Tag Archives: cabuyao

More Philippine history books puh-lease!

As force of habit, when I’m in Manila I spend a few hours scouring local bookstores for Filipiniana titles. I even have a planned budget to spend!

Since very few Filipino publishers goes to Kindle (like Sionil Jose’s publisher) you have to buy titles you like before they’re gone. I’m a die-hard bibliophile but I also don’t mind the convenience digital books affords.

So what did I found the last time I was home?

Great Philippine history titles, very good ones.

Thanks to university publishing houses like UST, Ateneo and UP. These guys are putting up some fascinating historical books out in the book market.

I’m done reading Richard T. Chu’s “Chinese and Chinese Mestizos of Manila: Family, Identity and  Culture 1860s to 1930s,” and “Chinese Merchants of Binondo in the Nineteenth Century”. The latter, about a 100 pages, is a quick read that provides a glimpse of how Chinese merchants took advantage of colonial laws and local traditions to progress their social and economic standing. These two books compliments each other.

Another good title, “Arenas of Conspiracy and Rebellion in the Late Nineteenth Century Philippines,” by Michael Cullinane. The book’s about the anti-Spanish movement in the south (most significant took place on Palm Sunday, “tres de abril”, in 1898) and how it influenced the entire country. The name of this foreign author sounded familiar, found out later that he also wrote, “The Parian of Cebu City: A Historical Overview, 1565-1898,” a must read if one endeavors to understand Cebu’s history.

The last title I purchased is “Sakdalista’s Struggle for Philippine Independence 1930-1945” by Motoe Terami-Wada. I haven’t started reading this one but the book’s subject is of great interest personally. I’ve heard of the Sakdalistas at a very young age from my father.  In 2011, I visited the church of San Policarpio in Cabuyao where some 61 of them perished during a battle that only lasted 48 hours.

Wada also authored the book “The Japanese in the Philippines 1880’s-1990’s” which is a collection of stories from Japanese living in the country in the 19th century. An interesting read for it contains reflections and attitudes of the Japanese in the country prewar and post war.

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Last December, Benedict Anderson, author of “Imagined Communities” and “Under Three Flags” died in Indonesia. A leading scholar in South East Asian history and a personal favorite of mine. He traveled Filipinas quite extensively in a second hand car. I wished I had my books signed when he was still around.

I’ve always been curious why there seems to be as many foreign Philippine historians as Filipino historians. That these folks are around tells us that they’re getting support to research and write. Maybe more than our local historians.

I remember a visit I made in the National Archives in Kalaw a few years ago. I was surprised that in the table where you wait for your papers I sat with foreigners. I could imagine those old white men writing journals and books about us one day, maybe they probably did by now.

An uncle, who once owned a small clothing line, told me that local brands would always have a hard time competing with foreign brands because Filipinos have an aversion to buying local. I don’t accept this completely, there are some trusted local brands, but there’s some truth to his claim.

I wonder if this attitude applies also to history books? Do we prefer reading history when it’s authored by a foreigner? Do we trust them more?

When I was in high school I read William Henry Scott. The  foremost expert in Pre-Philippine history. What I remember then was that it was our history teacher who recommended his work. I was surprise that we were pointed to an American historian instead of a Filipino.

I think there’s nothing wrong with foreigners contributing to Philippine history text. In fact, if it weren’t for them we would know less of our past. We would have not known about Lapu-Lapu if Magellan’s scribe never bothered to mention his name but what I’m saying is that we need more Filipinos to write more about Filipino history and even more Filipinos to buy and read more Filipino history book!

I am sure many Philippine history buffs shares this sentiment.

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Calamba by Bike. Rizal @ 150!

What I discovered recently is how its so much better traveling around old towns in a bicycle. It won’t always be possible as tehre are limitations in the number of places you can reach but nothing  beats the health benefits (which I desperately needs!) and the mobility it affords.

