Category: nationalism

When will we have ‘Philippines First’?

Rigoberto D. Tiglao

WHILE the new US President Donald Trump is inarguably a demagogic megalomaniac, he demonstrated a streak of genius, or a deep insight into his countrymen’s feelings, that made him win, when he made his campaign battle cries “America First” as well as “We will make America great again.”

Read on…

JOVITO SALONGA (1920-2016)

with deepest thanks to his children
ricky, steve, patty, eddie, and rina (victoria :)
for sharing their dad with nation.

back in 1965 when the brilliant lawyer jovito salonga first ran for the senate, my parents campaigned for him like mad.  not only was jovy’s wife lydia the sister of salvador “badong” busuego, a very close friend of theirs since UST medical school in the ’30s (the same batch as eva macaraeg macapagal, who would speak only in spanish with my mother), but salonga had also impressed them as a nationalist and followed news of his stint as congressman of rizal province in 1961 when he chaired the committee on good government, holding inquiries on graft & corruption in aid of legislation, and trouncing dynasties to boot.  my parents were  always politically engaged and, in the time of marcos, were ardent supporters of salonga and the liberal party, and then also of ninoy (who first ran for the senate in ’67).

i wasn’t into politics yet, not even during my years in UP diliman when it was the hotbed of kabataang makabayan (KM) activism.  fresh from convent school, and forewarned about “communists,” i took a while to figure out, listening to rallies happening on the AS steps, what the “ibagsaks” were all about, and yes naman!  no to imperialism and feudalism, and no to US bases!  but meanwhile i had met and was barkada for a while with the salonga sibs steve and patty who weren’t into politics either  — our group used to hang around francis lumen’s VW van (hypo, we called it) under the trees across  (but far from) the AS steps, and i remember the music best of all, steve playing guitar and singing the protest songs of dylan and baez, peter paul and mary, with patty singing second voice, what a high.  and the times they were a-changing indeed, on so many fronts.

except that, as it turned out, the changes shaping up were for the worse.  fast forward to the first quarter storm of jan 1970 by which time marcos had been re-elected amidst cheating allegations and youth org KM had morphed into a new communist party led by joma sison that was increasingly radical, bent on destabilizing, and toppling, the fascist and corrupt marcos government.  came plaza miranda, the bombing, in august 1971, that killed nine and injured more than a hundred, among them the leading lights of the liberal party, including senator salonga who was the most gravely hit but who, against all odds, lived to continue the fight and with ninoy kept the opposition alive here at home and in america all through martial law, AND when freedom was won, investigated and became convinced that it was joma sison who ordered the plaza miranda bombing that played right into marcos’s hand, gave him grounds to suspend the writ of habeas corpus, crack down on the radical left, and eventually declare martial law.

during that dark reign of greed and terror, every time senator salonga’s name would come up in the news in connection with anti-marcos events and/or elements, my parents would remind each other about packing a bag just in case they were picked up by the military; they were certain they were on a list of staunch jovy salonga and ninoy aquino supporters.  and like many others in the opposition, they started breathing easy again only after the glorious, if fleeting, triumph that was EDSA.

for a while there, things were looking up for nation and for salonga.  after a year as chair of the pcgg, laying the legal groundwork for the recovery of ill-gotten wealth, salonga ran again for the senate and, as in ’65 and ’71, topped the race.  as expected, he was elected senate president — no one deserved the distinction more.  and a lesser mortal would have been inadequate to the heroic task of presiding over a split senate, withstanding intense pressure from cory and america, and casting the deciding vote that spelled the end of US bases – another fleeting triumph — never mind that it doomed, too, his run for the presidency.  read randy david’s Salonga and the Senate that said no.

Salonga’s acute sense of history kept him focused on what he felt he needed to do. He set aside all personal considerations—something that, in our culture, was hard to do without appearing rude and arrogant. But, the closing of the American bases in the Philippines took precedence over everything. It was to him a necessary condition for our emergence as a fully sovereign nation—something we needed to do for the sake of future generations, even if it meant displeasing an important and powerful ally.

