A review of Brother Andrew González’s “Language and Nationalism: The Philippine Experience Thus Far”

I am reposting an undated book review written many years ago by the late chemist-historian Pío Andrade Jr. He was a researcher and regular contributor to the Filipino-Chinese weekly magazine “Tuláy” published by Teresita Ang-See in Binondo, Manila. Andrade was the author of the best-selling and controversial book “The Fooling of América: The Untold Story of Carlos P. Rómulo“. In this book review, Andrade countered the claim that Spanish was not widespread in Filipinas during the US colonial period.

Pío Andrade Jr.

Brother Andrew González’s treatise “Language and Nationalism” was praised in the foreword by Cecilio López as “the most exhaustive and up-to-date treatment of the language problem in the Philippines”.

It may have been up-to-date when it was published, but by no means could it be described as exhaustive. One look at the list of references shows the absence of very important sources such as the following:

1.) The Official Census of 1903.
2.) The Ford Report of 1916, which shows that the use of Spanish was more widespread than commonly admitted.
3.) Pío Valenzuela’s History of Philippine Journalism.

There are many big and important facts on the language question that are not mentioned at all in Brother Andrew’s book, such as the fact about Spanish being the language of the Revolution, the role of Spanish in effecting the unity of the various Filipino ethnic groups which made the 1896-1899 Revolution possible, the role of the Chinese Filipinos in disseminating the language of Cervantes all over the country due to the fact that the Philippines was the most thoroughly educated Asian colony in the last decades of the 19th century, and the fact about the much higher circulation of Spanish language dailies than either the Tagálog or English dailies in the 1930s.

Brother Andrew González, FSC, uncritically accepted the figure of 2.8% as the percentage of Filipinos who can speak and write in Spanish at the turn of the century given by Cavada Méndez y Vigo’s book. This book was printed in 1870, just seven years after the establishment of the Philippine Public school system in 1863 by Spain.

Surely by 1900, more than 2.8% of the Filipinos were speaking and writing in Spanish and there was incontrovertible proof behind this assertion.

Don Carlos Palanca’s Memorandum to the Schurman Commission listed eight Spanish-speaking provinces in the islands in addition to the 9 Tagalog-speaking provinces which, according to him, are also Spanish-speaking. To this total of 17 Spanish-speaking provinces, Don Carlos added that there were only five other provinces where “only a little Spanish is spoken”. Don Carlos Palanca was the gobernadorcillo of Binondo and the head of the Gremio de Mestizos (Chinese Christians were the ones referred to as mestizos since the Spanish half-breed was called criollo).

William Howard Taft’s 1901 statement after his tour of the Philippines clearly says that Spanish was more widespread than Tagalog.

This fact about Spanish being even more widespread than Tagalog in the entire archipelago is further attested to by the well-documented fact that American soldiers during the Fil-American war had to speak bamboo Spanish to all Filipinos —not bamboo Tagalog— in order to be understood without any interpreter. There is still that other fact about the early occupational government of the American Military in the Philippines having to publish in Spanish, not in Tagalog, all its official communications in order to be understood by the Filipino people. An English translation was appended whenever necessary for the consumption of the Americans themselves.

This official use of Spanish by the Americans themselves went on up to 1910 when they started to issue communications in English but still followed by a corresponding Spanish translation of the same. In view of this fact, if a Filipino national language needed to be established other than English, the correct choice should have been Spanish, not Tagalog.

A big fault of Brother Andrew’s book lies in his uncritical acceptance of Teodoro Agoncillo’s “The Revolt of the Masses: The Story of Bonifacio and the Katipunan”. Agoncillo’s history book has already been proven to be heavily distorted by omission of facts, false interpretation of events and documents, and by outright lies. The omission of these other facts was done because the same could not be reconciled with Mr. Agoncillo’s own personal bias in the narration and teaching of Philippine history. An example of Brother Andrew’s fault with regard to his uncritical acceptance of Agoncilo’s distortion of history is the conclusion that the founding members of the KKK (Katipunan) were Filipinos of lowly origin. The founding Supremo of the KKK is Andrés Bonifacio and it is not so that he is of lowly origin. Bonifacio was definitely not a poor man when he got into the Katipunan.

Nor were the other Katiputan charter members. Agoncillo also failed to mention that the Philippine economy was booming during that decade and that Bonifacio, unlike most other Filipinos, approved of the torture of a captive friar.

The years 1900 to the Commonwealth period (1935-1941) were not well researched by Brother and Doctor Andrew González. Thus, the language issue affecting the Filipinos then was not well discussed. Had Brother Andrew researched more on the language issue of that period, he would have found out that as late as the 1930s, Spanish dailies outcirculated either the Tagalog or English language dailies.

He would have found out also that the use of Spanish during the following decade of 1940 was bound to even get stronger had it not been for the devastating 1943-1945 war.

The strength of Spanish is evidenced by the majority of cinema films shown between 1900 and 1940. These films, even if made in Holywood, were in Spanish subtitles and talkies. And several of the Philippine produced full-length films had all-Spanish talkies.

