Thursday, January 31, 2008

Courage and freedom

“Courage and freedom” will be the theme of  Mayor
Alfredo Lim’s commemoration of the 63rd anniversary of
the Battle for Manila which took place in February
1945. For many decades, we Filipinos have referred to
that month-long battle as the “Liberation of Manila”,
celebrating the return of General Douglas McArthur.
However, as post-war research deepened, some
historians discovered that no mention was made in
American war records of February 1945, call it
liberation or battle.

As a result, many Filipinos started putting
liberation between quotation marks-- “Liberation” of
Manila-- and about five years ago, after
validating new studies and military documents, and to
the consternation of certain sectors, the National
Historical Institute (NHI) officially declared that
what occurred in February 1945 was the “ Battle for
Manila”. The word “liberation” when referring to
February 1945 was scrapped totally from all NHI
communications. Please take note that the preposition
is not “of” but “FOR” which implies that US
advancing armed forces and defending Japanese imperial
forces were fiercely fighting over Manila, during
the strategic island-hopping campaign of the USA,
aimed at Tokyo.

Japanese and American casualties were minimal
compared to the one hundred thousand (100,000)
non-combatant Manila civilians who were burnt and
tortured to death and who perished in the carpet
bombings. Moreover, the destruction of Manila is
considered the worst in the WW II Pacific Theater.
Gone was the ‘Pearl of the Orient’, a uniquely
beautiful city that boasted of cultural influences
from four continents.

Like other turning points in our history, the
commemoration of the Second World War specially the
“Battle for Manila” is in danger of being distorted,
if not forgotten. Because Japan has become an
indispensable economic force in the Philippines, it
has made deliberate efforts to obliterate residual
anti-Japanese feelings by promoting ostensibly
cultural activities precisely in February , our month
of national bereavement.

When Mrs. Bing Roxas ( may she rest in peace)
was the head of the Cultural Center of the Philippines
(CCP) , she was so incensed when the Japanese Embassy
wanted to hold a kind of flower and kimono festival
at the CCP, precisely in the month of February.
Senator Richard Gordon, when he was secretary of
tourism, was insensitive enough to hold a saki
festival in February, in Intramuros, close to Fort
Santiago where hundreds of Filipinos were
incarcerated, tortured and killed by Japanese forces.
During commemorative rites at San Fernando, Pampanga
many attendees (myself included) were so furious at
the sight of Japanese flags brandished mindlessly by
Filipino participants of the re-enacted Death March.
The mayor had to intervene and the Japanese flags
were taken away. What about that scandalous monument
to a kamikaze in Mabalacat, Pampanga?

That is why Mayor A. Lim will lead the
commemoration of “Courage and freedom” to remember
that Filipinos fought bravely to end Japanese
occupation and those who survived miraculously went
on to rebuild their lives and this country. However,
in his opus CONTINUING PAST, historian Renato
Constantino wrote that during the Second World War,
most Filipinos were fighting the Japanese not to
free themselves and this country from any type of
foreign domination, but because they were longing to
return to America’s smothering embrace. I
remembered Dr. Constantino’s unflattering yet
telling conclusion when I happened upon a family
friend in California, some years ago. Now a US
citizen, former Manilena Mrs. Benjie J. Kosloff
told me that during the “Battle for Manila” a cousin
tearfully reported that an aunt of theirs had died.
“But, at least…,” sobbed the grieving relative “…
tita was killed by an American bomb!” (The public is
invited to the Freedom Triangle of Manila City Hall on
3 Feb, Sunday, at 8 a.m.)

Monday, January 28, 2008

from Ronald Ravelo

I' ve read your article regarding Philippine air transport being downgraded.
It is concise on the facts that were stated. We citizens should abide by all the rules that are mandated for our own safety. We should not by any means set aside measures meant for our own safety. This issue is not only encountered in aviation transport but also in our day- to- day transport.

As we traverse roads leading to our work, schools, or other venues , you'll notice the cramped situation in our PUV's (e.g. Jeepneys and Busses); people are hanging from the rear side just in order to reach their destination.There are even instances when these commuters put in peril their children and companions who sit on their laps at the far end of these transports, not even giving any consideration to the youths safety.

