Sacrificing a Christmas for the Country and On Why Marcelo H. del Pilar is Hated by His Own Daughter

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Bridged by Love, artwork in Gmelina wood by Willy Layug. Photo courtesy of the NHCP.

Last 18 December 2017, the National Historical Commission of the Philippines (NHCP), gave a tribute to Ka Alex Balagtas, the Museum Curator of Museo ni Marcelo H. del Pilar in Cupang, San Nicolas, Bulakan, Bulacan, as he is about to retire from service early next year. My first acquaintance of him was in 2008, when I was in third year college at the Bulacan State University in Malolos, Bulacan. He visited our mini exhibit about the 110th anniversary of the Malolos Congress. Since then I am with him in various activities of the NHCP in Bulacan, until he encouraged me to apply to the said agency in 2011. I became part of the NHCP in 2013. Continue reading Sacrificing a Christmas for the Country and On Why Marcelo H. del Pilar is Hated by His Own Daughter

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13 Things that May Help Reina Hispanoamericana Winwyn Marquez Establish Her Spanish Connection

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Reigning 2017 Reina Hispanoamericana Winwyn Marquez of the Philippines with some of her fellow candidates. Marquez’s mother, Alma Moreno, is from Macabebe, Pampanga, a place notable in Spanish History as the last colonial town to have remained loyal to Spain. Photo from Reina Hispanoamerican Facebook page.

I’m not sure if Winwyn Marquez, the newly crowned Reina Hispanoamericana, is aware that the province of her parents, Pampanga, gave Spain a wonderful kind of history of loyalty. Jose Felipe Del-Pan, a 19th century Spanish journalist described, the people of Pampanga (Kapampangans) as “the loyal companions of our disgraces and of our graces.” But the downside of it? The Kapampangans earned lasting racist tags from their fellow Filipinos: taksil” (‘traitor’) and “dugong aso (literally ‘canine-blood,’ actually a metaphor for the dog-like loyalty of the Kapampangans to their master or their adherence to the constituted authority). In his 5 November 2017 column in Abante, historian Xiao Chua made it clear that Pampanga just joined the Revolution on 3 June 1898 in Bacolor town, contrary to popular belief that it was among the eight provinces to first rise against the Spaniards in 1896. By the way, Winwyn’s father, Joey Marquez, is from Mabalacat, Pampanga, while her mother Vanessa Lacsamana, a.k.a. Alma Moreno, is from Macabebe, Pampanga.

But the most interesting of the Kapampanganess of Winwyn is her Macabebe lineage. Her Macabebe forebears were the first to resist Spanish invaders in Luzon in 1571 and surprisingly the last to defend the Spaniards in the Philippines in 1898 (and even joining them in repatriation to the Marianas and later to Spain in 1899). In honor of the Macabebe soldiers, a street in the Spanish capital of Madrid bears the name “Calle de Voluntarios Macabebes.” Continue reading 13 Things that May Help Reina Hispanoamericana Winwyn Marquez Establish Her Spanish Connection

Dalamhati ng Isang Macabebe

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Minsan sa isang akademikong pagtitipon natanong ako nang malaman na taga-Macabebe, Pampanga ako: “may kuryente ba sa Macabebe?” Mayroon naman, wika ko. Ngunit nagulat ako sa sunod niyang sambit: “May Macabebe pa pala ngayon; akala ko sa libro ko lang sila makikita.” K. Tnx. Bye.

Isang araw pinasyalan ako ng aking kababata sa aming dating bahay sa San Francisco, Macabebe, Pampanga. Kapuwa nasa unang taon kami noon sa kolehiyo; kaibahan nga lamang, sa Malolos, Bulacan ako nag-aral at siya sa Maynila. Bakit daw siya tinawag na taksil ng propesor niya sa Kasaysayan ng Pilipinas nang magpakilala sa klase na mula siya sa Macabebe, Pampanga. “Mahabang kuwento,” tanging nasambit ko. Alam ko namang tatamarin siya sa pakikinig kapag ikinuwento ko.

