Tuesday, April 29, 2008
became a rice exporter in 1977, for the first time
in the 20th century. This was credited to the
“GreenRevolution” which promoted the
Masagna 99, a highyielding rice variety developed
at the InternationalRice Research Institute
(IRRI). The “GreenRevolution” was wildly
acclaimed by industrializedcountries, in particular
the USA, the usual financialand technical
assistance agencies like the World Bank(WB),
USAID and the Asian Development Bank (ADB),
not to mention certain multinational corporations.
Yet, after three decades, here we are again
importing rice in massive quantities.
Although the Philippines was no longer
a“showcase of democracy” in 1977,
( Pres. FerdinandMarcos had imposed
martial rule ), it was undeniably a “show
window” of the “rice revolution”and that was
considered an achievement both the Marcos
dictatorship and the IRRI. Anachronistic as it
may sound today, the Cold War was the
backdrop of the“Green Revolution” which was
but a clever device toehance the superiority
of the capitalist system through “miracle rice”
production in areas of chronicpoverty and
hunger, fertile grounds for communism.Perhaps,
that was why the “Green Revolution”ultimately
foundered on its own avowed goals.
Landholders big and small had to be transformed
into dynamic capitalist entrepreneurs,producing
the modern commercial way, with incredibly
new technologies, extensive credit and marketing
systems that, inevitably , reduced the peasants’role
in agricultural development. “Green Revolution”all
but abolished the traditional way of rice farming.
Strikingly, the miracle was short-lived. Excessive
use of chemicals rendered the soil infertile and threw
ecology off balance. while small landholders were
either forced to sell their plots (awarded through
land reform) or work for a pittance as tenant
farmers and sharecroppers until big landholders
mechanized their plantations. It became obvious
that “Green Revolution”intensified poverty
when it was supposed to generate livelihood
specially in non - irrigated areas. Once landless,
peasants fled in droves to urban areas for survival.
Some people remember that the Philippine government
relaxed its efforts at rice production much too soon
and contrary to the strategy of WB,ADB and
USAID which favored continued increase in staple
food outputs. The three million hectares devoted to
rice were reduced to two million by the Ministry of
Agriculture in favor of IRRI’s “production
intensification” scheme of having four crops a year.
On top of that, there was an irreversible shift to
more remunerative export crops like winter vegetables
and fruits and grains like corn and sorghum
for livestock and animal feeds. Although rice output
was kept at par with population increase, targets for
agriculture growth were deliberately lowered.
In 1983, UN agricultural consultant Ernest Feder
published PERVERSE DEVELOPMENT,
(Foundation ofNationalist Studies , Quezon City)
where he dissected the “Green Revolution” and
its impact. He predicted that in the long run,
“…more important economic factors adverse to
rice production are likely to make their appearance.
A relevant factor affecting thefuture of the
rice sector in the Philippines will turnout to be
government policy which will by necessity be
coordinated with the production priorities set by
monopoly capital operating in the Philippines.
Monopoly capital in agriculture is only moderately
interested in rice [production].” How true, the
“farmer as rice importer” policy drove the
Filipino peasant to despair and to greener pastures
Sunday, April 27, 2008
Yes, Manila heritage is cool!
is the blog of the Manila Historical &
Heritage Commission which was
revived by Mayor Alfredo S. Lim
in July 2007. He is the honorary
Chairperson is Mrs. Carmen G.Nakpil
Vice-chairman is Vice-Mayor
F. Domagoso, better known as
Latest post is a guide to the Flores
de Mayo and Santacruzan.
Saturday, April 26, 2008
The Pila Historical Society Foundation, Inc. was
founded during the incumbency of Mayor Q. Relova
who made sure the town council would appoint it the
official caretaker of the plaza.That made possible
the demolition of historically irrelevant and
illegal structures that had mushroomed on
the Pila plaza.
