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  1. #1

    US journalist in the Spanish-American war cites Filipinos’ strong sense of justice

    In the century or so of Philippine-US relations—marked today (July 4) as Filipino-American Friendship Day—Americans are invariably portrayed as liberators and/or imperialistic colonizers, democratic allies and benevolent teachers, missionaries and investors, or tourists and bride-seekers. Francis D. Millet came with the US colonizers in 1898 as a journalist embedded in the American army and wrote about what he saw in the strange country seemingly with the air of white-man superiority typical of the era. Fourteen years later, he would be among the passengers riding first-class who drowned in the sinking of the RMS Titanic that killed 1,500 people. A visual artist-turned-journalist, Millet was in the Philippines from June to September 1898 as a war correspondent for Harper’s Weekly and LondonTimes. He wrote of his experiences in his little-known work, “The Expedition to the Philippines,” published in 1899 and recently digitized by the US Library of Congress. Millet’s 275-page chronicle provides glimpses of the Spanish-American War in the Philippines, the Philippine Revolution under Emilio Aguinaldo, the fledgling First Republic and the uncertainties brought about by the growing American military presence in Manila.
    Beginning of the end
    The arrivals included Gen. Wesley Merritt, who was to become the first US military governor of the Philippines. They were welcomed with a cannon salute by the Olympia, flagship of Adm. George Dewey, whose fleet had defeated the Spaniards but was unable to complete the capture of Manila due to the lack of troops. “[T]he dull echo of the great guns sounded along the great curve of the low shore miles to the north where the domes and towers and palaces of Manila gleamed white in the sunlight, and carried to the Spanish an emphatic message that this was the beginning of the end,” Millet wrote. Tension was high in the Spanish and American camps as they were expecting the arrival of a Spanish fleet from Spain to relieve the American siege and drive away Dewey. The fleet, then at Suez Canal, was later ordered to return home.
    Filipinos left out
    By then, the American and Filipino troops closing in on Manila had divided up the surrounding towns into “zones of occupations.” Millet wrote that the American military leaders, who considered Aguinaldo neither an ally nor an enemy, planned to edge out the Filipinos from their zones. Millet said the arrival of more American troops had worried Aguinaldo and other Filipinos, who feared that minor incidents might result in hostilities between the two camps.
    Battle of Manila
    The Filipinos’ fears were not unfounded—they were left out of the final attack on Manila. Millet accompanied the US troops as they advanced to Manila, digging trenches and setting up defenses around the walled city. The switching of night lights at the Luneta and the presence on the US command ships of diplomat-emissaries from the Spanish camps were signals to Millet that “something decisive” wasabout to happen. This was the Battle of Manila on August13, when the walled city, after a token resistance, surrendered to the Americans. Millet arrived just in time to witness Spanish Governor-General Fermin Jaudenes and Merritt sign the preliminary capitulation terms at the Ayuntamiento, or City Hall.
    The hostilities over, the tired Millet, after joining the American military’s victory supper, crossed over to Binondo and spent the night at the Hotel Oriente. Later, as the US occupation of Intramuros and nearby villages began, Millet even found himself invited to lodge in Malacañang. From the Palace grounds, he observed Filipinos living along the Pasig River and using it as a trading thoroughfare.
    “Everywhere along the river on the banks and on all the native craft, the men and women are always bathing and washing their clothes.The bath is usually taken in the Malay fashion by pouring water from a cup or dipper over the head and body, and it is no uncommon sight to see a laborer deliberately walk into the water, take off his garments one by one, wash them, put them on and walk away, aperambulating clothes-drier,” he wrote.
    Music lovers
    As for the women, Millet said they were “dressed in the thinnest cotton jacket and sarong, waded into the water up to their waists andbeat the soiled garment with stones and clubs much the same as peasants of European countries do.” Millet commended Filipinos, whether in the city or in the provinces, for being clean in their bodies, clothes and homes, adding that apart from mosquitoes, he was never pestered by any other insects, whether at Camp Dewey or Malacañang. He particularly praised the Filipinos for being habitually temperate, for being understanding of foreigners unfamiliar with local customs and for being music lovers. In nearly every hut, a guitar ora similar instrument would be found, he said.
    Typhoon warning center
    In Ermita, Millet visited schools and the Manila Observatory. Its director, Fr. Federico Faura, showed him seismic equipment, a large telescope imported from the US, and scientific drawings and engravings by Filipinos. Millet learned that the observatory had put up 14 stations throughout the Philippines to send daily or hourly weather reports by telegraph. The observatory also acted as an early warning center for neighboring countries. “From (the) reports, the approach and probably force and direction of the dreaded typhoons are immediately anticipated and a warning telegram is at once sent to Hong Kong and thence transmitted to all important shipping ports in China and the Yellow Sea,” Millet said.
    Aguinaldo interview
    In August, as negotiations began in Paris on a treaty ending the war, Aguinaldo moved his capital from Bacoor to Malolos, where he announced the convening of a Congress on September 15 to write a constitution. On that day, Millet found himself on the Manila-Dagupan railway traveling to Bulacan to interview the President. He had befriended the railway manager, Horace Higgins, and they journeyedto the end of the rail in Pangasinan. Higgins wanted to complain to Aguinaldo about the destruction of rail tracks, the raids on the stations and the strikes by rail workers. At Aguinaldo’s headquarters in Malolos, they were ushered into a waiting room and given Manila cigars.
    Gentleman in black
    “[W]hile we were lighting up, a small individual, in full evening black suit and flowing black tie, presented himself before us,” Millet said. “Never having seen the gentleman before in civilian’s dress, I did not for a moment recognize him, but was struck at once by the Chinese cast of his head and features. An instant later I saw, of course, it was Aguinaldo, and we all three sat down, after a handshake,and began our chat.” Millet and Higgins tried to speak to Aguinaldo about public interest matters but to every leading question, the President would reply, “My people will decide,” or “I shall be obliged to refer this to my people in whose hands I am.” Millet was generally unimpressed with Aguinaldo and thought he was a mere figurehead. However, he noted that Aguinaldo’s manner were “irreproachable” and he was cunning and astute. After promising Higgins that he would deal with the strikers, Aguinaldo invited them to the opening of the Congress.
    Sweltering heat
    At Barasoain Church, Millet saw that the delegates were wearing black coats, in contrast with current photos showing them in white. He observed the delegates were using their bowler hats to fan themselves vigorously due to the heat. Millet said he and a Japanese were the only foreign journalists at the Congress’ inaugural. When Millet left Manila on September 22 for Hong Kong, the delegates were still drafting the Constitution and more US troops were arriving in the occupied city.
    Gentle people
    Millet admitted his narrative only gave one side of the picture. “Most of our men had never any dealings with semibarbaric people andthey were absolutely unable to comprehend their nature or to appreciate the motives of the Filipinos, who were, from the American point of view, almost as far removed from the condition of civilized man as are the anthropoid apes,” he said. Personally, Millet said, he never had any difficulties with Filipinos, except those which naturally resulted from the state of tension that existed. “The officers and the soldiers with whom I came in contact under ordinary circumstances were always courteous and friendly and the natives not bearing arms were as gentle and mild-mannered as any other people of Malay stock,” he said.
    Virtues and faults
    Millet said Filipinos “have many grave faults, but they have remarkable virtues as well.” “Since their faults are different from those to which we are accustomed, they take a more prominent place in our estimation of their character and the temperament of this interesting race,” he said. “They are said to be irregular in their habits of work and are shiftless and improvident. That is, of course, partly theresult of the climate and of long oppression, but it is really temperamental at the bottom. They are also commended for loyalty to those for whom they conceive an affection, for remarkable domestic virtues and for generous instincts of hospitality. “They are extremely sensitive and nervous and have a strong sense of justice which, if once outraged, breeds in their minds a spirit ofvindictiveness, which almost amounts to a madness.” In April 1912, Millet, 65, was returning from London when he, along with his bosom friend, Maj. Archibald Butt, a military aide to President Howard Taft, went down with the Titanic. Millet’s remains—among the 300 bodies recovered—were buried in his native Massachusetts. A memorial fountain at President’s Park in Washington, dedicated in 1913, commemorates the two friends. Changing The Face of The Game!

