Category Archives: Personal

So long Andrade!

Feeling a bit under the weather I thought of staying home yesterday. But I was informed by the family of the eminent Chemist and historian Pio Andrade Jr. that Wednesday is the last and only day of his internment. He passed away last December 26. They decided to cremate his remains the next day and bring him home to his beloved Paracale.

Before heading to Kamuning (where Andrade is interred) I dropped by Sampaloc to see popular historian Benito Legarda Jr. This is the only second time I’m meeting him. I brought two books he authored and had them signed. We spoke briefly about WWII (more on this on future post).

During our chat he asked if I’ve read his Rizal book (Eight Rizalian Miniatures, 2011). I told him that I’ve heard about it but I’ve never seen one for sale. He sold and signed me a copy. We weren’t talking about Rizal or anything related to him. The offer came out of the blue.

Before leaving I told him that I’m visiting Andrade. I asked if he knew him well. “Yes, where is he now?,” he inquired. He was surprised to hear that he has passed away. “That’s sad,” he said.

Your company up there for sure would enjoy your wonderful stories!

I arrived at the Chapel in Kamuning pass 6PM. I spent a couple of hours with Andrade’s family exchanging stories. In the times we met we talked for hours and hours. So, I had my fair share of Uncle Junior stories to tell.

One of my favorite story was when he was quizzed by the US Secret Service. He actively wrote against the martial law during his time in University of Florida. Marcos had an upcoming US state visit. They were trying to assess if Andrade was a threat. Asked if he knows how to use firearms, “No, only firecrackers!”

Not many knows that Andrade has a great sense of humor. Maybe the way he writes (in his own words “accusatory” and “angry”) sends that vibe that he’s a difficult person. But he’s a great guy to hang with, look, I’m 38, our age are decades apart but we get along.

How I wish that publishers took a second look at his book ideas. I feel that the “Fooling of America” was too controversial that many thought it risky to work with Andrade.

The last time we spoke he told me that he’s got three books lined up. He was already wrapping up editing his Paracale book (Romancing the Gold) and was working on two other: “Que Barbaridad” (vignettes on Spanish cultural and historical contributions) and a Rizal book which tackles inaccuracies and fabrications about the national hero.

I proposed to the family that they donate all his completed and unfinished work to the Ateneo. I remember him telling Guillermo Gomez Rivera to do the same for his huge library in his Calle Mola. The historian Fernando Zialcita, who came earlier to the chapel, suggested the same.

Whether or not the books (or what can be recovered) gets published is entirely up to the family. There were at least a couple of his young nieces that are interested in his work (one in particular is Ariel who I believe writes).

I reached home at around 10 PM. I had a few pending work that I wanted to complete in the morning so I went straight to bed. I pulled Legarda Jr.’s “Eight Rizalian Miniatures,” from my backpack (the book I just acquired earlier). Reading relaxes and puts me to sleep.

I opened it and landed on page 15, there it was, an article (Sidelights on Rizal) Legarda wrote in 2008-09. “Self-professed iconoclast and historical gadfly Pio Andrade delivered a lecture at the Instituto Cervantes… in which he view erroneous impressions about Rizal’s life.”

This was the event where I first met Andrade. He must be kidding around—pulling a prank of sorts!

One more reminder that his work would stay with us for as long as we exist.

Thank you my friend.


Our Leader of the Band…

Last April, before I left for Singapore my father told me in jest that what’s left of his time he considers “bonus”. He’s too fatalistic at times. Turns out, he said the same to my wife. He was all smiles the last day we were with him. He kissed, hugged and carried my son.

Papa passed away in his sleep last August 17, a week away from his 81st birthday. My brother (his junior) and mother was with him.

Knowing him, I kept this post as short as possible. I left out details but I wanted to share a few things about him (I had to write about you here Paps, sorry!).

Papa’s a reserved person. Not shy but he dislikes attention. He’s the kinda guy that leaves the house without saying goodbye. Comes home without announcing it.

We love his unique sarcastic sense of humor. Something that I think all his children inherited. He always have a smile on—this I miss everyday.

