Friday, June 27, 2008

Homage to Rajah Sulayman

Today (24 June) we are celebrating the 437th foundation day of Manila, the city that Spain established and enclosed within formidable walls to defend it against other invaders and define the limits of its empire in this part of the world. But, before all that came to pass, there was already a Maynila whose exact foundation day remains unknown but which historical records have described as a burgeoning center of regional trade, a stable, progressive political and social unit ruled by Rajahmuda Sulayman, perhaps assisted by a wise uncle, Rajah Matanda. They were related to the sultan of Borneo.

One of the turning points of the history of these islands ( there was no Philippines yet) was the introduction of Islam by preachers and scholars, , traders and travelers from Borneo, towards the end of the 15th century, via Sulu and Mindanao. Many of us have forgotten that Islam gained ground in Mindoro, Palawan, parts of Cebu, Batangas, Pampanga, Catanduanes, Laguna and as far north as Cagayan Valley According to Salah Jubair (“A Nation Under Endless Tyranny”) natives learnt the rudiments of the new religion, read the Qur’an, accepted Islamic practices like circumcision and the avoidance of pork, and began to use Muslim names.
For the first time after the fall of Granada in 1492, the Spaniards and the Moros, met again in Manila, after each had circled half the earth, in opposite directions. It must have been a seething encounter: The Spaniards had not forgotten 800 years of Muslim domination while in their collective memory, Muslims still mourned the three million who perished during the “reconquista” of Granada by the Catholic monarchs, Ferdinand and Isabela.

Not surprisingly, the Spaniards called the Islamized natives of Manila “Moros” to differentiate them from the Taga-Ilog animists who were more easily Christianized. According to S. Jubair, the word “Moro” came from Mauritania and referred to Berbers of North Africa who conquered and dominated Spanish territory for 800 years. It was only after 1578 that Moro was used to refer to the Muslims of Mindanao and Sulu. Neither was the first Moro-Spanish War fought down south, , it exploded right here in Maynila between Martin de Goiti and Rajah Sulayman.

There could be no blood compact in that hour of reckoning. Rajah Sulaiman declared that he and the Manileños wished to be friends with all peoples but they will not tolerate any abuse and will repay with death the least affront to their honor. Probably unaccustomed to meeting strong-willed natives, Goiti was piqued by what he mistook for arrogance. Rajah Sulayman was merely making a foreign policy declaration.

The Spaniards had their own agenda and came back twice to fight Rajah Sulayman. Some historians say that he was killed during the Battle of Bangkusay, in Tondo; others say that he survived, settled somewhere in Bagumbayan and continued to be recognized as the Señor de Manila. Be that as it may, Rajah Sulayman and the Maynila he ruled deserve to be remembered by Filipinos today.

Monday, June 16, 2008

from Oscar Apostol

As an expatriate your endearing articles about our history, ancestry, culture, heroes and others nuggets are my personal conduits and discoveries keeping me in touch to my beloved Philippines. I thank you. I swear these longings make me more Filipino than many of those living in the Philippines. The obvious difference is my deep appreciation and pride of everything Filipino. I suppose being transplanted to another culture does that to you. You stake a claim of whom you are without ambivalence whatsoever.

As a young man growing up with a few regrets, I bought the whole American culture, line and sinker so to speak. At that time we were going through transition from Spanish to American culture. Our national language was adopted in less than a decade so our people were at an early stage of unification; which is still in progress even now. I doubt if it will ever come to pass. However, I cannot undo my past. At my age, I am somewhat of a Renaissance man. I value my heritage, multi race and culture that is Filipino, speaking and understanding three languages. That is more than most people do.

My wife and I have just returned from our intense, busy two-week visit of Manila-Makati and vicinity, staying at the 306 Ascott International Residence Hotel atop of Glorietta 4. The view on our 18th floor non-smoking residence was spectacularly facing Greenbelt skyline, Intercontinental Hotel where we stayed 25 days in 1980 and Shoe to the right and Rustan to our left. Our last visit was in 2005 and stayed a month at the BSA Towers on Greenbelt area.

Some observations seen on local television. Too many American programs being shown. It is not good for our people. No wonder we have an identity problem. We are Filipinos not Americans. Many of our friends speak to them in English. I am not sure if that is good in the long run. Are we robbing and brain washing our children to think Filipino? There is a big difference in essence and thought process. I went through it myself, for goodness sake.

I insisted that our friends take us to Quiapo this trip. I believe it must have been in 1956 (not sure of date) during the total solar eclipse when we were there last. We discovered there is a new Quiapo church and that our friends have not been there for decades. I wanted to see a reference point of my youth in the event this was our last visit. Surprisingly I had a deep appreciation in visiting Quiapo again. It is part of me and who I am. If I was in awe of the churches in Toledo and Madrid in Spain I should equally be proud of our own. And I was.

