Saturday, July 31, 2010

Haw, Haw, the Karabaw. Part 1.

Pen, pen de sarapen / De kotsilyo de almasen
Haw, haw the karabao, bantuten.
                                                       -  Folk poetry.

Our grandparents--maternal and paternal--were probably farming folks and/or had katalonan manage the rice lands and till them and the seasonal harvest shared in the traditional manner.  Our tatang went to a trade school in Manila, became an electrician with the US naval base in Cavite first then in Subic Bay so he never harnessed a carabao to a plow during the rice planting season.  His sister's family took care of the inherited farmlands. Our nanang simply paid for the amillaramento even for lands claimed by the big Santo Tomas river, and we would just wait for a few sacks of unmilled rice at the end of the harvest without bothering to ask if these were her rightful share.

The gist of the preamble: we did not own a carabao! And that explains why, when we were growing up, it was such a big deal when the delivery carts would come rolling up our gate, the carabaos unhitched and tethered to the fence post or a nearby tree trunk, and later, after the sacks of rice have been deposited on the large wooden bin under the house, given a short ride around the neighborhood. 

It was a carabao that caused the scar in front and middle of our left leg, the size of a salapi (fifty-seven centavo coin of the old days)--and the scar was called that.  When we were in grade 6, taking the school carabao to the river for a good bath was voluntary and very good excuse to be spared the industrial art teacher's rod for not bringing split bamboos for the basketry weaving course.  There would always be three of us astride the broad back of the carabao, and we were in front most of the time. A carabao always sways its head to ward off the pesky swarm of flies around its head. Ours had long horns, and our leg got hit one time and the wound got infected and festered into a salapi.

Those were the years when the horse-drawn karetela was the mode of public transport around the old hometown, a jeepney or two between the coastal village and the poblacion, and the carabao-drawn karison was the family car of farmers. Our neighbor uncle's car was put to good use during the All Soul's and All Saint's nights when our elders would take us around town to watch the tombas.

Seldom did we see carabao meat on our dining table. It's only later did we learn why it was not as good as beef; they came from stocks too old to pull the plow, and the government prohibited slaughtering the work-fit ones. But there were carabao thieves on the prowl; the older folks knew where meat sold on the sly were coming from, and the decent ones would not dare buy for they knew whose carabao that was reported stolen.  Depending on age, a male or female animal can now be slaughtered for food, but it is still beef that dominates the market.

We never thought we would ever own a carabao. But a couple of years ago, we acquired a pregnant one. We had no intent whatsoever to buy but a former househelp from Isabela came and asked not for the usual loan but to please buy their farm animal instead. They needed money since her husband was preparing to leave for work abroad.  Just to save her from the prowling 5-6 lenders, we paid her without the animal in sight, and sent a cousin to fetch it.  It was a long journey for the carabao from Isabela up north to Pagudpud and down the Ilocano provinces to San Narciso, Zambales, where it gave birth somewhere in her grazing ground by the big river. This mother animal has brought forth a second calf, and we've been urging our cousin to find a buyer.

In the last Pahiyas in Lukban, we were surprised to see people, mostly the urban-looking young, excited by the sight of carabaos in the parade especially the very rare white one. The carabao-drawn floats had to make photo stops because there were plenty who would like to pose for a picture with a carabao, as if this were a TV or movie star or a beauty queen.

For two days in May this year, we were in a high school science teachers' workshop at the Central Luzon State U, which started as an agricultural college in the early 1900s just like that of the University of the Philippines in Los Banos.

Frank Carpenter (1926) called it "the school republic of Munoz" and "a boy republic in the heart of Luzon" after his visit there because there were about eight-hundred 'brown-skinned lads' from forty provinces who were supporting themselves to school there.  A picture of aggie boys with their carabao (which appears to be an imported specie) was included in the book, and it carried this explanation: "If the four boy-farmers on an allotment furnish their own carabao for ploughing, they get 90 per cent of the crop raised; if they furnish implements as well, they get 95 per cent."

