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,

Tuesday, November 24, 2009


Buwaya! we'd yell at our hometown basketball player who thinks he can shoot each time he has the ball in his hands even if missed the net in all his previous attempts. Ipakakain kita sa buwaya was how we'd bully little kids for throwing tantrums or for being boorish every so often.

Of course, these expressions reflect the ferocious nature of the crocodile--the buwaya in all our dialects, the cayman of olden times--we learn about from literature and TV documentaries.

This was the beast feared by the fathers of boys in the Ilokano barrio Alusiis who had to walk to school in the far-away Zambal town of Cabangan. Danger lurked along the way, so it was the one big excuse in February 1846 to seek approval of the church authority in capital town Iba for the hiring of a resident teacher for their sons.

If there's anything else outside of Crisostomo Ibarra and Maria Clara that we remember most from our high school reading of Noli me Tangere, it's the crocodile that almost spoiled the river picnic. It devoured all the fishes in Kapitan Tiago's first baklad, and so the picnickers knew that the beast is around them somewhere. We came to know later that the nameless boat pilot in that episode is Elias, who first dived to slay the beast. He tried to muzzle the beast but it escaped, dragging him along. Crisostomo went to his rescue to Maria Clara's horror, and we can only imagine her great sigh of relief when both men emerged from the water with the dead monster.

While we are at it, did Fr. Pedro Chirino's crocodile accounts in his Relacion de las Islas Filipinas (1604, in Blair & Robertson XIII) influence national hero Jose Rizal in the writing of the fishing party? We know that Rizal was close to the Jesuits, and we can be certain he read Chirino. Could he have named the helmsman Elias because the priest compared the village chief who slew a large crocodile to the Biblical Eleazar? "He leaped alone in the water," the priest wrote, "and swam toward the beast with a knife. Then, diving beneath the crocodile, like another valiant Eleazar, he gave it several knife-thrusts in the belly and killed the beast..."

There are plenty of crocodile stories in friar accounts, and one of these is a detailed procedure of inducing the beast to open its mouth. A brave soul would then insert a pointed object, which would immobilize the animal with jaws propped open for the killing.

Another favorite account is from Paul de la Gironiere (Adventures in the Philippines, 1855), and the illustration (above) and the caption tell it all--'A native woman seized by a cayman.'

The woman, a servant of Gironiere's wife, went to bathe at the edge of the lake. She was surprised by an enormous monster.

"One of my guards," he wrote, "came up at the moment she was being carried off." He fired at the cayman to no avail. A month later, the cayman was found dead on the river bank several leagues away from their house in Jala-jala. They found the woman's earrings in the animal's stomach.

Today, we can only conjure images of big crocodiles although we can go watch how they are fed in farms where they are raised for their thick skin. It was reported sometime ago that they released some baby Philippine crocodiles in a river up north but we can't say for what purpose, and would the area be fenced off from the curious and the poachers?

We may see another species of crocodiles walking and speaking in our midst within the next six months. Most of them shed, here we go, crocodile tears after every calamity that befell us, the most recent being the visit of Ondoy and Pepeng. Shall we say, voters beware!?

Note: The cited Chirino and Gironiere are taken from Project Gutenberg eBooks. The first is from Volume XIII of Blair and Robertson. The second is the English version of the French book.

Monday, November 23, 2009

'StarStruck Pax Hispanica'

We're almost glued to the Kapuso Network last weekend so we did not miss the presentation of the twenty-eight finalists of their talent search StarStruck V. Except for eight that came from Pinoy communities in diaspora around the world, all the others are home-country bred.

It did not surprise as though that not anyone in this batch stuck out as belonging to the Nora Aunor genre. It looks like we've seen the last of aspiring Marky Cielos to represent the 'natives,' a racial category used by foreign, particularly American, writers when they set foot here by the end of the 1800s and in the early 1900s, to set apart the Jackie Rice and Iwo Moto 'half-castes,' their term to denote Spanish or Chinese mestizos and mestizas (metis or metisses to the French journalists). Today, their equivalent tisoys and tisays who 'dream, believe and [hope to] survive' StarStruck V to become popular TV-movie idols are of multi-racial stocks.