Discovering our heritage is an eye opener. We need to teach our young people to value our own heritage. There is such an incidental beauty that comes with the discovery. And you begin to love and be comfortable with your own skin because it is your very own; but you have to claim it.

Thank you for another golden nugget of an article, Gemma.
(Roseville, California 95747/ USA)

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Unraveling heritage

What is heritage? Kinakain ba iyan? --used to be persistent questions, but not anymore for heritage is now mainstream; the awareness is spreading fast through instruments like the Heritage Identification and Documentation Training (HIDT), a 3-day workshop conducted by the Heritage Conservation Society (HCS) in Silang and Maragondon, Cavite .

There was an element of surprise as most participants did not quite know what to expect, but were pleasantly surprised to discover that heritage had always been close to their hearts. Of the fifty eight who joined HIDT, about 80 per cent were local government bureaucrats . “I expected architecture students to be the main bulk, “ said Arch. Melvin G. Patawaran, who designed the HIDT modules, in order to ” train Filipinos to identify and become more aware of built heritage structures in their communities, and expose them to techniques of cultural mapping and documentation. value of analysis of structures and interpretation of plans

To whet cultural appetites, the HIDT began with a tour of the La Salle University Museum at Dasmarinas, Cavite followed by a visit to the famous church in Silang. Eye-opening ectures were given by Arch. Augusto Villalon , former president, now Guru Council head of HCS, member of the UNESCO and ICOMOS; Eric Zerrudo, curator of the Manila Metropolitan Museum; Arch Rene Mata, director/trustee of HCS, restorer of the Lingayen Capitol building and Arch. M.G. Patawaran who is also a director/trustee of the HCS.

On the second day, the participants went to Maragondon and were warmly met by the Tourism Council, thanks to Mayor Monte Andaman. They toured the three heritage structures selected for study and documentation—the 17th century Maragondon church with its fabulous carved doors, , the Maragondon Elementary school, a Gabaldon-type built in 1925 and the 19th century Reyes “bahay na bato”, the site of Andres Bonifacio’s clandestine trial after the fatal Tejeros Convention in 1897. Then the HIDT participants were divided into three groups, working collectively at the above-mentioned spots. Each cluster had a facilitator , Arch. Melvin Patawaran was with the Gabaldon school group, Arch. Rene Mata with the Bonifacio Museum and Christian Aguilar with those who worked on the Maragondon church. Power point presentations were given by each cluster on the third day, followed by a lively open forum where participants commented on each other’s works with the facilitators sharing their observations.

Many participants said that before the HIDT, they could never explain why the old structures in their communities caused such strong emotions and deep feelings; but, now they understand why. By learning identification and documentation techniques they began to fathom the value and significance of built heritage.

Unraveling heritage proved to be an effective bond. The participants asked the HCS to create a blogspot specially for the HIDT “Maragondon batch” so they can continue networking, sharing news about heritage projects they intend to implement in their communities. There was also a demand for more materials like a glossary of basic terms related to conservation and restoration which should have been included in the conference kits. The HIDT was an eye-opener and the consensus was that it should be replicated in other parts of the Philippinesl to awaken “pride of place” in every Filipino.

Participants were housed at the Yen Center of the International Institute of Rural Reconstruction whose current president, Juan Miguel Luz, is the vice-president of the Heritage Conservation Society. This first HIDT was co-sponsored by PCSO, SSS, Legazpi Tiles, Tourism Council of Maragondon, Manila Historical & Heritage Commission.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

A national Church emerges

The idea of separating Church and State was taken up by the Propaganda Movement, in particular by Marcelo H. del Pilar who, on 15 September 1892 , denounced as abhorrently unjust the deportation of Jose Rizal to Dapitan. He said that religious reasons were used to impose political punishment for Rizal was accused of disloyalty to Spain when all he did was attack the friars, When the Propagandists clamored for secular education, religious freedom and the non- interference of ecclesiastical officials in government affairs, they were in effect arguing in favor of the separation of Church and State.

Unexpectedly, during the Revolution and the Malolos Congress that followed, separation of Church and State became a hot and sensitive issue that threatened the very unity of the First Republic. The memory of GOMBURZA was still fresh in the collective memory and the Filipino secular priests wanted to enjoy the social and political prestige of the Spanish friars they had replaced. The dilemma was to fulfill the aspirations of the Filipino seculars without perpetuating friar abuses and to remove Filipino priests from the spiritual jurisdiction of the Spanish Archbishop of Manila but still adhere to the Pope of Rome. . Aguinaldo;s presidential decree of 24 June 1899 ordered the local clergy to show their patriotism and loyalty by sending parish collections to Fr. Gregorio Aglipay and not to Spanish Archbishop Nozaleda. .