A leisurely walk from the hub of CLSU is the Philippine Carabao Center (PCC), which was set up by a law (RA 7307) authored by then Senator Joseph Estrada in 1992, for the development of the carabao as a source of milk, meat, draft and hide, which should redound to the improvement of the quality of life of farming families..  We visited the place for possible photo-ops, and to buy dairy stuff to bring home because the products were highly recommended, which explains why the store was crowded with excursionists buying edible souvenirs.

Had we known, we could have inquired about the center's celebrity products, the "Presidential Carabaos" Erap, Fidel, Cory and Glory, all born as test-tube calves in 2002.   They don't look like our traditional carabaos anymore but buffaloes or water buffaloes, which the first Americans in the Philippines called them.

They are good breeds among almost a 100,000 others today that the center has developed.  Good quality semen from adult males like Erap are taken for the artificial insemination project to produce new types of Philippine carabaos.  The technology is officially called  “Propagation of Riverine Buffaloes through Embryo in vitro Production-Vitrification-Transfer Technique.”

It's been reported that carabaos Cory and Glory have become mothers themselves (two calves each), that Glory is unique - one of her horns curves downward and the other a little upward, and Fidel sires calves through natural mating.

Let's keep watch on the birthing of quality male calves during the next six years.  We can almost be certain that presidential carabao P-Noy will be coming soon.


Carpenter, Frank G. (1926). Through the Philippines and Hawaii ... with more than 100 illustrations from original photographs. Garden City, N. Y.: Doubleday, Page & Company. Retrieved from 

Fernandez, Rudy. (2010, June 7). Erap, the test tube carabao, now fully grown. The Philippine Star Online at

Philippine Carabao Center at

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

The P-Noy of street parliamentarians on SONA day

We like the color of the streets on any SONA day. There's more than the blue, black and the predominant red of the usual protest organizers' banners. 

The towering yellow papier mache figure of P-Noy was not burned. There was yet no reason for the torching.  It's his first SONA, and the common Pinoys--who he said are his bossings--are still on ground zero for presidential debts to collect and grave misgovernance to denounce. 

This yellow P-Noy higante draped with the stars-and-stripes would surely find its way to a Philippine museum of protest art (MOPA) if ever there is one or to a collector for future e-Bay sale.

Alas, the Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo effigies of her nine SONA days were all torched. There are plenty of photographs in the archives to go back to for their appreciation as protest artworks.

This year, some UP fine arts students led by their student council painted P-Noy on that part of Commonwealth Avenue fronting the Ever Department store, just like what they would do during the annual street-painting event in front of Palma Hall in UP Diliman.

Their P-Noy of course is in yellow barong and he's holding a balance beam with protesters spilling off from one side and with the elite smug on the other.

P-Noy can be Zorro. He has painted in the public mind an illusion that he can be one, and that's what his bossings conjure after his platitudes of no wangwang, no tong-pats, no waldas, etc. even if he has not said anything substantial about key areas like land reform and foreign policy.

We hope though that P-Noy would not be this Zorro (picture above)--almost a fixture at the academic oval of the Diliman Republic--who has his own Katipunan flag ("Viva Caballero," it says) and his own revolution to finish. 

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Visita Iglesia in May: San Sebastian Church


For the first time ever, we had reason to make a long-time wish come true: a close-up view of San Sebastian Church, which we saw from Legarda and Mendiola as a towering landmark during the protest rallies to Malacanang prior to Proclamation 1081 in September 1972.  Today, it looms as our beacon for disembarking at the Legarda station each time we take the MRT-3 for a faster trip to UST.

In May this year, the eldest son of a very good friend and his sweetheart chose to get married there. Camera bug that we are, we took just a few shots of the wedding ceremony while we focused on details of this architectural marvel, and its awesome interior with its antique yet beautiful altar, pulpit, rose windows and other artistic decorations. 

