Archive for the ‘hero’ Category

Recalling Martin Luther King, Jr.’s “I have a dream”

January 19, 2009

We have also come to this hallowed spot to remind America of the fierce urgency of Now. This is no time to engage in the luxury of cooling off or to take the tranquilizing drug of gradualism. Now is the time to make real the promises of democracy. Now is the time to rise from the dark and desolate valley of segregation to the sunlit path of racial justice. Now is the time to lift our nation from the quicksands of racial injustice to the solid rock of brotherhood. Now is the time to make justice a reality for all of God’s children.”—Martin Luther King, Jr. (08/28/63)

Today, January 19, 2009, is a federal holiday in USA honoring Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr (MLK,) the martyred black Baptist minister who was a preeminent pillar of the civil rights movement in the 1960’s. His heroism is celebrated on the third Monday of the first month of the year, proximate to his birthday on January 15.

Known for his “ I have a dream” speech which galvanized blacks to pursue it’s relentless fight against racism and discrimination, MLK is remembered today coincident to the White House ascendancy of the first black President: Barack Obama. During the “March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom,” Dr. King delivered the inspiring speech on August 28, 1963, from the steps Lincoln Memorial during a rally of about 250,000 people.

To remember and pay homage to eloquent black leader who dared to dream and presently enjoys an 86% positive approval rating across demographic groups in USA (Rassmussen Polls, January 2009,) the full text of “I have a dream” may be accessed and viewed at:

http://www.americanrhetoric.com/speeches/mlkihaveadream.htm

youtube.com/watch?v=PbUtL_0vAJk

Delivered more than half a century ago, the speech remains a unique barometer on how far United States has gone in improving its track records on civil rights, justice, and race relations. Admirable strides have been made to realize MLK’s cause, but there are still much to accomplish in the name of liberty, justice, and equality that USA and all nations of the world should do. (Photo Credits: Martin Luther King PD; traqair)=0=

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Para sa mga burak sa Heidelberg: An pagrumdom ki Rizal kan sarong taga-Baao

December 30, 2008

A Diciembre 30, amo a ka-aldowan ka pagka-badil ki Jose P. Rizal, kanatong heroe nacional na guinadan ka mga Kastila, 112 taon ng naka-agui. Sa pagrumdom ka guinibo ni Rizal para sa liberasyon ka Pilipinas, rumdumon ta an saiyang pamosong tula—Para sa mga burak ka Heidelberg—sinurat niya kan siya nasa Alemanya, Europa.

Galin sa Paris, Francia si Dr. Rizal— nag-anad mag-bulong ka mga helang sa mata. Siya tinukduan ni Prof. Otto Becker sa Alemanya. Amo’dto kan siya nagsurat para sa kagayonan ka mga burak sa Heidleberg—habang namatean niya a kalipungawan kan pamilyang harayo, banwaan na saiyang ‘di maling’wan. Dae nag-haloy, pakatapos ka nobela niyang Noli Me Tangere, si Rizal nagpuli sa Manila.

Sadi a magayon na paguiromdom ni P.B. Robosa (taga-Baao) ki Rizal. Sa color ka tataramon ka lugar sa Rinconada, Bicol, a amio ka burak ni Rizal magdanay man lugod kanato. Magka-igua man lugod kita ka pag-makulog sagkod pagkamoot na hanggang ngowan kaipuhan ka banwaan.

Para sa Mga Burak sa Heidelberg(To the Flowers of Heidelberg)
Ni Jose Rizal
Itinaga Baao ni P.B. Robosa

Pasadto kamo banwaan ko, dayuhan na burak
tagak sa raran kin mga nagbabaklay, iwinarak,
sa lomlom ka sirong kin azul na kalangitan,
sadto na an mga payaba ko pinag-iiningatan
iluyap ninyo, pagarang-arang kanakong rogan,
kining arayo pero di nalilingaw sa mga binayaan

Pasadto kamo, ag mabareta bago magliwanag,
kung kamo ka sirang ka aldow ibinubuklad,
sa pangpang ag agnow ka Neckar na ararom
sadto siya nakatindog, nang-guiguiromrom
pamumula sa tagsibol, darang kolor na magayon

Ipa-ngusip ninyo kun pag-abot ka saking ramrag,
ayaton kaninyo an hamot na kaninyong ambag,
habang luway na pina-iirongog “o ika, payaba ko”
siya man nagririmo-rimo, sa itaas ninyo tinotono,
kantang pagkaboot, sa sadiring bisara nya guinibo

Kun su silaw ka ramrag aboton na su kaitaasan,
tuktok Koenigsthul kalayuwan kin kaliwanagan,
namumulaag na silaw ka aldow mang-guisong na,
sa patag, kadlagan ag kakahoyan nanbubuway na,
ining lagalag, sabat man tulos an silaw na dara,
na sadto banwaan man nya, minabulos biyaya.