By that time, Apollo del Rio was mayor the town
council had become allies of heritage so
conservation work was on track. Parish priest
Fr.Melchor Barcenas did such a remarkable job in
restoring the Pila church which was declared the
Diocesan Shrine of St. Anthony of Padua.
Happily, incumbent Mayor Wilfredo Quiat
believes in continuity.Upon request,he demolished
a mini police station, an eyesore tucked under the
right wing of the municipio and built new one near
the public school. Even if it means losing votes,he
has not allowed vendors to reclaim the plaza to
peddle their wares.Once, Mayor Quiat invited Santiago
Bacelona, then mayor of Escalante, Negros Occidental,
to take his staff to Pila to exchange ideas and
experiences about heritage conservation.
Yet, Pila’s inhabitants have not let their
guard down as heritage conservation is always under
threat. Last year, they battled a cellular phone
company which posted banners on all the lamp posts
around the Pila plaza, just when Pila had become a
must- see for cultural tours. Advertising blitz was
also tacked on the trees along the main road leading
to the town and also along the national highway.
The Pila Historical Society appealed to its
friends in and outside Pila and the ensuing campaign
was so heart-rending it sparked a blaze of unsolicited
assistance from champions of“corporate responsibility”.
Banners and streamers were taken down,ugly food stalls
and push carts were replaced with donated ones designed
by Pila residents; electric posts were suddenly
reminiscent of the First Philippine Republic.
When you visit Pila, never be in a hurry.
Prepare yourself for a leisurely,tranquil day where
there is nothing more delightful than to stroll up
and down its shady roads, tracing the medieval
“cuadricula”. If you let the Pila Historical Society
know about your visit, they will most probably
arrange for merienda at Cora Relova’s living-room
or at Monina Rivera’s two-storey home. The
St. Anthony of Padua Church is worth a visit,
admire its retablo and intricacies of its wall
designs. After you have rested under embracing
coolness of its nave, find your way to the
Escuela Pia and marvel at the Chinese, Thai and
local earthenware excavated in ancient gravesites
We could very well have more Pilas in the
Philippines but the race against the ravages of time,
ignorance and indifference is so perilous that one
sighs with relief when national andmarks like Pila
are saved through tireless community effort.
Wednesday, April 23, 2008
for the nationalistic insights, above the political forays of our self serving
leaders. I have often wondered why multinational
corporations don't invest in Philippines as much as in Japan, Korea,
and Japan? I would think that we have the man power, who are
well- educated, English -speaking and motivated to work. I don't know
how true it is that Philippine law requires that a corporation to operate
in the Philippines it has to be 60% owned by Pilipinos and be headed
by a Pilipino. Tell me who in their right minds would invest billions of
dollars and have some body else have the controlling interest. much
more run it. In Japan, Korea, and China they are more investment friendly
they realized that multinational corporations have the capital and have
already marking network to sell their products.
United States the largest economy has several corporations owned by
different nationalities. Sony corporation is a good example they own
Sony entertainment which controls Hollywood movies, music productions
and distribution world wide. Many Japanese car companies have
manufacturing plants scattered around USA giving jobs to thousand of
Americans. Why could this not be done in the Philippines? More
employment and greater tax base, this is a no brainer.
Our leaders should have an understanding of the global economy to
stop our brain drain. Not just say "Mabuhay ang Pilipino" but
do something upang mabubuhay ang ating kapwa Pilipino.
to try to save what was left of the school where Rizal
was first formally educated. Unfortunately none have
been answered and as time goes by its condition has
deteriorated all the more. A friend who reads your blog
referred me to you. I pray that you can be of some
assistance knowing that we share your passion about
our nation's history.
The place where Maestro Cruz taught Pepe the basics of
elementary studies at age 9 in Binan Laguna has been left
to decay, the foundations has fallen to the ground - what
remains now I assume are lumbers waiting to be disposed.
I have been traumatized by this experience that I have
decided to create a blog and called out some friends who
would be willing to help, as you can imagine this is not an
easy task for someone without connections.
