Category Archives: Filipino

BALAng Araw…

Nitong mga nakaraang buwan, medyo nag lay-low na din ako sa pagiging critical sa gobyerno, tutal two months na lang naman si PNoy. He’ll be out of our hair soon and we’ll be out of his hair na din (pardon the pun) Na-realize ko, nakaka-stressed lang maging reklamador. Balewala din naman sa mga taong tinitira mo.

Medyo positive na nga ako ngayon. Nageeffort na ako maging optimistic at hopeful sa magiging future ng ating bansa. Alam kong mapupunta din tayo doon. BALAng araw…

Pero pagbigyan ninyo na ako. Tutal two months na lang. Pagbigyan ninyo ako, kahit isang hirit lang.

Isa lang naman ang  masasabi ko tungkol sa administrasyong ito: BALA.

Nitong huling taon ng 2015, Nobyembre. Lumantad ang isyu sa publiko na may nagtatanim ng BALA sa NAIA. BALA sa NAIA. Only in the Philippines! Sadyang may mapaglaro lang talagang engkanto sa airport na nagtatanim ng bala sa bagahe mo. Ang nakakatuwa pa, malalaman mo lang yun pagkalabas ng bagahe mo sa X-ray machine. MAGIC! May bala ka palang souvenir mula sa pinanggalingan mo?!

Hindi lang ikaw ang biktima e. Pati mga turista galing pang ibang bansa, hindi sinasanto. Na-feature na din tayo sa CNN, Fox news at iba pang international news dahil dito. May Amerikano pa ngang nag-publish ng blog post on “4 Effective Tips to Curb Laglag Bala in NAIA”

Collective shame natin ‘to. Kahit Ninoy Aquino International Airport ang pangalan niyan in honor of our president’s late father na namatay dahil sa bala sa ulo, pero para sa ibang bansa, ito pa din ay kilala bilang airport na nasa Pilipinas.

Ano’ng nangyari? Pakinggan mo na lang ang mga salitang ang sarap pakinggan. Probe. Investigate. “Watch the Watchers”. Pero hanggang doon lang tayo. Di na siya mainit. Di na siya trending. Siguro dahil lagi tayong sawi sa ating mga lovelife at madalas nating pinipilit ang sarili na mag-move on, mas mabilis na din tayong mag move-on mula sa mga isyung pa-tungkol sa lipunan.

April 01, 2016. Kidapawan. Nag-protesta ang mga magsasaka, ang mga magtatanim ng ating bigas, dahil wala na silang pangkain sa kanilang mga pamilya. Ano ba ang laban nila sa Kalikasan? Ano ba ang naging paghahanda natin sa El Nino? Sa halip na pakinggan ang kanilang hinaing, BALA at dahas ang sumalubong sa kanila.

April 01. Nakakalokong isipin. Ang mga “nagtatanim” ng BALA sa NAIA, sindikato o opisyales, hindi man lang nakasuhan. Walang nasibak. Wala man lang pray-over kung engkanto ba yan o ano.

Pero ang mga totoong nagtatanim ng bigas na nagiging kanin na kinakain mo ngayon,  pinaulanan naman ng BALA.

Kidapawan. Hacienda Luisita. Lupao. Mendiola.

Ani ng iba, komunista ang nasa likod ng mga yan. Etong mga NPA na ‘to. Mga balakid sa pagbabago. Hindi ninyo sana sila makukumbinse magprotesta kung wala silang hinaing at pangangailangan sa simula pa lang. Hindi ninyo sana sila ‘maloloko’ na ibuwis ang kanilang buhay sa pagpoprotesta kung sila ay ‘kuntento’ na sa kanilang pamumuhay. Bakit ba kasi kayo mga sawsawero’t sawsawera?

Anim na taon. Simula pa lang daw ang Tuwid na Daan. Madami pa tayong kakaining bigas para makamit ang tunay na ginhawa. Sana hindi lang pinagpapapatay ang ating mga magsasaka.