  2. #2
    History goes boom in Valenzuela; slums yield massive war artifact

    By Nathaniel R. Melican

    Philippine Daily Inquirer

    10:51 pm | Saturday, October 27th, 2012

    For years it lay partly buried, of all places, in the middle of a dirt basketball court. But local residents who had long considered it part of their community finally agreed to have it excavated, restored, and shared with the rest of the Filipino people.

    A 9-ton cannon dating back to the 1800s was recently unearthed in a slum area near Valenzuela City Hall in Barangay Malinta.

    The artillery piece, about 10 feet long, was made in Spain but later dedicated by the Americans to a US colonel who served in the Philippine-American War, according Jonathan Balsamo, curator of Museo Valenzuela and head of the restoration project.

    Balsamo said the war relic would undergo restoration in the next few months as a heritage piece of the city. And though the cannon bore inscriptions in memory of an American officer, he said it should now serve as a reminder of the Filipinos who fought in the Battle of Malinta, a rarely told episode in the war that raged from 1899 to 1902.

    “The cannon’s body indicates that it was made in 1859 in Trubia, a village in Asturias, Spain, known for making cannons,” Balsamo told the Inquirer in an interview last week.

    After the war, additional inscriptions were made and remained legible to this day: “In memory of Col. Harry Clay Egbert, US Army, Brigadier General–US Volunteers, who was mortally wounded on this spot while leading his regiment, the 22nd US Infantry, 26th March 1899.”

    “Historical accounts indicate that Egbert died in the Battle of Malinta. And what is fascinating about this part of the Philippine-American War is that while the Americans were able to control Malinta, they did not defeat the Filipinos in actual battle,” Balsamo said.

    The Filipino fighters took cover in a church when they saw the Americans approaching, he said, quoting records. Aware of the range of their rifles, they waited for the right distance before firing at enemy troops as they went past the church.