Laws were passed and some responsible drivers warn these individuals to refrain form their actions, but no effect.

people are at fault and they just blame the government for their demeanor. we as citizen should realize that our safety starts form our own selfs. although laws and ordinances are passed for our safety it need not be reminded to us through law enforcers nor should it be set aside.

i just hope that we as citizen of this country be responsible enough to act for our own self and not just let this burden be carried by our government. let as act as one promote a better sense of responsibility for our country and countryman's sake

Sunday, January 27, 2008

from Rene Velazquez

Enfin, one should think Rizal’s most important legacy is not his nationalism ― the cornerstone on which somehow the edifice of his status as hero is built ― but it is rather the inspirational value of his drive for knowledge which led him in many different directions. He was an unusually talented man who achieved much ― someone to admire but certainly not deify. In common parlance, he did more with what he had. His greatest appeal is that he was all too human and yet . . . . One would think that should be enough.
The phenomenon that was Rizal’s life was perhaps best encapsulated by Ante Radaic in the seemingly contradictory title of his book: Rizal, Romántico Realista.
(This is the last paragraph of Mr. Velazquez's long but brilliant letter.-GCA).

from Fe Panaligan Koons

Can the Philippine Mabuhay News based in San Diego re-publish your columns in our newspaper. Salamat.
Kumust ka na?

from Juanita Santos Nacu

I read your article on bills for 
Filipino culture, heritage, and language preservation.

The senators may want to consult two outstanding pioneers in this
field: Drs. Teresita Ramos and Ruth Mabanglo University of Hawai'i at
Manoa. They play significant roles in my continued advocacy for
Filipino language and culture in San Diego, California as an educator
and a community leader.

Thank you for your
informative article. Hopefully, the advocates in the Philippines will
collaborate with their counterparts in the United States.

(Juanita Santos Nacu, EdD, is a
lecturer on Filipino Heritage and Language

from Henry Lukban

Now it is clearer why the Philippines government is struggling to solve corruption. It had a very big headstart. I pity the next president. I pity Sen. Mar Roxas.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Forgotten legacy

In the past days, colleagues in the media reminded the public about the 109th anniversary of the Malolos Constitution and the First Republic. The Manila Bulletin never fails to feature editorials about historical turning points. The province of Bulacan, no matter the governor’s political affiliation, always celebrates with solemnity and pomp the astounding achievements of those Filipinos who Jose Rizal described as the “brains of the nation”. This year, Manila Mayor Alfredo S. Lim (originally from San Miguel de Mayumo) was the guest of honor at Barasoain Church.

A couple of radio commentators, notably Mr.Ted Failon, did lament that many of their colleagues were ignoring the 109th birthday of this republic as they anticipated bloody clashes between police forces and grassroots groups commemorating the 1987 Mendiola Massacre (Thirteen farmers were shot by government forces at Mendiola Bridge). To this writer, the non-government organizations and grassroots associations that had painstakingly planned marches and memorials missed an excellent opportunity to place their protest in the proper historical context. Had they connected the 1987 Mendiola Massacre to the 109th birthday of this country, they could have enlightened us and made us understand that their struggle is historical and affects all Filipinos.

As we all know, the teaching of Philippine history , even after 109 years, is still a highly polemical issue. On one hand, colonial mentality prevails so the teaching of history is a low priorityand official hesitation prevails specially about delving into the revolutionary period , the invasion of the USA and the ensuing colonization. On the other hand, the Left, which is supposed to be the purveyor of change, seems to have disengaged itself from the very march of Philippine history by quickly dismissing anything they consider “bourgeois”(burgis). The National Democratic Front has its own national flag design. In my opinion, instead of rewriting history and/ or suppressing it, in lieu of denigrating the the Malolos Constitution and the First Republic or pretending that these never existed, an effort should be made to connect our current peasant problems to the non-fulfillment of the Articulo Adicional of the Malolos Constitution—the forgotten legacy.