Since I was expecting some rain (I usually check weather satellite reports) I counted on clouds keeping  the weather mild. I figured with that it would not be that hard to pedal my way from Muntinglupa to Calamba.

I passed by Binan, Sta. Rosa and Cabuyao with relative ease. There were no significant increase in elevation. I bought some liquids and apples along Sta. Rosa. As noon time drew closer the heat became more and more intense.

The heat was almost summer-like. I caught a break when it rained but it didn’t last long. Paid a high price as the sun scorched my skin and flesh on my way back home.

In Calamba, the city government is installing overpasses for pedestrians. It appears similar to the one you find in Alabang. Several roads were closed and re-routed. I had to  push my bike and walk alongside people in narrow pathways for pedestrians. Traffic was terrible.

I find it funny when you ask people for direction. They’ll always tell you “malayo pa” (still far) but I would usually find out that its not. Filipinos are a friendly bunch. I’ve never been denied assistance in my years of traveling.

From Calamba crossing, Rizal’s house is just a few blocks away. There are several bahay na bato around. The city government must tap into the potential of promoting them as sites to visit in Calamba.

I lost count how many times I visited Rizal shrine. A lot of people are bothered with what NHI did a couple years back. Coloring the house light green (I’ve seen this in most part of Asia, paint is a good preserving agent). I see nothing wrong with it. I just hope that they’re using the right paints. Otherwise, it would do more harm than good.

Ever since the 150th birth anniversary celebration the visitors has increased in number. And there’s good business to be had in selling Rizal souvenirs and books. I like the “Rizal Haligi ng Bayan” logo so I bought some stuff bring back home (two fridge magnet and a grocery bag).

I hope they’ll go beyond the lessons they learned from the house museum. Rizal’s a fascinating man. His life story is full of contrast, contradictions, of passion, of beliefs and fate, sacrifice –  for me, he’s the most amazing genius that ever walked the Filipino earth.

Like all Filipino heroes, Rizal, his life and his works, has been subjected to political and academic manipulation. Groups in the past and even today continue to cash in on his reputation and honor. Over time Rizal’s true message has been diluted by hidden agendas and conspiracies.

We need to look back and ask one question, Did we really follow his lead?

NHI don’t get a  lot of funding but with the way they continue restoring and protecting heritage houses they deserve to be commended. I particularly remember the trial house in Maragondon where they extended their resources most fully. Of course, there’s a lot work to do, as there always is. I hope they’re up to the challenge because we are losing a lot of these historical houses at a very rapid rate.

Some photos I took:

My first stop. Sta Rosa. Bought some refreshments and ate two medium sized apples (10 pesos each). A beggar came to me and asked for some change. Gave her two pesos. She wasn't happy with that. Blame your government for diluting the value of your currency lady, not me 🙂

Crossing Calamba bridge. People still wash clothes and take bathes here. I can only imagine how cleaner it was decades ago.

They call it "Mercado de Calamba". People are now beginning to understand the historical value of the Spanish language. Its strange that some historians made it appear that Rizal was against the use of Spanish as a language when it was he who wanted it to be used as a tool for Filipinos to exercise their freedom of speech, arts and their other liberties. The Rizal spoke Spanish in their home. According to a great grandson, Jose is addressed as "Don" in their Calamba home.

Rizal spuvenirs anyone?

Rizal @ 150 ala Warhol. This image is from his last studio portrait. I believe he was 29.

Aside from souvenirs, people that maintain the place sells "Mabolo" a smelly fruit that can be found all over the islands. There are several Mabolo trees around the shrine. There are thousands of places in the country named after this humble tree.

The Bahay na Bato has an architectural style that cannot be seen anywhere else.

I like the name, "Lecheria", the name suggest that this barrio is where dairy products were produced in Calamba. The hills is also the site of Calamba's ancient cemetery said to be reserved for non-Christians.

Rizal's Monte de Maquiling at a distance.

