Sunday, June 24, 2012


HIT AND MISS. An inter-school outdoor women's softball competition gets underway in San Fernando. Ca. mid 1920s.

The region’s premiere inter-provincial athletic meet began in 1908, when American school superintendents from Bulacan, Nueva Ecija, Pampanga, Tarlac and the Central Luzon Agricultural School organized a sporting competition in Malolos, as a way of promoting sports consciousness towards developing a sound mind and a healthy body. The athletic meet also aimed to foster goodwill and the spirit of sportsmanship and fair play among the youth. Thus, the first ever Central Luzon Athletic Association was held on 22 February 1908, in Malolos. As expected, the host province of Bulacan ruled the centerpiece track and field events, emerging as the overall champion. The pioneer games featured a few number of sports including baseball (outdoor and indoor, for girls), basketball and volleyball.

From the time of the inception of the CLAA meet, Pampanga’s athletes rose to the occasion by consistently delivering gold medal-worthy performances for the home province, clinching their first championship in 1913. In the early editions of the meet, Kapampangan ball players dominated the basketball events starting in 1915, with a 4-year winning streak from 1917-20. Pampanga’s women’s softball teams snapped Bulacan’s 4-year championship run (1916-1919) by capturing the crown in 1920, defending the title for 8 amazing years. So much for girl power! The boy’s volleyball team, on the other hand, smashed their way to three-peat victories in 1932, 1933 and 1934.

Notable Kapampangan athletes who left their mark on the cinder track include Pedro Chanco, who, in 1913, ruled the 50 Yard dash in 5.6 secs. The time remained unbeaten until the event was subsequently discontinued. Only one managed to equal the record in 1915—Rufino Dimson—also of Pampanga! All-time records were set by Salvador Garcia, whose time of 10 secs. Flat in the 100 Yard Dash in 1923, stood for 12 years. He also held the record for the 220 Yards, with a time of 23.4 secs. Meanwhile, Pampanga’s 880 Yard Relay Teams first established the meet record of 1 min. 38.6 secs. in 1915, which was equaled in the 1917 and 1918 outings of the games. The great runner, Wenceslao Dizon was a member of the relay team in all those winning years.

 In 1925, Francisco David set a meet record of 11 secs. in the 100 Meter Dash, equaled only in 1934 by kabalen, Roberto Buñag. Buñag did one better by running the 100 Meter High Hurdles in 16 secs.—a new meet record. Then, he anchored the 400 Meter Relay race with Cayetano Coronel, Abel Quiwa and Eustaquio Sunga to establish a new meet mark of 46.6 secs. Just a year before, team mate Sunga rewrote the record for the Running Broad Jump with his leap of 6.31 meters.

Out on the field, Pampanga’s Andres Arceo tied wit Nueva Ecija’s Miguel Sujeco in setting a Pole Vault record of 11 feet, 4 inches in 1926—a new meet standard. The hefty teener Amando P. Quioc heaved the 16 lb. Shot Put to a record-breaking distance of 9.73 meters in 1934. Quioc would later become a future mayor of Mabalacat in the late 1950s.

The CLAA meets continued through the 40s. interrupted only by the War. By the 1950s, all 7 Central Luzon provinces—Bulacan, Bataan, Zambales, Pampanga, Tarlac, Nueva Ecija, Pangasinan-- were active participants of the “carnival of sports among the public yuoths of Central Luzon”. Pampang first hosted the annual meet on 20 January 1912, in the capital town of San Fernando.

Many changes have been instituted in the meet by the time the 1958 edition was staged again in Malolos—the second post-Liberation games hosted by the province. Other than the popular ball games and athletics, medals were also contested for the native game of “sipa”. Stand-outs that years was Pampanga’s Basketball Team coached by Rafael Aguilar. On the list of track stars were: Jesus Marcelo, Rufino Henson, Andres Soto, Ricardo Singian, Vicente Sampang, Pablo Batac, Rosa Mercado, Leticia Tolentino, Filipinas Tulabut, Elizabeth Pike, Encarnacion Magat and Gloria Simeon.

The meets of CLAA were re-named as Central Luzon Regional Atheltic Association Meets (CLRAA) in the 60s. Pangasinan was reclassified as part of the Ilocos Region; its athletes thus, were absorbed by the Ilocos Regional Athletic Association. By the 70s, the expanded program of events include disciplines such as Cycling, Aquatics, Gymnastics and Martial Arts. The games also accommodated athletes from both the Elementary and Secondary Divisions. Medallists go on to represent the region in the national games, the Palarong Pambansa-- from which future members of the Philippine Olympic team are identified for training in the national pool.

