Friday, April 28, 2017

*430. FOLK SONGS OF THE KAPAMPANGAN REGION

I WANT TO TEACH THE WORLD TO SING. Kapampangans out on excursion trips usually brought their stringed instruments to make beautiful music while on the road, or while enjoying their picnic. People would sing along to add to the merriment of the moment. 

Pampanga’s musical traditions begin with folk songs and melodies. These are the first songs that you heard growing up, on your Ingkung’s knee; the lilting lullabye that Ima hummed in lulling you to sleep. These are also the songs that you sang in school, full of nonsense and made-up rhymes, songs about Atsing Rosing, Mariang Malagu and Kapitan Besyu.

They are the songs sang by peasant workers to fight off boredom and drudgery, to express pride in their labors, however humble. They are the stirring kantang Ukbu that galvanized a national movement, patriotic paeans to a country.

They are the dirgeful tunes you heard being chanted on Holy Week, the hymns and carols that you dutifully sang in church services and the frenetic beat that devotees danced to in annual kuraldals. From the plaintive serenatas of many a lovestruck swain, the sweet chords of a kundiman to the bawdy tunes that livened up many a drinking spree, these songs are a part of our race since time immemorial, wrought by anonymous wordsmiths, and handed down from generation to generation through oral tradition.

Folk songs we call them, music of the common people that says so much about how we live, love and laugh. There are various touchstones that define this kind of music.

First, the anonymity of authorship. Unlike formal poetry, where names like Crissot, Gallardo and Yuzon are associated, there are no such names to speak of in folk poetry. Because of the continuous transmission process, there are no fixed attributions and sources. Which means, the longer the transmission period, the more impossible it is to determine the originator.

Second, the language. Folk song lyrics are generated by common people who are largely untutored, with nary a care for the rigid disciplines of literature as taught in schools. They give free rein to ideas and emotions without a thought for forms, meters and aesthetics, telling stories with natural flair, earthy words and all. The lyrics are uninhibited, the language(s) raw, spontaneous and even mixed.

It is not:
Legwan king kaladua, legwan king katawan
Nung iti mikalu, sunlag ya ing legwan
Ugaling uliran, mayap a kaniwan
Selan at sampat lub, dit a pamagaral
Nung miakma iti king santing ning laman
Tunggen keng malagu, babai ninuman

But it is:
Y Mkaka kung Maria, mamuli yang tapis
Purung purung sutla, habing Camarines
Ninu ing tatalan, ninung talabitbit
I kaka kung Peping, anak ng Don Pedro

It is also:
Kabang teterak ku, lulundag, luluksu
Miyagnan ing sagakgak, pakpak ding gamat ku.
Emuku tiknangan, anggang mepagal ku
Susunga ku rugu, tutulung sipun ku..

And likewise:
One day, misan a aldo
I saw menakit ko,
A bird ayup kano
Flying susulapo

Third, folk songs are a work in progress. The Kapampangan folk song evolves by continuous alteration, as opposed to its formal literary counterpart where every word is fixed, the form precise and permanent. Folk songs are subject to versioning and customizing, in the course of their transference, a cultural process perfectly permissible to fit the needs of the times. Folk songs survive  because of effective adaptation and it is correct to sing:

Papatak, papatak
Magkanta la ring tugak
Lilintik-lilintik
Magkanta la ring itik

But it is also okay to sing:

Papatak, papatak
Magkanta la ring antak
Lilintik, lilintik
Magkanta la ring Instik!

With the ongoing cultural renaissance in Pampanga, Kapampangan folk songs are being rediscovered and enjoyed.  Folk songs are no longer just the interest of historians, musicologists and seekers of quaint entertainment, but of late, they have found favor as part of the repertoire of youth bands, mainstream singers local music icons led by Pampanga’s best known minstrel, Totoy Bato. After all, folk music has played a very important part in almost everyone’s life. Without a doubt, the folk songs we learned from our childhood, from our parents and friends have been instrumental in shaping our taste for music in all its melodious permutations. There is no better reason to start singing them again. So pick up a guitar, raise your voices, and sing your heart out!

Monday, April 17, 2017

429. KAPAMPANGANS IN HOLLYWOOD

THE KING AND HIS WIVES Rosa del Rosario portrays one of the wives of the Siamese monarch in the 1946 film, Anna and the King of Siam, portrayed by Rex Harrison. Looking on is another "wife", Evelyne de Luzuriaga.

In the 1920s, Hollywood beckoned with promises of stardom, fame and fortune to aspiring performers and actors, budding ingénues, ambitious directors and starving artists. Indeed, of the thousands who swarmed to Tinseltown to audition and answer casting calls, many were rewarded with film roles, and turning an elite few into international celebrities.

The first wave of Filipinos to arrive in Los Angeles coincided with the rise of Hollywood. They, too, were lured with the prospects of employment that the blossoming film industry offered. In 1929, Metro-Goldwin Mayer sounded out a casting call for extras for the movie “The Pagan”. Hordes of Filipinos went to audition, and many passed the 5 foot height limit set for these extras. For decades—in movies like “She” (1935, starring Randolph Scott, RKO Radio Pictures) and “The Real Glory” (1939, a Spanish-American War film starring Gary Cooper ), Filipinos were often cast in savage native-type and service-type roles, uncredited and underpaid. They would find more job security in the periphery of Hollywood as waiters, busboys, bartenders, cooks, chauffeurs and househelps.

Filipino star-wannabes would wait for the postwar 1940s before they could see one of their own claim a legitimate acting role in a Hollywood film. Kapampangan Rosa del Rosario (aka Rosa Stagner), an American-Filipina mestiza from Bacolor, was already an established star in pre-war Philippine movies when she, on a visit to the U.S., caught the eye of an American director who was casting Asians for his  movie. She won the role as one of the king’s 14 wives in the film classic, “Anna and the King of Siam” in 1946 (to be redone as the musical “The King and I” in 1954). She was unbilled, however, in this Rex Harrison starrer.  That same year, she  appeared as Celia in the “The Border Bandits”, opposite Johnny Mack Brown and in “An American Guerrilla in the Philippines”.

More than a decade later, another artist with roots in Lubao would carve her own niche in Hollywood: Ruby Neilam Salvador Arrastia aka Neile Adams, actress-singer-dancer and wife of 60s hottest Hollywood male star, Steve McQueen. She moved to the U.S. after the war where she took dancing lessons. The pert and pretty Neile found herself being cast in shows and musicals, and one of her early appearances was in “Pajama Game”, staged at the Carnegie Hall. She moved on to TV and films,  with credits in the 1952 movie, “Grubstake” and as Patsy St. Claire in “This Could Be The Night” (1957). Husband and wife appeared in a memorable episode in “Alfred Hitchcock Presents”. Separately, Neile had a recurring role in the TV series “Five Fingers” as Rita Juan in 1960, and went on to guest star in top TV shows thrugh the 60s,70s and 80s, like “The Man from U.N.C.L.E.”, “Love American Style”, “Bob Hope Show”. “The Bionic Woman”, “ The Rockford Files”, “Fantasy Island”, “Vega$” and “Hotel”. In 1986, she wrote “My Husband, My Friend”, a biography of her husband Steve, who had died of cancer in 1980. Coincidentally, Neile’s son (Chad McQueen) and grandson, Steven R. McQueen (Jeremy Gilbert in “The Vampire Diaries”), are both actors. A nephew, Enrique Iglesias, is a singer and an occasional actor.

Before being known as an international jetsetter, Angeles-born Minda Feliciano flirted with modeling and acting. In the U.S., she started auditioning for acting roles and, in 1959, won a regular slot (she played the hula-dancing receptionist, Evelyn) in the popular TV series,”Hawaiian Eye”, produced by Warner Brothers. Today, she is also well-known as Michael Caine’s-ex.

