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  1. #11
    Forgotten heroes of 1986 Edsa revolt

    By Ramon Farolan

    Philippine Daily Inquirer

    12:18 am | Monday, February 24th, 2014

    Tomorrow (Tuesday) marks the 28th anniversary of the 1986 People Power revolt that toppled the Marcos dictatorship and brought back democratic norms of governance to the country. Some say it simply restored the dominance of the oligarchy. There may be some truth to this observation.

    Today, the nation continues to be held in the grip of a few families, with the gap between the rich and the poor getting wider. But perhaps, that is another story.

    Last Saturday the Inquirer featured 28 key Edsa personalities. Some of them ended up as senators of the land, two went on to become president, and two are currently embroiled in an ongoing corruption scandal involving the congressional pork barrel or the Priority Development Assistance Fund.

    Let me feature some of the forgotten heroes of the Edsa Revolution.

    In the four days in February 1986 that stunned the nation, two officers contributed in no small measure to the peaceful outcome of the historical event.

    One was assigned at Camp Aguinaldo as part of the staff at General Headquarters and chose to join the rebel group led by then Defense Minister Juan Ponce Enrile and AFP Vice Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Fidel V. Ramos. He had no troops of his own but he was aware of the power and the reach of radio and television broadcasting.

    The other was a commander of troops. He led a Marine brigade of some 1,000 battle-tested men equipped with light tanks, armored vehicles, machine guns and automatic rifles.

    Col. Manuel Oxales was assigned at OJ-5 (Plans and Programs) at the General Headquarters (GHQ), Camp Aguinaldo. After dinner on Feb. 22, 1986, he was informed by his eldest son Neil, that Radio Veritas had just broadcast the defection of Minister Enrile and General Ramos. The radio then announced the arrival of several prominent personalities of government joining Enrile and Ramos in a press conference at the defense building in Camp Aguinaldo.

    On Monday, Feb. 24, after much soul-searching, Oxales, accompanied by his wife Sylvia, proceeded to Channel 4 TV station that had then been captured by rebel forces. Inside the studio, seated around a table facing the cameras, were: Brig. Gen. Eduardo Ermita, Sen. Ernesto Maceda, Niñez Cacho-Olivares, and lawyer Jose Mari Velez. Oxales was welcomed by the group and handed a microphone. He then proceeded to deliver his message, appealing to Brig. Gen. Artemio Tadiar, the Marine commandant and his former classmate at the Philippine Military Academy, to join the Enrile-Ramos forces. He also called on Col. Braulio Balbas, another Marine officer, as well as Commodore Ernesto Arzaga, head of the AFP Logistics Command, to reconsider any possible acts of firing at fellow soldiers and innocent civilians. Oxales also appealed to other AFP officers to join the rebel forces. His recorded message was repeatedly aired on radio and television during the day and night.

    After the broadcast, Oxales and other Channel 4 employees brought the station van loaded with remote broadcast equipment from Bohol Avenue to Camp Crame. At times, they had to pass through areas still held by loyalist forces. These facilities enabled Enrile and Ramos to speak to and rally support from other elements of the armed forces and the people. The uninterrupted use of Channel 4 contributed immensely to the success of the revolt.

    Colonel Oxales was awarded the Bronze Cross for acts of heroism involving risk of life. He retired as Wing commander of Edwin Andrews Air Base in Zamboanga City, with the rank of brigadier general.

    * * *

    Col. Braulio B. Balbas Jr. was the deputy commandant of the Philippine Marines during those fateful days of February 1986.

    On Feb. 23, 1986, he was designated as commander of the 4th Marine Provisional Brigade, with two battalions under him and given the mission of assaulting and seizing the Ministry of Defense Building at Camp Aguinaldo.

    At the intersection of Edsa and Ortigas Avenue, his convoy of troops on vehicles was stopped by parked automobiles and hordes of people. Unable to move further, he was ordered to return to Fort Bonifacio.

    The following day his group was again ordered to move out for Camp Aguinaldo. This time they entered the Logistics Command through Santolan Road. Balbas started to position his 105-millimeter howitzers on the golf course, eight mortars and V-150 tanks in various areas fronting Camp Crame, ready to fire.

