Filipino nary-tage, not heritage

“I don’t have any explanation why the Filipinos are like this…???” and Bambi threw her arms in the air.

After Bambi had spoken, there was an open forum and Mary, a Canadian, asked:  “Why don’t the Filipinos establish an organization that will maintain and conserve these historic structures … something like Britain’s ‘National Trust’?”

We all knew that we already had HCS Heritage Conservation Society, of which several in our group were members.  But funding so that it could have “teeth and claws” was an entirely different story…

It isn’t just those pine trees in Baguio which everyone is babbling about;  the overly emotional public outcry is probably the work of the dirty tricks department of a law or public relations firm in Manila.  The beautiful Baguio of old [ Session road, Burnham park, Baguio cathedral, the convents of various religious congregations, elegant mountain villas and gardens in the Leonard Wood area, Wright park, “Mansion House” the presidential summer residence, the original Baguio country club, the American Camp John Hay, etc. ] has long been ruined anyway by political greed, disorganized development, and multitudes of squatters from all over the country.  It isn’t like the SM group is committing the gravest sin removing those pine trees;  far worse atrocities have already been committed and even more are in the offing.  It’s sooooo much else all over the country and inside all of us…  Sooooo much of our national heritage has been destroyed, is still being destroyed, and will still be destroyed — all in the name of “progress.”  We Filipinos inherited the “disposable” mentality imposed subliminally by our American colonizers:  We throw everything away, including ourselves.  We have thrown our sense of national identity away in a frenzy of “globalization,” to the extent that our youth now want to emulate our black, Negro brothers — not even in their native Africa — but in hiphop Harlem in New York city, in the United States.

The problem with a lot of the Roman Catholic parish priests, specially those assigned to the heritage churches, is that they sincerely think that what they like for their parish churches is beautiful and suitable, when most of the time, it is exactly the opposite…

Very rare are the likes of Diocese of Cubao Bishop Honesto Ongtioco D.D. who engaged the services of patrician artist Rafael del Casal “carte blanche” to redesign the Immaculate Conception parish church to the Cathedral of Cubao.  Both Bishop Ongtioco and Mr. del Casal are gentlemen of uncompromisingly elegant tastes and their collaboration has been exceptional.  Combined with the generous funding of Captain Oca and the other benefactors, the result is an absolute artistic marvel unique in these islands [ except for the very few areas where Mr. del Casal was not involved ].

It’s the “Uglification of the Philippines,” and the average Filipino is powerless against it.  Poor guy.  What he thinks is beautiful is actually ugly by world standards.

Unless the Filipinos of culture and resources act — the intelligentsia, the culturati, and the plutocracy — there will be nary a trace of “Filipino heritage” — whatever little of it remains — in the near future.

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“Santo Rosario” of deepest affections

[ Please be advised:  This is a wholly Roman Catholic blog post;  it’s a sister post to “La Naval de Manila at the Santo Domingo church” of 24 September 2006 { search window }.  Christian fundamentalist, Lutheran, Episcopal, et. al. sensibilities could react.  “Idolatry!”  you could charge, but of course as a Roman Catholic and as a Marian devotee, I couldn’t care less if you fell into the Philippine Deep.  You have been advised accordingly, in the first place. ]

NS del Rosario de La Naval

NS del Rosario de La Naval

From the time my grandmother Lola Charing [ Rosario Espiritu Arnedo-Gonzalez, 13 December 1903 – 18 May 1977 ] brought me as a young child [ early 1970s ] along to the Santo Domingo church to pray with her before the “Santo Rosario,” to this day, 4 decades later, I have held the deepest affections for the Blessed Mother…

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“Ave Maria, gratia plena, Dominus tecum.  Benedicta tu in mulieribus, et benedictus fructus ventris tui, Iesus…  Sancta Maria, Mater Dei, ora pro nobis peccatoribus, nunc et in hora mortis nostrae.  Amen.”

“Dios te salve Maria, llena eres de gracia, El Senor es contigo.  Bendita tu eres entre todas las mujeres y bendito es el fruto de tu vientre Jesus…  Santa Maria, Madre de Dios, ruega por nosotros pecadores, ahora y en la hora del nuestra muerte.  Amen.”

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“Magnificat anima mea Dominum, et exultavit spiritus meus in Deo salutari meo  Quia respexit humilitatem ancillae suae ecce enim ex hoc beatam me dicent omnes generationes  Quia fecit mihi magna qui potens est et sanctum nomen eius  Et misericordia eius in progenies et progenies timentibus eum  Fecit potentiam in brachio suo dispersit superbos mente cordis sui  Deposuit potentes de sede et exaltavit humiles  Esurientes implevit bonis et divites dimisit inanes  Suscepit Israhel puerum suum memorari misericordiae  Sicut locutus est ad patres nostros  Abraham et semini eius in saecula.  Gloria Patri, et Filio, et Spiritui Sancto Sicut erat in principio, et nunc, et semper, et in saecula saeculorum. Amen.”

“Proclama mi alma la grandeza del Señor, y se alegra mi espíritu en Dios, mi Salvador;  porque ha puesto sus ojos en la humildad de su esclava, y por eso desde ahora todas las generaciones me llamarán bienaventurada, porque el Poderoso ha hecho obras grandes en mí:  su nombre es Santo, y su misericordia llega a sus fieles de generación en generación.  Él hizo proezas con su brazo:  dispersó a los soberbios de corazón, derribó del trono a los poderosos y enalteció a los humildes, a los hambrientos los colmó de bienes y a los ricos los despidió vacíos.  Auxilió a Israel, su siervo, acordándose de la misericordia-como lo había prometido a nuestros padres-en favor de Abraham y su descendencia por siempre.”

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Tuesday, 26 July 2011…

As always, through the centuries, 2 long candles on tall silver candelabra were lit before her, and the holy rosary, led by the Rev. Fr. Prior, was recited…

I was told by the ladies that the “Virgen,” when shorn of her crowns [ “rostrillo,” “corona,” “aureola” ], “joyas” jewels, and embroidered finery, actually looked like a comely 14 year-old girl.  It was also in that state that what Rafael del Casal described as the delicate tilt of the head and the oh-so-slight turn of the face towards the right, to the “Nino Jesus,” were easily observable.

As Rafael restored the “encarna” of the “Virgen” and the “Nino Jesus” to their “traditional” appearances, he constantly referred to the famous prewar, black-and-white photograph of the “Santo Rosario” in “La Vanguardia” magazine and tried his darndest best, annoyingly stubborn paints from the previous “encarna” notwithstanding, to recreate that old-fashioned but correct look for the current “encarna.”

