Wednesday, December 30, 2009

How to celebrate Rizal Day according to teachers of 1909

Today is the 113th death anniversary of the national hero Jose Rizal.  Some towns or cities like Olongapo celebrate Rizal Day as a fiesta.  We don't know if the fiesta-goers set aside a minute of their time to relate Rizal to themselves and their country today before going on to wine, dine and dance with their favorite dance instructor/instructress in the town/city auditorium.

On the 13th death anniversary in December 1909, and that's exactly one hundred years ago, The Filipino Teacher, the tri-lingual monthly journal of the Philippine Teachers' Association, was already agitating for a more meaningful commemoration of the hero's life and martyrdom.  That is a valid issue until today even if Rizal Day is moved to June 16, his birthdate, currently a legislative agendum, or whether it remains ipit between Christmas and New Year on December 30.

Let's listen to what the Filipino teacher a century ago had to say on celebrating Rizal Day -- 


"May the joy of this Christmas reach all far and near,
"May the message of Christmas to all hearts be clear;
"May it sooth every sorrow and dry every tear,
"May it bind closer to us each soul that is dear, And the spirit of Christmas last all through the year"

"As one reads the words that head these lines there appears in his mind the calm, noble figure of a man whose life has been one of complete self-forgetfulness and a perfect example of what a man's true love for his country should be. As one ponders at the story of this man's life, he can not but have an unconscious admiration for genius and express doubt at the righteousness of human's justice.

"To the Filipinos, that first Rizal day thirteen years ago, was the culmination of the unbroken chain of unhappy facts and events in their history which justified them in the eyes of the world in their wish of separating themselves from Spain, their mother country. The execution which took place on that day was the last of the long series of executions undertaken by those in power in their vain hope of wiping out of existence any educated Filpino who dared raise his voice against their arbitrary rule. The circumstances culminating up to the tragic death of the man in whose honor this day has been named, are well known to all. The place he held in the estimation of his countrymen and the friendship that connected him with influential men abroad are no secrets to us. His return to Manila from Hongkong in 1892; his being arrested on the charge of anti-religious and anti-patriotic campaigns of education; his four years exile to Dapitan; his departure from the Philippines to join the Spanish forces in Cuba in the capacity of army surgeon; his recall while en route to be tried for "sedition and rebellion," and lastly his execution on that memorable field where hundreds of his countrymen faced death in the cause of Right, are topics too well-known as to necessitate further mention here.

"We believe, however, that a few remarks on the yearly observance of RIZAL DAY would not be out of place.

"In what manner can RIZAL DAY be fittingly observed? Let there be public parades, let there be literary entertainments but let not the observance of the day end here. Public parades and literary entertainments are but outward manifestations of tribute to the memory of a man, and while they are by no means objectionable, still they do not make the observance of the day complete. Rizal, whom we just love to call our martyred hero, lived and died for the sake of his country. Can we on every anniversary of his death honor him better than to faithfully follow his wise teachings? Can we who love our country and work for its advancement have better guides than the worthy examples set by Rizal, Mabini, Del Pilar and others?

"Let us then celebrate RIZAL DAY by following the wise teachings of the man in whose memory we dedicate the day. Let his name be in every Filipino Home. Let mothers repeat to their children Rizal's life; let the school teacher make his pupils see the excellent traits in Rizal's character while a boy, which enabled him later to become the learned man that he was; let every newspaper contrast Rizal's attitude towards his country and some of the present day patriots whose personal ambitions all tend to the glorification of the selfish "I". Thus and only thus can RIZAL DAY yearly celebrations be properly and fittingly held."

-- and this holds true every year, doesn't it?

Note:  The illustration was taken from The Philippine Republic. (1927, December 15). 4:11(4). Washington DC.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Maligayang Pasko!

Maligayang Pasko! Naimbag a Paskuayo! Maayong Pasko sa inyong tanan!  Thus in some fifty plus more dialects, around ninety million Filipinos in the global village express their best wishes to one and all starting from the incept of December until the Feast of the Magi, which used to be January 6 of the next year in the old Roman catholic church calendar. 

Felices Pascuas! is our reminder that we were once the Asian vassal state of the Spanish monarchy for about four hundred years. And Merry Christmas! tells us that we were taught the English language soon after the city of Manila fell into the hands of Admiral George Dewey on August 13, 1898.

Maligayang Pasko is in the heart.  No matter where Pinoys are--dashing through the snow or dreaming of a white Christmas--that expression makes a whole world of difference. Nothing else also beats the Pinoy carol.  Silent Night or Joy to the World doesn't seem to throb with damdamin in the Filipino heart.  Give him Ang Pasko ay Sumapit, and you can feel grand fiesta in the air everywhere.

That musical soul of Pinoy Christmas we can bring to any part of the world, thanks to the musical relics left us by the San Miguel Masters Chorale and the San Miguel Philharmonic Orchestra, which were all disbanded after six years in early 2007.  These are the Pasko I and II albums recorded in 2005 (front and back covers of Pasko I is shown above), both repertoire arranged and conducted by Ryan Cayabyab.

Our Christmas wish is for these to be available in record bars every yuletide season for all global Filipinos.  By way of greeting each to each, let's sing in our hearts these three songs from the Pasko albums (if you have them, play them and sing along), which easily brings to mind very familiar (and nostalgic to those who are far away) scenes:

Himig Pasko
(Music & Lyrics by Serapio Ramos)

Malamig ang simoy ng hangin / Kay saya ng bawat damdamin
Ang tibok ng puso sa dibdib / Para bang hulog na ng langit

Himig Pasko'y laganap / Mayroong sigla ang lahat
Wala nang kalungkutan / Lubos ang kaligayahan

Himig Pasko ay umiiral / Sa loob ng bawat tahanan
Masaya ang mga tanawin / May awit ang simoy ng hangin.

(Music by Ruben Tagalog. Lyrics by Levi Celerio)

Sa may bahay ang aming bati / Meri Krismas na maluwalhati
Ang pag-ibig pag siyang naghari / Araw-araw ay magiging Pasko lagi

Ang sanhi po ng pagparito / Hihingi po ng aginaldo
Kung sakaling kami'y perwisyo / Pasensya na kayo't kami'y namamasko.

Mano Po Ninong, Mano Po Ninang
(Music by Ador Torres. Lyrics by Manuel Villar, Sr.)

Maligaya, maligayang Pasko sa inyong bigyan
Masagana, masaganang bagong tao'y kamtan
Ipagdiwang, ipagdiwang araw ng Maykapal
Upang manatili sa atin ang kapalaran
At mabuhay palagi sa kapayapaan

Mano po ninong, mano po ninang
Narito kami ngayon humahalik sa inyong kamay
Salamat ninong, salamat ninang
Sa aginaldo kong inyong ibibibigay.