    “That was when Egbert was killed,” he said. “The Filipinos pulled back only when they ran out of bullets.”

    The American colonial government under Acting Governor General Henry Ide later marked Egbert’s fall by building a memorial in the area. A 1906 proclamation designated a tract of land in Malinta (then still under the jurisdiction of Bulacan province) as the Egbert Monument Reserve.

    “The place was landscaped and this cannon, complete with the inscriptions, was erected at the center of the monument,” Balsamo said.

    However, the monument fell into neglect in the years that followed. In the 1990s, the cannon ended up being “swallowed” by the earth after treasure hunters dug a tunnel beneath it, Balsamo said.

    After the diggings, only the cannon’s tip—showing the parts known as the knob and the neck—remained visible aboveground, and it oddly jutted out at an angle in the middle of what is now an unpaved basketball court. Also, parts of fence marking the monument still stand.

    “Over the years, under previous city administrations, there have been many attempts to recover the cannon. They all failed for various reasons, but mainly because residents in the area resisted the plan,” Balsamo said.

    “They were reluctant to have the cannon excavated, saying their ancestors were allowed by the Americans to look after that piece of land,” he said. Some residents even threatened to bring the issue to court.

    “We had to hold a dialogue in late September to inform them that we will restore the cannon. It was only then that we were able to persuade them and start digging,” the museum official said.

    It took around 60 workers two days to get the rusty cannon out and another day just to drag it to the road where a forklift was waiting.

    The massive gun is currently kept in a warehouse, its restoration to be funded by the city government and handled by experts from the National Historical Commission of the Philippines.

    “After the restoration, we plan to put it on display at City Hall grounds for everyone to see,” Balsamo said. “But through it we are now recognizing the unnamed Filipino soldiers who fought Egbert and his troops in the Battle of Malinta.”

    “For me, this cannon is now about the Filipinos who showed courage and nationalism, soldiers who were never paid to fight yet stood up in defense of our country,” he said. “This is not just about the appreciation of an artifact. It goes deeper. It should make us think: What form of heroism can we do for our country now?”

  3. #3
    Honest Naia workers cited: ‘My God, you people are amazing!’

    By Jerome Aning

    Philippine Daily Inquirer

    11:57 pm | Tuesday, February 12th, 2013

    “They are angels in our midst.”

    This was how Manila International Airport Authority General Manager Jose Angel Honrado described four airport workers who returned money and other valuables left behind by passengers at Ninoy Aquino International Airport (Naia).

    “This February alone, we have multiple recoveries reported to us. This is truly heartwarming. We are very happy that the culture of honesty is very much alive at Naia. These ‘angels’ are our source of pride,” Honrado told reporters on Tuesday.

    In the latest incident that took place on Feb. 8 at Naia Terminal 3, Rodileen de la Vega, a building attendant, found a black wallet on top of the utility shelf inside one of the toilet cubicles.

    She called her work partner, Mina Ilagan, and asked her to call for another witness. Together, they brought the wallet to the Airport Police Department (APD) outpost for proper turnover and to check the owner, who was later identified as Maksim Pantaleev.

    The wallet, which contained peso and US dollar bills with a total value of around P60,000, was later claimed by Pantaleev.

    Three more recoveries were reported to the Miaa earlier this month.

    On Feb. 2, Ronnie Oquendo, a member of the Miaa job order personnel, found a black pouch containing P96,000 in cash that was left behind by the then Bacolod City-bound Lucebar Tajan inside a toilet also at Terminal 3. Oquendo turned over the pouch to the APD’s lost-and-found section.

    Tajan was contacted thanks to an identification card belonging to his wife Arsenia, which was also found in the pouch. The couple were already in Bacolod when reached by Naia officials.

    Tajan flew back to Manila the following day to get the pouch, and gave Oqueno a token of the couple’s gratitude.

    “We are going to use the money for the treatment of our child who is sick. We commend Mr. Oquendo for his honesty,” Tajan later told reporters.

    On Feb. 6, Mark Joven Aquino, a service crew member of Little Vin Vin cafeteria at Terminal 2, found a brown leather vest on one of the seats of the restaurant, with one of the pockets containing some P66,000 in cash. The vest and the money were returned to the owner that same day.

    On Feb. 7, Richard Baybayon, a messenger-janitor of the Bank of Commerce branch at Terminal 1, found a brown clutch bag on top of the bank counter. The bag contained cash in different currencies, two silver bracelets, a digital camera, a mobile phone and a British passport belonging to Alan Bernard Stephens.

    Stephens, a 59-year-old banker then on vacation in the country, realized he had lost his bag when was already in a cab going to his hotel.

    The tourist went back to Naia with little hope of getting his bag back—and was surprised to find it in the lost-and-found section.

    “My God, you people are really amazing! For that amount I knew that the finders would think twice about returning it, but you airport people are wonderful. Thank you very much,” an APD staff member quoted the Briton as saying.

    Honrado said he would gather the honest airport employees in the monthly flag ceremony next month to formally honor them. Airport employees who had received praise for similar deeds in the past were given plaques of appreciation and bonuses.