 The most recent staging of the CLRAA meet was held at the Zambales Sports Complex in Iba, from 20-25 February 2012. The event drew over 13,000 athletes from all Central Luzon provinces that now include Aurora, and from the cities of Angeles, San Fernando, Cabanatuan, Gapan, Muñoz, San Jose (N.E.) , Malolos, San Jose del Monte, Tarlac and Balanga. Pampanga placed second to the overall champion, Bulacan.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

*298. DR. JULIAN D. DYCAICO: Doctor and Public Servant

THE DOCTOR IS ALSO A COUNCILOR. Dr. Julian Dayrit Dycaico, as a young medical graduate of the University of the Philippines in 1914.

During the peacetime period, Angeles was home to many prominent men in the medical profession like Drs. Conrado M. Manankil, Juan S. Tablante, Celestino L. Henson and Antonio L. Lazatin. To this list, we add the name of Dr. Julian D. Dycaico, who, not only became a noted physician, but also a government official and a school co-founder.

The multi-tasking doctor was born in Culiat on 16 October 1888, to Jose Dycaico and Rufina Dayrit. He was first schooled at the local Colegio de Ntra. Sra. Del Rosario (1896-98), then finished high school at San Fernando, Pampanga (1903-05).

Julian then hied off to Manila for his college education at the Philippine Normal School (1906-1909), before enrolling at the College of Liberal Arts of the University of the Philippines (1909-11), preparatory to his medical course at the same school.

He earned his medical degree from the U.P. College of Medicine and Surgery in 1914, and joined Philippine General Hospital as an Intern from 1914-15. He became a full-fledged medico-cirujano and started his private practice back in his hometown of Angeles, operating his clinic right in his residence. A member of good standing of the Philippine Island Medical Association, he was also accepted as a member of the American Medical Association.

 In 1919, at age 31, he married local lass Lourdes P. Gomez, daughter of Esteban Gomez with Josefa Pamintuan (Incidentally, Esteban was the eldest child of the Spanish priest, Fray Guillermo Masnou OSA with Patricia Mercado). He was ten years her senior. They had nine children: Armin Lorenzo, Adaljisa, Jovita Violeta, Jacinta Yolanda, Jose, Julian Remigio, Maria Lourdes Judith, Lazaro and Perla Epigmeña.

Julian pursued his many interests even as he became successful in his private practice; he served as a consejal municipal of Angeles town, and in 1934, joined his relative, Don Juan Nepomuceno in founding and organizing Holy Angel Academy, as its Comptroller and School Physician. He lived and worked according to his motto: “Magaral mayap at paipagal caibat” (Study hard, toil hard), for he assumed many roles in his life: doctor, husband, father, government and school official. Julian passed away on 11 March 1965, at age 77.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012


 SUKLAB KA LALAM NING PAYUNG KU. A Filipina poses with her day's catch while carrying her bilao of vegetables and her umbrella, her one reliable protection from the elements. Ca. 1915.

To brave wind, sun and rain—such is the function of the umbrella—the indispensable “payong” that we bring out, most specially when the rainy season comes along. But of course, the umbrella is more than that as its long history shows—from being a mere shade and sartorial accessory to becoming a part of global pop culture. In Japan, the umbrella is known as koumorigasa, in France—a parapluie. Italians had their ‘parapioggias’ , the Dutch their ‘paraplus’ and the Portuguese toted ‘guarda-chuvas’. 

But long before them, some eleven centuries before Christ, there were the inventive Chinese who warded off the elements by mounting a sort of a pagoda on a stick. These first umbrellas were symbols of honor and prestige, and old prints show them made of embroidered silk. Athens and Rome too, had a similar adornment; poets described umbrellas being used in religious festivals, balanced by hand by priestesses.

Umbrellas were mentioned in Indian writings, and appeared as illustrations in a ancient Codex in 12th century Venice. So prized were umbrellas that Charlemagne was once gifted by the Caliph of Baghdad, Haroun al Raschid, with a fabulous umbrella of purple and gold that inspired awe and dazzled the crowd who bowed before it as if it were a precious relic.