He was painfully aware that his active opposition to the treaty would adversely affect his political plans. The presidential election of 1992 was just around the corner. Many influential leaders and businessmen who had supported him in his long political career and wished to see him succeed Cory, warned him against playing an assertive role on the issue.  But Salonga would not be deterred. For him, the time had come to close this colonial chapter of our history, and it fell on him to lead the Senate to that final moment.

papa didn’t live to see the bases kicked out.  when senator salonga ran for president in 1992, mama and i rooted for him, even getting into arguments with family and friends who agreed with anti-salonga propaganda that he was too old, even disabled, or that harked back to allegations of questionable deals with marcos cronies when he led the pcgg.  i had a sinking feeling that america, along with our very own amboys, had drawn a line, anyone but salonga.  but maybe that’s just me.  read randy david’s Jovito Salonga, the scholar-politician.

… in the 1992 presidential election, President Cory was torn between two loyal allies who both wanted to be president—Speaker Ramon Mitra Jr. and Defense Secretary Fidel V. Ramos. Endorsing Jovy Salonga was out of the question. The Americans could not forgive him for the humiliation he had dealt them on the bases question. Big business did not like him for the uncompromising stance he had taken against US interests. Like Diokno, he was the best president we could not have.

I had the privilege of moderating the 1992 presidential debate for the Commission on Elections and television station Channel 5. Blind in one eye, his right hand a deformed mass of skin and bones, the 72-year-old statesman beamed like a professor conducting a graduate class. He was the most erudite and most accomplished person in that pack. Speaking in a measured tone in fluent Filipino and English, he never switched from one code to the other to complete a thought.

But, beside the most prominent pre-martial law politicians, there were other stars in that room that had captured the imagination of a fickle public. One of them was the feisty and outspoken Miriam Defensor Santiago, a former judge, Cabinet member, and immigration commissioner. The other was businessman Eduardo “Danding” Cojuangco, who had fled the country with the Marcos family in 1986. The broad support that this soft-spoken Marcos crony was getting during the campaign, just six years after the overthrow of the dictatorship, showed that the political winds were ominously shifting.

senator salonga ranked 6th in a race of 7, bested by fvr, miriam, danding, mitra, and imelda, and besting only doy laurel.   yes, danding and imelda, back so soon to reclaim their ill-gotten wealth, got more votes than salonga.  it was the saddest thing.

fast forward to 2016.  it’s even more toxic now.  the marcos son bongbong is running for VP under the banner of the nacionalista party that saw his dad elected president twice.  the salonga son steve is running for governor of rizal but, no, not under the banner of the liberal party that saw his dad topping three senatorial races, rather, he is running for governor as an independent candidate because the liberal party cares more about compromising with local dynasties and trapos, what a shame.  read Jovito Salonga’s son laments LP snub, steve’s story just before his first run for the same seat in 2013.

“Tuwid na daan may be true in the elective posts on the national level, but not on the local level,” he said.

Salonga was quick to say that he did not think President Aquino was aware of the compromises on the ground, but insisted that this was a reality he had to contend with in next month’s elections.

The “disturbing and aggressive alliances” with dynasties, warlords and traditional politicians began during the 2010 elections, he said.

Salonga said at that time, his father questioned such deals but got nowhere. He said that his father’s letters and phone calls were ignored.  “He was very disappointed,” said the son.

when senator salonga lost the race for the presidency in ’92, i felt like i did when they killed ninoy in ’83.  what a loss for nation.  six years of a salonga presidency certainly would have taken the nation to a place vastly different from, and more desirable than, where we are now.

it’s great that he was also a prolific author — there should be a university course on good government using his books and journals as bibles — who also wrote his own speeches.  this, from a speech he gave in UP in 1962 when he was rizal congressman and chairman of the committee on good government, resonates to this day, regardless of matuwid-na-daan.  to this EDSA freak, it even seems like he already saw glimmers of people power at play.