When we were young, and we went caroling, we would leave to whoever would not even give us a cent for our brand of Christmas music this naughty song:

Bulong ti apatot / Paskuayo a naimot
Umulog ti makarurod / Ta narnaran mi ti dandanog.

Leaves of the apatot tree / we give as Christmas gift to the selfish
Come down if you are angry / and we will pummel you with our fists.

From this Ilokano of Zambales country:  Naimbag a Paskuayo yo amin!

Monday, December 21, 2009

UP Lantern Parade 2009

The lantern parade is one event in the Diliman Republic that we wish to watch every year. There is always something new to excite everyone--lanterns as performance art pieces or as political statements shaped by recent national events, and how they’re crafted to provide the fodder for noisy but humorous commentaries.
This year’s theme was KKK--Kapaskuhan, Kalikasan, Kinabukasan

Needless to say, the underlying environmental issue was climate change; thus, the lanterns were created from recyclable materials found in the classrooms, buildings and the campus grounds. This year’s top winner was the electric jeepney of the College of Engineering, which had the largest participating contingent as well (we’d think almost all the students and faculty headed by the dean herself were present).

Pres. Glora Macapagal-Arroyo and raging political issues were subjects of creative protests in the lantern event. We’ve never seen the College of Law very tibak until this latest edition of the parade. Their Maguindanao massacre float and banner looked like these were headed for the Batasan on a SONA day with the effigies up for burning esp. as it had one that’s familiar with everyone – it has an iconic mole on the face. Another university unit's float had her effigy with a backhoe tail.

The LGBT group, UP Babaylan, took issue with the Comelec disqualification of the Ang Ladlad party-list for being an “immoral” group. 

The gay/lesbian/bis/trans community were fiery red in their assertion that they are moral.

Nothing can complete the lantern parade except the Fine Arts contingent. They're Hall of Famers, they don't compete anymore for prizes. They take the rear of the parade, and nobody leaves before they arrive on the scene.  Their event theme this year was Asian festivals with eight arts classes taking on Chinese, Thai, Japanese, Indonesian and other motifs. The last contingent was Filipino “Pandanggo sa Ilaw” with higantes of Manny Pacman Pacquaio and his cosmetically reconstructed mother Dionisia. The spoofs had Pacman dancing with beer bottles on his hands (well, he's a San Miguel beer endorser), and his mom with large diamonds on hers and kicking her leg up as she would while dancing with her favorite dance instructor.

The National University, which UP is in the two-year old charter, took almost four hours on Friday, December 18, 2009 to joyfully greet the campus community and the country Maligayang Pasko at Manigong Bagong Taon! 

Friday, December 18, 2009

Reading and Writing in English Then and Now ...

The DepEd guy we've re-nicknamed Tanaka in jest because he looks like a Pinoy-Hapon has delivered to us thirteen science research reports of high school students for our review.  These are first-placers in the applied/physical sciences of the regional science fairs, and our job in the national scientific review committee (SRC) is to check if they are qualified to compete in the national Intel-DepEd Philippine Science Fair (IPSF) in February next year.  From the national winners, we will select the country's delegates who will compete with more than a thousand others in the Intel Science and Engineering Fair (ISEF) in San Jose, CA in May 2010.

Through these past several years, we in the life and physical sciences SRCs have been lamenting the apparent weakness of most high school students: they do not know how to read and write, and this we glean after going through the review of literature part of their reports. 

In several instances, lately at workshops in Cebu City and CLSU in Munoz and at a lecture before a science research class in Quezon City Science High School, we've been emphasizing two very important things that students must remember when they do their information search and write-up: ethics and the simple how-to's in reading and writing. 

Today when the internet abounds with sources of information, these young researchers do not bother to read anymore.  They simply cut and paste materials into their report--a clear case of plagiarism--and we do not like to think that this is because they are overwhelmed by so many print and digital publications.  Many of them do not even bother to check if their materials come from expert sources.  They seem to think that thick reports are impressive.  We wonder if their teachers read what their students write and submit, or if they teach their students the basic documentation do's:  summarize, paraphrase and quote. 

The last we strongly discourage because it is most abused; lazy readers love the open-close quotation marks more dearly than the gist of whatever they enclose within them.  We tell them that writing in one's own words what the authors said, and organizing them into a clear and understanble flowing narrative are the best measures of a researcher's diligence and intellectual honesty.

Before the above-mentioned workshops started, we showed the science advisers and regional science superintendents the instructional materials that were used to teach reading, speaking and writing in English to elementary pupils of more than a century ago. We also wondered aloud if schools today can use these composition leaflets on Philippine Activities of 1905 as templates to create aids in teaching modern English to the young generation now despite the deluge of TV and Hollywood movies, and www downloadables.  All 1905 leaftets can be retrieved from the digital library collection The United and its Territories 1870-1825: The Age of Imperialism (click the hyperlink) of the University of Michigan Ann Arbor.

These were four-page leaflets written by Orlando S. Reimold under the Philippine Education Series of that time. They were all about subjects that pupils were most familiar with in their homes and communities.  The teacher and pupil interactive exercises--reading and conversation, and conversation and writing--were about  bamboo; baskets, hats and mats; blacksmith; carpenter; cocoanut; hemp; hunting; market; school; sewing; shoemaker; sugarcane; transportation; washing; and weaving.   The front pages of bamboo and market are shown here. 

After more than a century, city people would still be familiar with the subjects.  Even if cocoanut has become coconut, they are still one and the same. Loom weaving sometimes is demonstrated in regional trade shows that feature Ilokanos and cultural minorities in the south.

The fourth page comprises suggestions to teachers. To illustrate, here's the one for bamboo:

"Material:  stalk, branch with leaves, piece of wood.

"Draw:  stalk, leaves, bamboo cup.

"Make:  cup, kite-frame, lantern-frame, sticks in lengths of 3, 4, 6, 8 inches.  See Directions for Object and Constructive Work on envelope.

"General Suggestions.  Before distributing the leaflets, the teacher should study carefully the whole lesson to see what to teach, and how to teach.  [We like this line!]

"Page One. Distribute the leaflets at the beginning of the class period. Tell the pupils something about the subject. Give them a few minutes to study the picture. Let the pupils read and answer the questions below the picture. Ask other questions. The picture-study should prepare the pupils for the following reading and writing exercises. Ask them to get information on the subject so as to be able to talk about it during the following periods.

"Page Two. Give the pupils time to prepare the reading lesson. In class be sure that each one understands what he reads. Ask questions about the lesson and the pictures. Encourage the children to ask questions and tell what they know.