Apolinario Mabini, chief presidential adviser, penned several vital measures, which Pres. E. Aguinaldo signed, to guarantee the local clergy’s support for the First Republic specially because war with the United States already seemed inevitable. The separation of church and state issue, (its opponents won by one point in the third round ) was suspended for a future constituent assembly. When the new government had to legislate the disposal of parish funds, this was done with utmost care as indicated by the 1 September 1898 decree of Pres. E. Aguinaldo.

The reaction of Aglipay and the Filipino clergy were , to the Malolos legislators, a barometer of national sentiment. When the First Republic deemed civil marriages obligatory and religious ones optional, Felipe Calderon (who had championed the union of Church and State) cautioned his colleagues about threatening, though unwittingly, the interests of the Filipino clergy, or belittling their religious beliefs. Lest the First Republic be criticized for being anti-Catholic, . civil and canonical marriages were given the same importance specially because t the civil registry was still a function of the parishes.

As early as 1898, in a “First Manifesto”, the Hong Kong Junta already expressed “ …that the native clergy of the country be those to direct and teach the people from every step of the ecclesiastical hierarchy…” The Philippine Revolution and the Malolos Congress showed that the First Philippine Republic did satisfy the aspirations of the Filipino secular clergy. Historians say that it was Apolinario Mabini who had doggedly pursued the establishment of a national Church; in an independent Philippines, the highest ecclesiastical authority had to be Filipino. Although he did not contemplate breaking off with Rome, Mabini rejected the Spanish Archbishop of Manila who exercised his authority only in territory occupied by the American invading forces and not in the twenty-five provinces under the First Republic.

from Rommel de los Santos de Ausen

Good day!

I encountered your article about Epifanio de los Santos and I feel the same. I am kinda doing research on him when I have free time. I was so curious about his life and works and it still amazes me what he has done- a silent leader. I'm so amazed and curious about history . He was kinda like finding and guiding our nation's identity in those difficult times. Filipinos could relate to him more and I think he's becoming more and more relevant in today's society. He serves as my inspiration. We learn from the great men of history and it's no wonder those great men are Filipinos.

One thing I'm curious about is how did he took the savage distortions of indigenous tribes in the "Saint Louis Exposition". He must have been devastated about it as one of those intellectuals during that time. We have our very own history and it's unique and exciting which could be compared with other old civilizations. We are in a later period. Learning about EDSA could bury those remnants of colonial mentality that we still have as of today.

" A Society Grows Great when Old Men Plant Trees Whose Shade They Know They Shall Never Sit In." Greek Proverb

Hope their legacy lives on.

from Edgar Grajo

Niece piece no wonder, the church in the Philippines still wields power on some of the undertakings and decision- making of the goverment. They have to ask religious leader their blessing.

from Dr. Cesar Reyes

(Re: Separating Church from State) I am glad to read your great words, Gemma.

Have a wonderful summer.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Separating Church from State

