Of devotions and desecrations

La imagen puede contener: cielo y exterior

The modernized façade of the Iglesia de Nuestra Señora de la Paz y Buen Viaje during my family‘s visit there five years ago.

As a young boy who lived in Biñán for a time, José Rizal frequented the church of Nuestra Señora de la Paz y Buen Viaje (Our Lady of Peace and Good Voyage) —then just a chapel/visita during his day— instead of the much nearer parish church of San Isidro Labrador at the población (town proper). This puzzled me years ago because during his brief stay in Biñán, he lived at the house of his Mercado relatives at the “sector de mestizos” (now known as Calle Jacobo González) which was just a few steps away from the parish church. But why did he choose to bypass the nearby parish church and opted to walk for about a kilometer or two just to reach the said chapel to attend Mass or to offer his personal prayers?
After much musing, a realization struck me.
Doña Teodora, Rizal’s mother, was a devotee of Our Lady of Peace and Good Voyage in faraway Antipolo. During childbirth, it was said that she had suffered so much because of baby Rizal’s unusually large head. For a safe delivery, she pledged her son to the Virgin of Antipolo, vowing to one day bring him in a pilgrimage to that mountain shrine to the north. It would take seven years for that pledge to be fulfilled: Don Francisco, Rizal’s father, was the one who took the young José to the Virgin of Antipolo as thanksgiving for that safe delivery (Rizal would later write a least-known poem titled A la Virgen de Antipolo in honor of Our Lady of Peace).
Shortly afterwards, Rizal, against his will, was sent to Biñán for schooling. He didn’t want to go to Biñán as he didn’t want to be separated from his dear mother. But he didn’t make the decisions.
Could it be that a homesick Rizal was imitating her mother’s devotion to Our Lady of Peace? My friend Arnaldo Arnáiz also concluded the same when we traveled there many years ago. Rizal, who was very close to his mother, was barely an adolescent when he was sent to Biñán. Traveling all the way to that faraway chapel bearing the title of his mother’s patroness must have been solace for him, a place to heal his homesickness. We could imagine the deep devotion of young Rizal to Our Lady of Peace and Good Voyage in Biñán replicating his mother’s deep devotion to Our Lady of Peace and Good Voyage in Antipolo.
It is quite unfortunate, therefore, that in spite of the years Filipino students have spent studying Rizal’s life and works, his Catholic devotion is always left out. Focus is given more on his belligerent writings and political activities. Had our educational system paid more attention to teaching Filipinos about Rizal the Poet —for he was essentially a poet from crib to grave— none of the following stupidity would have happened…
This travesty occurred just recently, right inside the very sanctum that a young Rizal had come to love. While this is not the first time that sacristans were caught disrespecting the altar, it is starting to become frequent as time goes by. Worse, most of these sacristans you see in the photo are minors. Many of them are of the same age as Rizal.
I can’t help but think of Pepe Rizal, kneeling fervently in front of that altar, with tears streaming from his eyes, praying for the day that he’d be able to go home to the loving arms and caresses of his mother. And then I see those misguided sacristans on the photo, desecrating the very altar to which Rizal’s young eyes had laid upon.
“The altar is not a backdrop or a background,” says Seminarians’ Musings (the Facebook page that released the above photo), “but an echo of Calvary, nor are your vestments fashion statements, but they are garbs of servants.”
To reiterate: these sacristans are minors, as young as when Rizal used to frequent the same church. Neither sense of history nor sense of spirituality, these kids. But we could only blame Fr. Raúl C. Matienzo for their impudence and ignorance.

A year after

Exactly a year ago, I was hospitalized due to tuberculosis (TB). It was the third time I suffered from the disease: the first was as a toddler (for kids, they call it primary complex); the second was a few weeks before college graduation. I wasn’t admitted for the first two. Medications did them in. But the third was the most frightening: I was coughing up too much blood I thought I was the victim in some slasher film.

A few days prior to that, we really thought that I was going to die because no hospital would admit us: no pulmonologist was available because of Christmas break. The medications prescribed by a clinic didn’t suffice as they didn’t deter the bleeding (I started coughing up blood before Christmas Eve). I was weakening up so fast, and the burning night fevers were numbing.

