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Love’s Labor Found

Love’s Labor Found August 4, 2019 Eighteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time Luke 12: 13-21 Someone in the crowd said to Je...

Wednesday, February 28, 2007


Come gather 'round knights
Wherever you roam
And admit that corruption
Around you has grown
And accept it that soon
You'll be drenched to the bone.
If your time to you
Is worth savin'
Then you better start swimmin'
Or you'll sink like a stone
For the times they are a-changin'.

Come writers and critics
Who prophesize with your pen
And keep your eyes wide
The chance won't come again
And don't give up too soon
For the wheel's still in spin
And there's no doubt who
That it's namin'.
For the winner now
Will be later to lose
For the times they are a-changin'.

Come knights and ladies
Please heed the call
Don't stand in the doorway
Don't block up the hall
For he that stands still
Will be he who has stalled
There's a battle outside
And it is ragin'.
It'll soon shake your windows
And rattle your walls
For the times they are a-changin'.

Come brothers and sisters
Throughout the world
And don't turn away
you must understand
Your leaders and elders
Have failed you and him
Their old road is rapidly agin'.
Please get out of the new one
If you can't lend your hand
For the times they are a-changin'.

The line it is drawn
The curse it is cast
The slow one now
Will later be last
As the present now
Will later be past
The order is
Rapidly fadin'.
And the first one now
Will later be last
For the times they are a-changin'.

Tuesday, February 27, 2007


Illustrious Brothers in Dr Jose Rizal,

May I please beg your pardon and excuse me for adding a couple of lines more:

All the alleged Paras wrongdoings and the valid accusations raised against him WEIGH much more heavily (not only involving the Europe Region, but entire KOR!) than our need (KOR-Europe) for any regular European Assembly (to borrow the words from Manila, "FUN FUN FUN") coming July 2007!

In this regard, we can do away with planning or participation in any KOR 2007 event or assembly called for by a questionable leadership, where our rights as paying Knights here in Europe are trampled upon left and right by a select few who act more like dictators! than men of goodwill! Our KOR must be a government of laws and not of men! (Chapters may hold their activity/ies, but any event called by Paras, we should disobey, to give Manila a blunt message! until his name is cleared!) There's sufficient time enough, till 24 Mar 2007 to do things properly to clear a name!

Any Knight for that matter, who values the Order and its name, must be concerned more about the disaster such a tainted name a European Commander could cause the organization!, should Knights attend the meeting called in Brussels, 24 Mar 2007, without pre-conditions!

If Quiambao (a lawyer himself?) couldn't/didn't see it, and he (pushed) pushes the issue, (with or without the signature of our esteemed Supreme Commander), he is heavily to blame if this comes to pass! Even Sir Hilario Davide, Jr., a man who knows his law, should understand what Europe is trying to push forward: the laws are there to be followed, not ignored!

If the Manila HQ cannot abide by the KOR Constitution & By-Laws (I please refer to the European meeting near Heidelberg that submitted names of nominees for the Europe Region, per KOR By-Laws) that they rammed through our throats early last year 2006 (remember the pain?), we in Europe should be steadfast and refuse to simply bow to their illegal wishes! We, the members, are the KOR! Democracy comes from the governed. Or are we slaves bowing to tyrants?

If they got away with one violation, who will STOP them from doing another? ...and still another? What for do we have KOR laws, "duly-ratified" by close to 10,000 paying members! that Manila even ignores?

Ergo, Paras' name MUST first be cleared, before anything else (KOR matters)!

This is how it should have been! This is how it should be!

For a Democratic Order
For Pride in the Order
For the Good of the Order

Yours sincerely,

Sir Rizal P. Victoria, KR
Wilhelmsfeld-Heidelberg Chapter

Our KOR must be a government of laws and not of men!

Monday, February 26, 2007


The Roots of the Ilustrado Concept of Autonomy

Jaime B. Veneracion Ph. D.
Professor of History, UP
Visiting Professor, BSU


My paper consists of two parts: the first is a visual presentation of the places in Madrid associated with Rizal and the second, a discussion of the Filipino ilustrado's political notions -- with emphasis on the subject of autonomy.

Rizal's Madrid refers, first of all, to places the national hero frequented with his friends -- his boarding houses, the place of publication of La Solidaridad, places of entertainment and education such as the Ateneo, the Bellas Artes de San Fernando and the University (Colegio de San Carlos), as well as clubs and bars (Los Gabrieles and Viva Madrid) where he whiled his afternoons away. Also within the same district is the Hotel Ingles where he delivered his testimonial to painters Juan Luna and Felix Resurreccion Hidalgo in 1884. These are within walking distance of each other in no more than 500 meters radius. Just across the places of residence is the Cortes, the site of a Filipino manifestation in support of autonomy. A bit farther away is the Parque del Buen Retiro of which we learn from Rizal his wounded sentiment on the exhibition of Filipino natives during the 1887 Philippine Exposition.

The slide presentation is therefore putting in geographic context the development of Rizal's ideas. If we know the crowded atmosphere in most of Spanish lodging houses where Rizal had lived, we can have a sense why he, and the Spaniards themselves, spent time outside -- in bars and cafes and in the Ateneo. Forced to live a social life, political discussions could not have been avoided especially since the Cortes was not far from where they had lived. The Cortes was a site of many manifestations witnessed by the ilustrados. There were also people of other nationalities in this crowded environment, among them the Cubans and Puerto Ricans whose stories of their own struggles had contributed to the refinement of the ilustrado's political thought.

The other Rizal's Madrid is more than the place -- it is the Madrid that developed over time. Beyond the facades of buildings are meanings that gain currency through the experiences of people who had fought or got killed there, or even, of celebrations of events that occurred hundred years before. My own attraction to the subject of autonomy and federalism as a political option for the Philippines is a product of my familiarity to its Spanish practice. In spite of the violence that regularly erupts in the Basque region and in Catalonia, regional autonomy is alive and well in Spain. What the propagandists saw in Spain, the local ilustrados implemented in the Philippines during the Revolution (with the Malolos Constitution) . My aim therefore is to put in historical context the Madrid of Rizal, that which represented to Rizal their political struggles for autonomy. A copy of the petition for autonomy is preserved in the Biblioteca Nacional of Madrid.

Historical Context

The fuero is the key concept in understanding the historical context of autonomy. It originated from the Latin "forum," or a place where issues are discussed. Through the years it became literally "the code of rights and privileges" enjoyed by the citizens of a municipality or a region guaranteed and respected by the government. When the Visigoths occupied Spain in the sixth to the seventh centuries, a two-tiered political system emerged -- a law for the Visigothic community and another law for the natives of Hispania. In other words, the various localities maintained their own practices, codified and respected by the occupying barbarian hordes. The respect accorded by the Visigoths to the local custom was both in recognition of the higher level of civilization already attained by their subject people and a strategy also to easily integrate them into their empire. When the Muslims colonized Spain in the 8th century, they likewise respected the fueros or rights enjoyed by the native residents. The various communities followed their respective fueros.

Spain under the kings never achieved a centralized bureaucracy due to the fueros. The privileges could be cancelled only if there were rebellions against authority. Neither had the fueros been cancelled in the colonies. During the time of King Philip II, various edicts were forwarded to colonial governors enjoining them to respect existing rights. This was the reason why the "sandugo" or "blood compacts" were almost always used to legitimize the colonial occupation. The natives would have to accept the foreigners as "brothers" according to the local custom of "sandugo." In addition, much effort had been exerted by the friars in familiarizing themselves with local laws and custom as shown by the assiduous efforts of Fray Juan de Plasencia (Tagalog and Kapampangan custom law) and Ignacio Alcina (study on the Visayas). To top them all, early on in the Spanish occupation, King Philip II directed the holding of elections where natives would have to elect him as their king. Again, the overall intention was to ensure that the new political arrangement (colonial rule) would be consistent with the local practice.

In the 19th century, the fueros had not been lost on the natives of the Philippines. In a document I discovered at the Philippine National Archives recently, a group of inhabitants along Manila Bay sent in the 1820s a petition to a government official known as the "Protector de los Indios." As some of their "baklads" were being ordered removed by the Admiral of the Cavite fort because these interfered with the operation of the newly-acquired steam-powered vessels of the Navy, the people from Navotas and Malabon invoked the fueros or rights that had been theirs long before the Spanish king exercised sovereignty over the archipelago. The issue was open-ended since I could not find the continuation of the document explaining how it was resolved. But what it proved was that the concept of local rights which the colonizers ought to respect did not die with the defeat of Soliman and Lacandula in 1571.

