Thursday, August 21, 2008
I was 13 and had just came back from a day of playing ball with some friends in the neighborhood basketball court when I saw my Lolo and Lola huddled with serious looks on their faces around the old Sony, listening intently to the commentator’s pronouncements and unmindful of everything around them.
After the radio announcement, my Lolo could only muttered in his soft voice that, “Marcos is finished.”
The assassination of Benigno S. Aquino, Jr. or Ninoy on August 21, 1983 further stirred my interest in Philippine politics. I decided to know him better and managed to learn more about him-- from the stories and anecdotes passed on by people who were old enough to remember him to the old issues of the Philippine Free Press and other magazines in our possessions at that time.
My uncle who was in the United States would send us photocopies of the San Jose Mercury News and the New York Times as well as betamax tapes of news about the assassination from foreign networks that were not available in the Philippines due to the strict censorship in the country.
When the mosquito press came out, I devoured Malaya and Mr. & Ms. from cover to cover aside from the daily doses of the government- controlled publications like the Bulletin and Daily Express. I also learned in the process that the “Crying Lady” Rebecca Quijano who claimed to have witnessed Ninoy Aquino’s assassination by his soldier- escorts hailed from the neighboring town of Malinao and was my mother’s student at the Saint Agnes Academy in Legaspi City years earlier.
I was well- versed and schooled in politics early in life since I grew up in a political family what with my grandfather having been mayor of the town in the mid- 50’s and one of the leaders of Bicol Saro, the opposition group in the Bicol Region against the Marcos dictatorship. My grandfather was a soft- spoken man and a well- respected political leader because of his principles when politics is not as dirty and shameless as today.
So my taking interest in politics is like fish to water. I was at my grandfather’s side in meetings and other activities during those chaotic days when they were consolidating the opposition in the town and the province. I acted as his errand boy, avid listener and confidante.
I was a witness during the times when he and some well- meaning friends fought the lonely battles against the dictatorship. I was there when he endured the bitter taste of defeat and experienced the sweet taste of victory during that dark period in our nation’s history.
It was 25 long years now and yet I can recall vividly the event that unfurled that fateful day with ease. I can always picture the scene, a scene that although buried in the deep recesses of my mind can be summoned back in an instant. It was one of those scenes that probably will never be erased from one’s memory.
A lot of things have occured since Ninoy's death at the hands of his assassins and we have seen a bevy of characters parade and shamelessly strut their wares right under our noses and are largely responsible for the current state that the Philippines is in--
-rotten, corrupt, unstable and in shambles.
Nowadays, we can only shake our heads as we grapple to find the answer to the question on whether Ninoy is still relevant or not.
The Filipino is worth dying for?
Here's more from the Probe Team--
Benigno S. Aquino Jr, Cory Aquino, Ferdinand Marcos, Imelda Marcos, Ninoy, Philippine History, Philippine Politics
Wednesday, August 20, 2008
I am now officially a nocturnal animal. I’ve never been the early- to- bed type of guy though since I am usually up late at night. I mean really late when it comes to catching those precious winks. My normal bed time is actually between 1-2 early morns. But nowadays I am up until 8- 10 in the morning depending on what’s up on my menu. In another world, you can consider that as early, not late.
For the record I have not ventured outside my hideaway in the daytime and have never felt the sun shine on my skin. For the past two weeks, I was in another world. My sun became the moon and the moon became my sun. And I am positive that it will remain this way in the next several days or so.
I have evolved into a creature of darkness. I am a night owl. No, make that a vampire sans the blood thirst. In my case, my elixir is quite different from these abominable creatures. In my case, you can make that either an ice- cold lager or an equally ice- cold Coca- cola. And throw in some mixed nuts and chips for good measure.
I know I have changed and I am really positive of that. I have no one else to blame but me. I am now like this because of trying to make myself faster, higher and stronger right in the comforts of my couch. Yes, I am a couch potato cum athlete trying my darned best to combat my incurable addiction to the Olympics on TV.
And to emulate Napoleon, I now crown myself as the Lord of Five Rings.
Citius. Altius. Fortius.
Thursday, August 14, 2008
The picture above of Spain’s national basketball team competing in the 2008 Beijing Olympics doing their best “slit- eyed” gestures in a publicity photo for their sponsor is creating a ruckus in the sporting world. The said photo has been regularly running in Spanish newspapers since July and the nosy British newspaper aptly- named the Guardian got wind of it and broke it to the world press.