DEMOCRACY, as one writer puts it, cannot be saved either by slander or by silence.

And in the Philippines, the word “silence” can never be over-emphasized for here, particularly in places where the high and the mighty have the run of things, the poor and the lowly are so afraid to give their evidence. Entire communities are terrorized into silence and prospective witnesses are rendered mute by the forces of physical violence. Hence, it is true to say we cannot clean up the mess in the world of crime and vice unless we are also willing to clean up the civic and political life of the community in which we live. And who is going to do that? Only we, the people. It is not merely the public officials. For as Bernard Shaw puts it very aptly— “Democracy is a device that insures we shall be governed no better than we deserve.”

We can’t have a good government and at the same time have a double standard of law observance. We can’t validly complain of corruption, if we are only too prepared and willing to bribe our way through to get what we want.

And so, if you ask me: how do we attain a higher standard of ethics in government? I answer:

When we refrain from exerting pressure on our public officials for selfish, narrow ends; when we give positive applause and encouragement to the guy who is playing it straight even though we may not agree with him; when the public official gets the help he needs from people who don’t want anything from him except to be good; and when we, the people, organize and give real, solid backing to those who lead the attack on mass dishonesty and graft.

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

almario, pilipinas, revolution

so, finally national artist and KWF chief virgilio almario is engaging with mainstream and social media re the renaming of country.  he’s been on radio and television, and KWF’s facebook page has a Q & A primer of sorts and other essays, and on katrina’s wall i saw part of a letter from almario to his supporters where he claims that the change from pilipinas to “filipinas” is revolutionary, or something to that effect.

he seems to have backed down on “burahin ang philippines,” which is good.  the philippines in english stays, but pilipinas in tagalog/filipino he still wants to kill and replace with “filipinas” so as to be consistent daw with “filipino” the language.  e what if, para consistent, yung “fiipino” the language na lang ang ibalik natin sa “pilipino” na ginagamit pa rin naman ng maraming pilipinong hirap magsambit ng “ef” sound?  ay, kakailanganin ng charter change, ‘no?  ‘wag na lang, let’s just leave it as is.  anyway it won’t be the first time that the constitution is defied (think dynasty).

sabi rin ni almario, dito LANG daw sa atin tinatawag na “pilipinas” ang bansa — in europe daw, lalo na in spain, we are known either as the philippines or filipinas.  kaloka.  papalitan natin ang matagal nang tawag natin sa ating bansa dahil “filipinas” pa rin ang tawag sa atin ng spain?  hello?  pakialam ko sa spain.

and what about this: “pinoy” and “pinay” come daw from the last two syllables of “pilipino” and “pilipina”, and pinas from the last two syllables of “pilipinas,” therefore changing to “filipinas” won’t change it to “finoy” and “finay” or “finas.”  i am in complete agreement with prof lilia quindoza-santiago on this.

… tungkol sa palayaw na “Pinoy” at “Pinay” na sabi ay galing sa ikatlo at ikaapat na pantig NG FILIPINAS – paano KAYA natiyak ng KWF ito? Patunayan sa bisa ng estadistika at masusing pananaliksik! Sa kalaganapan ng gamit ng Pilipinas, maaaring may timbang pa rin ang unang titik at pantig na /Pi/, sige nga mapapatunayan ba ninyo na yung ikatlo at ikaapat na pantig ang pinagmulan ng Pinoy at Pinay? THIS IS REALLY AND TRULY ABSURD!

indeed.  show us the proof.  it is even more likely that “pinas” comes from “naspi,” early slang for pilipinas among musikeros abroad, a la yosi for sigarilyo, first and last syllables reversed.

ayon pa  kay almario, walang batas na nilalabag kung papatayin o pipigilin ang “pilipinas” in favor of “filipinas.”  pero kahit na.  changing the name of the country is no small matter.