In Spain itself, the fueros as community or regional rights had been made even more intense with the institution of the Cadiz Constitution of 1814. Through this basic law, the monarchy was forever relegated to obsolescence, such that even if it continued as an institution, it had to accept a new construct of a constitutional monarchy. Through the various changes of regimes, what did not change was the recognition of regional rights in the tradition of the fueros.

What the Propagandists were fighting for

At the Biblioteca Nacional in Madrid is found the document presented at the Cortes which forwarded the demand for a representation from the colony. This was made in the light of the constitutional provisions that recognized both Cuba and Puerto Rico as belonging to the Spanish nation yet excludes the Philippines on the ground that its level of development was much lower than the two. As written in the Spanish Constitution of 1871 which retained many provisions of the 1869 Constitution, we read the following:

Art. 1. Componen la nacion española los Estados de Andalucia Alta, Andalucia Baja, Aragon, Asturias, Baleares, Canarias, Castilla la Nueva, Castilla la Vieja, Cataluña, Cuba, Extremadura, Galicia, Murcia, Navarra, Puerto Rico, Valencia, Regiones Vascongadas. Los Estados podran conservar las actuales provincias o modificarlas, segun sus necesidades territoriales.

Art. 2. Las islas Filipinas, Fernando Poo, A nnobon, Corisco y los establicimientos de Africa componen territorios que, a medida de sus progresos, se elevaran a Estados por los poderes publicos.

Art. 42. La soberania reside en todos los ciudadanos, y se ejerce en representacion suya por los organismos politicos de la republica constituida por medio del sufragio universal.

Art. 43. Estos organismos son: el municipio, el Estado regional, el Estado federal o nacion.

Art. 45. El poder de la Federacion se divide en poder legislativo, poder ejecutivo, poder judicial y poder de relacion entre estos poderes [ejercidos, respectivamente, por las Cortes, ministros, jurados y jueces y presidente de la republica: art. 46-49].

[Art. 50-70. las Cortes se componen de dos cuerpos colegisladores: Congreso y Senado.]

Inspite of the change in government with the collapse of the Republic and the beginning of the Restauracion in 1874, these provisions continued in the next twenty years, or up to the Philippine Revolution of 1896. That this fact is not alien to the ilustrado consciousness can be seen in the writings of Rizal, in his "Filipinas dentro de cien años" and in Marcelo H. del Pilar's political comments on the Constitution of 1871. The almost pathetic struggle of Pedro Paterno to discover a Tagalog civilization complemented by the more scholarly works of Isabelo de los Reyes and Mariano Ponce may be understood also as the ilustrado's way of contradicting the accusation that the Indios were not ready yet for self-government.

Rizal's reaction to the Exposicion Filipinas of 1887 was instructive of the ilustrado perception of their nation and nationality. On the one hand, they were angry that the natives of the Philippines were exhibited as if they were animals in a zoo. One of those exhibited in scanty clothing or in bahag in the cold of winter died which made Rizal angrier and so provoked him as to despise the so-called Spanish civilization. Yet while sympathetic to the plight of the tribal peoples at the exhibition, most of the ilustrados did not think that those exhibited could represent the level of Filipino civilization.

At an artistic level, the relationship with Spain was pictured in the paintings of Juan Luna and Felix Resurreccion Hidalgo. The "Pacto de Sangre" or blood compact between Legazpi and Sikatuna recalls a time when Castilla and Filipinas were co-equal as siblings under the aegis of a common ruler. That this consanguinity would evaporate was shown to be a working of monastic forces, whose greed for land and money rendered Filipinas to abject poverty and misery. In a metaphorical way, the suffering of Filipinas was pictured as one of those gladiators in the Roman coloseum, in the award winning painting known as the "Spoliarium. " The symbolism of the purity of Filipinas as a woman but deprived of dignity by powerful persons was continued in a painting of Resurreccion Hidalgo in his "Las Virgenes Christianas Expuesta al Populacho." Yet not everything was lost. In another painting by Luna, the doting mother Spain was shown leading daughter Filipinas by the hand towards the light of progress.

We have here all the elements constituting the ilustrado perception of what the Philippines should be vis-a-vis Spain. As in all other "estados" of Spain, as mentioned in their constitution, there was a demand for the recognition of fueros, or the rights and privileges already there upon Spanish occupation. Nor was this an individual effort of Juan Luna and Felix Resurreccion Hidalgo. Rizal was the model for Sikatuna while Pardo de Tavera served as model for Legazpi in the "Pacto de Sangre." Even in the case of the "Spoliarium, " the Rizal connection could be established with the admission by our national hero that he wanted to write a book on Philippine history to be entitled the "Spoliarium. " The Filipino womanhood whom some Spanish writers had described as of "easy virtue, by nature debased" was already a cause for the Filipino colony to provoke these writers into duels. W.E. Retana who wrote one such piece was so provoked, insulted in public and pushed but unfortunately, did not take the challenge.

The Hope for Victory

The question of separation or assimilation was highlighted in the conflict for leadership of the Filipinos in Madrid between Rizal and Del Pilar. In justifying the election of Rizal, his supporters advanced the idea that he was "more radical and more straightforward in approach and in his ideas; he was one hundred per cent separatist." On the other hand, Del Pilar was thought of as "a moderate and a partisan of assimilation. " But the differences between the two was perhaps exaggerated by their supporters and antagonists. In reality, both separatism and assimilation at that time could have been an option within the same pardigm. They were nuances within the same political situation in Madrid which provided them the luxury to think of these as possibilities.

During the period of "Restauracion" of the monarchy after the collapse of the Republic beginning 1874, the constitutional impasse of highly politicized parties had been broken through an arrangement known as "turnismo." The two leading parties (Canovas del Castillo's Partido Conservador and Praxedes Mateo Sagasta's Partido Liberal) would take turn running the government. The arrangement would prevent the instability that had been the hallmark of the political situation since the Liberal Revolution (in Cadiz) of 1812-1814. Indeed, the politics of accommodation and negotiation that followed made possible the relative quiet in Spain which Rizal and the ilustrados experienced while they were there.

Both federalism and regional autonomy (contained in the Spanish Constitution) provided the model upon which the ilustrados could frame their ideas. Under a system of federalism, the estados freely chose to become part of the federation. But having said that, it also had the right to secede since a federation presumed a commonality of interest. Of course, separation was not an easy option since the power of the State to protect itself from whimsical parochialism had been anticipated with the deployment of a national army and reenforced by a strong tradition of loyalty to the monarch. Even if some ilustrados held the illusion of eventually being assimilated to Spain, this was not very different from the separatism advocated by the Rizalistas. Again, under the system prevailing in Spain at that time (which, by the way, continues up to now), the various autonomous regions were not obliged to follow the national culture. This had been the reason why each region could have its own language, literature, and customs or even local laws. Assimilation, unless understood in a very broad sense, was therefore a meaningless jargon that carried no meaning in Spain then and now.

The real issue then, could have been revolution versus autonomy. At the time of the Rizal-Del Pilar conflict, there were those among them already toying with the idea of revolution. But even after a successful secession from the mother country, they still framed their ideas within the liberal tradition of Spain. This could be seen in the constitution that they would construct in Malolos in 1898 -- which, though unitary and with no provision for a constitutional monarch, was nevertheless aware of the necessity to uphold autonomy at the local level. Fearful of dictatorial and militarist rule, it gave more power to the Legislature (whose members were elected at the local level) than the President and his Executive department (with its presumed centralizing role).


The image of Mother Spain leading Filipinas towards the light of progress was adopted by Andres Bonifacio and the Katipunan in visualizing the struggle. Like Del Pilar and Herminigildo Flores before who made Filipinas plead for her rights with Mother Spain, Bonifacio metaphorized the daughter saying goodbye. But to Bonifacio, Spain was a false mother; Filipinas was the real mother, the Inang Bayan, for whose defense of honor, the "mga Anak ng Bayan" were ready to die. This means that the question of autonomy or revolution was a theme that both the ilustrados and the Katipunan explored, the subject of a dialogue of their generation. Assimilation, autonomy, separatism and revolution belonged to one spectrum of resistance by the colonial peoples of that time.