What remains of the small kubo is still there, I'm very sure
that it won't be there forever. At this point the kubo
has been completely levelled its material being lumber
and nipa made it worst, I was thinking that maybe the
reason people don't hear me out is because they've felt
that 'it cant be helped' but I feel we can still do something
with what remains of the school.
When she returned to Pila, , after
fourteen years of living in
and San Francisco,the redoubtable
Corazon Relova was horrified that the
once charming plaza of her childhood was
smothered by a decrepit museum building,
broken plants boxes, a grubby basketball
court, an unfinished water reservoir turned
garbage dump, food stalls cum informal
dwellings with TV antennas and adding to
the sordid mess were uncollected remains
of ferias and peryantes.
Cora Relova knew that she had to knock some
heritage sense into the mayor’s head; happily,
he was Querubin Relova, a second cousin.
With contagious enthusiasm she recruited
Monina Rivera,another cousin, and historian
Luciano Santiago (his history of Pila later
helped make it a landmark). The owners of
ancestral homes around the plaza are all
relatives so when a house goes up for sale,
another relative buys it.
Cora herself was born in a charming chalet
at a corner of the plaza, with a spectacular
macopa tree that literally turns pink in the
summer. The main staircase is outside,
in front of the house, gracefully curved,
ornamented with flowers and leading up to a
cool veranda. Like other houses of that period,
it is almost transparent and a perpetual
breeze flows through windows with no grills,
spreading the fragrance of a tropical garden
through discreet ventanillas and finely carved
rafters of dividing walls.
The ancestral homes of Pila, Laguna, are
expressions of Filipino identity, culture
and beliefs;their architectural style blends
with the environment and has evolved over
a period of time to address the community’s
changing needs. Most of the ancestral homes
are inhabited by families of their original
owners who graciously welcome visitors but
are hesitant to enroll in the
“bed and breakfast”program of the Department
of Tourism,for fear of losing their privacy.
Pila will be four hundred thirty-three years
old this year but it is really much older,
originating from a seaside settlement,
Pinagbayanan, even before
found his way to Mactan; perennial floods
drove it to Pagalangan and in the 17th
century, perhaps for purposes of
Christianization,the natives were grouped
into a “reduccion” (hamlet) by the early
Spanish missionaries.In 1613, it became
La Noble Villa de Pila;in our colonial history,
only eight towns were given that supreme accolade.
Amazingly, Pila’s “cuadricula” ( town-planning
according to the 16th century“Leyes de las
Indias" remains intact to this day.
Before Cora’s cousin, Mayor Querubin Relova,
finished his term as mayor, the Pila Historical
Society Foundation, Inc. was founded, duly
registered and appointed official caretaker of
the plaza.That made possible the demolition of
historically irrelevant and illegal structures
that had mushroomed on the site. As heritage
conservation took root, Pila began to attract
more advocates. Senator Rodolfo Biazon paid for
a pathway along the perimeter of the town plaza
and funded the restoration of a water fountain
built by American engineers in 1911. Almost a
hundred years old, this is fed by a “bukal” or
subterranean stream. Not to be outdone,then Governor
Jose Lina donated a welcome arch, street lights
and park benches.
Pila attained national celebrity on 17 May
2000, when this fourth class municipality was
declared a National Historical Landmark by the
National Historical Institute.
Saturday, April 12, 2008
When Ben Cabrera left for London in 1969,
we his fans thought that that was the last we
were going to see of our icon. He was in pursuit
of Caroline Kennedy, blonde British writer
and hippie,whom he had met at Indios Bravos Café
in Malate.She had gained some notoriety after
a local magazine published her article,
“Filipinos are clumsy lovers”;
yet,she married Bencab.