Upon Rafael’s and Tita Tunggay’s urging, I sat down beside the “camarera” Tita Mengay and asked her many, many questions about the now 418 year-old “Santo Rosario,” all of which she answered sweetly and charmingly.  Somewhere in the haze of memories of her 96 years, Tita Mengay spoke, to my increasing wide-eyed interest and bewilderment, of the “Virgen’s” feet painted to look like shoes, covered by gold slippers decorated with “gravado” work which she and the old nuns would polish every year before the fiesta.  Tita Tunggay seriously doubted it, saying that her mother was probably talking of another Virgen.  To prove her point, she asked abruptly:  “Mommy!!!  Does the Virgin have feet???” to which Tita Mengay instantly replied, shaking her head:  “No!”  Still, I gave Tita Mengay the benefit of the doubt.  After all, as Tita Tunggay’s protege seminarian Vince Salac pointed out, Tita Mengay was the last one who saw what was inside the indigo blue painted wood planks [ now faded to a Venetian terra cotta ] with painted rococo C-scrolls of gold “polvorina” paint which was the base of her “bastidor” body, before the missing plank at the back was replaced decades ago, sealing it forever.

Rafael remembered that the Nino Jesus was described in an 1800s document as having a “sono liento” “sleepy-eyed” expression and he tried his best to interpret and recreate that look.

Because the Nino Jesus had to be upright while Rafael was restoring its “encarna,” Mang Rolly and Tita Tunggay’s proteges, former seminarians Vince Salac and Reynard Ong, patiently took turns carefully carrying the heavy ivory image by its chest and stomach over the two-tiered table while Rafael carried out his delicate, painstaking work…

While Rafael was satisfied with his “encarna” of the Virgen, he thought that the eyes of the Nino Jesus still had that sharp look which needed interference.  He decided to complete the “encarna” of the Nino Jesus on Thursday.

The team was scolded by Tita Mengay when she observed that the Virgen and the Nino Jesus had been in their undergarments for a few minutes already as the team struggled to unfurl the antique “Numero Uno” “vestida” and the “capa” of the Virgen and the “tunico” and the “babero” of the Nino Jesus.  Tita Mengay was vehement that the Virgen and the Nino Jesus were to be dressed immediately with the new vestments as soon as the old ones and some of the undergarments were removed.  “The Virgen and the Nino Jesus must not be left undressed even for a few minutes!  It was never done and it is never done!  Bring their vestments now!  Act quickly!”  she reprimanded in a mix of Spanish and English.  Under no circumstances were they to remain a minute more in their undergarments, even if the Virgen had a full dress of gold-colored silk satin and 5 layers of lace-edged “nagwas” beneath and the Nino had a lace-edged cotton “camisa chino.”  Tita Mengay repeated her strong disapproval many times until the Virgen and the Nino Jesus were fully dressed and the “capa” was finally installed.

The team was also scolded by Tita Mengay when she saw that a part of the Santo Rosario’s “capa” was touching the floor.  Tita Mengay was vehement that the Santo Rosario’s vestments were not to touch the floor at all under any circumstances.  “Those are the Virgen’s vestments!  Those are expensive, those are precious!”  she snapped in a mix of Spanish and English.  Tita Mengay repeated her strong disapproval many times until the vestments were finally piled neatly, properly, and respectfully on a table.

It was amazing to witness 96 year-old Tita Mengay’s [ born 1915 ] surprising acuity and alertness, and sometimes surprising assertiveness, whenever the high standards she had learned prewar from the old Dominican “frailes” and the old “camareras” in the conservation of the “Santo Rosario” were in danger of being replaced by today’s unapologetically mediocre, frankly lackluster, and downright disrespectful practices.

One great advantage of digital photography was that, through repeated pixes by the patient photographer, Rafael was able to produce the exact shade of ivory with which to conceal the distracting and notorious hairline crack extending from the right side of the Virgen’s mouth to her chin.  The covered hairline is now temporarily invisible, even in pixes/photographs.

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“Ave Maria, gratia plena, Dominus tecum.  Benedicta tu in mulieribus, et benedictus fructus ventris tui, Iesus…  Sancta Maria, Mater Dei, ora pro nobis peccatoribus, nunc et in hora mortis nostrae.  Amen.”

“Dios te salve Maria, llena eres de gracia, El Senor es contigo.  Bendita tu eres entre todas las mujeres y bendito es el fruto de tu vientre Jesus…  Santa Maria, Madre de Dios, ruega por nosotros pecadores, ahora y en la hora del nuestra muerte.  Amen.”

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Two days later, on Thursday, 28 July 2011…

Following centuries-old protocol in the dressing of the “Santo Rosario,” the gentlemen were only allowed inside the hall once the ladies had finished their delicate regimen of cleaning the ivory face and hands by dabbing cotton with a mild solution of “esencia de rosa” rose essence diluted with water [ “esencia de rosa” is acidic and strong and used by itself is caustic ], changing the 5 layers of lace-edged “nagwas” underclothes [ only 3 changed for everyday wear ], and the hallowed image was already wearing a simple dress of contemporary gold-colored silk satin over the traditional 5 layers of lace-edged “nagwas,” her long dark brown hair, a “velo” [a white, French late 18th century-style bonnet with ruffled lace edgings ;  very “Marie Antoinette” ], and a “cuello” neck ruff of white lace.  The gentlemen were needed to install the heavy “plancha de plata” gilt silver dress and the even heavier “capa ‘Numero Uno,'” the magnificent, late 19th century cape of “binanig” laidwork “tisu de oro” cloth-of-gold fabric embroidered with flowers, leaves, and symbols in high relief.

Tita Mengay reminisced:  “In old Santo Domingo in Intramuros, nobody, but nobody, was allowed to touch the ‘Virgen’s’ face, by strict instructions of the Spanish Dominican ‘frailes’ and of the ‘camarera,’ Dona Angelita Leyba.  The most, the very most, that was done was a very gentle dabbing — with cotton with a mild, mild solution of ‘esencia de rosa’ and water — of the ‘Virgen’s’ face by Dona Angelita herself.”

The Virgen’s hair was usually not removed during the dressing [ unless it was being replaced with a new one or in the occasional case that her face was being restored by Rafael del Casal, as was the case that evening, although, of course out of protocol, I did not see it ].  Usually, the first things installed after her being dabbed with a solution of “esencia de rosa” and water were her “velo” lace-edged bonnet and “cuello” neck ruff of white lace.  An hour before that, the late 1800s necklace of Colombian emeralds and diamonds [ or any other necklace or ornament ] had been carefully sewn on to the neck ruff, ensuring that it was centered.