Miguel Rodriguez Berriz, Diccionario de la Administracion de Filipinas. Anuario de 1888 (Manila: Imp. y Lit. de M. Perez, hijo, San Jacinto 30, Binondo, 1888)

PNA, "Pesquerias, " petition to the "Protector de los Indios," 1823-1830.

Filipinas en las Cortes. Discursos pronunciados en el Congreso de los Diputados sobre la representacion parliamentaria del archiepelago Filipino (Madrid: Imp. Jaramillo, 1890), 56 pages under signatura CV 1853/14.

Estrella Cardiel Sanz, et. al., Historia (de España) ( Madrid: Editorial Editex, S.A., 2001), pp. 128-129.

La Solidaridad, vol. I , Translated by Guadalupe Fores-Ganzon (Q.C.: UP Press, 1973), p. 587.

"Spoliarium" is the main attraction of the National Museum gallery at P. Burgos Avenue, Manila.

"Las Virgenes..." is at the main gallery of the Central Bank's Metropolitan Museum, Roxas Blvd., Manila.

A replica of the Juan Luna painting is exhibited at the Philippine Embassy in Madrid.
As noted by John Schumacher, The Propaganda Movement.

Encarnacion Alzona, Galicano Apacible. Profile of a Filipino Patriot (Manila: National Historical Institute, 1971 first edition), pp. 26-29.

Alzona, Ibid., p. 31.

Rafael Palma, The Pride of the Malay Race. Trans by Roman Ozaeta (New York: Prentice-Hall, Inc., 1949), pp. 74ff. Quoted by Teodoro A. Agoncillo, "Rizal and the Philippine Revolution," in Patricia Melendrez-Cruz, et. al. eds., Himalay. Kalipunan ng mga Pag-aaral kay Jose Rizal (Manila: Cultural Center of the Philippines, 1991), pp. 280-284.

Bienvenido Lumbera, Tagalog Poetry, 1570-1898 (Q.C.: Ateneo de Manila University Press, 1986), pp. 143-148.

Thursday, February 22, 2007


One Group, One Celebration
(A satire by Sir Rene Calalang, KCR)

This was once a very popular organization. Whenever they had a gathering, there was always a major press coverage from different newspapers and magazines.

The president of this organization was Mr. Pah See Khat – a wealthy businessman. It was a well known fact that he was bribing the writers, reporters and photographers from different newspapers and magazines in order to get good media mileage for the association’s activities.

It was also a well known fact that the president was using the association for his personal glory – which he needed for his business.

They just celebrated our Independence Day. It was a joyous, well attended celebration. The hall was brightly lighted with lights of different colours - which also served as decorations. Pictures of our heroes, past and present, were hung on all four walls. A very popular band provided the music for all ages. The guests were in competition as to who were the best dancers, the best dressed and who wore the most jewelry.

The leaders of this group were very fond of awards and medals. All kinds of medals were displayed on their chests. Looking at them, they have more medals than General Douglas McArthur was ever seen wearing in any kind of function – big or small. (In the many pictures I have seen, regardless of the size of the event, I never saw General McArthur wore all his medals).

Unexpectedly, a prominent leader of a powerful political party arrived – even without an invitation. It could be said that he was here because election is fast approaching and he needed the support of the voters.

The leader politician knew our many weaknesses. He brought with him a hired sexy actress (popular politician plus a sexy actress – this is a very potent combination to attract the attention of many of our people). Also with him was a hired press photographer.

A big crowd gave them a big, rousing welcome. Many pushed and elbowed each other in order to shake the hands of the unexpected visitors. Many also shoved and nudged each other in order to be included in the pictures being shot by the paid press photographer - whenever the politician was shaking hands or being mobbed by the crowds.

There were two guests who were seated on the table close to the stage who were not bothered by the commotion. They were Diego, the Nosy; and Ambo, the Philosopher.

“Here we go again,” said Ambo, the Philosopher.

“What do you mean?” asked Diego, the Nosy.

“A sexy actress and a known politician just came and we all got confused,” continued Ambo, the Philosopher.”

“I agree,” said Diego, the Nosy.

“We never change.”

“What a shame.”

The president and one of the vice presidents of the association who were sitting on the centre of the head table stood up and gave their chairs to the unexpected guests. Others in the executive were very confused as they don’t know what to serve them.

The prominent politician was looking around. The president knew he was looking for somebody to talk to.

The president approached the politician. In a corner, they conferred with each other and talked very softly. They split up and the president called the other members of the executive.

“Sir is in a hurry. He won’t be here very long,” the president said to his fellow executives.


“He said, he has other appointments.”

“We have to change our schedule in order to accommodate him,” one member of the executives suggested.

“You are right,” agreed the president.

The leader politician was not originally included in the program. But he was a well known politician; and therefore, must speak. He was inserted in the program.

The speech of the impromptu guest speaker was one to be admired. He praised our greatness. He reminded the audience that we have to sustain and defend our independence - with our lives, if necessary (if we are really free). He reminded everyone that "we have to continue what we are doing, so that our country will continue to prosper" – even if in truth we are being left behind by our neighboring countries and that we are sinking deeper into the helpless world of poverty.

The politician concluded his speech by shouting “MABUHAY” in English accent. The crowd stood up and gave him a rousing ovation.

What happened didn’t not escape the attention of Ambo, the Philosopher and Diego, the Nosy.

“Many among us got so excited when in front of prominent people, or famous actors and actresses. But think about it, they don’t even know us. Instead, the politicians should be approaching us because they needed our votes. The actors and actresses should thank us because we are the one who pay for them by watching their movies and shows. Without us, they will neither be rich nor famous."

“Tell me about it. You got good reasons.”

“Not only that I am rationale, but I know I am right. Me, do you see me get excited because of them ? No way. Even if they go to my place, whatever food I have, that’s what they will eat. Whatever drink I have, that’s what they will drink. I am not a fool who will borrow money or work rigorously just to make them happy. And when we are finished serving them, do you think they will still remember us? I am not so sure."

“I really admire your reasoning.”

There was a part in the program where awards will be given to some selected guests. The awards were supposed to be presented by a hardworking civic leader.

Once again the leaders consulted each other.

“Maybe we should change this part of the program,” the president suggested.

“Why?” one of the member of the executive asked.

“It’s a shame if we don’t give the actress a role in the program.”

“What do you suggest?”

“Let’s make her the presenter.”

The other members of the executives looked at each other. They nodded their heads in agreement. “We agree with you”, said one the vice presidents

The part of the program where awards were supposed to be given came. The hardworking civic leader lost his role. There was a loud ovation when the actress was introduced as the presenter. Some male audience whistled loudly when the sexy actress stood up and walked towards the stage, who deliberately walked sexier.

In a moment, everybody was on the stage. The emcee called the awardees one by one. Each and everyone happily accepted his or her award.

The last award presentation attracted plenty of attention as it was very different from the rest because of the size of the trophy, which was much bigger and the “Certificate of Recognition” that accompanied it.

“Who is he?” asked Ambo, the Philosopher.

“He is the son of one of the vice presidents.

“What is the award for?”

“Education award.”

“What did he accomplish?”

“He graduated from college.”

“He just finished college and he was given that big award. How about those who graduated from university and were on the dean’s list.”

“It’s too bad for them because they don’t know anybody and have no connection in this association.”

The president announced that there will be a group picture taking.

Ambo, the Philosopher was amazed because of the big number of executives.

They were now in front of the stage. Positioned in the centre are the president, the leader politician and the sexy actress. The presence of the three made those besides them noticeable.

“Who is he?” asked Ambo, the Philosopher - while pointing to a man who was wearing an expensive Barong Tagalog.

“He is the president of this association,” answered Diego, the Nosy.

“Who is he?” again, asked Ambo, the Philosopher - while pointing to a man who was always staying close to the president.

“Ah, him. He is the first vice president. His name is Mr. Yah Bang.”

“What does he do in the association?”

“Nothing. If there is a picture taking, he is always positioned at the back of the president.”

“Who is he?” again, asked Ambo, the Philosopher- while pointing to another man who was besides the president.”

“Ah, him. He is the second vice president. His name is Mr. Bang Yah.”

“What does he do in the association?”

“Nothing. If there is a picture taking, he is always positioned at the right side of the president.”

“Who is he?” again, asked Ambo, the Philosopher - while pointing to another man who is on the other side of the president.”