> The gray areas between Church and State must be a legacy
> of our colonial past. For three hundred years, if not more,
> during the Spanish colonial period, the parish priests, the
> majority friars of religious orders, were considered the
> keystones of the Capitania General de Filipinas, the most
> remote corner of the Spanish empire. The friar was a
> permanent fixture in these islands while
> governors-general, military commanders or even Audiencia
> members came and went; it was rare for governors-general to
> stay more than two years.
> Needless to say, a friar of a religious order
> had no business running a parish but since the early
> missionaries were either Agustinians, Franciscans,
> Dominicans or Jesuits, they had to man the newly-founded
> parish, an anomaly that persisted through the centuries. By
> the 19th century, the friar/parish priest had immense power
> as he took care no only of the religious needs of their
> flock but of the civil registry, recommendations to public
> positions, public works, education, almost all aspects of
> social and economic life. During the Revolution, a group of
> friars were displeased at the “softness” of a governor
> so they sent a telegram to Madrid and got rid of him in
> forty eight hours.
> Strikingly, during the Malolos Congres the most
> contentious issue was the separation of Church and State.
> Felipe Calderon, principal author of the Malolos
> Constitution and delegate Manuel Gomez were the champions
> of the union of Church and State. So deeply passionate were
> the debates that one delegate, Tomas del Rosario, expressed
> his opposition in a five- hour speech. He and his brother
> Arcadio were professed Masons and former members of
> Rizal’s La Liga Filipina.
> Evidently conservative, Calderon and Gomez
> believed that the Catholic Church was the only force
> unifying the Philippines, a nation with diverse languages,
> cultures and regional idiosyncrasies and because the
> majority of Filipinos were Catholics, the separation of
> Church and State would be offensive to them. Delegate
> Gomez added that if Church and State remained united,
> people would be governed by an “internal force” and an
> “external force” , that is, religion and government,
> with the former moderating the latter.
> Felipe Calderon also argued that the Filipino clergy
> might feel betrayed ( and they did !) because for
> centuries they had aspired for both religious and political
> influence. Calderon warned about the Vatican refusing the
> ordidnation of Filipino priests and taking adverse
> measures in the final disposition of the enormous
> landholdings of the religious orders. His co-delegates
> criticized him for recognizing the friars’ ownership of
> land which was ‘vicious in origin”. Calderon felt
> rebuffed when the “Articulo Adicional” was attached
> to the Malolos Constitution; it stated that all friar
> lands had been restored to the State since the declaration
> of independence in June 1898.
> The del Rosario brothers insisted that aside from
> the religious factor, there were deeply –rooted secular
> values that unified Filipinos in their Revolution against
> Spain. Besides, a separation of Church and State did not
> necessarily mean the abandonment of Christian morality and
> doctrine which admittedly had become part of Filipino
> culture. To perpetuate the union of Church and State was
> tantamount to preserving “feudal theocracy “ which
> during three hundred and fifty years created a “State
> within a State’ to the misfortune of the Filipinos.
> Arcadio del Rosario pointed out that not all the
> inhabitants of the Philippines were Catholics, what about
> the Muslims? By favoring one religion, serious conflicts
> may ensue and lead the young republic to a civil war.
> When the Malolos Congress delegates voted on the
> Church and State issue, there was a tie, not once but
> twice, and on the third voting the results were 26-25 in
> favor of separation. The Filipino secular clergy was
> palpably disappointed. Apolinario Mabini, then Chief
> Adviser of Pres. E. Aguinaldo, realized that the First
> Republic needed the support of the Filipino clergy
> specially because the war with the United States was
> imminent. It was he who advised Pres. Aguinaldo to put the
> Church and State matter on hold until more normal times.

Monday, June 2, 2008

A Pakistani's view

A few days after arrived from Islamabad, I met a Pakistani who has lived in the Philippines for about seventeen years; he is married to a Filipina. I told him that there are striking similarities between our two countries and that I sincerely started feeling at home in Islamabad and actually thought that I could live there quite happily.

My new friend, Muhammad Aslam, is the vice-president of the Pakistan-Philippines-Pakistan Business Council so naturally we spoke about the balance ( or imbalance!) of trade . He said there are many more products that Pakistan and the Philippines can sell each other but, sadly enough, neither seem to be exploiting this potential. There are Philippine products that are always in demand in Pakistan like canned food products of different brands,-- the Dole and Del Monte line of fruit and vegetables , different types of Century Tuna, Nata de Coco , powdered fruit juices like Tang and tinned sweet corn.

There is also an incredible market for dermatological products which abound in the Philippines like Eskinol-type astringents, crams and cosmetics based on virgin coconut oil. (Pakistan as a much drier climate.) There seems to be a bottomless demand for abaca rope( the famous Manila Rope) and other abaca-based goods, not to mention, solid wood and rattan furniture. Believe it or not, Pakistan is looking at the Philippines as a supplier of black pepper, ginger, and betel nut; yes, the common and much-maligned nganga is sought-after in Pakistan. Used newspapers and telephone directories can feed our neighbor’s recycling industries.

For their part, they are most willing to increase their rice exports as this is not a staple grain in Pakistan; all kinds of textiles are available from cotton to silk, as well as precious and semi-precious jewelry, leather goods and of course pharmaceutical products at very affordable prices.

So what are we waiting for?—I asked Mr. Aslam. What is keeping us from increasing the volume of trade? Woefully, he said that due to the exorbitant freight cost Pakistani Importers are constrained to buy their needs from other countries. Malaysia, Vietnam and Thailand which have products similar to ours are reaping the benefits of a steady and lucrative trade with Pakistan. Mr. Aslam offers a simple computation: ahe freight cost for a 20 -fitter container from the Philippines to Pakistan is around US$ 1,350,while it is only between US$ 750-850 from Pakistan to Philippines; a 40-fitter container will cost US$ 2,700 from the Philippines to Pakistan but only US$ 1,350 from Pakistan to the Philippines. Seemingly insignificant, the difference has a direct impact on the final cost and competitive edge of all products.