Papa’s family was almost wiped out during WWII. But the experience had an inverse effect—it made him tough as nails. Nothing rattles him. I never saw him tear up, get anxious or down.

I remember when we (along with a number of families) were evicted from our homes in Makati. Everybody was angry and panicked. But not him. He was serious and composed—a picture of stoicism.

I know simple is a common description most children use to characterize their parents. Papa’s a notch higher than normal simple.

I had to trick him so I could get him to a mall. I’d ask him to bring his senior ID so we can use the express lane to pay our bills. Then before heading home I’d treat him with his favorite Chowking siopao or halu-halo.

Papa never developed a taste for fanciful leisure. He derives delight from the simplest of things. He’s happier with coffee, teas and biscuits for gifts; buy him an expensive watch and he’d scoff at it. We complain shirts we bought are left unused. Nanay ends up giving them away.

On weekends, he enjoys sabong. We encourage him to get active—we’re OK with it. After all he’s got his jeepney business and pension, it’s his money and cockfighting is in his DNA—he’s an old timer Negrense—it’s sports to them.

Papa’s consistent in everything he does. It’s hard to make him do something because he’s by nature a skeptic but once he commits, he gets it done.

I pleaded to him once for a small pigeon cage. He objected at first. But I insisted and he built me one. It was literally as big as a chicken coop!

I think at times he says no to lower your expectations, but he intends to do it and surprise you.

When he was in Saudi in the 80’s, my mother said that I asked him for the biggest robot toy for Christmas. I can’t remember making that request but I recall having that grey weird looking robot. It had a cool remote control base and a body that can be inflated to human size.

Once I asked him that we to go to a beach. My friend’s families had gone swimming somewhere north. It was lent and I thought that’s what people do.

He agreed and took me for a dip—in Manila bay!

I remember the cuts and blisters I got from the sharp shells embedded on the rocks. We never said a word of this mini excursion to Nanay.

In my brief eulogy I shared the story below:

He used to assist Nanay to the market and help her carry foodstuffs. As years past, he tires easily and could only chaperon her up to the market steps.

His health took a dive around four years ago, but still like clock work, he wakes up at dawn to accompany Nanay where she takes the jeep. Approximately a 300-400 meter walk to-and-fro.

The last two years walking really became an issue. I see him force himself up to escort Nanay to the tricycle queue—two blocks from our home.

Then came the time that he could barely walk. His steps were slow and labored. He refused using cane. He could only manage to accompany Nanay up to our gate at this point.

About three months after our visit he started having problems standing up. I was told he insisted but fell several times. He probably couldn’t believe he’s ambulant no more—for the first time in his life he was forced to stay in bed.

Nanay said that even when he was bedridden, he wakes up to see her leave. Must be a force of habit I thought. But no, that’s how he expresses his love, never in words, but in his actions.

An Unpublished Book and some Throwback “Thank Yous…”

I took part in writing a biography a few years ago. It was about the longest serving town mayor of San Pedro Laguna, Calixto Cataquiz, an unpretentious local politician who became a friend during the course of the project.

I would have not agreed to write the bio if my friend, Pepe Alas, was not on board. I was a supervisor at a BPO in Alabang; Pepe, a Spanish speaking agent under my program. I assumed the writing task would be easier working with someone I knew personally. We often times wrote while we’re both in the office.

We had a great time writing. Of course, there were a few bumps and misses but nothing we couldn’t handle. The only frustration was that the book remained unpublished.

The last time I caught up with Mayor Cataquiz was during Pepe’s wedding. He told me of a few political issues that made him decide to shelve the project. The Mayor was abruptly disqualified a week before the last election—his wife took over and won.

So, that’s that for me writing for politicians. I’ll stick writing here—for now.

Pepe still believes that the book would get published. He’s still working at it, putting the finishing touches. He became a close supporter of the Cataquizs. The latter aided him during the perilous and costly medical emergency brought about by his wife’s pregnancy.

Often time’s failure gives us more than success.

During our time writing, we met several cultural workers in San Pedro. Like this friendly chap, Sonny Ordonez, author of a book dedicated to San Pedro’s miraculous Lolo Uweng, a Santo Sepulcro enshrined in Landayan. He cheered us to continue, gave helpful tips on how to write.