“Ah, him. He is the third vice president. His name is Mr. Bang Hay.”

“What does he do in the association?”

“Nothing. If there is a picture taking, he is always positioned at the left side of the president.”

There was a group who seemed to be hesitant in joining the picture taking. There were ten in the group and they were being persuaded to join the picture taking. They finally joined. They positioned themselves at the back. The few who were not very tall were asked to sit in the front; but they insisted to be in the back, even though they could hardly be seen.

“Who are they?” again, asked Ambo, the Philosopher.

“Ah, them. They are the volunteers. They are those who, when working just keep on working. But more often than not they are not included in the pictures. They are those who never complain when working. They are happy when the work is done and the affair is successful.”

“This kind of people must have a difficult life.”

“Not really, because they are happy. They are what we call “The Unsung Heroes.”

What happened in tonight's affair happened again in future events. And again. Again and again. The volunteers tonight are now tired. Their number became less and less until everyone was gone.

What’s left now are the many members of the executive body - who do nothing. Slowly, and in time, the organization started to disappear.

The public wonders why such an organization which not too long ago was a symbol of success, died out like a bubble. . .




Music video of Filipina singer Sylvia la Torre's song, "Madaling Araw" (Early Morning), with clips from Raya Martin's film, "Maicling Pelikula ng Ysang Indio Nacional" (A Short Film About the Indio Nacional) ... (more)

Wednesday, February 21, 2007


Where Are Travelers Heading In 2007?

By Katherine Tom, Senior Editor, Yahoo! Travel
December 20, 2006

Curious where travelers are headed in the coming year? We took a look at the most popular searches on Yahoo! FareChase to see which cities folks are flocking to in 2007. On the domestic list, perennial travel favorite Las Vegas shows no signs of ceding the top spot, while sunny Florida dominates the rest of the list, with five out of the top 10 searches.

We did note a few surprises on the international list, including the appearance of Frankfurt and Manila in the top 5. Visitors rave about Frankfurt's shopping and architecture, while Manila attracts budget travelers looking for beaches and nightlife. Of course, more traditional travel destinations like Paris and Rome made the list as well, placing at 7th and 8th respectively.

Top International Travel Searches - 2007

1. London, United Kingdom
2. Cancun, Mexico
3. Frankfurt, Germany
4. San Juan, Puerto Rico
5. Manila, Philippines
6. Bangkok, Thailand
7. Paris, France
8. Rome, Italy
9. Puerto Vallarta, Mexico
10. Amsterdam, Netherlands

Tuesday, February 20, 2007


An engineer dies and reports to the Pearly Gates. St. Peter checks his dossier and says: "Ah, you're an engineer, but you worked for a high-tech startup company and got rich. You've had too good of a life, so now you can't come in here."

So the engineer reports to the gates of hell and is let in. Pretty soon, the engineer is dissatisfied with the level of comfort in hell, and starts designing and building improvements.

After a while, they've got air conditioning and flush toilets and escalators. The computers are all upgraded and there are speaker wires running to every room. Even the clocks on the VCRs are set. The engineer becomes a pretty popular guy.

One day God calls up Satan on the telephone and says with a sneer, "So, how's it going down there in hell?"

Satan replies, "Hey, things are going great. We've got air conditioning and flush toilets and escalators. The computers are faster than ever and we've got music in every room. There's no telling what this engineer is going to come up with next."

God replies, "What? You've got an engineer? That's a mistake, he should never have gotten down there! Send him back up here, now."

Satan shouts back, "No way! I like having an engineer on the staff, and I'm keeping him."

God says, "Send him back up here or I'll sue."

Satan laughs uproariously and answers, "Yeah, right... and just where are YOU going to find a lawyer?"


Isang paalala. ...sa ating Pilipino ang mga Bayani na nag buwis ng kanilng buhay para sa ating tinatamong kalayaan ngayon...

Monday, February 19, 2007


Dear Mr. Nollas,

Congratulations for writing a rather commendable testimonial to the researcher-author-publisher in the preface of the manuscript entitled “Born to be a hero.” I wonder if you are still expecting special favors from him just in the event you’d be stripped off of your “diplomatic immunity” that you have intentionally omitted some particular details of his biography in order to safeguard his image as a successful entrepreneur. As a highly esteemed and responsible functionary at the Philippine Embassy, however, this would likely compromise your integrity and credibility considering the sensitive nature of your position which could subsequently jeopardize the security of the embassy that you grant special preferences and favors to third parties. You must be well aware that this kind of treatment on your own personal initiative is tantamount to professional irregularities that could even be worse than nepotism or corruption. Anyway, who cares if the authorities would finally come to know about it? Perhaps they might even promote you or give you a medal instead of an honorable discharge. Nevertheless, don’t worry and be happy! Just leave everything to Lino to get you out of trouble because he doesn’t only have a very long arm to ingratiate himself easily for a favor or two but he also has an unorthodox modus operandi to have his way around with the authorities.

First of all, you have overlooked to mention about his humble origin as a domestic worker of a former Belgian diplomat, a rich Baron living in the Castle of Kortrijk who had sent for him instead of having him sponsored, when he first arrived to Brussels, thanks to his first wife of course. Somehow, this is the dark and sensitive part of his life that he is neither too keen nor too enthusiastic to talk about in order to enhance his enviable position and save his impeccable image of respectability and success as a self-made man to the eyes of his fellow knights and peers. As a matter of fact, one of his former female boarders named Bette had confided me about a dramatic incident immediately after it happened wherein he slapped her very hard across the face after she told him off in the presence of friends and guests that he was already a domestic back home. Incidentally, this showdown took place as a result of their heated altercation following her complaint that she couldn’t sleep from the uproar and pandemonium that they created intermittently during their mahjong and other gambling sessions which went on non-stop far beyond the unholy hours of the morning and even continued the following day.

I’m so surprised that you only made reference to his masters at ULB which I doubt strongly of its existence and veracity. You know in any European universities or institutions of higher learning, anyone could attend courses as an “auditeur libre” without even being enrolled officially. Perhaps, what he really meant by following courses was when he attended some lectures in between his breaks while he did a part time job of cleaning the rooms and toilets after classes. I believe what’s more important and essential to the readers in general would be to know something about his educational qualification and performance while he was in the Philippines and what he had really accomplished to uphold and promote ideals and teachings of Rizal, as a die-hard follower or fanatic.

With regards to his presumption of being a writer in connection to his speaking and writing expertise, there could be a question that would possibly arise about his educational background as to whether or not he really finished his secondary or university studies just in case he should be subjected to undergo a formal proficiency examination under the supervision of a panel of language experts. Should he pass it with flying colors, this would clear him once and for all from any doubts or speculations about his integrity.

When we’re still intimate and best of friends, I remember pretty well that he was long-time employed by an important local outsourcing security firm, Securitas, as a guard stationed in the compounds of the BBL. This doesn’t mean that he was officially connected to or employed in the bank as a member of the staff or personnel, isn’t he? Please check your records carefully.

What an eloquent tribute you have written on him by citing his membership to different organizations, such as the Belgian Chamber on Philippine Economic Relationship, the Belgian-Philippine Chamber of Commerce, the Philippine Tourism Promotion Office in the Benelux, etc. Incidentally, what was his significant role and personal contribution to the development and enhancement of the Philippine economy and tourism? By the way, what frequency range is the DZXL-RMN Belgium online "Bantay OCW" where it everybody interested could tune to eventually? Does the word “online” mean that it has to be downloaded from the Internet or is it one of his make-believe creations that could only be heard within the confines of his kitchen or bathroom?

Speaking of the Philippine Sports Community of Brussels (PSC), everyone knows that he still monopolizes it as the absolute “supremo” and the ultimate policy maker which he created in the 70’s and have himself unilaterally appointed as “president-for-life.” It’s surprising that ever since its creation he has hardly taken any effort or initiative to build up second generation Filipinos to become athletes of international caliber, instead he still uses it as his personal platform for his favorite “pissing” contests where he would always come out as the undisputed winner. I remember how all of his followers and those from the embassy who were intimate with him had granted the most-favored treatment to his sons to rank them as first and second in their family-sponsored tennis tournament finals at the expense of other players who performed better as a gesture of gratitude for his hospitality and generosity. If only he had been too clever to get somebody with the caliber of Justine Henin-Hardenne’s coach who wasn’t even a former champion and practically unknown on the international tennis circuit to train them for peanuts, he’d be mighty proud of himself to have turned them into world champions, like Venus and Serena Williams!

