Another win for built heritage

Enough of bad news even if just for a short while. Let’s have some good news from renowned heritage advocate, Arch. Joel Vivero Rico…

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With the above-mentioned revision of the demolition permit application, heritage buildings, including those that are over 50 years old, have a stronger fighting chance against wanton demolitions. According to Arch. Rico, he submitted a letter to President Rodrigo Duterte early this year for the possible revision of the current demolition permit form that is used nationwide by the Office of the Building Official (a local government unit division).

It should be noted that the current form does not have any provision for non-issuance if the applied structure for demolition is already old or is architecturally significant. In short, there is almost no hassle at all in demolishing any old structure, even it if it’s culturally and historically relevant. But Arch. Rico’s draft explicitly refers the application to any of the three cultural agencies involved (the National Commission for Culture and the Arts, the National Museum of the Philippines, and the National Historical Commission of the Philippines) for verification or rejection of the application subject to the provisions of Republic Act No. 10066 or the “National Cultural Heritage Act of 2009”.

Clearly, this is another win for the conservation of our country’s built heritage. Congratulations to the parties involved, most especially to Arch. Joel Vivero Rico. May your tribe increase!

For now, let us wait for the next move coming from the President and his allies in Congress.

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Father’s Day today?

They say it’s Father’s Day today. I say, “no way”.

For us Filipinos, the real Father’s Day (Día del Padre) should be commemorated every March 19th. Our forefathers knew this. It was the US neocolonialist pigs who subtly imposed the modern-day commemoration of Father’s Day every 3rd Sunday of June for commercial purposes: to sell greeting cards, items that fathers’ love (such as tools, electronics, and other similar gadgets), special promos in restaurants, discounts in resorts, and the like. In short, today’s celebration of Father’s Day (and Mother’s Day) is BASED ON PROFITEERING whereas the real Filipino celebration of Father’s Day is SPIRITUAL (feast of Saint Joseph, the adoptive father of Our Lord Jesus Christ and the patron saint of fathers).

The Father’s Day that Filipinos celebrate today has its origins from the Young Men’s Christian Association (YMCA) in Spokane, Washington. Sonora Smart Dodd, daughter of a US Civil War veteran, was inspired by a sermon from Anna Jarvis who was promoting Mother’s Day the year before, in 1909. Dodd then thought of a noble idea to honor fathers as well. And she was doubly inspired because her dad was a single parent who raised six children on his own. She then suggested to a pastor in the YMCA to organize a Father’s Day celebration that will complement Jarvis’s Mother’s Day. Dodd initially suggested to hold the very first Father’s Day celebration on June 5, on her father’s birthday. However, YMCA pastors did not have enough time to prepare their sermons, so it was decided that they celebrate Father’s Day two Sundays later: on June 19, 1910. That date was the third Sunday of the month. Since then, it has become a tradition to hold Father’s Day every third Sunday of June.

Unlike Jarvis’s Mother’s Day, Dodd’s concept did not become a huge hit on its first few years. She even stopped promoting it to pursue further studies in Chicago, Illinois during the 1920s. A decade later, she returned to Spokane and revived Father’s Day, with the motive of raising awareness at a national level. Interestingly, she received help from trade groups who were thinking of other opportunities: profit. These trade groups had interests in the manufacturing of ties, tobacco pipes, and other typical items that would be of interest for fathers. Hungry for profit, they worked hard in order to make Father’s Day the “Second Christmas’ for all the men’s gift-oriented industries” (See Leigh Eric Schmidt’s CONSUMER RITES The Buying and Selling of American Holidays. NJ, USA: Princeton University Press, 1995, pp. 256-292).

Both Jarvis and Dodd’s objectives were simple and noble: to honor parents. But their noble vision was buried by commercialization which still pervades to this very day. All in the name of US imperialism. So why do we Filipinos have to identify ourselves with something that is not ours, that is not us?

I am a Filipino. Soy filipino. Not a little brown Kanô.

Originally published in FILIPINO eSCRIBBLES, with minor edits.

Why we should not celebrate Philippine Independence Day

Every year on this day we celebrate our independence from colonialists (particularly Spain). But are we really independent from a foreign power?

The answer is in the negative. The truth is, the Philippines has never been independent. Never was, never is.

As I have contended many times, the Philippines is a Spanish creation. For good or for worse, without the Spanish conquest of this oriental archipelago which we now claim to be our own, there would have been no Philippines to talk about. Thus, the Spanish conquest should not be considered as days of colonialism (in the Spanish context, colonialism is different from its English counterpart).