Isabi ninyo ku kamo luway na pinili ag pinutlan,
ku sya nag-agi-agi sa sadit ag matulid na a-agian,
sa rugbang torreng tuda ko panahon na nakaagi,
sa Neckar na may kadlagan, malimpoy na sabi.
Sabiyon su kanyang mga panambitan ag sinabi
pauno kamo luway-luway, tinulid, ingat na inani,
sadto kanyang libro isinuksuk ag pinagkahigo,
sa mga lumang pahina, kamo niyang itinatago.

Hatudan, hatudan, magayon na burak kin Rhine,
an biyong pagka-boot ko sa ngamin na nabootan,
katoninongan sa banwaan kong kinamondagan,
sa kababaihan-katangihan, kusog sa kalalakihan.
Ipagtaratara diaday, sa mga payaba kong marhay
sa ngamin, kabilugang banal, pauulian ka buway

Pag-abot sa baybayon kan pinayabang banwaan
matam-is na arok na pinamate di paglingawan,
ipatiprak sa pakpak kin angin na nakapalibot
tanganing su ngamin na inonra, ginalang, binoot,
mamate sa mga pisngi ninda–arok kong pina-abot.

Tibaad makaabot kamo sa banwaan kong tinubuan
dara pa gayon ag tinkad ninyong kolor na namasdan,
ta arayo kamo sa ragang kinabuklatan, nang-alisngaw,
namarong na amot, tibaad dagos nang naoda, nanlasaw.
An hamio ninyo, kalag ninyong tunay, di maisusuway,
di malilingangawan kan langit kun sari kamo nabuway.
baaohistoricalsociety.blogspot.com

December 30, 2008 marks the day our national hero Jose P. Rizal was executed by the Spanish colonizers some 112 years ago. In remembrance of his martyrdom for the liberation of our country, let’s remember one of his famous poems—To the Flowers of Heidleberg which he wrote when he was in Germany.

Under the tutorship of Prof. Otto Becker, Rizal continued his advanced studies as an eye doctor there. It was about that time when he wrote the beautiful poem about the flowers of Heidelberg and his nostalgia for his family and his native land. It did not take long, after he finished the final chapters of his novel Noli Me Tangere, that he went home and met his death.

From Baao, Camarines Sur, here’s P. B. Robosa’s beautiful translation of the poem. The words carry inexplicable emotions and images that only a wonderful Bicol dialect can express. May the scent of Rizal’s flowers suffuse us— his bravery and patriotism inspire us, as we celebrate his martyrdom.


To the Flowers of Heidelberg

by Jose P. Rizal

Go to my country, go foreign flowers!
Planted by the traveller on his way,
And there beneath that sky of blue
That over my beloved towers,
Speak for this traveller to say
What faith in his homeland he breathes to you.

Go and say… say that when the dawn
First drew your calyx open there
Beside the River Neckar chill,
you saw him standing by you, very still,
Reflecting on the primrose flush you wear.

Say that when the morning light
Her toll of perfume from you wrung,
While playfully she whispered, “How I love you!”
He too murmured here above you
Tender love songs in his native tongue.

That when the rising sun the height
Of Koenigstuhl in the early morn first spies;
Is pouring life in the valley, wood, and grove,
He greets the sun as it begins to rise,
Which in his native land is blazing straight above.

And tell them of that day he staid
And plucked you from the border of the path,
Amid the ruins of the feudal castle,
By the River Neckar, and in the silvan shade.
Tell them what he told you
As tenderly as he took
Your plants leaves and pressed them in a book,
Where now its well worn pages close enfold you.

Carry, carry, flowers of Rhine,
Love to every love of mine,
Peace to my country and her fertile land,
Virtue to her women, courage to her men,
Salute those darling once again,
Who formed the sacred circle of our home.

And when you reach the shore,
Each kiss I press upon you now,
Deposit on the pinions of the wind,
And those I love and honor above and adore
Will feel my kisses carried their brow.