  4. #4
    Film on Philippines’ rescue of WWII Jews to premiere in SF U.S. Bureau

    3:17 am | Wednesday, March 27th, 2013

    SAN FRANCISCO–The premiere of a historical documentary entitled “Rescue in the Philippines,” which shows the desperate plight of the Jewish Diaspora during WWII and how the Philippine government rescued some 1,200 Jews who fled Nazi Germany and Austria, will be held at The New Peoples Cinema in Japantown, San Francisco on April 7.

    The one-hour film documents a previously untold story. Five Frieder brothers, Cincinnati businessmen making two-for-a-nickel cigars in pre-WWII Manila, got together with Manuel Quezon, the charismatic first president of the Philippines, Paul McNutt, U.S. High Commissioner and former governor of Indiana and an ambitious Army Colonel named Dwight Eisenhower. The group devised a scheme to help 1,200 German and Austrian Jews escape the Nazis and immigrate to the Philippines.

    Conchita Applegate of the Philippines American Friendship Organization (PhilAm Friends) and Mary Farquhar, San Francisco coordinator for the film put the final touches on the preparations for the premiere, which their organizations are co-sponsoring.

    Mary Farquhar’s Viennese parents were part of the fortunate group that was rescued and she sees the film as a major tribute and testament of gratitude to the Philippines for its heroic and generous action. Her family became Philippine citizens.

    The Philippines has also welcomed and accommodated refugees from other major conflicts, including thousands of White Russians from the Russian Civil War (1919-1920), refugees from Mao’s post-WWII China, and hundreds of thousands of refugees from the Indochinese conflict, who were given a temporary home before going on to final resettlement in the U.S. plus other countries.

    The premiere is on Sunday, April 7, 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. at the New Peoples Theater on 1746 Post Street, San Francisco (Japantown). A reception and refreshments will follow the showing. There is no admission charge, but donations are apprecieate. Seats are limited. RSVP in subject line to

  5. #5
    Philippines: A Jewish refuge from the Holocaust

    By Rodel Rodis

    5:45 pm | Saturday, April 13th, 2013

    The 1993 Best Picture movie, Schindler’s List, informed the world about Austrian industrialist Oskar Schindler and how he saved 1,100 Polish Jews during WWII by hiring them as workers in his factory. A new documentary, Rescue in the Philippines: Refuge From the Holocaust, being shown this month in hundreds of PBS stations throughout the US, will now inform the world about Philippine Commonwealth President Manuel L. Quezon and the role he played in helping German Jews escape Nazi persecution in 1939 by providing them with visas and safe shelter in the Philippines.

    The significance of Quezon’s actions can be appreciated in the context provided by another Hollywood movie, the 1976 film, Voyage of the Damned, based on the true story of the 1939 saga of the luxury liner MS St. Louis, which left Hamburg, Germany with 937 Jewish passengers bound for Cuba. When the ship landed in Havana, the Jews were refused entry, as the Nazi authorities expected. The ship then headed for Florida where the US government also refused to allow the Jews to disembark. After the ship was refused entry in other ports, it returned to Germany where its Jewish passengers were forcibly removed and dispatched to concentration camps for extermination. A Nazi official in the film declares: “When the whole world has refused to accept them as refugees, no country can blame Germany for the fate of the Jews.”

    But at least one country can. In the year when the MS St. Louis was rejected by all the countries where it sought refuge, the Philippine Commonwealth accepted 1,300 Jews and was willing to accept as much as 10,000 more if the US State Department had allowed its commonwealth to do so.

    The Washington Times reported on December 5, 1938 (“Quezon Urges Jews’ Haven”) that “the possibility of a haven for Jewish refugees from Germany was broached today by Pres. Manuel Quezon” who said “I am willing to facilitate entrance of such numbers of Jewish people as we could absorb…I favor large scale immigration to Mindanao, if well financed.”

    The untold story of the Philippine rescue of Jews was first prominently recounted by Frank Ephraim in his book, “Escape to Manila: From Nazi Tyranny to Japanese Terror” (University of Illinois Press, 2003), which was based mostly on his own eyewitness account as a child who was one of 1300 Jewish refugees who arrived in Manila in 1939.

    According to Ephraim, the history of the rescue begins with the decision of the Frieder brothers in 1918 to relocate its two-for-a-nickel cigar business from Manhattan to Manila, where production would be cheaper. Alex, Philip, Herbert and Morris Frieder took turns overseeing the business in the Philippines for two years each joining a community that had fewer than 200 Jews. At its height, the Frieder brothers’ tobacco company in Manila produced 250 million cigars in a year.

    The idea for the Jewish exodus to the Philippines came in 1937, when 28 German Jews who had earlier fled Germany for Shanghai were evacuated by the Germans to Manila after fierce fighting erupted between Chinese and Japanese troops. The Jewish Refugee Committee in Manila, headed by Philip Frieder, was formed to help them settle in the Philippines. From these refugees, the Frieders heard first-hand accounts of the Nazi atrocities in Germany and the uncertain fate of the 17,000 Jews still stranded in Shanghai.