The toast of West End and Broadway, Lea Salonga, has also penetrated the U.S. showbiz industry, both as actress and singer. While still with the hit musical ‘Miss Saigon’ . she was tapped to sing key songs for such movies as “Aladdin” (1992) and  “Mulan” I and II ( 1998, 2004). She had a once-in-a lifetime experience of singing “A Whole New World” at the 1993 Oscar Awards, which went on to win Best Song. Leas was also seen on a 1995 TV film produced by Hallmark Hall of Fame, “Redwood Curtain”. The film chronicles the search of an Amerasian piano prodigy for her biological father, aVietnam veteran. Other credits include guest appearances in hit TV series “ER” , “As The World Turns” and most recently, in “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend”.

Young Ethan Dizon, whose father, Eric Dizon,  traces his ancestry to the Dizons of Mabalacat, made his acting debut as a 3 year-old child actor in the CBS hit series, “How I Met Your Mother”, He then had guest roles in  “Grey's Anatomy”, and “'Til Death”. His film credits include: “Get A Job”, “Bad Words” ( with Jason Bateman), and the “The Inevitable Defeat of Mister and Pete”, where he is best-known for playing Pete.  In 2017, he will be seen in “Spiderman: Homecoming”. A gifted artist, he was nominated for Best Actor at the NBCU Short Film Festival 2014 in "Paulie", where he played the title role.

Rico Hizon made a name for himself as an international journalist, but his credentials now include acting in a Hollywood film. In the 2016 film“I.T.” topbilled by Pierce Brosnan, the BBC correspondent portrayed himself in this nail-biting thriller directed by John Moore. Rico Hizon’s mother, Leonor Morales, is from Mabalacat.

Behind the camera, Kapampangans have also left their mark in the American entertainment industry. Leading the way is the venerable Gorge Sunga, who first joined CBS as a production supervisor of “The Judy Garland Show” in 1963, and later, “The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour”. He went on to produce the hit TV shows  "Good Times," (1974)  "The Jeffersons," (1975) ,  “All in the Family” (1974)  “Three’s Company” (1976) and many other successful serials. In 1989, Sunga was elected  officer of the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences.  For his commitment to diversity in television, an award in his honor was created and given yearly at the Media Access Awards. The Sungas are from Guagua, Pampanga. 

Two world-class film artists and technicians of Kapampangan descent are currently making waves in Hollywood.  Winston Quitasol, whose mother is from Pampanga, has worked on many known animated feature films like Disney’s “Big Hero 6”, where he was the senior lighting artist. He has also served as visual effects technical director and lead digital compositor in some blockbuster movies like “Ghost” (1990), his first movie project. Recent works include “SpiderMan 2”, “ Iron Man 3”, “300: Rise of an Empire” and “Frozen”.

On the other hand, animator Jess Española, from Lubao, made history when he was won the prestigious Emmy Award for his work on “The Simpsons” in 2008 ( ‘Eternal Moonshine of the Simpson Mind’ episode). The U.P. Fine Arts graduate overcame poverty (he was raised by a single mother), and working his way up, first, as an animator for Burbank Animation in Makati. He then joined Optifex which did the Hanna-Barbera cartoons (Flintstones, Scooby Doo, Jonny Quest) . Española did so well that he was sent to the U.S. mother studio in the U.S. which led to opportunities after the Manila offices downsized. Eventually, he moved to America, where Española worked at Film Roman for “King of the Hill,”, one of the primetime shows of Fox that also includes Matt Groening’s “The Simpsons”.

More recently, in the CBS TV sitcom “The Great Outdoors”, Kapampangans were treated to an episode in which the characters of actors Joel McHale and Stephen Fry,  spoke  in Kapampangan—albeit, with a thick American accent—so they could disguise their secret plan to leave young campers in the wild without their smartphones. The idea was conceived by story editor/ writer, Kristine Songco, who sought the help of her father in crafting the dialogues. The Songcos are a prominent family from Guagua.

While we have yet to see a Filipino actor conquer Hollywood with the same degree of success as China’s Anna May Wong and Jet Li;  Hong Kong’s Bruce Lee and Jackie Chan;  Japan’s George Takei and Pat Morita; Taiwan’s Ang Lee and Malaysia’s Michelle Yeoh, we are happy  to note that a few Kapampangan artists are leading the way towards the attainment  of their great Hollywood dream--always ready for anything--especially their close-ups!

Sunday, April 9, 2017

*428. Sky’s No Limit: CAPT. BEN HUR D. GOMEZ

FINDING HIS CORNER OF THE SKY. The future aviation pilot, Ben Hur Gomez y de Leon of Mabalacat,  as a young high schooler at Letran. "Benny" was named after the main character of a Hollywood movie of the same title, "Ben Hur", starring Ramon Navarro. Courtesy of Capt. Gomez.

One of the leading names in modern Philippine aviation is a Kapampangan provinciano who didn’t even finish high school but rose to become an international pilot and founder of the premiere flying school in Pampanga. Capt. Ben Hur Angel D. Gomez (b. 15 Dec. 1931) was one of 6 children of Carlos Ramiro Gomez Sr. whose mestizo looks were courtesy of his ancestor, Fray Guillermo Masnou aka Nicanor Gomez. His mother, Paz Dionisia de Leon , was the daughter of Don Jose de Leon, who owned vast tracts of lands in Mabalacat, parts of which she inherited. With their consolidated wealth, the Gomezes built a large farmstead  in Tubigan at the boundary of Stotsenburg, where their children grew up.

To the manor born, Ben Hur and his siblings led comfortable lives, in a magnificent farmhouse with large rooms and bay windows, equipped with electricity powered by a windmill, and guarded by a tall, turbanned Indian Sikh. Ponies and other animals roamed the expansive yard which also had a playground. The young Ben Hur or Benny was doted on by his adoring aunts despite his “kuneho” (rabbit)  ears.

His Papang though, introduced him early to the value of hard work and responsibility. As young as 8, Benny  helped out in the family businesses which included not only the farm, but also a gas station, a bowling alley and a bazaar. He counted money, issued receipts, prepared vouchers and distributed wages to farm hands.

Benny finished his elementary years at the Holy Family Academy in Angeles, run by German nuns. He spent a year of high school at next-door Holy Angel Academy, but his schooling was interrupted by the war. The family moved to Manila, in their Pasay home, where they waited out the end of the war years.

In 1946, as the family was sending off their Papang to the U.S., the teenager Ben saw his first DC-4 at the Manila International Airport, complete with its smartly-dressed crew. That sight inspired him to become an international pilot.

In his last high school year at Letran, Ben applied to 3 flight schools in the U.S. He chose Embry Riddle Aeronautical School, not only because it was the biggest flight school in America, but also because the school had sent him a brochure with a pretty girl in bathing suit on the cover!! There, Ben immersed himself in his commercial pilot course, and in subjects like  instrument reading, and multi-engine rating, studying 16 hours each day. By so doing, Ben completed his flight course in 18 short months, instead of 33!

When he returned to Manila, he managed to land a his first paying job at the Philippine Aviation Development as a mechanic, earning a whopping  P350  daily. He also became a part-time pilot with an hourly fee of  P50 per hour. While the pay was good, his ultimate goal was to see the world and become an international pilot.  So, when Philippine Air Lines beckoned in 1953, he said yes to a new flying job, first, as a domestic pilot, then moving up to become an international pilot with the rank of a captain, flying the Viscount, BAC 111, DC-4, DC-8, DC-10 and the Boeing 727-200 in all parts of the globe.

His association with PAL would last 38 long years, accumulating over  33,000 flying hours without a single accident. During his stint with the nation’s flag carrier, Capt. Ben also served as president of the Airline Pilots Association of the Philippines (ALPAP) for 3 full terms. He initiated many landmark reforms like improving the salary structure for international pilots and their crew. He was also named vice president for Safety and Security and Asst. Vice President for Flight Operations.

Retirement for the captain meant returning to Mabalacat to resume his life as a gentleman-farmer. In the past, even as he flew planes, he was engaged in some profitable ventures here and there—from export-selling komiks and balut to Filipino communities in Hawaii, providing school bus services, to running a gravel-and-sand business . With his entrepreneurial acumen, he learned how to grow broilers and chickens--and soon, his OMNI Farms became a steady supplier of chickens to San Miguel Foods.

