Saturday, October 25, 2008

Buying Filipino

Now that Filipinos are finally beginning to realize that they should buy locally made products, there is nothing on sale that is made here, from chicken parts to vegetables and fruits to apparel, every thing is imported or smuggled by people whose names we know but do not dare mention.Most of our industries have collapsed exponentially in the past decades, despite protective legislation. Who was it who pontificated--I think he was a president-- that it is cheaper to buy than to manufacture or to plant? However, the recent nose dive of the global financial system and the USA's economy have belied the efficacy of that short-sighted policy; it seems that we may not even be able to borrow the funds we need to buy our daily sustenance.

When the melamine milk scare became banner headlines for several days, I suddenly remembered how my mother used to insist that we drink milk from a dairy farm owned by one of the Aranetas, Vicente I think, brother of J. Antonio who eventually became my father-in-law. I don't remember the brand of that locally produced and bottled milk but I do recall that it was delicious and creamy but, unfortunately, not always available at our neighborhood store, Cherry grocery. Nevertheless, my mother was relentless in her support of Filipino industrialists.

Shortly after WWII, I was sent to St. Theresa's kindergarten and my first pair of leather shoes, courtesy of grandpa Dr. Alfredo Guerrero, was purchased at a posh store on the Escolta called Squires Bingham. I was fascinated by a kind of x- ray machine which showed whether the shoes were a perfect fit. However,as soon as Elpo rubber shoes and Gregg Shoes opened their doors that is where we shopped for our footwear , my college graduation shoes came from there. Along Legarda street in Manila, there was a row of shoe shops where my mother and I went for made-to-order party footwear, usually of the same fabric as one's formal frock.. Then Marikina blossomed into the country's shoe center; hundreds of shoe makers held regular shoe and bag fairs, a must see destination in those days. .

Cherry Grocery, now Foodarama, used to give personalized service so . I would often hear my mother dictating her weekly shopping list on the phone and in a couple of hours a small van would deliver our supplies. She would always punctuate her sentences with "Local", "LocaL", "LOCAL!" and when I once asked her why, she said, rather annoyed, that the grocery people (Tsinoys) would always ask her whether she preferred the imported brand. Our chocolates were Serg and Cocoa Ricoa; she frowned at Peter Paul ( which had a coco nutty flavor I loved) because these were manufactured by an American Company in Laguna, Franklin Baker I think, and although the wife of one of the American executives,Janet Walker, was a friend we never bought Peter & Paul and had them only when Mrs. Walker brought us children a boxful.

That was also why I was never addicted to pop drinks. To this day, I do not take Coca or Pepsi colas, in any form, with my meals, like most of my contemporaries. My siblings and I grew up on Cosmos sarsaparilla, buko water and home made fruit juices or an occasional glass of wine. Believe it or not, my mother used to venture into the wet market in San Juan to buy tapa and longanisa but when we needed processed foods it had to be by Ram. Naturally, that obssesion to "Buy Filipino " was explained to us children, even if Mother was probably not sure we quite understood. She would expound on how ridiculous it was to export our raw materials to industrialized countries only to buy them back as pricey processed goods. That was why it was and is vital for the Philippines to industrialize, she never tired to illuminate us. Industrialization meant more jobs for Filipinos, higher technological levels and a better life.

But all those incipient industries have since then withered on the vine for many reasons among them the colonial mentality of us Filipinos which we seem to have nurtured instead of extirpated, and later, blind adherence to the GATT and WTO and now globalization. Many of those Filipino industrialists did not turn out to be as patriotic as we hoped, instead of expanding the textile industry, remnants were smuggled from the USA; local food manufacturers folded up faced with intense competition from foreign firms that merely packaged goods for the local market. Eventually, we were told that it is cheaper to buy rice so the most fertile lands were converted into unproductive (but lucrative) subdivisions and golf courses.

Many of my mother's contemporaries espoused those nationalistic policies and practiced what they preached and now we can see that they were right after all and that lack of patriotism has an extremely high cost. It may not be too late to start again.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Macario Sakay vindicated, 1 &

It all began last year on 13 September 2007 when the City of Manila, led by Mayor Alfredo S. Lim, simultaneously commemorated the 100th death anniversary of General Macario Sakay and the 104th birthday of Amado V. Hernandez , two Filipino patriots, natives of Tondo. General Macario Sakay was born on Calle Tabora but no one knows where his house once stood so Mayor Lim had no choice but to hold a dual event at the Plaza Amado V. Hernandez, a rotunda of black granite slabs in front of the Santo Niño Church of Tondo.

“Sword & Pen” was the elegantly significant title devised by Mrs. Carmen G. Nakpil, chairperson of the Manila Historical & Heritage Commission (MHHC) The “sword” was General Macario Sakay who fought two imperial powers, Spain and the United States of America, as a katipunero of “balangay Dapitan” and later as a soldier of the Revolutionary Army of the First Republic. He was captured by the Americans in 1902 , was later granted amnesty only to take up arms even more ferociously and establish the Republika ng Katagalugan in the mountainous hinterlands of Rizal and Laguna. The “pen” was Amado V. Hernandez, labor leader and nationalist, activist poet and writer , who was posthumously honored with the National Artist Award f or literature.

“Next year, ”Mayor Lim declared after extolling the long-haired General’s love for country, “… there will be a monument to Macario Sakay at that plaza.” He was pointing at Plaza Morga, a narrow oval shaped plot, a stone’s throw away from where we were.
Indomitable revolutionaries like Gen. Macario Sakay, were a menace to the rapid “pacification” of the Philippines so the American colonial government passed the “Ley de Bandolerismo” which branded as bandoleros, tulisanes, ladrones and common criminals Filipinos who vehemently refused to pledge allegiance to the USA and continued fighting for independence. That is why there is no monument to General Macario Sakay. After he was betrayed in 1906, by Dominador Gomez, the general was imprisoned in Old Bilibid, hanged with other revolutionary fighters in 1907 and his body unceremoniously dumped in a common grave. To this day many Filipinos believe he was a dangerous outlaw and not a patriot.