Ah, flowers, you may fare through,
Conserving still, perhaps, your native hue;
Yet, far from fatherland, heroic loam
To which you owe your life,
The perfume will be gone from you;
For aroma is your soul; it cannot roam
Beyond the skies which saw it born, nor e’er forget.
“I embrace you”
Rizal’s letter to Friedrich Ullmer (the son of Pastor Ullmer, Wilhelmsfeld) from 1887 (Photo Credits: Bill Barber; Sinaglaya; Bill Barber; Donnamarijne; Bill Barber; Bill Barber)

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Nudity in UP Campus & Rizal’s Ultimo Adios

December 17, 2008



Craftiness must have clothes, but truth loves to go naked.”—English Proverb

A tradition of public nudity has developed in the University of the Philippines (UP). On its 100 years of glorious existence, the school has a rash of flesh-baring events— inspired by the iconic metal image of a man in an act of “oblation” right at the campus gate.

The thought of giving oneself naked has turned to be an irresistible wild dream in the academe. It’s a heart-rousing idea that seems to rub the minds of people who subscribe to the sane and the absurd.

Perhaps they take themselves too seriously. They can be deluded by their self-importance, believing that they are smarter than others and thus deserving of occasional tantrums. There is covert hubris in many UPians. They may be enamored by the grand words of the second verse of Jose P. Rizal’s Ultimo Adios etched on the base of Guillermo Tolentino’s oblation sculpture standing in the school grounds:

“In the fields of battle,
deliriously fighting,
Others give you their lives,
without doubt, without regret;
Where there’s cypress, laurel or lily,
On a plank or open field,
in combat or cruel martyrdom,
If the home or country asks,
it’s all the same–it matters not.”

—Jose P. Rizal, National Hero

The connection of nudity today in UP and Rizal’s heroism is at best tenuous. Yet, for 50 years, the oblation run has been a yearly project of the Alpha Phi Omega (APO) fraternity. It started as a prank and had since then become one of the most celebrated in the university.

Nudes, wearing only masks and bonnets parade themselves around the campus. The justification of the bizarre display of the mons veneris and the penile appendage is usually a protest for an “issue” that bothers the community. Although not all are convinced of the “alibi,” the event brings eager crowds nonetheless to watch the warm flesh pass by. Amidst heckles and laughter, the men give away roses to merry spectators, but many are oblivious and dismissive of the rationale behind the run.

The oblation run held on December 16, 2008 had only 10 nude men streaking their way around the campus. But I thought they had one in June where a hundred participated. For the latest run, APO chose to protest the boiling charter change (Cha-cha) controversy which is occupying the mind of the nation. They also fussed about President Gloria M. Arroyo, the environment and climate change.

The fewer turn-out of those wanting to show their flesh might have been the consequence of an early morning photo shoot of about 100 nude UPians to celebrate the school’s service to the country a week before. Capping the school’s centennial year celebration, on December 13, 2008, the dawn picture session had almost a hundred UPians exposing their skins. What was once considered a joke had turned out to be a controversial collective legitimate expression of selfless offering: “UP Para sa Bayan” (UP for the Nation.)

The nude mania also caught the fancy of the fine arts luminaries of the university. Earlier in June this year, works of National Artists Fernando Amorsolo, Guillermo Tolentino, Napoleon Abueva, Jose Joya, Cesar Legaspi, Benedicto “Bencab” Cabrera, Carlos “Botong” Francisco, Abdulmari Imao and Vicente Manansala, among others were displayed in a public mall in Quezon city, in an exhibit titled, “100 Nudes/100 years.” It was supposed to be a self-congratulating reunion of UP artists to show the whole world of the school’s “big reservoir of talents.”

I don’t know if the Pavlovian concept on operant conditioning works on the psychology behind this nudity hullabaloo. If I have my psychiatry straight, humans like animals, are governed by rewards and punishments. When forbidden behavior such as shedding one’s clothes is reinforced by approving attention, many will do it again. There’s no negative backlash, no punishment and no incentive to prevent UP from doing the oblation run. Nudity which can be pleasurable, is tolerated, and even approved of by university authorities. En masse in front of satisfied onlookers, the event becomes a rousing surreal occasion akin to Bacchanalia.

Liberals, anarchists, and free thinkers can look at public nudity differently even if there are laws against indecent exposure. They usually laud anything contrary to the norm. They want unbridled freedom without much responsibility. Their perspective can be summed up with what iconoclastic John Lennon said when he was still alive.