Mr. President, narerecognize ko naman na mabuti ang iyong intensyon *hindi na ako sarcastic at this point on* Pinilit ka nilang tumakbo, kahit ayaw mo naman sa simula, at ginawa mo naman ang iyong makakaya. Na-appreciate ko yun at kinikilala ko naman ang iba sa mga magaganda mong ginawa, ang pagiging masipag at mahusay ng ibang kawani ng iyong gobyerno.

Nakakalungkot isipin na nabalewala ang competence nila dahil sa gross incompetence ng iba. Dahil malambot ang iyong puso, kahit alam mong may pagkukulang sila, hinahayaan mo lang na sila na ang bumitiw. One More Chance, nga diba?

BALAng araw, sana ma-realize mo…hindi lahat makakamove-on sa mga isyu na ‘to. BALAng araw, sana hindi maabutan ng mga magiging anak ko ang ganitong klase ng pamumuno.

hindi bala

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5 reasons why every Filipino should watch Jerrold Tarog’s Heneral Luna

All my friends know that I rarely write a review about books and movies but after watching Jerrold Tarrog’s Heneral Luna, I seemed to have been possessed by an overwhelming urge to spread the word on how brilliant and powerful this film is. Much like the historical figure himself, the movie exudes pure bad-assery with its strong visuals, fast-paced dialogue and a theme that strikes you in the gut (you can even feel its impact moments after the credits roll)

Now allow me to share the five reasons why every Filipino should watch Heneral Luna:

  1. The cinematic effects are comparable with that of Hollywood’s. The battle scenes are just right (not too cheesy/dramatic nor bland) and you can tell that it took a lot of hard work and thorough editing to stitch it clip by clip….blood and tears were literally shed to create these powerful scenes.
  2. The movie is packed with heavy symbolism and strong imagery that would leave a lasting impression in your brain. I don’t want to spoil anything but I just want to say that if you have to watch this film, just don’t focus on the story but also on how why the scenes are made that way. We had fun finding these Easter Eggs and it adds another dimension of enjoying this movie as a whole.
  3. Although it is a work of fiction based on facts, the movie remained anchored to the historical materials related to Antonio Luna and the events preceding and during the Philippine-American War. It is a creative and powerful re-telling of history that had long been forgotten…and one that we need to remember. I especially love that it was set during a blotted period of our history, the Philippine-American War, as it is overshadowed by the events of World War II, but one that definitely needs a re-visitation and critical reflection by today’s generation.
  4. Although General Luna is considered as a heroic figure, this movie is far from a heroic film. It doesn’t glorify our history, in fact it exposes its darkest deeds and secrets that had been swept behind the curtains for many years. It challenges and openly criticizes a mentality that is strongly rooted to our system – our strongly familial, tribal and regionalistic culture which, in some cases, perceived to be good but ultimately affects our way of thinking as a people brought together under the same flag. Much like Peque Gallaga’s classic Oro Plata Mata, the real conflict wasn’t with the Americans or any other foreign power, but with ourselves.
  5. It has a clever pacing and dialogue that will engross you to the very end. It is worth noting how the scenes are stitched together, exposition-wise. Jerrold Tarog’s effective use of tracking shot and continuous dialogue without cuts (I just know there’s a production jargon of it somewhere) is worth noting. Magnified by this style, the acting skills of the artists completely stand out. It is well-casted and brilliantly played.

As a fan of historical films (and local cinema), this film exceeds my expectations. I had the impression that profit is the last thing the creators of this film want when it was finally released to the public; what they want to leave us is a message and a challenge to deconstruct our perspective as a nation. It aims to leave an impact that is good and though-provoking to its audience (one viewer in particular stayed up until 12 AM to finish this post) In the end, isn’t it the main reason why films are made for?

Students can avail 50% discount when purchasing tickets 🙂 To the young readers of this blog, don’t miss the chance to have your minds blown by this epic movie. 