Another important fact not found in Brother Andrew’s book is the role of the Spanish language in assimilating and integrating the Chinese emigrants into mainstream Filipino society. The 100,000 Chinese in the Philippines at the turn of the century spoke Spanish in varying degrees of proficiency. The Philippine Chinese Chamber of Commerce since its establishment in 1904 wrote its minutes in Spanish until 1924. When they ceased using Spanish in their official meetings and minutes, they reverted to Chinese, not English. Today, strange as it may seem, the last bastion of whatever Spanish language is left are the Chinese Filipinos, and not those of Spanish descent except the Padilla-Zóbel family that maintains the annual Premio Zóbel.

Finally, Brother and Doctor Andrew González treated very superficially the question of nationalism and language. There should have been more discussions on the point that adopting a foreign tongue, or using foreign words, are not per se against nationalism. If nationalism is love for one’s country and foreign words and language can best help literacy and communication, it is nationalistic doing so.

Neither did Brother and Doctor Andrew González realize that nationalism in the question of language can be destructive as has been the case in the Philippines. Doing away with Spanish orthography and the cartilla, the educational authorities did away with a very inexpensive and very effective method for teaching reading skills to the young. Exterminating Spanish in the schools made the Filipinos today estranged to their Hispanic past and made Filipinos prey to nationalist historians who misled several generations of Filipinos in the sense that Spain had done the Philippines very little good when the contrary is true.

What is the prime purpose of language? Is it not to make us understand one another better? Yet, Brother and Doctor Andrew González’s book gives the impressions that showing nationalism is the prime purpose of language.

To be fair to Brother Andrew González, we want to think that he is a victim of too many distortions found in Philippine History including the history of language among Filipinos. Thus, the remark of Cecilio López in his introduction to Brother Andrew’s book “Language and Nationalism”, that it is “the most exhaustive and up-to-date treatment of the language problem in the Philippines”, is only true in the sense that the very few books on the same subject are mostly superficial.

Perhaps it will be correct for us to recall a Spanish saying that says: En el país de los ciegos, el tuerto es rey.

DEFENSORES DE LA IDENTIDAD FILIPINA. History blogger Arnaldo Arnáiz (left) and the late chemist-historian Pío Andrade Jr. (right). Behind Arnaldo is eminent historian Fr. José Arcilla, S.J. (photo taken on 26 June 2009 at the Instituto Cervantes de Manila‘s former site in Ermita, Manila).

What you don’t know about Emilio Jacinto

PH nhi emilio jacinto.jpg

Today is the birth anniversary of Emilio Jacinto (15 December 1875), the so-called “Brains of the Katipunan”. Historians have written how proficient he was with the Spanish language, but it is not widely known that his native tongue was not Spanish nor even Tagalog but Tondeño, a Spanish patois (or variation of Chavacano) that was spoken in Tondo, Manila. It was his friend, Katipunan Supremo Andrés Bonifacio, who taught him how to read, write, and speak in Tagalog. And since Tondeño was close to the Spanish language, Bonifacio sent him to Spanish-speaking La Laguna to take charge of the establishment of a Katipunan chapter in the said province. It was there where he died and was buried (16 April 1899).


Debunking the historical claim

Everything that irritates us about others can lead us to an understanding of ourselves. -Carl Jung-

It comes but as an unconscionable delight to a person (who has no more good argument to extract from his wonderful comprehension of events) who disagrees with another individual to attack the latter’s credibility, especially when the former is already overwhelmed by offenses from his foe. Some instances of common diatribes: “You are a nobody; how dare you say such things!” “Do you even have a Master’s degree to lay such claims?” “Have you won awards to make yourself known as an iconoclast?” “We would rather resort to scholars and other published greats than waste our time weighing the merits of your blog!”

The foregoing examples are, indeed, a barrage of poor reasoning. In a world that is wanting of intellectual arguments, hitting on a person’s scholarship —or lack of it— should never be highlighted by an applause nor should be sided upon. Yes, it is true that a case usually wins by an overwhelming quantity of physical evidence and even witnesses. But isn’t it that hard data is prescribed and narrowed down by critical thinking and other related realms of impartial thought? Hard data alone should not be considered as sola scriptura. That is why we humans are so fortunate to be gifted with common sense to discern things that should be or should not be.

On the other hand, those supposedly credible persons who spread falsities and inaccuracies —if not lies— take all the credit. Take this reasoning, for instance, from renowned historian Teodoro A. Agoncillo (1912-1985):

Teodoro A. Agoncillo (photo: Ambeth R. Ocampo).