“The main hang-up in the world today is hypocrisy and insecurity. If people can’t face up to the fact of other people being naked, or whatever they want to do, then we’re never going to get anywhere. People have got to become aware that it’s none of their business and that being nude is not obscene. Being ourselves is what’s important. If everyone practised being themselves instead of pretending to be what they aren’t, there would be peace.”—John Lennon, Beatles singer

Lennon’s opinion is just one side of the coin. He can’t be taken seriously all the way for there are conservative moral and cultural issues that must not be ignored by Filipinos. As a counterpoint, I can only refer at the photos of the oblation run shown in the blog. I suspect they have become raunchier and debased than the years past. With some clues of what goes on during the run, I need to repeat my two-cent worth of opinion about this school-sanctioned nude exhibitions in a supposedly sane university:

Surely, there is amusement in nudity, but such display is distracting and unwarranted. Young masked students running with no clothes on, giving away roses to onlookers is such a powerful emotion-rouser that we risk forgetting the grievances behind why we do it. It’s generally regarded as a mischievous prank rather than a serious protest. In spite of the fun, there is this troubling question whether such an event brings the most benefit in the long run. It makes us think if merriment and humor are always the best ways to air our problems and solve them.

After stating my closing thought, I couldn’t help but laugh when I read a smart quip about being nude—“Don’t arrest me. I was born this way.” It seemed the inane controversy on nudity in campus would stay. But with the rate ethical behavior and righteousness is expended these days, I would not be surprised if UP and many of her children might go astray. Photo Credits: in dekost; in.dekost; indekost; pmt007; in.dekost; in.dekost)=0=

RELATED BLOGS: “The Oblation Run: a risque prank becomes a raunchy protest”
Posted by mesiamd at 6/20/2008; “UP Para Sa Bayan” Posted by mesiamd at 12/13/2008

==========================================================

Nudity in UP Campus & Rizal’s Ultimo Adios

December 17, 2008



Craftiness must have clothes, but truth loves to go naked.”—English Proverb

A tradition of public nudity has developed in the University of the Philippines (UP). On its 100 years of glorious existence, the school has a rash of flesh-baring events— inspired by the iconic metal image of a man in an act of “oblation” right at the campus gate.

The thought of giving oneself naked has turned to be an irresistible wild dream in the academe. It’s a heart-rousing idea that seems to rub the minds of people who subscribe to the sane and the absurd.

Perhaps they take themselves too seriously. They can be deluded by their self-importance, believing that they are smarter than others and thus deserving of occasional tantrums. There is covert hubris in many UPians. They may be enamored by the grand words of the second verse of Jose P. Rizal’s Ultimo Adios etched on the base of Guillermo Tolentino’s oblation sculpture standing in the school grounds:

“In the fields of battle,
deliriously fighting,
Others give you their lives,
without doubt, without regret;
Where there’s cypress, laurel or lily,
On a plank or open field,
in combat or cruel martyrdom,
If the home or country asks,
it’s all the same–it matters not.”

—Jose P. Rizal, National Hero

The connection of nudity today in UP and Rizal’s heroism is at best tenuous. Yet, for 50 years, the oblation run has been a yearly project of the Alpha Phi Omega (APO) fraternity. It started as a prank and had since then become one of the most celebrated in the university.

Nudes, wearing only masks and bonnets parade themselves around the campus. The justification of the bizarre display of the mons veneris and the penile appendage is usually a protest for an “issue” that bothers the community. Although not all are convinced of the “alibi,” the event brings eager crowds nonetheless to watch the warm flesh pass by. Amidst heckles and laughter, the men give away roses to merry spectators, but many are oblivious and dismissive of the rationale behind the run.

The oblation run held on December 16, 2008 had only 10 nude men streaking their way around the campus. But I thought they had one in June where a hundred participated. For the latest run, APO chose to protest the boiling charter change (Cha-cha) controversy which is occupying the mind of the nation. They also fussed about President Gloria M. Arroyo, the environment and climate change.

The fewer turn-out of those wanting to show their flesh might have been the consequence of an early morning photo shoot of about 100 nude UPians to celebrate the school’s service to the country a week before. Capping the school’s centennial year celebration, on December 13, 2008, the dawn picture session had almost a hundred UPians exposing their skins. What was once considered a joke had turned out to be a controversial collective legitimate expression of selfless offering: “UP Para sa Bayan” (UP for the Nation.)

The nude mania also caught the fancy of the fine arts luminaries of the university. Earlier in June this year, works of National Artists Fernando Amorsolo, Guillermo Tolentino, Napoleon Abueva, Jose Joya, Cesar Legaspi, Benedicto “Bencab” Cabrera, Carlos “Botong” Francisco, Abdulmari Imao and Vicente Manansala, among others were displayed in a public mall in Quezon city, in an exhibit titled, “100 Nudes/100 years.” It was supposed to be a self-congratulating reunion of UP artists to show the whole world of the school’s “big reservoir of talents.”

