Marrying well

“I married young and quick, from a place of love and hope, but without a lot of discussion over what the realities of marriage would mean.  Nobody advised me on my marriage.  I had been raised by my parents to be independent, self-providing, self-deciding.  By the time I reached the age of twenty-four, it was assumed by everyone that I could make all my own choices, autonomously.  Of course the world was not always like this.  If I’d been born during any other century of Western patriarchy, I would’ve been considered the property of my father, until which time he passed me over to my husband, to become marital property.  I would’ve had precious little say in the major matters of my own life.  At one time in history, if a man had been my suitor, my father might have sat that man down with a long list of questions to establish whether this would be an appropriate match.  He would have wanted to know, “How will you provide for my daughter?  What is your reputation in this community?  How is your health?  Where will you take her to live?  What are your debts and your assets?  What are the strengths of your character?”  My father would not have just given me away in marriage to anybody for the mere fact that I was in love with the fellow.  But in modern life, when I made the decision to marry, my modern father didn’t become involved at all.  He would have no more interfered with that decision than he would have told me how to style my hair.”

from “Eat, Pray, Love” by Elizabeth Gilbert, p. 380, Penguin Books 2006.

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June is traditionally the month of weddings in the Philippines, although it is already being superseded by December, so I think that the subject of “marrying well” is timely…

“Marrying well” is not only marrying rich.  Of course it’s the point, but it’s just the tip of the iceberg.  In its fullest sense, it is marrying a partner who has high career potential and prospects [ somebody who will be president or chairman of the company, CEO, COO;  somebody who will succeed the father at the helm of the conglomerate;  somebody who will start a successful, billion-peso fastfood chain;  at least somebody who will head the Finance department of the corporation…  correspondingly, somebody with substantial brains [ and preferably with considerable beauty ] to infuse into the genetic pool and to serve as a competent and suitable partner to her husband in his occupations and businesses, or at the least a trustworthy assistant in her husband’s business affairs; somebody who was expensively educated here and abroad, with the resultant savvy in the ways of the world; somebody who will bring her large inheritance into the marriage; somebody who will run the city residence, the country houses, and the houses and apartments abroad — with all their contemporary and old master art, antique furniture and objets, contemporary artisanal furniture, and all the other useless requisites of the charmed life —  to showcase one’s wealth and highly-educated, flawless taste; somebody who will look beautiful on one’s arm and serve — through her exquisitely-maintained, expensively-dressed, and magnificently-bejeweled self — as proof positive of one’s superior professional accomplishments, at least somebody who will produce beautiful children ], is financially productive, of good moral character, good manners, intelligence, and similar qualities.  Often, such a partner comes from a family that has long nurtured those sterling qualities and sustained those moral values through the years.  But it is ironic that often, such a partner also comes from a family that is tainted with inbreeding, genetic abnormalities, various health issues, inheritance wars, corporate struggles, endless lawsuits, kidnapings, if not outright murders, and other interesting and amusing attributes.  Last but not least, it would also be nice if the partner has good looks.  However, marriages to partners who look like aliens from outer space, with equally freakish characters to match, are very much tolerated and even desired when there are EE or USD $$$ billions, or even just Php billions involved.

Actually, I don’t know what to make of it…  “Marrying well” seems to be the furthest thing from the minds of the eligible bachelors and ladies these days.  Outwardly, great sex seems to be the deciding factor, but then one never really knows.  On the other hand, “marrying well” will always be the concern of parents, be they conservative Opus Dei, ascendant career professionals, or flower children, hippies, or even drug addicts during their youth in the 1960s to the 70s.  Because one still needs considerable resources to smoke grass, snort coke, and live an “haute boheme” lifestyle.  “Boheme” sans “haute” is “La Boheme” as in the tragic Rodolfo and Mimi of Giacomo Puccini fame, and that’s definitely no fun at all.

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In India…

“…   Soon she will turn eighteen, and this is the age when she will be regarded as a legitimate marriage prospect.  It will happen like this — after her eighteenth birthday, she will be required to attend family weddings dressed in a sari, signaling her womanhood.  Some nice amma [ auntie ] will come and sit beside her, start asking questions and getting to know her:  “How old are you?  What’s your family background?  What does your father do?  What universities are you applying to?  What are your interests?  When is your birthday?”  Next thing you know, Tulsi’s dad will get a big envelope in the mail with a photo of this woman’s grandson who is studying computer sciences in Delhi, along with the boy’s astrology charts and his university grades and the inevitable question, “Would your daughter care to marry him?”   …

“But it means so much to the family, to see their children wedded off successfully.  Tulsi has an aunt who just shaved her head as a gesture of thanks to God because her oldest daughter — at the Jurassic age of twenty-eight — finally got married.  And this was a difficult girl to marry off, too, she had a lot of strikes against her.  I asked Tulsi what makes an Indian girl difficult to marry off, and she said there were any number of reasons.”