What about you? What do you like most about the film? 🙂

Pag-ibig at Pagboto: Bakit lagi tayong nasasaktan in the end

election_posters

Nagsisimula naman lahat yan sa pangako. “Hindi kita iiwan.” “Hindi ako magnanakaw” Naniwala ka kasi gusto mo maging masaya. Gusto mo guminhawa. Pagkatapos makuha ang lahat sa’yo, iiwan ka na lang.

Andyan din yung cliche na pangako na “Hindi ako katulad ng iba.”

Pero nagtiwala pa din tayo. Umasa. Nasaktan. Di na natuto. Kasi kung natuto man tayo, diba dapat matagal na tayong naka-move on? Literal na move-on. Nasaan na ba tayo ngayon? Hanggang dito na lang ba?

Pag bumoto ka, para ka na ding nagmahal dahil:

  • Magpapapogi sila para lang makuha ang matamis mong “Oo.” Sa una, sila ay mabait. Bubuhusan ka ng pagmamahal. Aalagaan ka. Once na nakuha na nila ang tiwala at pagmamahal mo, ang masasayang alaala mo lang sa kanya kapag naghiwalay ang inyong landas ay ang taong minahal mo noon, hindi ang taong nakikita mo sa SONA sa harap mo ngayon. Ang eleksyon, isang mahabang dulaan ng ligawan. May mga ibang naka-costume at mas madami ang naka-maskara.
  • Bumuboto ka kasi with your feelings. Matuturing bang pagmamahal pag walang emosyon na involved? Syempre hindi! Feelings are everything. Tayong mga Pinoy, mahilig pa naman sa feelings. Kahit hindi pa nga nagtatapat yung tao, mga feelingero at feelingera na tayo. Nilalagyan natin ng feelings lahat, binibigyan natin ng meaning lahat ng bagay. Eto ang sigaw ng dugo at puso natin, bakit natin di papansinin? Boring pag ginamitan mo ng utak. Hanggang sa school at trabaho lang ang pag-iisip. Kung mag-iisip ka palagi, di mo na ma-eenjoy mga bagay-bagay, lalo na mga palabas sa telebisyon. Kaya, I repeat, feelings are everything.
  • Kung nasisiyahan ka sa kanya o sa mga pinaggagawa niya, siya ang pipiliin mo. E masaya ka sa kanya e. So what kung action star siya dati? So what kung di siya nakapagtapos ng pag-aaral? So what kung madami siyang naging anak sa labas? Diba nga sa pagmamahal, past is past. Ang mahalaga ay kung ano siya ngayon. Ang mahalaga ay nawiwili ka sa kanya ngayon, lalo na pag nakikita mo siya sa TV. Kesa naman yung panay ang English pero di mo naman maintindihan ang mga pinagsasabi. Pfffft! Siya na ang magaling.
  • Kapag nakalimutan na tayo, lahat ng bagay isisisi sa kanya. Magagalit tayo. Niloko ba naman tayo e. Self-righteous anger: tayo ang niloko so tayo ang may karapatang magalit. Yun nga lang, di natin naalala sa kabilang banda, tayo ang namili at nagkamali. Of course, lahat naman tayo nagkakamali. Wala nga lang mangyayari kung lagi kang nagkakamali every 6 o 4 years.
  • Dahil crush ng bayan, siya na din ang pipiliin mo. Tandaan: Mahirap sumakay sa bangka na marami ang nakasakay. Mas lalong mahirap pag walang patutunguhan ‘yung bangka. Wag tignan kung ilan ang likes niya sa Facebook o kung ilan ang followers niya. Kung titignan mo lang ang numero, tignan mo kung ilang panukala ang naisabatas niya o kung ilan ang naipagawa niyang mga proyekto na may kwenta at pang-matagalan. Kung ang boto ay pagmamahal, mas mabuti nang itaya mo ito sa taong bumabawi sa gawa, hindi lang puro salita.
  • Kapag nabigo ka, hindi ka natututo. Bakit lagi ka na lang nilang binibigo? Bakit lagi kang dismayado? Sineseryoso mo naman ang pagpili ah. Kumbaga sa context ng pagmamahal, saan ka nagkamali: Sa pagmamahal ng tao o sa konsepto mo ng pagmamahal itself? Ano ba ang ideya mo ng pagpili? For short-term o long-term happiness ba? Kung masaya ka lang sa ganyan, hanggang diyan ka na lang talaga. Pero kung nakukulangan ka pa, walang masama na maghangad ka ng tunay na pagmamahal. Wala ding masama kung maghahangad ka ng tunay na kaginhawaan.