It is difficult, if not impossible, to define what a Filipino is. All that can be done is to pick out some traits common to the average Filipinos and to separate those that are obviously Spanish or American. The common traits are probably Malay and characterize the Filipinos as a people. (History of the Filipino People, eighth edition, pp 5-6, Garotech Publishing, 1990)

It should be noted that Agoncillo is highly regarded as one of the top bananas in the field of Filipino historiography. A product of the University of the Philippines Manila, he wrote Filipino History from a rather “puristic” nationalist point of view with leftist undertones. He served as a linguistic assistant at the Institute of National Language and also taught at the Far Eastern University and the Manuel L. Quezon University. His seminal book, Revolt of the Masses: The Story of Bonifacio and the Katipunan, was both highly acclaimed and criticized. He also taught at his alma mater and even got to chair its Department of History during the 1960s. Perhaps one of the biggest achievements of his scholarly career was when former President Diosdado Macapagal made him a member of the National Historical Institute in 1963. Aside from history, he is also an acclaimed essayist and poet in his native Tagálog language (he hails from Lemery, Batangas).

For all his sterling qualities as a scholar, his statement about what a Filipino is, in my humble opinion, debunks his worth as a historian. How could such a crème de la crème of scholarship find it difficult to define what a Filipino is? The Spaniards know who they are. So do the British. Ask any Japanese to define their national identity and you might end up listening to them for hours. But here in Filipinas, a supposedly topnotch historian leads the nation in claiming difficulty in defining our national identity. And so he resorts to the inner physiognomy of a Filipino, going so far as to claim that our identity is of Malay origin!

Although we Filipinos are renowned for our hospitality, piety, industriousness, etc., these are traits that are not unique to us alone. It is too selfish and proud for a nation to monopolize such traits. And to simply put it, that is not the proper way to define our national identity. It is not just through a distinction of traits that a national identity should be defined; rather, it should be strongly viewed through a shared common history and affinity of blood and tongues and culture and faith and cuisine and song and literature and visual arts and dance and craftsmanship and even architecture. Indeed, various criteria should be applied.

To say that our national identity has been elusive through the years because of colonial trauma is nothing but hogwash and useless rhetoric. Ours is just a simple case of being unable to handle the truth. Our national identity never left us. It has been with us all this time; we just don’t want to recognize it in the same manner that Agoncillo couldn’t.

We do not have to seek nor build our own identity. It’s already here, ready to strike us in the face. What needs to be done is to simply identify it. It is already with us, within us. We just need to tap it. And make it known among ourselves. So to say that we do not have our own identity is tantamount to declaring that we have no country, that we are not a nation.

Or that perhaps we really are a nation of fools? I believe no nation would want to be referred to as such.

Since Agoncillo has been hailed by many as one of the best Filipino historians of all time, how come he was not able to determine that the Filipino Identity is the product of the Filipino State that began to exist in Spanish on 24 June 1571? I just find it hard to believe that he, a virtual legend in our country’s historiography, didn’t know that the Filipino State was founded together with Manila on that same date, with the government having Spanish as its official language. In 1599, the previously existing native ethnic states went into the Filipino State as co-founding members, and that they incorporated themselves with the Filipino State when they elected King Philip II as their natural sovereign. How come Agoncillo didn’t seem to be cognizant of this fact if he is such a first-rate historian — or is he? In writing his History of the Filipino People, did he conveniently omit the fact that the first true Filipinos were the creoles or insulares, and that the indios (or natives such as the Tagálog, Bicolano, Ilocano, Ilongo, etc.) who “aped” them genuinely assimilated themselves into the Hispanic sphere which was then called Filipino in this side of the world?

From a reliable source, I heard stories about how Agoncillo pronounced the disputed Code of Calantiáo as ‘Kalanshaw’ (kɑlʌnʃaʊ) in his UP classes. Worse, the ‘Bay’ (bʌˈɛ) in ‘Laguna de Bay’ for him was pronounced the American/English way: ‘bay’ (beɪ). This only proves that this “Batangueño great” had no idea that Laguna de Bay was named after the town of Bay in La Laguna province, just a few kilometers from his province. This should be a cause of concern and disturbance among those who admire him and —heaven forbid— aspire to be like him. And he’s a decorated scholar at that.

Here is another “riveting” case of pompous rhetoric from another scholarly giant, National Scientist Dr. Onofre D. Córpuz (1926-2013).


Dr. Onofre D. Córpuz (photo: UP Manila Twitter account).


According to Dr. Córpuz, the Kataas-taasang, Kagalang-galangang Katipunan nğ mg̃á Anak nğ Bayan, popularly known as the Katipunan, was “the first active embodiment of the Christian Filipino nation” (The Roots of the Filipino Nation, Vol. II, p. 223, Aklahi Foundation, 1989).

There is something wrong, if not irritable, with this assertion of his. How could the Katipunan embody the Christian Filipino nation when the group was essentially anti-Christian, thus anti-Filipino? As a renowned historian, shouldn’t he had been aware of the Katipunan’s Masonic roots as well as its motives? Didn’t he know that Freemasonry has been condemned numerous times by the Catholic Church? There has been at least 24 papal pronouncements regarding this matter. If he was as astute as many people think he was, Dr. Córpuz should have traced the origins of the Katipunan to Freemasonry. Katipuan Supremo Andrés Bonifacio joined the Taliba Lodge (No. 165) and from there imbibed radical and anti-friar ideas. He also joined Rizal’s La Liga Filipina which was in fact a Masonic lodge in the making.