I don’t know if the Pavlovian concept on operant conditioning works on the psychology behind this nudity hullabaloo. If I have my psychiatry straight, humans like animals, are governed by rewards and punishments. When forbidden behavior such as shedding one’s clothes is reinforced by approving attention, many will do it again. There’s no negative backlash, no punishment and no incentive to prevent UP from doing the oblation run. Nudity which can be pleasurable, is tolerated, and even approved of by university authorities. En masse in front of satisfied onlookers, the event becomes a rousing surreal occasion akin to Bacchanalia.

Liberals, anarchists, and free thinkers can look at public nudity differently even if there are laws against indecent exposure. They usually laud anything contrary to the norm. They want unbridled freedom without much responsibility. Their perspective can be summed up with what iconoclastic John Lennon said when he was still alive.

“The main hang-up in the world today is hypocrisy and insecurity. If people can’t face up to the fact of other people being naked, or whatever they want to do, then we’re never going to get anywhere. People have got to become aware that it’s none of their business and that being nude is not obscene. Being ourselves is what’s important. If everyone practised being themselves instead of pretending to be what they aren’t, there would be peace.”—John Lennon, Beatles singer

Lennon’s opinion is just one side of the coin. He can’t be taken seriously all the way for there are conservative moral and cultural issues that must not be ignored by Filipinos. As a counterpoint, I can only refer at the photos of the oblation run shown in the blog. I suspect they have become raunchier and debased than the years past. With some clues of what goes on during the run, I need to repeat my two-cent worth of opinion about this school-sanctioned nude exhibitions in a supposedly sane university:

Surely, there is amusement in nudity, but such display is distracting and unwarranted. Young masked students running with no clothes on, giving away roses to onlookers is such a powerful emotion-rouser that we risk forgetting the grievances behind why we do it. It’s generally regarded as a mischievous prank rather than a serious protest. In spite of the fun, there is this troubling question whether such an event brings the most benefit in the long run. It makes us think if merriment and humor are always the best ways to air our problems and solve them.

After stating my closing thought, I couldn’t help but laugh when I read a smart quip about being nude—“Don’t arrest me. I was born this way.” It seemed the inane controversy on nudity in campus would stay. But with the rate ethical behavior and righteousness is expended these days, I would not be surprised if UP and many of her children might go astray. Photo Credits: in dekost; in.dekost; indekost; pmt007; in.dekost; in.dekost)=0=

RELATED BLOGS: “The Oblation Run: a risque prank becomes a raunchy protest”
Posted by mesiamd at 6/20/2008; “UP Para Sa Bayan” Posted by mesiamd at 12/13/2008

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September 16, 2008

KUNG AKO’Y MAGING DESAPARECIDO, INAY
ni Gregorio V. Bituin Jr.

Kung ako’y maging isang desaparecido
Pilitin po ninyong hanapin ako, inay
Kung sakali mang tuluyang nawala ako
Ay makita man lang ang malamig kong bangkay.
Nawala man ako’y para sa pagbabago
Tangan ang prinsipyo’t pangarap ko sa buhay
Isang marangal na libing po ang nais ko
At isang tula ko sa lapida’y ilagay.

Nagmamalaki akong ako’y aktibista
Na prinsipyado itong sinuong na landas
Na ang tumatahak nama’y pawang bihira
At karaniwan, ang tulad ko’y dinarahas.
Aktibista’y may pag-ibig sa kanyang kapwa
Kaya’t nilalabanan ang sinumang hudas
Na sa bayan natin ay nagsasamantala.
Panlipunang pagbabago ang tanging lunas.

Akong inyong anak ay alam nyong lalaban
Sa anumang sistemang mapagsamantala
Mahal kong inay, nais kong inyong malaman
Isa ka po sa pinakadakilang ina
Sa mundong itong kaytindi ng karahasan
Dakila ka dahil tulad ni Birheng Marya
Ay inalay mo sa pagbago ng lipunan
Ang anak mo para sa paglaya ng iba.