"Page Three. The pupils should study the questions. Let each pupil read a question and give an oral answer. Do not let pupils write without previous oral drill. All answers, oral and written, should be complete statements. Before assigning written work, put all new and difficult words on the blackboard. Keep them on the board during the study of the leaflet. The pupils should thoroughly understand the meaning of these words and become familiar with their forms.

"Spelling. Have a list of the pupils in this class. When their first written exercise is handed in, put opposite each name the words which that pupil has misspelled. Ask each pupil to make a little book by folding two sheets of composition paper. When you return the corrected papers, ask each pupil to put in his booklet the correct forms of the words which he has misspelled. He should study these words. Take a few minutes of a recitation for a spelling exercise. Consult your list and ask the pupil to spell such words as he has misspelled.

"Written /Work. Correct carefully all written work so that the pupils can understand the corrections. Make a list of the errors, including errors as to form.  See Rules for Fornm on the envelope. Return the papers to the pupils. Give them a few minutes to study their papers.  Let them ask questions about their mistakes. Call attention to the errors on your list. Make clear what is wrong and how to correct it. Now let them write again their exercise as corrected. This new copy, together with the original, should he handed to the teacher. See that all corrections have been made. If necessary, have a pupil re-write his exercise two or three times."

Would the elementary or high school teacher (of language or communication arts in today's parlance) be patient to do these procedures or some kind of innovation?  We remember we had theme writing in our time (post-WW2), the final copy written in ink.  Uncle Maximo Ramos recalled that his English teacher in high school, young lawyer Alejo Labrador who would later become Supreme Court justice, gave him a failing grade for his composition. His piece was very well written that the teacher thought is was a plagiarized theme.  No wonder then that our parents and grandparents could speak English very fluently even if they finished only grade 4.  In fact, they could even teach if they reached that level.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

How it was at Zambales High School in Iba on December 20, 1908 ...

It might have been in the news around this time last year, but we don't know really if there was a grand fiesta at the Zambales National High School (ZNHS) in the capital town of Iba.  As far as we know, 2008 was the school's one hundredth year.  And like any other centennial event, there would have gathered a huge crowd of homecoming alumni with a considerable number of seniors comprising silver, gold and diamond jubilarian classes.  

The Zambales High School (it was provincial until a few years ago) was in the most festive mood more than a century ago on December 20, 1908.  Earlier in July, Zambales governor Gabriel Alba  reported to the Secretary of War via the Governor-General and the Philippine Commission that the Iba high school, "a magnificent building, solid and modern," and the repair and alteration of the old provincial jail into offices of the provincial government were nearing completion.  Alba was saying too that a large quantity of "first-group timber, such as molave, vacal, narra, acle, etc." has been taken from the Zambales forests for construction of houses in the province, and "a greater part of the timber employed ... in the construction of the Zambales high school was cut in the mountains of the province."

We have no idea how the original ZHS was funded. While the Gabaldon law was enacted in 1907, the allocation of P1,000,000 was intended for barrio schools (elementary). It might have come from the 1904 provision of P350,000 for intermediate and high school building construction.

When it was set for inauguration, could it have looked like the one in the picture that we found in Carl Crow's America and the Philippines (1914)?

There's a written voice that tells us exactly what happened on that December day one hundred and one years ago.  He's a nameless "A Correspondent" of The Filipino Teacher, a two-year old tri-lingual monthly magazine of the Philippine Teachers' Association that year.  The excitement was in English, a language newly learned by one whose thoughts were previously expressed in his dialect and probably, Spanish.

Here is the very detailed account as it appeared in the January 1909 issue of the magazine --

"The scene of the 20th of December, 1908 on which the provincial high school building of Zambales is inaugurated, marks the golden era upon which the "Juventud Zambalena" is entering.  The event is historical considering the coming of the Governor General to Zambales, which is to set the foundation of the history of the building where the education of the youth is to be cherished and nourished in its cradle. Thus while overlooking the scenery of the day, let the writer ride in the vehicle of narration and display to the readers the festival of the inauguration.

"Boom! The cannon is fired at the signal of welcome.  The Governor General, Honorable Barretto, Dr Barrows, General Bandholtz, and many other distinguished guests are on the shore of Panibuatan.  After being greeted by the provincial authorities they get in the carriages and start for the town.  The parade movements of the municipal police, company of workmen, visitors, and constabulary are commanded and directed by the constabulary officers, and the High School cadets by their own officers. The land parade makes a long procession commencing at the beach and terminating at the pagoda near the government building.  The columns being maneuvered sa as to front simultaneously facing the Speaker's Stand, then halted under the almond trees along the shady street.

"The people are assembled in the plaza Taft to witness the solemn occasion and to listen to the speeches of the honorable visitors.  Mr. Juan Gonzalez, President of Iba cordially welcomes the Governor General and his party as they ascend the ladder of the Speaker's Stand, telling them that regarded from the point of view, not only three municipalities have come to the capital to meet them, but the respective representatives of the whole province are present to exchange greetings with the first executive officer of the islands, by whose presence the Zambales people are signally honored. Governor Alba steps forward introducing Hon. J.F. Smith to the public. Then he (Smith) bows to all the spectators and begins to utter his much appreciated address, "Alocusion al Pueblo," expressing his sincere wishes and thanks to the people of Zambales for the honor they confered upon him.  He, first of all, congratulates the people of Iba for having chosen the right kind of a man for their president, who he doubts not, has worked for the preparation of the inauguration in order to make it a success. Secondly, he felicitates the provincial governor upon his activities and energies, for making the celebration coincide with his arrival at the capital.  He says that the presidents are the right arms of the provincial governors, who are likewise the right arms of the Governor General; and if all work together, being the tools of the Insular Government work in harmony they may lift the burden of responsibilities on their shoulders and thus contribute to the interest and success of the islands.  He, having been repeatedly requested by the authorities of Zambales to work for its welfare, promises to come to the province in company with the Director of Public Works to see to the construction of the provincial roads to facilitate the land transportation through the old geographical territories of Zambales so as to have the northern towns now annexed to Pangasinan come back to Zambales whereby the province will preserve its former financial status.  Hon. Barretto begins to deliver his eloquent speech congratulating his countrymen upon their achievement, and task accomplished as is the pushing the high school building to its completion.  He, in conclusion, speaks of his work in the Philippine Assembly for his native province.