After the failure of La Liga Filipina and the arrest and deportation of Rizal to Dapitan, it appeared that the campaign for peaceful reforms have 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 was the main engine of the Katipunan’s establishment).

What happened next was bloodshed and the senseless killing and torture of innocent Spanish friars and other individuals who went against the Katipuneros‘ way.

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?

Indeed, hard data is not enough to support historical ideas and claims. Logic and a clear-cut understanding of things, as well as a keen observation of our surroundings and time, should quantify these data in order to come up with definite conclusions and concise pictures of what really happened in our country’s past. When faced with confusing historical documents, impartial critical thinking is the key to decipher their messages.

In comparison to the above statement, diplomas, awards, and other regalia are nothing but toilet paper and scrap metal.

Originally published in FILIPINO eSCRIBBLES, with minor edits. Follow me on Facebook and Twitter!

A La Patria (Emilio Jacinto)

Tengo problemas con el Katipunan, la sociedad secreta fundada por francmasones en 1892 para liberar Filipinas del gobierno colonial español. La historia general nos enseña que los Katipuneros eran patriotas, héroes que nos liberaron de la tiranía española. Pero he terminado con esa mentira. No estoy diciendo que, aunque francmasones, los Katipuneros eran malvados. Yo sé que muchos de ellos vivieron por un ideal — todos los revolucionarios/rebeldes lo hacen. Pero así lo hace la sociedad contra la que se rebelan. No es de extrañar que José Rizal nunca aprobara la rebelión de Katipunan: comprendió cuál ideal debía permanecer en pie.

Sin embargo, aunque no soy un seguidor de la rebelión tagala, soy un seguidor de la literatura, sobre todo de la literatura bien escrita. Arte por el bien del arte, como ellos dicen. Así que os presento un poema escrito por Emilio Jacinto (1875—1899), uno de los miembros más jóvenes y oficiales de más alto rango del Katipunan. Este poema titulado A La Patria fue dedicado a su patria chica, Filipinas. Se debe notar que durante el tiempo de Jacinto, el concepto de la patria significaba dos cosas: la patria grande y la patria chica. La patria grande inmediatamente se refiere a la Madre España. Por otro lado, la patria chica denota la localidad de uno: en el caso de Jacinto y sus compatriotas filipinos, es Filipinas. Pero en A La Patria que fue escrito el 8 de octubre de 1897 (de hecho, es su aniversario el día de hoy) bajo los cocoteros de Santa Cruz, La Laguna donde vivió como rebelde-refugiado, ya había declarado que su patria grande era Filipinas, “sin el yugo español”.

A los que han leído el Mi Último Adiós de Rizal, se puede notar fácilmente cuán similar es el poema de Jacinto con el del héroe nacional. El de Rizal fue escrito seis meses antes de que Jacinto escribiera el suyo. Ambos poemas están dedicados a Filipinas. Y están escritos en el estilo Alejandrino (verso de catorce sílabas métricas compuesto de dos hemistiquios de siete sílabas con acento en la tercera y decimotercera sílaba). Bueno, sin más preámbulos, os presento A La Patria por Emilio Jacinto.

Talambuhay ni Emilio Jacinto

Emilio Jacinto, el “Cerebro del Katipunan” (imagen: Bayaning Filipino).

Emilio Jacinto

¡Salve, oh patria, que adoro, amor de mis amores,
que Natura de tantos tesoros prodigó;
vergel do son más suaves y gentiles las flores,
donde el alba se asoma con más bellos colores,
donde el poeta contempla delicias que soñó!

¡Salve, oh reina de encantos, Filipinas querida,
resplandeciente Venus, tierra amada y sin par:
región de luz, colores, poesía, fragancias, vida,
región de ricos frutos y de armonías, mecida
por la brisa y los dulces murmullos de la mar!

Preciosísima y blanca perla del mar de Oriente,
edén esplendoroso de refulgente sol:
yo te saludo ansioso, y adoración ardiente
te rinde el alma mía, que es su deseo vehemente
verte sin amarguras, sin el yugo español.

En medio de tus galas, gimes entre cadenas;
la libertad lo es todo y estás sin libertad;
para aliviar, oh patria, tu padecer, tus penas,
gustoso diera toda la sangre de mis venas,
durmiera como duermen tantos la eternidad.

El justo inalienable derecho que te asiste
palabra vana es sólo, sarcasmo, burla cruel;
la justicia es quimera para tu suerte triste;
esclava, y sin embargo ser reina mereciste;
goces das al verdugo que en cambio te dá hiel.

¿Y de qué sirve ¡ay, patria! triste, desventurada,
que sea límpido y puro tu cielo de zafir,
que tu luna se ostente con luz más argentada,
de que sirve, si en tanto lloras esclavizada,
si cuatro siglos hace que llevas de sufrir?

¿De que sirve que cubran tus campos tantas flores,
que en tus selvas se oiga al pájaro trinar,
si el aire que trasporta sus cantos, sus olores,
en alas también lleva quejidos y clamores
que el alma sobrecogen y al hombre hacen pensar?