[ During the prewar, when all her magnificent jewels were still used for the “La Naval de Manila” procession, one of the first things that had to be put on the Virgen was her antique pearl “rosario,” before the “plancha de plata” vest and sleeves, and gold “rostrillo.”  It would be nearly impossible to install her “rosario” correctly once the “plancha de plata” vest and sleeves, and specially the gold “rostrillo” were already in place.  If one or the other was inadvertently forgotten [ as as the case that evening ], one would have to find an alternate way and gingerly sew it to the “cuello” neck ruff of white lace behind the sharp-edged gold “rostrillo,” quite a painful process since one’s hands would be repeatedly pricked by the “rostrillo” and the various jewels on it;  it also would not hang correctly, and would be noticed by the meticulous eyes of the “camarera” Tita Mengay, displeasing her. ]

While I stood awestruck and mesmerized, as always, before the “Santo Rosario,” Tita Mengay nudged me gently and related that, for the longest time, the hole in her neck had been left open, a deliberate decision of the Spanish Dominicans to remind everyone of the sacrilegious deeds committed by the British invaders from 1762-64.  The hole was supposed to have been caused by a British soldier’s sword which had effectively decapitated her.  According to Tita Mengay, it was only after World War 2, already at the new Santo Domingo church in Quezon city, that the Spanish Dominicans decided to have the hole filled in by a master “santero” with similar, high-quality ivory.  Again, I gave her the benefit of the doubt.  The more scholarly and more plausible theory, shared by scholar par excellence Regalado “Ricky” Jose, historian Ramon “Boy” Villegas, artist Rafael del Casal, and the Virgen’s steward Rolando “Rolly” Tayo is that the hole is actually the dowel that holds the 7 separate pieces of the Virgen’s head — remarkably engineered to support heavy gold crowns by the unknown Chinese carver in 1593 — together.  According to Mang Rolly, the dowel seems to extend all the way to the back of the “Virgen’s” head, it seems to come out just above her nape.  That would support the more scholarly theory.

I found it curious that the Virgen only had an antique pearl “rosario” — albeit of covetable, natural saltwater pearls —  of standard size and the Nino Jesus only had an antique pearl “rosario” of standard size worn on their necks, albeit with interesting “diamante”-studded crosses from the late 1700s, the way all Filipinos wore their “rosarios” during the Spanish era.  Where was the outsize, big rosary of the Virgen?  Rafael explained that the big goldplated brass rosary formed to an intertwined “AM” / “Auspice Maria” / “Ave Maria” on the skirt was actually an innovation of the late Rev. Fr. Augusto Antonio, O.P..  It was never the style of the “Santo Rosario” in the old Santo Domingo church in Intramuros;  for centuries she and the Nino Jesus only had precious “rosarios” of standard size worn from their necks in the traditional style.

I wondered aloud if the natural saltwater pearls used for both the Virgen’s and the Nino Jesus’ “rosarios” were the very ones listed in the 1907 inventory as “gifts from our Muslim brothers in the south”?  No one could answer my query.  In any case, both “rosarios” by their archaic style, specially the crosses, seemed to predate 1907…

The exceedingly cute “Nino Jesus” was actually notorious for being difficult to dress, even in years/decades/centuries past, despite his small size.  The ladies attending to him as he lay on a high table often “cooed,” cajoling him to finally allow them to dress him.  In the end however, it was still a man’s job to dress the Nino Jesus:  Mang Rolly wielded the big needle with thread that finally assembled the spectacularly embroidered “babero” bib and “tunico” tunic of the image.  One did not simply slip the “tunico” to the Nino Jesus:  there was a traditional, specific way of folding it in order to resemble the Dominican habit with the scapular.  Mang Rolly took pride that he had been taught to dress the Nino Jesus with the “tunico Numero Uno” by Rafael del Casal, who in turn learned it from the late Rev. Fr. Augusto Antonio, O.P..

Quietly but intently observing the dressing of the Nino Jesus on a quilted white satin mat and pillow atop a simple two-tiered table, Tita Mengay sweetly reminisced that during prewar at the old Santo Domingo church in Intramuros, the Nino Jesus had a bed-cum-crib, with a cotton mattress, simple with some carvings, which was big enough to accommodate him lying down, standing up, and sideways as he was being dressed, without leaving its confines.  I asked her why they did not come up with a replacement bed-cum-crib postwar at the new Santo Domingo church;  she just smiled and shrugged, as if to say there were more pressing priorities during those days.  We decided right there and then that we would reconstruct it;  Rafael immediately volunteered to sketch its design.

For an inveterate researcher of Filipino colonial jewelry like I,  having the ultrarare opportunity to see and study the 1811 & 1907 crowns and the antique jewelry of the “Santo Rosario” at close range was a fantastic education and reeducation.

Finally, after hours and hours of careful vesting, the 418 year-old “Santo Rosario” towered before us in all her 19th century magnificence, in exactly the same way Filipino historical figures — Jose P. Rizal, Juan & Antonio Luna, Gonzalo Tuason, Trinidad Ayala de Zobel, et. al.  — beheld her over a century ago.  “Viva La Virgen!!!”

What was surprising was, despite the overwhelming majesty and beauty of the “Santo Rosario” garbed in the magnificent regalia assembled through the centuries, the dazzling profusion of diamonds, rubies, emeralds, sapphires, pearls, and diamantes in the crowns and aureoles of solid high-karat gold…  the sheer splendor and opulence did not detract from the spiritual presence of the Infant Jesus and the Blessed Mother…  the only feeling I had while standing before her and the Nino Jesus was PEACE.  It was a very powerful, very unusual, very different kind of peace.  There was the settling and the ordering of all interior chaos, the immediate flight of persistent demons, the calming of all cerebral turbulences, the stilling of emotional waters, the dissipation of tempestuous passions…  In their healing presence, I felt a profound, settled peace that eludes me most hours of my life.  Although I could not verbalize it that time, I simply wanted to stay in their presence… forever.

Tita Mengay looked over the big, early 19th century gold “aureola” with its exquisite “sala-salamin” details [ ref. to Martin I. Tinio ] and revealed that the genuine gems were concentrated on its upper half and that most of the stones in the lower half were of paste [ faceted glass ].

Rafael excitedly pointed to the very lovely and exceedingly rare “gota de aceite” Colombian emerald set in the 1811 crown of the Nino Jesus.