Even before the Mendiola Massacre, many Filipino peasants and agricultural workers had already shed their blood because of the land issue. While the“brains of the nation” were deliberating on theMalolos Constitution and inaugurating Asia’s first democratic government, peasant farmer groups were already clamoring for land as the birth of a free nation had awakened great expectations. The delegates of the Malolos Congress did not forget that and proof is the last article of the Malolos Constitution, the unnumbered ‘adicional’, which declared that friar lands and estates that were “taken from the people” had reverted to the nation since the 12 June 1898 declaration of Independence. Peasant groups marched to Malolos because they felt the new government was not moving fast enough to distribute those lands. Moreover, corruption was already rearing its ugly head; historical records show that peasant groups were accusing some generals of the Revolutionary Army of appropriating large tracts of land for their personal use. Apolinario Mabini, chief adviser of Pres. Emilio Aguinaldo wrote numerous memos telling him to punish those officers. After the Philippine-American War, the American colonial government had other plans for the distribution of the friar estates, the rest is bitter history. # ____________________________________________________________________________________Never m

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Saved by the ATO

Some years ago, Assistant Secretary Jake Ortega, then Air Transport Office (ATO) chief restored my faith in humanity and, to a certain extent, in the bureaucracy. For that reason, I was perplexed when the current ATO head seemed lost when he was heaped with insults and blame after the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) suddenly announced that the Philippines had been demoted from fourth to fifth in safety standards.

One fine Saturday, shortly after I was appointed Secretary of Tourism, I received an angry phone call from a tour operator based in Clark, Pampanga, accusing “The Government” (to use her words) of jeopardizing the tourism industry. Apparently, she and her foreign partner, a Mr. Cuerno, had a plane load of passengers, securely strapped to their seats, ready to fly to Hong Kong , but could not take off because they had no ATO permit .

Sometimes, we citizens make it difficult for “The Government” to do its duty. My Cabinet colleague, rhe Secretary of Transportation was out playing golf, but fortunately, his assistant secretary, Jake Ortega, was already at the helm . Confidently, he promised to look into the matter and after a few minutes he called back to say that the ATO cannot possibly allow Mr. Cuerno’s aircraft to fly because the latter had consistently refused to have it examined and tested by the ATO. Mr. Cuerno had leased an old Illusyn plane from Russia and under pretext that it had already been certified in its place of origin, he felt there was no need for the ATO to examine the aircraft. However, it was clear to me that the ATO was abiding by its mandate.

It must have been heroic to work at the ATO in those days. When an Air Philippines plane crashed somewhere in the wilds of Davao in 2000, the worst insults were hurled at Mr. Ortega but his explanations were concise and straightforward. The public was shocked to learn that among the eighty or so airports in the Philippines, only the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) had an “approach terminal radar” which covered only Luzon and Visayas and that the equipment was already seventeen years old. If memory serves, Mr. Ortega also said that the ATO was about to receive a grant from the Japanese government to remedy that pitiful and dangerious situation. I do not know if that ever materialized. Mr. Ortega and I would see each other in the numerous committee hearings conducted by both legislative chambers to determine the state of civil aviation in the Philippines.

Going back to my story, Mr. Ortega suggested that I immediately call a meeting at the Department of Tourism, which I did, so he could explain to Mr. Cuerno, in my presence, about the importance of abiding by ATO regulations. To my surprise, Mr. Cuerno did appear and looked rather debonair in a gray morning suit. Mr. Ortega told him that the ATO Aviation Safety Division staff members in Clark ( where the Ilusyn was parked) were waiting for his go-signal to have the aircraft examined. With cell phone in hand, he was poised to make a call right at that moment. Mr. Cuerno agreed, finally, and the meeting ended quite amicably.

However, I later found out that that was all for show. Mr. Cuerno’s people did not allow the ATO to even peek into the engine of the Ilusyn so, naturally, no flight permit was issued. “Can you imagine if something had happened to that plane after it had taken off from Philippine territory!” Mr. Ortega exclaimed, “ The image of the Philippines would have suffered.”