    At 9 a.m., he was ordered by Maj. Gen. Josephus Ramas, the commanding general of the Philippine Army and concurrent ground commander, to fire his howitzers at Camp Crame and to report compliance. Balbas hesitated, and reported that he was still positioning the howitzers.

    At 9:20 a.m., he was again ordered to fire the howitzers. He replied that he was still positioning the cannons.

    At 9:30 a.m., Balbas informed General Tadiar that General Ramas had issued orders to fire at Camp Crame. He asked if this was cleared by Malacañang. A few minutes later, Tadiar replied, “The order to fire is confirmed and you can fire.” At this point, Balbas argued that firing his cannons would result in the killing of thousands of innocent civilians. Tadiar then told Balbas to use his discretion.

    At 9:40 a.m., Balbas received another call from Ramas with orders to fire at Camp Crame. Balbas replied that he was still positioning his cannons.

    At about 11 a.m., Tadiar ordered Balbas to return to Fort Bonifacio. Upon arrival he was relieved of his command of the 4th Marine Provisional Brigade and reverted back to his regular assignment as commanding officer of the Combat Service Support Brigade.

    (The sequence of events mentioned above appear in the “Participation Report” submitted to Gen. Fidel V. Ramos, chief of staff, New Armed Forces of the Philippines, by Colonel Balbas on March 1, 1986.)

    Just as the defection of Philippine Air Force Col. Antonio Sotelo and his helicopters is considered a major turning point of the revolt, the decision of Colonel Balbas not to fire his howitzers represented a critical moment in the event that eventually led to a peaceful resolution of the crisis. Had Balbas fired his cannons, the character of the revolt would have been completely changed with far-reaching consequences for the nation.

    Balbas retired as head of Western Command in Palawan with the rank of brigadier general.

    Oxales and Balbas both belong to PMA Class 1960.

  2. #12
    11 Things From Philippine History Everyone Pictures Incorrectly

    Trust us, you do, but we can’t say we blame you (it’s happened to us too). The passage of time, wrong information, and inaccurate portrayals have left us picturing famous events just a way bit off-tangent.

    For the benefit of enlightenment then, let us look at some of the famous events from Philippine history we’ve been picturing incorrectly and see them for what they really are—warts and all.

    11. The First Shot of the Philippine-American War Did Not Happen On A Bridge.
    What You’re Picturing: The first shot of the Philippine-American War was fired on the San Juan Bridge.

    The Reality: As taught to us so many times during our history class, the first shot which started the Philippine-American War was supposed to have taken place on San Juan Bridge. However, it actually happened on Sociego Street in Sta. Mesa. In fact, the marker has since been moved by the National Historical Institute to a corner of Sociego and Silencio streets.

    Also, it is interesting to note that the entire war was started by an Englishman. Yes, Private William Grayson—the man who fired the first shot—was a full-blooded Anglo who later immigrated to Nebraska with his parents when he was still a child.

    10. Those Who Attended The Tejeros Convention Were Magdiwang, Not Magdalo.
    What You’re Picturing: The Tejeros Convention of 1897 was dominated by members of the Magdalo faction led by Emilio Aguinaldo, leading to the latter being elected as the President.

    The Reality: While it was true that Andres Bonifacio had the odds stacked against him at the Tejeros Convention, we’d just like to point out that majority of those present belonged to the Magdiwang faction of which Bonifacio himself was associated with.

    In fact, other than Aguinaldo, the rest who won positions in the new government (Mariano Trias, Artemio Ricarte, Emiliano Riege de Dios) were all Magdiwang. Also of note was that Magdiwang controlled a more-powerful army and larger territory than Magdalo.

    So, what gives? Why was Bonifacio still defeated? Did both factions band together for the common good, or did they fall prey to regionalism? Can we trust the accounts of those who attended the said convention? Inevitably, however, the infamous Tejeros Convention will have to remain as one of the raging controversies of Philippine history.