What happened on that fateful day of 12 June 1898 was borne out of a Tagálog rebellion led by Andrés Bonifacio and his band of Katipuneros. Emilio Aguinaldo, after suffering defeat from the hands of both Spanish and Filipino troops a year before (which culminated in the controversial Pacto de Biac-na-Bató), sought the help and support of his brother US Masons while in Hong Kong. He was, in effect, preparing for another showdown against the Philippine government (a clear violation of the pact which he had agreed to). It is implied, therefore, that during his stay in Hong Kong Aguinaldo had learned the rudiments of democracy and republicanism (something that an unschooled person could never learn overnight), and he planned to install these Masonic ideals once Christian monarchy falls in the Philippines. Several days after the US invasion of the Philippines (commonly known as the Battle of Manila Bay), Aguinaldo returned from exile, interestingly aboard a US dispatch-boat. And then a month later, on 12 June 1898, he unabashedly proclaimed the independence of the whole country despite the fact that the Spanish authorities have never given up the seat of power. This premature independence declaration was pushed through because Aguinaldo thought that he had the powerful backing of the US. This is evident enough in the declaration of independence itself:

…los Estados Unidos de la América del Norte, como manifestación de nuestro profundo agradecimiento hacia esta Gran Nación por la desinteresada protección que nos presta…

That makes the independence declaration a hollow one. It is as if we could not become independent of our own accord if not for the assistance of another country. And to make things worse, the Aguinaldo government was never recognized by both the Spanish and US authorities nor was it recognized by the international community of nations. His presidency was not even recognized by the whole country. Filipinos outside the Tagálog regions, although they were (or could be) aware of the political turmoil that has been happening in the capital since 1896, could not have known nor heard about the independence declaration in Cauit (Kawit). And would have they supported it?

Definitely not.

This is unknown to many Filipinos today: in the siege of Aguinaldo (which culminated in the aforementioned Pact of Biac na Bató), both Spanish and Filipino troops united to defeat the Tagalog rebellion. And that defeat was celebrated in Manila afterwards.

It is more correct that what we should commemorate every 12th of June is not Independence Day per se but the declaration of our independence, an independence that never was.

To his credit, Aguinaldo tried hard to legitimize that independence declaration by sending emissaries to the Treaty of Paris. But the Philippine delegation was not accepted there. And following the events of 12 June, Aguinaldo belatedly realized the inevitable: that the US did help him, but at a cost: our nation itself was to become their first milking cow. In short, he was double-crossed by those he thought were his allies.

After a brief but bloody tumult (World War II), the US finally granted us on 4 July 1946 what we thought was our full independence. But in exchange for that independence, we had to agree to the notorious Bell Trade Act of 1946; among other unfair clauses in that act, it forever pegged the Philippine peso to the US dollar. That date (which is also the date of the US’ independence from the British colonials) had been celebrated until 1962 when then President Diosdado Macapagal put back 12 June on the calendar of Philippine holidays. According to some nationalists, Macapagal believed that the Philippines was already independent from Spain since 12 June, and that the US simply did not respect our autonomy from the Spaniards. But in doing so it only paved the way for more hispanophobia, making Filipinos of today hate our Spanish past even more.

It is becoming common knowledge —especially in recent times— that the independence granted to us by the US (the real colonials) was nothing more but a hollow declaration written on cheap paper. In a stricter sense, we are no longer a colony of the US, but we are still under their mantle — through neocolonialism, the new evil. The Philippines has never been independent. Never was, never is. But will it ever be?

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Originally posted in the now defunct FILIPINO eSCRIBBLES; later condensed and included in the textbook “Language in Literature” published by Vibal Publishing House, Inc.

Facebook outage: a perfect time to reflect

How soon is soon?

Facebook (together with its subsidiaries Instagram and WhatsApp) has been experiencing technical problems for the past several hours. Nobody knows for sure the exact reason for the outage, but it’s been trending on Twitter worldwide (makes me wonder if rival Blue Bird is enjoying the moment).

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While Facebook has experienced several outages in the past, this downtime, I think, is the worst. I first noticed it a few minutes past midnight (Manila time) because of the Twitter trends. I tried logging in, but couldn’t. Now it’s almost lunchtime as of this writing, but there’s no news yet on when things would go back to normal. And there’s no specific update from Facebook; the site only says that they “will be back soon”. It’s a wild guess if they’re doing some sort of maintenance, or if their site has really been compromised. To my observation, this is the longest outage in the history of the world’s most famous social networking service company.