We would like to say that the Recoletos tie us up with this church historically because our hometown's Roman Catholic parish is called San Sebastian, who is himself our patron saint although our town fiesta has nothing to do at all with him.  When San Narciso, Zambales became full-fledged town in 1849, the new iglesia was Recollect and the first parish priest was Friar Alberto Serrano de Santa Ana, religioso de la orden de Agustinos Recoletos.  The SVD's would take over the parish in the early part of the 20th century and later the Columban order.

Our tertiary education was public in the Diliman Republic, but a very good townmate friend, now a senior Canadian citizen went to school at the San Sebastian College-Recoletos, which is adjunct to the church.  We had another friend who brought us around to sing-along joints for the beer and the karaoke, and in one of those sorties, we got to meet another Baste (yes, that's what they ID themselves), years before he joined showbiz and rose to become the wowowee tycoon Willie Revillame, who was a drummer of a boy band then.  A nephew graduated as a Baste when his uncle on his mother's side was rector of discipline there in the 1980s.

Thus, from our first brief visita of San Sebastian Church--almost two hours covering the wedding rites and the ritual photo sessions after--we brought home a camera-ful of beautiful memories, the collage of pictures above being just part of the trove.  Given these, we needed to look back to see how it was back then when it was built and new.

There is more to the capsule history in the landmark, which was attached there in 1934. In his work about the Recollects in the Philippines, Manuel del Val (1929) wrote: 

"Besides their convent and church in Intramuros, the Recollects also built the San Sebastian church, a large, all-steel church, and one of the most remarkable edifices in the world. As early as 1621, a modest convent and church were erected on this site, the district then being but poorly populated, but they placed there a venerable image, brought from Mexico, the "Madre del Carmelo", the fame of which soon spread over all Manila due to the miraculous cure of the Dean of the Cathedral, Juan Velez, later Bishop of Cebu, who had been given up by all the doctors. Earthquakes destroyed this building, and a later one stood until 1859. The third church erected on this site, opened in 1868 with elaborate ceremonies, and in which, thereafter, services were held with unusual magnificence, was completely destroyed in the memorable earthquake of July, 1880. The Recollect fathers did not lose courage under these repeated calamities, but determined to build, even at the greatest sacrifice, the temple which today proudly dominates the city. They thought to build this church of iron, and recommended the matter to Senor Don Genaro Palacios for study. He presented a plan which greatly pleased them, and the execution of the work was turned over to the Societe Anonigme d' Entreprises de Travaux Publiques, of Brussels, Belgium. Sections of the church in the form of hundreds of thousands of tons of steel were shipped to Manila, and the company sent Messrs. Pedro Brokel and Desiderio Carpentier to assemble them. These men deserve the greatest praise for their labors, but the people of Manila could also see the Recollect Brother Remigio, on Plaza del Carmen wearing a big straw hat in sunshine and in rain, aiding in the direction of the work. He had given proof of great architectural skill in former works, and should be given credit as well as the two other directors of the construction. The pulpit and the confessionals were designed by the artist Don Lorenzo Guerrero, and their construction and also that of the images was the work of Don Eulogio Garcia. The painting of the temple was done by the distinguished Professor Lorenzo Rocha, assisted by his pupils. This is the wonderful church of San Sebastian, dedicated to Nuestra Senora del Carmen. Its very high towers can be seen from a long distance, and serve navigators as a landmark."

The contract for painting of the new church was "let out to natives by the day. They erected some 25 feet of bamboo scaffolding and painted to the top of it, then erected 25 feet more scaffolding and painted to the top of that, and so on until the church was completed. ...Painters receive from 60 cents to $1.25 Mexican (Atkinson, 1902)."


"[I]t is probably the most impressive religious edifice in the city, with its tall spires and long vertical lines," wrote Norbert Lyons (1924).  "Twelve stained glass windows manufactured in Europe illumine the interior and there are also four beautiful rose windows. The stained windows illustrate the life of Christ and are well worth examining. A fine cupola rises in the center. It is decorated with frescoes of Carmelite saints. The interior is very impressive, with its long fluted columns and Gothic arches, groined and fan-ribbed at the top. In the high altar stands an image of Our Lady of Carmen and above it, in an exquisitely-wrought pinnacle, a statue of San Sebastian, flanked by two angels. All in all, this is one of the most interesting and most beautiful churches in Manila, making up vhat it lacks in antiquity by its artistic attractiveness."