prof lilia:  ang pagbabago ng pangalan ay isang desisyong legal – kahit naman sa indibidwal, hindi mo basta-basta mapapalitan ang iyong pangalan, kelangan pumunta ka sa korte at manghingi ng legal na kautusan para mapalitan, kahit iisang letra lang ng iyong una, pangalawang ngalan at apelyido.  E ganito ang batas para sa pagpapalit ng ngalan ng isang tao, hindi ba mas dapat sundin ito sa pagpapalit ng ngalan ng bansa?  Tawagin na ninyo akong legalistic, but that’s what it is folks.  Walang mangyayari sa resoulusyon ng KWF na ito kung hindi gagawing batas ang pagpalit ng ngalan ng Pilipinas para ito itatak sa ating pasaporte.  Ibig sabihin, in William Faulkner’s words, this is all “sound and fury signifying NOTHING.”

besides, changing what almost a hundred million filipinos call their country simply cannot be, should not be, a decision for government to make.  if at all, it should be a response to already widespread use of “filipinas,” if ever.

isa pa, ano ba talaga ang itinawag ni bonifacio sa bansa?  pilipinas o filipinas?

Ipinaliwanag ni Almario na ang “Filipinas” ang orihinal at opisyal na pangalan ng bansa hanggang sa dulo ng ika-19 siglo at ginamit ni Jose Rizal sa kanyang mga gawa at ni Andres Bonifacio sa kanyang tulang “Katapusang Hibik ng Filipinas.” 

but if you google  Katapusang Hibik ng Flipinas, the search engine gives you links to Katapusang Hibik ng Pilipinas instead.  so, ano ba talaga?  this is no small matter either.

which brings me back to revolution and this quote (from a letter almario wrote to his supporters) that katrina posted on facebook:

“Ang “Filipino” at ang “Filipinas” ay kinatawan lamang ng nabubuong pambansa at makabansang rebolusyon, isang bagong himagsikan mula sa kultura ng korupsiyon at kamangmangan na umiiral sa ating kasalukuyang “Pilipinas,” tungo sa higit na pagkakaisa at kaunlaran ng sambayanan.” — Virgilio Almario.

medyo over the top, thus drawing this rejoinder from prof. lilia:

Lilia Quindoza Santiago  Kung laganap ang korupsiyon at kamangmangan sa kasalukuyang “Pilipinas”, babaguhin ba ito ng pagpapalit pangalan patungong Filipinas? Paano? Paano nga ba nagaganap ang pagbabago ? – Ito ba ay idinidikta ng otoridad mula sa mga nakaluklok sa posisyon sa gobyerno o mula sa mga mamamayang nagnanais ng pagbabago? Ano ang ikinaiba ng analysis na ito sa narinig ko na ( at ayaw kong paniwalaan) na “damaged culture’ ng mga tao sa arkipelago?

for a language to be revolutionary, for language to bring national unity and progress sans corruption, it would have to be truly a language of the masses, and not some laboratory version that doesn’t make sense.

WIKA NATIN ANG DAANG MATUWID, says the cover photo of KWF’s facebook page, apparently in celebration of Buwan ng Wikang Pambansa and some Pambansang Kongreso sa Wika in august.

WIKA NATIN ANG DAANG MATUWID.  our language is the straight path?  really?  a language that ‘s killing off more and more tagalog words and taking in more and more english ones and even ispeling them the tagalog way so that matitisod ka at mapapaisip muna, o tatamarin ka na lang magbasa at magsulat?

or is it, the straight path is our language?  what straight path.  at least di ko na naririnig yung kung-walang-corrupt-walang-mahirap line, i suppose dahil di naman kayang panindigan.  it’s time to drop daang-matuwid too, methinks, because it’s just another road that has the oligarchy and its minions laughing all the way to the bank, as always.

WIKA NATIN ANG DAANG MATUWID?  come on, KWF, you can do better than that.