A journey to the West is really a journey
to the East, a poet once said, so Bencab did
come back in 1986, sans Caroline, settled in
Baguio, continued to paint, exhibit and
travel the world, created the Tam-Awan artists
village. At the same time, he began collecting
and accumulating Cordillera artifacts and
to no one’s surprise, he became National Artist
Bencab is constructing his Cordillera
fantasy in Asin,Benguet. Why Asin? Could it be
because Benedicto Reyes Cabrera (Bencab’s real
name) was born in Malabon and grew up in the
constricted urban hinterlands of Mayhaligue,
Santa Cruz and Bambang, Tondo? Bencab’s private
preserve in Asin is on a superlative
promontory that gives you a stunning glimpse
of the South China Sea. Besides, you are
enthralled by the sound of waterfalls,
brooks and gurgling hot springs; no wonder there
are so many vegetables and flowers with names not
easy to remember—heliconia, anthurium, bromeliad, a
riot of lilies, orchids and azaleas.
Bencab has about seven Cordilleran houses.
His collection boasts of huts from Ifugao and Bontoc
and a rare octagonal one from Kalinga. To him, that
is the only feasible way of saving these inimitable
highland ancestral homes from certain destruction.
Respectful of authenticity, he has fitted them with
modern hot water baths and converted each one into a
into a unique guest house. In heritage parlance, that
is adaptive re-use, an acceptable, if not laudable
Looking back, Bencab must have been stricken
with conservation mania, incurable it seems, while
living in London where he loved to browse at
antiquarian bookstores and stalls. He came across
a lot of prints, maps and old photographs of the
Philippines which probably shocked him, as did the
books of Antonio Morga and sundry European travelers
disquiet Jose Rizal and his fellow Propagandists.
The first spark, according to writer friend Krip
Yuson, was in 1971, when Bencab came across a
fading daguerreotype —Portrait of a Servant Girl—taken
at the end of the 19th century. In his book about
Bencab’s works, Krip Yuson described how Bencab
reproduced the daguerreotype on canvas to blur “the
evident and purposeful servility” and project “the
innate dignity” of the Filipino servant girl.
I might add, just like Jose Rizal’s painstaking
annotations of Antonio Morga’s Sucesos de las Islas
Filipinas. That was the start of Bencab’s
incomparable “ Larawan “ series and his
nationalistic outpouring about the
Philippine-American War--“A page of and Officer's
Diary” and “ Bandit and Gentleman”.
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Dear Mr. Urmeneta,
Thank you for reading my article and the kind words
you sent me. I am glad to know that I somehow
rekindled that "pride of place" in a kababayan
who now wants to discover his roots. Let us be
proud of being Ilocano, or Tagalog in my case,
the important thing is we are all essentially
With all good wishes, I am,
Gemma Cruz Araneta
(NOTE: JUST FOUND OUT THAT THE JEHOVAH WITNESS, NOT THE ADVENTISTS, THINK THAT THE FLAG IS A GRAVEN IMAGE.--GCARANETA) .
is Sitio Remedios, the brainchild of Dr Joven Cuanang,
renowned neurologist and director of St. Luke’s Medical Center.
On a seaside property inherited from his mother, Dr. Cuanang
has attempted to recreate a Filipino colonial town, evoking
the Spanish “cuadricula” complete with church ( Paoay in
miniature) , seven elegant ancestral homes of local elite framing
the town plaza. He bought houses from all over Ikocos Norte,
had them dismantled systematically with each piece carefully
numbered, transported and transplanted to his kingdom
by the sea, where these inland structures were never meant to be.
Monsoon rains alternating with scorching sun ,
deteriorates even the sturdiest of building materials.
But we know that whatever is not destroyed by climate is
ravaged by fire, earthquakes, volcanic eruptions or by man’s
own actions and inactions, sheer ignorance and crass
commercial greed. With all that in mind, Dr. Joven Cuanang
boldly carried on with his vision for Sitio Remedios.
The houses have names, indicating their provenance—
Piddig, Bacarra, Dingras and bahay na bato; the admittedly
composite ones, the bahay retazo, are called radrillo, puraw
and pasuquin. Because all the houses were gathered in
Ilocos Norte, there is a subtle architectural harmony quite
pleasing to the eye. A perfect host, Dr. Cuanang serves
authentic Ilocano food and has many amusing stories about how
Sitio Remedios was built. He regrets that an ancient Sampaloc
had to be sacrificed to give the plaza a perspective of the sea.