Islamabad's "Fortalice boutique"

One of the pleasant surprises of my visit to Pakistan
was the couple of nights spent at Islamabad’s
“Fortalice ”, an up scale bourgeois house ensconced
in a Makati-type village and converted into a boutique
That was where the Islamabad Policy Research
Institute, our host,billeted us -- Lyn Resurrecction
(Business Mirror),Natalia Diaz (Philippine Daily
Inquirer), Ellen Tordesillas (Malaya), Fatima
(People’s Asia), and Dante Francis Ang ( Manila
Times)— shortly after an animated session with the
frightfully outspoken journalists of the Karachi Press
Club. Our hosts probably wanted to keep us out of
harms way; we were joking of course, the Pakistan
trip was definitely not a “guided tour”.
The “Fortalice” was pure nostalgia. Somehow, it
reminded me of the Araneta mansion “MARA”, on McKinley
Road, where my husband and I lived during the first
two years of our marriage. In fact, I had given my
father-in-law’s sedate, paneled study adaptive re-use
by converting it into Fatimah’s nursery. Living at
“Mara” was like being in a sublimely lusurious hotel
but with the warmth of a large, cheerful family.
Not quite as grand as “Mara”, Islamabad’s “Fortalice
Boutique ” was just as elegant what with chandeliers,
a sweeping main staircase, lots of carved panels and
grills and marble slabs. When the original owners
lived there, they probably had an enviable collection
of art and a fine library like my in-laws. The
elderly waiter in a brocade vest, probably the family
mayordomo, guided us through the menu and explained
special features of the house.
After my mother-in-law passed away, late last year,
her children did not quite know what to do with the
palatial “MARA”. I was afraid it would suffer the fate
of other ancestral homes so I suggested that they
turn it into a boutique hotel much like the
“Fortalice” of Islamabad.

Pakistan at first sight

Two days after I landed in Karachi, Pakistan, my mother dreamt I was carrying a basket of red and yellow flowers which alarmed her to no end even as I told her not to worry because only white flowers are portents of doom. That was probably my fault because I waited until the very last minute to tell her that I had accepted an invitation of the Islamabad Policy Research Institute to spend a week in Pakistan. She was extremely worried, like everyone else, and wondered why I always choose the most dangerous places to visit. That trip to North Vietnam in 1968 and also in the month of May was brought up as evidence of my recklessness. I promised not to go anywhere near the Afghan border, but apparently, that was no consolation.

I wanted to touch base ( so to speak)n with Pakistan as we Filipinos seem to have lost track of this worthy ally. Pakistan Airlines has long suspended its flights to Manila so I took an Emirates airbus and had to change planes in Dubai. The Islamic Republic of Pakistan, a South Asian country with a 1,046 kilometer coastline along the Arabian Sea shares geographical borders with Iran, India, People’s Republic of China and Afghanistan with whom it has had spiny political and military relations. But that is nothing new to Pakistan because that intriguing part of the world where South and Central Asia and the Middle East converge has, since the dawn of time, witnessed invasions and settlements of Persians, Greeks, Mongols Arabs, Turks and Afghans.

As you know, Pakistan was part of British India until 1947 when Muhammad Ali Jinnah led a movement for a Muslim homeland comprised by the provinces of Sind, West Punjab, Baluchistan, East Bengal and the Northwest Frontier Province. Mr. Jinnah, the Quaid-e-Azam (Great Leader) is revered as the Father of the Nation and in Karachi there is an awesome mausoleum done in white marble where his remains are kept. Seven thousand people come daily to pay their respects. According to the Ministry of Information, no one can talk or write against the Founder of the Nation.

There are many similarities between Pakistan and the Philippines. Both have gone through periods of military rule and political instability as well as brief moments of economic growth and development. In 1971, a civil war in East Pakistan resulted in the independence of Bangladesh . Let us hope the similarities end there as none of us wish to see a fragmented Philippines.

When I last looked, Pakistan and the Philippines were members of the NAM (Non-Aligned Movement), the impossible dream, and the SEATO (Southeast Asian Treaty Organization) which turned out to be a paper tiger. Today, we are both members of the United Nations, the World Trade Organization, and the Group of 77 developing nations. Pakistan is considered a nuclear power, while we have a nuclear power plant which has never been used but for which we have uselessly paid billions of dollars.

Pakistan and the Philippines are both destined (or doomed?) to play the precarious and dangerous role of frontline states, at the Arabian Sea and South China Sea, compelled to join pro-Western military alliances, then anti-communist and now anti-terrorist, that have sucked them into wasteful wars of conflict and intervention. It’s time to take another look at Pakistan.