    9. Jose Rizal Was A Naughty Boy In The Famous “Moth And Lamp” Story.
    What You’re Picturing: Little Jose Rizal was an obedient child who listened attentively as her mother told him the “moth and lamp” story.

    The Reality: Perhaps no other story sums up Rizal’s childhood so succinctly as his famous story about the lamp and the moth. And despite what you may think, little Rizal was actually being naughty.

    Instead of reading a Spanish children’s book diligently given to him by his mother Teodora, he was instead doodling caricatures on its pages. Even after being scolded, he did not pay much attention to the book, instead focusing his gaze on some moths that were flying around a coconut oil lamp.

    To get his attention, Lolay (Rizal’s mom’s nickname) decided to finally tell a story about moths in Tagalog. Sure enough, little Jose attentively listened but never loosened his gaze on the flying moths. And contrary to popular belief, one of the moths met its doom by falling and drowning into the coconut oil after its wings got burned, but not by the fire itself.

    Still, Rizal would never forget the moths, which he in his grown-up years described as “no longer insignificant to him” after that fateful episode.

    8. The Cry of Balintawak (or Cry of Pugadlawin, Etc.) Was A Series Of Meetings.
    What You’re Picturing: The Cry of Balintawak (or whatever other historians call it) is synonymous to the tearing of cedulas (community tax certificates) by members of the Katipunan led by Andres Bonifacio.

    The Reality: To simplify this monumental event as one where Bonifacio and his followers cried for a revolution outside someone’s yard and tore apart their cedulas would do it injustice. In fact, Bonifacio and other top-ranking members of the Katipunan would repeatedly meet and discuss behind closed doors during those fateful days when the Spanish authorities discovered their existence.

    Also, not all leaders of the Katipunan were in favor of the uprising (three of them being Teodoro Plata, Briccio Pantas and Pio Valenzuela). It was only after Bonifacio managed to implead the majority that the revolution finally got underway; the tearing of the cedulas was a mere afterthought (which could be the reason why there are so many differing accounts of the “Cry”).

    Again, to sum it up, there was a series of hotly-debated meetings, a plea for patriotism, and finally an overwhelming decision to finally rise up against the Spanish. Real history is sometimes much more badass than the legend itself.

  3. #13
    ^^^ (Cont'd)

    7. Blood Compacts Were Made By Drawing Blood On The Chest, Not Arms.
    What You’re Picturing: In 1565, Spanish explorer Miguel Lopez de Legazpi entered into a blood compact (sandugo) with Bohol’s Datu Sikatuna. The ritual was done by drawing blood from their arms, mixing it with wine, and drinking the said mixture from a cup.

    The Reality: Contrary to popular belief, those famous blood compacts which signified a peace treaty between the Spaniards and the natives were not done by drawing blood on the arms, but on the chest.

    The incision was usually made below the breast which was to signify how far the participants would be willing to defend each other’s lives. It also manifested the great trust both parties placed on each other (imagine having a blade so near the heart).

    As for the misconception that drawing blood was done on the arms, the mix-up could be attributed to the Katipunan members’ practice of drawing blood on the arms and using it to sign their oath of membership. In time, the blood compacts also came to be wrongly associated with the Katipunan method.

    6. Gregorio del Pilar Died Early Due To His Own Carelessness.
    What You’re Picturing: Gregorio del Pilar was the last man to die at the Battle of Tirad Pass, desperately charging into battle with his white horse whilst clutching a saber before falling to the superior firearms of the Americans.

    The Reality: As fate would have it, del Pilar actually died early in the battle—and it was due to his own carelessness. According to his lieutenant Telesforo Carrasco, del Pilar himself decided to participate in combat after finding out the Americans were being pushed back early on. A few minutes into the battle, he raised his head because of the tall cogon grass and ordered his men to stop firing because he wanted to see the American position.

    Carrasco warned the boy general that he should crouch down because he was being targeted. Unfortunately, no sooner than he said that, an American bullet found its mark and shot through del Pilar’s neck, killing him instantly.

    Ironically, American general Henry Ware Lawton also met his end earlier in the same way—shot in the chest after standing carelessly exposed in a heated battle.