Bakit ba bigo tayo lagi sa dalawa? Mahirap buksan ang mga mata sa mga tunay na nangyayari, pero ang unang hakbang para makamit ang kalayaan ay ang pagtanggap sa mapait na katotohanan na matagal na tayong niloloko. Na hindi binibigay sa atin ang kaligayahan na karapat-dapat sa atin.

Pinag-uusapan pa din ba natin ang pagboto o pagmamahal? Meron bang pagkakaiba?

Ang mahalaga, sana ay matuto na tayong lahat.

Kahit mali nagiging tama, basta ba'y natututo ka (1)

#MayTama

The Modern Propagandist: Federalism and the Philippines.

Which would you choose?

Which would you choose?

I’ll start this off with a confession. Philippine history never really interested me as a kid. I dreaded the moment our Sibika at Kultura teacher would arrive in the room and make us memorize the name of the governor-general who governed the country, or the year the Andres Bonifacio created the Katipunan, or countless vague information we will only forget after the long tests and recitations.

I only became a student of my own country in college, when my fervor and determination to serve the nation is in its highest. My friends and I never had an organized body of thinkers and doers, or a slogan, or a single-minded advocacy for that matter; we’re just a group of college kids who talked about politics and the society inside a jam-packed jeep or bus, trains, bars, fastfoods or anywhere in public space, as long as there’s someone nearby who can hear us. We believe that by just these simple things, we are unconsciously making them think, even for just a passing moment. We are subtle propagandists. We believe people should think beyond the date when Rizal was executed, or how many islands does the Philippines have.

Discussion of the Philippine history back in my elementary days is always filled with questions of ‘Who’. ‘What’, ‘When’ and ‘Where’. Apparently, dealing with the ‘How’ and ‘Why’ to Filipino gradeschoolers is too much for us to handle and we are quite unprepared for the critical thinking these questions entail.

One of those great ‘How’ questions I like to ask myself (and my friends) is: How we became a nation? How did a group of 7, 107 islands came to be known as the Philippines of today?

AN ARCHIPELAGO OF KINGDOMS

Way before the Spanish empire claimed the Philippines as its own, the archipelago is already thriving with several kingdoms, clans, nomadic tribes, sultanates and confederation of barangays. Each region, each province, has its own form of government, independent against the neighboring tribe. The island form of Luzon is comprised with several kingdoms or tribes warring against each other. The Rajahnate of Cebu was in a constant rivalry with the tiny island tribe of Mactan. The Kingdom of Butuan has its own flourishing golden empire. The Sultanate of Sulu was at the height of its power, recognized by its neighbors as a fearsome kingdom of Tausugs. It is, as they say, an each of its own.

Map of the kingdoms during the Pre-hispanic Philippines. Picture from Asia Finest Forum

Map of the kingdoms during the Pre-hispanic Philippines. Picture from Asia Finest Forum

For practical purposes, Spain rounded up the whole archipelago and called it a country. It was a forced unity, rooted for political and geographical reasons instead of racial homogeneity. True we are part of the Austronesian race, but Spain tore any form of cultural ties between our Malay brethren, introducing Western religion and culture similar to that of Latin America. For all intents and purposes, the Filipino ‘race’ is only formed throughout the Spanish colonization. It is noted that even the revolutionary sentiments are divided throughout the archipelago, with most people in the Visayas of the Central Philippines more loyal to the Spanish crown than the Tagalogs in Luzon.