¿De qué sirve que, perla de virginal pureza,
luzcas en tu blancura la riqueza oriental,
si toda tu hermosura, si toda tu belleza,
en mortíferos hierros de sin igual dureza
engastan los tiranos, gozándose en tu mal?

¿De qué sirve que asombre tu exuberante suelo,
produciendo sabrosos frutos y frutos mil,
si al fin cuanto cobija tu esplendoroso cielo
el hispano declara que es suyo y sin recelo
su derecho proclama con insolencia vil?

Mas el silencio acaba y la senil paciencia,
que la hora ya ha sonada de combatir por ti.
Para aplastar sin miedo, de frente, sin clemencia,
la sierpe que envenena tu mísera existencia,
arrastrando la muerte, nos tienes, patria, aquí.

La madre idolatrada, la esposa que adoramos,
el hijo que es pedazo de nuestro corazón,
por defender tu causa todo lo abandonamos:
esperanzas y amores, la dicha que anhelamos,
todos nuestros ensueños, toda nuestra ilusión.

Surgen de todas partes los héroes por encanto,
en sacro amor ardiendo, radiantes de virtud;
hasta morir no cejan, y espiran. Entre tanto
que fervientes pronuncian, patria, tu nombre santo;
su último aliento exhalan deseándote salud.

Y así, cual las estrellas del cielo numerosas,
por tí se sacrifican mil vidas sin dolor:
y al oir de los combates las cargas horrorosas
rogando porque vuelvan tus huestes victoriosas
oran niños, mujeres y ancianos con fervor.

Con saña que horroriza, indecibles torturas,–
porque tanto te amaron y desearon tu bien,–
cuantos mártires sufren; más en sus almas puras
te bendicen en medio de angustias y amarguras
y, si les dan la muerte, bendicente también.

No importa que sucumban a cientos, a millones,
tus hijos en lucha tremenda y desigual
y su preciosa sangre se vierta y forme mares:
no importa, si defienden a tí y a sus hogares,
si por luchar perecen, su destino fatal.

No importa que suframos destierros y prisiones,
tormentos infernales con salvaje furor;
ante el altar sagrado que en nuestras corazones
juntos te hemos alzado, sin mancha de pasiones,
juramentos te hicieron el alma y el honor.

Si al terminar la lucha con laureles de gloria
nuestra obra y sacrificios corona el triunfo al fin,
las edades futuras harán de tí memoria;
y reina de esplendores, sin manchas ya ni escoria,
te admirarán los pueblos del mundo en el confín.

Ya en tu cielo brillando el claro y nuevo día,
respirando venturas, amor y libertad,
de los que caído hubieren en la noche sombría
no te olvides, que aun bajo la humilde tumba fría
se sentirán felices por tu felicidad.

Pero si la victoria favorece al hispano
y adversa te es la suerte en la actual ocasión,
no importa: seguiremos llamándonos “hermano”,
que habrá libertadores mientras haya tirano,
la fé vivirá mientras palpite el corazón.

Y la labor penosa en la calma aparente
que al huracán precede y volverá a bramar,
con la tarea siguiendo más firme, más prudente,
provocará otra lucha aun más tenaz y ardiente
hasta que consigamos tus lágrimas secar.

¡Oh patria idolatrada, cuanto más afligida
y angustiada te vemos te amamos más y más:
no pierdas la esperanza; de la profunda herida
siempre brotará sangre, mientras tengamos vida,
nunca te olvidaremos: ¡jamás, jamás, jamás!

Imus recuerda sus héroes caídos en su famoso puente

La Batalla de Imus fue la primera batalla principal de la rebelión tagala (más conocida como la revolución filipina) contra el gobierno colonial español en la Provincia de Cavite, Filipinas. Se libró desde el 1 al 3 de septiembre de 1896 en el pueblo de Imus en la dicha provincia, justo después del nefasto ataque de Andrés Bonifacio contra el polvorín de San Juan del Monte en Manila.

La victoria decisiva resultante para los rebeldes en Imus, o los miembros imuseños del Katipunan, alarmó mucho al gobierno español en Filipinas. Después del conflicto, intentaron someter a los rebeldes en la provincia de Cavite con las batallas gemelas en Binacayan y Dalajican en Cavite el Viejo (ahora Kawit) unas semanas después de la Batalla de Imus.


La espaciosa plaza de Imus se encuentra en el corazón de su vieja Población (centro del pueblo) donde está rodeada por casas ancestrales bellamente conservadas, el ayuntamiento, y la Catedral de Nuestra Señora del Pilar que también es la patrona de España y de la Hispanidad. Una enorma bandera filipina que se iza en un palo de la bandera muy alto ondea orgullosamente en su centro.