Soon after the “Sword & Pen” , during a “tertulia”, a monthly gathering at the Museo ng Maynila (re-opened by Mayor Lim in 2007) historians, teachers, principals, students, barangay captains and kagawads and an assortment of history buffs and culture vulture, tackled the touchy topic of historical rectification and the vindication of our maligned and forgotten heroes. Should we rectify historical errors and vindicate our denigrated heroes? By all means, was the consensus at that monthly tertulia which showed that Mayor Lim’s monument project was very well received.

The implementation depended on a lot of other offices and city departments, not just on the MHHC , the Museo or the Manila Tourism and .Cultural Affairs Bureau. It is vital to network with the barangay where Plaza Morga is located and its neighboring units. Mayor Lim never fails to remind the department heads of the city government that inter-office cooperation should be cultivated for good and effective governance.

Macario Sakay vindicated, (2)

The Manila Barangay Bureau, headed by Mr. Roland Lim, had to be deeply involved every step of the way to assure that barangay folk will feel they have a stake in Mayor Alfredo S. Lim’s Macario Sakay monument project. Without the cooperation of barangay captains, kagawads and tanods it would be almost impossible to guarantee peace and order in the plaza and protection against vandals and malevolent elements who might try to deface the hero’s statue.

The City Engineers Office, led by Eng. Amado Andres, focused on the infrastructure. “Clinging vine” lamp posts of the past were replaced with others of a more appropriate design (still much too gaudy for my taste). The pedestal was a monolith, the standard 5x5x7 feet , and samples of marble and granite slabs were submitted for approval. Engineer E. Manimbo of the Parks Development and Beautification Office was enjoined not to even attempt to trim the one and only acacia that dominates Plaza Morga, lest he suffer the fate of Intramuros Administrator Bambi Harper.

Mrs. Monina Santiago, industrious OIC of the Museo ng Maynila, unearthed books about Macario Sakay and other “bandoleros” in the personal library of Atty Sioson, member of the Manila Historical and Heritage Commission (MHHC). Monumental and unequaled research work s of Antonio Abad, Orlino Ochosa and Luis Dery were sent of Mrs. Nakpil who wrote an edifying one- page article on Macario Sakay for the “Philippine Star.” For his part, historian Dr. Jaime Veneracion discussed Sakay and his times during my radio program “Krus na Daan” and to our surprise a lot of people called to ask for more information and congratulate us for rectifying history.

“Patnubay” Award for scuplture, Mr. Benjamin Mendoza , was commissioned to make the monument. He first presented clay model plus three drawings which were submitted to Mayor Lim . Meticulous with historical details, Mr. Mendoza asked for photos of Sakay’s weapons and not finding pictures clear enough to show details, I ventured to ask (Ret) General Manuel Yan, Jr. for technical advise. An aficionado of military history, Gen. Yan said that by the time Sakay was fighting the Americans guerrilla - style the saber was no longer in use so he should be shown carrying a pistol or revolver, to which Mayor Lim agreed

I visited Macario Sakay at Mr. Mendoza atelier on Matimtiman street at the Teachers’ Village . It was touching to see the statue of the “bandolero” take form, projecting such indomitable force and passion. The small clay model was much too mestizo- looking, but the big statue was turning out to be a more faithful representation of Sakay who had a small native nose. I told the sculptor that Mrs. Nakpil never fails to point out that the hair should be well-groomed, Sakay was after all a barber. With a master’s touch Mr. Mendoza made Sakay’s mane fly in the air, exactly how Mrs. Nakpil described it in her poignant article.

A week before the actual unveiling, the weather was most uncooperative; it rained torrents; streets were flooded knee- deep, many of us were stranded in City Hall. I was afraid the pedestal would be washed away in the downpour and that the statue of Macario Sakay, reclined under a makeshift canvas tent for final pouring and finishing touches, would end up splattered on the cobbles of Plaza Morga. The thought of having to cancel the unveiling of the first ever statue of Macario Sakay after such elaborate and painstaking preparations, was most depressing indeed.

By some miracle, the storm suddenly left with no other tropical convergence threatening our “area of responsibility” ; so on that Saturday morning, the 13th of September, a sun like the one embroidered on Macario Sakay’s red flag cast brilliant rays on the Mayor of Manila, his Tondo constituents, the navy and army men in full regalia, the police, teachers, students , bureaucrats, historians, vendors, workers, “Los Bandoleros” of UP, long-haired like Sakay, and all those curious souls who gathered at Plaza Morga to honor Macario Sakay and finally vindicate his name on the 101th anniversary of his cruel but glorious martyrdom.

Monday, September 15, 2008

from Antonio Barrientos

Dear Ms. Araneta:I am from Talisay Batangas ( a coastal town just below Tagaytay City) and I first heard the story of Sakay (he was known only as Sakay during that time-possibly no one was telling the people that Gen. Sakay was a revoluionary, a freedom fighter) from my mother who also heard the story from her mother who during the time of Gen. Macario Sakay was only a teenager. According to my mother, she was told by my grandmother that Gen. Macario Sakay and his fellow revolutionaries used to passed the river where my grandmother and other women were washing clothes. As I recall it right, the women according to my grandmother's account were terrified and extremely afraid because news were circulating (possibly American propaganda) that Gen. Sakay was a tulisan whose group were known to abduct women and extort from people wherever they passed. But based on my grandmother's account, nothing really happened everytime the General pass by. It seemed the group of Gen. Macario Sakay was ostracized by the people because the latter loss in the propaganda war (press releases) but their honor untainted. I think this account that I heard from my mother as a young boy (I am now 55 -years old, born in 1953), was a credible evidence that Gen. Macario Sakay was an honorable man, and a true hero. He was indeed vindicated and History is rewritten.
Yours truly,
Antonio Barrientos
Winnipeg, Manitoba Canada

Saturday, September 13, 2008

from Fe Panaligan Koons

Congrats! I am sure you helped in the Macario Sakay memorial/statue daw ba sa Tondo.. mabuti naman at naparangalan na si Sakay.. Long time overdue. glad to know that Mayor Lim is supporting these things.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Rescuing my "bandoleros"

By” bandoleros” I mean Generals Macariio Leon Sakay, Lt. Col. Lucio de Vega Lt. Gen Francisco Carreon, Major General Leon Villafuerte, Major Benito Natividad and Lt. Col. Julio Montalan whose singular group picture was taken in 1906, shortly after they were lured to surrender but ignominiously betrayed by the American and Filipino negotiators. .
Certainly, there were many other patriots who were unjustly branded bandoleros and insurrectos but we know even less about them than those young men in that photograph, all in their twenties, dashing in rayadillos, with well-groomed long hair. To the Americans, Macario Leon Sakay was the most politically dangerous because he had formed a juridical entity, the Katagalugan republic, in the inaccessible mountains of Rizal, which aimed to continue the First Republic , dismembered by the capture of Pres. Emilio Aguinaldo in 1901. Gen. Sakay ‘s final objective was independence from USA colonial rule.