American resistance is greater in Visayas and Mindanao than in Luzon. Let us not forget the Moro War between the Americans.

10,000-20,000 Moros are said to be killed by the American soldiers during the Moro resistance

10,000-20,000 Moros are said to be killed by the American soldiers during the Moro resistance

THE ISSUE OF THE NATIONAL LANGUAGE

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One of the ground-breaking reforms enacted during the Philippine Commonwealth is the declaration for the country’s national language, Filipino. It is a language heavily based in Tagalog, a language extensively spoken in Manila and other parts of Luzon but not so much in Visayas and Mindanao. According to the National Language Institute, Tagalog was chosen based on the following factors:

1. Tagalog is widely spoken and understood in all Philippine regions

2. Unlike Visayan and Bicolano, it is not divided into smaller daughter languages

3. Its literary history and legacy is the 2nd richest of all Philippine languages next to Spanish, just like Tuscan which became the basis for Italian language.

4. The prehispanic language of Manila, Philippines’ economic and political center, is Tagalog.

5. Spanish may be the preferred language of Filipino intellectualists and reformists, but Tagalog is the medium of language of the revolutionaries especially those from Katipunan.

As someone who grew up in Metro Manila all her life, I didn’t have to learn or use a different language deviating from my native tongue in school. It felt natural that Filipinos would embrace Tagalog as their own. Now that I’ve learned so many things and traveled to various parts of the Philippines, I realized the issue of a common language became the source of frustration for most of our brothers and sisters outside Luzon, especially those Filipinos in the South. I couldn’t blame them, most of them wanted to preserve their own language and culture. The only form of resistance they see is to stubbornly insist on using their own language, or a foreign language (Spanish or English), for official and business matters.

Adding fat to the fire is the strict implementation that no other Philippine language should be used in official or national functions. Singing the Philippine anthem in another language apart from Filipino is a crime altogether on its own.

The issue of the national language isn’t the root of most discontent; rather it’s the effect. What is significantly lacking in our national identity is the origin of a common language, one that Spanish and American imperialists managed to solve by ‘uniting’ us under Spanish and English. That reinforces the belief that technically and semantically, our history as a Filipino people only began during colonization. Colonization, for better or for worse, formed the Filipino identity we know now, and one we keep on misunderstanding, unfortunately.

It felt funny realizing this just now, because during my history lessons in highschool and elementary, Spanish colonizers are often depicted as evil oppressors and/or villains who are in our way of achieving the desired freedom. Even Rizal understood the dynamics and complexities of gaining independence as a nation. That’s why his primary advocacy is to make the Philippines a province of Spain, not to uproot the nation from the empire. But then again, Philippine independence from Spain is an inevitable twist of history, an inescapable fate whose effects are still being felt until the 21st century.

POLITICAL REFORMS

I made it obvious in this blog that I’m a firm advocate of federalism. We can’t keep on insisting that we have a ‘united’ ‘collective’ perspective as a nation; that we have the same sentiments and opinion on the history that formed our nation.

We are ‘united’ for political reasons; it makes sense that if there’s one thing which will ultimately unite us, it’s a political reform.

Federalism may not outright eliminate the problems that are deeply-rooted in our society (e.g corruption, political dynasty, etc.) but one thing it gives is the accountability for each and every Filipino to decide who can govern them.

Let each region be accountable over its own people. Just like the good old times, don’t you think?

Violent reactions are very welcome. Just post your comments below. A healthy discourse is never bad 🙂 

“Ma, bakit hindi mo ko tinuruan mag-Bisaya?”

bisaya

I grew up surrounded by the sound of three languages in our house: the native Filipino, English, and the language I know nothing about: Visaya.

