Santa came once

I do not remember the Christmases we spent at Gabriel Beato Francisco’s house on Lipa Street in Sampaloc, our refuge after the Guerrero residence in Ermita was destroyed by “friendly” fire, during the Battle for Manila in February 1945. My maternal grandma was a daughter of G. Beato Francisco so that was probably why we, … Read more

Brain food

This Christmas I am giving myself five books, but I couldn’t wait so I “opened” my presents yesterday and began reading one of them until the wee hours. Kasaysayan at Vulnerabilidad by Dr. Ma. Florina Orillos-Juan (chairperson of the History Department of De La Salle University) is a must-read; it is quite riveting. This well-researched book … Read more

My nightmare

On my way to Intramuros last Thursday, in a careening double-decker bus, the Motorco of one’s childhood, I whizzed by the Rizal monument which, to my horror was about to be submerged in a veritable lake of foam and bubbles formed by cascades that gurgled out of the windows of Torre de Manila. That odious … Read more

Reina de México y Filipinas

Before leaving Mexico where I had spent a delightful month with Fatimah and her family, she gave me a goodbye gift, a T-shirt of Our Lady of Guadalupe with   “Reina de México” inscribed beneath the world-famous image.” You can wear it to sleep, or to the gym,” my daughter said, “I know you are not … Read more

Puerto Rico’s Jones Act

After reading my column, “Puerto Rico, the forgotten,” Mr. Richard Berkowitz, operations director of the Transportation Institute, was kind enough to send me this message: “The Jones Act only requires all cargo moving from one US port to another US port (including the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico) be borne in a US-flag vessel whose crew … Read more

Rizal corner 20th Avenue

Once a week after a Pilate’s workout, I pamper myself with an early lunch in a favorite bistro on Rizal and 20th Avenue.  The place pretends to be a library and brags that it has existed since 1889, that was probably why I was attracted to it. On ground level, enclosed in glass, it has … Read more

Puerto Rico, the forgotten

Now that Christmas is around the corner, people are wondering about Puerto Rico, that American territory which is not a state, but whose inhabitants are citizens of the USA. Last September, the island was devastated by two hurricanes. Irma, the most destructive in Caribbean history, swept across Puerto Rico on 6 September and on her … Read more

Mexico’s cowboys

The cowboys we see in Hollywood movies and spaghetti Westerns, galloping in the dust, killing Indians, and dueling with each other   are a very far cry from their Mexican counterparts, if only from the sartorial point of view. A few months after I arrived in Mexico in 1975, my uncle, the Philippine ambassador, took me … Read more

Hidalgo, the ‘anti-Christ’

When Fr. Miguel Hidalgo’s army – a congregation of criollos, mestizos, indios, and mulatos – marched to Guanajuato to capture this strategic state, the Archbishop of Mexico, Antonio de Lizana y Beaumont, rapidly circulated a pastoral letter warning the inhabitants of Nueva España (now Mexico) about the “once brilliant star” of the clergy who had … Read more

Mystery of the shrinking clothes

Here I am in Mexico, sister republic of the Philippines. During the Spanish colonial period, the Philippine colony was called Capitanía-General de Filipinas, administered by the Virreinato de la Nueva España, now Mexico, which sent a yearly subsidy of silver pesos to keep the colonial economy afloat. As you already know, the Manila-Acapulco galleon, also … Read more