    The Frieders decided to seek the help of their poker buddies to get the Philippines to become a haven for the fleeing Jews. But these were no ordinary poker buddies. One was Paul V. McNutt, the American High Commissioner for the Philippines; another was a young officer named Col. Dwight D. Eisenhower, the aide of Gen. Douglas MacArthur, then Field Marshall of the Philippines; and then there was Manuel L. Quezon, the president of the Philippine Commonwealth.

    In their late night poker sessions, as Ephraim recounts it, the buddies hatched a plan for the Philippines to accept as many as 100,000 Jews to save them from persecution in Germany.

    McNutt had served as National Commander of the American Legion and as governor of Indiana (1933-37) before Pres. Franklin D. Roosevelt tapped him to be the High Commissioner of the Philippines in 1937. McNutt’s task was to convince the US State Department to grant visas for Jews to enter Manila.

    Col. Eisenhower’s task was to organize a plan to bring Jews to settle in Mindanao. In the Rescue in the Philippines documentary,Susan Eisenhower, President Dwight Eisenhower’s granddaughter, reflects on his involvement: “It’s one thing to sit around a card table and talk about a worrisome situation—even a dire situation. It’s quite another to actually take some action, and I think that’s why this is a story for all time.”

    President Quezon faced the formidable task of winning over the anti-Semitic members of his own cabinet as well as those in the political opposition led by Gen. Emilio Aguinaldo who viewed Jews as “Communists and schemers” bent on “controlling the world”. In a letter written in August of 1939, Alex Frieder wrote of Mr. Quezon’s response: “He assured us that big or little, he raised hell with every one of those persons. He made them ashamed of themselves for being a victim of propaganda intended to further victimize an already persecuted people.”

    To the members of his own Catholic Church who were prejudiced against Jews, Quezon asked: “How can we turn our backs on the race that produced Jesus Christ?”

    In the Rescue film, Manuel L. Quezon III ponders his grandfather’s reason for helping the Jewish people: “I think for my grandfather, it was perhaps that simple. You have a country. You have a little authority. You have an opportunity. Someone has asked for refuge—which is the most basic humanitarian appeal anyone can make. You answer it.”

    At the April 23, 1940 dedication of Marikina Hall, a housing facility for Jewish refugees that was built on land that he personally donated, Quezon said: “It is my hope and, indeed, my expectation that the people of the Philippines will have in the future every reason to be glad that when the time of need came, their country was willing to extend a hand of welcome.”

    Quezon’s expectation of how future generations of Filipinos will feel about the rescue of the Jews during their time of peril had one flaw: the future generations never learned of the country’s noble deed. After the Rescue documentary was shown at its April 7, 2013 San Francisco premiere, a question and answer forum followed. One Filipina from Vallejo stood up and identified herself as having been a public school teacher in the Philippines before immigrating to the US. “How is it possible that I never heard of this Jewish rescue when I was a student in the Philippines, when I was a teacher there, all the way until I watched this film tonight?” she asked.

    The answers provided by other Filipinos in the audience (“because it was not taught in Philippine history books”) begged the question of why this significant event in Philippine history was omitted from the Philippine history books.

  6. #6
    ^^^ (Cont'd )

    I went to elementary school at Letran College in Intramuros, Manila. Every day, for the 8 years I was there from kindergarten to 7th grade, I passed by the imposing bronze statue of Manuel L. Quezon, the school’s most distinguished alumnus. I thought I knew everything there was to know about Quezon until I stumbled on Frank Ephraim’s book in 2005 and learned for the first time about Quezon’s role as a “righteous gentile” and wrote about it then.

    Why was this heroic episode hidden from the Filipino people? Why was it not included in Philippine history books? Strangely enough, what is recounted in the history books is that on November 29,1947, the Philippines was the only Asian nation to support the partition resolution at the United Nations creating a Jewish State in Palestine.

    On June 21,2009, a monument to Manuel L. Quezon was unveiled at the 65-hectare Holocaust Memorial Park in Rishon LeZion, Israel’s 4th largest city located south of Tel Aviv. The monument designed by Filipino artist Junyee is called “Open Doors”. It is a geometric, seven-meter-high sculpture rendered mainly in steel and set on a base of marble tiles shipped from Romblon, showing three doors of ascending heights.

    Speaking at the dedication ceremonies on behalf of the Philippine government, Tourism Secretary Joseph Durano said: “the monument celebrates the Filipino heart, a heart that touches others with compassion, a heart that makes one a blessing to the world.” But that Filipino heart desperately needs to be informed about the noble act that made it a blessing to the world.

    The education of that Filipino heart has begun in earnest with the release of Rescue in the Philippines: Refuge From the Holocaust and its public airing TV stations throughout the US and soon in the Philippines. This will be followed by another documentary, “An Open Door: Jewish Rescue in the Philippines”, which is being produced and directed by a Washington DC-based filmmaker, Noel “Sonny” Izon.