It is not square and is cobbled with what look like gigantic
river pebbles but are slabs of natural stone from a nearby quarry.
Apparently, these had to be laid out twice because the first
batch of workers knew nothing about stone, so quarry men had to
be recruited to redo the work. It was child’s play for them,
Dr. Cauanang laughed, because they had the “feel”, not unlike
the Ilocano carpenters , mostly unschooled, whose instinctive
“feel” helped them put together the ancestral houses jig saw in
a wink of an eye. They did not need “as built” plans to reassemble
the Bacarat, Piddig and Dingras houses ,but for some reason,
Dr. Cuanang asked Arch. Rex Hofileña, an Ilongo, to design
the three bahay retazo.
Sitio Remedios is not meant to be a theme park but
is reminiscent of Nayong Pilipino which had a hint of authenticity.
To enjoy Sitio Remedios, forget the amenities you left behind in the
big city, relish how the Ilocos sun burns your skin, marvel at the
botanical splendor around you and learn the names of the flowers and
plants that Dra. Cuanang himself selected and planted. Feast your eyes
on the incredible architectural details of the Piddig, Bacarat and
Dingras houses and imagine how our forbears invented and created
those embroidered eaves, fitted wooden plans, those coquettish
barandillas and carved wall decorations.
The view from the miniature Paoay church is an alluring expanse
of aquamarine sea that turns to a vivid coral at sunset. There is a
modern infinity pool that blends with the sea, a stark white lighthouse
with an open but shaded tower, breezy enough for a delicious siesta.
On the opposite end, an Asian spa is hidden beneath luxuriant fruit
trees, palms and all manner of fragrant, aromatic vines. Done in
pebbles, paletada and grass, there are massage and meditation rooms.
The houses in Sitio Remedios are pricey (specially the
Bahay na Bato where I spent a night) but the point is for one
family to occupy a house and savor how life was in the days
of Artemio Ricarte and Juan Luna.
Sunday, April 6, 2008
That exotic phrase-- peak oil -- was completely
new to me until I heard it from historian
Dr. Floro Quibuyen,a renowned Rizalist.
He explained that peak oil is the year
in which oil production reaches its maximum
and in which half the oil in the world
will have been burned; henceforth,there
will be a continuous decrease in
However, Dr. Quibuyen clarified that
peak oil does not mean “running out
of oil, but rather a steadily decreasing
supply, increasing costs and causing
major changes in the way we live”.
He warned that without timely mitigation,
the economic, social, and political
costs of the peak oil phenomenon will be
The shocking news is that peak oil arrived
in 2006 but was announced only a year later,
on 22 October 2007 by a body called the
Energy Watch Group This was corroborated by
the CEO of Royal Dutch Shell who ventured
that by 2015, if not earlier, oil supply
may very well fall behind the demand and when
that occurs, the market prices of this
seemingly irreplaceable source of energy
and everything remotely related to it
will inevitably reach astronomical proportions.
What are we to do in this country where
peak oil has not even entered public
discourse? No one seems to bother about
the Uppsala and Kyoto Protocols ; we
can surmise that only members of the academe,
like Dr. Quibuyen, have bothered to study
these documents. It has taken media
three years, 2005-2008. to make
superficial mention of this thing
called peak oil.
On 2 March 2005, Dr. Quibuyen spoke
about peak oil at national conference,
“The Philippines between Asia
and Oceania” at the Asian Center,
of the University of the Philippines.
Some of his colleagues teased him
about being a “prophet of doom”;
no one said that we must all prepare
for what seems like an impending
What could the repercussions of
peak oil be? According to Dr. Quibuyen,
if the decline in oil production surpasses
the ability of alternative technologies to
replace oil, energy consumption will be
severely constricted, as consumers compete
for increasingly scarce oil resources.
