Monday, July 30, 2007

42. MAGDARAME: Imitations of Christ

THE WAY OF THE CROSS. A flagellant or magdarame makes his way through the streets while enacting the Lord’s passion, often with blood and gore, as an act of penance or panata. Flagellant processions began in Europe, spread to Spain and reached our shores in the 17th century. Circa 1915-1920.

“Nung ing Ginu lalasa ya’t mamagdusa,
karampatang mung damayan de’t abaran ding sasakupan na..”

The earliest documented flagellant processions in Europe occurred in Italy around 1260-1261. These were believed to be associated with the intensely dramatic sermons of the Franciscan preacher from Perugia, Fra Rainerio Frasani. Flagellant movements spread throughout Europe in the 14th century, and processions were observed in France, Germany, Austria and the Low Countries. During the medieval period, these processions were timed directly with periods of social stress, such as plagues, drought and war.

Flagellant practices appeared rather late in Spain, but acts of mortification and self-flogging were known even before the extensive European flagellant movements. As early as the 4th century, the Bishop of Barcelona, San Paciano (d.392), advocated public self-mortification as a form of penance. Flagellations, more often than not, were meted out by the Church as punishments, preferably during Semana Santa, as specified in the Liber Ordinum.

Spontaneous flagellant processions first were practiced in Catalonia, fired by the sermons of San Vicente Ferrer (1350-1419), a Dominican priest that had an early following in the Philippines. Barefoot penitents wore masks (antifaz), hoods and sack cloth tunicas which were open in the back to permit whipping. The “mano de rodezuela”, a spiked short wooden or hemp-handled whip was capable of drawing copious quantities of blood from the body, thus providing quite a visceral spectacle for onlookers.

Organized flagellant brotherhoods regularized the practice in Europe and when Spain expanded its frontiers to include Latin America and the Pacific, its missionaries introduced the practice to Filipinos, who readily embraced the bloody ritual as part of the new religion and as a way of purification as early as the 17th century.

The ways of the “magdarame” have always inspired awe and curiosity amongst the faithful during the days of Lent. Bloodied, scourged and caked with dust, magdarames live and act out the passion of the Lord—and the term “dame”, to sympathize and share one’s grief-- captures this spirit of Oneness, in pain and sorrow.

The practice of “darame” in Pampanga was popularized by casamacs or peasants, who regard sacrifices such as fasting, prayer or abstinence as too mild. Among these materially deprived workers, only the extreme imitation of the Passion under the searing heat of the sun can cleanse them of their evil. It was further institutionalized during the American era prompted by our colonizer’s curiosity for exotic folk practices. The practice of actual crucifixion was introduced in San Fernando only in the 1950s.

Over the course of the centuries, the rituals of the magdarame’s penitencia has not changed. To prepare himself, the magdarame whips his back until it swells. Then, it is incised with a panabad, a paddle with shards of broken glass or directly with a razor. To draw blood, he flogs himself with burilyos, short bamboo strips tied to a cloth. This type of magdarame—mamalaspas—then makes the rounds of visitas, with face covered with a black hood (capariza) and crowned with twisted branches or leaves.

Another kind is the sasalibatbat, who fling their bodies to the ground, rolling over sharp rocks and stones in the process. Their torsos, legs and arms are tied with abaca rope to impair circulation, hence making the experience more torturous. Mamusan krus, on the other hand, carry crosses on their shoulders or are strapped to the cross itself with arms roped at both ends. The walk around town begins in the morning, ends by early afternoon and is followed by a dash to the nearest river for a quick, recuperative bath.

Behind all these rituals is a personal vow or panata. The magdarame often endures the painful sacrifice in exchange for help for a pressing problem like finding a cure for an ailing relative or even as mundane as passing the board exams. Bloody, gory and morbid as it may seem, the practice of darame continue to persist in Pampanga, a penitent’s direct response to Jesus’ challenge to come and take His Cross, lending support to the claim—no pain, no gain.
(8 April 2003)

Monday, July 23, 2007

41. RUFINO CARDINAL J. SANTOS: 1st Filipino Prince of the Church

TO WIN MEN’S SOULS, TO PERSUADE TIMID HEARTS. The future cardinal , Msgr. Rufino J. Santos, aged 39 years old, as he appears in his official picture as Auxiliary Bishop of Manila and Titular Bishop of Barca . This signed picture was dedicated to his close friend, Rev. Fr. Manuel del Rosario of Angeles City, uncle of the columnist, who also accompanied him to Rome at his elevation to cardinal. Dated 24 October 1947.