Lumipas ang dalawang linggo, muli niya akong pinasyalan. Sa pagkakataong ito, dala-dala niya ang kaniyang biniling teksbuk sa Kasaysayan ng Pilipinas. Nabasa niya ang Macabebe sa ilang pahina ng teksbuk. Tanong niya sa akin, “may kapangalan ba ang Macabebe?” Doon na ako nagkuwento sa kaniya. Bigla ko tuloy naalala noon na nang ako’y Grade 5, habang tinitingnan ko kung may sira ba ang teksbuk ko sa Heograpiya, Kasaysayan, at Sibika bago isauli, natiyempuhan ko ang pahinang may ilustrasyon ng pagdakip ng hukbong Amerikano kay Pangulong Emilio Aguinaldo; at sa kapsyon nito mababasa na kabilang ang 81 sundalong Macabebe sa dumakip. Wala rin akong idea noon kung bakit nakasulat sa aklat ng kasaysayan ang Macabebe. Tanong ko rin noon: “‘di nga kaya may kapangalan ang bayan namin.” Continue reading Dalamhati ng Isang Macabebe

13 Beautiful Philippine University Hymns

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“Immortals of Science” etched on the wall of a building at the Xavier University – Ateneo de Cagayan in Cagayan de Oro City. One of these “immortals” was a Philippine scientist, Fr. Federico Faura, SJ. Photo by Ian Alfonso

Whenever I grace an event at a higher education institution (HEI), I look forward to hearing the school hymn. I am neither a music expert nor a playwright but an ordinary observer with these expectations to a school hymn: 1. cleverness (how the composer/s and/or lyricist/s summarized the institution’s vision-mission, ideals, values, and history in a creative way); 2. moving power (that even a non-member of the institution can draw inspiration from the melody and lyrics); 3. peculiarity (because I noticed some school hymns share melodic and lyrical patterns); and 4. statement (has a strong message).

The following is my list of thirteen beautiful HEI hymns in the country (in no particular order). Continue reading 13 Beautiful Philippine University Hymns

Becoming Un-Filipino Every Undas

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An 1847 illustration of an indio (native Filipino) with plant fences as his background, illustrated by Jose Honorato Lozano in his Álbum: Vistas de las Yslas Filipinas y Trages de sus Abitantes.” From Biblioteca Nacional de España.
In his 1909 work La Religion Antigua de los Filipinos (The Ancient Religion of the Filipinos), Isabelo de los Reyes explained the custom of fencing a house with plants, e.g. duranta, santan, sampaguita, san francisco. Ancient Cagayanons, Ilocanos, and Tagalogs believed that anitos (good spirits) love dwelling on certain plants used as fences. Ancient Tagalogs named that spirit as Lakanbakod or the lord of fence. Aside from those good anitos, our forebears revered the gracious and omnipresent spirits of their ancient warriors (bayani), leaders (datu), and old sages (apu) as nunu (literally ‘ancestor’) who were just around, observing and ready to extend help when Kapampangan/Tagalog katalunan or the Visayan babaylan (ancient priest) asked for their advise and guidance, i.e. in times of war, epidemic or pestilence. So technically our forebears felt secure because of good spirits around. Spaniards only demonized our nunus as “malignos” (Spanish for ‘maligned spirits’) and “encantos” (Spanish for ‘enchanted’), even reducing them as “duendes” (from Spanish folkloric character for ‘goblin’); when the Americans came, we began to imagine our nunus as if those dwarfs of Snow White. And when Magandang Gabi Bayan and Shake, Rattle and Role series colonized our airwaves, our fear of our OWN ancestors worsen.
Trivializing the spirits and the dead is actually un-Filipino to the nth power! Good thing the Ilocanos still practice giving “atang” (‘offering’) for their departed loved ones and ancestors, and the Pangasinans the “dudumen” (‘black rice cake’); and the Bicolanos call undas “Pistang Kalag” (‘feast of the souls’) as if we are celebrating the memory of the dead, while the Kapampangans call it “daun” (‘offer’).