Finally, I was admitted in a hospital in Alabang. I thought that I only had TB. But when the doctor read out to me the findings, I was shocked when I was told that I also had pneumonia. Two killers were murdering my already weakened lungs. And there was already a hole in my right lung. But there was no pain, only severe weakness and high fever. I just wanted to drift off, do nothing, and watch the ceiling from my sick bed. What really frightened me were the surgical needles. I contracted trypanophobia ever since my bout against dengue when I was in Grade II. It was embarrassing each time I had to face nurses who were out to get my blood sample, or who regularly had to apply intravenous medication. There was one time when my visitors had to restrain me while a nurse was getting my blood sample. Arnaldo witnessed it and was having a good laugh at the way I squirmed and shook and cried like a sicko strapped a straitjacket. 😝


A view of my room. The only view that I had of the outside world for two lonely weeks.

I thought my hospitalization would last for only a few days, and that I’d get to celebrate New Year’s Eve with my family. I was mistaken. I celebrated New Year’s Eve alone. My wife had wanted to accompany me, but I said she had to be with our children. Nothing should spoil the little ones’ Christmas feasts.

Even after the Christmas revelry I was not given an exact date on when my release would be because they were still monitoring the severity of my TB, i.e., if the bacteria were resistant against the medications given to me. I prayed and prayed for my immediate release. Finally, I was given a clean bill of health on January 9, or thirteen days later, on the Feast of the Black Nazarene of which I am a devotee. Me and my wife attended afterwards to give thanks, even when still weakened. I had not missed a single traslación ever since becoming a devotee in 2011.


The closest I could get to the Black Nazarene of Quiapò. And the first time I didn’t get to touch the ropes pulling its carriage due to weakness from two weeks of hospitalization. I almost fainted here because of the crowd. This was also my wife’s first time to join the procession.

How does one contract TB? From what I have gathered, almost everyone has TB bacteria. Healthy people are unaffected. But once the immune system has weakened, that’s how TB bacteria start to affect the lungs. My immune system weakened due to lack of sleep and missed meals. That is why after my third bout with TB, I took it easy. I haven’t been reading and writing that much since. I stopped blogging for several months (resuming only in June). It’s difficult continuing to do so anyway, considering the sad fact that I’m a nocturnal corporate slave commuting several kilometers nightly on polluted highways.

TB may no longer be as deadly as it was nowadays compared to a few decades before (some of its most famous Filipino victims were Graciano López Jaena, Marcelo del Pilar, José María Pañganiban, and Manuel L. Quezon; Rizal almost had it, but survived). But it is deadlier the third time around, especially when it has an accomplice (pneumonia) to assist it in its hushed killing spree.

And it’s a real pain in the pockets because of the six-month medication. The following people, however, made it easy for us to survive the ensuing months: thank you so much to Gemma Cruz Araneta, former Mayor Calixto Catáquiz, Mama Beth Córsega and her daughter Jonafel, Señor Guillermo GómezNonia Tiongco, my mother-in-law, and my dad. Special thanks to Ate Christina Capacete and Riah Ramírez (Chief Nurse, City of San Pedro) for assisting my wife on the treatment side of things.

Now, because I live in a place where the air is polluted, I could no longer afford to go out of our apartment without wearing a face mask. And I usually experience shortness of breath whenever I do strenuous physical activities. I long for the day when I get to live in a place surrounded by nature, where it’s safe for my lungs.

Thank you to all those who prayed and showed concern for me during my fight against tuberculosis and pneumonia. May God bless you all!


El lanzamiento suave de la Sociedad Hispano-Filipina

¡Hoy es un día maravilloso! Por fin, la página web Sociedad Hispano-Filipina ha sido lanzada el día de hoy por el joven hispanista Jemuel Pilápil.


Jemuel ha estado trabajando en esta página web durante los últimos meses. El lanzamiento de hoy es sólo un lanzamiento suave ya que hay varias pestañas y enlaces/secciones que necesitan ser desarrollados. Pero hace semanas le sugerí que la lanzara justo a tiempo para el Día de la Hispanidad de este año. Y para este lanzamiento suave de hoy también contribuí con un artículo sobre la que se puede leer aquí.

la Sociedad Hispano-Filipina es una creación por Jemuel, un estudiante autodidacta de la lengua castellana (nunca se matriculó en ningún instituto de idiomas), y comenzó el año pasado como un grupo de Facebook. Los primeros miembros de la sociedad son de su círculo de amigos que también son amantes del idioma español, y sigue creciendo la membresía. Pero ¿de qué se trata el grupo? Aquí están los objetivos y los deberes jurados:

  • Divulgar, difundir, promover, y mantener lo vivo el idioma español.
  • Animar a los filipinos que aprendan español.
  • Crear oportunidades para practicar y disfrutar el idioma como por ejemplo viajes, reuniones, lecturas, deportes, conferencias, o cualquier actividad interesante.
  • Celebrar la existencia de la cultura hispana en Filipinas.
  • Vincular a todos los grupos hispanohablantes.