By the end of this month, on 31 March, we shall be commemorating the 43rd anniversary of the elevation of the first Filipino to cardinalship, a rank second only to the Pope: His Eminence Rufino Cardinal Santos y Jiao . His ascension to the Catholic hierarchy was keenly followed by his kabalens, who saw his accomplishments as testaments to the depth of Kapampangan spirituality. For him though, there had been no shortcuts to achievement; much hard work and sacrifice had gone into the fulfillment of his vision for the Philippine church, from the time he struggled to fulfill his boyhood dream to be a priest to his installation as head of the premier archdiocese of Manila.

Rufino was born in barrio Sto. Niño, Guagua on 26 August 1908, the youngest male of 7 children of Gaudencio Santos and Rosalia Jiao. His siblings included Manuel, Emiliano, Quirino, Clara, Jovita and Exequiela. Gaudencio, who was working as an overseer for a farm near Arayat, moved his family to Intramuros, Manila after the death of his wife where he hoped to find better livelihood prospects. There, at the Manila Cathedral Parochial School, the 8-year old Rufino was enrolled in first Grade. He was one of the star students of the school, often rendering his services as altar boy or choir boy during the Holy Mass at the Cathedral. His formative years at the parochial school obviously instilled his early ambition to serve God.

Finishing 4th grade with honors, he was accepted at the San Carlos Seminary on 15 June 1921. His road to priesthood took a major turn when, in 1927, he was accepted as a scholar of the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome. Just 19, he left for Italy together with another scholar, 24-year old Leopoldo A. Arcaira. He obtained his Baccalaureate in Canon Law after 2 years, and then further pursued his Doctorate in Sacred Theology for another 2 years. At age 23, he was one year short of the required age for ordination to priesthood, so a special dispensation had to be secured from the Pope. Finally, on 25 October 1931, Rufino Santos was ordained at the magnificent Basilica of St. John Lateran in Rome.

Following his return to the Philippines, Fr. Rufino Santos, or simply Fr. Pinong to those close to him, was named as assistant priest of Imus, Cavite and then parish priest of Marilao, Bulacan. Later, he was transferred to the see of Manila where he became Vice Chancellor (1932) , Superintendent of Instruction and Financial Secretary-Treasurer (1939) all at the same time.

The Philippine Catholic Church was not spared from the onslaught of World War II in 1942. On 4 February 1944, Fr. Santos was arrested and jailed at the Fort Santiago where he was beaten and tortured by Japanese soldiers; he was eventually moved to Bilibid where he was rescued by Americans a year later—on the eve of his execution. Barely had he recuperated when he was named by Archbishop Michael O’Doherty as Vicar General of Manila. Two years later, he was elected as the Titular Bishop of Barca and Auxiliary Bishop to the archbishop. Upon O’Doherty’s death, Archbishop Gabriel M. Reyes of Cebu assumed the archbishopric of Manila by papal appointment, the first Filipino to do so.

Fr. Santos took on the position of Military Vicar of the Philippines in 1951. Upon Archbishop Reyes’ death in 1953, Pope Pius XII named Fr. Rufino Santos as the new Archbishop of Manila. In his new role, he quietly worked towards building a local church sensitive to the needs of the masses, organizing welfare projects such as the Catholic Charities. He launched religious crusades (Purity Crusade for Mary Immaculate), built seminaries (Our Lady of Guadalupe) and restored Manila Cathedral to its old grandeur.

The highlight of his religious life was his elevation to the rank of the cardinal at the Basilica of St. Peter in Rome at 9:30 a.m. on 31 March 1960. In the company of his brother and sisters, and amongst kabalens like Vice President and Mrs. Diosdado Macapagal, Msgr. Rufino Santos was conferred the galero or Red Hat, the symbol of cardinalate, by Pope John XXIII in solemn but glorious ceremonies attended by an international crowd numbering in thousands. Finally, after 400 years of Christianity, the Philippines had a cardinal! It was a thrilling piece of news that was flashed around the globe, reverberating throughout the country and echoing louder in his native Pampanga. Cardinal Santos then issued his first message to a proud Filipino nation that included a prayer and a wish : “Honor and glory to the Lord…Blessed be the great Lady of the Philippines, the Immaculate Virgin…May God bless my Country!”