While there was no StarStruck during the Spanish regime, foreign journalists had favorite photographs of mestizas to accompany their stories.

The 'half-caste flower girl at the opera' (right) is found in Yesterdays in the Philippines (1899) of Joseph Earle Steven. Ramon Lala Reyes (The Philippine Islands, 1899) and Ebenezer Hannaford (History and description of the picturesque Philippines ..., 1900) called her simply 'mestiza flower-girl.' All are American writers. Reyes described himself a returning 'native of Manila;' he settled in the USA in the late 1880s and became a naturalized American citizen.

The photographer might have been smitten by the beauty of the flower girl that he made her his model (she posed; did she receive a talent fee?). Photography was not a hobby then and the few photoshops could have been the foreign writers' main source of illustrative materials for their works. We're certain this picture has been reproduced in other foreign narratives about the Philippines and its people.

The metisses de Manille (mestizas of Manila, below) is an earlier work, an engraving based on a photograph, found in Lucon et Palaouan (six Annees aux Philippines), I-XII (1886) by the Frenchman Alfred Marche. The American writer George Waldo Browne used this same artwork in his The pearl of the Orient: the Philippine Islands (1900) but he captioned it simply mestizos.

It would be very interesting to find the original photograph of these two beautiful mestizas. We might yet stumble on it as we combed through the digital libraries and photo collections of the Cornell U and the University of Michigan Ann Arbor.

Were they of the StarStruck generation, their families and friends may probably encourage them to 'dream, believe, survive' the rigorous screening process of the TV talent search.

If they win, GMA7 (and even rival ABS-CBN network) still has plenty of foreign telenovelas to adapt for prime time showing, and these two mestizas may have an edge over the rest of the talent pool for any leading role.

Materials cited are in the Southeast Asia Visions digital library collection of Cornell University.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

'Hanggang Pier Ka Lang!'

This advertisement circa 1908 reminds us of two things: (a) the 'hanggang pier ka lang' pejorative addressed to a woman companion--also sneered at as kalapating mababa ang lipad--of a US navyman posted to the bases here before Pinatubo, and (b) the little barrio of Calapandayan in Subic where navymen, some in civies or some still in their uniform hie off any time at any day of the week for mundane pleasures.

Lucky were the kept women who got married to their navy guys, and who were eventually shipped or flown to their husband's supposed land of milk and honey. We're not sure though if this luck brushed on such women before the second world war as mixed marriages were taboo in America at that time.

Certainly, most affairs did end up at the departure area of Sangley Point or Subic Bay, and the women left behind with living souvenirs - Fil-Ams of either Caucasian or Afro-American skin tones. It's unfortunate that some of these offsprings faced blank walls in their search for their fathers.

We can perhaps trace the beginnings of the entertainment industry around the US bases in Subic, Cavite, Angeles, etc. to the establishments like the Caloocan Road House and the Maypajo Road House (see above ad), and if we believe what were advertised, the American sailors of 1908 on furlough went there for food, drinks and dancing only!

These houses were open even on Sundays. The 'no beans' could have been some come-on, which we think means they didn't serve pork and beans, the usual mess fare and probably the most abundant food supply in the commissary that came all the way from the mainland.

We know how these road houses metamorphosed, and how the little brown sisters transformed into a-go-go dancers during the post-WW2 and pre-Pinatubo period. For Zambales folks like us, Calapandayan had its glory days when ships sailed to Subic during the Vietnam War; there were plenty of Miss Saigons left behind too.

We wonder how many dancing 'little brown sisters' of the Maypajo Road House ended up kept women of American sailors. Did they bring forth the first batch of the Fil-American mestizo-cy?