Debe recordarse que hace muchos años, tres compañeros míos (Señores Guillermo Gómez Rivera, Arnaldo Arnáiz, y José Miguel García) y yo planeamos lanzar una página web similar (pero con una gama mucho más amplia de alcance que incluye una “propaganda” para contrarrestar la leyenda negra) pero nada se materializó. Carecíamos de fondos, tiempo y los conocimientos técnicos tan necesarios. Es por eso que estoy muy feliz de que Jemuel la haya hecho por nosotros. Sin duda, Jemuel Pilápil es el “Isagani de El Filibusterismo hecho carne”. Con su Sociedad Hispano-Filipina, el idioma español tiene un futuro muy promisorio en Filipinas.

Enrique Zóbel, el renombrado filántropo, fundador del Premio Zóbel, y miembro del famoso Clan Zóbel de Ayala, dijo una vez esta memorable frase: “No quiero que el español muera en Filipinas”. Con la apariencia de la Sociedad Hispano-Filipina en el ciberespacio, la tecnología más utilizada hoy en día, tal muerte nunca sucederá, y más especialmente, siempre y cuando que tengamos la Madre de la Hispanidad como nuestra guía y patrona.


Nuestra Señora del Pilar es la Madre de la Hispanidad. Esta es su imagen en la Catedral de Imus en la Provincia de Cavite.

¡Feliz Día de la Hispanidad! ¡Viva la Virgen del Pilar! ¡Felicitaciones a la Sociedad Hispano-Filipina! ¡Celebremos esta victoria con cervezas y rosarios!

An open letter to F. Sionil José, National Artist for Arrogance

Sometime last month, I saw this letter going the rounds in Facebook.

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To make a long story short, the above letter is from National Artist F. Sionil José, and he’s asking Ramón del Rosario, chairman of the National Museum of the Philippines, to remove the paintings of RENOWNED ARTISTS E. Aguilar Cruz and Andrés Cristóbal Cruz that were being displayed there. His reason? He’s erudite enough to differentiate true art from inability.

Apparently, the letter was leaked online without his knowledge. So a few days later, after his pompous erudition captured the ire of several netizens, Frankie Boy explained himself on his Facebook account.

La imagen puede contener: texto

When I first read Frankie Boy’s letter to Mr. del Rosario, it made my blood boil. You know, I’ve purchased some of his books. I find his Rosales novels entertaining (but forgettable). His take on social justice is praiseworthy. But as an individual, I never had a fondness for him. Because, in spite of his close friendship to fellow National Artist Nick Joaquín (a renowned Hispanista and a true humble spirit), Frankie Boy is a certified hispanófobo, and his views on Filipino History are vehemently contradictory to how I view it based on documentation and cultural evidence (judging from his writings, his are obviously based on textbook material, stuff he learned only from school). I even find it hard to forgive him for lambasting the late chemist-historian Pío Andrade at a historical forum held in Instituto Cervantes de Manila ten years ago. This humiliating scene was witnessed by my friend Arnaldo Arnáiz who told me that old man Frankie Boy angrily walked out from the room when he couldn’t take anymore all the historical truth coming out of Andrade’s mouth regarding the Calamba agrarian dispute in which the Rizal family was a party.

I was hurt and embarrassed for those artists (the two Cruzes) whose works I am not even familiar with. I could relate to being belittled, so I guess maybe that’s where all this anger is coming from. At first I tried to ignore Frankie Boy’s pompous letter, but I couldn’t. It just didn’t feel good seeing a writer his stature and my, how physically big he is, even for his age belittling accomplished writers and painters who are no longer around to defend themselves from his arrogance and yet I do nothing about it. I won’t be able to sleep well, I thought. Other than that, the last words that he wrote on his Facebook post (“the time has not yet come for me to be silent”) prompted me all the more to give him a piece of my mind. So immediately after reading his unapologetic post on his wall, off I went to my wall and posted an open letter to him (see below, with minor edits).