The situation may resemble past oil supply
shocks, all of which had brought about
significant economic changes. For example,
disruptions in supply during the
Arab oil embargo of 1973-74 and the
Iranian Revolution of 1978-79 caused
unprecedented increases in the
prices of oil and petroleum products
and subsequent world recessions.
Dr. Quibuyen expounded:
“Ultimately, however, the consequences
of a peak and permanent decline in oil
production could be even more prolonged
and severe than those of past oil supply
shocks. Because the decline will be neither
temporary nor reversible, the effects will
continue to be felt until alternative
transportation technologies that replace
oil become available in sufficient
quantities and at competitive costs.”
Following the peak which according to
Dr. Quibuyen had arrived two years ago,
oil production is expected to
decline increasingly as years go by
and there had better be a corresponding
increase in alternative fuels and
technologies or the world will be in deep
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Saturday, April 5, 2008
Some years ago, a news item buried in the inner
pages of a bulky broadsheet reported that
Adventists schools in this country prohibit
their students to render homage to the
Philippine flag. I wondered about the
accuracy of that news item and if the
Department of Education would do
something about it.
Then a couple of years ago, I met
Mr. Daniel Dial,president of the Mountain
View College, at a concert sponsored by the
Adventists and I invited him to my radio
program “Krus na daan” to talk about that
school ensconced in the mountains of
Valencia city,Bukidnon. Last year, he
invited me to be the commencement speaker
for the 2 9 March 2008 graduation
ceremonies, the college’s 74th, which
I happily accepted. I remembered that
disquieting news item and wanted
to see for myself if it was true.
There were several ceremonies one of which
was the Consecration that took place
on the evening of my arrival. To the famous
march of Verdi’s Aida, the graduates,
splendid in satin academic robes, entered
the circular chapel in solemn procession.
After the main speaker delivered his two-hour
homily, heavily focused on the life of Christ
according to the four evangelists, the lights
were dimmed and the master of ceremonies
asked the students to light candles. The effect
was spiritually uplifting and as the students
were asked to kneel in prayer, their parents
and teachers were called to form a circle
around them and with hands clasped,
they also knelt in prayer. The soft glow of
candle lights and prayers piously chanted
could have touched the heart of the
most cynical Catholic.
Precisely at that sacred moment, an
imponderable thought shook my
entire being-- this congregation and
others like it are the backbone of
the Philippines! This is the burgeoning
middle class,dynamic, hard-working,
disciplined and entrepreneurial that has
kept this country afloat. Why look for super
heroes, the country’s salvation is found right
here, in the chapel of Mountain View College.
Strikingly, the 2008 class hymn and philosophy
is taken from a psalm of King David--
”Here I am Lord, send me!” Yes, indeed!
Send me to make a difference and save the
Philippines, Lord! – was the electrifying
plea that boggled my mind.
Somehow, I felt that the young Adventists,
their parents and teachers, all kneeling
in fervent prayer, were not extending
the philosophy of David’s psalm to local
Philippine conditions. My lightning revelation
was interrupted by Dr. Myrna Dial, Daniel’s wife,
who whispered that eighty-five percent of the
graduates were going to seek greener pastures
in foreign lands and that once, when she
asked a class roomful of students how many
would stay behind, only two raised their
hands. Well, there are economic imperatives
to consider; families hock land and livestock
just to send their children to school after
which the eldest is expected to be the
family breadwinner. With such constraints,
a Filipino, patriotic or not, is compelled
to join the overseas labor force.
I do not think the Adventist students were
prohibited to pledge allegiance to the
Philippine flag, at least not at Mountain View
College but, there was definitely a disconnect
between being a good Christian and a good
Filipino. On day two, during an idyllic lunch
aboard a bamboo houseboat on the placid
Lake Apo, I told Dr.Daniel Dial and my
Adventist friends that I had an observation
I wanted to share with them.#