Barangay Ginebra in Filipino History

Photo from PBA Images

Photo: Rappler.

Last Friday night, all roads led to the Philippine Arena in Bocaue, Bulacán when Barangay Ginebra San Miguel, the country’s most popular basketball team, successfully defeated Meralco Bolts, 101-96, in Game 7 of the Philippine Basketball Association’s (PBA) 2017 Governors’ Cup finals. There were 54,086 screaming fans, making the event an all-time attendance high for the PBA (and the second most-attended event at the Philippine Arena, next to “Eat Bulaga!: Sa Tamang Panahon” which featured AlDub). Two days later, the country is still euphoric over the win.

Incidentally, last Friday night’s championship was a rematch of last year’s Governor’s Cup wherein both PBA ball clubs found themselves also as finalists. Ginebra also won that conference in four games against Meralco’s two wins. A few days after that game, GMA Network’s Kapuso Mo, Jessica Soho had a feature segment about Ginebra’s championship win. Soho was able to capture the festive mood of Filipinos who went into a frenzy when their favorite team had won. Such joy reminds Filipino sports fans of those exciting days when news of then rising star Manny Pacquiáo emerged victorious over Mexican pugilists abroad.

This, my friends, is called the “Barangay Ginebra Phenomenon”.

I have always been baffled by this basketball team’s huge popularity. Sometimes I wonder if it has something to do with Robert S. Jaworski, Sr., the legendary playing-coach who once donned a Ginebra jersey for years. More likely, yes. His exciting game plays and “never say die” attitude infected not only his teammates but also their huge fan base during Ginebra’s early years. But he’s already retired a long time ago. The Chicago Bulls’ popularity dwindled when Michael Jordan left. But this never happened to Barangay Ginebra San Miguel when the Big J retired.

Then I realized something else: could this so-called Ginebra Phenomenon have something to do with historical memory?

Remember that the product that this hugely popular basketball team represents is Ginebra San Miguel, the world-famous fiery gin which was originally produced by the “Destilería y Licorería de Ayala y Compañía” (Distillery and Liquor Store of Ayala & Co.), now known as Ayala Corporation. The Destilería, located in Quiapò, Manila, was the first distillery in the country. It introduced their trademark gin in 1834 during the reign of Governor-General Pasqual Enrile y Alcedo, or 27 years before José Rizal’s birth. The Manila-Acapulco Galleon Trade has already ended two decades prior. It was also a time when Filipinas was already enjoying its first lottery games.

During the Tagálog rebellion of the 1890s, it’s interesting to note that the Katipuneros used “cajas de ginebra” (gin boxes or cases) to surreptitiously transport their weapons from the prying eyes of government troops. One could just imagine where the bottles of Ginebra went. 

Sometime during the 1910s, renowned artist Fernando Amorsolo designed the “marca demonio” (usually called “marcáng demonio“) product label for the gin brand which is still in use today. Amorsolo later on became our country’s first ever National Artist.

In 1929, the Destilería was acquired by “La Tondeña” (The Tondo Girl). Then in 1987, the San Miguel Corporation, another Spanish-era conglomerate, acquired a 70% stake in La Tondeña and renamed it as La Tondeña Distillers, Inc. It underwent another name change, Ginebra San Miguel, Inc. and became a publicly listed corporation. Since 2012, Ginebra San Miguel has become the largest-selling gin in the world.

No automatic alt text available.

Source unknown.

Through the years, Ginebra San Miguel has made its mark as a Filipino icon, becoming as Filipino as the sampaguita and the Santo Niño. And this reverence for the product has somehow been transported to the PBA where it became a phenomenon since 1985. No other PBA team, not even the San Miguel Beermen, could lay claim to such historical parallelisms as only Barangay Ginebra San Miguel can. Fans happily call themselves “Barangay Ginebra”, barangay being our country’s smallest political unit. And with such popularity come the bashers. Ginebra haters love to roast them by relating their losses to “kañgkuñgan” (swamp cabbage plantation) and Borácay, where losing PBA teams usually go after being eliminated since they don’t have any games to play anymore. 

Ginebra, if I may add, is also a Spanish word for “gin”. My youngest daughter’s name (Junífera) is a derivative of Ginebra. Other derivative names are Jenever, Genever, Genièvre, Geneva, and Jennifer. Ginebra San Miguel is also the only distilled beverage that rendered me unconscious back in 2001. 

And may we not forget another important fact: Ginebra San Miguel is probably the only alcoholic beverage in the world that is named after an archangel: Saint Michael. This same archangel looms large in Filipino History, as he is the patron saint of the province of Cebú, the municipalities of Argáo (also in Cebú) and San Miguel in Bojol (now spelled as Bohol), the barrio of Landayan in San Pedro Tunasán in the province of La Laguna, and the district of San Miguel in Manila. In fact, the name of Ginebra San Miguel’s parent company, San Miguel Corporation, was inspired from both its former location (San Miguel, Manila) and the fact that on 29 September 1890, the feast day of Saint Michael the Archangel, “La Fábrica de Cerveza San Miguel“, which was the forerunner of San Miguel Corporation, was declared open for business.