No wonder, the umbrella formed part of the papal regalia and was used in Roman Catholic liturgy; a decorated umbrella—an ‘umbraculum’—covered and protected the Holy Eucharist in short, indoor processions. In France, they were used at the court of Henry II, and in 1650, the umbrella was recognized as a symbol of style in the country. Its manufacture, however, was restricted by a special act. The “Robinson”, which served as a portable shelter for royalty weighed more than 3 kilos and was fastened to the arm by a massive copper ring. Later versions doubled as lightning rods, making them even heavier. 

Credit goes to an unnamed mechanic from Lyons for making the first modern umbrella by replacing the whalebone ribs with hinged steel tubes. But it took an Englishman—Mr. Fox of Sheffield—to take out a patent for a similar invention which he named “Paragon”. It only weighed 400 grams and by the end of the 19th century, it was being used all over the world.

 Spaniards introduced the “paraguas’ to the Philippines, who used accessories such as wide conical hats (turung), salakots, nipa raincoats and even extra-large anahaw leaves for protection against pelting rains. The standard black umbrella came into common use by Filipinos who carried them in bright sunshine or in heavy downpours. Kapampangans, Tagalogs and even their Indonesian neighbors soon had a name for this contraption--“payung”—a shade. Down South, Muslim royalty took umbrellas and transformed them into colorful and bejeweled parasols called ‘payong-a-diyakatan’.

 The ‘payung’, like in European countries, became a status symbol for many Filipinos, and was treated as a fashion accessory. Men and women not only posed for pictures with their feathery fans and handsome walking canes but also flaunted their umbrellas, shown either open or closed. Ladies favored the Japanese paper parasols, delicately pleated and decorated with prints.

 The shape of the "payung”“ inspired names for places, plants and things. “Telapayung” is an alternative term for the almendras (walnut) tree, which sports a thick canopy of leaves that resembles an umbrella’s coverage. There is also a barrio of that name in Arayat, which was either named after the almendras or for its umbrella-like geographical silhouette. Mushrooms in Kapampangan, are called “payung-payungan” (faux umbrellas) and a smaller specie is known as “payung-payungan daguis" (mouse mushroom).

 In folklore, the ‘payung” has found its way into our riddles, and it is the answer to this cryptic puzzle: “Inyang minukyat ya ing senyora, mibukadkad ya ing sampaga” (When the señora climbed up, the flower bloomed). When Rihanna’s song “Umbrella” took the country, literally by storm, a Kapampangan version composed by Jason Paul Laxamana and sung by the girl-band Mernuts, became an instant favorite: “Ngening atiu ne ing kauran/ Pangaku e kakalinguan/ Suklab ka lalam ning payung ku/ Suklab ka lalam ning payung ku/(Yung ku yung ku eh eh eh)/ Lalam ning payung ku/ (Yung ku yung ku eh eh eh)/ Lalam ning payung ku..”

There are so many umbrella variants today, like the “Chamberlain”, with its trademark long and slender handle; the “Tom Thumb”, a small folding umbrella that can be operated by one hand. There are dome-shaped umbrellas, square umbrellas, made of plastic, nylon, oil cloth. Some outfitted with electric fans, others come with drip-dry tips. And, of course, there are fantasy umbrellas designed to double as weapons of attack and deadly espionage devices, thanks to Hollywood spy movies. But they have never ceased to retain their original purpose. Once the typhoon season sets in, it will be time to get the trusty ‘payung’ ready again and start singing in the rain!

Sunday, June 3, 2012

*296. TESSIE AGANA: Philippine Cinema’s First Child Superstar

AGANA BE A STAR! Child superstar Tessie Agana is the child of Tarlac-born doctor, Adriano Agacoili Agana and actress Linda Estrella. Her paternal grandfather, Marcelino Agana, was a former governor of Tarlac.

Before there was Vilma, Roderick, Snooky, Niño, Janice, Matet, Aiza, Serena, and now Jillian, there was the original child wonder of Philippine movies, who, with just one film, singlehandedly saved a leading production company from bankruptcy, while stealing the hearts of millions of fans with her winsome, precocious performances on the silver screen.