    5. Ferdinand Marcos Wasn’t The First To Proclaim Martial Law.
    What You’re Picturing: President Ferdinand Marcos was the first and only person who proclaimed martial law in 1972.

    The Reality: We may have the image of a strong-faced Marcos pointedly telling us why he declared martial law on television. However, credit for the first declaration belongs to his Minister of Public Information Francisco “Kit” Tatad who delivered the proclamation on air at 3 PM of September 23, 1972. Marcos himself would go on air much later, at 7:15 PM of the same evening.

    4. Jose Rizal Was Finished Off With A Bullet To The Head.
    What You’re Picturing: Jose Rizal’s ultimate sacrifice ended with the exclamation point of him turning his back and facing the sun in one last act of defiance against Spanish tyranny.

    The Reality: While we won’t debate whether his “twist” was deliberate or accidental, we’d point out Rizal’s execution was completed with the “tiro de gracia” or the mercy blow to really make sure he was dead. After Rizal fell, a medical officer went up to his body to feel his pulse (he didn’t declare whether he was still alive or not), and beckoned for a soldier to shoot Rizal in the head.

    The soldier who gave the final blow was in fact the Spanish commander of the firing squad who, after doing the deed, took out Rizal’s bloodied handkerchief and covered his face with it. Also of note was the surreal atmosphere surrounding the execution. While a somber mood dominated the Filipino crowd, the Spanish present (including the friars) treated the whole event as a virtual fiesta, with makeshift viewing stages set up around the execution grounds.

    3. Andres Bonifacio Fought With A Revolver, Not A Bolo.
    What You’re Picturing: Andres Bonifacio is usually portrayed in movies and statues as a rugged camisa de chino-wearing man wielding a revolver and bolo.

    The Reality: While undoubtedly badass, Bonifacio in his lifetime preferred to fight with a revolver and was not known to use a bolo at all. It showed in many instances, such as during the Battle of San Juan, or during the time when he tried to kill Daniel Tirona at the Tejeros Convention. In fact, Bonifacio—in his correspondence with other high-ranking Katipunan members—repeatedly mentioned and emphasized the use of firearms.

    The perennial image of a bolo-wielding Bonifacio can be attributed to Isabelo de los Reyes, the founder of the Aglipayan Church and whose accounts characterized the revolution as a plebeian struggle. His writings inspired sculptor Ramon Martinez to immortalize Bonifacio in his 1911 Balintawak monument as the bolo-wielding and flag-holding barefooted peasant who fought for the masses.

    2. Emilio Aguinaldo Never Waved The Philippine Flag, Nor Was It Done On A Balcony.
    What You’re Picturing: Emilio Aguinaldo proclaimed independence on a balcony of his mansion while waving the Philippine flag in the early morning of June 12, 1898.

    The Reality: Actually, it was Jose Rizal’s distant relative, a lawyer named Ambrosio Rianzares Bautista, who read the Act of the Declaration of Independence in the late afternoon in front of an open window. In fact, Aguinaldo added the balcony only sometime in 1919 to 1921.

    Also, while it was Aguinaldo who unfurled the flag, it was Bautista who ended up waving it in front of a jubilant crowd. Lastly, contrary to popular belief, the flag had already flown twice before its official unfurling—at Cavite Nuevo’s Teatro Caviteño after the Filipino victory at the Battle of Alapan, and again at the Spanish barracks after another Filipino win in Binakayan.

    1. Lapu-Lapu And Magellan Never Actually Duelled.
    What You’re Picturing: Lapu-Lapu killed Ferdinand Magellan in an epic one-on-one fight.

    The Reality: While there was much glory to be had for Lapu-Lapu and his men for fending off the invaders from Spain, (begrudging) respect should also be given to Magellan for going down like a true warrior should.

    While things initially went well for the Spaniards (yes, they were winning the battle early on with their armor and guns), Magellan and his few dozen men eventually buckled under the endless assault of more than a thousand natives they were fighting in the densely-forested inlands of Mactan.