The invasion of the Philippines at the turn of the 20th century was a hot electoral issue in the USA as it did not turn out to be a “splendid little war” like the invasion of Cuba and Puerto Rico, but an embarrassing “dirty little war” that was taking much too heavy a toll on American lives. Astutely, presidential candidate William McKinley professed his benevolent intentions and said God himself told him to “civilize, educate and Christianize” the Filipinos. In American media, our iconic representation was a naked black savage baby with a boar’s teeth necklace, cuddled by a loving Uncle Sam. No mention at all that Filipinos had already established the first republic in Asia.

Believe it or not, Filipino resistance was described as fierce by correspondents then . The Americans were inconvenienced, to say the least, with the establishment of the First Republic in Malolos shortly .after Spain surrendered to them at the mock battle of Manila on 13 August 1898 and while they waited for reinforcements, this fledgling Republic held sway over twenty five provinces with Pres. Aguinaldo corresponding with the sultanates of Jolo and Sulu. The Filipinos began to establish schools including a military academy and had the audacity to send an ambassador to the Paris to prevent the sale of the Philippines to the USA. .
Macario Leon Sakay and his group were among those who believed it was their sacred duty to the nation to continue resisting the USA and re-establish the Filipino republic. As the scandalous invasion infuriated the anti-imperialists in the USA, the Anti Sedition law and Brigandage Act were passed in 1901 by the Philippine Commission to officially put an end to the war.. Henceforth, Filipinos who continued to resist American supremacy for whatever reason would be called insurrectos, bandoleros, tulisanes and ladrones subject to arrest and death by hanging, and forever maligned in Philippine history books as common criminals. .
The rescue of my “bandoleros” began as late as the 1930’s when former revolutionary leaders, like Artenio Ricarte, published their memoirs in local newspapers and magazines. In the 1940’s , nationalists like Claro M. Recto often alluded to the” bandoleros” whose “… names are not now held in grateful rememberance…” . and by 1956, Antonio K. Abad , member of the Philippine Historical Society, published his book with a somewhat cautious title: : GEN. MACARIO L. SAKAY, WAS HE A BANDIT OR A PATRIOT ?

In their lifetimes, historians, Teodoro Agoncillo and Renato Constantino also came to the rescue. More recently, in 1995, Orlino A. Ochosa published BANDOLEROS, OUTLAWED GUERRILLAS OF THE PHILIPPINE-AMERICAN WAR, 1903, 1907.. Ever controversial, Manila Mayor Alfredo S. Lim has commissioned a statue of Gen. Macario Leon Sakay to be unveiled on 13 September, the first monument ever to Tondo’s heroic “bandolero”.

Another bandolero

In his captivating book, “BANDOLEROS”, OUTLAWED GUERRILLAS OF THE PHILIPPINE-AMERICAN WAR, 1903-1907, historian Orlino A. Ochosa tells us that Gen. Luciano San Miguel served the Revolution since 1896, as a stalwart of the Magdiwang council, was probably a rabid “Bonifacista” and continued fighting against the American invaders, in defense of the First Philippine Republic. But, despite his being a die-hard follower of Bonifacio, Gen. San Miguel( with Gen. S. Alvarez) decided not “ to attack the Magdalo headquarters in Naic (Cavite) to rescue the Supremo from prison…” after the fatal Tejeros convention because San Miguel and Alvarez “…would have no part in any bloody plan which would lead the Revolution to nowhere but its fall…” They believed that the blood and lives of revolutionaries should be consecrated to no other purpose but the “Kalayaan ng Inang Bayan…” That intruiging fact was revealed by Prof. Ochosa.

Gen. San Miguel’s long and arduous patriotic quest did not only inspire other “renegades” like General. Artemio Ricarte, ( Prof. Ochosa said he was the latter’s personal hero) but also American writers like Vic Hurley who dedicated ten pages of his book , JUNGLE PATROL, to “…the most serious menace to the peace of the Philippine Islands…”; he was described as a “sincere insurrecto” even if Hurley’s work was about the Philippine Constabulary which the American colonial government established precisely to pursue revolutionary fighters branded bandoleros, tulisanes and ladrones by the Anti-Brigandage Act of 1901.

According to Prof. Ochosa, Gen. San Miguel was the “ the last bonafide insurrecto” of the First Republic who continued fighting against the American invaders after Gen. Vicente Lukban (of Balangiga fame) was captured and Gen. Artemio Ricarte ( a.k.a.Vibora) summarily exiled to Guam . Macario Leon Sakay and his group were waging guerrilla warfare in the mountains of Rizal while Gen. San Miguel was fighting the enemy in Cavite and Batangas until he perished in the ferocious battle of Corral-na bato in 1903.
In Pres. Emilio Aguinaldo’s book about the Philippine Revolution, he stated that upon returning from Hong Kong, “…the old revolutionary chief, Señor Luciano…presented himself to receive orders….” And he then saw action in Manila, Laguna, Batangas, Morong, Bulacan, Pampanga, Tarlac and Nueva Ecija. Prof. Ochosa also said that there is not record that Gen. San Miguel took part in the truce of Biak-na-bato, or that he was in Hong Kong with Aguinaldo.