N.B. Ang tula ay pinadala sa akin ng makatang si Greg V. Bituin, Jr. Isang pangamba sa mga nawawala sa ating lipunan at pag-alaala sa mga pinaslang na walang katarungan—AFM (September 16, 2008)

Ninoy Aquino: undimmed, forever young & at play

August 21, 2008

“They shall not grow old
As we that are left grow old
Age shall not weary them
Nor the hourglass condemn
At the going down of the sun

And at the rising of the sun
We shall greet them in our hearts
Undimmed, forever young and at play
In the fields of the Lord.”

—-Warrior King: The Triumph & Betrayal of An American Commander in Iraq (Sassman, Nathan Lt. Col., Martin Press, NY, 2008, p.293)

“It is even more clear to me now that Ninoy was never really mine or my children’s to lose; he has always belonged to the people he chose to serve and to die for,” former Pres. Corazon (Cory) Aquino said of her husband Benigno (Ninoy ) Aquino whose 25th year of his assassination is being remembered this year.

Ninoy Aquino came home from exile in August 21, 1983 from Boston, USA as the prime political adversary of then Pres. Ferdinand Marcos and wife Imelda Marcos. Upon arrival in Manila, he was escorted by military men and minutes later he was gunned down in the tarmac. Years of investigations of the gruesome killing failed to unmask the top people behind the murder. A lone gunman Rolando Galman, killed with Ninoy at the airport, was blamed for the murder. Ninoy’s martyrdom sparked a series of mass actions and protests against Marcos, forcing him out of Malacanang Palace and ending his dictatorship with Imelda.

Today, trying to bring back her health from treatments for colonic cancer, Cory faces new wounds of the ignominious murder whose real mastermind(s) and killer(s) are still on the loose. As the memory of the bloody shooting fades in the memory of the country, the culprits who escape judgement under the law, have gone old or have died of natural causes.

The Marcos family has been “rehabilitated” with the passage of time, rejoining Philippine politics as though nothing so nefarious and brutal ever happened. The case of Ninoy and the conspiracy behind it have been a metaphor of the Filipinos’ lack of trust in the court system. It speaks of the countless murders left unsolved in the country. Not only is justice slow, it’s riddled with corruption and nepotism that favor the rich and powerful. =0=

A Torture Chamber, A Safe-house For Travelers, A Street Named After A Bishop…Some Of Naga City’s Notable Landmarks

July 27, 2008

Jose V. Barrameda, Jr.’s interesting account on some memorable landmarks in Naga City published in Bicol Mail this week (07/24/08, Barrameda, J.V.Jr.,) includes Penafrancia Avenue, the genteel paved road from Plaza Quince Martires at the city proper to the old Penafrancia Church. Though he didn’t describe much of what is in the stretch of the famed avenue, he gave us a glimpse of the old buildings that dotted the city in the past. Their historical significance proved very enlightening.

The Naga Police Station in Barlin Street served as an infamous torture chamber where brave Bicolano heroes and martyrs met their unjustified deaths during the Spanish time. Barrameda wrote:

During the mass arrests in September 1896, Florencio Lerma (who was also held in the Casino Español); Cornelio Mercado; Don Tomas Prieto, alcalde of Nueva Caceres; and Macatio Valentin were brought to and tortured in the cuartel by Civil Guards under the direction of Captain Francisco Andreu, chief of the Guardia Civil in Ambos Camarines, and Don Ricardo Lacosta, Spanish civil governor of the province. The horrific torture wrenched the first of two legally infirm confessions from the frail pharmacist Prieto which the authorities used as basis for the arrest, torture and prosecution of scores of Filipinos in the province, some of whom were also subsequently forced to sign fabricated confessions under extreme duress.”

The author then clearly described Casa Tribunal along Elias Angeles Street, an edifice of brick and wood where the municipal council (ayuntamiento) similar to that in Spain, transacted government business in Naga in the last quarter of the 1800’s. The building also provided free accommodations to travelers who came to the city. After the Spanish and American occupations, the Casa Tribunal served a different purpose:

“Destroyed by American bombs in World War II… it was eventually rebuilt as a smaller wooden building that became the city police headquarters. After the century-old Spanish cuartel being used by the PC-INP burned down in 1978, the city government constructed a new building at the cuartel site which housed the Naga City Police Department. The former police headquarter building on this site became the Naga City Library until the latter’s transfer to its new, modern building in the City Hall complex.”

