ambeth & the supremes, rizal & his ultimo adios

it is ironic that 3 supreme court justices i cheered on for dissenting on the enrile bail case are the same 3 justices i am now jeering at for  buying (so to speak) not just DMCI’s, but even ambeth ocampo’s, arguments against the demolition of  torre de manila.

given her husband’s connections with DMCI, i don’t understand why chief justice sereno did not inhibit from the case the way associate justice perez did, his son being the owner of a torre unit.  and, take note, just a week after the court issued the TRO (that she voted no to) on june 23, almost a month before the first oral arguments, cj sereno in a letter to associate justice jardeleza (ponente of the case) enumerated “issues” that should be tackled in oral arguments and en banc deliberations, among them:

“What is the total damage to be sustained by private respondents [DMCI], including the workers, the subcontractors, the investors, and the buyers of the project, in case the building is demolished?”

Sereno even put a footnote quoting “Article III, Section 9 of the 1987 Constitution [as it provides] that private property shall not be taken for public use without just compensation.”

excuse me, your honor, ma’am, with all due respect, the original clear-sky background of the rizal monument is public property that DMCI, by building beyond the 7-floor limit, dared despoil for private profit.  it’s not as if torre de manila deserved to be in the same sacred space, looming over and distracting from, the rizal monument.  it’s not as if the kind of progress and development that DMCI stands for has brought any prosperity except to a privileged few (at the expense of the many).  DMCI took a gamble, big time, on getting away with it, and deserves to lose, big time.

as for the overrated ocampo’s argument that rizal did not even want a monument, all rizal wanted was a simple grave, he said so himself in a letter to his family, which is to say that the monument does not honor rizal’s wishes, and therefore torre de manila does not dishonor rizal?  i can’t believe that sereno, carpio, and leonen swallowed  that hook line and sinker.

sixth orals

the one shining moment was when associate justice teresita leonardo de castro pounced on NHCP chair serena diokno for the NHCP statement re the front view of the rizal monument not being obstructed by the torre.  duh, nga.

The justice said the NHCP was to be blamed for what she branded as “miscommunication” and “inefficient way of dealing with the situation.”

De Castro told the NHCP chief that the “issue about the background was raised before your commission but you did not deal with it.  You had a very clear idea of what the issue is about — the background [view].”

De Castro … criticized the NHCP for not taking a stronger position on the issue so as to guide the local government. The magistrate said that even if its guidelines were merely recommendatory, part of NHCP’s mandate is still to provide the correct opinion to LGUs. 

indeed, NHCP has been glaringly inconsistent in its official recommendations.  june 2012, to the manila city council,  it was a no to the torre (keep vista points and visual corridors to monuments clear for unobstructed viewing appreciation and photographic opportunities).   november 2012, to DMCI consultant alfredo andrade, it was a yes (Your project site is outside the boundaries of the Rizal Park and well to the rear of the Rizal National Monument, hence it cannot possibly obstruct the front view of the said National Monument).  august 2014, in a position paper submitted to the senate hearing, it was back to a  no (Diokno’s letter said that the front view of the monument is not the issue, but the obstruction presented by Torre de Manila on the Rizal Monument’s back view. … the condominium adversely affects the monument’s visual corridor).  sa oral arguments, day 6, it was back to a yes (The property of Torre De Manila is not part of Rizal Park and well beyond).

still on day 6, some embarrassing gems from sereno, carpio, and leonen.

Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno, on the other hand, asked how other cities are treating the monuments if there are any in their area, like the Bonifacio Shrine in Caloocan, which is facing the LRT 1 station and being surrounded by malls, the EDSA Shrine, which was built in front a mall and the MRT and the Ninoy Aquino monument in Makati, which is crowded with high-rise buildings.

uh, ma’am, none of those locations are sacred like luneta, formerly bagumbayan, where rizal (and many more filipino martyrs) were executed by the spaniards.

Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio said “his (Rizal’s) dying wish was to face east but the captain of the guard said no so he died facing west.” …“Now, Rizal is still facing west. We still deny him his dying wish…”

uh, sir, rizal’s wish to face east was so he would die facing the firing squad that faced west.  is the good justice suggesting that if the firing squad had been facing east, rizal would have been okay being shot in the back?  facing east was the important thing, and not facing his killers?

Associate Justice Marvic Leonen added that “when the Constitution says conserve and promote historical heritage, it also means that we should actually grant Rizal his dying wish so that our people know that our heroes should be humble, that our leaders should not have billboards, should not have markers, should not be ‘epal’ because that is somebody that we should emulate.” … “Therefore, what we are fighting for in this case is really a monument which Rizal did not want.”

uh, sir.  sino ba talaga ang epal dito?  di ba’t ang torre de manila ng DMCI ang medyo bastos at garapal, butting in where it’s not wanted, intruding brazenly shamelessly on our vista of the rizal monument to make capital of the wonderful view?

and, grabe lang, sir, the way you dignify a message that was only for family, a message that rizal did not even bother to smuggle out, or to hide in his other shoe.