Yet, I was summoned to appear before a senate hearing because then Senator Francisco Tatad had received a verbose letter of complaint from-- guess who?-- Mr. Cuerno himself. But when I told the good senator how the ATO saved the day, he quickly dismissed the case and went on to the next issue.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

from Oscar Apostol

Dear Gemma:
Wallowing in what could and might have been is only good if it is a form of analysis with recommendations to correct the errors. A bandage approach won't even do.
It is good to see Roxas has the hindsight to highlight where the country erred or continue to err. Recognition of errors and mistakes is only good for the soul and nothing else. A mea culpa to a person is an epiphany, but to a country like ours where morality does not exist is nothing but dusts in the wind.
It is my hope that the work forces leaving the Philippines will return to the country with a more positive and can do attitude. Their exposure to a different environment, attitude and ways of doing things would be crucial for the country's building or rebuilding as the case may be.
I like what GMA (not a fan) is doing; talking about the economy. Our people should begin to relate and understand how it impacts the country and their way of life. The Masa has to get smarter, and start make good decisions and have better input to their destiny.
They are pretty much acting like lemmings, self destructing by electing the wrong people who rob them without blinking an eye. The Masa would never admit they have contributed to graft and corruption in the country.
Until the Filipino population becomes wiser, develops a plan of action to do what is right, imposes its influence to fight for an honest run country the status quo remains.
I trust you and your family had the best of time during the holidays. A peaceful, productive and healthy new year to you. Looking forward to reading more nuggets from you this year.
Thank you for a very interesting year,
(Roseville, Ca. USA)

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Senator Mar's list

Fans of Mar Roxas should get his list of
“sayang” items. We always criticize our political
leaders for being clueless, because most of them do
not even bother to draft a plan of action that is not
stuffed with motherhood statements. If they do not
know what the people want, they should at least have
an inkling of what we do not want. Here is one
senator, a presidential aspirant, who at least knows
what he does not want for this country. At a recent
meeting of the formidable Foreign Correspondents
Association of the Philippines, (FOCAP) Mr. Palengke
read his “sayang” list

Naturally, the good senator had to explain what
we Filipinos mean by “sayang” and tried to
translate it into the English phrase “What a waste,”
which also connotes regret, forlornness, over what
could be and might have been. Not quite, but that is
as close as one can get to ‘‘sayang”, a word in
Filipino “that so captures the sentiment of the
average person on the street.”

The “saying” : (1) ” As the first colonial
people to regain our freedom, we had a head start in
the race for development among the new nations. At
Independence , thanks to a comparatively benign
American colonialism, our individual incomes were
among the highest in Southeast Asia . Then, after
having led our neighbors in GDP growth in the
post-Independence period, we soon started to lag
behind.. .Thailand passed us by in 1981. Now the
average Thai has per capita income twice that of the
average Filipino. Malaysians have per capita four
times that of Filipinos. Singaporeans almost 20 times
more than the average Filipino. Indonesia and Vietnam
are breathing down our necks”.

2. The day-to-day erosion of the people’s trust in our
institutions has resulted in an increasingly
dysfunctional political system. The senator said trust
in all top four government institutions has
significantly declined compared to the previous
quarter. “From a net positive 32 rating in September,
the Senate has declined 13 points, to a positive-19 as
of year-end.The House of Representatives' net
satisfaction score fell from positive 18 to only
positive 3. The Supreme Court dropped from positive 24
in September to a neutral net positive 5 in December.
This is more glaring, given the fact that it has
enjoyed double-digit positive approval ratings over
the past four quarters. The Cabinet went from a
neutral net positive 1 to a negative 9, a steep plunge
that reflects the President’s own negative trust

However, Mr. Palengke remains optimistic and
determined. He said: “A silver lining though is that
business continues to exist and in some instances
thrives in what is its own parallel universe. A
stronger peso and a shrinking pool of qualified
workers could slow down the pace of growth in this
sector. In spite of this, though, we continue to hope
that this will remain a shining star of the Philippine
economy... The service sector will continue to lead
the way in terms of opportunity and employment ...
Mining will continue to draw in foreign investors …
and or once, the stars are aligned for the agriculture