"Here is a short intermission allowing the visitors to go to the new building where Governor Alba after assuming his position in the platform of the assembly hall delivers his address on the history of Zambales, trying to draw a lesson from the visit of the Spanish Governor General Wyler to the province in 1888,--the work of Zambales during the past revolution and the status quo of the province.  Mr. O. Atkin, formerly Division Superintendent of the province, and now Division Superintendent of Benguet, follows with a very interesting history of the Zambales high school and the memory of the building that is being inaugurated.  Dr. Barrows speaks of the constant and patient efforts of the government authorities (of Zambales) in having the building erected; the work of the Bureau of Education that has been accomplished, and that the Philippines is now showing the best results in her educational work, but this result is common among the civilized nations, however, it will uphold the Philippines in the concert of oriental countries.  Then Mr. Bandholtz speaks of the peaceful condition of Zambales and says that his purpose is not to inspect the province but to attend the inauguration of the building. Governor General Smith, the last speaker in the program now begins his able address and says in part -- that the true meaning of patriotism is not only for a man to be ready to shed his blood and to throw some "pesetas" for his mother-land, but to sacrifice himself and be willing to perform lowly service for the liberty and prosperity of his country.  Patriotism and self-sacrifice explain themselves by the pyramids of Egypt and the monumental works of Greece in the past Centuries and before the era of Christ.  This high school building is the monumental work of the people, it is the temple of learning where the knowledge from the exhaustless fountain is poured into the Filipino youth.  He can not but commend the most noble work of mankind which is teaching, the work of millions of well-equiped soldiers can not be compared in nobility and worth with the labor performed by the American and Filipino teachers.

"Just after Hon. Smith's speech the chorus sings "America" accompanied by the orchestra.  Then the high school girls with the stars and stripes lead the whole audience downstairs.  While the flag was being raised up, the bands of music played the American national hymn.  All day the bands and the orchestra rendered music, playing the reproduction of Wagner's works in the plaza.

"The guests in the waiting room of the high school are offered refreshments and at one o'clock the official banquet begins. All enjoy the hearty meal.  The banquet closes with "brindis de homenage y gratitud."  The Governor General speaks again, that he will do all in his power to recommend the Philippine Assembly to appropriate certain amount of money for the construction of the provincial roads, and to enact laws by which the province may regain the former extention of her territories.

"At nine o'clock the inaugural dance in the new building takes place.  The Zambalenian ladies honor the visitors by their personal presence, and on account of their ideal of youthful strength and beauty the fete tends to be the most beautiful scene in Shakespeare's "The Merry Wives of Windsor."

Doesn't the "A Correspondent" sound like any of today's TV broadcasters doing a real-time annotation of an ongoing event?  If there were pictures to accompany the story, we would be thinking of today's on-cam coverages too.

The English is quaint by today's standards but we can bet that the "A Correspondent" who was probably a Zambales teacher knows the language much better than most of today's high school tutors. And we're thrilled of the insight we get of the culture the high school kids were getting then; they had an orchestra that played Wagner and they were familiar with Shakespeare.

By the way, elsewhere in the province, the most important public works done in 1908 were "completion of 5 culverts with double openings ... 2 concrete culverts ...[and] 3 concrete bridges."   The promised roads were built, but Zambales never got back the towns that were ceded to Pangasinan.

Friday, December 11, 2009

How'd you say 'Sesquicentennial' with an Arrrneow accent?

The Blue Eagle has been flying for one hundred fifty years; so to all our friends who were once eaglets in the Loyola Heights campus, we say 'Happy Sesquicentennial!' in our accented Iloko-English. 

To you, guys, our first birthday present is a copy of a picture of the 'scholars of the Manila Athenaeum belonging to the congregation of the Virgin,'  who were 'some of the rising generation of the Philippines.'   That's how Frederic H.R. Sawyer (1900) captioned it in the chapter about friar estates in his book The inhabitants of the Philippines.  He did not say anything else about Ateneo Municipal de Manila.

This picture actually reminds us of Jose Rizal who took the qualifying examinations there on 10 June, 1872 and graduated with honors five years later with a bachelor of arts degree.  These scholars'
uniform was different from what the hero wore as Ateneista--"white coat, striped shirt, black tie and cream-colored hempen trousers," according to Asuncion Lopez Bantug in her Lolo Jose (2008, 2nd ed.).

The other birthday present is a copy of a photograph used by Carl Crow as one of several illustrations of Building a Nation, a chapter of his America and the Philippines (1914).  He was discussing the developments in our educational system at that time when American teachers outnumbered our countrymen and women being trained or were newly trained to teach in English.

It doesn't look like a classroom in Physics, but it reminds nonetheless of the one described as a showcase by Jose Rizal in his novel El Filibusterismo.  But this Ateneo room could have been typical of one that's equipped to comply with regulations for effective instruction in the secondary schools during the American regime.

We wish to give you another gift. But we have to take a photo of it if it can be located: a marker that  the Philippine Historical Committee put up in 1948 at the former site of Ateneo Municipal at the corner of Anda and Arzobispo streets in Intramuros.  According to a report, it was placed on a two-story building constructed there for Marsman and Company, Inc.  If that building is still there, then we can possibly find a marker bearing this very brief history of Ateneo:   "This was the site of 'Escuela Pia' taken over by the Jesuits in 1859 and renamed 'Ateneo Municipal de Manila' in 1865. Jose Rizal received from this school the degree of Bachelor of Arts on March 23, 1877. In 1901, the name was changed to 'Ateneo de Manila.' On August 13, 1932, the building together with the school, museum, library and equipment, was destroyed by fire and the classes had to be transferred to the 'Colegio de San Jose' on Calle Padre Faura. The present building, to which the Ateneo grade school returned in June 1940, was blessed on December 15, 1940."

These sesquincentennial virtual gifts remind that we were not born yet when all of these happened.  As post-WWII boomers, your first Ateneo memory could possibly be your school's inauguration as a university June 19,1960, Carlos P. Garcia was President of the Republic, and he came to address you eagles.  And that was Rizal's birthday ...!

Thursday, December 10, 2009

What's there to see in Dumaguete?

We're quite certain Dumaguete would not pull any surprises at all for first-time travellers there.  Like any city from Aparri to Zamboanga, we'd expect hotels (both classy and backpacker-friendly types), bars and bistros, restaurants of Pinoy and international cuisine, and accessible beach resorts since the city proper, according to antique literature, is just about five minutes walk to the seashore.  We suppose there may be spa and massage parlors, but in a city of conservative and Protestant mores (we heard this somewhere), they could only be clean and well-lighted places, the extra-sensationl fares in sin cities absolute no-noes.  Needless to say, there are no girlie joints then?  What could be the entertainment strip in a "city of gentle people"?

We know that chartered city Dumaguete is sixty-one years old, and each year, the birthday fiesta takes the whole month of November.  They have their Sandurot Festival, which we suspect is cousin to Panagbenga (Baguio), Sinulog (Cebu), Dinagyang (Iloilo), Ati-Atihan (Kalibo) and Masskara (Bacolod).  Same musical beating of the drums? That we got to hear.

Overall then, we'd like to experience what great difference the gentle citizens would impart to a first-time visit for fond remembrance, as what foreign visitors noted more than a century ago.

