A year after

Exactly a year ago, I was hospitalized due to tuberculosis (TB).聽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. 馃槤

ASIAN HOSPITAL

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聽traslaci贸n ever since becoming a devotee in 2011.

PEPE ALAS.jpg

The closest I could get to the Black Nazarene of Quiap貌. 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 L贸pez Jaena, Marcelo del Pilar, Jos茅 Mar铆a Pa帽ganiban, 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 Cat谩quiz, Mama Beth C贸rsega and her daughter Jonafel, Se帽or Guillermo G贸mez,聽Nonia Tiongco, my mother-in-law, and my dad. Special thanks to聽AteChristina Capacete and Riah Ram铆rez聽(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聽tuberculosis聽and pneumonia. May God bless you all!

 

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Marcelo H. del Pilar, a broken dad till the end鈥

Today is the birth anniversary of Marcelo H. del Pilar, one of the leaders of the Propaganda Movement.

Below is a brief biographical sketch of the bulaque帽o native written by Carmencita H. Acosta from the 1965 book Eminent Filipinos which was published by the National Historical Commission, a precursor of today鈥檚 National Historical Commission of the Philippines (recently known as the National Historical Institute).

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My wife Yeyette in front of Marcelo H. del Pilar’s monument in Plaza Plaridel (Remedios Circle), Malate, Manila. This monument used to be in front of nearby Manila Zoo. Fellow C铆rculo Hispano-Filipino member and my聽comadre,聽Gemma Cruz Araneta (a descendant of Jos茅 Rizal’s sister Mar铆a) suggested the transfer of this monument to this site while she was the president of the Heritage Conservation Society.聽 The transfer was done last 2009 under the guidance of former Manila Mayor Alfredo Lim (this photo was taken on 24 August 2010).

MARCELO H. DEL PILAR
(1850-1896)

鈥淭he most intelligent leader, the real soul of the separatists鈥︹ 鈥 these were the words used by Governor General Ram贸n Blanco, chief executive of the Philippine colony, in describing Marcelo H. del Pilar. A master polemist in both the Tagalog and Spanish languages, del Pilar was the most feared by the Spanish colonial authorities.

Del Pilar was born in Bulac谩n, Bulac谩n on August 30, 1850, the youngest of ten children of Juli谩n H. del Pilar and Blasa Gatmait谩n. His father had held thrice the post of聽gobernadorcillo聽in their home town. Del Pilar studied at the Colegio de San Jos茅 in Manila and at the University of Santo Tom谩s; at the age of thirty he finished the course in law. He devoted more time to writing than in the practice of his profession because in the former he saw a better opportunity to be of service to his oppressed country. His oldest brother, Father Toribio H. del Pilar, a Catholic priest, had been deported along with other Filipino patriots to Guam in 1872 following the Cavite Mutiny.

He founded the聽Diariong Tagalog聽in 1882, the first daily published in the Tagalog text, where he publicly denounced Spanish maladministration of the Philippines. His attacks were mostly directed against the friars whom he considered to be mainly responsible for the oppression of the Filipinos.

In 1885, he urged the聽cabezas de barangay聽of Malolos to resist the government order giving the friars blanket authority to revise the tax lists. He instigated the聽gobernadorcillo聽of Malolos, Manuel Cris贸stomo, to denounce in 1887 the town curate who violated government prohibition against the exposure of corpses in the churches. In the same year, he denounced the curate of Binondo for consigning Filipinos to poor seats in the church while assigning the good ones to Spanish half-castes.

On March 1, 1888, the populace of Manila staged a public demonstration against the friars. Led by the lawyer Doroteo Cort茅s, the demonstrators presented to the civil governor of Manila a manifesto entitled 鈥隆Viva Espa帽a! 隆Viva la Reina! 隆Viva el Ej茅rcito! 隆Fuera los Frailes!鈥. This document, which had been signed by eight hundred persons, was written by Marcelo H. del Pilar. It enumerated the abuses of the friars, petitioned for the deportation of the archbishop of Manila, the Dominican Pedro Payo, and urged the expulsion of the friars.