However, through his affiliation and connections with the Benelux Filipino Sports Federation (BFSF), why hasn't he considered to send second-generation Filipinos to any of the local sports organizations that would give them a chance to undergo serious and professional training so that they could participate and compete in any international or Olympic tournaments? What a waste of time that he had never thought seriously of taking advantage of the opportunities that his association could easily avail of from the innumerable possibilities offered by the sophisticated high-tech facilities and infrastructure that are locally available for all-round sport activities. Through all the years under his presidency-for-life, he could have had at least accomplished something worthwhile on a professional level that would have put his name and country on the limelight to have produced an athlete or two that could be a testimony to his everlasting glory, n'est-ce pas?

As to the question of money for the formation and training of athletes, I think they could easily get the necessary funding from the membership fees, sponsor donations and profits from the sports award events that are held every year. In return, they could get back several folds from their initial investment if it turns out that their athlete would be worth as much as the South American players, like Ronaldo, Ronaldinho, Maradona, Pele, etc. I wonder where all those money have gone? Is there’s any transparency in the accounting and auditing procedures of the funds of the sports association. In fairness to the members and sponsors, I believe they’re obliged to post their balance sheet and financial statement on a blog or a web site so that everybody could trace where and how every cent is spent and disbursed.

Modesty aside, if I were a lovely young, talented lady with a college diploma and a civil service qualification, I wouldn’t be too stupid or dumb to marry somebody who could be as old as my grandfather just to “join the navy and see the world!” With such a superbly high-sounding credential, I’d rather be too wise and ambitious to look for a very old Texan millionaire instead, like the one in the sensational case of a popular girlie magazine centerfold model who became filthy rich only after a year of marriage than to sacrifice my exotic charm and hard-earned degree only to be coped up in a pigeon-hole apartment somewhere in a heavily North African immigrant area of the city raising kids until I’d become an old tart and contemplating on what a fabulous and glamorous life I could have had elsewhere otherwise! For your information, there were 946 graduates of Foreign Service alone in Lyceum that was officially communicated to me by its dean when I paid her a courtesy call in March 2002. How do you expect to get them all employed at the Foreign Office or elsewhere? Their only hope would be to follow the usual OFW routes to get any unskilled jobs available anywhere or the last but not the least as an alternative out of desperation, the easy way out to opt for the “vagina visa” as an immediate and rapid exit from the ever-growing poverty and misery in the country!

Financial assistance and job placements didn’t come at all free for Lino, but at a high price with an endless of strings attached, of course! According to his own philosophy on charity and hospitality, nothing is gained from nothing that mustn’t be paid in cash or in kind. What more, he would fully expect a lifetime gratitude and loyalty from those who are indebted to him so that he could manipulate or alienate them on his terms and at his own advantage because he would never hesitate to denigrate them by telling them off that if it weren’t for him they’d be back to the “salt mine” breaking rocks for a miserable existence. How very immoral and pathetic!

As I seem to admire your style of writing as compared to enclosed short note of Lino, I believe Mr. Nollas that you could have had taken all the credits and responsibilities in the preparation and compilation of the manuscript. Perhaps you thought you’re too clever and shrewd enough to anticipate cunningly that when an official case of “breach of copyright” should ever be filed against him, you could easily “wash your hands clean and get away so fast” in order to free yourself from any involvement or connection thus leaving him bear the cross all by himself and face any possible consequences that would befall on him in due course. Don’t be too over confident, because if he falls, you’re sure to fall faster than him with both his feet on your head in the end down in a stinking cesspool!

Yours very cordially,

----- Original Message -----

From: Lino Paras <psc.paras@skynet.be>
Sent: Monday, June 11, 2001 1:21 PM
Subject: Anong sarap ng buhay, hindi ba Abe?

Thank very much for your messages, I hope that you will recover completely.
Sorry I wan’t able to answer you promptly, due to the hectic schedules of my responsibilities.
I was in Orlando, Florida, U.S.A last month to received the second highest award of the Knights Grand Officer of Rizal, and last week the Supreme Council, Manila, send me to Litomerice, Czech Republic to attend the unveiling of the bust of Professor Ferdinand Blumentritt(friend of Dr. Jose Rizal).
I will be in Manila next month to accompanied Belgian businessman and to promote Tourism in our country. You see my friend, I never forget you, you are one of my best friends and considered you as a brother. With the passing away of my wife I really need to be active, otherwise, mapapadali ang pagsunod natin kung saan man siya ngayon.
Warmest regards,

Heliodoro B. Fiel II plays Mozart Piano Concerto No. 9

Sunday, February 18, 2007


In the Beautiful East
by Dr. Jose P. Rizal
(English translation by Prof. E. Cabanban)

Where the joyful sun rises
Lies a land abundant and full of beauty
That is oppressed by a proud character
From which we long to be free.

Where the joyful sun rises
Lies a land abundant and full of beauty
Whatever suffering I must endure
My only treasure is my country,
the land that I love.

To be parted from her is such pain
Wanting in joy and in love as well
The sun is dim, the sky is in sorrow
What a pity to die without seeing you.

"Ang nagmamarunog na walang alam,
ang natatamo'y kahihiyan."
-Kasabihang Tagalog-

Thanks through the kind courtesy of Ian R. Andres.

Saturday, February 17, 2007


Filipinos in the U.S.: 'Where Are You from? When Are You Going Back?'

We live in a racist society, a racial formation called "the United States of America" where - and this is not news anymore at this late day - people of color suffer daily from racial, national, and class oppression.
By E. SAN JUAN, Jr.Bulatlat

[This essay is a revised version of a lecture delivered at the University of Colorado, Boulder, on 26 April 1992. Despite the passage of over a decade, the thrust of its message remains central to the understanding of the neocolonial situation of the Filipino diaspora. The crisis in fact has worsened since Bulosan, Philip Vera Cruz, and the generation of Manongs were stigmatized in the McCarthyist reaction of the Cold War era.

After 9/11 and the USA Patriot Act, Filipinos have been racially profiled and targetted as putative "terrorists. " A distinct Filipino nationality has been invented by 9/11 right-wing patriotism.

Given the deliberate manipulation by the Bush administration of the CIA-created Abu Sayyaf as part of international terrorism (cynically linking it with the Communist Party of the Philippines and the New People's Army) and the subservience of the Arroyo regime to Washington's marching orders, Filipinos in the U.S. have suffered tremendously: witness the planeloads of Filipinos summarily deported every time the need arises to pressure Arroyo and the military to submit to U.S. demands. Recall the U.S. threat to deport over a hundred thousand Filipinos after the Angelo de la Cruz release led to the withdrawal of Filipino troops from Iraq.

Despite the publicity given to General Taguba, Lea Salonga, and assimilated colonials, white racial supremacy and its accompanying institutionalized violence persist in categorizing Filipinos as subaltern subjects fit for serving the needs of a new pax Americana. Only an anti-imperialist, national-democratic struggle in the Philippines, not a reformist antiglobalization campaign of "civil-society" NGOs led by careerist intellectuals, can counter the new, more vicious racialization of Filipinos within a hegemonic protofascist regime that now prevails in the U.S.

A united front of all the internally colonized peoples of color opposed to the Homeland Security State, together with all oppressed classes, can serve to reinforce the worldwide resistance to this new "civilizing mission" of postmodern barbarians in the metropolis. The strategy of persevering in completing our unfinished 1896 revolution begun by Andres Bonifacio and Jose Rizal can guide us toward a world free from class exploitation and racial oppression.]

We live in a racist society, a racial formation called "the United States of America" where--and this is not news anymore at this late day--people of color suffer daily from racial, national, and class oppression. And in the same breath we Filipinos, together with others, struggle daily to survive and affirm our human dignity. Jamil Abdullah Al-Amin (formerly H. Rap Brown) stated in 1987 that in the United States "racism is the state religion.... Racism is to America what Catholicism is to the Vatican. Racism is the religion, and violence is its liturgy to carry it out" (Time, Feb. 2, 1987).