“Bury me in the ground, place a stone and a cross over it. My name, the date of my birth and of my death. Nothing more. If you later wish to surround my grave with a fence, you may do so. No anniversaries. I prefer Paang Bundok.”

rizal, of course, would not have asked more of his family.  but of nation, he certainly did, ask more, in his last poem that begins, “Adios, Patria adorada.”   ito mismo, hindi ang bury-me note, ang final testament ni jose rizal.

adios, patria adorada

this untitled 14-stanza poem, that presumably rizal finished writing on the eve of his execution, was found hidden in a lamp (some say a stove) that rizal gave a sister after a last visit on that last day.  the family made copies and sent them out to friends.  bonifacio’s tagalog translation of this emotional farewell reached, touched, the masses and fanned the flame of revolution.

needless to say, i am surprised, nay, shocked, that ocampo dares talk about rizal’s dying wishes without acknowledging, even once, this poem that we know as “Mi Ultimo Adios” – as though it did not exist, as though it did not matter, as though it were not relevant to the public outcry against torre de manila.

does ocampo really think we have all forgotten, too, or that, like him, we are content to thrill at the trivial, and glorify the mundane, about our heroes?  or maybe he’s just not into literary masterpieces, least of all one that makes you think, and feel, and weep for inang bayan?   isn’t that the height of academic irresponsibility?  rizal would not be amused.

not only is it great poetry by the most brilliant filipino intellectual ever (saludo sina adrian cristobal at jorge arago), this last poem reflects rizal’s state of mind the day before he was to face a firing squad, full of fervent hope that his dreams for a free and proud filipinas would come true, yet fearful that his sacrifice might be for nought, uncertain that he would even be remembered.

from nick joaquin’s translation

Should you find someday, somewhere on my gravemound, fluttering
among tall grasses, a flower of simple frame:
caress it with your lips and you kiss my soul.
I shall feel on my face across the cold tombstone,
of your tenderness: the breath – of your breath: the flame.

Suffer the moon to keep watch, tranquil and suave, over me;
suffer the dawn its flying lights to release:
suffer the wind to lament in murmurous and grave manner
and should a bird drift down and alight on my cross,
suffer the bird to intone its canticle of peace.

from andres bonifacio’s:

Kung sa libingan ko’y tumubong mamalas
sa malagong damo mahinhing bulaklak,
sa mga labi mo’y mangyayaring itapat,
sa kaluluwa ko halik ay igawad.

At sa aking noo nawa’y iparamdam,
sa lamig ng lupa ng aking libingan,
ang init ng iyong paghingang dalisay
at simoy ng iyong paggiliw na tunay.

Bayaang ang buwan sa aki’y ititig
ang liwanag niyang lamlam at tahimik,
liwayway bayaang sa aki’y ihatid
magalaw na sinag at hanging hagibis.

Kung sakasakaling bumabang humantong
sa krus ko’y dumapo kahit isang ibon
doon ay bayaan humuning hinahon
at dalitin niya payapang panahon.

rizal imagined a gravemound and wildflower, and in the next breath, a cold tombstone, and further on, a dark graveyard where only the dead keep vigil.  he knew it was possible that he would be forgotten, but he himself would not forget, and he would haunt us.

And when in dark night shrouded the graveyards lies
and only, only the dead keep vigil the night through:
keep holy the peace: keep holy the mystery.
Strains, perhaps, you will hear – of zither, or of psalter
it is I: O land I love: it is I who sing to you!

At kung ang madilim na gabing mapanglaw
ay lumaganap na doon sa libinga’t
tanging mga patay ang nangaglalamay,
huwag bagabagin ang katahimikan.

Ang kanyang hiwagay huwag gambalain;
kaipala’y marinig doon ang taginting,
tunog ng gitara’t salterio’y mag saliw,
ako, Bayan yao’t kita’y aawitin.

rizal did not imagine a national monument such as the one we have built him, and improved on over the years.  i have no doubt that he approves, even, that he cheers us on who see torre de manila as a symbol of capitalist oppression in a land no longer as enchanted or beautiful as when he lived and died for inang bayan.

take it down.


consunji,semirara, torre de manila, atbp. 
Much ado about Ambeth Ocampo
jeremy barns on torre de manila
sona, tsona, torre de manila #takeitdown
TAKE IT DOWN #torredemanila
Rizal, the Noli-Fili, and the Torre de Manila


  1. Lino Atienza

    We agree with your views.
    We are for the total demolition of the Torre and the immediate resignation by Serena Diokno as NHCP Chair.
    We were in all the SC Orals. One part we witnessed there was the treatment given SolGen Hilbay by three justices inluding CJ Sereno. Twas truly embarrasing on his person as “tribune of the people” to be lambasted, abused and belittled. Hilbay stood his ground calmly, intelligently and with determination – all the while being respectful of the magistrates. Compare this with the sober, cooler and courteous queries and comments for the Dioknos (Serena & Manuel) and you’ll somehow feel what their votes would be for. Hilbay got some consolation (if we may call it) from the real probings by Justices Jardeleza, de Castro, Peralta and youngish Bernardo(?).
    We left the SC Orals feeling bad and at a loss for words.
    May I share your entire write-up above with my fellow heritage advocates and Friends?
    Dakilang Pamana ng Lahi
    #Diokno RESIGN

  2. napaiyak mo ako!
    for Rizal, and the Land That I Love.

    the torre de manila should not be allowed to remain standing.
    i don’t know if anyone else sees it the way i do:
    the torre in the background seems to me like a bed: the ultimate desecration!
    Rizal? sleep with capitalists?

    take it down!

  3. Glad to read this piece of yours. Well argued, Angela! I’m sad to read the outcome from that news item. Presses my inis and galit buttons. Habang nakatitig ang mga madlang people sa monumento ni Rizal, kailangan mangibabaw sa kanilang pananaw ang high rise condo ng mga mayayaman na nag-i enjoy ng ocean views habang ang mga developers at financiers ay nagtatamasa ng limpak-limpak na salapi.

  4. […] “When the Constitution says conserve and promote historical heritage, it also means that we should actually grant Rizal his dying wish so that our people know that our heroes should be humble, that our leaders should not have billboards, should not have markers, should not be ‘epal’ because that is somebody that we should emulate. <…> Therefore, what we are fighting for in this case is really a monument which Rizal did not want” (from, 19 Sept). […]