In these turbulent times, when the Philippine Republic is in danger of Balkanization, we should all emulate Gen. San Miguel’s rejection of factionalism for the sake of the greater good, for the overriding interests of Inang Bayan. Prof. Ochosa included one of San Miguel’s memos to a Major Alba in his book: “ I entreat and request that you abstain from meddling with the Katipunan affairs …Today more than ever, the union of the province is needed, and I have sufficient personnel to prevent the province [Bataan] from becoming divided against itself, or some towns from declaring themselves independent from others. …”
Ironically, there are streets, parks and plazas, even schools named after Filipinos of lesser stature and paltry achievement. Not a single pathway nor barangay center is named after a true nationalist and patriot like General Luciano San Miguel, another “bandolero” whom we must rescue from undeserved oblivion.(

It must have been tough

It must have been tough for the Thomasites who arrived in Manila on 21 August 1901. After a month –long sea voyage aboard US Army transport “Thomas” (which is why they were called Thomasites) .
Assuming the Thomasites were given a thorough briefing of what life is like in the tropics, they must have still had worst cultural shock which the majority of them endured quite heroically.
In the records of the War Department of the USA (“Doorway to the archcives of our national greatness”) the Philippines, Manila and the Filipinos were described from the cynical eyes of the conqueror: “Many have taken advantage of the opportunities offered for education by the Jesuit order, and have been carried through the classics, but then the majority seem to have suffered from the ‘civilization’ offered them”—a cryptic statement worth reading between the lines.

The Thomasites were probably warned about the terrible weather, described in the War Records as such: ”The blistering sun or something else has burned both ambition and emotion out of him [the Filipino] if he ever possessed either…With the possible exception of some parts of the interior of India and Arabia, it is doubtful if there is any hotter climate than that of Manila. The islands reach within four degrees of the equator The temperature is not so very high but the humidity excessive.”

The unnamed rapporteur of the War Annals warned that , “…The most extreme care must constantly be exercised to keep one’s physical condition properly toned all summer long. The hottest days in the year are in May and June. ..For seven months in the year, from April to October, no one but the poorest laborer goes out of doors unless compelled to between 8 in the morning and 4 in the afternoon. ..In Manila, the whole population rises at 4 and 5 a.m. and gets the work of the day out of the way until 8 o’clock. …At sundown Manila wakes up.”

After the weather advisory, came a language situationer as they were sent to these islands to teach English, Judging from the War Annals, they must have been told something to the effect : “Practically nothing , but his [the Filipino’s] curiosity , which seems insatiable, will stir him from his rut and the vocabularies of hundred of thousands of the tribes men lack anything that answer for ‘Thank You.’

Even then it was observed that Tagalog was the language of commerce: ” Of the dialects, the most important is Tagaloc (sic). It is spoken by fifteen hundred thousand Tagals is Luzon and the adjacent islands. Ten thousand girls have often been heard chattering Tagaloc (sic) all at once in a Manila tobacco factory. …The native aptitude in the use of modern writing material is beyond doubt ..” The report quotes a Spanish priest who sardonically said that , “ the natives no longer use arrows and spears against us, but pen ink and paper , and fables, calumnies and jokes…”

Was there peace and order? The Thomasites arrived five months after Pres. Emilio Aguinaldo was captured , yet the Philippine-American war was till raging. A month after they landed , Filipino Revolutionary forces led by Gen Vicente Lukban wiped out a whole company of American soldiers in Balangiga, Samar, which in retaliation was left a “howling wilderness” by American General Jacob Smith. In Laguna, parts of Central Luzon, Negros, Leyte and Cebu, fighting was still going on , guerilla style, in defense of the First Philippine Republic. . Generals Macario Sakay, Luciano San Miguesl, Artemio Ricarte, and Julian Montalan were still up in arms even if Apolinario Mabini had been arrested and exiled to Guam.

As they were fielded to various provinces, did the Thomasites notice that communities were being uprooted and reconcentrated (hamletting) ? Crops were being destroyed (scorched earth) to prevent the Filipinos from supporting the revolutionary fighters, according to historian Augusto . de Viana, .resistance continued in the islands but with the passage of the Bringandage Act of 1901, those who continued to resist USA domination were labeled insurgents, tulisanes , highway men and outlaws.

An American linguist of the time, Mary I. Bresnahan wrote:” It continues to be speculative if the Filipino's purported desire to learn English was genuine or not. Documents tell us about Filipinos trembling with fear inside their huts built on stilts as they expected the intrusion of the cruel Americans reputed to be blood thirsty giants bent on killing even the most trusting among them. Unsure about the real motives of the invaders, the Filipinos did what they thought would please the Americans the most. And that was to learn their language, ---English." ("The Americanization of the Philippines, The Imposition of English during the 1898-1901 Period" by Alfonso L García Martínez, Law College of Puerto Rico, 1982).

National identity and tourism

Why do tourism meetings I attend always turn out to be a collective pondering over national identity? At a recent gathering of the National Capital Region (NCR) Tourism Councils, at the Paranaque City Hall, I had resolved to speak less and listen more inasmuch as the City of Manila was represented by someone else in the first two meetings. People trickled in mindless of the time so it took ages to form a quorum; but I could not complain as I myself had arrived late , having underestimated the distance from Manila to Sucat.

When the meeting was finally called to order and minutes approved, a Paranaque constituent asked for the floor and began to tell us about their cultural projects like preparations for the coming feast day of Our Lady, the revival of Paranaque’s once famous embroidery industry which specialized in “pina calado” ( an exquisite sample was passed around) . A barangay captain brought in a few sepia photos of scenes of Paranaque during the crepuscular years of the Spanish Empire, which reminded a young lady resident that the last salt beds of Paranaque ( two endangered hectares) had to be preserved so future generations. Another person clamored to protect the last mangroves from irreversible destruction.
Then history came into the picture when , for some reason, the Caloocan representative said that Gregoria de Jesus was born there and that she went to Manila probably because she had become involved with the Katipunan. I could not resist finishing the Gregoria story so I said that after Andres Bonifacio was killed in Maragondon, Cavite, she married his aide-de –camp, Julio Nakpil, and they spent the rest of their years in the house of Ariston Bautista in Quiapo where they raised a large family.