My mom was born and raised in a tiny island of Romblon at the southern tip of Luzon island but its inhabitants consider themselves as Visayans. Childhood is having to go to Romblon and taste the sweet, salty taste of the sea, or running alongside the beach, or listening to this fascinating, fast language coming out of my mother’s mouth.

Visaya is an endearingly familiar language, yet it also acts like a distant stranger with no face. My tongue very seldom tastes its hard and thick words and accent. My vocabulary is mediocre at its best, but no language holds so much interest for me. I felt like if I can speak Visaya, I can understand this country more and more, with it being the 2nd most widely spoken native language in the Philippines.

“Why didn’t you teach me to speak Visaya?” I often ask my mom. My brothers and I were only taught of just plain  Filipino (which is heavily Tagalized) and cliche English.  My mom just smiled and said, “I don’t want you to have any problems with your Filipino and English pronunciations. It would be too embarrassing.”

My mom’s answer didn’t make any sense that time. How can you pass up the chance to raise your kid as multilingual? But growing up, I grew to realize what she means. Watching the TV, we are conditioned to laugh at the silly English pronunciation of Visayan maids. When a family friend mispronounced an English or Filipino word, my dad and uncles would be quick to laugh at him and say “Ay may Bisaya dito!” as if being a Visaya is equivalent of being dumb and ignorant. Overtime, the language of my childhood grew to have a connotation of ”baduy” or out-of-trend. Visayans in Metro Manila and other parts of Luzon have to disguise their accent with broken Tagalog words and English code-switching. Growing up, my Visayan relatives and cousins are always make fun of because of their thick accents and mispronunciation of Filipino words.

In fact, I’m very much envious of my Visayan cousins who can speak and write in English as well as I do (or even more so). They have three languages ready in their arsenal, while I only have two. It’s quite disconcerting, especially if some proud Visayans (Cebuanos, for instance) would prefer to talk to you in English than in Filipino with a silent mocking reproach on their faces as if saying, ‘You’re in our place. When we’re in Manila, we speak the vernacular Tagalog. Why can’t you do the same thing when you’re here?’

One of the random thoughts that comes out during my stuck-in-the-traffic musings is how the diverse variety of language affected our national psyche as Filipinos. You round up 7,000+ islands, with different languages or dialects on its own, each with different culture and way of life, and call it a country. While forced colonialism may be a factor to what have become of us in the present time, a lack of unifying, acceptable language that is of our own plays a large part to our maturity as a people.  And the fact that we make fun of a language and an accent (one of our own languages, mind you); the way we degrade it, the way we tolerate the ethnic slur in mass media and everyday interactions, shows how immature we really are (or most of our people are)

There is unity in diversity and with respect comes harmony. I’m not saying we should be fluent in all languages that exist in this beautiful country of ours, but that we should embrace (or at least, respect) the diversity that makes us what we are. No culture is greater than the other. Just as no language or accent is inferior to another.

And to my Visaya-speaking friends who have experienced being discriminated mercilessly or made fun endlessly because of your accent by non-Visaya speakers, just smile and say the most colorful cuss words you can think of in your native language. They have no way of understanding you anyway.

 

 

Is being ‘makabayan’ a rare thing nowadays?

A Facebook post made me smile today. It’s about a worker who paid his salute to the Philippine anthem by clasping his fist against his chest as our three stars and a sun was being raised up in front of the Municipal Hall. That in itself is already a moving sight, since most Filipinos seldom pay homage to the flag-raising ceremony if they weren’t part of the event. But the fact that this guy is doing it hundred foot from the ground, at the top of a church scaffolding, deserves a thousand ‘likes’ (twenty-thousand and counting by the way)

"Ain't no excuses for saluting for being Pinoy" Picture courtesy of Rikki Vallido.

“Ain’t no excuses for being Pinoy” Picture courtesy of Rikki Vallido.