Around 1855, an American observed that people were constantly going in and out of the large steel church, and "floor up to the altar was filled with kneeling devotees," mostly ladies with their "beautiful soft pina veils of white, contrasting with their rich black hair and brunette faces (Ball, 1855).  These ladies probably walked or rode the horse-drawn carriage to the church through uncluttered streets.

Those ladies are gone forever but San Sebastian Church with all its antiquities inside its all-steel shell still reign above the din of the cellphoning crowd and of tricycles and other tranport vehicles.  Thank God, no American Columban priest ever descended here, and just like what he did to the retablo altar of the San Narciso, Zambales Church, obliterated in one bold stroke the beautiful antique altar of this mighty San Sebastian Church. 


Atkinson, Fred W. (1902). Education in the Philippine Islands [Chapter XXIX, Report of the Commissioner of Education for 1900-1901]. Washington: Government Printing Office. Retrieved from 

Ball, Benjamin Lincoln. (1855). Rambles in Eastern Asia, including China and Manilla, with notes of the voyage to China, excursions in Manilla, Hong-Kong, Canton, Shanghai, Ningpoo, Amoy, Fouchow, and Macao, Second edition. Boston: James French and Company. Retrieved  from 

Lyons, Norbert. (1924, February). Manila, the City of Churches II - Outside the Walled City. The American Chamber of Commerce Journal. 4(2):8-11. Retrieved from

Val, Manuel del. (1929, September). The Works of the Recollect Fathers in the Philippines. The Philippine Magazine. 26(4):217, 228, 230, 232. Retrieved from 

Historical Photo Credits: 

Brown, Arthur Judson. (1904). The New Era in the Philippines. Nashville, Tenn. And Dallas, Texas: South Methodist Episcopal Church. Retrieved from 

Church, A. M.[ed.]. (c1898).  Picturesque Cuba, Porto Rico, Hawaii, and the Philippines; a photographic panorama of our new possessions.  Springfield,Ohio: Mast, Crowell & Kirkpatrick.  Retrieved from 

Holmes, Burton. (c1918). Manila. Chicago?:s.n. Retrieved from 

Philippine Commission of Independence. (1923). Beautiful Philippines/A Handbook of General Information). Manila: Bureau of Printing. Retrieved from

Monday, July 19, 2010

Tom's Dixie Kitchen in the Life of Pancho Villa

"A roar of laughter in Tom's Dixie Kitchen, Manila,'' wrote Bill Miller in the January, 1925 issue of The Philippine Republic, "made Pancho a champion of the world."  Miller was formerly with The Manila Daily Bulletin as sporting editor.

The Kitchen's patrons that day--boxing fans, sports writers and businessmen--thought Frank A. Churchill's optimistic and honest statement that  "a Filipino is going to be a world's champion someday" quite ridiculous. But really, "he was positive that the Filipino boxers were far enough advanced to compete with leading American and European ringsters."

Churchill was Pancho Villa's manager.  Around that time, the only Filipino boxer of note was Dencio Cabanela, who, unfortunately, met an untimely death. To Pancho, Cabanela was "The King."

The ridicule spurred Churchill to bring Pancho Villa and Elino Reyes to the United States in 1922.  "Thousands of dollars were spent," Miller wrote, "in bringing over these boys and getting them started in the American ring."  And that was considered something very crazy.

Shortly after, on June 18, 1923, Pancho Villa took the world's flyweight championship crown from Jimmy Wilde's head in New York and became the Philippines first world boxing champion in history.

Frank A. Churchill was vindicated at last.  His wild yet optimistic forecast at Tom's Dixie Kitchen that was ridiculed bore a Filipino champion who would be enshrined in Halls of Fame in the boxing circuit, and whose legend continues to inspire until today.