And there were other strangers whom we have never personally known but did us favors. Like Gemma Cruz Araneta who wrote about our small book project in her Manila Bulletin column. I never got to thank her personally but I appreciate what she did for us.

You don’t always get what you want—but you’re getting something. That’s for sure. You’ll just have to learn to appreciate the little things, the friends you make, the invisible hands that comes out of nowhere to help.

With Don Pio Andrade de Paracale!

I visited chemist Pio Andrade in Arellano University (Legarda) to ask him a few questions about his history growing up, as a chemist and as a historian. He’s a personal hero of mine. One of those guys that got me reading deep into Philippine history. He’s an iconoclast, a man whose obsession with methodical research in chemistry and history, challenged the established notions in both field of studies. Even with his accomplishments he remains humble and surprisingly approachable. I’ve met so many academics and so called experts, none could be more genuine and generous than Andrade.

One of these days his story must be told in detail. Even in writing history, he’s driven by this insatiable thirst to correct the manipulations in our text books. I find it interesting how he ended up writing that controversial book about Carlos Romulo, “The Fooling of America,” an investigative book exposing the true character of the former UN president. He was at that time a student in the University of Florida when he heard Romulo, then President Marcos’ foreign secretary, proclaim that the election that president had just bagged was the cleanest of all elections. “When I heard that, I told myself that I have to write about this man and expose him,” Andrade recalls. His  writing against Marcos also landed him an audience with Americas Secret Service.

I first met this brilliant chemist in a seminar about Philippine history in Instituto Cervantes. Immediately, I was impressed with the data he presented. His lecture was about friar contributions. Not surprising that his topic aroused negative reactions among the audience. I remember F. Sionil Jose standing up and shouting at him when the latter discussed the issue of ‘Calamba estate”. Calm and collected, Andrade offered his folders to the national artist telling him “it’s all here.”

With Chemist, Filipino historian and writer Don Pio Andrade.

Presently, Andrade is writing research papers and articles. His upcoming book about the history of the gold town of Paracale will be publish this year. Another book which I can’t wait to get my hands on is his Rizal book. Unlike other works about the hero, Andrade intends to expose the lies and manipulation behind some of what we’ve accepted to be gospel truths about the man.

I remember a conversation I had with one of Andrade’s friend who I interviewed a couple of years ago, Ernie de Pedro, an English educated man who’s known for his work as film archivist and historian. He said that he often wonders why Andrade gravitates towards controversial subjects that ends up putting him in disadvantageous positions. “He’s driven by his principle and passion and emotion,” de Pedro said to me. Another common friend, Liz Medina, a Filipino writer based in Chile describes Andrade as “Bonifaci0-like” in his uncompromising writing.

I asked Andrade why he returned here in our corrupted country when he could have opted to get employed in the US where he could have made millions. He answered me with just one word, “patriotism”. I think that pretty much sums up the kind of man he is.

I would try to put the transcript of my interview with Andrade on this site. I just need to find time to do this. Also, he handed me some papers containing his lectures. I have to put these here too.

One thing that I need to learn from this man is his methodical research. He’s so organized when it comes to research. He’s a master at this, even Ambeth Ocampo (who vouched for Andrade to replace him in Inquirer when he joined the Benedectine) is a follower of Andrade’s work.

16 December 2013

The Traveling Bunch. The Alas’ as La Familia Viajera

They’re a travelin’ family

Just when I thought two blog’s too much for this corporate slave friend of mine, he decided to add another.


While he claims it’s the first and only family travel theme blog, what I know with certainty is that Pepe Alas is going to provide a lot of good historical info in his new site. The guy’s a great writer and researcher. A true historian out to defend our authentic Filipinoness. And the wife, I’m pretty sure she’ll add style—quite a fashionista that kumare of mine.

Here’s hoping that Mr. Alas gets to maintain the blog regularly because I can’t wait to read, read, read.