On the other hand, Senator Roxas said , nearly
three thousand citizens leave the country everyday to
work abroad. More than a hundred Filipinos per hour
are packing up and leaving to secure a brighter future
for their families. They prefer two-year job contracts
elsewhere than to face unemployment and
underemployment here at home. "Young Filipinos have
learned to plan their lives around self-contained exit
plans as migrant workers...Development and
nation-building is all about hope; take that hope away
and the smart ones use their energies not to build
their nation but to escape from

Be a better friend, newshound, and
know-it-all with Yahoo! Mobile. Try it now.;_ylt=Ahu06i62sR8HDtDypao8Wc

from Alfredo Merejilla

Hi Gemma,
Im glad you wrote about Rizal and I happen to be starting a moral revolution in our nation... please pray that the youth and all sectors of our society will join this alternative revolution in our nation.
Young Alfredo

from Ramon Terrazas Munoz

Estimada Gemma, muy felíz año y disculpa la tardanza en contestarte pero por diferentes causas hasta ahora pude hacerlo. En relación a tú página me pareció muy interesante e instructiva, pero como te comentaron algunos compañeros del Circulo, también a mi de lástima que no hayas hecho un esfuerzo adicional y la hayas puesto también en español, que es el idioma que nos ocupa para que sea recuperado por los filipinos; así de esta forma tu ayudarias poniendo tu granito de arena para que sucediera esto, en fin, ojalá tomes en cuenta dichos comentarios y en las próximas actualizaciones incluyas textos en español.

Un saludo afectuoso desde México.

Ramón Terrazas Muñoz

Monday, January 14, 2008

A moral community

In his Rizal lecture last 30 Dec, Dr. Floro
Quibuyen ( Asian Studies Center, UP) affirmed that it
is important for us to understand Rizal’s concept of
a nation so we will appreciate why he was only too
happy to live and die for the Filipino. Rizal wrote a
memorandum on 12 December, for his trial, where he
explained his concepts of liberty ( libertadad) and
independence ( independencia), affirming that a
people can be free without being independent, and can
be independent without being free.

Interestingly, Dr . Quibuyen directs our
attention to the way “kalayaan” (independence) was
used by Andres Bonifacio and Emilio Jacinto to show a
close ideological link between them and Jose Rizal.
The difference between freedom and independence
becomes even clearer when the December 12 memo is
related to El Filibusterismo, where Fr.
Florentino’s tells the dying Simoun: “Why
independence if the slaves of today will be the
tyrants of tomorrow?”

Dr, Quibuyen explained that to Rizal,
:”Independence is meaningful only if the new rulers
have also been transformed into new men (and women)
who can govern wisely and justly, for the benefit of
a people who have, in turn, become united and
enlightened towards promoting the common good. Only
then, in Rizal’s perspective, can a people become
truly free. “ To Rizal, continued Dr. Quibuyen, the
nation is a moral concept (a post-Enlightenment idea)
and is not equivalent to the nation-state which refers
to the political structure that encompasses a people
living in a given territory and subject to the laws
imposed on them by the State.

Dr. Quibuyen argued that a State has a monopoly
of coercive power and can compel people to abide by
its imposition, like taxes, and military service,
in exchange for safeguarding the people’s rights and
interests. Contrary to that was Rizal´s belief that
a nation is a moral community bound by a sacred
covenant to resist evil and injustice; and to promote
the common good. In Rizal’s view, according to the
lecturer, the nation-as-community is the moral
foundation upon which the nation-state should be built
and . without this moral community, the nation-state
could not possibly have a moral direction. Justice
and the common good ( very Catholic notions, Quibuyen
emphasized) are the fundamental principles of a moral
community. Rizal must have studied St. Augustine who
wrote: “Remove justice, and what are kingdoms but
bands of criminals on a large scale?”

Dr. Quibuyen concluded that Rizal wanted to
obliterate the ubiquitous presence of greed in the
social and political life of this nation. Greed
creates scarcity; and scarcity foments greed. Thus,
greed and scarcity go together—a point underscored in
chapter ten of Noli Me Tangere. Today, in the
prevailing neo-liberal discourse, greed and scarcity
are considered normal. But to Rizal’s moral vision
greed and scarcity are the roots of injustice,
violence and human suffering. The alternative to greed
and scarcity is Rizal´s moral community.