23 July 2011


Cabuyao and the Sakdalista Incident

Cabuyao now is popular for its industrial complex. Their local government claims that they’re “The richest municipality” in the country. Looking at the list of investments from major companies verifies this to be true. The old Cabuyao, where ricefields dominates the land, is now an industrial haven. San Policarpio is an elegant church. I took this picture during our "mahal na araw" (lent) last year. The white small stone marker that looks like a mailbox on the right portion of the photo contains the name of the massacred Sakdalistas.

Like all of our old towns, Cabuyao’s history left a trail of a deep past and a vibrant culture. Evidence of this are the old houses and the Church of San Policarpio. Most of the old houses in Cabuyao are threatened by neglect and the inability of the local government and the families to conserve these gems of our past.

There are many reasons why these issues persist. Insufficient funding, inappropriate development or the lack of it are the most common ones you’ll hear.

One of the most popular uprising in our history made its mark in Cabuyao. The brutal ending of the Sakdalista’s that were holed up inside the church of San Policarpio (bullet holes can still be seen on the walls of the historic church) marked the beginning of the end of the peasant revolt. There’s a small memorial in front of the church where the names of those who perished are engraved.

The Sakdalista movement, although now long forgotten, was one of the most significant resistance during the American period. They advocated “absolute” independence from the US. Unfortunately for them they were up against a popular Filipino President in the person of Manuel Quezon (to them a man with “Dugong Kastila”). Going against American policy was increasingly becoming  unpopular during their time as there were “signs of progress” and wide acceptance of the Filipino led government.

The government (in Cabuyao, personally led by Gov. Cailles) forcibly retook  the town the Sakdalista’s occupied. They were said to protest inside the government buildings, refusing to vacate the premises while burning American flags.

The Sakdalista’s were all gunned with heavy firepower.  Benigno Ramos, who was in Nippon land allegedly seeking support from its militaristic leaders, hearing that his people were decimated in Laguna and Cavite, stayed in Japan as a political refugee. He went back home when the Japs came to our shores – reminiscent of another forgotten hero, Hen. Ricarte, who refuse to pledge allegiance with the Americans and fled to Japan.

The  Sakdalista was a legitimate organization at the beginning and personally, although history books tells us otherwise, until its end (They had members who were elected in official post) They were pushing the agenda of complete liberation from the Americans. Their ideals were more or less the same with the early revolutionaries who refused to accept American rule after the Spaniards left.

How can an organization seeking “freedom” be treated like they were a different people by their own people? Clearly, hands were forced so Filipino’s will have to take on Filipinos. Many resistance leaders were ratted out by their own “kababayan”  as were the case of Aguinaldo with the Macabebe.

To many, the group is synonymous to “populism” which appealed greatly with the peasants. For the  Americans and her Filipino allies the group were  extremist and dangerous – they were considered threat to “democracy” and “American interest”.

There were rumors circulating at the time that the Sakdal followers were planning to take over the government in Manila. When the Sakdalista’s finally made the bold move to take over local municipalities, the stage was set for the government to crash with all its force this rebellion.

If one is to revisit the rationale used by Ramos (he got the name Sakdal from French writer Emil Zola’s “J’accuse”) one will find that he believes in the democratic processes but he and his followers refused the powerful hands of the colonial government and the paisano leaders that he viewed as mere puppets and “not representing the lower class”. Like  Ricarte and Macario Sacay, he was made to appear like a shady figure, a mere bandit – up to this day, standard history books has backed up the notion that people like them were leaders of “small rebellions”.

If we are taught proper history these hero’s who went up and challenge the right of the Americans to rule the land should have never been deleted. Our history books are filled with lies and partial truths – There are many historians and writers that continues to trumpet the US occupation as our golden age. Filipinos suffered greatly under the Americans at the turn of the century but we continue to gloss over the facts, what we remember are the Fraile, the Kastila and all the evil deeds unfairly associated with them. There’s no mention of American brutality. Deaths during the Spanish revolution would turn pale in comparison to the genocide committed by the Americans.