Tom's Dixie Kitchen outlived Pancho Villa.  The owner, Thomas Pritchard, a Jamaican black man, came to Manila in 1911, married a Filipina and put up the Kitchen after the restaurant where he was chef closed. Pancho passed away on July 14, 1925, and the restaurant did not cease operations until 1941 due to poor business and following a waiters' strike.

According to the American Express guidebook of 1933, “Tom’s Dixie Kitchen is a Manila institution, noted for its excellent food, good orchestra and the fact that it never closes. No matter where you may go you should always end up at Tom’s for some ham and eggs, toast and coffee or any other of the many excellent specialties, before going home. All night and all day, “Tom’s” flourishes and is known all over the Orient.”

When Pritchard died at the age of 81 in 1964, AVH Hartendorp, editor of The Journal of the American Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines recalled:  

"I first knew Tom as the Tom's Dixie Kitchen, which was then a small place along the narrow street, off Plaza Goite, which extends from Rizal Avenue and runs into Echague Street. There was only a lunch-counter and a few small tables, with Tom himself, big, black, and smiling, and also handsome, presiding behind the counter and helping to prepare and serve the delicious southern-style American dishes which brought people into the place. Soon the establishment was enlarged until it occupied about a quarter of the whole block on that side of Plaza Goite. On the other corner was the smaller Plaza Lunch, all white tile, which specialized in short orders, but Tom's was the place to eat more leisurely. 

"The Dixie Kitchen was almost entirely open on two sides and there were a number of large round-tables reserved for special groups,--government officials and members of the Legislature and the Municipal Board, sportsmen and sports-writers, vaudeville actors, businessmen, with newspapermen generally moving from one to another of the tables.

"Plaza Goite, then, was the center of the town, easily reached from anywhere. The Meralco street-car system had a central waiting-station there. Tom's was a place to meet as well as eat and hours were spent there in talk. It was open night and day and theater and concert goers went there after these affairs for something to eat before going to bed. The place was always full of various celebrities, and soldiers off duty and sailors on shore-leave also would drift in, eating large meals. The price of the regular lunch was one peso! Special orders, for beefsteak, etc. came to more, but prices were still reasonable. 

"The place was lively, but always orderly. Torn was almost always there, keeping an eye on the expert cooks and on the scores of waiters, who all were deft and courteous and knew the regulars by name. Tom would sometimes sit down at a table for a while and this was considered a special favor."

While Tom's Dixie Kitchen's habitues probably were boisterous in their celebration of Pancho Villa's victories on the ring, we can also imagine that they seethed with outrage when Pancho Villa was unjustly suspended by the New York Boxing Commission from fighting for eight months in 1924.  We can also see them all--and the nation as well--in great mourning when news that Pancho Villa died a few days after his fight with Jimmy McLarnin in July 1925, and when his remains were interred in the Manila North Cemetery a month later. 


American Express Company. (c1933). Manila and the Philippines.  Manila.  
Retrieved from

Miller, B. (1925, January). How Pancho Villa Rose to Fame. The Philippine Republic. 2(1):16-17. Washington DC.  Retrieved from

Hartendorp, AVH. (1964, August). The “Let Your Hair Down” Column. The American Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines Journal. 40(8):388-389. Manila. Retrieved from

Friday, July 9, 2010

UP Los Banos: farming, food engineering, bees and bananas, community radio, and much more ...

We attended this year's homecoming and reunion organized by the University of the Philippines Alumni Association (UPAA), our first since forty years ago when we graduated with a bachelor's degree in chemical engineering.  Just about a dozen of us Ruby Jubilarians were able to get together, but we had fun remembering our then 'age of Aquarius' and musing if we could be still be around to be honored like the older Golden and Diamond Jubilarians, and there were plenty of them in attendance.

One of this year's recipients of the UPAA's distinguished alumni awards--Dr Rey A Elizondo (BSAE'68)-- happens to be a fraternity brother who we last saw forty-five years ago before he moved from Diliman to Los Banos to finish his agricultural engineering course.   He was given recognition for his achievements in food engineering, an area which he teaches at the California State University and the California State Polytechnic University.  His involvement in the cannery project for the Ukraine to meet international food safety standards earned him the US President's Volunteer Service Award in 2007.