Then,  in 1994,  together with former colleagues,  he took over the old Clark Aero Club and transformed it into the country’s largest aviation training institute—OMNI Aviation Corporation. Capt. Ben would grow its fleet to 25 planes that includes Cessna 172s, and the flagship twin –engine plane, Piper Seneca.At its peak, OMNI Aviation attracted pilot-students from 28 countries and had over 300 enrollees, many of whom are ace pilots today.

It has been a great journey for the former pilot who continues to look for new fields to explore and conquer—even at age 81 . His latest project is his expansive museum home in Angeles that houses his varied collections that he accumulated from his trips abroad. On display are 135 crosses and crucifixes, various tableware from Asia ( netsukes, sake cups, chopstick rests, napkin rings), European crystal ware, Delft ware, brass sculptures, Buddhas, travel souvenirs and many more. He also enjoys occasional visits from any of his 5 kids, and grandchildren; there’s always a room reserved to accommodate them.

The still-sharp and healthy Capt. Ben has also been quietly giving back through his philanthropic works—from helping build the village chapel to extending financial help to indigents and handicapped people in need. Currently, he is even taking care of an old priest, who has helped him rediscover his Catholic faith.

It’s incredible, indeed,  how Capt. Ben could cram all these achievements in a single lifetime, fulfilling all his dreams that he relentlessy pursued.  Not bad for a provinciano and a high school dropout who describes himself as a graduate of the university of hard knocks! But then, he’s never known to set limits to what he can do---not even the skies which he once flew.

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

*427. ZOILO S. HILARIO: Pampanga’s Polyglot Poet

ZOILO'S ZEAL. The Kapampangan who wore many hats--as  poet, zarzuelista, diputado, Court of the First Instance judge, newspaperman--performed every role he assumed so excellently, that today, he is acclaimed as among the best in both Kapampangan and Spanish writing.Photo: CKS Collection.

The life of Zoilo J. Hilario (b. 27 June 1892/d. 13 Jan. 1963) is so multi-faceted that no no one title could be appended to his name. After all, Hilario was not just acclaimed as one of Pampanga’s most loved poets, but he was also a playwright, a parliamentarian, a newspaper man, a jurist, a researcher, a civic leader and an orator.

The talented poet was also adept in three languages, and was able to write “in poetic fluidity and grace” in both Spanish and Kapampangan languages. Moreover, the multi-lingual Hilario was also capable of writing in English; as  juez de primera instancia, he penned his decisions in that language.

Born in San Fernando to parents Tiburcio and Adriana Sanggalang, Hilario learned his cartilla from the school of Modesto Joaquin in Bacolor.  As a youngster, Hilario always had a way with words. Listening to adults’ conversations, he would versify their ordinary chats in fun. At 12, he wrote his first love poem to a neighbor’s daughter. Unfortunately, the girl’s mother discovered the letter and showed it to Hilario’s mother. Rather than be angry, Dña. Adriana was impressed with her son’s poetic skills, and became his number one fan.

From Liceo de Manila, he enrolled for his law course at Escuela de Derecho, graduated in 1911 and passed the bar thereafter. His studies over, he devoted more time to writing poetry. In 1917, he entered a contest sponsored  by the Casino Español of Iloilo and won, with his poem "Alma Espanola".  Hilario also became an esteemed member of Jardin de Epicuro, an elite literary society founded by Fernando Ma. Guerrero.

His Spanish writings were all published in book forms --Adelfas, Patria y Redencion, Ilustres Varones and Himnos y Arengas. But even as he wrote in Spanish, Hilario also became well-known for his outstanding vernacular poetry in Pampango. In 1918, he topped a poetry competition in Bacolor for his work, “Ing Babai”. Among the members of the jury was the great poet and playwright, Juan Crisostomo Soto. He became a poet laureate in 1920. Hilario was also involved as an editor of the bi-lingual newspaper, “E Mangabiran/ El Imparcial”, and later headed “El Paladin”, another local paper.

In 1931, Hilario forayed into politics and was elected as a congressman. Pres. Manuel L. Quezon named him as one of the first members of the National Language Institute to represent Kapampangan speakers in 1938. As a judge, Hilario was first assigned in Ilocos Sur in 1947, and rose to become a judge of the Court of the First Instance in 1954, based in Tarlac.

After his retirement, he devoted his time to his writings, and his collection of works were compiled in several books: "Bayung Aldo” (New Day) and  “Bayung Sunis” (New Rhythm). The prodigious Hilario also wrote the following plays—“Mumunang Sinta” (First Love), “Sampagang E Malalanat “(Unfading Flower), "Bandila ning Pilipinas" (Flag of the Philippines), “Juan de la Cruz, Anak ning Katipunan”, “Ing Mapamatubu” (The Loan Shark) and “Reyna Ning Malaya” (Queen of Malaya).

He continued his involvement with the government: as a legal adviser to former president  Emilio Aguinaldo and as member of the Philippine Historical Commission, until his death in 1963. He left behind his widow, Trinidad Vasquez of Negros Occidental, and two daughters, Rafaelita and Evangelina. His bust and a historical marker were unveiled on 27 June 1892—his 90th birthday-- in his hometown San Fernando, as a tribute to his sterling contributions to the province that he dearly loved, and who loved him back. 

SOURCES:
Hilario, Zoilo. Himnos y Arengas: Colecciones de Poesias. Nueva Era Press Inc., Manila. 1968
Hilario, Evangelina Lacson. Kapampangan Writing: A Selected Compendium and Critique, 1984.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

*426. MISIONEROS RECOLETOS IN MABALACAT

FR. ANDRES DE SAN FULGENCIO was one of 3 Recoletos that began ministering in Mabalacat, Capas and Bamban sometime in 1712, along with Frs. Juan de Sto. Tomas de Aquino and Manuel de San Nicolas. His namesake saint is shown on this estampita.

With the arrival of Miguel Lopez de Legazpi  in 1565, also came the Augustinians, who had a headstart in the evangelization of the Philippines and the Far East. Back then, missionary groups were assigned territories to govern, and in 1575, the Augustinians named their “provincia” after the Most Holy Name of Jesus (Santisimo Nombre de Jesus) . As early as 1572 though, Augustinians were already active in the Pampanga region. The succeeding missionary groups that followed were the Franciscans (1578), the Jesuits (1581) and the Dominicans (1587).2

The Recoletos (OAR, Order of the Augustinian Recollects), an offshoot of the Augustinian reforms in 1598,  were the 5th religious order to arrive, landing in Manila on 31 May 1606, with Fr. Juan de San Jeronimo leading the missionaries.  By then, though, most of the areas have already been assigned to the earlier groups, with the Augustinians dominating in most Pampanga towns.

These “Discalced or Barefoot Augustinians” had to make do with the remaining uncharted and remote Zambales/Upper Pampanga regions, naming their “provincia” after San Nicolas de Tolentino. The noble Recoletos braved the province’s wild and untamed northern frontiers—and are credited with the early development of Mabalacat through their ministry, the only town that was not subject to the influence of the Augustinians.

1712 is widely recognized as the founding year of the Mabalacat township, on the basis of a Negrito settlement under the leadership of Garagan. Like Magalang and Porac , Mabalacat started as a forest outpost. Historian Fr. Valentin Marin confirms this date, with the deployment of 3 pioneer Recoletos to Bamban, Capas and Mabalacat, namely, Fr. Andres de San Fulgencio, Fr. Juan de Sto. Tomas de Aquino and Fr. Manuel de San Nicolas .

Another Augustinian historian, Fr. Agustin Cadava, also validated the aforementioned year, although there are other dates mentioned. Fr. Licinio Ruiz, a Recollect chronicler, puts Mabalacat’s founding year at 1714, while Fr. Andres de San Fulgencio cited 1717 in his report.  Whatever, this would  make Mabalacat older than San Fernando (1756), Sta. Rita (1726), Sta. Ana (1759), San Luis (1762) and San Simon (1771).