Signs of the times--like Willie Horton and Rodney King, not to mention thousands of everyday incidents in university campuses and urban battlegrounds like Bensonhurst, Miami, Milwaukee, Detroit, and recently Los Angeles where the unprecedented rebellion sent tremors to the boardrooms of the ruling class; and in places where hatred of Asians and Arabs is peaking--all these indicate that Al-Amin's observation, instead of being rendered obsolete, is being confirmed in ways that might still frighten some and in other ways that paradoxically elicit the homage of its victims.

Transported but Not Transplanted

By the year 2000 the Filipino body count will surpass the two million mark. We are rapidly becoming the majority (21% of the total) of the Asian American population of nearly 10 million. [As of 2005, the Filipino population in the U.S. will easily exceed three million, the largest of the Asian American contingent of 12 million.] More than half a million (664,938 to be exact) entered the country between 1965 and 1984. This third (even fourth) wave of immigration comprise mostly professionals and technical personnel, unlike their predecessors, the farmworkers of Hawaii and California and Alaskan cannery hands memorialized in Carlos Bulosan's America Is in the Heart (1948).

Over 170,000 Filipinos enter the country legally every year. This doesn't include about 25,000 Filipinos serving in the U.S. Navy (chiefly as stewards and mess boys), a number more than those serving in the Philippine Navy itself--an anomalous phenomenon where Filipino citizens function as mercenaries eager to serve their former colonial master.

Because of this demographic change and other reasons, it is perhaps the opportune time to assert our autonomy from the sweep of the categorizing rubric of "Asian American" even as we continue to unite with other Asians in coalitions for conjunctural political demands. There is a specific reason why the Filipino nationality in the U.S. (even though the majority of U.S. citizens are still unable to distinguish us from the Asian Others) needs to confront its own singular destiny as a dislocated and "transported" (in more ways than one) people: that reason is of course the fact that the Philippines was a colony of the United States for over half a century and persists up to now as a neocolony of the occupying nation-state in whose territory we find ourselves today.

The reality of U.S. colonial subjugation and its profound enduring effects --something most people cannot even begin to fathom, let alone acknowledge its existence--distinguish the Filipino nationality from the Chinese, Japanese, Koreans, and others from the Asian mainland . To understand what this means is already to resolve halfway the predicament and crisis of dislocation, fragmentation, uprooting, loss of traditions, exclusion, and alienation-- tremendous spiritual and physical ordeals that people of color are forced to undergo when Western powers fight and divide the world into spheres of domination for the sake of capital accumulation, when populations are expediently shuffled around in the global chessboard of warring interests.

This crisis of deracination and exile (permanent or temporary) becomes pronounced in the phenomenon of the "brain drain," a factor that explains the continuing underdevelopment of the Third World. It is not a joke to say that the Philippines, now an economic basket case in Asia, produces every year thousands of doctors, nurses, scientists, and engineers for the world market. As exchangeable commodities, many of them immediately head for the United States--in addition, there's more than a million "warm body export" now inhabiting the Middle East and Europe--while in the Philippines where 80% of the people are poor and 30% of the children malnourished, most towns and villages don't have any decent medical/health care (not to mention other vital social services) to sustain a decent quality of life for all its citizens. [ These proverbial "servants of globalization" are actually victims of U.S. imperial domination of the transnational market and finance capital.]

American Dream of Eluding Success

All studies of the 1980 and the 1990 census show that Filipinos, despite high educational attainments, enjoy the lowest average income (among Asians). We are historically denied access to occupations in management and other prestigious career positions. According to sociologists Victor Nee and Jimy Sanders, Filipinos remain a "disadvantaged minority group," concentrated in low-skilled and low-status jobs with low mean income. I am not of course referring to those Filipino doctors and a handful of corporate consultants each earning a quarter of a million dollars every year. But despite this comprehensive and more accurate picture of structural disadvantage- -the collective plight of Filipinos inferred from government statistics-- we are astonished at the celebratory thrust of the impressions and responses of Filipinos recorded by Ronald Takaki in his instructive history of Asian Americans, Strangers from a Different Shore.

Takaki cites the following testimonies from recent Filipino immigrants:

"...In the United States, hard work is rewarded. In the Philippines, it is part of the struggle to survive." Images of American abundance, carried home by the Balikbayans, or immigrants returning to their homeland for visits, have pulled frustrated Filipinos to this country. When Carlos Patalinghug went back for a visit in 1981 after working in the United States for ten years, he told his friends: "If you work, you'll get milk and honey in America." Other Balikbayans described the United States as a "paradise." (433)

We all know of course that comparisons are always made to what the person would have been earning in the Philippines assuming she is employed--the trick of invoking the exchange rate of dollars to pesos, ignoring cost of living disparities, indeed works miracles. Isn't this mutable exchange rate--index of the unequal relations of power between North and South--the opium of the masses, not religion?

What seems incredible is this story (narrated by Lawrence Johnson in Rice Magazine, July 1988) of Maria Ofalsa who came in 1926 and two years after was hospitalized "from overwork and exhaustion"; her family experienced horrendous prejudice, harassment, eviction which they quietly bore throughout the Depression up to the fifties. Finally, after getting her citizenship in 1952 and still aware of the racism around her, she tells her countrymen:

"When you come here to the U.S. remember this is not our country, so you try to be nice and don't lose your temper and try to be friendly and don't put on a sour face."

Frankly I don't know whether, without much ado, Maria should be canonized or beatified.

Historical Amnesia

Some of us know that Filipinos, faced with rampant paralegal violence in Watsonville, California and in other places in the late twenties and thirties, did not act nicely when they initiated militant actions like those by the Filipino Labor Union in 1933 who were trying to organize thirty thousand compatriots. Or those by the Agricultural Workers Organizing Committee in 1959 which led to the historic Grape Strike of 1965 and laid the immediate foundation for the establishment of the United Farm Workers of America initially led by Larry Itliong and Philip Vera Cruz. The epochal inter-ethnic union struggles of Filipinos and Japanese workers in Hawaii in 1920 and 1924 also deserve tribute and commemoration.

Philip Vera Cruz, a distinguished veteran union leader, declared in the sixties:

"I think the only way to change things is to break up the corporations and weaken the enemy.... Agribusiness is built on the exploitation of farm workers...It' s the same struggle all over the world, many fronts of the same struggle."

Contemporaries of Maria Ofalsa, Manuel Buaken and Carlos Bulosan probably lost their temper then. Buaken wrote in 1940:

"Where is the heart of America? I am one of the many thousands of young men born under the American Flag, raised as loyal idealistic Americans under your promise of equality for all....Once here we are met by exploiters, shunted into slums, greeted by gamblers and prostitutes, taught only the worst in your civilization. "

Bulosan also lost his temper when he summed up his experiences in the thirties and forties:

"I came to know afterward that in many ways it was a crime to be a Filipino in California."

It might be instructive to recall that although over 175,000 Filipinos in the U.S. in the thirties were officially designated "nationals," wards under American "tutelage," without the rights of citizens. In 1934 with the passage of the Tydings-McDuffie Act, Buaken and Bulosan and their compatriots suddenly became aliens. They were "birds of passage" trapped in the promised land. Earlier they had been forbidden to marry Caucasians; they were barred from owning land and receiving public assistance during the Depression. In 1940 they were subjected to another humiliation: all Filipinos had to register and be fingerprinted like ordinary criminals.

Not altogether unprecedented, the sisters of Maria Ofalsa today have turned out to be "troublemakers. " In another continent, amid the utter indifference of the Philippine government to the plight of thousands of domestics in the Middle East, we recently learned that one of these brutalized Filipinas, a certain Lourana Crow Rafael, 44, was accused of killing a member of the Kuwait royal family, Sheika Latifa Abdullah Al-Jaber Al-Sabah , after she refused the domestic's request to travel to her home country in the wake of the enormous terrors before and after the war (USA Today, Feb. 21, 1992). Talk of losing one's temper under those circumstances! How can we even begin to imagine that scenario (even assuming that our domestic compatriot was being framed) without lapsing into another mystery-filled Hollywood banality.

Recently, two planeloads of Filipina domestics arrived in Manila from Kuwait bearing tales of cruel and inhumane treatment, rape, and all sorts of violence inflicting horrible physical and psychic tortures which some Westerners find incredible and fantastic.

