Viva Mexico!

Tomorrow is the National Day of the Estados Unidos Mexicanos. In English, the United Mexican States. That is the country’s official name for it is a federation of 32 states. In the Philippine context, their states are like our provinces. Mexico’s Independence Day is unique, it is a nocturnal commemoration. In Mexico City, people converge … Read more

Love Cebu!

Instead of hauling in the wrecking ball to demolish the Aduana, a heritage custom house, the local government converted it into the National Museum of Cebu, disbursing close to 250 million pesos for adaptive reuse. That was tax payers money well spent on the 16th regional site of the National Museum of the Philippines. From … Read more

Mansyon, true to life

“Mansyon” is a musical about heritage houses; as you know, heritage conservation is one of my passions, maybe because all the heritage homes I would have wanted to save were reduced to rubble in February, 1945, during the Battle for Manila.  Secretly or perhaps not so secretly, I envy those who have inherited heritage houses … Read more


My elders used to call it Cuaresma, a word I have not heard in a long time. In school, I learned that Cuaresma which is Spanish came from the Latin word Quadragesima, but before that the Greeks called the 40th (fortieth day) tessarakoste. For Catholics, there seems to be something mystical about the number 40: … Read more

Boracay twilight

I have to say something about Boracay, even if I was Secretary of Tourism for only two years and eight months. I had not visited the island before then and was more familiar with the Hundred Islands in Pangasinan and Tali and Nasugbu in Batangas where I used to spend weekends with my in-laws. Boracay … Read more

Interesting times

These are interesting times indeed. Those who enjoy reading history may have come across the phrase “interesting times” which is loaded with meaning. It implies unusual changes, drastic ones perhaps, that could bring about disorderly behavior and chaotic situations with unpredictable consequences. “Interesting times” may result in the total destruction of the existing order, or … Read more

Invincible grandmas

Once the board meeting was over, the trustees of the Community Chest Foundation indulged in a delicious hopia and tea merienda, exchanging opinions and witty remarks about the current dispensation. After a while, a lady trustee begged off as her grand-daughter was waiting for her.  There was a spark in her eyes when she said … Read more

What will they remember?

I spent the weekend reading the memoirs of my uncle Francisco Lopez one of Paciano Rizal’s grandchildren who lived to a 100 lucid years. Tito Fran could recite the “Ultimo Adios” until the day he joined his Creator. Two decades ago, during one of Gen. Paciano’s birthdays– always celebrated with pomp at his lakeside residence– … Read more

Looking for the Ñor

In Tanauan, Batangas, beside Apolinario Mabini’s house there is a Philippine-American War Museum, which was opened on the sesquicentennial of the “Brains of the Revolution.” His “fellow traveler,” Gen. Paciano Rizal, appears in the roster of Filipino Revolutionary fighters who defended the First Philippine Republic against the American invaders. Ñor Paciano, which was how his … Read more

Twain and Bud Dajo massacre

In notes dated 12 and 14 March 1906, Mark Twain of the Anti-Imperialist League expressed his horror and utter disgust at the massacre at Bud Dajo perpetrated by 540 American soldiers commanded by Gen. Leonard Wood, a medical doctor and veteran of “the splendid little war” in Cuba. They had heard that 600 Moro men, … Read more