Let us quote the WASP hero, US Army General Leonard Wood, speaking about the campaign against the Filipinos: “The present war is no bloodless, opera bouffe engagement; our men have been relentless, have killed to exterminate men, women, children, prisoners and captives, active insurgents and suspected people from lads of ten up, the idea prevailing that the Filipino as such was little better than a dog.”


San Vicente Ferrer in Mamatid and Pitalo

Pitalo Cebu

A friends post reminded me that Cinco de Abril was the feast of San Vicente Ferrer. We honor his memory with naming many towns after him, the exuberant fête during his feast day, but who is this so called “ángel del Apocalipsis” . I started reading about him when I read an article about a strange relic that is deposited in St Vincent Ferrer Church, in Manhattan Nueva York. Believe it or not, the relic was a finger belonging to the Spanish Saint. How it was acquired, the people of that Church won’t tell. You see icons and pictures of this man with a bible on his left hand and other hand, raised to the sky, his index finger pointing to the Heavens – well, one of those finger is there in New York, placed inside a reliquary.

The elevated pedestal behind the altar of Mamatid's church where one can make the "mano" (touching of the venerated images' cloth)

The interior of Mamatid Shrine.

In Cabuyao, San Vicente is a popular devotion, partly because parts of Laguna was Dominicano country before it was ceded to the other Friar orders. They were the ones who spread the devotion to the Dominican preacher, considered by many as one the most influential evangelist of all time. The Saint Vincent Ferrer Church in Mamatid was recently declared a Diocesan Shrine because of its popularity among the faithful, in and outside the Cabuyao town. When I was there last year, I met some people, dressed in maroon tees; they help keep the place spotless and safe. They call themselves the Caballeros of San Vicente, men who dedicated their lives for their Saint and Parish. I was assisted by one of them to go at the back of the retablo, where there is a small opening, just enough space so you can put your hands in and touch the clothe of the image of San Vicente, which is almost  the same size as that of Sto. Niño de Cebu. The Caballero said that during special holidays people would line up by the hundreds to lay a hand on the old icon. The entry then gets bolted when there’s no one to look after the antique icon.

The Times' reports on the relic of St. Vincent inside the beautiful Manhattan Church of St. Vincent.

In Cebu, I came across this charming century old chapel of Pitalo in San Fernando Cebu, dedicated to San Vicente. A local in his blog writes:

It houses a late 19th century wooden image, about 2ft tall, that many people claim to be miraculous, this writer including.

St. Vincent Ferrer is feted thrice annualy in this chapel: In February, to commemorate the Miracle of the Blood, when the villagers were spared from sure death brought about by an endemic cholera plague; on his official feast day on April 5 (usually moved to the Second Monday after Easter Sunday, just like in the saint’s hometown of Valencia, Spain); and in July for the Miracle of the Light, when, even without being connected to the generator, and even when the generator was not running, the chapel lights were mysteriously lit for about five hours. This event was witnessed by so many people.

The ceiling paintings on tin sheets were executed by the famed Cebuano duo church painters, the self-taught religious painters Raymundo Francia and Canuto Avila.

They claim that theirs is a miraculous image that it watches over them at all time.Ironically, a security guard watches over the adored image of San Vicente because of thievery. Cebu has one of the highest number of religious art being stolen. This has prompted the Cardinal to offer all parishes, those who fear that their relics are in danger of being stolen, the safety of the Diocese museum in Cebu City for safe keeping.

While the Saint was still alive, there were countless of miracles attributed to him. Does this also explain why images and icons of this Dominican Saint are often reported to possess miraculous healing powers?

* Pitalo article by Louie Nacorda


Visita Iglesia

Probably, the most challenging trip in recent memory for me. Lacking sleep and rest, straight from work, with the hottest of seasons upon us – I committed to worship in all seven Yglesias I listed down from the other night with the help of Layug’s classic, “A Tourist Guide to Notable Philippine Churches”. The mission was to start from the church Pagsanjan back to San Pedro, from 10 in the morning until 3 in the afternoon.