Cardinal Rufino J. Santos’ 20 years of ministry as pastor of the See of Manila will be remembered as the years of major reforms in the Church as adjured by the 2nd Vatican Council. Liturgical changes, attitudes on family planning, Filipinization of the clergy—all these transpired during his term, not to mention controversies like married priests, an issue that is very much now (Of this, the cardinal says: “A priest is not supposed to get married. When he made the vows, he knew what he was doing. Priesthood is a sacrament that eliminates another sacrament—marriage.”). It was also during his cardinalship that Pope Paul VI made his historic visit to the Philippines in 1970.

On 29 June 1973, Cardinal Santos suffered his first stroke while praying the rosary at Villa San Miguel; he would never recover from his condition. At age 65, the good Cardinal died peacefully at San Juan de Dios Hospital on 3 September 1973 and was interred 7 days later in a crypt at the Manila Cathedral. A whole nation mourned the passing of the first Filipino cardinal, a Kapampangan who made good his promise “to win men’s souls for Christ..” Indeed, Pampanga’s loss was heaven’s gain.
(29 March 2003)

Monday, July 16, 2007

40. Pampanga’s Churches: SAN AGUSTIN, Lubao

UPON THIS ROCK. The baroque-style retablo mayor of San Agustin Church all lit up and bedecked with flowers for the town fiesta. Dated 5 May 1963.

Last 24 June 2002, the neo-classic San Agustin Church of Lubao came to national attention when it was used as a venue for the fairytale wedding of First Son, Mikey Macapagal-Arroyo and Angela Montenegro. It was a fitting choice as the historic church was also where Mikey’s grandfather and most well-known Lubeño, the late President Diosdado Macapagal was baptized. The church was spruced up with a new coat of cream colored paint, temporary airconditioning, extended altar flooring and even restrooms.

Lubao is one of Pampanga’s most ancient towns; located at the left bank of the Lubao (or Pasac) River, it was accepted as a visita of Tondo by the Augustinians on 3 May 1572. Three years later, Fr. Provincial Alfonso Alvarado was delegated to take care of the convento of San Agustin. Fr. Juan Gallegos was assigned as a resident priest. He must have constructed a church of light materials in sitio Sapang Pari, the landing place of Augustinian missionaries who sailed to Pampanga via Manila Bay.

Another source points to Fr. Francisco Coronel as the founder of the town in its present site, but he worked in the area for just a year and never returned to Lubao after being assigned to Bacolor. Subsequent construction were undertaken by Fr. Jeronimo de Venaque (1335) and Fr. Francisco Figueroa (1638). Damaged by an earthquake in 1645, the church continued its operations rent-free. The Augustinian Chapter of 1729 appropriated 500 pesos for the erection of a convent, with Fr. Vicente Ibarra as the prior. The convent was used by transfer students of arts and theology from the Estudio de Manila due to the British Invasion of 1762.

Lubao was to become a strategic missionary center. At one point, Betis and Sasmuan were annexed as visitas of the town. With the establishment of a grammar school and a printing press there, the town culture likewise flourished.

Early descriptions of the San Agustin Church, made of fine bricks and with large proportions, showed it to be “one of the most sumptuous in the islands”. An 1829 document reveals that the church “is constructed with masonry stone and bricks, very massive and big in size”. Some repair work were done under Fr. Antonio Bravo in 1893 and the interior murals depicting the life of San Agustin were most likely commissioned by Fr. Antonio Moradillo in 1893. The nave was originally painted by Italian artists, Dibella and Alberoni. Filipino revolutionaries occupied the buildings in 1898, which suffered more damages at the height of World War 2.

San Agustin Church is a remarkable example of 17th century Philippine architecture, characterized by classic lines and a solid stance. A triangular pediment and Ionic columns dominate the façade of the church. Inside, the retablo mayor, carved with florid baroque design, is flanked by doubled pilasters on the 1st level and single columns on the 2nd level. Carved ornamentation is kept at a minimum, creating a sense of quiet and simplicity, typical of Neo-classic renderings. The main niche features a wooden likeness of San Agustin, with a staff and a small church in hand, symbolic of his being a doctor of the Church. The only thing that mars the beauty of the altar is the modern blue neon lighting that has been installed to frame the central niche, an anachronistic feature for the centuries-old building. Nevertheless, the San Agustin Church is a rare monument to God around which the deep devotion of many generations of Kapampangans continue to revolve.
(22 March 2003)

Sunday, July 8, 2007

39. HON. JOSE GUTIERREZ DAVID: Supreme Court Justice

HIS HONOR. Supreme Court Justice Jose Gutierrez David, was not just a distinguished name in the country’s judicial system, but also an ardent Kapampangan language and literature advocate. Like his father Mateo, an original signatory of the 1896 Malolos Constitution, he was one of the signers of the 1935 Philippine Constitution. He is shown with daughter, Perla, upon her graduation from medical school. Circa early 1940s.