On the other hand, the Casa Espanol of Arana Street which was a social and recreational center of people of Spanish descent in Naga and neighboring towns had disturbing incidents when the Katipunan was discovered in Manila:

Civil Governor Ricardo Lacosta ordered to mass arrest all over Camarines starting in September 1896. The Casino Español became one of several holding areas for harsh interrogation and violent torture. Among those taken to the Casino were Antonio Arejola, Camilo Jacob (from the infirmary of the San Francisco Church), Florencio Lerma (who was subsequently transferred to the nearby Cuartel General of the Guardia Civil), Macario Melgarejo, Mariano Ordenanza and Manuel Pastor, and from Daet, Roman Cabesudo, Ponciano Caminar, Diego Liñan, Valentin Lipana, Gregorio Luyon, Adriano Pajarillo, and Pedro Zenarosa. Many arrests were made on mere denunciation by Spaniards in meetings in the Casino.

Two years after, in 1898, enraged Nagueños violently trashed the clubhouse during the bloody uprising led by Elias Angeles and Felix Plazo.”

Today, our young generation of Bicolanos may never know of Casa Real in General Luna Street where as early as 1588, the place, facing Naga River, served as the residence of the alcalde mayor of Nueva Caceres who had jurisdiction over the entire Bicol peninsula and Catanduanes. Unfortunately, like the buildings Barrameda described, the Casa Real had been razed, torn down, and largely forgotten.

Penafrancia Avenue was once called Calle Via Gainza, a famous city street memorializing Francisco Gainza, the illustrious Bishop of Nueva Caceres credited for establishing Colegio de Sta Isabel (Universidad de Sta Isabel) in 1868, the nation’s first normal school for girls. The great bishop also made curriculum improvements for the Holy Rosary Minor Seminary which became then, Bicol region’s top study hub for priests, religious, and lay citizens. As a pope delegate, Gainza was with the Bishop of Manila in opposing the stripping of the religious affiliations of rebel priests Gomez, Burgos and Zamora (Goburza) as sought by the Spanish government in Manila.

What was unclear though was why Calle Via Gainza which aptly pays tribute to the bishop’s admirable contributions to Naga City was renamed as Penafrancia Avenue. The reason for the change was unclear.

In our minds, street names like Calle Via Gainza could have been better left alone. In a way, they are sentinels of a period in history gone by. Retaining old street names helps preserve our cultural linkage with the past. In simple practical terms, the postman’s job of delivering letters is made easy when old street names are retained. Unless there’s an imperative to make changes, old names better stay as they are. As invaluable remnants of the old, they make us remember the richness of our past; they make us feel the meaning of history. =0=

A Hurried Comet Blazing In The Night Sky

July 6, 2008

Thirty years after the fatal shot which took his young life, UP Ibalon recalls Floro E. Balce. Those who know and love him ponder on the evanescence of his time, the greatness of his sacrifice and the humanity of his dream. They pay tribute to Ka Manding, one among the heroic braves who died in the pitch-blackness of the night— of yet to be won battle, before the sun comes up for a better day. The noble cause he embraced remains contentious—that which draws others to learn and admire his lofty path. –Totie Mesia

In an ill-descript spot along EDSA highway in Manila, there is Bantayog ng mga Bayani, a memorial of remarkable human beings whose lives are weightier than the heavy stone on which their names are engraved. Etched on a simple black slab of concrete is the name of UP Ibalon’s Floro E. Balce, a Bicolano hero who died from gunfire which blew an excruciating rugged hole on his belly, leading to his agonizing death. It happened in July 30, 1978, in Tigaon, Camarines Sur on his birthday.

A man of strong principles and unbridled dreams, Floro was my roommate at Molave Residence Hall in UP Diliman. He was a bright idealistic electrical engineering (EE) student, a National Science Development Board (NSDB) scholar from Daet, Camarines Norte—- my indulgent friend and math mentor in the dorm.

In the same room with us was Larry Ajel, our buddy from the Ilocos who dreamed to work in a hospital as a medical technologist. Larry shared our provincial plebeian background. He was our big brother who taught us the urbane ways of the campus. His stay however was cut short by a decision to migrate to America.

Rudival Cabading was another roommate. The rambunctious guy felt the state university wasn’t his piece of cake, so he moved to the Philippine Military Academy (PMA.) He became a military officer who never saw me stepped out of our dormitory to become a physician.

Bakit dito sa UP, ang mga estudyante, nagsasalita ng Espanyol?” I recalled Floro asking me on our first day of school inside the Arts and Science (AS) building. Feeling my way on the unfamiliar ground, I was as naïve and perplexed as he was.

“Why? What did you hear?” I asked.

Que hora es,” he said with a spark in his eyes.