When Dean Worcester visited the Philippine islands as a University of Michigan faculty researcher in 1890, he found Dumaguete "to be a typical Visayan town of the better class. Its shops were kept by Chinese merchants. The population, numbering perhaps 8000 souls, was composed chiefly of natives, with comparatively few mestizos and still fewer Spaniards. The soil near the town was fertile, and the people seemed prosperous."   Worcester would come back as a member of the Philippine Commission and later as Secretary of the Interior.  It would be nice to check if gentle souls from Dumaguete were part of the exhibition he brought to the St Louis Exposition.

"Dumaguete is a clean, pretty little town on a fertile island, where there has been no trouble, and the people are well-to-do," Edith Moses said.  She was the wife of an American government official, and she was writing about an event there in April 9,1901. "They raise sugar and cocoanuts, rice and other crops, and, according to the knowing ones, it is the best place for business in the Philippines."

That 1901 event was connected to the inspection of the Philippine Commission done throughout the islands.  Thus, where ever they went, there was always a reception as this was, and still is, a typical Filipino custom.  The Dumaguete reception, recalled the officer Daniel Williams, "compared favorably with any yet given. ...We landed upon a large covered bamboo raft, and were welcomed by an immense crowd of people. There were seven bands, each endeavoring to outplay the other. Two or three triumphal arches graced the landing, and the entire distance from the wharf to the session hall, nearly a quarter of a mile, was shaded by a canopy of cloth strung upon a frame of bamboo. This is the most ambitious effort yet encountered to do homage to the Commission."  He did not write anything of semblance though to today's Sandurot.

Sometime in 1907, cable lines were laid between several Visayan islands, and one woman, Florence Russel was on board the cable ship.  She found Dumaguete "a tropically picturesque little town, surrounded by forest-grown hills, and built mostly of nipa, with the exception of the church, convento, watchtower, and tribunal, which were of wood painted a dazzling white."  Russel had other stories to tell about the people they met; the most amusing is about how the coin divers at the pier reacted when pieces of ice were thrown at them instead.

When Worcester was there around 1890, they were accommodated in the tribunal, which he said was "unusually comfortable for a building of its kind, being divided into several rooms, one of which served as a kitchen, while another afforded us some privacy. A lock-up was finished off on the ground floor."  He might have been describing the tribunal shown in his book (copy of that picture above).  It was not yet the wood structure that Russel saw in 1907.  The original town/city hall was a big bahay kubo, a nipa hut!

Since more than a century ago, two landmarks of Dumaguete--the old watchtower in the plaza and Silliman Institute/University--were the must-see in a visitor's itinerary, five-minute-walk apart from each other in the old days.

The only difference between these two old tower pictures--about a decade apart--were the trees.  Could they have been acacia?  If they were, they could still be tall and robust today unless they were cut as price to pay for city growth and development.   What infrastructures rose across the hundred years on the wide tracts of land around the tower, church and convent?  Good enough reasons to make a trip to Dumaguete then!

-----------------------------Notes ------------------------------
Dumaguete population grew from about 8,000 souls in 1890 (Worcester, 1899); 13,829 inhabitants (Baranera, 1899); 16,227 inhabitants (Census, 1918); 25,000 people (Carpenter, 1926), to 116,392 people (Census, 2007).

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Marian Procession in Intramuros, Then & Now

Usually by the end week of November, an item appears in the papers about a Marian procession that would start from the Manila Cathedral to celebrate the feast of the Immaculate Conception, which in the Roman church calendar falls on the 8th of December.  As far as we know, the procession is a moveable event, usually held on a Sunday before the feast day unless this itself falls on a weekend.

We've done photo shoots of the October La Naval de Manila in previous years, but this Marian event has always skipped our mind until last Sunday's. 

The procession was announced to start at four o'clock in the afternoon but we were suddenly called to a little business meeting in Makati around that time.  We were two hours late but with around eighty images of the Virgin Mary in procession, we suspected that we could still catch up with quite a number of carrozas or floats to capture with our digital camera.

At the Muralla gate near Letran College at around six-thirty, people were still waiting for half of the procession--forty six more carrozas, according to the police detailed there.  We walked to the Cathedral, and yes, the first batch of floats were already parked on the streets nearby, the images still lit up to the delight of camera bugs like us. 

We walked back to Muralla to wait for the other half of the procession.  We thought it would be great to shoot atop the old walls. We surmised that the delay could be due to traffic somewhere on Roxas Blvd up to the Intramuros re-entry point.  We walked toward the gate near Mapua and fronting City Hall hoping to meet the procession, but there were only four floats we saw, one of them attended to by a big costumed and dancing contingent from Orani, Bataan. We didn't wait for the rest anymore.

We don't know if the procession honoring the Immaculada Concepcion, the patroness of the Manila Cathedral, went as far as the Luneta during the Spanish regime, which was the promenade of city folks at sundown either on foot on in their carriages.

But there's an amusing vignette of the Marian procession of 1894--about quarrels--from Joseph Earle Stevens, "an ex-resident of Manila," who wrote about it in his Yesterdays in the Philippines (1899).  We deduced it was the feast of the Immaculate Conception because, first, it was in his notes between November 13 and December 23, 1894, and second, he was talking about images of the Virgin Mary:

"Last night there occurred another one of those religious torchlight processions which are so common in the streets of Old Manila. It started after sunset, inside the city walls, from a big church brightly illuminated from top to bottom with small candle-cups that gave it the appearance of a great sugar palace. The procession consisted of many richly decorated floats, containing life-size figures of saints and apostles dressed in garments of gold and purple and borne along by sweating coolies, who staggered underneath a draping that shielded from view all save their lower limbs and naked feet. The larger floats were covered with dozens of candelabra and guarded by soldiers with fixed bayonets. Other rolling floats of smaller magnitude were pulled along by little children in white gowns, while troops of old maids, young maids, and Spanish women marched before and behind, dressed in black and carrying candles. The black mantillas which fell gracefully from the heads of many of the torch-bearers gave their faces a look of saint-like grace, except at such times as the evening breeze made the candle-grease refractory, and one might easily have imagined himself a spectator at a celebration in Seville. 

"Many bands all playing different tunes in different times and keys, rows of hard-faced, fat-stomached priests trying to look religious but failing completely to do so, and five hundred small boys, who, like ours at home, formed a sort of rear guard to the solemnities, all went to make up the peculiar performance. The whole long affair started from the church, wound through the narrow streets, and finally brought up at the church again, where it was saluted by fireworks and ringing of bells.