    It didn’t help that the Mactanis started targeting their legs and arms after noticing they were left un-armoured. In the end, it was the heavily injured Magellan (he took a poisoned arrow to the leg, in addition to several slash and stab wounds in his extremities and face) who alone faced off against the natives after he stayed behind to let his men get away, managing to injure and kill a few of them until he was finally overwhelmed and killed on the beach.

    So, for all the bravery Lapu-Lapu displayed in defying the Spanish, we also have to give credit to Magellan for making a last stand worthy of a Hollywood movie.

    About the Author: When he isn’t deploring the sad state of Philippine politics, Marc V. likes to skulk around the Internet for new bits of information which he can weave into a somewhat-average list you might still enjoy. For comments on this article, contact him at:vaflormarcus@yahoo.com

  4. #14
    ‘Padre Damaso’ and the friars: Myth versus reality

    IF THE AUGUSTINIANS, FRANCISCANS, DOMINICANS AND RECOLLECTS WERE MOSTLY EVIL LIKE DAMASO, HOW WAS SPAIN ABLE TO HOLD PH FOR 350 YEARS WITH A RIDICULOUSLY LOW OCCUPYING ARMY?

    By: Pio Andrade Jr. (Contributor)

    @inquirerdotnet

    Philippine Daily Inquirer

    02:45 AM January 25th, 2016

    EXACTLY a year ago when Pope Francis visited the Philippines, Carlos Celdran, who claims to be a culture and history guide for tourists and heritage buffs, made a public appeal for the Pope to intervene in his civil case for “offending religious feelings.”

    The case was filed against him when he disrupted a service in 2010 at the Manila Cathedral by donning the gentleman’s suit * la Jose Rizal and crying “Padre Damaso!” (a reference to the villain in Rizal’s fiction) at Cardinal Gaudencio Rosales and priests and policemen (who were attending the service).

    Celdran, who did the stunt to protest alleged Church violation of the separation of Church and state by its political activism, had called for forgiveness, but he was nonetheless convicted by the Manila court. He had vowed to appeal his conviction at the Supreme Court.

    Now that the Philippines is observing the first anniversary of the Pope’s visit and hosting for the second time the International Eucharistic Congress since 1937, it would be worthwhile to look closely at the issue.

    Is the fictional Padre Damaso an accurate representation of the friars who dominated Philippine life during the Spanish era?

    If the friars—the Augustinians, Franciscans, Dominicans and Recollects—were mostly evil like Damaso, how was Spain able to hold the Philippines for 350 years with a ridiculously low army of occupation?

    If the friars were evil Damasos, would Catholicism, which for the past 100 years has been painted black by public education, be deeply implanted in Filipino hearts?

    If most of the friars were evil, there would have been many records of lynching of priests by the natives. But how come no such accounts can be found in history books, even those written by historians critical of Spain and the friars?

    Let us look at the accomplishments of the friars during the Spanish era which are not adequately described—if they are mentioned at all—in history textbooks.

    The friars propagated many useful plants from Mexico during the Manila-Acapulco Galleon Trade.

    In history textbooks and press articles, the Galleon Trade has been simplified as the commercial exchange of Mexican silver with Chinese silk and spices. But many Filipinos do not know of the Mexican plants that came with the galleons, such as corn (maiz), camote (camotl), peanuts, tomato, sunflower, ipil-ipil, cacao, indigo, kalachuchi, marigold, kamatchili (quamochitl), kakawati, maguey, tobacco, acacia, caballero, papaya, chico, coffee, pineapple, guava.

    These plants have increased the Philippines’ food supply, providing us new medicines, giving rise to rural industries, and beautifying backyards and plazas.

    Some of the better-known friars responsible for the introduction of such flora were: Fr. Jose Davila (cacao and chocolate making); Fr. Diego Garcia (tobacco and cigar making); Fr. Tomas Moncada (wheat); Fr. Octavio (indigo and processing of indigo dyestuff); and Fr. Antonio Sedeno (mulberry; he was a Jesuit, not a friar, but just the same a Catholic missionary like the friars).