Good day! I hope this post of mine finds you well and good.

First of all, a confession: I’m one of those who shared that “Straight-From-Mount-Olympus” letter of yours (on Twitter; you’re not famous there). Anyway, enough of that. I’m just here to comment on your humble defense of your soon-to-be-legendary letter to the National Museum of the Philippines. So to borrow your own words: “straightforward ito“…

Your best chum, the late, great Nick Joaquín, by far a much BETTER National Artist for Literature than anyone around, living or dead (and I’m 100% sure you won’t contest that), published one of his last books which was about E. Aguilar Cruz titled “ABÉ: A FRANK SKETCH OF E. AGUILAR CRUZ”. Between the two of us, you should know better that Nick would have never wasted his precious time on a subject if it was as paltry as… what’s that poor fellah’s name again? Ben Singkil? If Abé was good enough for a giant like Nick, then he’s good enough for everybody. And even before Nick, our country’s foremost historian today already published a book about Abé’s paintings many years before he became famous enough to correct that glaring syphilitic error that you committed in one of your novels (we all know who that historian is).

Simple lang ang sinasabi co. I won’t go about parading Abé’s achievements. People from the literary and art circles are already mighty aware of them, anyway. Including yourself (you just won’t admit it, c’mon). I’m not a fan of his in the first place. But hey, I’ve been hearing quite a LOT about this “non-entity” since I was a lunchbox-toting kid… a non-entity as a writer, you say?! Yet he was cited in José Garcia Villa‘s annual selections — and Villa is our country’s FIRST National Artist for Literature! Abé also graced the literary pages of the Graphic Magazine quite a number of times and even became the editor of the Sunday Times Magazine. But hey, if you insist of his being a non-entity, then he could probably well be our country’s very first non-existent permanent representative to the UNESCO. So let’s just consider that NHI historical marker in his hometown as a big joke, shall we? Anyway, as I have said at the beginning of this paragraph, I won’t go about parading Abé’s achievements. So, moving forward…

…do we even have to discuss that other Cruz you crucified? Well, I might agree with you that Andrés Cristóbal Cruz was a non-entity as a painter. He was known more for his award-winning writings than for his paintings (by the way, not once did he solicit foreign publishers to have his works translated into other languages just so that he’d be tagged as the most translated Filipino author). However, he was mentored by Abé. Therefore, the National Museum is only emphasizing the latter’s influence on the former. The fact that Andrés’s painting is on exhibit there is to give weight, legitimacy, and RESPECT to Abé’s artistic influence over an award-winning writer who tried his luck in the visual arts.

But what can we non-existing mediocrats do? You have spoken from your laureled throne: “Both have not produced any significant body of work, either paintings or books, of great artistry.” May I just ask where have you been all these years? Did Thanos travel back in time and snap his fingers on top of your regal beret, that’s why you didn’t notice these things going on? Who in blue blazes is Thanos? you might ask. Don’t bother; he’s just another non-entity who could never rival your fictional characters.

Now going back to that letter of yours. Some netizens have commented that we should all be cautious with whatever words we throw at you you since you’re already in the twilight of your mind-boggling existence. “He’s in his 90s. Let him be. Humor him” says one netizen. “Gonna give him a pass, sa katandaan na siguro din says another. But you yourself have said that the time has not yet come for you to be silent. Well, if that’s the case, since you are so willing to talk, then you should be willing to listen. So listen to this…

As far as MANY people are concerned, you are a fantastic novelist (I still love your Rosales novels although a huge chunk of them is as boring as Harold Clavite‘s online existence), a piercing essayist, and a sterling social justice activist (funny that I mentioned the word “justice” on this post). But as a national artist? You, sir, are a non-entity.

Your opinion may be “learned”, but it is still an opinion. And you’re imposing it on all of us. Sorry, Frankie me boyo. I’m still not convinced.

Love lots,

Another non-entity.

PS: If you wish to block me afterwards, forget it. I’m a non-entity troll. So how could you possibly even care about me?