It’s no big deal though for many Spaniards as can be gleaned from Spanish guard Jose Calderon's statements who just shrugged it off and muttered, “We did it because we thought it was going to be something nice…It is too much of a big deal with you guys and everybody talking about it. “
I am not surprised though since the Spaniards are known for that and history can prove that and we don’t need to look back a hundred years to do just that---
Back in 2004, Thierry Henry, a black Frenchman and one of the best soccer players in the world was the subject of racist slur by Luis Aragones, Spain’s manager when he called one of his players and said something to motivate him against Henry.
"Tell that negro de mierda [black s***] that you are much better than him. Tell him from me. You have to believe in yourself; you're better than that negro de mierda."
Also in 2004, when the English soccer team visited the capital Madrid for some friendly game, the black members heard some whistles and monkey chants from the spectators whenever they got the ball.
And recently when Lewis Hamilton, McLaren’s black Formula One driver came to visit, some fans of his rival Fernando Alonso took it upon themselves to show how they feel about him by painting their faces black while at the same time wearing T-shirts that says “Hamilton’s Family.”
...And that folks answers the origin of the Filipinos penchant for name- calling and our preference to bleach our beautiful brown skin white?
I guess, more than 300+ years of Spanish rule made us like that.
Muy mal! :)
Friday, August 08, 2008
Tomorrow is the start of the three- day Fiesta celebration in my hometown Tiwi in Albay in honor of the town’s Patron Saint, the martyred Saint Lawrence and the Miraculous Our Lady of Salvation, the Patroness of the Diocese of Legaspi. It’s a celebration witnessed and participated upon by various pilgrims from places all over the Bicol region and beyond.
Although I am not that religious anymore and a self- confessed non- practicing Catholic nowadays, I just cannot forget the customs and traditions that have been a part of my growing- up years.
Yes, I still remember my religion class quite well, also being a “Sacristan” when I was a kid helped me a lot in knowing things beyond the four Evangelists. In fact, I still can recite Padre Huestro and Dios Te Salve Maria in a heartbeat.
The Fiesta is usually highlighted by a colorful grand parade through the crowded streets of the town participated by various schools, organizations and local government units and culminating with the traditional exhibitions by the majorettes and drums corps in front of the municipal hall.
I used to participate in this so- called pomp and pageantry Tiwi- style and had my share of funny and amusing anecdotes to last me a lifetime. The funny thing is, I just learned yesterday that my composition is still being used by my high school alma mater in its drum and bugle corps exhibitions. That piece which I accidentally composed while tinkering with the lyre and drums during a lazy afternoon is more than 20 years old now. Ha-ha-ha.
Which brings me to Keisuke's email. He is, by the way, a former Japanese student from Tokyo (now a seasoned JOCV in South America having been posted to Peru and Bolivia for years now) who once stayed with us in Tiwi for a couple of months to immerse in the culture and way of life of the Filipinos and at the same time, study the methods of farming by the locals compared to the Japanese before his graduation back in Japan. But I will talk about him and all the Japanese students who have stayed with us dating back to my childhood in the 70s in a separate post.
Anyway, attached in the email is a short video of the now defunct Coron Festival as the parade of the various portrayals of colorful but historically incorrect characters (but what the heck, let them have their 6+ minutes of fame here) of the Tiwinhons of yore passed by. This was taken in front of our house in 2002, two years before I left town for the United States. Oh yes, my Mom and Madiay (Our selfless Yaya who's been with us since God- knows when) together with another Japanese student, Makiko made a brief cameo in the slide show. I should say, Kei has a sense of humor, too.
I am posting the video here for posterity and nothing else (except of course for the obvious self- indulgence on my part. Got to buy some laugh somehow, you know? ). So, pardon me.
Wednesday, August 06, 2008
Monday, August 04, 2008
Back in 1989 when many of friends were reading Mao, Lenin and Marx, I got hold of a book whose narrative were based mostly on eyewitness accounts as well as the writer’s own experiences as a political prisoner inside the Soviet GULag. GULag by the way is an acronym for "Chief Administration for Corrective Labor Camps" which is the name of the Soviet Union’s concentration camp’s governing board.
The three- volume Arkhipelag GULag or The Gulag Archipelago is such a compelling read and quite an eye- opener especially at that time where all things Russian was either based on hear- say or propaganda. The book which was smuggled in parts out of the Iron Curtain and first published outside of the Soviet Union in 1973 was written by a Russian novelist and historian who was also the recipient of the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1970.
I have only read one other book by the said author which is One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich (although I have August 1914 in my book shelf) but these two thought- provoking masterpieces were enough to convince me of the man’s brilliance as well as admire his dogged determination to defy a God-less and oppressive system that tried but failed to break his spirit and stifle his faith.
Today, the man who exposed the Russian GULag and life under communism in his writings is dead at 89.
December 11, 1918- August 3, 2008