Fr. Andres de San Fulgencio would play a major role in the  establishment of the Mabalacat mission, which would gain the status of a “mission viva” or an active mission center in a few years, from which the needs of nearby “visitas” , including those of Tarlac,  were ministered. Fr. Andres’ early labors included not only dispensing spiritual services like baptisms and conversions of Negritos but also community-building duties like tilling of agricultural lands and constructions of houses.

Though successful  in his early labors, the enthusiasm of Fr. Andres was met with lukewarm support from his elders, as it was only in 1725—a  full 8 years after the mission’s founding—that a full-time, regular missionary was assigned to Mabalacat. That distinction belonged to Fr. Alonso de San Gabriel of Toledo Spain, who served Mabalacat from mid-1725 to 1728.

The Recoletos played a significant role in warding off the British during the British invasion of the Philippines. . Simon de Anda secured the help of Recoletos in the re-capture of Manila. Mabalacat served as an important point of transport for loyalist soldiers from Zambales and Pangasinan, which had a number of Recollect-ministered pueblos.

Appointed as a companion priest to Fr. Joaquin, but elevated to full misonero rank in 1765, serving in that capacity until  his death in Bamban in Feb. 11, 1765. During his term, the British–Spanish War flared up. Lt. Governor and Visiting General  Simon de Anda secured the help of Recoletos in the re-capture of Manila. Mabalacat served as an important point of transport for loyalist soldiers from Zambales and Pangasinan, which had a number of Recollect-ministered pueblos.

Beginning in 1800, there was a 30-year disruption  of missionary activities in both Mabalacat and Bamban, due to acute shortage of priests (many died of tropical diseases like malaria), political unrest and new development in Spain. It was only in 1831 that Recoletos resumed their mission work in Mabalacat.

Notable Recoletos who came to work in Mabalacat include:  Fr. Alonso de la Concepcion (30 Mar. 1792-1794) an accomplished Recoleto who held important offices in Spain and the Recoleto province of the Philippines; Fr. Diego Cera (9 June 1794-1797) who stayed only for a year, until his transfer to Las Piñas, where he built the world-famous Bamboo Organ; Fr. Jose Fernando Varela de la Consolacion (1834-1843, re-assigned to Mabalacat 13 May 1858-1860), an ilustrado priest whose  biggest achievement was the elevation of the mission to a regular “parroquia” ca. 1836; Fr. Cipriano Angos del Rosario (served intermittently from 1840-1867), an important personage of the Order who was appointed as the Vice Rector of the Recollect Convent in Monteagudo, Spain; the saintly Fr. Juan Perez de Santa Lucia (23 Feb. 1844-Sept. 1845) known for serving and protecting Aetas, and Fr. Gregorio Bueno de la Virgen del Romero (30 Nov. 1875-10 Jul. 1898), the last Recollect priest known for putting a curse on Mabalacat before he was executed—that the town will never prosper.

Through difficult years, the Recollect Order helped in shaping the future of Mabalacat. They hold the record for building and administering the most number of churches and parishes in the country, until these were turned over to other orders or to secular clergy.

Saturday, March 11, 2017

*425. IMMORTALIZING KAPAMPANGANS IN 19TH CENTURY PORTRAITURE

THE QUIASON FAMILY OF SAN FERNANDO.  As painted in 1875 by Simon de la Rosa Flores. Central Bank Collection. Photo from the Press Reader.

It was Dr. Jaime Laya, former National Commission for Culture and Arts who observed” “Portraits are challenges to mortality. The originals may have long become dust, but their likeness remains—on canvas and boards—seeking to remind us living in the present, that they once were here.”

Portraiture is the most popular form of painting in the Philippines, and it took only 2 to 3 centuries for Filipino artists to imbibe Western portraiture art. Filipino portraiture came of age in the 19th century when the Filipino artist gained more confidence after achieving a measure of social and economic prosperity.  Portraits are able to depict not only individuals but an entire social class of family members. Thus, we see not only individuals, but  ilustrados, politicos, hacienderos, professionals, and even rich kids, who made Pampanga what it is now.

Early portraitists include the Spanish mestizo Damian Domingo, director of the first Philippine Art Academy in 1826, Severino Flavier Pablo (Capitan Viring) of Paco, whose 1836 portrait of Don Paterno Molo is thought to be the earliest to have survived ,Tondo-born master of miniaturismo Antonio Malantic (1820), and  the Asuncion family of artists from Sta. Cruz, Manila led by brothers Mariano Asuncion (1802), Leoncio, a sculptor (1813), Justiniano or Capitan Ting (1816), Antonio, Mariano Jr., Ambrosio, and Manuel Tarcilo (sculptor). Leoncio’s son –Hilarion—and grandson Jose Maria, also became noted painters.

In Pampanga, there was no lack of portrait sitters as the numerous members of the landed gentry sought the services of itinerant artists. The most prominent name is Manila –born Simon Flores de la Rosa (1839), who settled in Bacolor and made the rounds of Kapampangan towns, and a handful of his portraits form part of his legacy.

Perhaps, his most-well known is that of the Quiason Family of San Fernando, headed by Cirilo Cunanan Quiason and wife Severina David Henson and their Two Children” painted in 1875. Cirilo’s 2 brothers, Lucio and Pablo, were successful landowners and traders, and each one commissioned Flores to create family portraits. The painting cost 50 pesos per head, in gold coins,  for a total of 200 pesos. The seated baby is named Jose, and was originally painted with his male member exposed. When the baby Jose grew up, it was said he was embarrassed to see himself naked, so he—or someone--scratched away that part of the painting, causing a bit of damage. It has since been professionally restored, his nakedness covered.

In the town of Sta. Ana, Flores painted the pretty Andrea Dayrit. Her portrait hung in the 1840s Dizon house, famous in its time for its late Neoclassical and English Regency architectural details. Mexico has a couple of Flores portraits, and the most well-known is that of long-haired Miguela Henson in front of her dresser.  It is now in the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas collection.

Flores, who settled in San Vicente in Bacolor, also painted portraits of his wife, Simplicia Tambungui, originally from Guagua, but no work survived.However, in 1890, he painted a portrait of his brother Monsignor Ignacio Pineda Tambungui ,  a canon of the Manila Cathedral and a chaplain at the San Juan de Dios Hospital. In return, Msgr. Tambungui gave his brother-in-law church decorating-commissions in Pampanga towns.

Bacolor’s most influential couple in the 1850s also sat for Flores.  Don Jose Leon y Santos was one of the sons of gobernadorcillo Francisco Paula de los Santos and Doña Luisa Gonzaga de Leon. Jose himself became a town head of Bacolor in 1857. The oil portrait of him was done in August 1887 when he was 59 years old. He was married twice, first to Arcadia Joven y Suarez , and upon her death, Leon Santos wed her sister, Ramona Joven. Her portrait was completed in August 1882.  The paintings now hang at the Museo de La Salle.

One of the earliest known works of  Flores, dates from 1862,--when he was just 23 years old. It is that of Don Olegario Rodriguez (1806/1874), patriarch of the still-flourishing Rodriguez clan of Bacolor, when the subject was “56 anos.” Until Pinatubo of 1991, it used to hang in the sala of his ancestral house but has since been secured by Rodriguez descendants in Manila.

Meanwhile, in Candaba, Flores painted two doyennes of the “principalia” landowning class:  the severe-looking Severina Ocampo de Arroyo and the plump Quintina Castor de Sadie, a work dubbed as the “Fat Woman from Candaba.”  Since the 1980s, they have been with  Central Bank.

The Sioco progenitor of Apalit, Josef Sioco (1786/1864 ) has a surviving portrait, painted by Capitan Ting. A Chinese mestizo landowner known for his frugality (he was called  “Joseng Daga” because he stashed everything away, like a rat), he courted Marta Rodriguez of Bacolor. Turned down, he married the older, less attractive sister,  Matea,  in 1856. He was 70, she was 21. When Sioco died, Matea married Juan Arnedo Cruz. Matea, Juan and elder daughter Sabina had portraits done by Flores as well,  but these have disappeared, presumed stolen and sold in the 70s while being transferred to the Escaler house in Bacolor.  