Am I being disrespectful towards F. Sionil José? Well, I’ve been calling him “Frankie Boy” throughout this whole blogpost, so go figure. Let’s not even talk about seniority nor age here. He had this coming a long time ago. He may be a giant in Filipino Literature, but in real life, he’s just a cantankerous old-timer, the type you really want to beat up but couldn’t because of his age. Besides, he said that the time for him to shut up has not yet come. Now that’s a terrifying prospect that I just couldn’t ignore. And more importantly, respect begets respect. Out of all National Artists whose lives and works I’ve read in various books, newspapers, magazines, and websites, he is the only one whom I noticed to be so full of himself (I’m trying to suppress myself from writing plus-size jokes). Don’t get me wrong. I wish him no ill, really. But that doesn’t mean I shouldn’t write about my resentment of him.

Having said that, I should reveal this now: the ONLY reason why F. Sionil José is the most translated among Filipino writers (something he loves to brag about) is because he has solicited foreign translators to have his works translated. As a publisher himself, he has the clout to do so. Siyá ang lumalapit sa canilá. It wasn’t the other way around. His books were not translated because of the quality of their forgettable stories. So being the most translated writer in Filipinas does not equate to being the best. All you need are PR skills.

If he denies what I have just revealed here, then he should throw away the virtue of HONESTY from his writings.

Before I end this online rant, you must be wondering: what prompted Frankie Boy to belittle Abé and Andrés just like that? I have no idea. My suspicion: maybe he had some ugly misunderstanding with the two Cruzes in the past. Or he’s just jealous of them. But let us not dig into that anymore. Whatever squabble he may have had with the two Cruzes (and may they rest in peace), it’s none of our business. What we should marvel at, however, is this cute photo of Frankie Boy attending the opening of an art exhibit three years ago in which the paintings of those two Cruzes he had looked down upon last month were included. Now that’s neurotically classy of him, don’t you think! 😂

The irony about the Velarde map

Exactly a week ago, Bartolomé Arnáiz, Sr., the father of my best friend Arnaldo, passed away. He would have turned 81 today, on the feast day of his namesake saint. Fate could have waited for at least another week not to take him away, to at least allow him to celebrate one more year, but didn’t allow him anymore. I am astonished at such deaths. I suddenly remember my paternal grandmother who died on the night of her son’s (my father’s) 59th birthday. Since then, I think my father had no reason to be happy whenever he celebrates his birthdays.

I tagged along my wife and our son Jefe who is Arnaldo’s godson to the wake last Sunday night to pay our last respects. And also to see Arnaldo. We rarely see him nowadays because he’s now living with his family in Singapore. The last time we saw him was last Easter Sunday, during the celebration of his son’s first birthday. Of course we didn’t expect to see him as his own lighthearted self. He loved his dad so much, and it must surely be more than awful to be in his shoes right now. In fact, I remember one time that he told me that the distance of employment to his house served as an important factor if he would accept a job or not, just so that he could be near his parents.

The blight in Arnaldo’s eyes was obvious when we saw him. He revealed to me that he felt a strange emptiness now that his father is gone. I can relate, since I adore my grandmother so much who, coincidentally, also died at the same age as his father’s. But if it’s any consolation, at least his father died in his sleep. It was a beautiful death, I commented. No pain, no hospitalization, no hassle. Just like how our favorite historian Nick Joaquín had left this world.

There’s not much catching up to do. Such activity is meant for happy reunions. However, the history buff in Arnaldo will never go away, even in tragedies like this. And so during the funeral, we talked about our favorite topic, and the only topic that we really want to talk about: Filipino History, and its implications to the modern Filipino era. He reminded me of our mutual ally Señor Guillermo Gómez. A few years ago, when his only daughter had died in Bacólod, he immediately booked a flight for the funeral. But while he was there, he still had time to take photos of Bacólod’s ancestral houses and other historic spots. Of course Arnaldo and Señor Gómez were not being disrespectful to their beloved dead. They are simply passionate people who have a noble mission to fulfill: to ennoble the Filipino Identity. For them, time should not go to waste. Every happening, whether joyful or tragic, must be interspersed with advocacy. Because a person with no advocacy at all is worse than a dead person.

One of the interesting topics that we talked about that night was China’s encroachment of Bajo de Masinloc, otherwise known as the Scarborough Shoal. The whole world already knows what had happened to it: it’s a shoal that belongs to our territory (obviously). Superbully China took it from us. Our country’s previous regime then took the case to The Hague because our military’s too puny to stand up to a superbully. We won the case, but the superbully refused to budge. It did not even take the case seriously. And there’s nothing the United Nations can do to stop this superbully from giving us back what really belongs to us.