Awaking from the Nightmare

With the formal independence of the Philippines in 1946, and the coordinated resistance of Filipino workers here in the late forties and fifties--in particular among Alaskan cannery workers--to racist violence and persecution, a new sensibility emerged among the second generation of Filipinos. Most of those who came of age in the great civil rights struggles of the sixties and the antiwar movement of the early seventies began to articulate the Filipino protest against racial and national oppression in sympathy with the resurgent anti-imperialist movement in the Philippines against the U.S.-Marcos dictatorship.

Many Filipinos born here in the United States matured during the "Great Transformation" of the sixties and began to connect with the heroic ordeals of the manongs in such mass coalitions around the International Hotel in San Francisco and around other programs to address still unredressed grievances. There's a whole history still to be written about these not yet forgotten itinerary of struggles. When the eighties arrived, the impulse of opposition and criticism seemed to have subsided. I quote from a letter written by a Filipina immigrant to the Hartford Courant at the time of Aquino's assassination in 1983:

For me, the killing hit home in more ways than one. I was born a Filipino. That may seem like an easy statement to make, but even as I write it, I am amazed at the embarrassment I used to feel. Ever since my parents brought me to the United States, I had been ashamed of who I am and ashamed of my nation.

When friends at school said it was disgusting to see my mother serve fish with the head still intact, or for my father to eat rice with his hands, or to learn that stewed dogs and goats were some examples of Filipino delicacies, I took their side. I accused my own of being unsanitary in their eating habits....

And when Marcos flaunted his tyranny and declared martial law in 1972, and my aunt said that it was the best thing that ever happened to the Philippines, as long as you kept your mouth shut, I accused Filipinos of lacking the guts to fight for themselves.. ..

But everything changed for me when that man [Benigno Aquino] I had laughed at landed in my homeland and died on the airport tarmac. For the first time I accused myself of not having enough faith in, and hope for, my own people. Maybe because I'm older now, maybe because of the assassination, I see things differently.

In the past I felt that I had no right to be proud of my people. Now, with the cruel Marcos regime tottering, I have finally awakened. Filipinos all over the world need the strength that comes with pride , now more than ever. It is time for all of us to speak up, regardless of the consequences

This woman refused to follow Maria Ofalsa's advice to keep her mouth shut and behave nicely. Unfortunately there are few like her. Understandly enough, most Filipinos are busy making money to survive and support relatives and families in the Philippines. They don't want to have anything to do with what's going on politically in their country of origin (or even here, for that matter) even though every American (the majority of people you encounter in the shopping malls and other public sites) who encounters them cannot but connect them to those islands--are they still "our" colonies in the Caribbean?

How many Filipinos have we not heard confessing to their American hosts how "my country [of origin] is shit!" and how I am so happy and proud to finally be American citizens? These aliens--they have renounced their homeland but are not accepted anywhere--hang in the limbo of what Frantz Fanon, in The Wretched of the Earth, designates as the symbolic violence of the self-denying colonized.

In the Belly of the Beast

As to be expected, these Filipinos have dutifully internalized the ethos of bureaucratic individualism, the ABC of vulgar utilitarianism, inculcated by the media and other ideological apparatuses in the Philippines and reproduced here in the doxa, the received and commonsensical practices of everyday life. Although some still pay homage to the rituals of the patriarchal family, many have now transformed themselves into the living exemplars of the cult of neosocial Darwinism during a period of economic recession in the belief that they are adapting to the mores of their adopted country and are making themselves "true" Americans, "the genuine Stateside articles." This schizoid claim to authenticity seems to compensate for the trauma of dispossession and savage inferiorization suffered in nearly a century of colonial subordination.

We know that in instances where hospital strikes occur in any big city, planeloads of nurses from the Philippines are ordered by the cost-cutting management to function as "scabs," a title which her other sisters surely do not deserve. [It might be useful to note here that the 50,000 Filipino nurses in the U.S. remit over $100 million annually, more than the earnings from Philippine gold exports; and that the remittance of Middle East workers and domestics in Canada, Japan, Hong Kong, and elsewhere, is the number one dollar earner for the Philippine government.]

In one major case in the past, in 1946, 7,000 Filipino workers and their families were recruited by the Hawaii Sugar Planters Association to break "The Great Sugar Workers Strike." In due time, however, they quickly realized that they were being used by their exploiters and so joined the strikers organized by the International Longshoremen and Warehousemen' s Union.

Exodus and Pilgrimage

In the eighties, despite the fact that a larger proportion of recent Filipino immigrants possess superior technical and professional skills, we still find a pattern of consistent downgrading and underemployment of Filipino professionals. How is this to be explained or justified?
Pharmacists, lawyers, teachers, dentists, engineers, and medical technicians who have logged years of experience are often forced to engage in sales, clerical, and wage labor. We still find evidence of the routine attitude of EuroAmericans to Filipinos as good only at manual work in the fields--those images of Filipino workers in California and Hawaii plantations still predominate in the consciousness of the dominant society. (Seeing how their father, a brilliant Filipino lawyer whose acquaintance I made while he practiced in New York City, was humiliated by Americans who nourished such racist attitudes, the children of my friend experienced psychic damage.)

In the past, Filipinos were considered merchandise listed next to "fertilizer" or "manure" by farm proprietors in Hawaii and elsewhere. Today, the demand for Filipino nurses and domestics--contract labor avidly promoted by the Philippine government-- may betoken for certain government bureaucrats an improvement in our international status as supplier of cheap labor and other resources to the industrialized metropoles. For the majority, it means temporary alleviation of seemingly permanent deprivation.

In the racially stratified and ethnically segmented labor market of the United States, as well as in the rest of the world, Filipinos occupy the lower strata, primarily in service occupations such as food, health, cleaning; because of this they earn only about two-thirds of the average income of white men. Despite these problems of discrimination in the labor market and underemployment, Filipinos as a group (for various reasons not entirely cultural) have not developed entrepreneurial skills for small ethnic enterprises such as those undertaken by Koreans and Indians in the big cities. And yet we boast of being the only Christian nation in Asia, or for some perhaps the most Americanized colony in the whole world.

How can we explain the persisting neocolonial subjugation of the Filipino bodies and psyches, so many "manacled minds" impoverished by learned self-denigration and beset by tribal passions (what is now fashionably labeled "kin altruism"), concerned only with the welfare of their clans if not their own creature comforts? Why is it that unlike other racial minorities Filipinos are unable to resolve the crisis of expatriation and uprooting, of alienation and national marginalization, through strong and enduring commitment to promoting the larger good of one community? Why is it that this community is non-existent, and if there, at best fragmented and inutile?

Why is it that Filipinos in the diaspora don't feel or understand their subjugation as a race and nationality? Perhaps these are all rhetorical questions. One recalls that Filipinos who followed the notorious Hilario Moncado and joined his Filipino Federation of America (founded in 1925 in Los Angeles) opposed the unionization efforts of Filipinos in Hawaii. One more proof that pursuing liberation via ethnic pride Hilario-Moncado style (and there are many examples today) would be suicidal!

Apologists for the Empire

Various American experts have ventured answers to explain the continuing "invisibility" or "forgottenness" of the Filipinos in the United States and its corollary, the underdevelopment of the homeland. Theodore Friend for one blames the historic legacy of Spain fostered by Marcos and Aquino, a legacy that plagues Latin American countries as manifested in such markers of dysfunctionality as "autocracy, gross corruption, bloated debt, a deprofessionalized military, private armies, death squads."

Remarking on Aquino's charisma as "Mother of Sorrows" unable to clean up "the patronage ridden" civil service and "the anarchy of ruling families" which define Philippine politics, Friend urges Filipinos to "shake free of Hispanic tradition." What happened to the period of U.S. tutelage, from 1898 to 1946 and thereafter, the asymmetrical power relations between "the bastion of the Free World" and its erstwhile colony? This is also the message of Stanley Karnow in his lengthy apologia for American imperialism, In Our Image. Nowhere does Friend even mention U.S. violence and its manipulation of the landed and comprador elite in its colonial conquest and domination of the Philippines for almost fifty years!

For his part, the historian Peter Stanley does mention this only to praise it as "the relatively libertarian character of U.S. rule" over Taft's "little brown brothers." The much-touted U.S. legacy of schools, roads, public-health programs, artesian wells, democratic politicians, and "the most gregariously informal, backslapping imperialist rulers known to history" serves to explain, for Stanley, why Filipinos cherish a "deferential friendship" for Americans. [Contrary to Sucheng Chan who alleges that Filipinos organized fraternal associations because American culture influenced them to do so, Masonic-like groups named after Rizal testify to the residual revolutionary culture among these early immigrants.]