By the way, It also excites me to know that my inaanak, Jefe, will get to see some of the historical sites that I know would make him a better person. I could still remember the days when my mother would bring me to the churches of Quiapo, Ermita. Sta. Ana and Baclaran. Seeing these old churches had a profound effect on me. I learned to appreciate our past at such a young age. So these children, all four of ’em, would grow up with something most people never had. I commend my friends, Pepe and Yeyette, for this wonderful idea!

Ain’t that a beaut…

ain’t that a beaut…

I just had to post this. Only nature could give us such splendid vivid colors!

This was taken around 0530 in the morning. It was a short three hour flight from Singapore, the plane here is already moving towards the terminal.

In this flight, I was sitting behind a group of seamen who were obviously excited to go home. “I could see our house from here!”, a younger man whose skin manifest the harsh sea condition they probably worked in for years. And now they’re home. There was also this woman who had difficulty breathing, so the crew made an announcement to call on individuals with knowledge in dealing with such an emergency–two nurses responded. There, faith restored in humanity–and fellow Pinoys.

This dawn scene also reminds me of my time working with an IT firm in Alabang. Our office is located on the 25th floor. I go home around 6 or 7 in the morning, around the time when the sun is slowly sloping up the mountains of Morong. Some colleagues would regularly see me taking photos. I’m sure this bothered some of them but I can;t just help it. This went on for two years. Just imagine how many shots I took!

With Manong Frankie Sionil Jose

How do you give an introduction for someone like F. Sionil José? Anything that I’ll say was probably said better by others. So let me skip the introduction.

While I differ from his view on many toipcs in Philippine history, my appreciation for his cultural, social and historical writings remained.

The man has never abandoned his quest for social justice. His criticism of the country’s irresponsible elites and the locals passiveness has become the theme of his impassioned writings. I admire that he never tire of bearing the desire to change his nation after all these years. Most people would have given up–but not Manong.

I like this picture. FSJ looks disinterested (I’m not sure if he was). That’s a great profile of the man. We kept banging our knees. We took turns seating side ways. The novelist is a hefty, tall guy, almost the same height as I am. His office is cramped with books, there’s a type writer. No laptop. He slouches on his seat like a little boy. Favors wearing crocs over shoes around his office. He readily admits that he tire easily these days. (Special thanks to César for taking photos).

To quote him, “my generation failed; it made all this mess and I am, myself, culpable. Looking back, I should have shouted more loudly, longer, too, even perhaps to the point of getting hoarse. For that is what Bertolt Brecht said — “Shouting about injustice hoarsens the voice” — and the artist whose voice is hoarse will not be understood, will not even be listened to.” His egalitarian ethos for the common Filipino has never diminished.

It was easier for him to rest on his laurels, write commissioned biographies, get rich doing what so many gifted minds has done but he prefers to toil and tug along that rough road.

He runs a bookstore where he still writes.  He’s now 88.

This is not a formal interview, more like a chit chat between an obscure blogger and one of the country’s literary greats, Manong Frankie.

F. Sionil José: Teka, are you related to the the pilot — that made the trip from Manila to Spain?

Arnaldo: Yes. I heard from older relatives. But I don’t know how he’s related to me.

F. Sionil José: You see, that was in the, what 20’s or 30’s?

Arnaldo: Early 1900’s Manong, not sure when.

F. Sionil José: See I have good memory. I remember. Matagal na yon ha!

Arnaldo: Let me shake your hand.

F. Sionil José: Oh. [Laughs]

Arnaldo: I’m shaking the hands of one of the greats!

F. Sionil José: Oh, narinig mo yun Cesar? [Laughs]

F. Sionil José: Oh ano? ano ba interest mo?

Arnaldo: How are you? kamusta po ang buhay?

F. Sionil José: Oh sige salamat, it’s humdrum

F. Sionil José: Do you write?

Arnaldo: I blog…

F. Sionil José: Ok yan. May blogger dito nun’ kamakailan lang.

Arnaldo: Is it true that you’re a snub, I don’t think so, but why do people…

F. Sionil José: [laughs] Ganito yan’ ah kung minsan I’m so busy I don’t want visitors. Kung minsan naman, kagaya mo, suddenly you just drop by out of the blue… otherwise naman I could spare time with anyone who wants to see me.