Need we mention that San Miguel in Manila is the seat of our country’s political power since the late 19th century?

But at the end of the day, history and archangels would have to take a backseat on this one. For why would sensible Filipino basketball fans, especially those in Metro Manila and its environs, side with a team that represents a company notoriously known for its exorbitant electric rates? 😆 Ginebra San Miguel, the historic Filipino gin, is all about the celebration of life.

 

Image may contain: text

Advertisements

Racial classification during the Spanish times

Mestizo is probably one of the most abused words in our country today because many use it without really knowing what it really means. The word is often used to refer to white-skinned Filipinos. The likes of 80s actor Ian Veneración, who is currently enjoying a career comeback, is a perfect example of what a mestizo is in the eyes of Filipinos. On the other hand, Bea Alonzo, his leading lady in a popular soap opera in ABS-CBN, is the perfect model for a mestiza, the mestizo’s feminine counterpart. Filipinos also tend to relate mestizos to having Spanish blood. But little does anybody know that mestizo and mestiza technically mean more than just skin color. They have something to do with racial mixture, and it’s not necessarily just Spanish blood.

Image result for ian veneracion bea alonzo

Ian Veneración and Bea Alonzo are the stereotypes of a mestizo and a mestiza, respectively (photo: Bandera).

During the Spanish times, our country’s population was classified according to the following racial structure (in alphabetical order):

1. CHINO CRISTIANO — Christianized full-blooded Chinese. Example: Co Yu Hwan (許玉寰), the ancestor of President Benigno Simeón “Noynoy” Aquino III and the rest of the Cojuangco clan. He changed his name to José when he was baptized.

2. ESPAÑOL INSULAR — Full-blooded Spaniard born in Filipinas. Also known as “Filipino”. Best example is Luis Rodríguez Varela of Tondo Manila, the first man to use the term FILIPINO. He even called himself “El Conde Filipino“.

3. ESPAÑOL PENINSULAR — Full-blooded Spaniard born in Spain. Example: Governor General Ramón Blanco and Miguel Morayta.

4. INDIO — Full-blooded native (Austronesian). Examples: Cali Pulaco (popularly known as “Lapu-Lapu”) and Apolinario Mabini.

5. MESTIZO ESPAÑOL — Half Spaniard, half native. Also known as “criollo”. Example: Fr. Pedro Peláez, one of the first priests who supported secularization (he died when the Manila Cathedral collapsed upon him during the devastating earthquake of 1863).

6. MESTIZO SANGLEY — Half Chinese, half native. Example: Saint Lorenzo Ruiz.

7. MESTIZO TERCIADO — Part Chinese, part native, part Spanish. Also known as “tornatrás”. Best examples are Dr. José Rizal and Fr. José Burgos.

8. NEGRITO — Aeta.

As can be gleaned above, there are actually three types of mestizos, and one of them, the mestizo sangley, doesn’t even have Spanish blood.

The reader should be cautioned that this racial classification system had no disciminatory undertones whatsoever. This was used for taxation purposes only. When I first blogged about this three years ago, I made the mistake of using the title Racial caste system during the Spanish times. Upon seeing the word “caste”, a Spanish blogger angrily castigated me and even went so far as to call me a racist. He thought that I was making similarities to the caste system in India which was the one that was truly discriminatory and endogamous.

Despite the racial classification, racism in Filipinas was almost non-existent during the Spanish times. John Bowring, then Governor of Hong Kong who visited our country, was impressed with the lack of racial barriers:

Generally speaking, I have seen at the same table Spaniard, mestizo and Indian—priest, civilian and soldier. No doubt a common religion forms a common bond ; but to him who has observed the alienations  and repulsions of caste in many parts of the Eastern world—caste, the great social curse—the blending and free intercourse of man with man in the Philippines is a contrast worth admiring.

Whatever discrimination that existed during the Spanish times had little or nothing to do with race but with social status. In Spanish, this is called clacismo, or rich vs poor. So ingrained was clacismo to the Filipino psyche that it has become the usual plot in many memorable films, whether they be romance, action, or comedy. The poor-boy-falls-in-love-with-rich-girl and vice versa has been a tried and tested formula. Its most recent reincarnation was on TV and even became a global phenomenon: AlDub.

Today, racial classification among Filipinos is already difficult to determine as the world is fast becoming populous, cosmopolitan, and multinational. Unlike during the Spanish times, when people were still few, Filipinos have intermarried not only with Europeans but with virtually all races all over the world. New intermarriages have produced new breeds. We now have Fil-Australians, Fil-Nigerians, Fil-Colombians, Fil-Nepalese, etc. Alonzo, therefore, cannot be typecast as a mestiza because she has British blood. I’m just not sure about Veneración, but I heard that he does have ample Spanish blood to be called a mestizo. However, he’s already generations away from the time the above classification was set, and his Spanish forebears who had lived closest to his time must have had intermarried with varied other races, as with many other Filipinos who also look as “mestizo” as him, in which case the term mestizo should already be rendered obsolete.