Como consultor de la historia para el gobierno local de la Ciudad de Imus, bajo de la oficina de mi amigo, el afable y muy popular Sr. Concejal Raymond “Mon” Argüelles, tuve el privilegio de presenciar las ceremonias austeras celebradas el pasado 3 de septiembre en esa ciudad para conmemorar a los héroes caídos de esa batalla (había fuertes bajas en ambos lados). Lloviznaba cuando llegué a la Catedral de Nuestra Señora del Pilar. La Misa fue oficiada por el Cardenal Luis Antonio Tagle, Arzobispo de Manila y un hijo de Imus. De hecho, un antepasado suyo, José Tagle, era un miembro de alto rango del Katipunan y un participante en la Batalla de Imus.


El Cardenal Tagle celebra una Misa de acción de gracias en la Catedral de Nuestra Señora del Pilar, el asiento de la Diócesis de Imus.


Nuestra Señora del Pilar, la reina de Imus.

Después de la Misa, procedimos al cercano complejo deportivo de la ciudad (Imus Sports Complex) donde los más altos oficiales del lugar, dirigido por su joven alto ejecutivo, el Sr. Alcalde Emmanuel “Manny” Maliksí, pronunciaron discursos interesantes e inspiradores. El Cardenal Tagle pasó para dirigir una breve oración. Incluso tuve una rara foto con él, gracias a la insistencia del Concejal Mon.


Después, todos marchamos hacia el Puente de Isabel II de España que está a menos de medio kilómetro del complejo deportivo. Fue en ese puente donde tuvo lugar el clímax de la Batalla de Imus. Ya no lloviznaba cuando salíamos a caminar.

El puente fue nombrado en honor de Isabel II, reina de España entre 1833 y 1868. Fue el primer puente permanente construido sobre el Río Imus, uno de los ríos más largos de Cavite, cerca de la frontera con la municipalidad de Bacoor (ahora una ciudad). El puente de dos carriles conecta la Calle Salinas en Barrio Palicô, el último barrio de Imus antes de Bacoor, con la Población de Imus. Si no me equivoco, este puente forma parte de la vieja Camino Real que condujo a Intramuros, la antigua ciudad amurallada de Manila que era la capital de la Capitanía General de Filipinas.

El Puente de Isabel II es un puente de doble arco que fue construido en 1856 por los frailes agustinos recoletos encabezados por el hermano lego Matías Carbonell utilizando mampostería de piedra. Fue completado el año siguiente.


El 3 de septiembre de 1896, durante la Batalla de Imus que conmemoramos, el tramo norte de este puente fue desmantelado por los Katipuneros como una táctica ofensiva para combatir a las fuerzas gubernamentales que llegaban desde Manila. Con los rebeldes escondidos detrás de las trincheras, los soldados gubernamentales que marchaban no verían el corte hasta que hayan atravesado parte del tramo, de modo que los atrapen. La táctica fue un éxito que resultó en la victoria de los revolucionarios. Después de la batalla, el tramo roto del puente fue reemplazado temporalmente por una estructura de madera pero luego fue reconstruido durante el período colonial estadounidense.


En frente del monumento que conmemora la Batalla de Imus en el Puente de Isabel II. Izquierda a derecha: Concejal Mon Argüelles, Cynthia Ramírez, Diputado Alex Advíncula (3º distrito de Imus), Alcalde Manny Maliksí, Vicealcalde Arnel Cantimbuhan, Ed Argüelles, Concejal Dennis Lacson, Joshua Guinto (presidente del consejo juvenil), y Concejal Lloyd Jaro. Hagan clic aquí para ver más fotos del evento.


El marcador de mármol lo dice todo: este puente es un legado de Madre España a los imuseños.

Los nativos de Imus son personas muy conscientes de la historia. Su amor por el patrimonio y la historia se refleja en sus casas ancestrales (bahay na bató) muy elegantes y bien conservadas, en la conmemoración de eventos históricos, en sus marcadores históricos, monumentos, banderas filipinas, y en su orgullo como la “capital de la bandera” del país (“Flag Capital of the Philippines“). Incluso el Sr. Alcalde Manny es muy conocedor de la historia de su lugar (dos veces me dijo que Imus tiene la mayor cantidad de marcadores históricos en cualquier lugar de Filipinas).

Mis amigos ya conocen mi posición sobre la rebelión encabezada por el Katipunan: estoy en contra porque soy católico. Para mí, la fe es la primera antes que la patria. Esto no quiere decir que todos los miembros del Katipunan fueron malvados y maniáticos. Con certeza, muchos de ellos lucharon por un ideal que pensaban que eran noble y justo. Pero hoy, no son más que meros jugadores de la historia. En esa breve conmemoración en el Puente de Isabel II de España, estaba seguro de que muchos conmemoraban sólo a los héroes caídos de Imus, es decir, a los Katipuneros que rebelaron contra el gobierno. Pero creo que fui el único participante que pensó en los verdaderos defensores de Imus: el gobierno. Sin embargo, recordé ambos lados y oré por todos ellos. Todos ellos contribuyeron a la que ahora es la Ciudad de Imus, una ciudad que está orgullosa de su historia.