"In the balconies of the houses that almost overhung the route were smiling crowds of lookers-on, and Roman candles and Bengola lights added impressiveness to the scene, or dropped their sparks on the garments of those promenading below. As the various images of the Virgin Mary and the Descent from the Cross passed by, everyone took off his hat and appeared deeply impressed with religious feeling. After the carriers of the floats had put down for good their expensive burdens in the vestry of the church, a few liquid refreshments easily started them quarrelling as to the merits of their respective displays. One set claimed that their Descent from the Cross was more life-like than that carried by their rivals, and they almost came to blows over which of the Virgin Marys wore the finest clothes. "  

The last part tells us that there were several privately owned Descent from the Cross and Virgin Mary images.  In this 2009 procession, which of the Marys are at least a century old, and Stevens saw in 1894?

Troubles brewed over the Lady's couture?  How about the crowns? Were they as awesomely large and possibly heavy due to adornments as the ones we saw and photographed last Sunday?

Note:  A group called the Cofradia de la Inmaculada Concepcion organizes the annual Marian procession, which incepted in December 1979 with 29 images.  This would be the 30th event since then.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Silliman Institute / University

Our indirect links to Silliman date back to the late 1960s when Dr Cicero Calderon was the university president.  Two very close hometown friends spent part of their young lives on campus; one completed his math degree there but sought a wife in the University of the Philippines (UP), and the other chose to teach there after finishing his engineering course at UP because he fell in love with and married a daughter of Dr Calderon.

We still have to make true a long-time wish of visiting Dumaguete (and Silliman, of course) to check our friends' tales about these friendly, provincial and conservative places.  Through all the years, Dumaguete seems not to have lost yet the come-on charm of being a "City of Gentle People."

Last April, we had another indirect contact with Silliman through a team of student researchers from the Ramon Teves Pastor Memorial Dumaguete Science High School.  They screened marine algae for potential anti-cancer compounds under the guidance of scientists from the Institute of Environmental and Marine Sciences.

That tells us that the school has gone a long way from the industrial institute founded by Dr. Horace B. Silliman of Cohoes, New York with a grant of $20,000 through the Presbyterian Board of Foreign Missions one hundred and eight years ago. Indeed, the university webpage informs of different academic programs implemented by ten colleges, three schools and two institutes today.

Source:  Devins, J.B. (1905)

The institute was the first Protestant mission boarding-school established in the country. "The location [Dumaguete] is the most healthful and beautiful that I saw in the Philippines," the Rev. Arthur J. Brown, D.D. wrote the board in 1901.  "The land rises gently from a peebly beach to a noble mountain range.  The lower levels are covered with plantations of tobacco and sugar cane, higher slopes with hemp, and the summits of the mountains with heavy forests of hard woods. Across the clear water, the islands of Seguyor [Siquijor] and Cebu are seen, and farther away, but in plane view are the outlines of Bohol and Mindanao."  If we stand where Dr Brown surveyed the landscape, we wonder what we would see today.

Dumaguete was chosen as the institute site because of "its accessibility by a large population," "the absence of competing schools," and "the friendliness and the intelligence of the officials and people."  At the time, the parish had only about 12,000 people and Oriental Negros less that 100,000 but it is accessible from the "populous islands of Cebu and Bohol." 

Three weeks after it opened on August 28, 1901, there were thirty-two "fine looking boys," who were very striking in their white suits and red sashes during the presentation.  This 'striking' picture can be seen today when graduates don white robes over red shirts/dresses during commencement exercises. We know what's the red in the national flag, but what could red mean to a Sillimanian?

For some reasons that included mindset about manual labor, making the institute an industrial school was quite difficult at the start.  The curriculum though was considered excellent as it was modelled after the best mission schools in India.  It was "divided into a  Middle Department and a High School, with electives in drawing, botany, natural history, book-keeping , and short-hand" with the Bible taught daily.

The mission board also found a need to put up a hospital in Dumaguete, and with $1,200 diverted from missionary work, they erected a small hospital.  According to John B. Devins, Oriental Negros had at that time a population of 150,000 attended to only by an Army surgeon, a Filipino doctor and an American missionary.

Source:  Devins, J.B. (1905).

"In November 1903," Devins wrote, "the Institute and Hospital buildings were dedicated.  The exercises were interesting, with tall palm trees waving above the visitors who had come from the United States, England, Ireland, Spain, China, Canada, Russia, as well as other provinces in the Philippines.  The decorations of palm leaves and Japanese lanterns were pretty. The Governor of the province delivered an address, and the presidente of the city also spoke, closing his address with these words: 'Let us do all we can to help these people who have come over here to do this great work.'"

On that day, two boys were selected from the institute to go to the United States for an education.  Silliman records may tell us who these were, and what they did when they came back.

A quarter of a century after its founding, Silliman Institute transformed greatly as gleaned from Frank Carpenter's account in 1926.  He recalled that the mission board "pays the salaries of the American members of the faculty.  Friends of the school in America provided most of the land and many of the buildings.  The latter include dormitories for boys and girls, an assembly hall seating six hundred people, a hospital, a well-equipped science building, and a library containing more than eight thousand volumes.  Part of its forty acres of ground is given over to an athletic field with a fine track and one of the best baseball diamonds in the Philippines. ... In the buildings of the industrial department there are shops in which the students learn such trades as wood-working, plumbing, automobile repairing and printing.  The school catalogue ... printed by the students of this department  ... shows an enrolment of seven hundred and fifty boys and girls from all parts of the Philippines, ranging from third-grade primary pupils to students taking college courses.  The high school department has the largest number."

They also had an annual cultural event at that time.  "[O]ne of the most remarkable features of Silliman is the Shakespearean play given every year in an open-air amphitheatre," wrote Carpenter. "This year [1925], "Midsummer Night's Dream" was the play and it proved a great success.  So far the student actors have put on "Julius Caesar," "Hamlet," "As You Like It," "Othello," and "Twelfth Night."   Finding Shakespeare rendered in English by Moros, Visayans, and Tagalogs away out here in the midst of the Pacific is one of the surprises of my trip."

We know about the annual writers workshop run by the noted couple, fictionists and poets Edilberto (when he was still alive) and Edith (National Artist) Tiempo, and the month-long city anniversary fiesta for the past 61 years every November, but we have yet to read if the annual Shakespearean event has survived.  Each year, one would hear an update on Dumaguete's citylife and Silliman's gentility from select neophyte and veteran writers who attend this workshop.

Silliman University is located on the beach.  A long time ago, it was just "about five minutes' walk from the central part of town."  We wonder how long that walk would be today if there are pleasant surprises along the way.