    Philippine history textbooks are silent about Mexican plants being introduced locally and the big role the friars played in propagating them all over the country. Some of the plants led to the establishment of extensive rural industries such as cigar, indigo dye, tanning leather, chocolate and coffee.

    But the friars also propagated useful plants from neighboring Asian countries. They popularized the use of moras or vetiver for erosion control of irrigation canals and small streams; citrus plant species from China for eating and cooking; rosemary and thyme for home remedies; and sugarcane from China for the manufacture of sweets.

    The Dominicans brought Tonkin seeds (from Vietnam, of course) and showed the plant’s medicinal potentials.

    The friars built roads and bridges for transportation.

    Dominican Fr. Juan Villaverde built over 100 kilometers of roads in Pangasinan, Nueva Vizcaya and Kiangan. He also pointed out the Dalton Pass as the gateway to Cagayan Valley.

    Recollect Fr. Pedro Cuenca built the Bacolod-Minulan Road in Negros; Franciscan Fr. Victorino del Moral built the famous Puente del Caprichio in Majayjay, Laguna; and Fr. Andres Patino built the Tinajeros Bridge in Malabon.

    The friars quarried stone and introduced new building technologies.

    Dominican Fray Domingo de Salazar, the first bishop of Manila, quarried at the mouth of the Pasig to come up with solid materials to replace the combustible nipa-and-wood house of the native Filipinos. Jesuit Fr. Sedeno introduced the technology of brickmaking and burning limestone to make lime as mortar for brick and stones to build stone structures. These translated into the building of durable, long-lasting stone bridges, churches, schools, fortifications and bahay-na-bato.

    The friars introduced modern irrigation.

    The Philippines was a rice exporter in the 1860s until 1880s because of the irrigation systems built by the friars in many provinces. In Cavite province, the Recollects built 18 irrigation systems that watered 21,000 hectares of rice lands.

    In Calamba, Laguna, under the Dominicans, eight irrigation systems watered 4,250 hectares of ricelands. In Bataan, an irrigation dam of the Dominicans supplied water to 521 hectares of rice lands. Bulacan had two friar-built irrigation systems watering 1,850 hectares.

    In Umingan, Pangasinan, a Dominican priest taught the farmers how to build portable bamboo waterwheels to draw water from brooks or streams below the level of farmlands.

    We became a rice importer because it was more profitable to raise sugarcane, abaca and tobacco than rice by the 1880s.

    The friars made the abaca industry.

    Abaca was a Philippine monopoly and a major export crop starting in the 1830s. Credit is due Franciscan Fray Pedro Espallargas in Albay for inventing the abaca stripper, which made abaca fiber extraction faster and easier while increasing the yield and quality of the abaca fiber, the best marine fiber in the world.

    The abaca stripper was so successful that, from 1830 to 1920, abaca became known internationally as “Manila hemp,” and it accounted for 20-40 percent of the foreign exchange earnings of the Philippines.

    Fr. Espallargas is unmentioned in history textbooks.

  5. #15
    ^^^

    The friars established the hospital, banking and water systems in the Philippines.

    Fr. Felix Huertas, a Franciscan, is unknown except for a street in Manila’s Santa Cruz district, which does not identify him as a priest. He was the head of San Lazaro Hospital for lepers and he founded Monte de Piedad, a combination of savings bank and pawnshop, which was the first agricultural bank of the Philippines.

    But his greatest achievement was completing the forgotten Carriedo to supply Manila with safe, potable running water beginning in 1882.

    I do not remember reading about Fr. Huertas in the many articles on Manila’s past published in the Philippine press.

    The friars established the modern printing press.

    Dominican Fr. Francisco Blancas de San Jose introduced modern printing in the Philippines. This replaced the wooden block press, also introduced by him and the Dominicans, which published the first books in the country such as “Doctrina Cristiana.”

    The press was a big help in education. It helped disseminate the Gospel in the native languages, which meant the friars did not destroy local languages and cultures, as most history books virulently declare, but, rather, they studied and conserved them. The press that Father Blancas established is still running today—the University of Santo Tomas Press, which is the second oldest in the world after Cambridge.