The Infamous Pinoy Connection

Does this then explain why Fred Cordova, in his pictorial essay Filipinos: Forgotten Asian Americans (1983, 221), insist that "An estimated one million innocent Filipino men, women and children died while defending Americanism during World War Two from 1941 to 1945"? Indeed one may ask: Have all these many Filipinos been really screwed up all their lives to make that sacrifice? One million natives defending the cause of Lone Ranger and Charlie Chan--ugly racist stigmata cited by Fred Cordova--whom he lumps together with Florence Nightingale and Martin Luther King, Jr.?

One million dark-skinned natives sacrificing their lives for Americanism? As for celebrating Filipino "firsts" in order to generate ethnic pride, what does it signify if we learn that Filipinos were the first this and that, to wit, the first Asians to cross the Pacific Ocean for the North American continent and that their descendants in New Orleans, Louisiana, fought with the pirate Jean Lafitte and the Americans during the War of 1812? Would such knowledge relieve the lostness or sublimate the pathos of a situation bewailed so often by Bienvenido Santos, inventor of the myth of Filipinos as "lovely people": "Think of the impotence of Filipino exiles in America who are displaced and uprooted wandering in strange cities."

To return to our American mentors:

Stanley is able to suggest that Filipinos who come from different regions of the islands form fraternal groups based on localities of origin because they find it "difficult to conceive of each other as sharing a national identity." While such a proposition (like so many orthodox explanations) is flawed by a functionalist bias in blaming the victims for the inadequacy of their culture, it nevertheless prompts one to reflect on the following :

We Filipinos don't have any real identification of ourselves as belonging to a nation because that nation of all the classes and sectors in the Philippines is non-existent and remains a virtual hope or intention; that organic embodiment of the national-popular will has not yet come into being, has in fact been aborted and suppressed by U.S. military power when it was being born during the revolution of 1896-1898, a culmination of three centuries of revolts against Spanish rule.

We don't as yet have a popular-democratic nation as the matrix and locus of authentic sharing and belonging--that nation is still in the process of emergence through a manifold complex of antagonisms and struggles still in the agony of unfolding. What we call the Philippines today, a society where state power is controlled by a comprador-oligarchi c elite whose interests center on the preservation of an unjust and unequal status quo, is for all practical purposes still a dependent formation, virtually an appendage, of the United States ruling class, notwithstanding substantial gains in decolonization during the last twenty years climaxing in the Philippine Senate's decision to remove the U.S. bases, thanks to the prodding of Mt. Pinatubo.

Blame Their Damaged Culture

Consequently, Filipinos up to the fifties were perceived as a social problem in the United States, according to the Filipinologist H. Brett Melendy, because of their "cultural backgrounds and value systems" that pivot around the family and indigenous kinship structure. Melendy blames the Filipinos for their sojourner mentality, not the racializing apparatuses of the U.S. state or the racially hierarchic institutions of civil society, for their exclusion, their exploitation, their abject poverty. The culture and value system of these poor victims have somehow survived U.S. colonial rule--they in fact maintain that system of dependency which flourishes today--amid the surface Westernization or mock modernization of the whole society.

This perspective partly explains the political nullity of Filipinos who, formally interpellated as citizens, are unable to unite and construct their community in symbolic rituals of autonomy and integrity, to represent it as a coherent, resourceful, sustainable locus of meaning and value and mobilizing strategies. Partly only because, as I said earlier, we cannot ignore the structures of racial differentiation and hierarchizing that historically constitute the elite hegemony and civic consensus of U.S. society, as well as the assimilationist strategies of the U.S. racial state and its various political techniques of cooptation and disarticulation. These techniques have confined the racial minorities, people of color, to subalternity.

This is the predicament we Filipinos face as we enter the threshold of a new century. In the crisis of dislocation and fragmentation that we continue to experience in a racist polity, how can we reconstitute a single unified community here that can generate a discourse and practice of collective resistance, of autonomy and integrity?

Agent Provocateur

In 1989, I sent a letter to Philippine News in San Francisco posing questions that elaborate possible stages of our ethnogenesis, questions such as the following:

What really distinguishes the Filipino community here in its historical formation? How is it tied to the history of the Philippines as a colony of Western powers? What specific elements of immigrant history, the suffering and resistance of various waves, should we select and emphasize that will mobilize and unify Filipinos?

What struggles should we engage in to forge a dynamic and cohesive identity, struggles that will actualize the substance of civil and human rights? What political and moral education should we undertake to develop and heighten the consciousness of a distinct Filipino identity and political presence in the U.S.?

Finally, on what moral or ethical principles (superior and alternative to the bureaucratic individualism of the free market which centrally inform the hegemonic ideology of late capitalism) should we ground this Filipino community, that is, what social goods should we articulate
as the fundamental goal or end of our community within the larger social formation?

This is not just a matter of instrumentalizing the members of the group to gain material resources and goods necessary to survive and reproduce the next generation. It is not a juridical matter of entitlement. It is not just a question of the cultural norms (which the structural-function alist doctrinaire insist is the decisive criterion of successful performance) required to make us fully participate in the political process, a question of what do I want? and with whom shall I cooperate to acquire what I want?--the pragmatic rationality of means-ends.

The question of what we are going to do cannot be answered unless we answer a prior question: In what narrative or narratives that are now proceeding in contemporary world history shall we participate? Is it a narrative of assimilation and integration, or a narrative of emancipation and national self-determination? Is there a universalizing or transcendent multiracial narrative, a global narrative that subsumes and guarantees our self-empowering if long-delayed ethnogenesis?

Return of the Dog-Eaters?

Some historians entertain the belief that the reason why Americans had the notion that Filipinos were dog-eating savages can be traced to the widely publicized ethnographic exhibit of primitive tribesmen that the U.S. colonial government in the Philippines helped to organize for the Louisiana Purchase Exposition at St. Louis in 1904.

But I think it is misleading to ascribe to this minor spectacle an exorbitant power that can even overshadow the now mythical stature of the Iron Butterfly's [Imelda Marcos] shoe fetish that has--for good or ill--put the Philippines in the map of the global bestiary and folklore of mass consumerism.
Whatever the narcotic power of these media spectacles may be, if we continue to delude ourselves that we are not objects of racist interpellations- -that we are in fact on the way to successful incorporation into the U.S. nation-state- -then history might repeat itself:

we shall for the moment be paraded again as dutiful "little brown brothers" and sisters civilized by American tutelage , a hybrid subspecies soon to be made extinct in some proverbial melting-pot, a quaint cross between the comic-strip icon of the Mexican bandido and those "inscrutable Orientals" who should be shipped back as soon as possible --"go back where you came from" is the taunt often heard, thus restoring the purity of the body politic. A mythical purity as an obsession, the myth of purity feeding on and nourishing white racial supremacy, the American civic religion of superiority over the planet.

What we need to do, the agenda for constituting the Filipino community as an agent of historic change in a racist society, cannot of course be prescribed by one individual. The mapping and execution of such a project can only be the product of a collective effort by every one who claims to be a Filipino in the process of engaging in actual, concrete struggles, in conjunction with the efforts of other people of color in the United States to rid society of the material conditions that beget and reproduce class, gender, and racial oppression.

The future in the twenty-first century is there for us to shape--if we dare to struggle for a better world which is always possible, dare to sacrifice and win!-- Posted by Bulatlat
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E. SAN JUAN, Jr. was recently visiting professor of literature and cultural studies at National Tsing Hua University in Taiwan and lecturer in seven universities in the Republic of China. He was previously Fulbright professor of American Studies at the Katholieke Universiteit Leuven in Belgium and fellow of the Center for the Humanities at Wesleyan University. Among his recent books are BEYOND POSTCOLONIAL THEORY (Palgrave), RACISM AND CULTURAL STUDIES (Duke University Press), and WORKING THROUGH THE CONTRADICTIONS (Bucknell University Press). Two books in Filipino were launched in 2004: HIMAGSIK (De La Salle University Press) and TINIK SA KALULUWA (Anvil); his new collection of poems in Filipino, SAPAGKAT INIIBIG KITA AT MGA BAGONG TULA, will be released by the University of the Philippines Press in 2005.

© 2004 Bulatlat – Alipato Publications

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