From the digital library collection The United States and its Territories 1870-1925: The Age of Imperialism of the University of Michigan Ann Arbor --

1.    Brown, A.J. (1901). Report on the Philippine Mission. Also found in his The new era in the Philippines (1903), Nashville, Tenn. & Dallas, Texas: Methodist Episcopal Church, South.
2.    Carpenter, F.G. (1926). Through the Philippines and Hawaii. Garden City, NY: Doubleday, Page & Co.

and from the digital library collection Southeast Asia Visions of Cornell University:

1.   Devins, J.B. (1905). An observer in the Philippines, or, Life in our new possessions. Boston; New York: American Tract Society.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Gary Granada's Lean, A Filipino Musical.

Gary Granada's CDs of his Rizal and Lean were filed side by side the store's rack at UP Shopping when we bought them a couple of years ago. We just had to get them both. After Barangay Ginebra and his other light Pinoy klasiks, we wanted to know how Gary executed both meaningful lives in musical terms. Our musical ears say he did not martyr them a second time around.

Lean is pure Granada (no pun intended) - libretto and music.

Since we were a citizen of the Diliman Republic, we can relate to Iskolar nf Bayan and Gary's take on UP Naming Mahal. As a First Quarter Stormer, we can jam with the chorus in Makibaka, Huwag Matakot. And because we kept on returning to the university since the early 80s, we saw how the tibaks (kabataang aktibista) like Lean Alejandro steadfastly fought the Marcos dictatorship.

We get tired of romantic infomercial anthems about hindi ka nag-iisa or may bagong umagang darating being aired endlessly it seems these days, and we may need to jar our senses, musical or political, once in a while with songs from the 2-CD Lean album, which is download-free from Gary Granada's webpage, (25 songs, MP3, 94MB). Lyrics are printable too for the sing-along.

Dito Lang sa Pilipinas (Talumpati 'lang' si Lean. Ang kampanya ng kalaban bonggang bongga) followed by Tuloy ang Laban come at the closing part of the musical. This is about elections past and present. As we sing through the lyrics, we know nothing has changed. For Eleksyon 2010, the paskuhan and grand fiesta has began --

"CROWD: Dito dito lang ... dito dito lang sa Pilipinas ...

"LEAN: Dapat seryosohin na natin ang eleksyon / Dapat nang baguhin talamak na tradisyon

"NOLI: Ang kapangyarihan ng mga mamamayan / Isulong sa maayos at malinis na halalan

"JOJO: Di mo ba alam na ang halalan ay pista / Ang mahalaga ay mabusog at magsaya / Di mo ba alam na ang halalan ay pasko / Gusto lang nilang makatanggap ng aginaldo

"CROWD: Dito dito lang ... dito dito lang sa Pilipinas ...

"Vote buying, flying voters, dagdag-bawas, ballot box snatching, murder.

"KA TANNY: Ang mabuting asal kanilang binaluktot

"MR. TIM: Di ka ba natutuwa sa ating mga kababayan / Sa tuwing halalan ay mahilig magbigayan

"LEAN: Salot ng lipunan ay dapat na mabunyag / Isyu ng mamamayan ang dapat mahayag

"MR. TIM: Di ka ba natutuwa, demokrasya ay buhay / At nakakaboto pa pati ang mga patay

"CROWD: Dito dito lang ... dito dito lang sa Pilipinas ...

"Iproproklama ng Comelec and kalaban.

"JOJO: Gaya ng malaon na nating nakagawian / Mabuhay ang nanalong atin nang inaasahan

"MR. TIM: Sakaling abusuhin lang nila ang pamumuno / Aba'y dapat lang sa ating nagpadaya't nagpagoyo

"Magrereklamo ang grupo ni Lean pero wala ring mangyayari.

"MR. TIM: Ito ay payo lang sa inyong talunan / Ba't di na lang paghandaan ang susunod na halalan / Habang may panahon, habang maaga pa / Kayo ay mag-ipon, mag-imbak na ng pera

"CROWD: Dito dito lang ...dito dito lang sa Pilipinas ...

"MGA NANALO: Next time uli! Yehey!"

Leandro L. Alejandro was assassinated in 1987, a year after EDSA I; he was 27 years old. The musical was staged 10 years after his untimely death (hence the 10th Anniversary Edition label in the album jacket). The CD was re-issued in 1997 during the 20th death anniversary.

The musical's closing lines:

"LEAN: Sa pananalig sa sambayanan / Bawat balakid ay iigpawan / Tanikala ay kakalagin
"CAST: At kasaysayan ay lilikhain."

Gary Granada's thank you album (50th Anniv album) is called Basurero ng Luneta (10 songs, zipped at 35MB) downloadable at He says he's retiring to pursue a new career path, so this may the last we'll sing new songs for us.

Musical 'Sino ka ba Jose Rizal' - Gary Granada Version

We were rummaging through our audio CD collection the other day. Out popped two double-disc Gary Granada albums, this one on Jose Rizal and the other on Lean Alejandro.

'Sino Ka Ba Jose Rizal' was a commissioned work with the original libretto by Nonoy Gallardo, but Granada's music was not the one used when it was staged more than 10 years ago by Music Theatre Philippines. Gallardo composed the music for that production, which had Ogie Alcasid as JP Rizal.

We were not able to see that staging, but we've watched YouTube videos of some of the songs like Di Na Nakapagpaalam and Ultimo Adios.

We like Granada's melody for those two songs--in fact, for the whole libretto--a bit folksy and pop, warm and light, thus easy to remember and hum or sing. There's humor too like in Que Bobo Bobo, a take on the hero's big head when he was a kid, and plenty of sentimental expressions such as in Anong Uring Pagsinta and Anong Uring Kalayaan?

For those who'd like to check what we're saying here, this version is downloadable for free from the composer's website,%20A%20Musical.htm (all in all 36 songs, MP3, 97MB). The lyrics can also be printed out for the sing-along.

"May I," wrote Gary Granada, "dedicate this little work to a town called Maco [Davao del Sur in Compostela Valley] where I was born and raised (though not vertically) not through formal piano lessons (for I have yet to learn how to read music) but on affirmations from family, friends and teachers in a joyous community. There, for six months, I worked on the songs of this musical as a commissioned professional, but what truly sustained my spirit was the very same candid folksy affection of a lively people in a small place with a big river and a bigger heart that can only be Maco, ever my home."

Beautiful musical rendition of Rizal's life here, and as we sing in chorus with Bayang Barrios, Noel Cabangon, Lani Misalucha, and Gary Granada himself, it would be nice to ponder, in the context of our present political time and clime, sino ka nga ba, Jose Rizal, sa aming mga Pinoy?

Note: Gary has reached 50. From his webpage, he says it's time for him to retire from his musical career. He is offering a good-bye gift--a free downloadable album of 2009 compositions from his webpage His Barangay Ginebra will always be part of Pinoy pop music history!