    In his film, Izon seeks to “explore the rare confluence of the Pacific and European theaters. It juxtaposes momentous events in history such as the passage of the Nuremberg Laws on September 15, 1935 and, exactly two months later, the inauguration of the Philippines as a Commonwealth of the United States. One door closes and another opens…the story of a deep and improbable, international friendship borne of common adversity and intense love for freedom. Together, Filipinos and Jews struggled, endured and ultimately prevailed against overwhelming odds.”

    Izon has a personal reason for making his film. He was born in Manila in 1946, the year after his “deathly ill” father was saved at a Manila hospital by Dr. Otto Zelezny, one of twelve physicians among the 1300 Jews who found safe haven in the Philippines. This film is his chance to thank the good doctor from Berlin who “made my life possible”.

  7. #7
    The three ‘balimbing’

    By Ambeth R. Ocampo

    Philippine Daily Inquirer

    9:45 pm | Thursday, May 30th, 2013

    Nobody ever loses in Philippine elections. Many losers claim they were cheated and file an electoral protest. This pattern goes all the way back to the founding fathers, to March 23, 1897, when Andres Bonifacio and 44 others issued a document that has come down in history as the “Acta de Tejeros.” Unfortunately, many students know the title of the document but don’t have an idea of its contents because it is not provided in grade-school history class.

    This document contains neither the “acts” nor “minutes” of the Tejeros Convention; it is an electoral protest that challenged the results of the election held on the preceding day. Bonifacio and his loyalists declared the election at Tejeros null and void and called on other Katipuneros to consider this to be so because the election was: disorderly, the ballots were tampered with, and it was unclear who were actually qualified to vote. Were these unqualified voters of the same breed we know today as “flying voters”?

    Textbook history oversimplifies the story to paint Bonifacio as a hothead. When Daniel Tirona challenged his election as director of the interior and proposed a lawyer from Cavite instead, Bonifacio drew his gun. No one supported Tirona’s motion, but Bonifacio felt so insulted that he declared the proceedings void and walked out. This presentation of Tejeros generates an emotional response from students when they should be taught to see the whole story, if only to understand why Bonifacio acted the way he did. Tejeros is more complicated than we think.

    Remember that Bonifacio was presiding and the secretary at Tejeros was Artemio Ricarte. They sat at a table tallying the votes when Magdiwang treasury secretary Diego Mojica informed the Supremo that many voters did not fill out the ballots as these had writing on them before distribution. One account even states that the writing on the ballots were all by one hand! Bonifacio ignored this and proceeded with the election. Why? Which faction stood to gain from this fraud?

    If we look at the Tejeros results, we will see that the Magdiwang had a clear majority: president, Emilio Aguinaldo (Magdalo); vice president, Mariano Trias (Magdiwang); captain-general, Ricarte (Magdiwang); director of war, Emiliano Riego de Dios (Magdiwang); director of the interior, Bonifacio (Magdiwang). That’s four to one. What happened?

    When Trias, Ricarte, and Riego de Dios took their oath as elected officials of the new revolutionary government, did they transfer their loyalty from Magdiwang to Magdalo? Should we consider them balimbing? Perhaps the three balimbing who changed sides and the course of history did not really owe their loyalty to Magdiwang or Bonifacio? Can we give these three balimbing the benefit of the doubt and presume they saw beyond their local Katipunan affiliation and glimpsed the nation at the end of the tunnel? Did their defection signal an end to the Katipunan, a withdrawal of support from Bonifacio? If so, how could the revolutionary government represent everyone as one nation when Katipunan leaders from outside Cavite were not present? Maybe we should challenge the current thinking that Tejeros was the Magdalo elite from Cavite seizing power from the Magdiwang elite or the “masses” represented by Bonifacio?

    Was Tejeros a vote of confidence for Aguinaldo, who was a promising military leader, against Bonifacio, who had not won a single battle and was unfairly referred to by some in Cavite as “alsa balutan” or someone who sought refuge in Cavite after the disaster in San Juan (a historic site known as “Pinaglabanan”)?

    What about numbers? We do not know how many men cast their votes in Tejeros and how many of them were qualified to vote. But if we are to go by the account of Telesforo Canseco, the ballots cast for the presidency were: Aguinaldo 146, Bonifacio 80, Alvarez 30. That makes 256 votes. The hall was full and described by Carlos Ronquillo, secretary to Aguinaldo, as being so packed there was no place for a pin to drop. “Siksik na siksik lahat nang sulok ng malaking convento. Walang mahulugang karayom.”

    Let’s presume that Ronquillo’s crowd estimate included: voters, alalay, and uziseros. This crowd, or a part of it, later voted by standing at different corners of the room designated for nominees for director of war and director of the interior. If Canseco’s count is accurate and there were indeed 256 electors in Tejeros, then the 45 who signed the protest we know as the Acta de Tejeros was a minority. From the 45 who signed the Acta some, like Ricarte, eventually joined the Aguinaldo government. How many really supported Bonifacio at this point in the game? What should we learn from the tragic fact that Bonifacio was killed by the very revolution he started?