Pinning his hopes on the youth, Rizal often
counseled his nephews; on 20 December 1893 he sent
young Alfredo this letter: "To live is to be among
men and to be among men is to struggle. But this
struggle is not a brutal and material struggle with
men alone; it is a struggle with them, with one’s
self, with their passions and one’s own, with errors
and preoccupations. It is an eternal struggle with a
smile on the lips and tears in the heart. On this
battlefield man has no better weapon than his
intelligence, no other force but his heart."

Rizal did not only write, he practiced what he
preached. During his exile in Dapitan, he showed
that it was possible to build a moral community for
the common good.#

Saturday, January 12, 2008

from Aga Arellano

nice article about trillanes and lim...lets get together one of these day. Atty. Aga

from Rene Velazquez

Thanks for sharing highlights of Dr. Quibuyen’s lecture – Rizal remains an intriguing, multi-faceted figure. Unfortunately for other historical notables like Mabini, Rizal’s relatively greater literary output and wider interests relegated them to the sidelines.
Ápropos of Filipinas Dentro de Cien Años, Rizal’s astute reading of the tea leaves may owe more to his political savvy than to prescience. Signs of declining Spanish power abounded – so too the overt stirrings of a threateningly acquisitive yanqui power. He looked into the bottom of the cup and interpreted the portents with prophetic insight.
By the time La Solidaridad serialized Filipinas. . . (part I on 30 Sep. 1889; part II on 31 Oct. 1889; part III on 15 Dec. 1889; and part IV on 31 Jan. 1890), the tenuous nature of the Filipinas–Madre España link was very likely clearly evident except to the most obtuse observer. Imperial unraveling started in the preceding three-quarters of a century, leaving by 1890 only Filipinas , Cuba and Puerto Rico .
Spain inherited a legacy of government instability in the aftermath of the peninsular war (1808-1814). Into the mix went the infectious spread of independence fever in the colonies. The resulting brew gave heartburn to the fellows at Spain ’s Ministerio de Ultramar. In review, the dénouement proceeded thus:
1816 – Argentina declares independence but doesn’t become a republic until 1853. Buenos Aires tries to breakaway in 1859 but is dragged back.
1819 – Simon Bolivar defeats Spanish forces at Boyaca (the eastern cordilleras of Colombia , known then as Nueva Granada). The Republica de Gran Colombia is established with modern-day Colombia , Panama , and Venezuela as members.
1819 – The U.S. strong-arms Spain into ceding Florida under terms of the Adams-Onis treaty after the ambitious Andrew Jackson seized the territory on his own.
1821 – Chile declares independence from Spain .
1821 – Mexico (consisting of present-day Mexico , America Central and northern Mexico , i.e., today’s southwestern states of the U.S. ) declares its independence from Spain – it is just six years after the last nao de China sailed.
1821 – In September, a junta convened at the Capitanía General de Guatemala declares independence from Mexico for its provinces of Guatemala-Chiapas , Costa Rica , Honduras , Nicaragua and San Salvador . On 1 July, 1823, these territories (except Chiapas which remains with Mexico ) form the Provincias Unidas de Centro-américa (1823-1840). The union eventually dissolves by 1840.
1821 – General José San Martin captures Lima and declares Peru an independent state, full independence becomes a reality in 1824.