The “Santo Rosario” had to be moved several times during the course of the pictorial by Mang Rolly’s team of 4 – 6 strong men [ who gallantly stayed up the whole night to help out ] using the “pinggas” hardwood poles.  It was always a stressful process because of the fragility of the magnificent 1811 crowns and the “capa Numero Uno”;  every movement could cause a gem to fall off the crowns or the gilt silver threads to unravel off the “capa.”  Tita Tunggay’s assistant Vince Salac, possessed of excellent eyesight and hearing, diligently stood guard with all senses on alert in case anything would fall off or unravel, and was always the first to crouch on the floor on all fours if there was even a slight, suspect sound.  Practicing such care and diligence, there was not a single mishap involving the treasures of the “Santo Rosario” during the pictorial.

Constantly mindful of the great honor and privilege of being there, all through the 15 1/2 hours, I silently prayed intermittently for the millions of devotees of the Blessed Mother, venerated as the “Santo Rosario” — ladies and gentlemen, girls and boys — who would have given anything — anything at all!!! — to be in my place that one unforgettably marvelous evening and I mentally [ psychically ] tried to share my joy with them.

After the pictorial, the jewels and the crowns of the “Santo Rosario” were quickly removed, diligently returned to their packets and boxes, carefully accounted for, and immediately returned to the bank with the tightest security.

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Nearly 2 months later, on Sunday, 25 September 2011…

At 1:30 p.m., 2 long candles on tall silver candelabra were lit before the “Santo Rosario” and the holy rosary was recited…

Rafael spent the afternoon making improvements on the eyes of the “Virgen” and the “Nino Jesus”…

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The next day, Monday, 26 September 2011…

3 days before the “Santo Rosario’s” planned visit to the UST University of Santo Tomas for its Quadricentennial 1611 – 2011 celebrations [ Wednesday – Thursday, 28 – 29 September 2011 ], and 4 days before the Enthronement ceremonies that would begin the “La Naval de Manila 2011” novena [ Thursday, 29 September 2011 ], the Rev. Fr. Prior, the “camarera” Tita Mengay Reyes, the Mother Superior of the Dominican Sisters of Sienna, Tita Tunggay Reyes, Mang Rolly Tayo, and a very small team of devotees gathered at the hall at 8:30 a.m. for the gala vesting of the “Santo Rosario” for “La Naval de Manila 2011″…

It had been decided weeks before by the Rev. Fr. Prior and the “camarera” Tita Mengay that the vestments commissioned and donated by the Chua family in 2004 would be used for this year’s “La Naval de Manila 2011″…

At exactly 8:30 a.m., as was the custom through the centuries, 2 long candles on tall silver candelabra were lit before the “Santo Rosario” and the holy rosary, led by the Rev. Fr. Prior, was recited…

As always, the gentlemen were not allowed into the hall until the “Virgen” had been gently cleaned with the mild solution of “esencia de rosa” and water, her several layers of exquisite “nagwas” changed, and she was already wearing her formal, fully-embroidered dress.  It was the gentlemen’s function to help install the heavy gala “capa” and the heavy crowns, specially the big, Swarovski crystal-studded “aureola,” which the ladies could not handle by themselves.

And I witnessed a bit of the “camarera” and her assistants at the prewar Santo Domingo church in Intramuros…

“Tunggay!  It’s too high!”  Tita Mengay scolded her dutiful daughter sternly from her wheelchair.  The new ‘cuello’ [ neck ruff ] of white lace, donated by a devout Chinese banker [ personally made by the latter, from instructions provided by Rafael del Casal ], was obscuring the chin of the “Virgen.”  Tita Tunggay promptly untied it, repositioned it, and then knotted it again.

“Tunggay!  It’s too high!  Lower!”  Tita Mengay demanded.  Again, Tita Tunggay diligently untied it, repositioned it, and then knotted it again.  But the old lady was still not pleased with the result.

“Mommy, when the ‘rostrillo’ is installed, the ‘cuello’ [ neck ruff ] will go down too, by itself…”  Tita Tunggay reasoned patiently with her increasingly assertive mother.

…….

At 12:45 p.m., Tita Tunggay told her mother Tita Mengay that it was time to go home for lunch.  Tita Mengay was supported by Tita Tunggay and a maid as she struggled to stand up and approached the “Santo Rosario”…  It was touching to witness her — an old lady of aristocratic family, but of simple faith, who had served “La Gran Senora” for nearly 9 decades, 7 of them as “camarera” — address the “Virgen”:  “Paumanhin po at kakain muna kami.  Huwag po ninyo akong pabayaan…  Huwag po ninyo kaming pababayaan…”

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7:45 p.m., Friday, 30 September 2011, first day of the “La Naval de Manila” novena…

We had kept watch as the innovative floral arrangements — masses of flowers juxtaposed against masses of green leaves — for the next 2 days of the novena, sponsored by Tita Mengay’s family, had gone up…

We finally went home at 4:30 a.m., just when the church was stirring for the 5:30 a.m. novena services for the second day of “La Naval de Manila”…

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“Salve, Regina, mater misericordiae; vita dulcedo et spes nostra, salve.  Ad te clamamus, exsules filii Evæ.  Ad te suspiramus, gementes et flentes in hac lacrimarum valle.  Eia ergo, advocata nostra, illos tuos misericordes oculos ad nos converte.  Et lesum benedictum fructum ventris tui,nobis post hoc exsilium ostende.  O clemens, O pia, O dulcis Virgo Maria.”

“Dios te salve, Reina y Madre de misericordia, vida dulzura y esperanza nuestra; Dios te salve.  A Ti llamamos los desterrados hijos de Eva; a Ti suspiramos, gimiendo y llorando, en esta valle de lágrimas. Ea, pues, Señora, abogada nuestra, vuelve a nosotros esos tus ojos misericordiosos; y después de este destierro muéstranos a Jesús, fruto bendito de tu vientre.¡Oh clementísima! ¡Oh piadosa! ¡Oh dulce siempre Virgen María!”

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From the bottom of my heart, thank you very much for the experience of  a lifetime, Fr. Jepoy, Fr. Larry, Tita Mengay, Tita Tunggay, Mang Rolly, and Rafael !!! [ Rev. Fr. Giuseppe Pietro Arsciwals, O.P., Prior of the Santo Domingo church and convent, Rev. Fr. Lauro de Dios, O.P., Carmen Reyes [ y ] de los Reyes de Reyes, “camarera” of the “Santo Rosario,” Angelita Reyes, Rolando Tayo, & Rafael del Casal. ]

Acknowledgments:  prewar pix of the “Santo Rosario” in the Flickr.com photostream of Victor Ancheta;  video of the hymn “Salve Regina” by PapalMusic on YouTube;  video of the hymn “Regina Sacratissimi Rosarii” by R.G. Lazaro on YouTube.