Many prominent Pampanga families were immortalized by Flores on oil and canvass, but some of these have been lost forever or their whereabouts unknown : Julian Buyson of Bacolor, the Gils of Porac whose portrait was lost after the war, Saturnino Hizon of Mexico, Jose Berenguer and wife, Simona Linares of Arayat, haciendero Lino Reyes and wife Raymunda Soriano(lost in a 1928 fire).

Lately, two century old portraits surfaced and are now on loan to the Center for Kapampangan Center at Holy Angel University by the heirs. They are those of Don Maximinao Songco, gobernadorcillo of Floridablanca and Guagua, and his wife, Juana Limlingan y Chintuico. They were painted in the last decade of the 1800s (10 June 1893 to be exact), which saw the start of the merging of the sensibilities of the past with the new techniques of the day.

Now comes the interesting and mysterious part. Both paintings are signed --Sg. Lorenzo R. There was one accomplished portraitist by the name of Lorenzo Rocha (b.1837/d.1898), a product Academia de Dibujo y Pintura and former  painter to the Royal Chamber of his Majesty in Madrid. However, his  signature does not match those of the Songco portraits and more research is needed to validate the creator of these 124 year-old paintings.

The desire to be remembered after one is gone is only human. But, in the stories we conjure as we view these portraits--these people live on. Through their faces, expressions, finery and pose---we see people as the artists saw them. In a way, we can understand a bit more of the lives, times, attitudes and character of these people who have made Pampanga what it is today. 

Thursday, March 2, 2017

*424. LOOKING FOR MISS PHATUPHATS

AMERICAPAMPANGAN GIRL. A young Pampanga miss in a strikes a pose in her modern Western-style outfit, complete with a hat, white gloves, high heel shoes--all fashionably Americana!

“Ang mga babae’y nagputol ng buhok, nag-alis ng medyas
Nag-ahit ng kilay at ang puting dibdib ay halos ilabas
Ang mga lalaki ay libang na libang sa lahat ng oras
Saan patungo ang ganitong bayan kung hindi ang maghirap…
- Miguel M. Cristobal, poet

Juan Crisostomo Sotto showed us a caricature of what we had become under the Americans through his story character—Miss Phatuphats.  Formerly known as Yeyeng, she had developed an abnormal preoccupation with things American, and sought to erase her Kapampangan-ness by speaking only in English and affecting an air of Yankee  superiority. As a result, she became a pitiful, laughing stock of the town, leading many to question whether the white ‘saxon” culture is truly fit to be assimilated by brown-skinned Filipinos.

The turning point in our history, historians say, began with the inauguration of the Philippine Assembly in 1907, and which saw Filipino participation in self-governance for the first time. Fear and distrust for white masters slowly gave way to awe and admiration. Filipinos took to adapting the great American lifestyle and the term “Sajonista” (Saxonist) was used to describe with a sneer, these Americanized natives, the new “modernistas”. They were “young ladies and gentlemen”, products of the public schools, who have taken to addressing each other with “Mister” or “Miss”, and who sought out to differentiate themselves from the common provincianos.

Names were the first to updated to give them a cosmopolitan sound—so Francisco became “Frank”, Jose “Joe” and Lucia, “Lucy”. Kapampangan parents had a heyday naming their babies with American appellations—Henry, Mary Rose, Helen, Charles. The young lads and lasses who went to Manila for their schooling returned home to their towns in their smart drill suits, stylish frocks copied from American fashion magazines and thigh-high stockings.  

For the best in Western-style dresses, the taller de modas of Florencia Salgado, Maria Castro’s “National Fashion”, Sotera Valencia’s “Valencia’s Fashion”,  and Marta Tioleco Espinosa’s “La Creacion” were the go-to places in San Fernando.

Bathing suits were an offshoot of the sporting events introduced by Americans, who were avid sports enthusiasts. Two of the first to wear them in public were Kapampangan sisters Amanda and Luz Abad Santos—daughters of Jose Abad Santos, who were members of the 1934 Far Eastern Games national swim team.

Meanwhile, American sartorial elegance was the promise of  C. Hugo (Gentleman’s Tailor Modernist), Hilario Lapid’s Fashion (Cabildo), I.D. Cura (along Rizal Ave.) and De Leon Bros. tailors (Herran)—all Kapampangan suitmakers.

Young, independent colegialas had their eyebrows shaved,  hair cut short, bobbed, curled and Marcel-waved in modern salons such as the one owned by Rosa Soliman. Their handsome boyfriends in their City Slick, Valentino or Executive hair styles and flared London pants took them out to soda parlors to have ice cream or watch vaudevilles (the “zarzuela” was considered passé) , and basketball games.

By the 1930s, the Philippines was  completely under the American spell. It is said that the boogie-woogie, jitterbugging kids of the Swing Era were probably the most Americanized generation of young Filipinos. An observant few were quick to lament the eradication of our values as Filipinos became enamoured with the American dream with Hollywood movies, the carnivals and  cabarets, the cigarettes and the scotch—providing the cheap thrills of youthful leisure.

Kapampangans’ love affair with America would last longer than most—even with the rise of nationalism in the 1950s, mainly due to the presence of Clark Air Base that was seen more as a boon, to the neighborhood community. For decades,  the base provided thousands of livelihood opportunities, jobs, and, for many Misses Phatuphats among us, a possible ticket to a good life.  

All that would end dramatically and abruptly in 1991, with Pinatubo kicking out America from Clark with finality.  The American absence cleared the air and gave us time and space to reflect on what colonial mentality has done to us, and what we have been missing all these years. After bidding  “adios” to Alice Roosevelt and Miss Phatupats, it’s now time to say “hello” to the rediscovery of our race, our own culture and heritage. 

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

*423. KAPAMPANGAN PENSIONADOS, 1903-1905

A DILLER, A DOLLAR, A $500 SCHOLAR. Original batch of Filipino pensionados from 1903, taken in 1904, at Sta. Barbara, California. In this group are at least 3 Kapampangans who studied in U.S. universities as part of the government scholarship program initiated during the Taft administration.

At the end of the Spanish era, it has been estimated that less than one tenth of one percent of the population could be considered educated (roughly a thousand per a million people). Thus, an idea was conceived in 1901, broached first by the Taft Commission, to educate Filipino students in America so they could “acquire a thorough knowledge of the western civilization”.

Mr. William Alexander Sutherland, secretary to Gov. William H. Taft, is credited with planting the seed of the idea, which aimed to bring about closer relations and a better understanding between America and its new wards. Thus, on 26 August 1903, the Philippine Commission passed Act No. 854  that authorized the sending of the first 100 Filipino students to the United States for four years of study in American colleges and universities.

The collective name for these scholars was “pensionados”, which was actually a misnomer, as it is the Spanish equivalent of “pensioner”, a retired person who receives a pension or stipend from a private or government body. Even so, the American administrators stuck to the name, in 1903, and it proved to be the most successful scholarship project ever instituted in the Philippines.

The recipients, carefully selected from all the provinces went on to become the cream of Philippine civil service, academic, professional and entrepreneurial ranks. Mr. Sutherland, who would be named superintendent of the program,  determined that 75 of the first 100 would be culled from the public schools. The rest would be chosen by a committee composed of a Philippine Commission member, the Executive Secretary and Mr. Sutherland,, based on the population and importance of the different provinces.

The pensionado program had three phases that spanned from the Taft governorship to the Commonwealth period, extending to the years before the war.  The most well-known pensionados would be the original batches that would number about 200 scholars.

The scholars were shipped in batches to the United States, the first on 9 October 1903 numbered 104. The “Pensionado Leaving Day” was reported in 22 newspapers, and the send-off was marked with music, oratories and free San Miguel Beer refreshments. Also present was Gov. Taft who advised the boys to keep their feet dry, desist from eating too much candy, and reminded them that they were missionaries of their islands to America.

Thus, armed with their $500 allowance ($5 was allotted for personal expenses), the students began their 30-day journey across the Pacific to chase their dreams in their new mother country. Pampanga was proudly represented by 2 Kapampangans in this pioneering batch. In the succeeding years, a few more would qualify for the pensionado program, and would return back to the Philippines to achieve so much more—as accomplished builders of progress, educators, esteemed doctors, engineers, professionals and as heroes.