Before we knew it, the NCR Tourism Council was discussing Filipino national identity, its weaknesses and how it should be strengthened through the opportunities given by sustainable tourism development. It all became clear to us, the histories of cities and municipalities comprising the NCR are so intertwined , geographical and political boundaries so porous and traditions so similar that the council should draft a cohesive, collective tourism plan that will benefit the whole and all its parts.

A week after that, I was invited by the Philippine Women’s University (PWU) to lecture on tourism to a Saturday class made up of professionals, diplomats, educators, media practitioners and writers. As an advocate of cultural, historical and heritage tourism I started out by telling them about a recent anniversary of a day care center in Tondo ran by a foundation with the assistance of teachers from a nearby university. When asked to give a message, I decided to address the children, aged five to nine. I asked them in the vernacular for the name of our country. They became pensive but no one gave an answer. I was perplexed because we had just sung the national anthem. Neither did I get a response when I asked for the name of the city. However, when I asked for the name of the barangay captain, a chubby grandfather type sitting with other local officials, they all screamed his name with genuine affection.

Where does one learn about the country? Maybe we take it for granted that pre-school children know that they are citizens of the Philippines so there is no conscious effort to teach love of country, no deliberate attempt to instill in the very young the values of patriotism and nationalism; my country first; my country above all. Someone exclaimed that she learned love of country at home, where else? If you do not learn that at home, then you must learn it in school, I ventured. The room resounded with lamentations, almost like a weeping and gnashing of teeth, about the dismal state of education in the country today.

The subjects that were assiduously taught to us before merited an hour each-- Philippine history, civics, social sciences, art appreciation, English phonetics—but are now lumped together, ostensibly to give more emphasis on science, math and English, preferably via computer. So, if you don’t learn how to love your country at home, if it is no longer taught in schools, where can Filipinos learn about who and what they are? Could tourism be used as a didactic tool? Through tourism, can we acquire a sense of place and eventually a “pride of place”? Hopefully, “pride of place” can lead us to love of country. By promoting cultural, heritage and historical tourism for the domestic market, will this strengthen our national identity? (

Constructing tourism

Tourism is often associated with traveling to places away from home and arranging tours for those who come here and see what the country is like. Tourism is often presented as a factor of economic growth as it generates livelihood in many sectors like the hotel and restaurant industries, retail shops, transport, cultural and health, guiding and gaming, the list can be endless. In the Philippines, tourism is supposed to contribute at least 10 per cent of the GDP even if it is lumped with the service sector.
Tourism gives the illusion of glamour so being Secretary of the Department of Tourism is a most coveted post. Tourism looks like easy work , lots of fun and loads of money. Every little town aspires to become a tourism destination so foreign currency can pour in. Curiously, despite all the aspirations and since the Department of Tourism was established about four decades ago, the highest recorded tourism arrivals have not gone beyond 3 million.
Since one of our development goals is to make tourism a veritable lifestyle , the “culture of tourism” should be instilled in every Filipino at a very early age, which means that the Department of Education has to make a conscious and determined effort to teach Filipinos to love the Philippines and be proud of being Filipinos. The DepEd has to make sure that in all public and private schools, academic and vocational centers, the pupils are consciously and assiduously taught, at the very least, cultural and visual patriotism. The DepEd once had an excellent campaign to make all Filipinos learn at least ten historical turning points, ten native songs, ten heroes, historical landmarks, heritage sites, artists, works of art, etc.; is that being continued? How can you promote your country effectively if you know nothing about it? How can you invite foreigners to come to your country if you are not sincerely and deeply proud
of it and if you are not sure that it is a good thing to be Filipino?
Once the above goals are achieved, it might take generations if we do not begin now, then the values which we seem to have lost might finally resurface: Sslf-respect, a certain self-confidence, self- reliance that will stimulate creativity and originality, cleanliness, honesty, a natural courtesy and refinement, a pride of self and pride of place; these values and virtues are building blocks for a stable and sustainable tourism industry.
Tourism is necessarily multi-disciplinary which is something local committees and commissions are starting to realize. As mentioned above, the DepEd plays a vital and essential role in the formation of citizens who are tourism advocates and workers. Because tourism is the marketing of a country’s natural resources and its built heritage resources, the construction of a sustainable tourism industry includes urban planners, architects, engineers, both in government and the private sector. It also includes carpenters, masons, carvers, painters , contractors and other construction workers. Let us not forget the clergy. Local government officials more so than national ones are the main protagonists of a sustainable, tasteful and appropriate tourism industry.
Even the police and the military have a vital role in the construction of tourism, not only because they guarantee the physical safely of local and foreign visitors but also because they can enforce the existing laws that protect the environment and natural resources as well as cultural, historical and heritage resources all of which are valuable and irreplaceable tourism products.
All the above-mentioned sectors should be melded into a sort of national philharmonic orchestra with an energetic and dedicated conductor who knows the musical score by heart and who makes sure that everyone follows the rhythm and cadence of the musical composition. That should be the role of the president of the republic, with the secretary of tourism playing the role of the orchestra’s musical director.

from Rudy Bolipata of Richmond, VA

It's indeed sad but a painful reality in this day and age, that we have
to bear this burden of a lack of national identity. The diaspora
has sent off many of those who would have borne the brunt of educating
our youth to many foreign lands to work their magic for others, many of
our best minds are better appreciated (and better rewarded) elsewhere,
our disappearing middle class will continue to be frittered away by
the west with all its come-ons……all these because of the necessity
to provide for a better life not possible in our own Inang Bayan.
It has helped materially, but…….

You posed so many good questions that deserve to be answered
….yes, we of the diaspora would hope that we get the things done
right in our time, that the "fair hopes of the fatherland" fulfill the enormous
responsibility on their young shoulders given the proper impetus.
We must never give up the hope, and we thank you for your insightful thoughts.


from Gloria Lily

Yes, tourism will be a great tool to promote nationalism and patriotism!
Also, I strongly believe that if we have a sound Tourism program
it will boost the Philippines Economy...
It's too bad that I didn't have the appetite for it (tourism )when
I was young child. I guess because I didn't know about it and wasn't
offered in school nor could my parents afford ( money wise)
to let us explore the Philippines.
Please let me know when there is a discussion or forum
about this again. I would love to go or help out!