    The friars cultivated the Filipino’s talent in music and the performing arts.

    Filipinos are the minstrels of Asia. One writer noted that nightclubs in Asia would always boast of their Filipino musicians. Indeed, the Philippines may be the most musical of Asians and the friars cultivated the musicality of Filipinos.

    Franciscan Fr. Jeronimo Aguilar was the first to teach Filipinos and deepen their musical talents. The friars taught the natives music for Mass and other religious rituals. I have seen in the National Archives a few Cuentas, the record of income and expenses of each province during the Spanish era; they showed that choir members were paid for their services.

    The friars defended the Filipinos from abusive Moro attackers and slave traders and built fortifications that have withstood the test of time.

    While busy building communities, the friars were also defenders of the natives from corrupt local leaders and pirates who periodically raided coastal villages to plunder and acquire slaves.

    The friars built a hospital and welfare system in the Philippines that was ahead of North America’s.

    The friars built the first hospitals in the Philippines; they built them in the first century of Spanish rule, antedating the system in the United States by 100 years.

    They introduced medicinal plants from Mexico and Spain and recorded for posterity the herbal cures used by the natives, so that Philippine herbal medicinal knowledge and skills were conserved.

    The friars built the sugar industry.

    The giant sugar industry was also due to the work of the friars, particularly the Recollects missions in Negros. Sugarcane then was first crushed between two wood or stone cylinders called trapiche to yield its sweet juice.

    Fr. Fernando Cuenca introduced the first hydraulic sugarcane crusher in 1850, which began the sugar boom and made Negros a very wealthy province.

    The friars built the looming industry.

    The Dominicans, who founded University of Santo Tomas, the oldest university and the only Pontifical university in Asia, introduced the first modern loom system, supplanting the native loom and making weaving faster and easier. Thus, the weaving industry became a big home industry in many places in the country.

    The friars, not the North Americans, introduced public instruction.

    Most Filipinos have been led to believe that Spain did not educate the Filipinos to make them submissive to Spanish officials and that the United States introduced public education in the Philippines. This is a big lie.

    Formal public education in the Philippines officially began in 1863 with the Educational Reform Act. But even before that the friars had been active in teaching elementary reading and writing.

    Gunnar Myrdal, in his monumental classic “Asian Drama,” wrote that the Philippines was ahead of other colonized Asian countries in education in the second half of the 19th century. The Philippines had higher literacy than other Asian countries, even higher than Spain, according to data submitted by Taft to the US Congress.

    This was, in fact, the prime reason for the Katipunan revolution—our relatively advanced state of education and the economic progress under Spain that had been largely fostered by the friars. Revolutions are not started by uneducated masses.

    It is important to point out that the Philippines was economically prosperous during the last four decades of Spanish rule, thanks to the agriculture-based industries—abaca, sugar, tobacco, indigo, and coffee—the propagation and cultivation of which were pushed by the friars.

    Prejudice

    Many of the information about the big role the friars played in Philippine cultural and economic advancement are not being taught in our schools; thus, generations of Filipinos do not know of the good friars. Thus, Filipinos are culturally Catholics but are superficial about Catholicism, especially its moral teachings and the work of the missionaries.

    With the visit of good Pope Francis last year and the hosting of the International Eucharistic Congress this week by the Archdiocese of Cebu—the cradle of Christianity in the Philippines and the largest diocese in Asia, and whose Visayan people are known for their very intense devotion to the Santo Niño introduced by the Augustinians, the first missionary order in the country—it is imperative to re-examine the prejudice against the friars fostered by our ignorance and the lies spread by anti-Catholic or pseudo-nationalist historians and writers.

    Filipino Catholics should banish the negative and largely false image of the friars fostered by dishonest historians, politicians, writers, media men and culture tour guides like Carlos Celdran.

    Pio Andrade Jr. is a history buff and freelance journalist. He obtained degrees from Mapua Institute of Technology and University of Florida, and is a science researcher who has written several studies on ethnobotany, radiation chemistry, textile chemistry, food technology, pesticides and biomass energy.


 
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