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

Rizal–terrorism vs. revolution

When I first read “El Filibusterismo”, I was too young to understand why it is “ profound and perfect” ( Rizal’s own words), so I was appalled that Maria Clara jumped off the convent roof before Simoun could rescue her and that his revolution failed. Two decades later, I read it again and caught a … Read more

Bonifacio, Luna, Mabini in Osias readers

“The Philippine Readers”, a teleological series of textbooks for Filipino youth during the American colonial period, was edited by Camilo Osias who had lived through the Revolution against Spain, the First Philippine Republic, Philippine-American War, the Commonwealth, Japanese Occupation and five years of Marcos’s martial law. Mr. Osias was 90 when he passed away in … Read more

Reading with Camilo Osias

I am the happy owner of two pre-loved Camilo Osias books both titled, “The Philippine Readers”; I do not know if these were also used in private schools, specially the sectarian ones,   during that period called “peacetime”.   The revised edition of Book Six is in mint condition, although it was first published in the USA, … Read more

How English was taught

In 1901, General Arthur MacArthur ( Douglas’s father) announced: “A rapid extension of educational facilities is an exclusively military measure…” What a clever strategy, that was the essence of “benevolent assimilation”  and “pacification.”  Immediately, Gen. Elwell Otis endorsed  7 schools opened by an army chaplain, shortly after that mock battle in Intramuros between Spanish and … Read more

Ending Women’s Month

As Women’s Month comes to an end, I am rereading essays written by my mother (Carmen Guerrero Nakpil, CGN) about the Filipino woman. She was not a feminist, yet she defended women’s rights to education, freedom of speech and assembly, the pursuit of happiness and self-fulfillment. Her most famous articles about women were published in … Read more

Women in my life, 2

How I wish I had asked my grandmothers more about themselves.  Both lived in historical times; both survived  a yesterday of revolutions and wars of invasion;  their today overlapped with mine and they unobtrusively prepared me for a tomorrow of uncertainties. My paternal grandmother, Concepcion Arguelles (Lola Conchita),  married Mauricio Cruz,   son of Maria Rizal, … Read more