Arnaldo: I’ve read the things you’ve wrote about Singapore, I worked there but recently had to quit…

F. Sionil José: Ha? Teka muna, what’s your work in Singapore?

Arnaldo: I was working with a software company. I’m not sure if you’ve heard that they’re trying to localize the workforce there?

F. Sionil José: They can’t do that. They don’t have enough people.

Arnaldo: But they’re trying to develop their locals…

F. Sionil José: Kahit na. At saka, no matter what they do, they’ll always need people that knows more. I know Singapore well. Simple lang yan. I was there when it was like Binondo. Curious ako, “ano kaya yan Singapore na yan?,” it was a small town surrounded by rubber plantation. Mostly, rubber plantation. I’ve been traveling around the region, from the late 40’s onwards.

Arnaldo: A few weeks ago, I was reading an old article of yours about your grandson in Illinois.

F. Sionil José: Ah, that. It was a short story. It was very autobiographical.

Arnaldo: Do you still write?

F. Sionil José: Feet of Juan Bacnang. César kailan ba lumabas itong Juan Bacnang? ah yes, February last year. This could very well be my last.

Arnaldo: No, no, no.

F. Sionil José: I’m not well. Marami akong sakit. Salamat na lang that this [pointing to his head] is not yet demented. I know younger people who suffers from memory sickness.

Arnaldo: Are you aware how you inspired young people, like, to look at social and cultural issues in a…

F. Sionil José: Yes, yes. But I don’t really think of it.

Arnaldo: Did you really told Ramos to hold on to power and reform the government?

F. Sionil José: Yeah, to stage a coup. It’s just articulating the obvious.

Arnaldo: Do you think someone would come along and lead us, correct the wrongs, heal the ills?

F. Sionil José: Maybe.

Arnaldo: Never thought of running for public office?

F. Sionil José: [Laughs] No, but I was in government for two years. I was in the Foreign Service, I went to Sri Lanka. I have experience in the bureaucracy, the Department of Foreign Affairs, thank God, it was led by someone I admire, knew very well, si Manny Pelaez. So it wasn’t too bad. I had direct communication, all the suggestions I gave were followed. Those kind of things. Because there’s nothing more frustrating than when you have something good which you think should be accepted but gets rejected.

Arnaldo: Do you think artists can be good at running things? like government?

F. Sionil José: [Laughs] We’re rooted on reality. It’s the imagination, the dream that sustains us, that takes us off to the cosmos.

F. Sionil José: Paano ngayon di ka na babalik sa Singapore?

Arnaldo: I don’t know. I’ll look around and see what are opportunities I could take. The economy, they say, is doing well. So, let’s see.

F. Sionil José: Maraming opportunities dito. But sometimes, it’s difficult even for the skilled. Ganyan naman dito sa atin. How are your ties here?

Arnaldo: My network is good. I’m very positive, upbeat po tayo!

F. Sionil José: Alam mo that’s the advantage of open societies. You can fit in anytime because you have the talent needed. Dito, what’s wasted dito sa ating bayan is not the talents that go out but the talents here that are not utilized! Hindi ginagamit, ang daming marunong, you know, but somehow they could not get into [inaudible] positions.

Arnaldo: So these talents, ends up poor, desperate?

F. Sionil José: Basahin mo yun Star last Sunday. I’m writing something about poverty. Again. Kailan ka ba dumating?

Arnaldo: A couple of weeks ago.

F. Sionil José: Ah so you don’t…

Arnaldo: I download all your articles and put then all on my e-book.

F. Sionil José: Ah [laughs] you’re, what’s that, a techy. I can’t even use the computer.

Arnaldo: I’ll never forget that Cervantes seminar where you shouted at Pío Andrade, why were you so upset?

F. Sionil José: [Laughs] Ah na dun ka ba?

F. Sionil Jose: I can’t stand it.

Arnaldo: You scared a lot of people there!

