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.

Like wild fire

There are many historical records in the archives of Spain that have remained unread by Filipino historians and among these are Masonic papers which Dr. Jaime Veneracion believes could pertain to the Katipunan. ( Dr. Veneracion is the resident historian of my daily radio program “Krus na Daan” where he guests every Wednesday.) Because the Katipunan was a secret organization using some Masonic rites and symbols, the Spanish military intelligence agents of those days may have been confused. There were about 30,000 katipuneros like Manuel and Domingo Abella, Leon Adia, Julian Aguila , Jose Alberto, Jose Antonio, Gregorio Barbaque, Anastacio Francisco, Teodoro Guerrero, to name only a few. How fascinating that there may be much more to the Katipunan than what we know today.

At the City of Manila, the foundation of the La Liga Filipina on 3 July 1892 was commemorated at a charming plaza that bears its name, at the corner of Rajah Matanda and Ilaya streets in Tondo. On the same site used to stand the house where Rizal’s mutual benefit society was founded with such noble goals as the unification of the archipelago into a vigorous , homogenous unit; the protection of the poor ; aid to members who have suffered losses by lending them capital for industry and agriculture; the introductionof new machines needed by the country and the establishment of shops, stores and other enterprises as sources of livelihood for Liga members. Today, we call these small and medium enterprises.
Among the La Liga Filipina members were Ambrosio Salvador, Agustin de la Rosa, Deodato Arellano, Bonifacio Arevalo, Macario Sakay, Artemio Ricarte, Timoteo Paez, Juan Zulueta and Isidoro Francisco. Not many people know that Andres Bonifacio and Apolinario Mabini had joined and both tried to reorganize the Liga after Rizal was summarily deported to Dapitan, barely four days after it was founded. .
It can be argued that the tragic turn of events convinced Andres Bonifacio about the futility of peaceful reforms and led him to establish the Katipunan the anniversary of which we celebrated yesterday the corner of El Cano and Claro M. Recto streets and at the Bonifacio Shrine behind City hall where a short re-enactment of its initiation rites was performed by the Barasoain Kalinangan Foundation. The Katipunan was not just a Tagalog affair, it spread like wild fire from the original eight of southern Luzon to the Ilocos, Abra, Cagayan and Batanes in the north and in the south to Mindoro, Palawan, Cebu, Iloilo, Negros, Leyte, Samar, Surigao, Cotabato and Misamis.

Katipunan roster

> Jose Turiano Santiago was assigned to set up a balangay
> in the San Jose de Trozo area while Restituto Javier
> recruited members in Santa Cruz and Faustino Manalac, in
> Binundok ( now Binondo). Julian Nepomuceno, alias Digma, was
> head of balangay “Laonglaan” ( a pen name of Jose
> Rizal). Tomas Alup Remigio and Rafael Gutierrez established
> the Sanguniang Bayan “Mahiganti”. Katipuneros Genaro
> Reyes, Rogelio Borja, Onofre Ramos operated in Mandaluyong.
> Licerio Geronimo headed the Katipunan branch (sangay) in
> Montalban. He later became a general of the Revolutionary
> Army and the First Republic which he defended valiantly
> during the Philippine-American War. Gen. Geronimo ambushed
> and shot the American General Lawton who was known to have
> captured American Indian Chief Geronimo , also by a river.
> Julian de Jesus spread the teachings of the KKK in
> Montalban while Tomas A. Susano was the KKK advocate in
> Novaliches. Pedro Sevilla was KKK agente especial (special
> agent) in Kalookan, Lorenzo Lupa headed the Katipunan
> sector in Sampalukan (now Sampaloc) and Kalookan with Andres
> Bato. Apolonio Samson established the Sangguniang Bayan ng
> Katipunan (town council) in Malabon while Severino Roxas
> headed the Balangay “Matitigan” (barangay) and Gregorio
> Coronel the Katipunan branch in Malabon.
> Canuto Celestino was also agente especial in Nabota
> (now Navotas) while Silvestre Pascual a.k.a Pam Beteng was
> head of the Katupunan in the same place.. Vicente Gomez
> spread the teachings of the Katipunan in Marikina while
> Hermogenes Bautista was setting up a sangay (branch). .
> Ignacio de la Paz, Paterno Carlos and Celestino Teodoro
> conducted initiation rights at Barangka and Mandaluyong.
> Fernrando Angeles was agente especial in Morong while
> Adriano San Jose was setting up a branch . Felipe Gomez was
> also agente especial but in Pasig where Eulalio Santiago was
> head of balangay. Eusesbio Aspilleda was agente especial in
> San Pedro Makati and his counterparat in Pasay was Pacual
> Villanueva. Patricio Bernabe and Santiago Inquimboy were
> agentes espseciales in Palanyag or Parañaque.
> Sabas de Guzman was head of balangay in Palanyag while
> Mariano Dalandan and Valentin Dumalang, Adriano Agot were
> agentes especiales in Las Pinas , Antipolo and Baras,
> respectively. Other agentes especiales were Jose Inares of
> Binagonan, Nazario Crisostomo of Boso-boso, Exequiel Ampil
> of Kainta, Agustin Eustacio of Caradona, Isidro Pascual of
> Jalajala and Rufiino Melendres of Pililla .
> Quiapo also had an agente especial in the person of
> Cipriano Siga. Adausto Ocampo was agente especial in Taytay,
> Rafael Marigona in Teresa, Nicasio Manao and Gregorio Salva
> in Pateros . Urbano Caraballo and Tomas Montillano
> distributed revolutionary pamphlets against the abuses of
> Spanish friars in San Pedro Makati and Muntinlupa.
> Needless to say, there were more than forty-five
> Katipuneros ; more names will be published next week.