During summers, when I wanted a free swim, all I had to do was to look for my aunt, Imang Perling, at her popular Del Rosario Compound Swimming Pool at the foot of the Abacan Bridge in Balibago. Usually I would find her in her well-tended garden, and upon being acknowledged, I would just come in ahead of the paying customers. Imang Perling was married to Tatang Dadong del Rosario, the lawyer-brother of my mother. I was often told that Mang Perling had an impeccable lineage, born to a distinguished family of means, and a daughter of a justice of the Supreme Court, but of course, in my youth, that didn’t register much; I was too preoccupied with enjoying the summer perks given by my generous aunt. Not until I read her father’s name in books did I realize her family’s important place in Kapampangan political, literary and cultural history.

Jose Gutierrez David was born in Bacolor on 19 January 1891, from the union of Mateo Gutierrez Ubaldo and Gabriela David, youngest in a brood of 9 (4 brothers, 4 sisters). His father was one of the signatories of the historic Malolos Constitution, signed on 29 November 1896. Raised in San Fernando, the young Jose studied his caton and cartilla at home, then entered the school of Don Modesto Joaquin, the most prestigious in the province. He grew up amidst a very cultured milieu: his father had an ardent interest in zarzuelas while brother Amado composed music for these plays. Often, their spacious house served as rehearsal halls for zarzuela productions. It was no wonder then that Jose showed his literary flair at an early age, writing poems often dedicated to his sweetheart, Concepcion Roque. His first ever published poem, written at 17, was dedicated to her --“Tuqui Ka Baculud” (Come to Bacolor) , appearing in the March 1908 issue of Ing Bandila (The Flag). After his graduation from Pampanga High School in 1912, he married Concepcion with whom he had 7 children, all college graduates: Perla (my Imang Perling) Jose Jr., Leonardo, Felicitas, Amaury, Alice and Irma.

In 1914, as a journalist, he teamed up with playwright Juan Crisostomo Soto to edit “Ing Balen” (The Town) and “E Mangabiran” (The Impartial), both noted Kapampangan papers. He also wrote plays like “Migdusang e Micasala” (The Guiltless Sufferer) and “Ing Independencia” (The Independence).

Jose completed his law degree at the Escuela de Derecho in Manila, emerging first in his class in 1915. After passing the bar the next year, he began his law practice and proved to be an outstanding trial lawyer, but opted to join the judicial court system of San Fernando as Auxiliary Justice of the Peace from 1918-20. He then entered the political arena by becoming a councilor for 10 years.

In 1933, he was named Director of the Pampanga Carnival. The next year, he ran and won in an election to determine Pampanga’s delegates to the Constitutional Convention. Just like his father before him, he was one of the original signers of the 1935 Philippine Constitution. He then accepted the offer of Secretary of Justice Jose Yulo to become a Judge of the Court of the First Instance. Appointed by Manuel L. Quezon, he was assigned to different districts such as Baguio, Cavite and Manila. His next stints were as Judge of the Court of First Instance in Manila (appointed by Sergio Osmeña), Associate Justice of the Court of Appeals (1946, by Manuel Roxas), Presiding Justice of the Court of Appeals (1956, by Ramon Magsaysay) and Associate Justice of the Supreme Court (1959, by Carlos P. Garcia), a position he held until his 1961 retirement.