Maria Teresa Rigotti Agana, or Tessie Agana, born on 16 May 1942, was the child of movie star Linda Estrella (Consuelo Ver Rigotti, in real life, an Italian Filipina mestiza) and Dr. Adriano “Aning” Agcaoili Agana, a practicing obstetrician-gynecologist from Tarlac, Tarlac. Adriano’s father, lawyer Marcelino Esguerra Agana, was a former governor of Tarlac (1928-1931). Adriano and Consuelo met at a Red Cross canteen during an event at the Philippine Women’s University. The meeting was facilitated by Consuelo’s classmate, Felicidad Pineda—who was Adriano’s cousin.

After a courtship of just a year, the couple were wed on 8 June 1941. They immediately had their first child, Tessie, and a second daughter followed. Tragically, Cynthia would die from flu complications just 12 days after she was born. It was said that her doctor-father could have saved her, but much to his regret, he was away in Tarlac at that time, campaigning for his father. (The Aganas would later adopt another girl—Maria Lourdes, born in 1954).

Much love and attention was thus focused on the remaining child, Tessie. But with a famous artista for a mother, Tessie got used to the limelight very early on. At age 5, her mother was approached by the Vera-Perezes of Sampaguita Pictures to audition for the movies. As Linda was a close relative of the Vera-Perezes, she agreed to their request. Tessie impressed Dr. Jose Perez with her ability to cry on cue and soon she was cast in several movies, her first two with Pancho Magalona.

No sooner had she started when Sampaguita Pictures was razed by a fire, leaving the studio in jeopardy. But the contract stars rallied around the Vera-Perezes, offering their services for free so that the studio could be rebuilt. A serial novel written by Mars Ravelo in Tagalog Klasiks became the basis for a tearjerker movie entitled “Roberta”. Cast in the lead role was 11 year old Tessie, supported by another child actor, Boy Alano. The budget movie was megged by Director Olive De La Torre.

During the shooting of the movie, Tessie was bribed with Max’s Fried Chicken to put her in an acting mood. She did not disappoint; she memorized all her lines, cried at the drop of a hat, and stole every scene she was in. When “Roberta” was shown at the Life Theater, it became a monster hit—and the one week run was overextended, until it broke all existing box-office records. Her convincing performance as a poor, pitiful child endeared her to an audience who took her into their hearts, and catapulted her to instant stardom—the first child superstar of Philippine movies.

Sampaguita Pictures managed to get back on its feet and would eventually come out even bigger and better than it was before. In gratitude for helping save the studio, Tessie was cast in picture after picture, and soon she was being hailed as the Philippines’ own Shirley Temple. Before 1951 was over, she did three films: "Ang Prinsesa at ang Pulubi”, “Anghel ng Pag-ibig” and “Batas ng Daigdig”. The following year, she had the title role in “Rebecca”, “Munting Kerubin” and “Ulila ng Bataan”. She even did a take on Shirley’s movie, doing “Munting Koronel” (Little Colonel) in 1953.

 Like all child stars, Tessie had to go through the awkward stage. After 1954, she did just one film—“Baril o Araro?”, which had a more adult slant. In their desire to give Tessie a “normal life”, the family migrated to the United States in 1957. They quickly established themselves there; her father worked at the Johns Hopkins in Maryland while mother Linda took up a music course at the Peabody Conservatory of Music. Tessie, meanwhile, enrolled in a foreign language course and graduated from De Paul University in Indiana.

At age 18, Tessie was prevailed upon by the Vera-Perezes to return to the Philippines so she could continue her movie career that was put on hold for 3 years. Now a young adult, she appeared in the popular “Amy, Susie and Tessie” with screen stars Amalia Fuentes and Susan Roces, and “Love at First Sight” with Jose Mari Gonzales.

Eventually, the reluctant star opted to go back to the United States, where in 1962, she would meet Dr. Rodolfo L. Jao at a medical convention, who would eventually become her spouse. The Jaos would raise a big family of 9 children—all grown-ups with families of their own, and all successful in their fields: Marita, Radmar, Rodger, Roderick, Michelle, Mylene, Rodolfo Jr., Rodney and Rodell. It is interesting to note that Radmar had a brief fling with showbiz, appearing on TV (Seinfeld, Dharma and Greg, ER, Boston Commons) and movies (The Minority Report, The Phantom) before giving up everything to be a Jesuit priest.

Now settled with her husband and most of her children in Valparaiso, Indiana, Tessie Agana had long ago put her wonder years behind her. But it cannot be denied that she blazed the trail for future child stars to follow, proving that the same superstar status once reserved for leading men and ladies can also be attained through sheer talent--regardless of age.