I’ve embarked on such Visita Yglesia when I was younger but kalokohan always gets the better of me. When you’re young you don’t take these activities seriously. You’re on it because there’s nothing else to do during Viernes Santo. And then, you reach adulthood and you start to realize that there’s more to it than just being a trip. When you age, all of these traditions start to make sense. The meaning jumps out, it becomes clear.

The Iglesias on the list, in order: Pagsanjan, Sta. Cruz, Pila, Los Baños, Calamba, Cabuyao and San Pedro. I had to replace Victoria and Ba-I as there were very few roving jeeps going to these towns and I was under time constraint. I had to keep going and so decided to go to Los Baños and Calamba instead.

After covering roughly around 200 kilometers of traveling, using only public transportation which was fast becoming infrequent as the clock nears 3 pm, I reached the last Yglesia, the final stop – pass 3 in the aftrnoon time.

Pagsanjan, Church of Our Lady of Guadalupe

This church, first built in wood and nipa by Father Agustin de la Magdalena in 1687, was reconstructed in 1690 by Miguel Guan-Co and Aguacil Mayor Alfonso Garcia, improved in 1853 by Father Joaquin de Coria and its transept added in 1872 by Father Serafin Linares and cipriano Bac. The Church was damaged during the WWII. Its three level early renaissance façade has a semicircular arched main entrance and choir loct window. On its left is a three storey bell tower topped with a dome.

The church houses the image of Our Lady of Guadalupe. The original image, a gift from Mexico, was stored in the main altar in 1688 but was destroyed during the American air raid on 15 March 1945. In 1946, Mexican Catholics donated a life size image of the Virgin made by Ramon Barreto, a noted sculptor from Toluca. Another image was sculpted by prominent Manila Sculptor Maximo Vicente is also housed in the Church.

Sta. Cruz, Church of Our Lady of the Immaculate Concepcnion

First built by the Franciscan Father Antonio de la Llave in 1608, this church was enlarged in 1672 by Father Miguel Perciva with the addition of two wings (giving the church the form of a cross). It was improved in 1850 by Father Juan Antonio Marzo, who built the principal nave and convent and remodeled the five altars. The church was destroyed during the 18 July earthquake. It was reconstructed by Father Antonio Martin de Vidales  in 1881, assisted by Filipino Father Gregorio Ercilla, his coadjutor. On 26 January 1945, the church was partly destroyed by fire during the liberation in the WWII, leaving only the walls and stairs of the convent. It was reconstructed in 1948 through the initiative of Father Mariano Limjuco.

Pila, Church of Saint Anthony of Padua

The town’s church was first built in 1618 but was transferred to its present location in 1800 due to frequent flooding The present structure was built in 1849 by Fathers Antonio Argobejo and Domingo de Valencia, badly damaged during the 18 July 1880 earthquake (Its bell tower toppled), repaired by Father Damaso Bolaños and finished by Father Lope Toledo. The convent, completed ini 1849, was also serisouly damaged during the 1880 earthquake.

Los Baños, Church of Immaculate Conception

The church was first built as a chapel from 1613 to 1727. Destroyed by fire, It was rebuilt in stone on its present site by Father Domingo Mateo in 1790. The belfry, sacristy and tile roofing were supervised by Father Manuel Amat in 1852. The convent and bell tower were destroyed during the 1863 earthquake but repairs were made during the administration of Fathers Manuel Rodriguez and Gilberto Marin in 1880.

Calamba, Laguna

Cabuyao, Church of St. Policarp

This church was first built in 1637 along the lakeshore in what is now Barrio Marinig. A big flood in 1763 destroyed he church. The present structure, built further inland in 1771 was renovated in the 1970’s. Its bell dates from 1850. Bullet holes in the churchs stonework date back to the 1935 Sacdal Massacre.

San Pedro, Shrine of Sto. Sepulchro

Home of the miraculous Sto. Sepulchro of Barrio Landayan.

Thank you Lord Jesus.


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