God gazes at the Philippines– 87 paintings

“The Lord gazes at the Philippine Islands”: In  Spanish,   “ El Señor mira ( contempla)   a las islas  Filipinas” is a satirically humorous piece,  translated into English by Dr. Encarnacion Alzona in 1957 and included in  “Rizal’s Prose” published by the Rizal Centennial Commission in 1962.  To celebrate the 159th birthday of its author, it … Read more

Rizal, imagining Christianization

Like many of us today, Jose Rizal must have wondered whether the first batch of natives who were baptized knew what was going on. Language was a barrier; Spanish missionaries had not yet learned our native tongues, nor compiled those monumental glossaries and grammar books. No matter how clearly they enunciated the strange Iberian words … Read more

Rizal– yet another novel?

Jose Rizal, who would have turned 161 on 19 June,  was a sociologist by instinct, an irrepressible observer of human nature. He could not resist conjuring scenes and creating incredible characters from the frenetic tumble of events that marked his life.  He wrote a short essay about Dapitan, where he was banished for 4 years  … Read more

A cannon for Manila Bay

On 12 June, there will be a “Heritage Cannon” on the dolomite beach and it will most probably fire a deafening shot (sans projectile) to celebrate the 124th anniversary of our Independence. The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) aims “ to encourage patriotism among the public and to signify that the battle to … Read more

When Filipinos were not Filipinos

According to our high school history textbook, when the Colegio de Santo Tomas ( now University) was established in April 1611, it opened its doors to Filipino students. But, that was misleading, the late Dr. Domingo Abella used to argue because the Filipinos then were offsprings of full-blooded Spaniards born in Las Islas Filipinas. The … Read more

Leon Maria Guerrero, the exile

Two days ago, it was the birthday of Leon Maria Guerrero (LMG), my uncle, the one responsible for that classic phrase about beauty contests – “Basta de barbaridades!” Then ambassador to Spain, when he learned I was on my way to Long Beach, California, he cabled my mother. He was pessimistic about my chances, but … Read more

Elvis, Oscar and Dmitri

Elvis Presley, then the indisputable “King of Rock” was the icon of all my female contemporaries, to the chagrin of the Maryknoll nuns (our teachers) who denounced him as an “occasion of sin”. Until Elvis came into the picture, no one sang with such a sexually provocative style. Although we danced to rock and roll … Read more

A post-election dread

At this writing, 22:16 hours, May 9, I am seized by dread as election results from various sources appear online. From regions 1 and 2, the solid North, the BBM-Duterte tandem has emerged the winner, as expected. But, there are 15 more regions in the Republic of the Philippines. Brace yourselves for a frenetic tumblel … Read more

Rizal argued with himself

Throughout his life, Jose Rizal constantly argued with himself. In his mind, political thoughts contended vigorously, endlessly. He expressed his convictions and beliefs in his letters to his family and contemporaries, in travel journals, essays for “La Solidaridad”, and more emotionally through the characters of the Noli-Fili (It is only one novel, he said). Rizal … Read more

Rizal’s Simoun and winds of destruction

Jose Rizal must have wanted his two novels to be read as one book, that is why on the title page of the hand-written original of ”El Filibusterismo” (1891) these words appear in parenthesis– (II parte del Noli Me Tangere). But, Rizal crossed it out before bringing the manuscript to the printer. Be that as … Read more