It was because of his having written this anti-friar document that del Pilar was forced to exile himself from the Philippines in order to escape arrest and possible execution by the colonial authorities.

鈥淚 have come here not to fight the strong but to solicit reforms for my country,鈥 del Pilar declared upon arrival in Barcelona, Spain.聽La Soberan铆a Monacal en Filipinas(Friar Supremacy in the Philippines) was among the first pamphlets he wrote in Spain. The others included聽Sag贸t ng Espa帽a sa Hib铆c ng Filipinas聽(Spain鈥檚 Answer to the Pleas of the Philippines),聽Caiigat Cay贸聽(Be Like the Eel) 鈥 del Pilar鈥檚 defense of Rizal against a friar pamphlet entitled聽Caii帽gat Cay贸聽denouncing the聽Noli Me Tangere.

Del Pilar headed the political section of the聽Asociaci贸n Hispano-Filipina聽founded in Madrid by Filipinos and Spanish sympathizers, the purpose of which was to agitate for reforms from Spain.

In Madrid, del Pilar edited for five years聽La Solidaridad, the newspaper founded by Graciano L贸pez Jaena in 1889 which championed the cause for greater Philippine autonomy. His fiery and convincing editorials earned from him the respect and admiration of his own Spanish enemies. 鈥淧laridel鈥 became well-known as his聽nom de plume.

In November, 1895,聽La Solidaridad聽was forced to close its offices for lack of funds. Del Pilar himself was by then a much emaciated man, suffering from malnutrition and overwork. He was finally convinced that Spain would never grant concessions to the Philippines and that the well-being of his beloved country could be achieved only by means of bloodshed 鈥 revolution.

Weakened by tuberculosis and feeling that his days were numbered, he decided to return to the Philippines to rally his countrymen for the libertarian struggle.

But as he was about to leave Barcelona, death overtook him on July 4, 1896.

His passing was deeply mourned by the Filipinos for in him they had their staunchest champion and most fearless defender. His death marked the passing of an era 鈥搕he era of the Reform Movement鈥 because scarcely two months after his death, the Philippine Revolution was launched.

I am not really a big fan of Marcelo H. del Pilar, especially when I learned that he was a high-ranking Mason. Besides, I believe that what he fought for would not equate to heroism. He was, to put it more bluntly, another American-invented hero. The American government, during their colonization of Filipinas, virtually influenced the Filipino puppet government to recognize 鈥渉eroes鈥 who fought against Spain.

Pilar, Marcelo H. del.jpg

But a closer observation on Marcelo鈥檚 life will reveal that, like Rizal and other Filipino 鈥渉eroes鈥 of his generation, he never fought against Spain. They fought against the Church, the sworn enemy of their fraternity (Freemasonry).

What really captivated me about Marcelo is his heartbreaking fatherhood. Since I am a father of five, I can empathize with his sorrowful plight.

A few years ago, when Yeyette and I had only one child (Krystal), and we were still living in a decrepit bodega somewhere in Las Pi帽as, I happened to stumble upon Fr. Fidel Villaroel鈥檚 (eminent historian and former archivist of the University of Santo Tom谩s) monograph on del Pilar 鈥 Marcelo H. del Pilar: His Religious Conversions. It was so timely because during that time, I had just gone through my own religious conversion, having returned to the Catholic fold after a few years of being an atheist and agnostic.

In the said treatise by Fr. Villaroel, I learned of del Pilar鈥檚 anguish over being separated from his two daughters, Sof铆a and Anita. Due to his radical activities as an anti-friar, as can be gleaned in Acosta鈥檚 biographical sketch above, del Pilar escaped deportation. He left the country on 28 October 1888, escaping to Hong Kong before moving to Spain. He never saw his little kids and his wife ever again.