Come to think of it, when the US Navy started recruiting Filipinos, and when their ships called on other naval facilities around the world, did/do these Pinoy marinos also keep women companions hanggang pier lang when they depart(ed)?

Note: The advertisement is from the Navy Guide to Manila and Cavite for the battle ship fleet (1908) in the Southeast Asia Visions digital library collection of Cornell University.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Jose Rizal Cigars

After the fall of Manila in August 1898, and soon after Spain ceded the Philippine Islands to the Americans, the US Navy settled at Sangley Point in Cavite where the Spanish armada used to berth.

In 1908, the naval authorities put out the Navy Guide to Cavite and Manila for the Battle Ship Fleet "as a handbook for the use of officers and men of the great American battleship fleet that is soon to visit Manila and Cavite." It was distributed for free as a "practical guide and beautiful souvenir."

We supposed that the Guide was at no cost to the Navy since there were as many advertisement pages as the touristic sheets. It did not surprise us that the ads were placed by foreign businessmen--Americans, Brits, Germans--offering products and services that would make the visitors' stay in Manila and Cavite very enjoyable.

Before we even hit the title page, the Jose Rizal cigars bordered by a stars-and-stripes-inspired design already caught our immediate attention. It comes after the map of Manila that's ringed with blurbs that '"Jose Rizal" Cigars Are Liked by Everybody;' 'The Best that Money Can Buy "Jose Rizal" Cigars;' and '"Jose Rizal" No Other Cigar Sells Like It, Smokes Like It or Is Like It.'

The Rizal hang-over could still have been heavy around that time -- monuments rising in his honor and memory in almost every town, possibly every other baby boy being named Jose, commerative Rizal Days being held here and abroad esp. on December 30, and products being named after him (did they pay the Rizal family some kind of royalty?).

Well, we read somewhere that Jose Rizal and Alhambra were the popular cigar brands in the early 1900's. We know that there is a Jose Rizal matchbox, and probably lit our Marlboro and later Philip Morris with a Rizal palito. We stopped smoking many years ago, and we seldom use a kalan for cooking anymore. We wonder if Jose Rizal casa fuegos are still around now that there are already other means of lighting the fire.

If they believed the advertiser, US navymen probably smoked and chewed Jose Rizals during their tour here (they didn't have the blue seals yet in their commissary store?) and brought boxes home as souvenirs and give-aways to their folks back there in the mainland.

The Guide can be accessed online from the Southeast Asia Visions digital library collection of Cornell University.

Fruit Vendors c.1898 (and 2009?)

Except for their costume of saya't tapis, these fruit vendors of Cavite would be the same women you'd see today in the talipapas of Metro Manila, in front of Balintawak market in Caloocan, on the overpass across Commonwealth Ave. in Manggahan, or in any town or city market from Aparri to Zamboanga.

According to the American with the camera and pencil who roamed the towns and cities soon after the country was 'pacified' following the fall of Manila in August 1898, these women smoked cigars or cigarettes, which was almost the general rule in those days when the cigar factories employed mostly women, and when Alhambra and Jose Rizal were the 'in' cigar brands.

Well, today's women would be very wary about the hazards to their health from smoking, and there would probably some who'd light a stick of their favorite filtered or unfiltered brand every now and then. Of course, they don't put the lighted end inside their mouth now.

Nothing's change really. Then and now, haggling remains the transactional art between buyers and sellers (still predominantly female), but in the old times, the sentimo worthed much for the negotiation. But not anymore; even the street urchins would reject 25-centavo alms.

The picture is taken from the second volume of Jose de Olivares book, Our islands and their people as seen with camera and pencil, published in 1899, available online from the Southeast Asia Visions digital library collection of Cornell University.

We haven't counted yet, but our guess is that there are more than a hundred photographic illustrations there. But these and the accompanying captions (and the book as a whole) could have adversely affected the mainland USA readers' appreciation of a people fighting a guerrila war to keep their independence, and lobbying later in Washington DC that, yes, we are worthy of running our national affairs.