    Textbook history tells us that Rizal, the First Filipino, was universally accepted, but it doesn’t tell us about the elections in Madrid that showed Plaridel as the better politician. Textbook history states that Bonifacio’s leadership was undisputed, but it doesn’t tell us the whole story of Tejeros and how the mantle of leadership transferred to Aguinaldo. It is time to go beyond ideological bias and emotional response and ask hard questions about Tejeros. Each time I ask my students to ponder these questions, I know these will not yield definite answers. But the discussion alone provides insights relevant to our times.

    * * *

  8. #8
    The virus of racism

    Philippine Daily Inquirer

    9:01 pm | Monday, June 10th, 2013

    In one “friendly” match between two Italian clubs last January, Ghana’s Kevin-Prince Boateng of the visiting AC Milan kicked the ball into the stands and walked off the pitch in anger and disgust. He was followed by his teammates and supported by his club and the match was abandoned. In the days that followed—instead of being raked over the coals for what seemed like unsportsmanlike and unprofessional conduct—Boateng was hailed as a hero by the world of football.

    That singular act was a powerful blow delivered by one person against the one malignant ailment that has afflicted the world’s most popular sport for decades—racism. Boateng was verbally abused by fans of the host club and, after 25 minutes of racist chants, he decided he would not take it any longer. With one single kick, Boateng achieved what the International Federation of Association Football (Fifa), the world governing body of the sport, had failed to accomplish—to deliver an eloquent and compelling message that hatred, discrimination, intolerance and prejudice have no place in football or anywhere in sports and the civilized world.

    Red-faced after Boateng’s heroism, Fifa formed an antiracism task force to come up with tougher measures against offenders. According to Sepp Blatter, president of Fifa: “There have been despicable events this year that have cast a long shadow over football and the rest of society.” But only days after Fifa adopted the new antiracism measures, another ugly incident was added to that list. This time, the object of racist abuse was an entire nation.

    By all accounts, including that of Inquirer reporter Cedelf Tupas, the match between the Philippine Azkals and Hong Kong last week was hardly friendly. Raucous spectators booed the Azkals and pelted them with debris the moment they entered the pitch of the Mong Kok Stadium to warm up. As sports competitions go, that’s par for the course, no matter that the match was called a “friendly.” But the boos and catcalls got even louder and rowdier when the Philippine national anthem was played. And when James Younghusband scored what turned out to be the winning goal in the first half, it was downhill from there.

    Calling the Filipinos “a slave nation,” a section of the spectators shouted down a small group of Filipinos, mostly women and children, as they pelted the Azkals with water bottles and tetra packs. They unfurled a banner to remind everyone of the botched bus hostage rescue that killed eight Hong Kong tourists in 2010 at the Rizal Park, as if the Azkals and their fans had anything to do with it.

    Overshadowed by the ugly scenes was the excellence on the pitch displayed by both teams, with Younghusband heading in a first-half goal, Neil Etheridge making one sensational save after another, and the Hong Kong side putting up a spirited fight up to the last minute. Almost forgotten, too, was the fact that in its finest performance thus far, the Philippines scored its first victory over Hong Kong since 1958 while enduring the hostility of the host crowd.

    The incident comes at a time when the Philippines is grappling with diplomatic difficulties with its neighbors. Apart from the never-to-be-forgotten bus hostage rescue bungling, the Philippines is dealing with China’s incursions into its maritime territories and the killing of a Taiwanese fisherman by Philippine coast guards.

    Sports had become hostage to these diplomatic disputes. Only last month, the basketball association of Chinese-Taipei withdrew its invitation for the Philippines to defend the title in next month’s Jones Cup basketball tournament, purportedly for security reasons. The situation will become trickier when the Philippines hosts the International Basketball Federation (Fiba) Asia basketball tournament in August. Chinese-Taipei has been grouped with the Philippines in the first round.

    That political statements, let alone racist acts, are made in sporting events goes against the principles of sportsmanship, mutual respect and fair play that must govern all of sports. In Blatter’s words, the whole family of football must go against what has blighted the game for so long.

    “The big problem with racism,” Boateng said, “is that there is no vaccine for it. There are no antibiotics that you can simply take. It is like an extremely dangerous and contagious virus. It is emboldened by our indifference and inaction.”

  9. #9
    Epifanio de los Santos

    By Ambeth R. Ocampo

    Philippine Daily Inquirer

    9:32 pm | Thursday, October 10th, 2013

    Historians work with traces of the past, with diaries, letters, photographs. One could say historians work with ghosts from the past—they are there but you cannot see, touch, or talk with them. One person who took a step historians will never take was Guillermo Tolentino, first National Artist for Sculpture, whose keen interest in the Philippine Revolution is narrated visually and forcefully in his works.

    Tolentino not only relied on library and archival research, he also interviewed participants of an age that gave birth to the nation. Information he could not get from documents, books and oral history he sought from beyond the grave. As a founding member of the Union Espiritista Cristiana de Filipinas, he hosted regular séances in his home on Retiro Street in Sampaloc, where he conversed with all sorts of spirits, many of them figures from our history. In Tolentino’s book “Si Rizal” (1957) is the transcript of a séance that bridged time and space between Rizal and Trinidad Rizal, the hero’s lone sister who lived long after World War II.