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Zamora's sacrifice

Those who remembered (like Mayor Alfredo S. Lim) celebrated the birthday of Padre Jacinto Zamora last 14 August, With Jose Burgos and Mariano Gomezm he championed the cause of secular priests during the 19th century. They believed it was a travesty and an injustice for religious priests, (called friars) to hold on to the parishes which most of them were using to wield political power and from where they relished socioeconomic privileges. GOMBURZA , a password of the Katipunan, is how we refer to the heroic triumvirate.

Although Padre Zamora was originally from Pandacan, (where his memory is dearly revered) he served in Intramuros and Cavite where he was implicated with a workers mutiny in 1872, so brutally repressed by the colonial authorities who rounded up, captured, arrested, tortured, summarily executed and exiled anyone remotely suspected of sedition and rebellion. The three priests were implicated by a certain Zaldua who turned government witness thinking he would be spared the garrote.

According to the historical grapevine, Padre Zamora was given to gambling; he had a group of card-playing friends and one of them sent him a cryptic note about gun powder and ammunition being ready (meaning the gambling paraphernalia) and, unfortunately for the young priest, that fell into the wrong hands and was used as evidence against him. Padre Zamora did not leave a substantive body of written works, like Jose Rizal and other Propagandists, none of his sermons are extant but he was said to have contributed to the underground press of his time. His death and the terrible circumstances and manner of execution has made his (as well as Burgos and Gomez) sacrifice a turning point in the nation’s history.

As it was, during the period that led to the Cavite Mutiny and to the reformist campaign of GOMBURZA the natives, then called indios, appropriated the tern Filipino which was used to refer to Spaniards born in the Philippines. Historians have interpreted that as as indelible sign of a collective feeling of nationhood which became widespread and more passionate and eventually sparked the Philippine Revolution and bore fruit in the First Republic.

Strikingly different were those times, compared to what its going on these days . Last week, Governor Joey Salceda of Albay was reported to have declared during a television interview that we are ”genetically destined to fail as a nation state” or some such barbarity. An erstwhile congressman and close adviser of the president, Mr. Salceda certainly did not mince words as he demolished our past, present and future in one fell swoop. He mindlessly denigrated the sacred memory of Filipino heroes like Padre Jacinto Zamora who gave up their lives for a nation they envisioned ; he deliberately dismissed the efforts of millions of Filipinos who are making ends meet and keeping the country afloat, and worst, Mr. Salceda has totally obliterated our future as Filipinos. What are we to be, entities without any sovereignty, jurisdiction or identity?

Could that be why Fr. Jacinto Zamora went mad at the last minute? Was he gripped by a sudden desperation that perhaps all would be for naught?

Did we ever learn English?

One wonders if the Thomasites were ever told that teaching English was part and parcel of the "policy of attraction" of the USA during the Philippine-American War. Before the Thomasites arrived, many American soldiers were already made to teach English and ten of them called“Philippine veterans” returned with the Thomasites on 21 August 1901.

That idealistic and adventurous group of American teachers arrived five months after Pres. Emilio Aguinaldo was captured and barely a month after they landed, Filipino Revolutionary forces led by Gen Vicente Lukban wiped out a whole company of American soldiers in Balangiga, Samar, which in retaliation was left a “howling wilderness” by American General Jacob Smith.

In Laguna, parts of Central Luzon, Negros, Leyte and Cebu, Filipino revolutionary forces were still fighting quite fiercely , guerilla style, in defense of the First Philippine Republic. Even if Apolinario Mabini had been arrested and exiled to Guam, Generals Macario Sakay, Luciano San Miguel, Artemio Ricarte, and Julian Montalan were still at large and raising hell despite the Bringandage Act of 1901 which branded as insurgents, bandoleros , tulisanes and ladrones those who continued resisting American supremacy.

Be that as it may, the Thomasites were well-received, Filipino children attended the newly-opened public school and because there was a dearth of teachers, many young people enlisted for intensive teacher- training courses to help the Thomasites with their tasks. Even schools established by Spaniards helped the Thomasites. In 1902, the Colegio de San Juan de Letrán published a textbook, “ Mañga Onang Turô sa Uicang Inglés “ by Tagalog Professor P. Ulpiano Herrero and Spanish friar.Francisco García. It had 482 pages of English language lessons explained in both the Tagalog and Spanish.

Dedicated as they were, the Thomasites were under strict scrutiny of American authorities who closely monitored their impact on the education of the natives. In 1908 Director of Instruction David P. Barrows was not too pleased as he wrote the following in the bureau’s School Report: "It is to be noted that with the increased study and use of English, there has been an increased study of Spanish. I think it is a fact that many more people in these islands have a knowledge of Spanish now than they did when the American Occupation occurred. Spanish continues to be the most prominent and important language spoken in political, journalistic and commercial circles. English has, therefore, active rivals as the language of trade and instruction. It is equally probable that the adult population has lost interest in learning English. I believe it is a fact that many more people now know the Spanish language than when the Americans sailed for these islands and their occupation took place... ”

Eight years later, in 1916, another disquieting report was submitted by Henry Ford to US President Woodrow Wilson: "Although, as based on the school statistics, it is said that more Filipinos speak English than any other language, no one can be in agreement with this declaration....Spanish is everywhere the language of business and social intercourse...In order for anyone to obtain prompt service from anyone, Spanish turns out to be more useful than English...And outside of Manila it is almost indispensable. The Americans who travel around all the islands customarily use it." (The Ford Report of 1916..”The Use of English”)

To the surprise of American authorities, many Filipinos set up schools like the Universidad Literaria; the Liceo de Manila was co-founded by Dr. Leon María Guerrero and Don Enrique Mendiola; Centro Escolar de Señoritas, by Librada Avelino, El Colegio de Manila by Mariano Jócson, El Instituto de Molo, Iloilo, by the Avanceña sisters and Don Manuel Locsin; the Escuela de Cebu by Doña Florentina Tan Villanueva and the Instituto de Mujeres by la Gran Maestra Rosa Sevilla de Alvero.