He is married to a townmate Susan Fernandez. Needless to say, he is always welcome to San Narciso, Zambales during his break from his new career. A few years ago, Timpuyog Zambales brought him went there once for an environmental concert with Bayang Barrios.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Rizal Day a century ago

Every Filipino and netizens of the world know that Efren Penaflorida of the kariton klasrooms is the CNN Hero of the Year. He's 28, and with 10,000 other youngsters, he's reaching out to children who are shackled away by poverty from the regular schools. They teach them not only the 'Rs--reading, 'riting and 'rithmetic--but also basic hygiene and moral values, deeper than the usual GMRC (good manners & right conduct) of yore.

Efren brings the classroom to the children's prisons--the streets, tambayans and informal settlements--with the basic tools to dream, believe, survive (to borrow the television StarStruck talent search motto) and make a better life for themselves.

Jose Rizal at 31 was not yet hero but the idolo ng masa of the underground revolutionary movement. He anteceded Efren in reverse. In his Dapitan exile, July 1892 to July 1896, he, a prisoner, was the volunteer teacher of select schoolboys from the island's prominent families. He did not have a kariton klasroom but he built them an octagonal house cum school where he taught them "reading, writing, languages (Spanish and English), geography, history, mathematics (arithmetic and geometry), industrial work, nature study, morals and gymnastics" (Epistolario Rizalino V:II) without paying any tuition at all.

Rizal's Dapitan boys were already English literate when the Americans set up the public school system. The first curriculum was structured that boys and girls could qualify to teach when they finish grade 4. We can imagine the boys having an easier time at the new school because they only had to recall Rizal's English lessons.

We wonder how many of them joined the corps of very young Filipino teachers during the first two decades of the American regime. These were the educators who organized the The Philippine Teachers' Association sometime in 1901, and put out their printed voice in Spanish, Tagalog and English--The Filipino Teacher--six years later in 1907.

At that time, Rizal was still fresh in their memories, and for the much younger ones, he was the inspiration derived from stories about his life and death from their parents. Thus, Rizal Day was religiously observed as a national event in towns and cities with teachers actively participating in the commemorative programs. Teacher-correspondents wrote about the celebrations in The Filipino Teacher in English, a second language they were learning fast to effectively teach the new curriculum to an increasing enrollment of boys and girls in schools being built by the Bureau of Instruction all over the Philippine Islands.

"The celebration of the 12th anniversary of Dr. Rizal's death eclipsed the celebrations of former years," reported a Manila teacher about Rizal Day 1908. "The parade which took place in the morning was witnessed by an immensed crowd of people who, inspite of the sun which at that time shone without pity, turned out to render their most fervent tribute to the memory of him who twelve years ago gave up his life for his country. The parade stopped at the Luneta where a grand-stand was erected not far from the place where Rizal's execution took place." Dignitaries gave patriotic speeches after the parade, and in the evening, "a grand entertainment was given in the Opera House."

The following year, Rizal Day again started with a civic parade in the morning that lasted three hours "in which were represented practically all the institutions of the city--commercial, educational and bureaucratic." The 'artistic floats' came from these institutions as well as from the 'Chinese colony' and labor organizations. Distinguised citizens paid tribute to the hero through speeches at a grandstand erected at the Luneta, and "the celebration of the day was gloriously ended by a grand literary entertainment held in the Manila Grand Opera House."
In that Rizal Day a century ago, there were school contests in different subject areas like English, Arithmetic, Hygiene and Domestic Services, etc. In Drawing, the first prize went to Mr Fernando Amorsolo of the School of Fine Arts. Amorsolo became a National Artist.
Civic parades, speeches and orations, literary entertainments even athletics were also held in the towns "in commemoration of the Patriot's immortal deeds." In Iba, Zambales, for example, the town's young men and women also performed "a melodrama on the boyhood and manhood of Rizal" during the 12th anniversary of his death.
The only Rizal Day that is still alive today, as far as we know, is that of Olongapo City. It's fiesta time there every December 30 but we are not too sure if the celebration has something to do anymore with Dr. Jose Rizal.

Note: Thirty five issues of The Filipino Teacher, volumes 1 to 4, are found in the digital library collection The United States and its Territories 1870-1925: the Age of Imperialism of the Univeristy of Michigan Ann Arbor.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009


We were in the MRT from Legarda to the Cubao station when we thought it great to end the day with a look at Juvenal Sanso's paintings at the Mandarin Oriental Suites of Gateway Mall. We've just been through an after-lunch meeting with two scientists on our forthcoming review of science investigatory projects of high school students for the national science fair in February 2010.

We've always admired his art; his paintings are very distinguishable from those of BenCab, Baldemor and Malang, who are still living artists.

The exhibition--Premier Sanso: A Show of Shows--just opened the day before (November 4), so we were surprised that Juvenal Sanso was around. Aside from us, there was just a couple who, we gauged, were looking at possible additions to their art collection. The painter was briefly engaged by the couple.

When he greeted us, we queried about the ubiquitous moon in his paintings. There are a lot of reasons for putting it there, he said, but it's principally to indicate that these are not underwater landscapes. We retorted that, yes, the initial impression would be of coral reefs, but with the moon, they'd seem like ruins unless they are embellished with flowers.

He walked us through the exhibition, and in a way, through his artistic life. He chuckled when we jested if Paris lacked buxom models when he painted his nude, which like his other early works like the portraits, was still signed Juvenal Sanso.

Almost all the works on display are from his collection, and actually, he said, he can show a thousand at one time. He does not sell what he really likes.

He can yet be a National Artist, but we forgot he is a Spanish citizen. He opted to being a permanent resident here, he said, because naturalization when he was young was a tedious process with the documentary and legal procedures. But with the dual citizenship law in place, we might yet see him become a National Artist.

During the second world war, they evacuated to Montalban, which he considered a prison just like the UST concentration camp for Americans and other foreigners trapped in the country. The Sansos, he said, were scared during those years; they could be mistaken as Americans because of their skin and taken as prisoners.

Juvenal Sanso and Henry Sy were boyhood friends. We surmise that the biggest Sanso collector could be the Sy family, which commissioned the artist to do the mural, the biggest work so far of the artist, for the convention center at the Mall of Asia.

We went back to the show late afternoon of November 24, his birthday, and who knows if we'd bumped into him again. We had the paintings all to ourselves. And the show would be closing later.

We don't aspire to own a Sanso. The cheapest in the Gateway catalog was Php38,000 for a Christmas-card size acrylic on paper. It's enough to be awed by his moon in the various scapes of his artistic imagination. Another awesome time is coming; a Sanso exhibition is being mounted, where else, but at a Sy establishment - the SM Megamall later this month. We hope to see a thousand Sansos.

Photographs from the invitation to the Premier Sanso: A Show of Shows painting exhibition,