*unfinished*

Addenda:

“La Naval de Manila” at the Santo Domingo Church

September 24, 2006 at 9:14 am (1800s Filipinas, 1900s Philippines, 19th century Filipino Art, Family Traditions, Filipino Art, Personal, Random memories, Religious Traditions, The Global Crowd, The Manilenos, The Past)

Assumption-MRMF goes to Pila, Laguna

[ The Assumption-Mother Rosa Memorial Foundation charity tour of Laguna II:  13 August 2011, Saturday.  7:30 a.m. – 9:00 p.m., for the benefit of the poor students of the Assumpta Technical School in San Simon, Pampanga.  Organized by A-MRMF president Rosalie “Salie” Henson-Naguiat, former presidents Josefina “Nening” Pedrosa-Manahan and Jacqueline “Jackie” Cancio-Vega, and A-MRMF volunteer Augusto “Toto” M. R. Gonzalez III. ]

The tour group assembled at the parking lot of the Santuario de San Antonio church, Forbes Park starting at 7:30 a.m..   We left promptly at 8:00 a.m..

Because we were fetching Ayala Alabang residents, we dropped by the Shell gas station, southbound SLEX.  Many of us, Chichi Litton Laperal, Salie Henson-Naguiat, and I among them, went to “Starbucks” to buy coffee, pastries, and sandwiches, and of course, to use the bathrooms.  In a few minutes, AA residents Vina Alava-Pelaez and her son Zeke arrived and we proceeded to faraway Pila, Laguna.

During the drive, I [ in my capacity as A-MRMF volunteer co-organizer and guide ] gave the tour group a precis of our day, what we would see, what would be noteworthy / important, what we could forego.  I explained that our biggest problem with the A-MRMF charity tours was that there was always so much to see, wherever we went, because that was just how beautiful our country, the Philippines, was.  We had only listed Pila, Nagcarlan, Liliw, and Majayjay towns in Laguna as our destinations for the day but we actually wanted to bring them further to Magdalena, Pagsanjan, Lumban, Paete, and Pakil towns, which were equally interesting and wonderful destinations.

I explained to the tour group that Pila was already a flourishing and important Malay settlement by the time the Spaniards arrived in 1571.  Pila, Laguna in its present form began in the early 1800s when the “fundador” / founder Felizardo de Rivera transferred the previous town in Pagalangan, nearer Laguna de Bay, to his Rivera family’s hacienda de Santa Clara, located on higher ground, organized a town plaza with a church, municipal hall, “principalia” houses [ all Rivera relations ], and donated the outlying properties to the poor townsfolk.

Because Laguna province was where national hero Jose P. Rizal was from,  we asked his descendant Atty. Ramoncita “Minney” Ver Reyes [ great granddaughter of his eldest sister Saturnina Rizal de Hidalgo ] about him as well as other places in Laguna, aside from his hometowns of Calamba and Binan, that figured in his life.  She acceded and regaled us with Rizal family stories.  It was from those spontaneous discussions with Minney that A-MRMF hit upon the idea of organizing a “Rizal tour” featuring places associated with Rizal, both in Manila and in Laguna.

It was an entirely pleasant and chatty drive through Calamba, Los Banos, Bai’, Calauan, and Victoria towns to historic and elegant Pila, Laguna and we arrived promptly at 10:00 a.m. as scheduled.

Manuel Rivera house.  We met up with our generous hostess in Pila, Filomena “Monina” Rivera.

Pila church.  What money and taste, and taste and money, could do.

Pila museum closed on weekends!

We proceeded to the Teodoro Alava house along the town plaza.

After the Teodoro Alava, we proceeded to the Lorenzo Rivera house,to the immediate left of the municipal hall, also along the town plaza.  We marveled at the several lovely, albeit sad, Holy Week processional images in the prayer room of the house.

We rode the coaster the short distance to the Paz Rivera-Madrigal house.

There was a beautiful, fruit-laden, “santol” tree which looked like a Christmas tree!!!

What was fun about these A-MRMF tours was that there were several instances of pleasant surprises, even for us volunteer organizers.  There were, inevitably enough, beautiful things that we saw for the very first time!!!

Lunch at the Manuel Rivera house at 12:00 p.m. courtesy of Monina Rivera.  Traditional Pila food:  “Malaking isdang talakitok na may mayonesa,” “Ginataang maliit na hipon na may kamias,”  “Lechong kawali na may sarsang atay,” “Ensaladang Pako na may kesong puti at lilang bulaklak na may sarsang suka, bawang, at paminta,” and steamed rice.  “Minatamis na saba” stewed plantain bananas for dessert.  “Dinuguang baboy at puto” for merienda.

On to Nagcarlan.  1:30 p.m..  It was a delightful drive through ricelands and forests and a thousand shades of green, flowing rivers, cascading streams, and gurgling brooks with mountain fresh water… beautiful Philippines!!!

Nagcarlan underground cemetery.  There were novena prayers for the their “Santo Entierro’s” upcoming feast day.  There was an amiable lady guide who accompanied us to the underground crypt and explained its history.  It reminded us all of the catacombs in Rome.

Despite the rainy season, it was quite dry in the underground crypt.

Zeny, the A-MRMF secretary, took pixes in the underground crypt and there were “white shadows” in the pixes.  Spooky!

As the tour group was leaving the Nagcarlan underground cemetery, we came across a vendor in his tricycle selling “santol” fruits of the big “Bangkok” variety for the unbelievable price of Php 10.00/xx per kilo, or just about Php 2.50/xx each!  They were practically free!!!  Nobody could resist and the “santol” vendor’s stock was bought out and everyone returned to the coaster, happy with their heavy haul!

On to Liliw for the famous footwear shopping.

The slight rains and drizzles did not deter the tour group at all — they simply unfurled their umbrellas and soldiered on! — from heading to the main shopping street and sampling Liliw’s justifiably famous footwear market…

“Badong.”  Buy Filipino!!!  Many of us treated themselves to a pair or 2, even 3 or 4, pairs of nice-looking, reasonably-priced, everyday, casual footwear.

“Arabela’s” cafe.  All of us just had to visit this famous Liliw landmark of good food and cosmo bohemian chic.  Some of us managed to have a drink and a bite.  After all, one can never go to Liliw, Laguna and NOT visit “Arabela’s” cafe!