Sof铆a was just nine years old at the time of his escape; Anita, one year and four months. Father Villaroel couldn鈥檛 have written this painful separation better:

Month after month, day after day, for eight endless years, the thought of returning to his dear ones was del Pilar鈥檚 permanent obsession, dream, hope, and pain. Of all the sufferings he had to go through, this was the only one that made the 鈥渨arrior鈥 shed tears like a boy, and put his soul in a trance of madness and insanity. His 104 surviving letters to the family attest to this painful situation鈥

鈥e felt and expressed nostalgia for home as soon as he arrived in Barcelona in May 1889, when he wrote to his wife: 鈥淚t will not be long before we see each other again.鈥 鈥淢y return鈥 is the topic of every letter. Why then did he not return? Two things stood in the way: money for the fare, and the hope of seeing a bill passed in the Spanish Cortes suppressing summary deportations like the one hanging on del Pilar鈥檚 head. 鈥淲e are now working on that bill.鈥 鈥淲ait for me, I am going, soon I will embrace my little daughters, I dream with the return.鈥 How sweet, how repetitious and monotonous, how long the delay, but how difficult, almost impossible!

Here are some of those heartbreaking letters, translated by Fr. Villaroel into English from the Spanish and Tag谩log originals, of Marcelo to his wife (and second cousin) Marciana 鈥淐hanay鈥 del Pilar and Sof铆a:

In 1890: I want to return this year in November (letter of February 4); Day and night I dream about Sof铆a (February 18), I will return next February or March (December 10).

In 1891: It will not be long before I carry Anita on my shoulders (January 22); Sof铆a, you will always pray that we will see each other soon (August 31).

In 1892: If it were not for lack of the money I need for the voyage, I would be there already (February 3); I am already too restless (March 2); I feel already too impatient because I am not able to return (April 14); This year will not pass before we see each other (May 11); Be good, Sof铆a, every night you will pray one Our Father, asking for our early reunion (September 14;聽it is interesting to note that del Pilar advised her daughter to pray the Our Father despite his being a high-ranking Mason 鈥揚epe鈥); Don鈥檛 worry if, when I return, I will be exiled to another part of the Archipelago (November 9).

In 1893: Who knows if I will close my eyes without seeing Anita (January 18)!; My heart is shattered every time I have news that my wife and daughters are suffering; hence, my anxiety to return and fulfill my duty to care for those bits of my life (May 24); I always dream that I have Anita on my lap and Sof铆a by her side; that I kiss them by turns and that both tell me: 鈥楻emain with us, pap谩, and don鈥檛 return to Madrid鈥. I awake soaked in tears, and at this very moment that I write this, I cannot contain the tears that drop from my eyes (August 3); It is already five years that we don鈥檛 see each other (December 21).

In 1894: Tell them (Sof铆a and Anita) to implore the grace of Our Lord so that their parents may guide them along the right path (February 15); Every day I prepare myself to return there. Thanks that the children are well. Tears begin to fall from my eyes every time I think of their聽orfandad聽(bereavement). But I just try to cure my sadness by invoking God, while I pray: 鈥楾hy will be done on earth as it is in heaven鈥 I am the most unfortunate father because my daughters are the most unfortunate among all daughters鈥 I cannot write more, because tears are flowing from my eyes aplenty (July 18); We shall meet soon (December 5)

I have to admit, reading these letters never fail to move me to tears because I, too, have experienced the same聽orfandad聽and the longingness for a father. It is because I have never lived with my dad for a long time since he was always overseas. When we were young, he only stayed with us for a couple of weeks or a few months. And my dad was a very silent man.

His work overseas, of course, was for our own benefit. But the price was depressing: we鈥檝e been detached from each other forever. Whenever he comes home to us, my dad was like a total stranger to me. Especially now that I have my own family and I rarely see him nowadays. No, we are not in bad terms (although I know that he still resents the fact that I married at a very early age). But we are simply not close to each other because of those years of separation and lack of communication. I do not know him, and he doesn鈥檛 know me. We do not know each other personally. But I know for a fact that my dad loved us dearly, and that he experienced the same anguish experienced by del Pilar. I鈥檝e read some of dad鈥檚 letters to mom, and in those letters he expressed the same desire to come home with us and stay permanently. But nothing like that happened (and now, my parents are no longer together).