1822 – Antonio José de Sucre defeats Spanish forces in the battle of Pichincha (on the slopes of the Pichincha volcano next to the city of Quito , in modern Ecuador ) and Ecuador joins Gran Colombia.
1823 – Guatemala declares independence from the Provincias Unidas.
1828 – Uruguay – wrested by the Spanish from the Portuguese in 1726 and was part of the Virreinato del Río de la Plata ( Argentina , Bolivia , Paraguay and Uruguay ) with its capital at Buenos Aires – rebels against the Virreinato in 1808 and gains full independence after Brazil and Argentina finally renounce all claims in 1828.
1829 – A military revolt breaks out in Spain and restores the liberal constitution of 1812. Spain becomes a constitutional monarchy.
1829 – to 1830, Gran Colombia is dissolved when Venezuela and Ecuador split-off (see entries for 1830 below) leaving only present day Colombia-Panama as a separate state. The abbreviated entity re-assumes the name Nueva Granada. (Panama would later declare independence from Colombia in 1903 – with American tutelage).
1830 – Venezuela declares independence from Gran Colombia.
1830 – Ecuador declares independence from Gran Colombia.
1843 – After another military revolt, Isabella II is crowned Queen of Spain.
1844 – Spain grants independence to the República Dominicana (not as straightforward as it sounds). In 1697, Spain ceded the western half of Hispaniola island to France and that half – Haiti – became headache central for the República Dominicana during and after Haiti ’s wars of liberation against France . Earlier, Haiti twice took over its neighbor and continued to threaten more mischief.
1848 – The Mexican Cession – the U.S. bullies a militarily weakened Mexico into ceding northern Mexico to the U.S. (i.e., California , Nevada , Utah , Arizona , New Mexico , Wyoming and parts of Colorado ). Back in 1836, Tejas had already been forcibly extorted from Mexico .
1868 – to 1869; there is yet another revolution in Spain and the luckless Isabella II is deposed and flees to France .
1869 – The Suez Canal opened for business. In Cairo , a lavishly costumed production of Verdi’s Aïda marked the occasion. The opening of Suez speeded-up travel and the flow of liberal ideas from Europe to Filipinas. Some historians consider the event the true starting point of the demise of Spanish rule in the islands.
The American seizure of Florida in 1819, Tejas in 1836, northern Mexico in 1848 and Admiral Perry’s browbeating of the Japanese in 1854 to force its opening to U.S. trade – all were ominous signs that Filipinas may eventually have to contend with an expansionist U.S. In the background was the continuing thievery of Native American homelands and the massacre and displacement of the inhabitants.
The years between 1820 and 1840 had to be unmitigated nightmares at the Ministerio de Ultramar. Enormous chunks of valuable Spanish overseas real estate were breaking off or being stolen at gunpoint – and Spain proved powerless to prevent it. How many bureaucrats jumped off the top floors of their ministries? Popped Alka Seltzer and shuffled about con un bolsa de hielo sobre la cabeza? On reading Rizal, their 1890 successors at the Ministerio must have realized it was time to update their résumés, line up their references, and anticipate with dread the indignity of filing for unemployment benefits!
For Rizal, therein lay glimpses of the future’s outline. It was high time to “do a Nike,” i.e. “just do it!” The “it” in this case meant turning up the heat on the colonial administration.
Best regards. Nice photos from Mexico . Thanks for postng