Liliw church.

Leaving the church, Ane Miren [ Ugarte-Aboitiz ] de Rotaeche-Dowdall, Nening Pedrosa-Manahan, Minney Reyes, and I were charmed by a small, 8 year old boy selling packets of edible young “pako” ferns for Php 10.00/xx each and, wanting to encourage his hard work and entrepreneurship, we bought all of his stock.

As we were getting ready to leave Liliw, an assiduous male vendor of “kesong puti” from Santa Cruz town kept on offering his goods:  2 luscious, tempting pieces traditionally wrapped in banana leaves and shards of tree bark for Php 100.00/xx.  They compared favorably in size and density to those of UP Los Banos’ dairy products store at Php 55.00/xx per piece of similar size.  His efforts were not in vain as the ladies Nening Manahan, Ane Miren Dowdall, Salie Naguiat, et. al., kept on buying 1 or 2 as they boarded the coaster.  He was soon followed by an equally assiduous male vendor of fresh-looking, fragrant “longganizang Lucban”:  1 string of 12 pieces for Php 100.00/xx.  His efforts were not in vain either as the ladies Nening Manahan, Chichi Laperal, et. al. kept on buying 1, 2, even 3 or 4 strings of “longganizas” as they boarded the coaster.  The ladies kept on buying “kesong puti” and “longganizang Lucban” until the stocks were finally sold out.  The 2 vendors must have been happy with their big sales for the day!

On to Majayjay.  It was another delightful drive through forests with a thousand shades of green, cascading streams, and gurgling brooks with mountain fresh water…  how beautiful the Philippines is!!!

Majayjay, up in the mountains of Laguna, was the Baguio, the de facto summer capital during the Spanish era.  Spanish officialdom and clergy liked to spend some time in cool Majayjay every now and then, usually staying at the Majayjay convent and in the better houses.

Majayjay is the ancestral town, “seat” if you will, of the old Ordoveza family of Laguna.  As early as the late 1500s, their progenitor Lorenzo Pangutangan, who waxed rich from shipping, trading, and financing, was already established in a big “bahay na bato” there.  At some point in the 1600s, the surname Pangutangan was hispanized to Ordoveza.

Ordoveza descendants Vina Gala Alava-Pelaez and her son Zeke were delighted to visit their ancestral hometown for the first time.

We arrived at the ancient, historic, and incomparably beautiful Majayjay church.  We arrived just a few minutes before the 5:00 p.m. anticipated Sunday mass.  I pointed and emphasized to the group the important, 1600s-1700s bas-reliefs of the Immaculate Conception, with the attributes of Mary in her litany [ “Tower of Ivory,” “House of Gold,” “Ark of the Covenant,” “Gate of Heaven,” “Morning Star,” etc. ], the Crucifixion of Jesus with Mary and John, and on the opposite wall, another of the Crucifixion with many figures.  I also pointed to the magnificent baptismal font of carved stone [ of Philippine “adobe” or Chinese granite ], probably from the 1600s.  Also splendid were the still-original main altar and the 2 side altars [ in marked contrast to the reconstructed ones of Liliw, Nagcarlan, Pila, Lumban, and Pagsanjan towns ], in hybrid Neoclassical style dating from 1800 at the earliest, albeit repainted and regilded with metal leaf.

Everyone admired the very old “kalachuchi” frangipane trees just outside the side portal of the church.  The whorled and gnarled roots reminded Minney Reyes of a scene from Dante’s “Inferno.”

[ I quietly remembered with a smile the A-MRMF tour of Laguna I in 2009 when Regina “Giging” Jalandoni-Garcia easily took hundreds of pixes during that memorably happy trip. ]

On to Lumban.  4:45 p.m..

Shopping.

“Step-Rite,” Pagsanjan.  Buy Filipino!!!  Again, many of us treated themselves to a pair or 2, or even 3 or 4, pair of nice-looking, reasonably-priced, everyday, casual footwear.

“Aling Taleng’s” ‘halo-halo,’ Pagsanjan.  “Tumbong” was the distinctive ingredient.

We finally left Pagsanjan town at 7:40 p.m..  We encountered heavy traffic along Santa Cruz, then Los Banos, and Calamba.  Our return to Makati was delayed.

Because we were dropping off AA residents, we dropped by the Caltex gas station, northbound SLEX.  AA residents Vina Pelaez and her son Zeke  got off there and we proceeded to Forbes Park, Makati.

Back at Santuario de San Antonio, Forbes Park.  9:45 p.m..  Because of the heavy traffic we encountered along Santa Cruz, Los Banos, and Calamba, we were 45 minutes behind our scheduled arrival in Makati.

Every A-MRMF tour is able to send a poor, deserving child [ or even 2 ] to the Assumpta Technical School in San Simon, Pampanga for free for a year.

As we always say, to have been able to send a poor child to school for a year, to have been able to see wonderful places, to have shared a day of adventure, joy, and laughter with happy and generous spirits, to have had a whale of a time in the process, there is no better deal in life!!!

Titans of Taste: Lindy and Cecile Locsin

There are many rich, even superrich, Filipinos.  But only a few of them have style, and even fewer still have the high style which compare to their peers in New York, Paris, and London.

Architect Leandro “Lindy” Locsin and his heiress wife Cecilia “Cecile” Araneta Yulo along with their friends personified Filipino high style.

Lindy and Cecile kept a close circle of friends — Jimmy and Maribel Ongpin, Ting and Baby Paterno, and Manolo and Rose Agustines.

Titans of Taste: Luis Ma. Araneta

He already had good taste even as a child, which wasn’t surprising considering that his family lived in the most beautiful residence along aristocratic Calle R. Hidalgo.

Dinosaurs and extinction

[ Dear Readers:  This is a post about our deceased family members which I have to write.  It will most probably not interest you.  You may spare yourselves the trouble.   😛 ]

08 October 2010, Friday, 2200 hours.  Yes, I’m not ashamed to admit it, I’ve been influenced by “contemporary thinking”:  I’ve junked the whole “All Souls’ Day” tradition of the family.  Call me the “weak link” or whatever, but I don’t see why I have to be the “Old Faithful” geyser of the family, a quaint relic of the past, when my siblings and my nephews and nieces are out in Phuket, Bangkok, Bali, Singapore, Shanghai, Boracay, Baguio whooping it up and not being where they should be in the first place.  You see, I didn’t believe in a family autocracy [ operative word:  “didn’t”;  now I believe in an oppressive dictatorship! ], but I do believe that as a responsible, duty-bound adult member of a tradition-bound family, you know where you should be at certain occasions throughout the year.  No questions.  After all, you’re not a 6 year old child and neither are you the golden retriever nor the Jack Russell that has to be told what to do.  Or are you???

