one and only Graciano López Hyena! So aside from greeting him a happy birthday today, you might as well thank him too for fighting for your liberty.***

***An example of a sarcastic remark. Anyway, follow me on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram!

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.

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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?

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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! 😇

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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.

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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!

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Photo: Ed Salamat.

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Photo: Ed Salamat.

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Photo: Ed Salamat.

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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! 😇

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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.

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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!