ABAD SANTOS, JOSE. (1904, San Fernando)
University of Illinois and George Washington University)
(b. 1886/d,1942)  Abad Santos joined the 2nd batch of pensioandos in 1904 and went to the University of Illinois and George Washington University to take up Law. Fifth Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of the Philippines. Served briefly as the Acting President of the Commonwealth of the Philippines and Acting-Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces of the Philippines during World War II, in behalf of President Quezon after the government went in exile to the United States. Killed by the Japanese forces for refusing to cooperate during their occupation of the country.

BALUYUT, SOTERO (1904, San Fernando)
(b. 1889/ d.  1975). Studied at the Santa Ana Central and High School, California, University Summer Schools of Illinois; and University of Iowa, where he obtainhis Civil Engineering degree. Worked with the Bureau of Public Works on his return to the Philippines, as assistant engineer of Pampanga and Cavite in 1911. Elected governor of Pampanga in 1925, 1928 and 1937-1938 and  served as senator for the Third Senatorial District. Became Secretary of Public Works and Communications in President Quirino’s cabinet.

DATU, MAURO M. (1905, San Fernando)
Studied at Purdue University, Lafayette, Indiana, graduating in 1908. Upon his return, he became a teacher, and then principal of a school in Baliuag, Bulacan. In 1918, he was appointed as an enumerador for Baliuag, for the Philippine census project.

DE LA PAZ, FABIAN (1904, Macabebe)
(b.1889/d.1946 ) De La Paz went to Macomb College in Illinois (now University of Western Illinois) where he earned his education degree. Back in the Philippines, the teacher was appointed Principal of Tondo High School in Manila. He took night classes at the newly opened University of the Philippines in Manila where he finished law. Congressman from 1928-31 (8th Philippine Legislature) and 1931-34 (9th Philippine Legislature).

ESPIRITU, JOSE (1903, Apalit)
 Studied at the State Normal School, Trenton, New Jersey and graduated with a degree in Education.

GOMEZ, LIBORIO (1903, Sto. Tomas)
(b. 1887/d. 1958) Complete his doctoral studies at the University of Chicago in 1908 . Bacteriologist, pathologist,medical educator, scientist. On his return to the Philippines, he served as pathologist at the University of the Philippines, San Juan de Dios Hospital, and Far Eastern University. Served as bacteriologist at the Bureau of Science until 1923 when he was appointed as Professor of Pathology and Bacteriology at the University of the Philippines, College of Medicine.

GUTIERREZ, PERPETUO (1905, Floridablanca)
Went to the College of Physicians and Surgeons and became a specialist in dermatology and venereal diseases, doing graduate work at Columbia and Johns Hopkins Universities. Dr. Gutierrez would later become head of the Department of Medicine at the Institute of Medicine of Far Eastern University.

LICUP, ROMAN  (1905)
Studied at the University of Notre Dame in Indiana and  Armour Institute, Chicago. Joined the government service upon his return and became an assistant manager of the Manila Railroad Company in 1909. He stayed on for over 42 years, but was separated from the company due to internal reorganization. He sued the government, but lost, and died a pauper.

LORENZO, TOMAS (1904)
Studied at the Agricultural Collge in Ames, Iowa.

NICDAO, MIGUEL (1903)
Attended State Normal University in Normal, Illinois.  In Sutherland’s list, he is identified as a Pampanga student, but the records of FANHS (Filipino American National Historical Society) lists him as coming from Manila.

SANTOS-CUYUGAN GERVACIO (1904, San Fernando)
Attended the College of Physicians and Surgeons in Chicago, Illinois. His roommate was Jose Abad Santos. Became an assistant professor of surgery upon his return to the Philippines .Was a charter fellow of the Philippine College of Surgeons. He was one of Pres. Quezon’s trusted physicians. His daughter is the operatic singer, TV, movie and theater personality, Fides Asencio-Cuyugan.

YUMUL, VICTORIANO (1904)
Nothing is known about him, not even his school he attended is known.

SOURCE:
http://www.orosa.org/The%20Philippine%20Pensionado%20Story3.pdf  The Pensionado Story

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

*422. San Fernando's LOURDES S. SINJIAN, Dama de Honor, Manila Carnival 1924


OUR LADY OF LOURDES. The statuesque Unding was a princess in the Manila Carnival court of Queen Trinidad Fernandez. She was a grandchild of former San Fernando gobernadorcillo (1844-1875), Don Bernardino Singian de Miranda.Author's Collection.

The earliest known Kapampangan participant in the Manila Carnival of which there is pictorial documentation is Lourdes Sinjian (Filipinized into Singian) of San Fernando. There was another Kapampangan entrant by the name of Benita S. Reyes who topped the preliminary voting in Pampanga, but apparently, her candidacy did not prosper and virtually nothing is known about her.

On the other hand, Lourdes did much better, joining the court of the 1924 Manila Carnival Queen, Trinidad Fernandez, as one of the 6 lovely “damas”. Lourdes, nicknamed “Unding”, (b. 23 October 1903) was the grandchild of Don Bernardino Singian de Miranda (former gobernadorcillo of San Fernando where he served several terms between 1844-1875) with second wife Clemencia Gotiangco of San Fernando. Her parents were Anselmo Singian and Paz Soler.

A statuesque “mestiza Española”, she spoke flawless Spanish, Kapampangan, Pilipino and Cantonese, in a voice that was strong and vibrant. Her patrician manners only served to complement her elegant bearing. At the coronation of the Queen, she was escorted by another mestizo, Ito Kahn. 

A niece, Gabriela D’Aquino recalls that during the Japanese Occupation, Unding’s imposing height and no-nonsense demeanor served her family in good stead. Japanese officers who had come to invite her young cousins to parties were often intimidated by Unding and left the house alone.

 After the war, Lourdes and her mother went to Hong Kong, to follow her sister Maria Paz (Nenita) who had left the Philippines to marry a Hong Kong native, Gaston D’Aquino. Choosing to reside in the British Colony, Lourdes was never at a loss for company. Vicente Singian, for example, was the Philippine consul in Hong Kong in the 1950s. The famed surgeon Dr. Gregorio Singian, together with his wife, made frequent travels there as well. Both were her cousins. 

 Relatives would recall that Lourdes made a perfect tour guide whenever family members came a-visiting. In one such shopping spree at a Hong Kong store, she would pretend to be a stranger, but when she would sense a dishonest deal, she would berate the shop owner in eloquent Cantonese! 

With her relatives though, Lourdes spoke in Kapampangan, often reminiscing about her days in Pampanga and Manila. Lourdes did not leave Hong Kong until her mother, Paz, fell ill and had to be flown back to Manila for treatment at Clinica Singian. After her mother’s death, she remained in the Philippines only to return to Hong Kong in the 1960s to care for her ailing sister Nenita.

 Upon the death of her sister, Lourdes took over the household and continued raising her sister’s children Gaby, Gaston Jr. and Gerardo, running a household with discipline and efficiency. Known for being nimble and spritely even in her old age, Lourdes remained unmarried until her death in Hong Kong on 4 July 1993. Her remains were brought back and interred at the Mount Carmel Church in Manila.

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

421. FRAY BALDOMERO ABADIA: Martyr of O’Donnell

SACRIFICE IN O'DONNELL. The saintly Recoleto, Fr. Baldomero Abadia, who was a friend to two holy men--St. Ezekiel Moreno and Bl. Vicente Pinillo,  met his martyrdom in O'Donnell, Tarlac, a casualty of the Philippine Revolution.

That Kapampangans' reverence and love for their Augustinian friars could be gleaned from the many letters of praises written by town leaders and local folks, kept in the archdiocesan archives of Manila and in Spain. Many of these include requests for extension of the friars' terms, due to their good deeds and selfless service. Indeed,  the 18th-century chronicler Fray Gaspar de San Agustin described the faithful of Pampanga as being “ very good Christians, most respectful of their ministers.”