Death has become trivialized in these contemporary, “e” – everything times.  We have negated it to the point that it comes as a total shock when it comes, although it barely stops us for a minute these days.  Our usual reaction is a shrug of resignation.  It wasn’t the case for those who came long before us.  For them, death was a central point of life as well as its ultimate destination, and it was celebrated with Hispanic pomp and circumstance during “Todos los Santos” and “Semana Santa”…

I grew up at a time when 02 November of every year meant all of us getting up very early [ 4:30 – 5:30 a.m. ] in order to leave the city at 6:30 a.m., to arrive in time for the 7:30 a.m. All Souls’ Day holy mass at the Gonzalez mausoleum at the Apalit Catholic cemetery.  The big come-on was the big Capampangan breakfast which followed at the old house in barrio Capalangan.

It was a time when we observed quarterly or more visits to the family burial ground to remember, pray for, and weep for Lola Charing who had passed away on 18 May 1977.  Those were the last days of death as a gothic and Victorian experience, when black dresses, sheer black veils, formal ecru barong tagalog with black armbands, pants, and shoes, long rows of funeral sprays [ the more “important” the sender, the more costly the flowers and the florists, the better ], and endless eulogies were de rigueur for the funeral rites of traditional families.  It has unraveled and modernized since, with the “cuerpo presente” reduced to a brief “ashfall,” white as the new color of mourning, chic buffets by chichi caterers, and even “house music” thrown in for “atmo”…

In those days, we brought beautiful flowers, lit tall candles, and said heartfelt prayers for our deceased family members.  We remembered them with fondness even with all their shortcomings, idiosyncrasies, and eccentricities.  We honored and loved them, even if we had never even met them.

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The dinosaurs and the dates of their extinction:

Florencia Sioco viuda de Gonzalez, “Eciang,” 1860 – 1925.  My paternal grandfather’s mother.

Ysidora Espiritu viuda de Gonzalez, “Orang,” + 1975.  Lola Charing’s maternal aunt.  Delightfully eccentric character.

Augusto Gonzalez y Sioco, “Bosto” / “Titong,” 1887 – 1939.  The fortune he accumulated allowed three generations, now going on the fourth, to live well.

Rosario Arnedo viuda de Gonzalez, “Charing,” 1903 – 1977.  Dearest Lola Charing.

Marina Gonzalez y Arnedo, “Mina,” + 1974.  Tita Mina was Daddy’s eldest sister and she was deformed.

Augusto Beda Gonzalez y Arnedo, “Beda,” 1932 – 1990.  Daddy.

Ermelo Gonzalez y Arnedo, “Melo,” 1933 – 2001.

Hector Gonzalez y Arnedo, “Hector,” 1937 – 1988.

Macario Domingo Gonzalez y Arnedo, 1938.

Macario Diosdado Gonzalez y Arnedo, “Macarito” / Brother Andrew Benjamin Gonzalez, F.S.C., “Brother Andrew,” 1940 – 2006.

Pilar Reyes y Quiason, “Pilar” / “Pil,” 1933 – 2002.  Mommy.

Monina Gonzalez y Gala, “Minnie,” 1964 – 1991.  As Brother Andrew said:  “Too bad, Minnie would have been very rich!”

Household staff:

During Tito Melo’s funeral in June 2001, his niece Ave Gala-Blanco asked me who were the “strange names” in some of the gravestones.  I quipped a line still memorable to Ave and the Gala cousins:  “We’re like the Egyptians, we’re buried with the slaves!”  😛

Alejandra Ochengco y Padilla, “Andang,” +1969.  “Imang Andang” had been working in the Gonzalez-Sioco household since the early 1920s.

Natalia Padilla, “Talia,” + 1976.  Ate Talia, the “mayordoma.”

Leodegaria Nuqui, “Garing,” + 198_.  Dearest Ate Garing, the cook.

Benito Nuqui, “Bito” / “Bits,” + 1999.  Dearest Pare Bits.  He started out as the personal “barquillos” maker of Lola Mary Arnedo [ Lola Charing’s sister ] in the Arnedo-Sioco household in the late 1930s.

Aurea Rodriguez, “Baluga,” + 195_.  She was an Aeta from Zambales who liked to sleep in the kitchen near a stove with live coals.

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Just wait until I junk Christmas and Easter altogether.  And while I’m at it, my Christianity and Roman Catholicism as well.  Throw in my crappy family for good measure.  That will be the day.   😐   😐   😐

*unfinished*

“Spreading the Light”

The magnificent “Lumina Pandit” exhibition at the UST University of Santo Tomas Miguel de Benavides Central Library.

Conversations about: Fabian de la Rosa y Cueto, 1869 – 1937, painter

Long ago in mid-1987, Malolos patrician, historian, and nationwide heritage advocate Basilidez “Dez” Bautista led our group through a memorable tour of his hometown Malolos, Bulacan and environs.

He brought us to the famous prewar Art Deco mansion of the famous ophthalmologist LS.  Apart from the stunning ceiling painting by the young Fernando Amorsolo, and the goldfishes in the guest bathroom walls also by Amorsolo, what riveted my attention was the charming painting “Kundiman” by Fabian de la Rosa, an elegant scene of an afternoon musicale at home where the doctor himself, dressed in a light suit, was depicted seated in the corner.  For me, it was the soul of that house, more than the Amorsolo ceiling opus.

Several years later, in a crazy turn of events, I was admiring, albeit sadly, the very same “Kundiman” by Fabian de la Rosa in the entrance hall, hung with wallfuls of beautiful prewar Fernando Amorsolos, of an ubercollector friend’s Forbes Park house, where it hung by itself on a small section of wall beside the entrance to the dining room.  I wanted to weep at seeing an old friend displaced from one’s original home.  For me, it was totally forlorn and out of context there — a masterpiece among hundreds of other masterpieces in the Chinoy Croesus’ palace —  nowhere as beautiful, shining like a star, as it had been in its original and intended location —  the airy and commodious “sala” of the Art Deco doctor’s mansion in Pariancillo, Malolos, Bulacan.