122nd anniversary of the Battle of Imus

The City Government of Imus, Cavite Province, led by Mayor Emmanuel “Manny” Maliksi, commemorated this morning the 122nd anniversary of the Katipunan’s siege of Imus, more famously known as the Battle of Imus, that occurred from 1–3 September 1896. The said battle is considered as the first major encounter between the Katipunan rebels led by Emilio Aguinaldo and Imus’s very own José Tagle versus the Spanish colonial government helmed by then Governor-General Ramón Blanco.

The austere event began at the Imus Cathedral (Iglesia de Nuestra Señora del Pilar) where Mass was celebrated by none other than Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle (great grandson of José). A flag-raising ceremony followed afterwards at the nearby Imus Sports Complex attended by all employees, public servants, and peace-keeping officers of the city hall. The city’s top government leaders gave inspiring speeches. The most interesting was that of Mayor Manny’s as he became a historian of sorts that day. Click on the following photo below to watch his very interesting, trivia-laced speech.


After the speeches, we all proceeded to the 161-year-old Bridge of Isabel II (Puente de Isabel II), a heritage site. It is where the Battle of Imus had its climax. Historian Emmanuel Calairo, Director of the Cavite Studies Center, gave a brief speech about the significance of the site. Click on the photo below to watch his speech and the offering of flowers at the bridge to commemorate the fallen fighters, both Katipuneros and government troops.


I’ll be blogging more about this very soon. Stay tuned.

Where have our heroes taken us?

All writers seek fame, or at the very least, a certain level of attention from a niche audience. Those who deny this are downright liars. For what writer wouldn’t wish for his works to be read? That’s the purpose of writing something in the first place, in order for it to be read.

I might never become a well-known writer anymore for various reasons (or excuses): I’m a full-time, night shift employee; I have a severe case of complex regional pain syndrome, thus debilitating my thought processes, and; I procrastinate too much. My circumstances at home are not what one might consider as conducive for a writer, let alone researching. Then there’s this cute little thing called the Internet taking much of my time. But why shouldn’t I use it? After a stressful night’s work and a horrible commute to and from the office, I’m left with less energy to even lift a book. I’d rather watch Momoland’s mind-boggling choreography just to relax my mood (yes, I am a frustrated dancer, no kidding), or check for updates regarding the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Or look for some annoying celebrity to bash on Twitter.

Having been exposed to too much Internet usage through the years, I also noticed that my attention span has gotten short. While researchers are still divided on the issue, I can tell from experience and self-observation that it has really contributed to my reading and writing woes. There were times that whenever I read a book, I couldn’t finish a page without doing something else on the side. And while browsing through pages, my mind compels me to look for links to click whenever I encounter unfamiliar words or terms, or to even scroll down further to hasten my reading, looking for just the juicy parts. It’s gotten that bad.

You might say that at least, I can still blog. Well, yeah, but not as prolific and as capable as I used to when I was still blogging in ALAS FILIPINAS or FILIPINO eSCRIBBLES. So if the skies have dimmed my chances of becoming a writer, what more of becoming a well-known historian? At any rate, whether or not my above-mentioned reasons (excuses!) hamper my researching and writing, I still find it impossible for me to become recognized as a historian, no matter how hard my wife tries to market me as a “young historian” (what the hey, I’m nearing forty, and there are many other historians younger than me who are now rivaling the great Ambeth Ocampo in terms of prominence).

I don’t want to sound like I’m self-pitying or anything like that, but it’s true. I cannot become a recognized historian for three major reasons. Number one, I’m not a good public speaker. Number two, I do not belong to the academe (I’m not a history teacher, just a corporate slave). And lastly, my views on Filipino History are raging against the flow. Like mad, I should add.

If you notice, many popular historians today deliver speeches and give out lectures, seminars, and interviews (that’s why I call them celebrity historians, haha). While I may have done the same a few times in the past, I didn’t sound as good nor as convincing as they are. As I always say, I’m more of a scribbler than a talker. Whenever I receive invites to do speaking engagements, there is always hesitancy from my part. It’s either I find it hard to say no, or my excited wife successfully prods me to accept them. Then there’s the second part: I am not a history professor. Many people online have mistaken me for one, and I find it very flattering, of course. But I am a mere slave to my corporate boss, always cowering down whenever I receive bad grades at work (and I always do, maybe because my heart and mind are somewhere else — treading the cobbled streets of 19th-century Intramuros, haha 😔).

But even if I could talk like a mesmerizing statesman and teach history in a famed university, I still find it highly unlikely that I’d become a well-known and respected historian. As I have mentioned earlier, I go against the flow. I’m not saying that many other historians before me didn’t. Many of them up to now still disagree with each other. But my views regarding popularly accepted history are so unpopular that the National Historical Commission of the Philippines might as well send me to jail. 😂

I don’t consider Andrés Bonifacio and his KKK cohorts as heroes; I brand them as terrorists. I don’t consider Ninoy Aquino, Jr. as a martyr; I brand him as a traitorous opportunist. I don’t consider Juan Luna as a patriot; I consider him only as the greatest painter in our country’s history; I don’t consider Marcelo H. del Pilar as the “Father of True Filipino Masonry”; I’d rather call him as a True Filipino Penitent. I don’t consider the Silang couple of Ilocos as heroes; to my eyes, they were traitors. I don’t consider Lapu-Lapu as the “first Filipino hero”; I brand him as a delicious fish served in Magallanes Square Hotel.