F. Sionil José: [Laughs] Ah oo na dun ka pala. Madami, daming audience, tao. Hindi daw kasi totoo yun kay Rizal ano? [Laughs] I can’t stand it, I’m incense by such things.

Arnaldo: I know that man, met him, Pío Andrade, he wrote “The Fooling of America”, I personally find his works formidable

F. Sionil José: His book is good. That one demystifying Romulo. Which is not completely true, I know Romulo. But there’s more than a kernel of truth in that book!

Arnaldo: So you read him also?

F. Sionil José: Ah yeah. Di naman ako basta basta nagsasalita.

Arnaldo: Tell me about Ninoy, Cory…

F. Sionil José: I would select the books and Cory would bring it to Ninoy in prison. I know them both very well.

Arnaldo: What about Robert Frost?

F. Sionil José: What about him?

Arnaldo: You’ve met him, right?

F. Sionil José: Ah yes, he was 80, and healthy when I interviewed him!

Arnaldo: Wasn’t he senile?

F. Sionil José: No! not at all. He was healthier than me kasi his cabin, di naman hills, but there were inclinations. We walked. He was walking faster than I! And I was just 30 years old.

F. Sionil José: Ah, you brought up Robert Frost. The woman that introduced me to him, I learned afterwards that she was the mistress! [laughs]
Was she Filipina?

F. Sionil Jose: No, Americano. Her husband was a good friend of Frost. Works in Harvard.

Arnaldo: Para palang si Hemingway to’?

F. Sionil Jose: [Laughs] but yun ano, yun persona ni Robert Frost, was old and gentle. I read in his biographies that he was cranky, one of the children committed suicide, but I didn’t saw these, iba s’ya sa personal.

Arnaldo: Was he cocky at all?

F. Sionil José: No, he was very nice. Very nice.

Arnaldo: These are the Americans intellegencia that was against the American empire

F. Sionil José: Oh yes. Ok, let me get back to work. Next time don’t show up unannounced!

Arnaldo: I will. Thank you Sir. I really appreciate this. Agnamayak!

F. Sionil José: [Laughs] Ok, ok.

May 2013

Great! but Grossly Over Priced Books!

I found two good books earlier. The first one,”Puentes de España en las Filipinas”, a coffee table bookloaded with picturesque images of stone arched bridges from the Spanish era. The pictures in Manila shows old bridges that amazingly survived countless conflicts and natural disasters. Some of them obscured by plant life, some by the constant reckless concrete repairs courtesy of our stupid public works department.

The other book is “Isabelo’s Archive”, from one of my favorite historian, Cebuano Resil Mojares. (For sampling of an excerpt click here). Mojares is a gifted scholar–he weaves historical stories and accounts that captivate the Filipino reader. His works are interesting and informative–only problem is that most of his books are high-priced. To be fair, it’s not only his books but most Filipiniana titles. I find it strange that when the subject is Philippine history, the more expensive it gets!

Cover of Puentes de España en las Filipinas

I don’t know why we have expensive books. For a nation that does not read the pricing does not make sense. This book by Mojares shares the same price with that dry, controversial book from Dan Brown!

Those who write romance novel and novelty books gets it.They sell their books nickle-and-dime. And it’s proving to be a great marketing tactic. Of course, history books would be harder to sell even if prices drop. Ambeth Ocampo and F. Sionil Jose are doing what I think is the right thing here. Find ways, creative ways to bring the price down–and the readers will come–they’re not only making good profit but also advancing their advocacy.

I don;t know if these historians are even aware how their works ends up being priced. If you’re a scholar don’t you want more people to discover your work. Why price it beyond their reach then?

The Last Bote

A day after the election, I came across eight guys drinking on the sidewalk not far from our home. On top of their makeshift table is a plastic pitcher, a glass, a plate with crushed ice and another plate with some salted peanuts. My father who knows everyone in this village told me that these men worked all day as volunteers for the former mayor who just unseated the current progressive young mayor– the reason for the drunken celebration. It would be safe to assume that the money they used to procure their alcohol supply was their poll watcher allowance. Not the wises thing to do but hey, these ‘estambays’ religiously follow the creed ‘let tomorrow worry about itself’.