Over dinner, close friends related, in hush-hush tones, the story of the painting’s acquisition.  I knew the doctor’s family was rich and didn’t need the money the painting had generated [ the broker’s margin notwithstanding ].  My friends related that the Fernando Amorsolo ceiling was badly deteriorated and required immediate restoration.  The doctor’s family, based in Ayala Alabang, was financially solid and could well afford it.  The well-known art restorer from Santa Ana, Manila was summoned and he declared that he could save it.  However, apart from the enormous restoration fee, he required something else from the family:  he would only restore it if the family agreed to sell the “Kundiman” painting by Fabian de la Rosa to him.  It was their Scylla and Charybdis:  it was one or the other.  The doctor’s family, desperate to save what they thought was their greatest treasure — the Amorsolo ceiling — agreed.  The restorer forthwith sold it to the Chinoy Croesus.  Well, we all know what happened to the art restorer after that.  End of story.

A few years ago, I came across another superb Fabian de la Rosa, a large painting of “Planting Rice” which traced its provenance to the estate of the Spanish mestizo patriarch of a rich shipping family.  Magnificent and mesmerizing.  I could not get enough of it the whole evening.  Because the heirs are still affluent and very discreet, the painting and the rest of the distinguished collection — including a large Fernando Amorsolo, a large Jorge Pineda, a unique pair of exquisite oil landscapes on “madre perla” shells by the national hero Jose Rizal, among other splendors — have not been seen by art scholars and connoisseurs for decades and will likely remain so.  That is the reason why it has not landed in the Chinoy Croesus’ palace.

Conversations about: Felix Eduardo Resurreccion Hidalgo y Padilla, 1855 – 1913, painter

“Hidalgo is all light, color, harmony, feeling, limpidness like the Philippines in her calm moonlit nights, in her serene days with her horizons inviting contemplation…”

Dr. Jose P. Rizal during the toast at the dinner in honor of of the prizewinning artists Juan Luna and Felix Resurreccion Hidalgo on 25 June 1884 at the “Cafe Ingles.”

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Refinement.  The one characteristic of the paintings of Felix Resurrecion Hidalgo y Padilla.

“The only real “La Banca’!!! ”  Teyet declared smugly as we stood, mesmerized as always during every visit, by the masterpiece in his apartment’s entrance hall.

So it was quite a surprise when we browsed through Teyet’s former BFF “best friend forever” and now archnemesis couturier Pitoy Moreno’s book “Kasalan” [ “Wedding” ] — derided as “Kasalanan” [ “Sin” ] by Teyet — and saw the “La Banca” painting by Hidalgo, another one, this time from the collection of industrialist Manuel Ag*stines and his patrician wife Ros*rito Legarda-Prieto C*ro.

For sure, that was another real “La Banca.”

Another beautiful, relatively accessible Hidalgo painting is “La Inocencia” still in its original Filipino Art Nouveau frame from the collection of Dr. Alejandro Legarda.  It still hangs in the living room of his house.

A real stunner, an epic work, is the mural “The Assassination of Governor Bustamante” in the Leandro and Cecilia Locsin collection.  I first saw it during the Luna-Hidalgo retrospective at the Metropolitan Museum of Manila in the late 1980s.  With the painter’s characteristic finesse, it didn’t even look like a violent assassination.  It looked like the Dominican friars were just parading around with banners or something…

Felix Resurreccion Hidalgo y Padilla was born in 1855 to the rich, propertied Padilla family of Binondo, Manila originally from 1700s Lingayen, Pangasinan.  For starters, he was painted at the age of four in 1859 [ or age of six in 1859 if born in 1853;  historians have varied dates  😛 ] with his maternal grandfather Narciso Padilla by the Tondo maestro Antonio Malantic.  Narciso Padilla was a rich lawyer and merchant with several businesses and many commercial real estate properties in Manila and surrounding “arrabales” districts.  Narciso’s daughter, Barbara “Baritay” Padilla de Resurreccion Hidalgo, Felix’s mother, inherited many valuable  properties from him, among them several big warehouses in the Divisoria entrepot in Tondo which lined the Pasig river.  The affluent Padilla family had [ and still has ] a long history distinguished by high professional achievement, wealth, conservatism, and prudence.  The Padilla descendants recall that, with characteristic frugality, their forebears had transferred the “bahay na bato” ancestral house in Lingayen, Pangasinan beam by beam and brick by brick to Calle General Solano in posh San Miguel district, Manila in the late 1800s.  Frugality notwithstanding, the transfer of whole houses “in toto” was not an unusual practice during the Spanish colonial era.

Conversations about: Juan Luna y Novicio, 1857 – 1899, painter

“All that bravura.  So Ilocano, don’t you think?  Must be all that ‘bagnet’ and ‘pakbet’ and ‘inabraaaooo’ during his years in Badoc, Ilocos Norte…”  my friend mused.

Also, “Bagoong and talong make the Ilokano strong.”

One remembers the hullaballoo, the tempest in a teapot, that ensued in the late 1980s when two ladies dressed in “traje de mestiza” allegedly appeared in the upper portion of the magnificent “Spoliarium” painting after restoration work.  The restorer was panned from Forbes Park to Santa Ana to Manila and back again.  Art world wits and wags took turns in identifying the two women, or two men in drag as they also thought:  “Urbana at Feliza!  Paula and Candida!  Madame and Meldy Co!  Cory and Bea!”  and so forth and so on.

Just as the Ilocano temper of Juan’s brother General Antonio Luna became widely known when he slapped Felipe Buencamino Sr. in the face [ and by that practically received his death sentence  😛 ;  General Luna slapping Buencamino Sr. is a lingering story but the circumstances remain unclear;  apparently, General Luna insulted Buencamino Sr.’s deceased son Joaquin Arnedo Buencamino, by calling the young man a coward —  at that time, Joaquin had been recently killed while fighting in the battle of San Fernando, Pampanga. ], the same northern temper of Juan Luna gained permanent notoriety when, in an incredible fit of jealousy, he shot his wife Paz “Chiching” Pardo de Tavera and mother-in-law Juliana Gorricho de Pardo de Tavera in their heads at point blank range in the Pardo de Tavera house in Paris, if we are to believe the firsthand account of Luna’s brother-in-law T.H. Pardo de Tavera.  Several accounts have related that both Paz and Juliana had been shot through the doorknob as they tried to block Luna’s jabs and kicks.  However, the big gaping gunshot wounds in the heads of Paz and Juliana could only have been achieved at point blank range.  What was unnerving was that Juan’s and Paz’s young son “Luling” — who later became the famous architect Andres Luna de San Pedro, who designed and constructed the magnificent Crystal Palace arcade on the Escolta [ a mall ] which led to the decline of the fortunes of the Pardo de Tavera — had witnessed the murders at close range.

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