These educators were the children of the Revolution and the First Republic and they taught in Spanish and in vernacular languages like Tagalog, Visayan and Ilocano. English was for them "a language of economic conquest".

As it was, the Thomasites program was hampered by the fact that it was difficult for the Filipino populace to learn English for unlike the vernacular languages, English is not written as it is spoken. In that same 1916 report, Mr. Henry Ford was quick to observe: “… They (the natives) are practically without phonic standards in acquiring English and the result is that they learn it as a book language rather than as a living speech. ".

That being the case, the Philippine Commission enacted Act No. 190 to make English the official language of all courts effective January 1, 1906, which had to be amended with Acts No. 1427 and 1946 that extended the deadline to January 1, 1911 and January 1, 1913, respectively. Moreover, Executive Order No. 44, issued on August 8, 1912, allowed Spanish to continue as an official language until 1920 as it was deemed a “practical impossibility “ to substitute English for Spanish in court proceedings and in municipal governments .

When the "Monroe Commission" came to the islands to assess the educational system and the state of English instruction by the Thomasites, the conclusions were cautious: "Upon leaving school, more than 99% of Filipinos will not speak English in their homes. Possibly, only 10% to 15% of the next generation will be able to use this language in their occupations. In fact, it will only be the government employees, and the professionals, who might make use of English."

As it turned out, the Thomasites did not only teach English, they also taught American values, American history and their way of life. In all the public schools set up during their time, they taught Filipino school children how to tend gardens, plant vegetables and fruit trees that eventually improved their diet and health. They also popularized sports and physical fitness. The Thomasites composed many songs that we still sing today like “Planting Rice” , “My Nipa Hut” and “I was poorly born on top of a mountain.” If Filipinos learned democratic values from them, they must have also learned a lot from us. I wonder what their letters to home were like.

Monday, August 18, 2008

from Felix I.Rodriiguez, Ph.d.

Dear Ms. Gemma Cruz Araneta,
Thank you so much for writing about the babaylan. I recall seeing in some books materials believed to be used by babaylan for healing and other “mystical” rites. I wonder if the National Museum might have similar artifacts in their collection.
Thanks so much again, and let me tell you how much I enjoy reading your column

(Division of Alcohol and Substance Abuse (DASA)
Olympia, WA 98504-5330)

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Celebrating Apolinario Mabini

Apolinario Mabini was remembered and honored by the City of Manila on the 144th anniversary of his birth with two celebrations, the first at the Polytechnic University of the Philippines (PUP) campus where the hero’s house was relocated and the second at the corner of A. Mabini street and Quirino avenue where a past administration erected a statue. Mayor Alfredo S. Lim led both events and did not fail to remind the young people present that Apolinario Mabini was known as the “ Utak ng Rebolusyon” and the chief architect of the First Republic of the Philippines. In his speech, the good Mayor quoted portions of “Ang Tunay na Sampung Utos ng Dios

Mabini wrote in classic Tagalog like the majority of our forbears and there were words like “timawa and katimawaan” which had different meanings and connotations in the 19th century. Mayor Lim observed: “ Noong unang panahon ang timawa ay isang taong hindi datu, sultan o rajah, hindi siya maharlika o mandirigma, ngunit hindi rin siya alipin. Ang timawa ay taong may kasarinlan at kalayaan; malaya siya sa pagkilos, pag-iisip at paggawa. Sa kasalukuyan para bagang iba na ang ibig sabihin ng , timawa dahil ito’y naglalarawan sa isang taong siniil ng karalitaan at kahirapan kaya marahil di siya tunay na malaya.”

Then, the Mayor read Mabini’s fourth commandment: “ Ibigin mo ang iyong Inang bayan na higit sa iyong sarili, nasa kaikalawa siya ng Dios at ng iyong puri. Siya ang nakaisa-isang Paraisong pinaglagyan sa iyo ng Dios sa buhay na ito; siya lamang ang pinalikawan ng iyong lahi; na kaisa-isang mana mo sa iyong pinagnuno; at siya lamang inaasahan ng iyong angkan; dahil sa kanya’y, nagtitikim ka ng kabuhayan, pagsinta at pag-aari; natatanawan mo ang katimawaan, kapurihan sa Dios.”

He continued with the hero’s fifth and sixth commandments: “Pagpilitan mo ang katimawaan ng iyong bayan bago ang iyong sarili, at papaghariin mo sa kanya ang bait, ang katuwiran at kasipagan; sa pagka’t kung timawa siya ay matitimawa rin ikaw at ang iyong kamag –anakan. Kasunod nito ang Ika-anim sa mga tunay na utos: ‘ Pagpilitan mo ang kasarinlan ng iyong bayan, sa pagka’t ikaw lamang ang tunay na makapagmamalasakit sa kanyang ikasusulong at ikatatanghal, ang kanyang kasarinla’y siya mo naming kalayaan o kaluwagan, ang kanyang pagkasulong ang kayamanan mo sa lahat ng bagay at ang kanyang pagkatanghal ang siya mo naming sariling kabantugan at kabuhayang walang hangan.’ ”

The seventh commandment is still relevant, said the Mayor: “Huwag mong kilalaning sa loob ng iyong bayan ang pangyarihan nino mang tawo na hindi sa lagay ninyong magkakababayan pagka’t ang boong kapangyariha’y sa Dios nagmumula at ang Dios ay sa konsiencia ng bawa’t isa nangungusap; kaya’t ang tawong ituro at ihalal ng mga konsciencia ng sangkabayanan ang siya lamang makapagtataglay ng tunay na kapangyarihan.”