However, what interests us both is not the decision of The Hague’s Permanent Court of Arbitration to rule against China but the steps which the Filipino contingent did to win the case. One of the things that they did was to use Filipino History as evidence against China. I’m specifically talking about the 1734 Murillo Map, said to be the “Mother of all Filipino Maps”.

The map took its name from the cartographer who made it: Fr. Pedro Murillo Velarde y Bravo, a Jesuit priest (1696–1753) from Granada, Spain. Aside from his priestly duties, he was also a writer, having published various books about history and church matters. In 1734, he published in Manila a scientific map of Filipinas which now bears his name and is now called as our country’s “first land title”. The map clearly labels there all the islands that were within the territory of our country, including the disputed Scarborough Shoal which was then known as Bajo de Masinloc.

The Filipino contingent happily brought this treasured map as a weapon against China’s geographic stupidity. Unfortunately, the superbully never even bothered to send a team to face the Filipino contingent at The Hague. While the map was indeed a powerful evidence, it was rendered useless to international bullying.

But the real irony here, as observed by Arnaldo, is this: we Filipinos have been hating our Spanish past so much for the longest time, even going as far as to say that Spain invaded us and enslaved us when the historical truth says that Spain was the kingdom which created us out of a multitude of disunited and independent ethnolinguistic groups whose territories were not clearly defined. And here we are now, running back to her delineated map to seek help. Shouldn’t we not use this map because, in the first place, it was created by a Spanish priest who belonged to that evil empire that enslaved us?

Spain already shaped our territory a long time ago. It was Spain that made Luzón, the islands of the Visayas, and Mindanáo part of what came to be known as the Filipino State, or Las Islas Filipinas. The Velarde map is a living testament of that creation. And yet up to now, we condemn our Spanish past to hell even as we make the Sign of the Cross each and every time that we needed to do it — ironically another ritual that was taught to us by Spain.

Despite his depression, Arnaldo was still astute of mind during our conversation. And he was right. We only have ourselves to blame. Because we let go of what we already have. Spain painstakingly marked our territories in scientific precision and pointed out which island or shoal belongs to us or not. We were much bigger before; we even had Guam, Borneo, and Formosa (Taiwan). Look at us now. We couldn’t even keep what remains of our territory in a stable manner. And now that an empire, which is perhaps far more dangerous than the previous one that truly despoiled us since 1898, is lurking every now and then, we run to maps and rituals whose creators and progenitors we proudly despise. We are such an ungrateful nation. We truly deserve to be bullied by the Chinese.

In your charity, please pray one Our Father and Three Hail Marys for the eternal repose of the soul of Bartolomé Arnáiz y Cañete. This blogpost is dedicated to his memory. Thank you.

Darío Villanueva: ¿nueva esperanza para la Academia Filipina?

Esta semana (del 4 al 8), Darío Villanueva, el director del Real Academia Española (RAE) y presidente de la Asociación de Academias de la Lengua Española (ASALE), participará en diversos actos académicos y culturales incluyendo un foro esta tarde en el Instituto de Cervantes de Manila donde hablará sobre el presente y futuro de la lengua española en el mundo.

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Villanueva también realizará una visita institucional a la Academia Filipina de la Lengua Española, la institución estatal más vieja en Filipinas cuya responsabilidad es CUSTODIAR, DIFUNDIR, y ENALTECER el idioma español en el país. Estoy entusiasmado con su visita porque ya es hora de que se entere de los problemas que ha estado afrontando la Academia Filipina durante años. Y espero que se entere.

Como admirador y simpatizante de la Academia Filipina, yo creé una página de Facebook en su honor y para que sus miembros actuales que están activos en Facebook continuen los mencionados tres deberes. El motivo es para que esta institución tenga un papel MÁS ACTIVO en traer de vuelta este idioma como una lengua nacional y/u oficial de Filipinas, como solía ser. La Academia Filipina ha sido en existencia desde 1924 y tiene en su lista nombres ilustrísimos como Macario Adriático, Fernando Mª Guerrero, Claro M. Recto, Epifanio de los Santos, y Antonio Abad entre muchos otros.

Excluyéndome, esa página de Facebook estaba destinada exclusivamente a los miembros de la Academia Filipina.

El logotipo original de la Academia Filipina de la Lengua Española.