Having survived his early years in UP, my soft-spoken buddy transformed into an assertive, knowledgeable, and brave gentleman. But he kept a low profile, humbly sharing his private thoughts with the people he knew and trusted.

He also trusted me, but perhaps, he didn’t feel it was a good idea to let me know too much of his leftist leanings. His linkage with the New People’s Army (NPA.) was something I suspected, but I didn’t ask. The guy had this palpable intolerance against injustice which was nurtured in campus. I knew he was opposed to the corruption of the Marcos, drawing him to join protest marches and rallies.

Had I shown enough sympathy for his cause, he might have led me deep into the sanctum of his beliefs and the core of his convictions. Yet, he was considerate, respectful, and even protective of my own safety. He didn’t want me to be distracted, for he knew I was hell-bent to become a doctor.

We talked about poverty and inequity when we were supposed to be focused in our studies—if not fiery hot, pursuing girls in campus. Setting aside school work at night, we discussed social issues that otherwise wouldn’t have bothered the care-free college students we knew.

At semester’s end, there was silence that pervaded the dorm before the residents left for the school break. For us, nothing triggered so much adrenaline release and worry when the last days of class wore on. The teachers were sternly aloof and the final exams they gave were difficult. We were all preparing for the killer tests that would dictate which way we’d go in our studies.

“How was your exam?” I asked Floro after he took his test.

“I submitted my blue book empty,” he said wryly. “I didn’t answer any of the test questions. They were hard. I wrote my teacher to explain why,” he continued.

That worried me. In my mind, if he failed the test, that meant he’d lose his scholarship; at worst, he’d be kicked out from the college and be forced to return home to Bicol. I would not see him again just like some of my friends who drifted away from college.

Convinced by his honesty, the teacher gave him a chance to retake the test. It was hard for me to believe that there was such a teacher in UP who would be so kind to a troubled student. I knew I needed such kindness too. While Floro fought to keep his scholarship to earn an engineering degree, I was in rabid pursuit for higher grades to get me into medical school.

But life seemed to have taken a different turn. The social cause he pursued was eating up his time and he started acting as though finishing college wasn’t that important anymore. Although he returned to the dorm late from meetings with people I didn’t know, it never crossed my mind that he was mulling to go full-time as Ka Manding in the NPA movement.

I was with him for so long that I’d quickly recognize his low-toned voice if he called me from heaven. In ROTC, we bonded together in that green military uniform and combat boots during practice marches, lectures, and GT’s (graded tests.) We belonged to a jolly platoon of fellow-Ibalonians with Ray R.G. Rayel, Julius A. Lecciones, and Arnel V. Malaya. Our group’s tail-scout, Floro guarded our backs during a bivouac. He was our loyal sentinel when we took surreptitious rests under the cool shade of acacia trees.

I still kept the image of Floro as an active student catholic action member (UPSCA ) waiting at the dorm door for our Sunday mass to hear the socially-charged sermons of Fr. Unson in the campus chapel. Gratitude was on his face as I lent him cash sometimes when he didn’t have time to travel to far Bicutan to pick up his NSDB stipend. His steady gaze was transfixed on my face, as he pointed on social issues at Mrs. Rodrin’s cottage during our lunch together.

In a soiree, we had a good laugh donning our sartorial best at the alumni center, sipping cold beer to be with the most beautiful Bicolanas in campus. In a fond conversation, I naughtily poked on a pretty Ibalonian Rebecca Espeso wearing that orangey ethereal “kulambo” blouse which made Floro twinkle.

“Magayonon!” I whispered on his ear. He reacted with those jerky convulsions on his shoulder; his elated radiant eyes were as thin as the coin-hole of a lucky slot machine. He chuckled loud as though I heard Brad Pitt laughing somewhere.

A fine human being who truly cared for the poor and the disadvantaged, Floro was a hurried bright comet blazing in the night sky. He was fast on his trail to let the world know of his mission. Martyrdom he must do, for he couldn’t wait to hear more of the cries of the poor without doing something.

In Molave, my friend, the shining gem in the sky had this old alarm clock, a brother’s gift, he told me, which sounded like a time-bomb. He laughed in earnest when Mario Genio, another Bicolano and I kidded him of the noisy white clock.

I borrowed this funny time piece to wake me up at midnight in order to study. When the alarm rang, I thought I saw Floro’s shadowy figure in that rickety chair fronting his table, deep in thought, as if something heavy was in his heart. I wondered if God was there speaking to him by his side. Maybe that moment was his epiphany. In the pitch blackness of midnight outside, it was his time to illumine the sky. =0=


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