The following morning, about three or four of these half naked men lay wasted inside a jeepney parked on the side of the road. When I went home that day, I saw some of them, now dressed and smoking cigarettes,  standing in front of the neighborhood sari-sari store seemingly waiting for nothing.

That’s a clear eight to one advantage. I realized that my vote isn’t going to tip the polls balance. So why try?

This would be the third time I’m going to the polls. And this could very well be the last.

I voted for four senatorial candidate, a mayor, a vice mayor and a couple of councilmen (both offers free ‘notario’ and legal assistance). Why vote for 12 senators when you know there’s only a few that deserves to be in the senate. The quality of those running for public office has gone down to the bottom of the imburnal.

Voting these days feels like picking rotting fruits. It’s just a matter of choosing which ones are not as bad as the bad ones.

What’s with these old corrupt dinosaurs and their venal relatives all running for office? These showbiz personalities trying to find their second careers in politics?

The scary part is that these people are being voted in–proof that we haven’t learned anything. Just when I thought that the likes of Erap would have a hard time getting elected, they and their family are back–if this is not a sign of a self destructing society then tell me what is?

Our political structures keeps the best and brightest out of contention. These political dynasties and their filthy rich patrons, accomplished building a political machinery so formidable no common man, no matter how qualified, could challenge it. Occasionally, you’ll have the likes of Grace Padaca winning against these political dynasties but this happening is as a rare as seeing a white cockroach. And when these deserving men and women manage to sneak in the back door, how long do they last? Most of these standouts had already lose their reelection bids! Power has gone back to the political dynasties in the provinces–this is our sickening political reality.

People are not going to vote for progressives in this country–only those who could guarantee more hand outs. And traditional politicians, with their vile ways are quick to exploit the masses appalling desperation. That’s their bread basket right there. More poor, more power.

Why would they educate the poor when it is this condition that guarantees exploitation? Keep them dumb and hungry. This guarantees perpetuity in Filipino politics.

The Times They Are A Changin Covers

I was looking for the original Bob Dylan version and stumbled upon several covers. Some are really good. I like this one from Eddie V.:

Then there’s this one from an angel voiced artist called Gabriell Aplin:

There’s probably more than two dozen covers (by recorded artists) but Tracy Chapman’s was pretty awesome. This one performed during Bob Dylan’s 30th Anniversary:

Springsteen performed the song in 1997 at the Kennedy Center Tribute to Dylan. He did alright but I had trouble reconciling this iconic resistance song being  sung in the presence of US politicians – the barkers of today’s wars.

“A song with purpose”, that’s is how the songwriter described the short folksy song he composed in 1963. A few months after its release, JFK was assassinated.  Just imagine what it was like for Dylan to be singing the song during those days.

Lovin’ this Phil. Diary Project!

One of the first thing I do when I’m online is read the blogs that I follow. I recently followed Manuel Quezon III’s, the Philippine Diary Project. It’s so good that it’s taking much of my reading time lately.

The initiative is a collection of diaries from known 20th century historical figures. It’s still on its beta stage so I could imagine the number of diaries increasing as time pass. The blog’s content is an invaluable resource for Filipinos aspiring to understand the past.

I read all of Ferdinand Marcos’ journal this morning. I wonder if they have more to add. Fascinating first hand accounts around the time things were starting to fall apart for “macoy”. The site included scanned image of his journal. For a strongman his handwriting appears very feminine.

This one, written January 28, 1970 Wednesday 11:50 PM:

The pattern of subversion is slowly emerging. The danger is now apparent to me but not to most people. The conspiracy to grab power and assassinate me and about a hundred officers. The terrorism in Central Luzon with the HMB’s and the Ma-Mao holding some towns in their power. The repeated cases of liquidation of government sympathizers, informers and agents; the pink intellectuals, writers, professors and students and fellow travelers. Then the time bomb in Jusmag. The riot in Congress last Monday. Now the UP faculty marches to Malacañang tomorrow and denounces police brutality and holds the administration responsible for the “policy of repression” and the “violation of rights”. Then another mass demonstration that may lead to another riot next Friday notwithstanding promises of Gargaritano, the Security officer of the student demonstrators [in the conference this afternoon in the palace] that he will coordinate with MPD chief Tamayo to maintain peace. And I am certain this is just the beginning. The newspapermen I have in my list are busy placing the government in disrepute and holding it in contempt before the people. The sabotage and the killings will continue. The slow chipping at the people’s confidence in government authority. If we do not prepare measures of counter-action, they will not only succeed in assassinating me but in taking over the government. So we must perfect our emergency plan.