These are but a few of Mabini’s principles and policies that were used to forge a new independent nation and build the First Republic of the Philippines, the very first one that accomplished “ katimawaan of kalayaan” in Asia. Mayor Alfredo S. Lim ended by addressing the youth: “Ipagpapaubaya ko sa inyo ang masinop na pagsusuri ng ginintuang dekalogo ni Apolinario Mabini , gabay ng mga mamayang maka-Dios at makabayan. “

Re-inventing the babaylan

> > How did the babaylan cope with the
> onslaught of “cross and sword”? After the bloody revolts
> against their sworn enemies, the early Spanish missionaries;
> after burning churches and disfiguring Christian icons and
> after the painful betrayal of community members, the
> babaylans had to devise effective survival methods. They
> either fled to the mountains or adopted Christian ways to
> co-exist with the colonial order
> Mr. Adelbert Batica, a Filipino expat,
> sent his comments to my article “Silencing the
> babaylan”. He wrote: : “The babaylan, as well as the
> symbols and images associated with them may have totally
> disappeared except where they have reappeared as modern-day
> healers and "hilot" who most often use oraciones
> as part of their healing practice. But, I would propose
> that they were actually resurrected, "reinvented"
> if you may, under a Christian context.”
> Indeed, there are several religious
> communities led by women like the “Ciudad Mistica de
> Dios”, at the foot of the sacred Mt. Banahaw that uses
> the Bible and Christian prayers as the basis of their own
> stylized rituals. Curiously, the “Ciudad Mistica de Dios
> “ began with the “Iglesia Mistica Filipina” founded
> by Suprema Maria Bernarda in 1915. Mr. Batica observed:
> “The old ladies who act as prayer leaders at many
> religious devotionals including novenas (especially for the
> dead) seem to be carrying on the dynamic of the
> "babaylan", although in this day and age instead
> of being armed with amulets she wears scapulars, religious
> medals, and usually carries a prayer book or
> "novenario" and a rosary.”
> Mr. Batica also said: “ This
> reincarnation of the babaylan may not be too obvious in the
> urban areas of the Philippines, but in my view they are
> active and very present on the more provincial and small
> town scenes.. The family of the deceased is offering a
> "pamisa" or observing a "patapos" for
> the their departed loved one, they would usually turn to a
> prayer leader, instead of the family offering the prayers
> themselves because chances are, they would not be familiar
> with the rituals and the protocols for these devotions
> while the prayer leader is considered an expert.”
> >
> Mr. Batica has personal knowledge: “ Many of the
> prayer leaders I knew in my hometown were
> > either single old women or widows who decided to
> dedicate themselves to the church or to their own
> interpretation of religious life. They, in turn, handed
> down what they knew about traditions, prayers, rituals to
> younger women...and the cycle goes on. And yes, some of
> the prayer leaders in my hometown were also believed to
> have healing powers and to
> > invoke the spirits of the other world in their healing
> sessions. Truly, old (represented by ancient beliefs in
> anitos or spirits, for example) and new (christian symbols)
> working hand in hand to keep body and soul healthy.”
> Mr. Batica speaks from experience:: “Of
> course, mine are just mere observations and added
> interpretations. But would you believe that I even saw
> this kind of dynamic - the animist blending in with the
> Christian, in such far away places as Peru and Cuba? The
> reason I say this is because I had the privilege of being
> assisted by "curanderas" (healers) in my
> travels.”
> Strangely enough, in the Philippines, the women
> healers of “Ciudad Mistica de Dios” and similar
> communities do not want to be called descendants or heirs of
> our babaylan tradition. Could it be because they are wary
> of being associated with superstition and witch craft?
> Evidently, the black propaganda against babaylans started by
> early Spanish missionaries centuries ago lives on.

Silencing the babaylan

The BABAYLAN, a native priestess or spiritual leader in the days of datus and rajahs, has always been a subject of fascination to latter day Filipina feminists. There is no self-respecting conference on the empowerment of women that does not conjure the spirit of the babaylan directly after the national anthem is sang. So beguiling is the babaylan, members of the gay population insist that they are the rightful descendants and heirs of those enchanted women , a contention belied by a variety of historical evidence ranging from ancient epics and ritualistic formulae to the travel chronicles of Pigafetta and de Loarca who came to these shores with Magellan and Legazpi, respectively..

Antonio Pigafetta did not know they were called babaylan and referred to them as “viejas” , old women, because that was what they were. By the time a woman became a full-fledged babaylan, she was already middle-aged and menopausal for it took almost a lifetime to master that gift those sacred rituals and songs and to assimilate the wealth of ancient wisdom. That being the case, self-styled modern day babaylans like dancer Myra C. Beltran and singer Grace Nono, are probably too green to aspire for such prominence. After all, the babaylan was a pillar of native society together with the datu, the panday and bayani ( warrior); they were not only spiritual leaders but also guardians and harbingers of culture values and tradition. Pigafetta wrote about how the “viejas” danced on a cambay cloth, chanting and drinking wine, playing reed trumpets (flutes probably) to pay homage to the sun . One of them sacrificed a pig, which revolted Pigafetta, and dipped the tip of her reed flute in the pig’s blood and marked the fore head of her busband , companions and community members. .The vieja (babaylan) did not mark the Spaniards with pig’s blood , a bold and meaningful statement that went above Pigafetta’s head.

By pointedly excluding the Spaniards, according to Fe B. Mangahas,(“The babylan historico-cultural context”, Centennial Crossings, 2006) Pigafetta’s babaylan explicitly marked a space between them and the foreigners, an ominous warning of impending conflict and disaster. It was the antithesis of those blood compacts between native men and foreigners ( Magellan and Rajah Kulambu) , alleging equality and brotherhood. The prescient babaylans were right after all, in the centuries that followed and in myriad ways, Spain betrayed the essence of those blood compacts.

Sixty years later when Miguel Lopez de Legazpi came, his chronicler Miguel de Loarca, called “ vieja” by her real title—babaylan—but denigrated her as “possessed by demons whose body is hurled to the ground, foaming at the mouth after so much chanting and dancing….” In fact, de Loarca was terrified as he associated the babaylan’s being “possessed “ to her having healing powers potent enough to raise the dead , and the gift of prophesy.

As expected, the early missionaries like Fray Ignacio Alzina were wary of the babaylans. To the natives, their revered priestess was the medium between them and the gods. The babaylan performed the pag-anito rituals for abundant harvest which was the very cycle of life and they were known to divert plagues and pestilence away from fertile land to the gushing rivers. To Fray Alzina and other missionaries like him , the babaylan was a formidable obstacle to Christianization , who had to be discredited, if not destroyed and forever silenced.