I am particularly concerned with the countless photos and videos I’ve uploaded there through the years. If things go out of hand (hopefully not), then those images are gone for good. Too bad I haven’t kept any back up. But I’m sure I’m not the only one. Photo albums are fast becoming obsolete. Even CDs for that matter. All photos that are shot and videos that are recorded are immediately uploaded and shared to various online platforms, with Facebook and YouTube in the lead. In today’s digital reality, where everything has to be higher, further, faster (with apologies to Carol Danvers), what’s the need for photo albums and CDs?

And then there’s instant messaging, particularly Facebook Messenger. Not too long ago, emails have rivaled snail mail. Today, Facebook Messenger and other similar messaging apps provided the death blow to conventional postal delivery. While some post offices still exist, they are there mainly because of the actions of heritage activist groups who fight not only for the conservation of built heritage but also for love of nostalgia.

Online platforms, or the Internet for that matter, have become a boon for many. It has made life easier, comfortable, and even entertaining. It has connected people and businesses in a way that has never been imagined a century ago. We might even say that it has become an integral part of our daily lives to the point that we can no longer live without Internet connection (I could just imagine how stressed out many people are today because of this #FacebookDown problem). But while all this can be considered a blessing, it has become a curse to some. Including myself.

I guess I have to confess this now: I’ve been suffering from Internet addiction disorder for several months already. No psychiatrist has confirmed this to me, but I’ve been doing some research on my own. The symptoms are there: lack of sleep (on top of years of working the night shift), complex regional pain syndrome, and compulsive Internet use to the point that I could no longer enjoy a book like I used to. I couldn’t even finish reading online articles. Halfway through an article, I click on another link. Upon going home, I’d rather watch an online video rather than read or write. My attention span has become short. There is always the impulse to go online.

I do understand that there is still an inconsistent definition of the said disorder mainly because many people today really had to be online due to various legitimate reasons: business, communication exchange, etc. But I am my own mind and body. I know when there’s something wrong with me or not.

I know what’s wrong with me, but I have yet to find a cure for it. So far, the only thing I could think of is a ten-letter word that begins with a D and ends with an E, something Filipinos are notorious for having the lack of it.

Today’s Facebook outage is a good time to reflect on how we use and abuse our Internet connectivity. May we all experience an outage of Internet impulsiveness within ourselves from time to time.

Captain Remo

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Abelardo Remoquillo (1922-1945), known among his peers, war enemies, and admirers as “Captain Remo”, was a young guerrillero from San Pedro Tunasán, La Laguna (simply known today as the City of San Pedro, Laguna) who fought against the Japanese Imperial Army during World War II. He is known only as a local hero. But I contend that he be declared a national hero. Why? At a very young age, he joined the Hunters ROTC guerrillas not to defend his hometown but to help defend his country. He fought against the invaders from different fronts of Southern Luzón and even participated in the famous Raid at Los Baños.
 
He died not in San Pedro Tunasán but in faraway Bay, La Laguna while attacking a Japanese garrison.
 
When he joined the Hunters ROTC, that is when his being a San Pedrense ended, and the exact moment when he completed his being a Filipino, a Filipino warrior to be exact.
 
Today is his 74th death anniversary.

Copies of my bilingual biography* of Captain Remo are still available at the San Pedro City Hall. For inquiries, please contact the San Pedro Tourism, Culture, and Arts Office.

*The Tagálog translation is by Linda Sietereales. Her dear friend, famous novelist Lualhati Bautista, has a blurb for the book. This book is a project of the San Pedro City Historical Council headed by Mayor Lourdes Catáquiz.

2019 for the win!

At the start of every year we always ask ourselves, “what’s in store for me this year?” I’m sure many of you asked poor 2019 about it when it has not even lasted a full day yet. But didn’t it even occur to you that it is us who create our own destiny? A year is not like a box filled with all of life’s goodies. A year is not a sentient being. We should not liken life to a calendar year. While life may be a box filled with chocolates, a year is an empty box. And we have an obligation to fill it up. Therefore, it is good ‘ol 2019 who should ask us instead:

“What are you gonna fill me up with?”

A year is just a number. But with our own perseverance and faith in God, we have the capability to make it come alive. Don’t falter whenever you encounter bad-tasting chocolates; that is part of life which Forrest Gump’s mom failed to tell him. Just spit it out and move on. As we say in Spanish: así es la vida.