And of course, our history is never complete without the galling American interference in our politics. Here Marcos’ speaks about the US Ambassador, written January 27, 1970:

I also met at 10:45 with Ambassador Byroade whom I quietly confronted with the story the Liberals are spreading openly that the American Embassy is supporting an attempt at a coup d’etat. He claims they only listened to the need for a coup. I told him of Patterson’s suggestion to blow up the bridges to isolate Malacañang. He seemed stunned and said he was greatly concerned and would do something about it. He said as long as he & Nixon were in position we would not be fighting Americans.

Going back to Quezon’s initiative, it’s interesting that he placed his content using WordPress. Perhaps he wants to maintain that bloggish appeal. His blog project links with other sites with similar content. I didn;t know that there are that many sites dedicated to diaries. Even found an interesting link containing Rizal’s journal.

What’s fascinating about diaries is that they’re unmediated accounts. Yes, it’s subject to bias, as most personal views go but the fact that they’re written by a direct observer gives it bearing and latitude.

British Bloggers Dead in Thai Road Accident

“We’re in Thailand.” The last map widget feed in Peter Root and Mary Thompson’s blog.

Both cyclist died in Thailand in a tragic road accident last Monday. The cyclists was traveling in Thailand when a vehicle hit them. Prior to the South East Asian country, they passed by China, Kazakhstan, Iran, Turkey, Italy, Germany and France, where they started their journey.

The bloggers from Guernsey UK, was “cycling the world” and posting their adventures on their popular blog,

Traveling has its joys as well as its dangers. There’s the unknown. Things could go bad.

We’ll all miss Peter and Mary.

de AnDA

Filipino Made Backpacks

One of my favorite accessory when I travel is my Blazing Products belt bag. I bought it in 2004. It’s no Jansport but it sure is good if not better. I had two imported backpacks but this locally made belt bag, which I use far more often, managed to outlive them all.

Yesterday, I saw some Deuter belt bags on sale. During Chinese New Year there are many of these marked down sales here. I thought of buying but doing so meant using my old black belt bag less. No. I can’t do that to my 9 year old bag!

My bike with my old black belt bag tied on its handle bar. Cory and Ninoy’s grave site. Circa 2009.

I have no idea if Blazing Products still make bags. I can’t find them online. Did they went under? Now, that would be a shame. We Filipinos have this inexplicable, often extreme, affinity with imported products. Local products, even those possessing excellent quality, rarely gets support. Blazing Products are good reliable bags. I had a Bobcat backpack in high school. In my elementary years, it was the Khumbela bag. Remember them?

A former American boss found it amazing that Northface products are doing well in the country. I explained to him that we have good bags but local consumers would go for brand (the “estaytside” mentality). Even if that means paying triple the price.

While I was in Germany, I came across a couple of backpackers and one of them was carrying a Sandugo backpack. They were Swedes exploring the German country. The guy said he bought his from a shopping mall in Manila. They needed an extra bag and found a “bargain with very good make” in Sandugo. I have a Sandugo 40L bag (a different model from the one that guy was carrying) that I bought in 2008. I don’t do a lot of mountaineering, I just find them perfectly suitable for long trips and they’re not expensive at all. I sometimes check this bag in during flights because when its packed, it’s too bulky to hand carry. So it;’s taking some abuse from airport luggage handlers. It’s still in one piece, so that’s a good sign.

I’m not being paid to say these things but I feel that we have great bag makers and they deserve support from travelers like me who happens to have some presence on line. I want to do my part in putting them out there. I’ve been a fan of these Filipino companies for a long time and I would be happy to convince even one person to buy go try their products.

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