The man himself, Alex Capati (Photo courtesy of ABS-CBN News...Finaaallly, a news-worthy post from these guys)

The man himself, Alex Capati (Photo courtesy of ABS-CBN News…Finaaallly, a news-worthy post from these guys)

This made me remember something that happened to me a few months ago at the MOA Arena before the opening of the International Pyromusical Festival. I was alone waiting for my office-mates at an open patio of a restaurant sitting beside the baywalk when I heard the faint tune of the Philippine anthem from a distance, signalling the opening of the program. I stood up and a few others also did. A waiter passed by, suddenly puzzled over why I am standing, and smiled at me. “Wow si ate, makabayan!”. (‘Bayan’ in Filipino means country so makabayan roughly translates to ‘someone who loves his country’)

He said it in a teasing, patronizing way as if expecting me to comb my bangs sideways and proclaim myself as ‘Rizal’. I took his jibe with a smile. He ought to be thankful I didn’t turn into a Bonifacio and chase after him with an itak for interrupting my sentimental reaffirmation of my allegiance to my country. (Honestly, is it that hard to stand still for a few minutes until the anthem ends?)

There are some things I can’t understand about Filipinos and this is one of them. When one from our brood gains worldwide recognition or achieves something worthy of international praise, we are quick to jump in the wagon and declare ‘Proud to be Pinoy!’ or ‘Philippines is blessed to have so many talented Filipinos.’ Personally, there’s nothing wrong with recognizing the achievements of your fellowmen, but purely identifying your national identity and pride to the success of some Filipinos who shed blood and tears just to get to the top, then I guess there’s something wrong with you.  You may be a proud Pinoy but you’re not a true Filipino at heart.

I admit there’s nothing much to be proud the country at first glance. We all have the cliche developing country problems like corruption, poverty, unequal treatment of rich and poor, lack of education, national apathy and a case of bad historical amnesia blah blah blah. In some corners of the internet, Filipino pride is the butt of all jokes by foreign and Filipino netizens. It didn’t help that some Filipinos are butthurt about the affronts these foreigners make, whether it’s only satire or just an outsider’s observation. But the thing is, all countries have these problems too. I didn’t say I’m proud that my country has these problems (even US residents are ashamed of how badly their government handled its foreign policy in the Middle-east). My take is that you should justify your pride with positive actions. If you’re itching to slapbitch an author who blatantly states Manila is the Gates of Hell, then do your part to revitalize Manila than vent your persona-non-grata rage to the internet. If you believed there’s something in our genes that makes us great, prove it to yourself and stop hitching your wagon to someone else.

You can show your national pride through simple yet meaningful gestures. You can still be the proudest Filipino out there by recognizing the flaws of your country and adapting a mindset that you can do something to change it. You can be wise and patriotic at the same time. You can criticize. You can praise. You can observe. You can be that ordinary Juan doing your job and looking forward to contribute your part. You can be that daredevil manong standing at the side of the church dome, paying homage to the flag.

Because being a makabayan for the right reasons may not be an ‘in’ right now but you’re still going to feel awesome.

Manila Cathedral and Random Musings

The last time I ventured inside the vast Manila Cathedral was when I was in 2nd year college and had no idea of the historical relevance of the place. Yesterday, I bore witness to the grand re-opening of Manila’s cultural and religious jewel, the seat of the Catholic influence in the whole Philippines and a great heritage treasure we should cherish regardless of religion or absence of.

How beautiful is that?

How beautiful is that?

The Manila Cathedral sits at the center of Intramuros, the historic walled city, in the gardens of Plaza Roma in front of the Fort Santiago. It is one of the last cultural buildings that had retained its former glory and grandeur. Unlike the San Augustine Church, the original Cathedral didn’t survive the bombing of Manila during WW2 like most of the city’s old Hispanic buildings. Much of the old church was destroyed but the original plan and design were retained for old times’ sake.