There were three other distinguished alumni from UP Los Banos in the roster of  twenty awardees.  Dr Cleofas P Rodriguez-Cervancia (BSA'68, MS'72, PhD'82) was cited for her achievements in community development through research and extension services.  She's well known in the bee industry. Her name is associated with the UPLB Bee Program, and she has shown through her studies how bees contribute to increasing crop yield and biodiversity of wild plants.

Dr Agustin B Molina, Jr (BSA'73, MS'79), a senior scientist widely known in Asia and the Pacific, was cited for his focus on banana research. He has worked on the control of the most destructive diseases of banana, the conservation, characterization, evaluation and use of the Musa germplasm. and he contributed to the rehabilitation of the lakatan industry in Luzon.

Ruby jubilarian Mr Lucio N Tabing (BSA'70) was recognized for his work in rural community empowerment through broadcast communication.  As a communicator and broadcaster, he has helped and empowered poor Filipinos like the small fishermen of Laguna Lake, farmers and fishermen along the Pampanga River, the Ilongots, the Dumagats and the Aetas in Zambales and Pampanga.  His pioneering community radio 'has changed the lives of local communities, contributing extensively to many aspects of community life such as agriculture, environment, health, livelihood, cultural expression, public service and local governance.'

Their achievements and fields of specialization speak of the evolution of the college of agriculture established by the Americans in 1908, one of the original core of colleges of the University of the Philippines, "primarily for the purpose of furnishing proper higher education and training for farmers in the Philippine Islands (Copeland 1914)."

Back then, more than a century ago, three courses were offered:  "a course of six years to which graduates of the intermediate schools are admitted; a course of four years for high school graduates; and a special course, which does not lead to a degree, of a single year, for the training of teachers of agriculture in the public schools (Copeland)." Its department of forestry trained young men to become forest rangers for the Bureau of Forestry and the successful ones were given additional courses leading to a bachelor of science degree and trained for higher positions in the bureau.

Los Banos town had "one main street with a number of frame houses, besides the regulation nipa houses." There was a little hotel with hot springs, an old building used as a hospital during the Spanish regime that had been converted into a military hospital by the US Army,  and an American store patronized by soldiers. (Boyce 1914)

Copeland wrote that "nearly all of the students live in groups, each occupying a house ... most of these houses are on the campus, some owned by students, some by the Bureau of Forestry and occupied by its pensionados, and some built by a club organized for the purpose."

Around 1914, board was P10 a month, and cost of living was also around that much.  Many students were self-supporting, and "there [were] various opportunities for students to earn their way. The college employ[ed] all students who desire work, at field work at the rate of 10 centavos an hour, so long as the class work of the student [was] satisfactory."  Advance students could earn from P10 to P25 monthly as office, library, laboratory or field assistants; they could also be janitors.  "The most prosperous self-supporting student is probably the one who furnishes music for the Los Banos cinematograph,"Copeland wrote.
Through the years, the cool sprawling campus sprouted with academic buildings for specialized academic disciplines evolving from agriculture and forestry, and with housing units for faculty members and dormitories for students.  The one-main-street town itself has evolved into a commercial hub constantly in flux to meet the housing and supply needs of the continuing stream of UPLB students. 

Certainly, the 2010 distinguished alumni from UPLB had far more convenient and comfortable accommodations off or on campus. More so the students of today.


Boyce, W.D. (1914). The Philippine Islands/Illustrated.  Chicago and New York: Rand McNally and Company.  Retrieved from

Copeland, E.B. (1914, Feb.). The College of Agriculture. The Philippine Craftsman.2(8):609-619. Manila: Bureau of Printing. Retrieved from

UP Alumni Association. (2010). UP 2010: Galingan Pa (Yearbook).