Thursday, January 10, 2008

relatives of Maria Rizal

Relatives of Maria Rizal (sister of Dr. Jose and Gen. Paciano) spending a Sunday morning at Parque Mexico in Mexico City . L to r: Fatimah, Gemma, Tekwani and Aurora Yol.

relatives of Maria Rizal

Monday, January 7, 2008

from Alfredo Roces

A great blog Gemma! Will bookmark it for future
> visits. Happy to learn
> you are well and writing.God bless
> Ding

from Alfonso Pons

Dear Gemma,
Thanks for all your articles and postings. They are all insightful and relevant to us, Filipinos overseas, but still think and feel as native Filipinos. Alfonso

from Vigan Vice-Mayor Ranches

I recently visited your blog and find it interesting. Please include me in your fans list. Just to update you what's happening here in the heritage City of Vigan, we just had an exhibit of our cultural mapping outputs at the UST Museum last November under the auspices of USTCCPET. We are now in the process of preparing for the establishment of "Buridek", a children's museum with the assistance of Prof. Eric Zerrudo. We find the project appropriate being the most child-friendly city of Region 1.

Best Regards,

Franz Ranches
Vice Mayor
Vigan City

Thursday, January 3, 2008

A continuing death

The phrase comes from Apolinario Mabini who used it to describe Jose Rizal´s life. Mabini believed that Rizal “bravely endured the terrors of death that awaited him… thus he learned not to fear it, and had no fear when it came to take him away” Rizal was calm and even cheerful as he was led to Bagumbayan, “…to show that he was happy to sacrifice his life, which he had dedicated to the good of all Filipinos.” Mabini concluded, “ In truth the merit of Rizal’s sacrifice consists precisely in that it was voluntary and conscious... God grant that they will know how to render to him the only tribute worthy of his memory-- the imitation of his virtue.” Rizal lived and died for the Filipino.

Last 30 December, Dr. Floro Quibuyen (Asian Studies Center, UP) gave the annual Rizal lecture sponsored by the National Historical Institute. He spoke about some relatively unexplored facets of Rizal’s life. These are: 1) Rizal´s essay, “Filipinas dentro de cien años”, 2) his concept of the nation, 3) his Dapitan years, and 4) Rizal´s hitherto unnoticed minor study on Oceania.

Dr. Quibuyan described Rizal´s essay as ground-breaking and futuristic for no other Filipino scholar of his time had dared envision the Philippines in one hundred years. (This appeared in the Sept 1889- Jan 1890 issue of “La Solidaridad”).Thorough in his analysis of historical forces—both local and global—that impinged on the Philippines towards the 1890s, Rizal foresaw that these islands would eventually have to contend with the USA.

“Filipinas dentro de cien años” began with some annotations Rizal had made to correct Antonio de Morga’s Sucesos de las Islas Filipinas ( published in Mexico in 1609). Rizal described the impact of Spanish conquest on the natives of these islands as a “terrible crisis” because it changed “government, laws, usages, customs, religion and beliefs” which resulted in depopulation and impoverishment.

Rizal argued that the natives lost “confidence in the past, [while] still without faith in the future.” Because “they gave up their writing, their songs, their poems, their laws in order to learn by rote other doctrines they did not understand, another morality, another aesthetics, different from those inspired by their climate and their manner of thinking…” decline and self-degradation set in until “they began to admire and praise whatever was foreign and incomprehensible, their spirit was dismayed and it surrendered.”

Dr. Quibuyen pointed out that Rizal´s wrote about “a factor which did not exist before” called “national spirit” that was finally awakened by “… a common misfortune and a common abasement” . It united all the inhabitants of the Islands and was promoted by a “large enlightened class within and without the Archipelago” which Rizal called “the brains of the country” and that “.. within a few years it will constitute its entire nervous system and demonstrate its existence in all its acts.”

In that edifying essay, Rizal argued that the road to progress could no longer be blocked, that the Philippines could no longer remain a colony as it will either be assimilated by Spain, “ … with more rights and freedom or will declare herself independent after staining herself and the Mother Country with her own blood. Either way, the advancement and moral progress of the Philippines is inevitable; it is fated .”

Prophetically, our national hero concluded that “Spain is not the only factor to be considered. In fact, because she is already on the decline, she is no longer the most crucial factor in the Philippines’ future. The younger generation of Filipinos, who would shoulder the task of building a new nation and preparing the country for the 20th century, would have to contend with the rising superpower in the Asia-Pacific region-- the United States of America.” ( And the rest is history!—if I may add.)There will be more on Dr. Quibuyen´s enlightening Rizal lecture.

from Minnie Tayco

I have read your many columns where I learned a lot about history. I consider myself a Manila resident since I got into college in 1949. Thus, I can recall the old Manila - - Fort Santiago, Luneta Hotel on Kalaw Street, the Jai Alai where we (with classmates at the UP Statistical Center on Padre Faura) would go after our evening classes), Meisic, Manila Jockey Club, Grand Opera House, . . . I may add: the Scala where I and a classmate in UST (I had my first year college at UST before I moved to UP in the summer that followed) would watch a double program instead of attending a Mass retreat, the Botica Boie, the La Estrella del Norte and more on the Escolta, Oh! It’s nice to recall the good old days.

from Martin Celemin

Hi Gemma:

In our picnics in Spring and Fall here in Las Vegas, NV we always have piniata for kids as a game to the excitement of all. However, we have always thought it as just a game. Probably, all of us do not know the real significance of piniata. Now, we know thanks to you.