This kindly and accommodating attitude, however, was severely put to a test during the Philippine Revolution against the repression of Spain. The revolutionists’ growing animosity towards their colonial master spilled over to the Catholic church and its leaders, with fatal consequences.

One such tragic victim of circumstance was the saintly Fray Baldomero Abadia. Abadia was born in Jarque del Moncayo in 1871. His father Marcos had this idea of naming his sons after Queen Isabel’s generals—and so this son was named after the Prince of Vergara, Don Baldomero Espartero. His older brother had earlier been named Leopoldo, after the first Duke of Tetuan, Don Leopoldo O’Donnell.

Baldomero entered the Recoletos community of Monteagudo, Navarre province, where, on 4 October 1887,  he professed his vows.  During his stay at the rectory, he became acquainted with two future holy men—St. Ezekiel Moreno, who, in 1885 had just returned from the Philippines to be chaplain at the Augustinian Rectory at Monteagudo. The saint corresponded with  Baldomero before he embarked for Colombia in 1888.

With Blessed Vicente Ibanez Pinilla, Fray Abadia formed a lasting friendship.  They were after all, from the same province of Zaragoza (Pinilla was from Calatayud town), and knew each other’s families. Their friendship would even deepen when they had their 5-year philosophical and theological formation in the convents of San Millán de la Cogolla (La Rioja) and Marcilla (Navarra). The two missionary priests would make a trip to Philippines together, arriving in Manila on 18 September 1892.

Initially, both were assigned in Manila, but Fr. Pinilla was shuttled from Mindoro to Manila and back to Mindoro where revolutionists held him captive in Bongabong. His superiors thus recalled him from the Philippines and shipped him to Brazil. He would be martyred in Motril, Granada in 1936, along with seven others, during the Spanish Civil War. He and his companions were beatified by Pope John Paul II on 7 March 1999.

Meanwhile, Fr. Abadia’s assignment took him to Alaminos. Sometime in January 1896, he was made parish priest of a newly created O’Donnell town in Tarlac, a canny coincidence as the town—like the friar’s brother, Leopoldo O’Donnell—had been named after the same Spanish general. There, Fr. Abadia worked with tirelsslsy, unmindful of the dangers of a brewing revolution.  Historiologist Fray Francisco Sadaba noted of his work inn Tarlac:  "There he fulfilled the functions of his sacred ministry, for he was a young man of angelic customs and a truly apostolic spirit."

But at the end of August 1896, the Philippine revolution had exploded, spreading  quickly from Manila to the border provinces. Several Recoletos were murdered, and Fray Baldomero found himself in the danger zone. In his last letter to his family dated Oct. 27, he calmly reassured them that, for his safety, he was sleeping in the soldiers' barracks.

But he was not safe at all—Fr. Abadia  could not trust even his own parishioners. On October 31, Filipino insurgent troops entered O'Donnell and, as Sadaba described his cruel passing, the revolucionarios  "inhumanly sacrificed him in hatred of Religion and Spain." Fray Baldomero Abadia was not even 27 years old.

SOURCES:
http://www.agustinosrecoletos.org/noticia.php?id_noticia=11442&id_seccion=9&idioma=1
Romanillos, Emmanuel Luis A. The Augustinian Recollects in the Philippines, Hagiography and History., Recoletos Communications Inc. 2001.

Sunday, January 22, 2017

420. REMEMBERING HOLY ANGEL ACADEMY’S HIGH SCHOOL DAYS OF 1941

DAY OF ALL DAYS. The town motorcade is one of the highlights of the pre-war High School Day celebrations of Holy Angel Academy, with thematic floats created by different classes taking centerstage on Angeles roads.1940s.Personal collection.

The stirrings of an imminent global war were already being felt in Europe in 1941, as Germany’s assaults continued all over Europe and in Africa. London had been bombed, and the U.S. had also been girding for war in the Pacific with the appointment of Admiral Husband Kimmel as Commander of the US Navy. News of the impending spread of the escalating war made the front-page of newspapers every day.

But to students of Holy Angel Academy in Angeles, the war--in 1941--seemed far, far away. Since its founding in 1934, Holy Angel Academy had grown to become a premiere school in the province, with a reputation for accessible, quality education, known for a perfect balance of academics and activities. At least, for now, the war was no cause for worry,

That year’s edition of Holy Angel’s High School Days was truly special, as a new high school building had just been completed in the sprawling campus. The week-long event from 18-23 February was packed with many activities that would be hailed and talked about by local papers for days.

The kick-off event began on February 18, Tuesday, with an English operetta, “The Magic Ruby”, staged for the public by students. The stage décor, the costumes, and the performance of the actors earned rave reviews, but the highly-anticipated Wednesday parade got even more enthusiastic media responses. Each high school class fielded a carroza (float) that visualized a relevant theme.

A reporter from Pamitic, a local paper, gushes: “ Ding carroza mipapatlu la casanting…Quing iquit cu queting parade, aburi queng dili ing macabansag “POWER”, uling masanting yang tutu sasabian. Queting carru, lerawan de ding qñg cuartu añu, ing TRES CAIDA na ning Apung Guinu. Qñg lugal ning Apung Guinu, binili reng mamusan qñg cruz ning Democracia. Iting tragedia ning Democracia tatañgalan nang Juan de la Cruz at Uncle Sam cabang ding bansang-upaya macapadirit la qñg Democraciang misubsub. Ila ding Judios?” (The floats are beautiful…In what I have seen in the parade, the one that I like most was the one that had for its theme-“POWER. The float was made by seniors  in the manner of the “Third Fall of Christ”. In place of his cross,  Christ is made to hold the Cross of Democracy.  Juan de la Cruz and Uncle Sam stare at this tragic scene, while powerful countries surround the “fall of democracy. Do they represent the Jews?)

Also joining the parade of floats was Miss Holy Angel Academy, Maria Narciso, who was met with resounding applause from people who lined up the road to watch the colorful proceedings. “Cabud iquit me,  aguiang emu uculan, macapacpac ca. Ing jinjin na bague na ning cayang lagu!”.  (Once you see her, you will instinctively clap. Her demure manner fit her beauty!)

Day 3 ( 20 Feb.) was Field Day, in which calisthenics demonstrations, folk dances and games were held on the school grounds. Notable was the “Bailes de Ayer”, choreographed by Miss Aranda and danced by the high school seniors, which included the reigning Miss HAA, Maria Narciso and Miss 4th Year, Clara Setzer. “Iting terac da, e ca marine”, the same reporter noted,  “apaquilimpu mu qñg masanting diling folk dance king America at Europa” (You'll be proud of their dance;  it can stand alongside the best folk dances of America and Europe) .  As for the games, ”Spot the Spot” drew the most participation and enjoyment.

On Friday, 21 February, different high schools from Pampanga vied for the governor’s tropy—Copa Baluyut—in the military exercise competitions. Adding excitement to the contest was the presence of the Philippine Army Band which thrilled the audience with various march music. Five officials from Camp Del Pilar and Camp Olivas judged the drill contest that was hotly contested by Guagua Institute and Stotsenburg Institute. In the end, the cadets from Guagua Institute won the coveted Sotero Baluyut Trophy. The host contingent from Holy Angel did not win, but their bevy of corps sponsors were adjudged the most beautiful.

Saturday saw the return of HAA alumni in a grand homecoming, and the re-staging of “The Magic Ruby” in the evening that was open to the general public. The High School Days drew to a close with an exciting basketball tournament highlight. The  school was jampacked with students and Angeleños who watched  the nationally-ranked U.S.T. college team play against an elite MICAA (Manila Industrial and Commercial Athletic Association) selection.

In just 10 months, the Japanese would attack Pearl Harbor, and then invadethe Philippines on 8 December.  World War II would take away much from Pampanga, but not the memories of that year’s Holy Angel’s High School Day—six special days that are still fondly remembered by oldtimers and alumni who witnessed these and all—“ding mangasanting nang pepalto ning Holy Angel..”.

SOURCE:
Ing Pamitic, local weekly Kapampangan newspaper, February 1941 issues.