So let us make 2019 a meaningful one. ¡Feliz Año Nuevo! And may God bless and guide us all!

Rizal Day trivia: “Mi Último Adiós

RIZAL DAY TRIVIA: José Rizal’s valedictory poem had no title. It was his friend and fellow propagandist Mariano Ponce who first gave it a title a year after his death. It was first called “Mi Último Pensamiento“, but it didn’t become popular. Then the following year, in 1898, Ponce’s Mi Último Pensamiento was replaced by “Mi Último Adiós“. The new title, this time ascribed by Ilocano priest Fr. Mariano Dacanay, first appeared in the patriotic newspaper “La Independencia” which was edited by Antonio Luna.

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¡Adiós, Patria adorada, región del sol querida,
Perla del mar de oriente, nuestro perdido Edén!
A darte voy alegre la triste mustia vida,
Y fuera más brillante, más fresca, más Florida,
También por ti la diera, la diera por tu bien.

En campos de batalla, luchando con delirio,
Otros te dan sus vidas sin dudas, sin pesar;
El sitio nada importa, ciprés, laurel o lirio,
Cadalso o campo abierto, combate o cruel martirio,
Lo mismo es si lo piden la patria y el hogar.

Yo muero cuando veo que el cielo se colora
Y al fin anuncia el día tras lóbrego capuz;
si grana necesitas para teñir tu aurora,
Vierte la sangre mía, derrámala en buen hora
Y dórela un reflejo de su naciente luz.

Mis sueños cuando apenas muchacho adolescente,
Mis sueños cuando joven ya lleno de vigor,
Fueron el verte un día, joya del mar de oriente,
Secos los negros ojos, alta la tersa frente,
Sin ceño, sin arrugas, sin manchas de rubor

Ensueño de mi vida, mi ardiente vivo anhelo,
¡Salud te grita el alma que pronto va a partir!
¡Salud! Ah, que es hermoso caer por darte vuelo,
Morir por darte vida, morir bajo tu cielo,
Y en tu encantada tierra la eternidad dormir.

Si sobre mi sepulcro vieres brotar un día
Entre la espesa yerba sencilla, humilde flor,
Acércala a tus labios y besa al alma mía,
Y sienta yo en mi frente bajo la tumba fría,
De tu ternura el soplo, de tu hálito el calor.

Deja a la luna verme con luz tranquila y suave,
Deja que el alba envíe su resplandor fugaz,
Deja gemir al viento con su murmullo grave,
Y si desciende y posa sobre mi cruz un ave,
Deja que el ave entone su cántico de paz.

Deja que el sol, ardiendo, las lluvias evapore
Y al cielo tornen puras, con mi clamor en pos;
Deja que un ser amigo mi fin temprano llore
Y en las serenas tardes cuando por mí alguien ore,
¡Ora también, oh Patria, por mi descanso a Dios!

Ora por todos cuantos murieron sin ventura,
Por cuantos padecieron tormentos sin igual,
Por nuestras pobres madres que gimen su amargura;
Por huérfanos y viudas, por presos en tortura
Y ora por ti que veas tu redención final.

Y cuando en noche oscura se envuelva el cementerio
Y solos sólo muertos queden velando allí,
No turbes su reposo, no turbes el misterio,
Tal vez accordes oigas de cítara o salterio,
Soy yo, querida Patria, yo que te canto a ti.

Y cuando ya mi tumba de todos olvidada
No tenga cruz ni piedra que marquen su lugar,
Deja que la are el hombre, la esparza con la azada,
Y mis cenizas, antes que vuelvan a la nada,
El polvo de tu alfombra que vayan a formar.

Entonces nada importa me pongas en olvido.
Tu atmósfera, tu espacio, tus valles cruzaré.
Vibrante y limpia nota seré para tu oído,
Aroma, luz, colores, rumor, canto, gemido,
Constante repitiendo la esencia de mi fe.

Mi patria idolatrada, dolor de mis dolores,
Querida Filipinas, oye el postrer adiós.
Ahí te dejo todo, mis padres, mis amores.
Voy donde no hay esclavos, verdugos ni opresores,
Donde la fe no mata, donde el que reina es Dios.

Adiós, padres y hermanos, trozos del alma mía,
Amigos de la infancia en el perdido hogar,
Dad gracias que descanso del fatigoso día;
Adiós, dulce extranjera, mi amiga, mi alegría,
Adiós, queridos seres, morir es descansar.

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