He also served as Chairman of the Philippine Bar Examination in 1960 , a member of Pampanga Masonic Lodge 48 and Board of Censors for Philippine Motion Pictures from 1962 to 1964. The pioneering graduate of Pampanga High headed the 1962 Golden Jubilee Homecoming as Chairman of the Executive Committee, which gave the Most Outstanding Alumni Award to then Pres. Diosdado Macapagal. Jose Gutierrez David passed away on 27 March 1977 in Quezon City. It is but fitting that his last poem, “Misan Pa” (Once More) was dedicated to his beloved Concepcion.
(15 March 2003)

Sunday, July 1, 2007

38. Honor and History: PAMPANGA HIGH SCHOOL

INCOMING PAMPANGA HIGH FRESHMEN OF 1927. A happy batch of teens enter the hallowed halls of Pampanga’s most revered institution of secondary education. They would most likely constitute the Class of 1931, assuming a regular 4-year high school run. Future treasurer of the Philippines Amable Aguiluz (PHS ’31) may then be in this picture.

Former Philippine president Diosdado Macapagal. Congressman Oscar Rodriguez. Poet Amado M. Yuzon. Dr. Evangelina Hilario-Lacson. Brig. Gen. Romeo David. Journalist Renato ‘Katoks’ Tayag. Former Acting Pampanga Gov. Cicero J. Punsalan. Newspapermen Felix B. Bautista Jr. and Jose Luna Castro. These are some of the most illustrious names ever to have emerged from the portals of Pampanga’s revered institution of secondary education—the Pampanga High School.

The groundwork for a public school system was laid out by the first batch of pioneer American teachers the moment they arrived on board the transport Thomas in September 1901. These teachers found assignments in 19 Pampanga towns. Initially, the plan was to set up at least one primary school (Grade 1-4) in each municipality; the 2nd phase was for these American instructors to recruit and train native Kapampangan teachers, which led to a creation of a teachers’ institute in San Fernando.

Soon, the need for a more advanced level of education was answered with the opening of 5 intermediate schools (grade 5-7) in Pampanga. This was in 1905, a year after the provincial capital moved to San Fernando from Bacolor. Eight more intermediate schools were added as the first decade of the 20th century ended. It was during this period that the Pampanga High School was created.

In 1908, the classrooms of the future Pampanga High were located in downtown San Fernando in a big house known as “Buison Building”. The rise in student population necessitated the transfer to a more commodious concrete building along the highway near the Provincial Capitol in Barrio Santo Niño. Eventually, this site was taken over by the popular Pampanga Hotel and Restaurant. The Main Building, built in 1912, was in use until 1935, when it was relegated to just an annex. The University of the Philippines-Extension Program held classes there when floods overran San Fernando in 1995. Now with just the framework remaining, it is being looked at as the future site of the Kapampangan Cultural Center.

In its early years, Pampanga High School was headed by principal John W. Osborn, a Thomasite from Bringhamton, New York and a 1901 graduate of Western Reserve University, Ohio (earlier, he was also minding the affairs of the Angeles Elementary School). As expected, the curriculum was a merry mix of serious academics , manual training and sports. In 1906, for instance, the high school’s baseball team was good enough to be fielded against a rival school in Bulacan. In 1912, nineteen students graduated from the school, led by salutatorian Macaria Roque and valedictorian Wenceslao Vitug.The school gradually built a reputation for having a strong academic skew as gleaned from the performance of its graduates during the schoolyear 1918-1919. The graduates fared just about average for Filipino students in collegiate scholastic standing. An educational survey conducted in 1925 further affirmed the quality of Pampanga High education. Of the 31 graduates from the class of 1921, 14 were still pursuing higher education, 11 were teaching and 1 was engaged in his own business.

Serious education aside, school days at Pampanga High were also replete with much-awaited fun activities. Aside from sportsfests, annual searches for Miss Pampanga High School were conducted. In February 1927, for instance, the winner was Sixta Serrano. Her court included Florencia Sunga (Miss Freshie), Lucila Dabu (Miss Sophomore), Antonia Yosuico (Miss Junior) and Rosa Naguit (Miss Senior).

When American educators started moving into more specialized branches of education and administration, native teachers took over the management of primary and secondary schools. The last American principal was Charles G. Whitewell whose tenure ended in 1935. He was succeeded by Demetrio Andres who served until 1939. During this particular Commonwealth period, the high school moved again to a new building along Teopaco Street, known as High School Boulevard.

Owing to World War II, classes were suspended from 1942-1944, resuming only in 1945. Even then, batch of ‘42 received their diplomas in 1946 in special graduation rites. Today, after almost a century of existence, the Pampanga High School, with its honored history and its reputable list of great alumni, continues its tradition of learning excellence, shaping Kapampangan teens into tomorrow’s national leaders and achievers.
(8 March 2003)