Durante sus primeros años, la Academia Filipina funcionó como una verdadera académica. Los académicos hicieron la tarea de estudiar los “filipinismos” (o palabras nativas hispanizadas) para su inclusión en el Diccionario de la Lengua Española, fundar una biblioteca para servicio propio, y designar delegados en diversas partes del país. De hecho, estos académicos filipinos del pasado eran las contrapartes (o correspondientes) de los miembros de la RAE cuyo deber es LIMPIAR, FIJAR, y DAR ESPLENDOR al idioma español. Se reunían regularmente e incluso publicaban un boletín académico, el “Boletín de la Academia Filipina”.

Lamentablemente, la Academia Filipina de hoy ya no es la Academia Filipina que yo solía conocer. La razón principal es, según una fuente confiable, un caballero español se ha convertido en un presidente honorario y parece ser el “titiritero” que dirige la actual encarnación de la Academia Filipina. Digo “actual encarnación” porque, como he comentado, la Academia Filipina de hoy, que lleva “Inc.” (o incorporado) en su nombre, ya no es la Academia Filipina de antes. Si la Academia Filipina de los años pasados funciona como una verdadera academia que custodia, difunde, y enaltece este “idioma de los ángeles” y de muchas maneras limpia, fija, y da esplendor a ello, ya existe como un mero club social que ha sido aceptando miembros que, según mi fuente, no saben español. Y peor… ¡por una cuota!

Es más, mi fuente me informa que este caballero español se convirtió en miembro de la Academia Filipina cuando plagió una tesis escrita por un tal John Lent, un escritor norteamericano (es que para ser aceptado en la Academia Filipina, uno tiene que escribir y leer una tesis académica o discurso de ingreso a los miembros mayores que decidirán si el solicitante es apto para convertirse en miembro o no). Espero fervientemente que esto sea sólo una habladuría. Sin embargo, según lo que he estado escuchando, su afiliación ilícita a la Academia Filipina ya es un saber popular entre muchos académicos filipinos.

Pero a principios de este año, recibí un mensaje privado del presidente actual de la Academia Filipina diciéndome que yo borre la página de Facebook de la Academia Filipina “por varias razones” y que no la autoriza su existencia. Es triste porque al crear de esa página hace muchos meses yo le agregué y le instalé como un administrador. Agregué también los otros miembros de la Academia Filipina que tienen cuentas en Facebook con la esperanza de que puedan continuar en línea la herencia del Boletín de la Academia Filipina (porque ya no se publica). Y durante los principios meses de su existencia, este presidente no se quejó a mí sobre la existencia de esta página. De hecho, él estaba contribuyendo a ella, incluso saludó a sus miembros la Navidad pasada.

Entonces, ¿por qué me ordenó detener esta página sólo ahora? Con certeza, algo no está bien aquí.

También me di cuenta de que este presidente actual ya se ha quitó de la página, y no sólo a sí mismo sino a los demás académicos. Y cuando rechazé a eliminar la página, me bloqueó.

Y hablando de los otros académicos, he estado observando sus actividades en línea. En sus respectivas cuentas de Facebook, por ejemplo, rara vez promueven el idioma español como lengua filipina, y siempre publican en inglés. Muchos de estos académicos son políglotos y me parece que son meramente “amantes de lenguas”. Dudo si creen que el español debe ser considerado como un idioma filipino. Pero espero que me equivoque.

En comparación, hay otros filipinos en las redes sociales que promueven el idioma español incluso si no son miembros de la Academia Filipina. Un buen ejemplo es el historiador José Mª Bonifacio Escoda, hijo del académico Ramón Escoda (1901—1967), que comparte muchas lecciones interesantes de español en su cuenta de Facebook.

Y está también mi amigo Arnaldo Arnáiz. No sabe mucho español pero sigue promoviendo su importancia para los filipinos en su bitácora With One’s Past. Lo que Escoda y Arnáiz están haciendo es el mérito de un verdadero académico filipino.

En visto de lo anterior, decidí no borrar la página de Facebook de la Academia Filipina. Desde entonces, he estado aceptando a cualquier persona, filipino o no filipino, que tenga una pasión por traer de vuelta el idioma español en Filipinas así como aquellos que lo custodiarán, difundirán, y enaltecerán. Después de todo, me parece que no todos los que están en la Academia Filipina son verdaderos académicos.

Espero fervientemente que Darío Villanueva pueda resolver esta polémica de una vez por todas.