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

419. REV. FR. SIXTO M. MANALOTO: A Story of a Generous Soul

THE BENEVOLENT REVEREND. Rev. Fr. Sixto M. Manaloto, long-time cura parocco of San Bartolome Parish, Magalang, Pampanga. Signed photo given to Fr. Maximino Manuguid of Mabalacat. 1915.

The big-hearted Kapampangan religious with a reputation for his boundless generosity and his enduring passion to serve God and people was born Sixto Malino Manaloto on  6 July 1891 in Capas, Tarlac. Though Tarlac-born, Fr. Manaloto would make a lasting impression on Magaleños, serving their parish for an unprecedented period of nearly 30 years.

The young Sixto found God’s calling early in life, and at the age of 14, entered the Seminario de San Francisco Javier (the name given by the Jesuits, upon their return to the Philippines, to Colegio de San José) in 1905. In the beginning of the school year 1911-1912, Manaloto, along with seminarians Pedro Guevara, Felix Martin, Emilio de la Cruz and  Santiago Talavera, were admitted to San Carlos Seminary on Arzobispado Street beside the San Ignacio Church.

Hardly had he settled for a month in San Carlos when he and his fellow Carlistas were ordered to move back to San Francisco Javier as the Jesuit administration of San Carlos lapsed on 17 August 1911.  San Carlos would later be merged with San Francisco Javier Seminary on Padre Faura St., until the latter’s closure in 1913.

That same year, San Carlos Seminary was transferred by Manila Archbishop Jeremiah James Harty to a building in Mandaluyong, and would be put in the charge of the Paules (Vincentians) . It was here that Manaloto finished his studies in Sacred Theology and Philosophy. On 8 December 1915, feast of the Immaculate Conception, Sixto Manaloto was ordained into priesthood by Archbishop Harty himself.

Fresh from his ordination, the young prelate was sent off to Pangasinan to undertake his first assignments in the municipalities of Agno and Bani. Then , he hied off to his home province to minister in Victoria, Tarlac, and then secured assignments in Pampanga—first in Sta. Ana, and then, in 1923, in Magalang, succeeding Fr. Felipe Romero. There,  he would remain until his death.

As cura parocco of the San Bartolome Parish, Fr. Manaloto, he is known for his major restoration works on the ancient church, including the replacement of the supporting wooden columns of the lateral aisles with sturdier concrete cement posts.

He also opened a parochial school that served the youths of Magalang. Likewise, the good father sent poor, but deserving students to Manila, many of whom eventually returned as professionals and became leaders of the community. Fr. Manaloto also took  to raising foster children, a few of whom were his own nephews.  He lived to celebrate his sacerdotal silver jubilee of his ordination, with a big “boda de plata” party held in Magalang on 18 December 1940.

He died on 30 March 1952 at age 61, after serving his beloved adopted town for 29 years and 7 days. A commemorative plaque can be found in the church, which pays tribute to this magnanimous man of God and his selfless contribution to the spiritual upliftment of Magalang and its people.

Monday, January 2, 2017

418. THE MISS UNIVERSE QUESTS OF THE BERENGUER-DELOS REYES SISTERS

TWO CROWNING GLORIES: Sisters Yvonne Berenguer-de los Reyes (Miss Philippines 1955) and  Simonette (Bb. Pilipinas 1970) both carried the country's flag at the Miss Universe Beauty Pageant, fifteen years apart. Their mother, Marietta, comes from the prominent Reyes-Berenguer-Linares family of Arayat.

In the history of Philippine beauty pageantry,  no feat is as unprecedented as what two sisters of Kapampangan lineage accomplished in 1955 and 1970 respectively.  They were both crowned as Miss Philippines, chosen to represent the country in the premiere global contest of feminine pulchritude: the Miss Universe Beauty Pageant. Thus, Yvonne and Simonette Berenguer-de los Reyes, achieved what many thought was impossible—of winning the same crown, the same title, and competing in the same international pageant—fifteen years apart!

The sisters were the daughters of Crisanto de los Reyes y Mendoza, and Marietta Berenguer y Linares of Arayat, Pampanga.  Their mother’s parents, Jose Flores Berenguer  and Simona Reyes Linares,  came from prominent families of the mountain town (Note: Renowned interior designer-decorator, Mercedes “Ched” Berenguer-Topacio  is a cousin). From their father’s side, Yvonne and Simonette count several beauties as relatives: 1929 Miss Philippine Carnival Pacita delos Reyes, 1954 Miss Philippines Blesilda Ocampo and Tingting de los Reyes.

The sisters’ impeccable  pedigree would serve them well in their quest for a beauty crown. 1955 was just the third year of the Philippine participation to the annual Miss Universe. The year before, Blesilda Mueller Ocampo,  did well in Long Beach, California, by placing in the semifinals. 

The pageant,  founded in 1952 by clothing company Pacific Mills, is considered to be the most prestigious, and most important of all beauty concourses, then, as now. Winners came home to their country to tumultuous welcome, honored as heroes, treated as royalties, and showered with privileges from their governments, like being given tax exemptions for life and immortalized in postage stamps. 

Gamin-faced Yvonne was one of the candidates who converged at the Miss Philippines finals on 12 March 1955 at the Cavalcade Hall Auditorium of United Nations Plaza. That year, Audrey Hepburn was the toast of showbiz, and Yvonne’s delicate elfin Hepburn look was not lost on the judges.  She was named Miss Philippines 1955, crowned  by her own own cousin, Bessie, with whom she shares the same paternal great-grandparents (Crisanto Mendoza de los Reyes and Dorotea Silverio).

 Yvonne’s court included Lucy del Prado (Miss Luzon),  Annie Gonzales (Miss Visayas) and Annie Corrales (Miss Mindanao). She flew to Long Beach to participate in the first-ever televised Miss Universe edition. Sweden’s  Hillevi Rombin won the title.

Right after her reign, Yvonne got married, raised a family (children Juancho, Marietta, Marco)  and established a successful ballet dancewear, shoes and accessories business --“Yvonne’s” in 1967. It grew to five specialty stores and currently, her “Yvonne’s” shops in Makati and Greenhills are still going strong.

Simonette’s own journey to the crown had a different route. She was discovered by designer Pitoy Moreno who egged her to join the 1970 Bb. Pilipinas pageant, televised for the first time that year. Frontliner candidate Aurora Pijuan could have taken it all,  but when Simonette delivered her speech in fluent Pilipino—the only candidate to do so—the tides were turned in her favor. 

In her speech (written for her by poetess Virgie Moreno, Pitoy’s sister)  she made an analogy about  the judges’ task and that of  St. Peter’s, in deciding the fates of the candidates, who were liken to seekers of a place in heaven.  With that, Simonette was crowned Binibining Pilipinas, while Aurora Pijuan won the other title of Miss Philippines (she would triumph as 1970 Miss International in Osaka).

Simonette went to Miami Beach under tremendous pressure as the reigning Miss Universe was Gloria Diaz. So, she just went ahead and enjoyed the experience.  Her roommate, Puerto Rico’s Marisol Malaret, became the eventual winner. After her reign, she continued her commerce studies at Assumption. In 1972, she became the first Baron Travel Girl , and traveled extensively around the world.

In 1977, she married football ace Butch Ferraren, had children, lived for years abroad and pursued a successful baked goods business when she returned to the Philippines. She honed her craft as a baker and sold lemon squares, ensaimadas, and cakes. Today she operates California Funnel Cakes Café in Pasay City. Monette still regularly visits Pampanga, her mother’s hometown Arayat and the Caryana Monastery in Magalang for her spiritual retreats.

Two siblings with national titles are a rarity. Almost an impossibility is having two of them win the most sought after Miss Philippines title, then vie for the same Miss Universe crown. But the delos Reyes sisters did just that in 1955 and 1970. 

It would take awhile to duplicate that feat, but in recent years, the lovely Manalo sisters of Bacolor scored a similarly impressive coup--Katherine Ann Manalo, Bianca Manalo and Nichole became the winningest family by bagging three different Binibining Pilipinas titles (World 2002, Universe 2009, Globe 2016). But that’s  another (beautiful) story!