Poor Pedro Paterno has been painted as a villain to the point that we have become convinced to ignore his contributions to scholarship and literature which I believe are still important (El Problema Político de Filipinas; Nínay [the first Filipino novel]; La Antigua Civilización Tagala; etc.).

I refer to my country as Filipinas whether in English or in Spanish; Philippines and Pilipinas are aberrations created by misled/twisted nationalists schooled in an English-only educational system (that’s why I use “Filipino History” instead of “Philippine History”). Unlike many Filipinos, I do not disrespect my national identity by calling myself as Pinoy or even Pilipino. I abhor Taglish. I still use the original orthography whenever I write in Tagálog. And the only national language that I still recognize —as recognized by most national heroes that we enshrine today— is the Spanish language.

I do not and cannot accept that the three centuries of Spanish colonization were generally oppressive and cruel in light of clear documentation to the contrary. I couldn’t for the life of me even call it “colonization”. The polo y servicios were boon, not bane. And the uprising that occurred during the late 1890s was not a revolution but a rebellion.

Today, we again celebrate National Heroes Day to remember the heroism of our forefathers who fought against foreign oppression. But what foreign oppression comes to mind whenever we are called to remember the sacrifices of our patriots? In the introduction to the first book that I wrote (the biography of World War II hero Abelardo “Captain Remo” Remoquillo), I took the opportunity to rant about this.

Perhaps due to either rote memorization or desensitization, or both, Filipino students have somehow become accustomed to the idea that all of our National Heroes existed in the same era. This is understandable because whenever we speak of our country’s past, it would almost always be about our three centuries under the Spanish Empire. But then, there’s always this sinking feeling that most of our heroes existed only during the Spanish Occupation. For instance, the bulk of our National Heroes comes from that bygone era: José Rizal, Marcelo H. del Pilar, Emilio Aguinaldo, etc. Only to an interested few will the realization sink in that some of those heroes who we thought were from the Spanish era were in fact more active during our country’s war against the United States of América than they were against the Spaniards. These were Apolinario Mabini, Antonio Luna, and Miguel Malvar to name a few.

But when it comes to the three-year Japanese regime, we could hardly remember names. There’s Josefa Llanes Escoda, José Abad Santos, and Vicente Lim, but they ring a bell only because their faces and names are plastered in one thousand-peso notes. Outside of currency, do we even know what kind of heroism did they display during those fearsome years under the Land of the Rising Sun?

All this doesn’t mean that I refuse to accept historical facts. Of course I do. I simply refuse to accept opinions. Facts and opinions are different from each other. I accept hard data presented by historical research, but not opinions formed by them, especially opinions formed by an English-only education with an agenda that has little to zero understanding of our country’s Spanish past. Take the Katipunan rebellion of 1896, for instance. When government forces discovered the existence of the Katipunan in late 1896, what happened next were bloodshed and the senseless killing and torture of innocent Spanish friars and other individuals who went against the rebels’ 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. While it is a fact that there were Katipunero recruits from all over the country, the truth was that there was no national sentiment that supported the Katipunan rebellion against Spain. Civil society was against it.

It should be noted in the preceding paragraph that the Katipunan was discovered by government authorities. Keep in mind that it was an underground organization. Simply put, the Katipunan was an ILLEGAL ASSOCIATION no matter how hard a Pantayong Pananaw zealot will try to picture it with dainty colors of patriotism and love of country. Such zealots might argue that the Katipunan had lofty ideals of freedom and nationhood, thus excusing it from illegalities. But so do the Moro Islamic Liberation Front and the Abu Sayyaf who try to picture themselves as the patriots and martyrs of (their fantasy land called) Bangsamoro. Should we consider them heroes too?

Mimicking the Katipunan’s belligerence towards lawful society, Senator Antonio “Sonny” Trillanes IV and his Magdalo group did the same thing twice in the past against the administration of former 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 rebelled against the Arroyo government to fight corruption and injustice, didn’t they?

The New People’s Army has been waging a “revolution” for decades. If they win, Bonifacio will surely displace Rizal as our country’s leading national hero. That’s why most of the time, I’m tempted to believe in that cynical saying that history is written by the victors.

One man’s hero is another man’s villain, so the saying goes (hello, Apo Marcos!). So after reading this, I entreat you, dear reader, to reflect the significance of today’s celebration. It’s a holiday, anyway. Ualáng pasoc, cayá maraming horas para mag-isíp-isíp. Having said that…

Why are we so obsessed with national heroes? It seems to me that we are the only country in the world with a surfeit of patriots. And we keep on looking for more. Our government has enshrined such heroes as models that we should look up to and emulate. And yet we are still one of the most corrupt countries in the world.

Where have our heroes taken us? Or better yet: what has our idolatry for these heroes done for our country?

Oh, and one more thing: Rizal retracted and there’s really NOTHING you can do about it.