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Remembering those PMT and ROTC days

This picture (c1920) of seminarians in what could be the Holy Rosary Minor Seminary today in Naga City reminds us of our high school PMT--Philippine Military Training--in the early '60s, when we were a cadet officer, and if we remember right, a first lieutenant.

Ours was a private secondary school, not a seminary. We relate to the picture because of the white uniform and the horses.  Our gala uniform was white too, and this we donned during formal events, and we felt great pride in white gala, well-polished black shoes and with shiny swords on a horseback during the town fiesta parade.  It was quite an advantage that we had an uncle who owned and drove a karetela for a living, and fiesta was holiday for his brown horse from his daily grind.  The stallion could not have complained, but could probably have been as proud as the young cadet officer astride his back in the long parade around the town.

PMT became CAT--Citizens Army Training--during the Bagong Lipunan regime of Ferdinand Marcos.  PMT or CAT, both were compulsory military education for junior and senior high school students. We don't exactly remember what topics were lectured to us, but we do remember we carried wooden guns, learned how to put on canvas leggings in lieu of boots, to salute properly, and to march in cadence during the pass-in-reviews. 

Our nephews, now sophomores in the University of the Philippines (UP), never had CAT.  They were just right in high school when the law was passed making it a voluntary course.  They also opted not to take any military science subjects under the CMT (Citizens Military Training) curriculum that replaced ROTC--Reserved Officers Training Course--which we went through for two years in our time.  Some of our friends attended the COCC (Cadet Officers Certification Course), and thus added two more years to their military education. Every male student had to finish at least two years of the course unless there were valid grounds for exemption like being asthmatic or physically handicapped; otherwise, he will not be allowed to graduate from the university.

In 2002, the National Service Training Progran (NSTP) was instituted by law as a response to the clamor for the abolition of ROTC.  Nevertheless, it remained as an option in the NSTP for students to take, if they are inclined to the military; otherwise, they can render literacy training service, or civic welfare service. Mayor Lim of Manila was very dead serious in a recent TV interview that enrollees in the Pamantasan ng Lungsod ng Maynila (PLM) have to take ROTC because he believes it is the best way to instill discipline among the youth.

For us guys who had ROTC every Saturday morning for two years in UP before martial law and the FQS or first quarter storm, our recollection would include the banana-que or turon from the iconic vendors on the Diliman campus during breaktime, the crawl on the marshy sunken garden while enduring the smell of rotten grass and the sting of insects, the pyrotechnics of popping bullets when the vintage '40s quonset hut armory burned one late afternoon, the corp of sponsors who enlivened our marching days when they're around, and the culminating bivouac to La Mesa dam when Commonwealth Avenue was still lined on both sides with madre de cacao and fields of cogon grass. We remember too the swishy gay in our company who would regale us with the latest laughables on campus during turon time--being gay was no excuse to evade the marches, push-ups and fast assembly-disassembly of rifles, and, of course,  our laundrywoman who would deliver our fatigue uniform every Friday afternoon, sometimes still soggy despite the hot ironing it went through.

They did not teach us that ROTC had its beginning in UP way back in 1912 with the Philippine Constabulary doing the military instructions.  Ten years later, the United States designated an American professor of military science and the first ROTC unit was established there.

The National Defense Act or Commonwealth Act No. 1, implemented by Executive Order 207 from President Manuel Quezon in 1939, made ROTC a compulsory course in all universities and colleges with more than a hundred enrollment.

Stories tell us of the heroism of patriotic ROTC boys who died defending our country as members of the United States Armed Forces in the Far East (USAFFE) until the Fall of Bataan in 1942, or who survived the Death March, became guerillas, harassed the Japanese and paved the way for the liberation army of Gen. McArthur in 1945. It took more than sixty years for a handful of them to live and finally receive the recognition and rewards promised them by the USA.

In our case, we can recall a couple or two of our contemporaries who moved to the Philippine Military Academy during our sophomore year, and one of them rose to become Chief of Staff of the AFP during the Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo regime.

We don't know if their 2-year ROTC military science instructions proved valuable, but a few of our friends went to another guerilla war and disappeared forever.