    To get a sense of Tolentino’s genius you must visit the Security Bank hall dedicated to his work in the National Museum. Here one can literally stand eyeball to eyeball with heroes and other figures from Philippine history. On my last visit to the National Museum the bust I spent the longest time with was that of Epifanio de los Santos, the obscure historian for whom Edsa, the longest street in Metro Manila, was named. I know his name, I have read many of his works, and I have seen a youthful photograph of him in the rogues’ gallery at the National Library that gives you the faces and names of all the directors from James Alexander Robertson to Antonio Santos. If we rewrite the history of our National Library, the first director should be Pedro Paterno, but then that is another story for another column.

    Epifanio de los Santos was a friend of Tolentino’s and they were considered two of the best guitarists of their generation. Tolentino even made a charming plaster portrait of “Don Panyong” playing a guitar that has since been lost. As I looked face to face at the image of De los Santos—where he was described as “slender, standing about five feet high, with slightly drooping shoulders … his eyes … behind his glasses betray[ing] the prolific poet … a voice as soft as velvet”—I could not see that in a dirty plaster sculpture. But one of the things that make Tolentino sculptures come alive is the way he forms the eyes. In the image, the eyes of De los Santos reminded me that he was a collector of Filipiniana and that some important documents, like the manuscripts believed to be in the hands of Andres Bonifacio (presently in the collection of Emmanuel Encarnacion), were collected and preserved by him. J.P. Bantug, one of the important prewar collectors, described De los Santos as “a lawyer by profession, an historian by choice, and a collector of antiques by accident.”

    According to Rosa Sevilla de Alvero, “[De los Santos] was very fond of studying any kind of books, especially those that referred to the Philippines and the Filipino people. He was [so] fond of this hobby that he was considered as a plague in the libraries of his friends, searching for books of this kind, which he never failed to read and study carefully with or without the unwillingness of the owner.”

    When he accepted the post as director of the National Library, where he served from 1925 to 1928, De los Santos gave up all his passions except for music and books. He stopped collecting Filipiniana and writing history because he considered these a conflict of interest. Bibliographer Gabriel Bernardo explained:

    “Assuming his duties as Director of the Philippine Library and Museum at the sacrifice of personal convenience, [De los Santos] religiously renounced collecting for his personal hobbies and devoted all his energies to the enrichment of the resources of the institution under his care. He also laid writing aside to wait for a greater personal leisure. For it was his creed that no librarian can be a public servant and at the same time be a library’s competitor in the acquisition and use of its resources.”

    Another contemporary remarked that: “When he assumed the position of Director, at a sacrifice of the comfort his independent means gave him, he abandoned all his collecting and gave the same zeal to the furtherance of the Government’s interest that had made his own collection in works, paintings, sculpture, furniture and all other lines of artistic Philippines unrivalled. The Library and Museum profited by his administration more than under any of his predecessors, counting that their work was adding large known collections by purchase made possible by legislative appropriation.”

    Although he redirected his personal collecting zeal to the benefit of the National Library, De los Santos did not turn over or sell the best pieces in his collection to the National Library or Museum. Months after he died of a heart attack, the Philippine Legislature passed Act 3475 on Dec. 7, 1928, appropriating funds to purchase his collection.

    But what of his collection was acquired? What of his collection was destroyed during the Battle for Manila in 1945? Those were questions I asked as I contemplated the Tolentino bust of Epifanio de los Santos.

    * * *

  10. #10
    Naia cops recover P770,000 in cash left in cab by Spanish tourist

    By Jerome Aning

    Philippine Daily Inquirer

    7:58 pm | Wednesday, February 19th, 2014

    MANILA, Philippines — Ninoy Aquino International Airport policemen on Tuesday recovered cash worth P770,000 accidentally left in a cab by an 80-year-old Spanish tourist.

    Marco Muñoz Santiago, who arrived in Manila on Monday from Sydney, Australia, said he returned to Naia Terminal 1 on Tuesday morning to return a baggage that he wrongly claimed. After doing so, he realized that he left his shoulder bag containing cash inside the taxi.

    Airport police department chief Jesus Descanzo said Santiago, a retired physical therapist, sought help from the APD office, which dispatched investigators to contact Santiago’s hotel in Manila for information regarding the cab.

    The cab’s name was identified by the hotel as a “Kevin Carlo Taxi” with plate number UVJ-421. The investigators then contacted the Land Transportation Office, which provided name of the operator, who in turn, contacted the driver.

    The policemen found the cab parked along Pedro Gil Street in Ermita, Manila at around 4:30 p.m. The driver, when confronted by the police, returned the shoulder bag.

    The bag contained US$8,200, US$250-worth of travelers’ checks, and 9,800 Australian dollars and as well as Santiago’s passport and eyeglasses. The cash and checks combined was equivalent to about P770,000 based on Wednesday’s exchange rates.

    Santiago thanked the airport policemen for returning his money.

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