The same thing with del Pilar. After all those patriotic talk and nationalistic activities, nothing happened. His sacrifice of being separated from his family was, sadly, all for naught鈥

When he died a Christian death in Barcelona (yes, he also retracted from Masonry shortly before he passed away), he was buried in the聽Cementerio del Oeste/Cementerio Nuevo聽where his remains stayed for the next twenty-four years. Paradoxically, a renowned Christian member of the Filipino magistrate, Justice Daniel Romu谩ldez, made all the necessary procedures of exhuming the body of del Pilar, one of the highest-ranking Masons of the Propaganda Movement. His remains finally arrived on 3 December 1920. He was welcomed by members of Masonic lodges (perhaps unaware of del Pilar鈥檚 conversion, or they simply refused to believe it), government officials, and his family of course.

Sof铆a by then was already 41; and del Pilar鈥檚 little Anita was no longer little 鈥 she was already 33.

Anita was very much traumatized by that fateful separation. Bitter up to the end, she still could not accept the fact that her father chose the country,聽ang bayan, before family. An interesting (and another heartbreaking) anecdote is shared by Anita鈥檚 son,聽Father Vicente Marasigan, S.J., regarding her mother鈥檚 wounded emotions:

[My] first flashback recalls April 1942. Radio listeners in Manila had just been stunned by the announcement of the surrender of Corregidor. There was an emotional scene between my father, my mother, and myself. My mother was objecting to something my father wanted to do聽鈥榩ara sa kabutihan ng bayan鈥. My mother answered,聽鈥楲agi na lang bang para sa kabutihan ng bayan?鈥聽[鈥業s it always for the good of the country?鈥橾 And she choked in fits of hysterical sobbing. All her childhood years have been spent in emotional starvation due to the absence of聽鈥楲olo鈥櫬[Grandfather] Marcelo, far away in Barcelona sacrificing his family聽para sa kabutihan ng bayan.

鈥淭he second flashback is rather dim in memory. I was then two years old, in December 1920. I think I was on board a ship that had just docked at the [Manila] pier, carrying the remains of聽Lolo聽Marcelo. All our relatives from Bulac谩n were present for the festive occasion. Some aunt or grandaunt was telling me how proud and happy I must be. I did not understand what it meant to feel proud, but I knew I was unhappy because I felt that my mother was unhappy. In the presence of that casket of bones, how could she forget the emotional wounds inflicted on her by her father聽鈥榩ara sa kabutihan ng bayan鈥聽[for the good of the country]?

History is not just about dead dates, historical markers, and bronze statues of heroes. It has its share of eventful dramas and personal heartbreaks. And this is one heartbreak that I will never allow my children to experience.

To all the fathers who read this:聽cherish each and every moment that you have with your children.

This blogpost was聽originally published in FILIPINO eSCRIBBLES聽exactly eight years ago today; reblogged here with minor edits. Later on, this blogpost won me the friendship of del Pilar’s descendants and found out that I’m actually related to them by affinity.

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?聽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聽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 FILIPINASor聽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 them. 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 鈥 treading the cobbled streets of 19th-century Intramuros, haha 馃様).

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.聽馃槀

I don’t consider Andr茅s 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.聽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 Pol铆tico de Filipinas; N铆nay [the first Filipino novel];聽La Antigua Civilizaci贸n 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 Tag谩log. And the only national language that I still recognize 鈥攁s recognized by most national heroes that we enshrine today鈥 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聽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聽National Heroes comes from that bygone era: Jos茅 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 Am茅rica 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, Jos茅 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.聽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 Tag谩logs? 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 does 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. Ual谩ng pasoc, cay谩 maraming horas para mag-is铆p-is铆p.聽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:聽Rizal retracted聽and there’s really NOTHING you can do about it.