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Even before the destruction of the churches in Cebu and Bohol due to the 7.8 magnitude quake that struck Visayas last year, it is already a great concern for the church administrators and Manila city officials to preserve the Cathedral for future disasters. Starting from 2011, the Cathedral was closed for retrofitting so it can withstand strong shockwaves from earthquakes. Donations and pledges are made and after two years, the Cathedral is now ready to open its doors to the local worshipers and foreign tourists. Undoubtedly, it will be another precious collection to Intramuros’ rich heritage for non-Filipinos to see.

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Stained windows

Stained windows depicting the patron of Manila, Immaculate Concepcion

A replication of the Pieta

A replication of the Pieta located at one of Cathedral’s inner chambers

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Forgive the blasphemy but I have to say this: Manila Cathedral, you are a heck of a sexy architecture and I hope your glory lives as long as there is still a Philippines.

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Random Musings 

The reopening of the Cathedral provided an excuse for a small college barkada reunion. And when you’re in a historic, solemn place with your nerdy, history-buff friends, discussions and stories are bound to be serious, if not philosophical.

Jayson, wearing his green-striped polo shirt tucked in his pants, has to sneak away from his work as a reporter to the local paper just to catch the event. When it comes to Philippine history, he’s the rockstar ever since our college days. Rene (my other friend) and I can only listen and nod agreeably when he’s spewing angry tirades and rants about anything from people ignoring and ambushing the performing Rondalla dancers once the doors of the Cathedral are opened, to the conspiracy involving the Bangsamoro peace deal. He knows the history of Intramuros in the palm of his hand and if there’s anyone who loves Manila inside and out, despite its blatant flaws, it’s him.

When you’re with a friend like Jayson, you will feel guilty of not being Filipino enough. He’s as precious as a heritage building: Few but true. That’s the most poetic description I could think of about a friend.

So late at night after the mass, as we strolled around the cobbled pathways of Intramuros, getting drunk over the mellow streetlights and melodic clamps of moving calesas, we engaged in our favorite pasttime of asking ourselves of what had gone wrong in Philippine history that condemned us in this culture of mediocrity and inferiority.

And the reason why I wrote down this anecdote is because of Jayson’s tirades. According to his lengthy but interesting exposition, even before the Spaniards came, the islands are already governed with several clans and tribes, each had the habit of waging war and killing each other off. In pre-Hispanic Manila alone, there are already three kingdoms thriving: The Kingdom of Maynila, Tundo and Namayan. Tribes across Luzon pledges loyalty to the Kingdom of Manila, but they are ruled autonomously, each with different leaders who seldom cooperate with each other.

“The Spaniards didn’t understand the complexity of the political system in the archipelago.” Jayson explains. “They didn’t understand that there’s a culture of strong regionalism in each island, in each province. Most people recognized Lapu-lapu as a hero of Cebu but Cebu and Mactan are ruled by different datus then and each held a bitter grudge against each other.”

What the Spaniards did, Jayson explained, is they rounded up all these kingdoms, tribes, clans, islands in one country in such a rush despite the obvious disagreements and grudges, hoping the hodge-podge would call itself a nation.

“Nasa dugo na ng mga Pilipino ‘yan.” (It’s in our genetic code). Jayson continues. “We inherently sided with the community than pledge our support to the greater society. That’s why we have political dynasties ruled by rich families  in each region or province until now. It is in our nature to be ‘loyal’ to this people. The lack of education didn’t help our situation.”

That observation can only come from someone who spent so much time thinking about the Philippines, and there’s no question that Jayson is like that.

The discussion moved from Filipino society to the Spratly Island tension against China. Rene pointed out that if there’s one thing that unites Filipinos, it’s the presence of a common enemy perceived as an invader or a bully, as what majority call China these past few weeks.

“Well, at least we have to thank China for that,” I quipped. “Without China the ‘bully’, we would be busy pulling each other down.”

“Mabuhay China!” we cheered, and a couple who were busy making out at the corner just sent us weird looks.

We enjoyed the sated calm that follows after the orgasmic discussion. Who knew having threesome could be so gratifying?

 

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