“If she has a bad horoscope.  If she’s too old.  If her skin is too dark.  If she’s too educated and you can’t find a man with a higher position than hers, and this is a widespread problem these days because a woman cannot be more educated than her husband.  Or if she’s had an affair with someone and the whole community knows about it, oh, it would be quite difficult to find a husband after that…”

from “Eat, Pray, Love” by Elizabeth Gilbert, p. 239, Penguin Books 2006.

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Most Filipinos, because of their nonconfrontational culture, refrain from openly discussing the prospective partner’s financial capabilities in the light of a forthcoming marriage.  But don’t fool yourselves, because they certainly bitch bigtime among themselves in private… and how!!!  Of course they’re very, very, very concerned about it [ specially if the bride is theirs and there’s this impecunious, opportunistic, carpetbagging, “ne’er-do-well” coming! ], which is only normal for chrissakes, but they will go to great lengths to pretend they’re not.  You will hear such heartwarming hypocrisies and fallacies as “As long as you love one another.”  “Love is all you need.”  “As long as he provides for you.”  “As long as she will be supportive of your goals.”  “As long as he is honest and works hard for the family.”  “As long as she can raise the children well.”  “As long as he puts food on the table.”  Well, what happens when all he can put on the table are potato chips and sodas???!!!  And what happens when she decides she’s bored with him and the children, resolves to do an “Eat, Pray, Love” thing, and runs off to Bali… or to Baguio if she has less Php cash???!!!

However, some families are direct, and they’re usually the superrich ones.  As the young ones say:  “They don’t make any bones about it.”

The superrich youth are routinely sent to the Ivy League universities — Brown, Columbia, Cornell, Dartmouth, Harvard, Princeton, U-Penn, Yale [ also Stanford, UC Berkeley, Duke, et. al. ], to Oxford and Cambridge, to the Sorbonne, not only for their undergrads and postgrads, M.A.s and Ph.D.s,, but also for what is jokingly referred to as their M.R.S.s and M.R.s [ wives and husbands ]…

In fact, one wonders why there are few, if any, intermarriages between the last remaining Old Filipino, non-taipan fortunes [ although there certainly were/are/will be:  there is a forthcoming marriage of a Vicente Madrigal great-grandson and a Jacobo Zobel great-granddaughter early next year, January 2012;  Madrigal and Zobel were contemporaries — Madrigal was a self-made shipping tycoon and Zobel was a military career man from the distinguished Roxas-de Ayala-Zobel-Soriano clan ] — the Zobel, the Madrigal, the Lopez, the Cojuangco, the Ortigas, and the Aboitiz families.  One doesn’t hear of them marrying into the big taipan families either, in which case one will wonder who is achieving “mejorar la raza”…

During the various heydays of the sugar industry in Iloilo and Negros [ periodically interrupted by decades-long, near-fatal hiccups ] which created many of the country’s great fortunes, the sons and daughters of grand families ricocheted from one to the other, from one “hacienda” to the next, giving rise to the popular, albeit somewhat flawed, perception of aristocratic Ilonggo intermarriages and even “inbreeding.”  The Lopez, the Ledesma, the Jalandoni, and the Soriano families in Iloilo and the Lacson, the Lizares, and the Montilla in Negros Occidental were well-known in their circles for contracting “successful” marriages.

A generation of rich Lopez bachelors were cheerily advised by their elders to marry “beautiful girls with lots of money.”

A generation of beautiful Soriano ladies, all with a considerable inheritance, were married off to rich and promising young men of “good” Iloilo families.

The legendary Lizares matriarch “Tana Dicang” Enrica Alunan de Lizares ensured that most of her children married their financial and social peers.

A generation of Madrigal granddaughters and grandsons were advised by their eldest aunt that “It is as easy to fall in love with a rich person as it is with a poor person.  So make the right choice.”

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Manila is cruel in the sense that everyone knows, among husbands and wives, which side of the bread is buttered, more buttered, or make that generously slathered…  and the subject does come up during conversations, sometimes without reservations…

“Yes, Spanish mestiza, very pretty, even striking, but not rich.  She took all sorts of good, decent jobs when she was young:  kindergarten teacher, bank teller, etc..  He came sailing along.  Happy marriage at the beginning.  Now there’s just too much success and too much money.  As long as she’s Mrs. there will be no problems.  Even with all the mistresses she has to sit with through dinner…”

“Both grand families were very happy when they married.  ‘How suitable!  A wedding of equals!’  Big real estate married big real estate.  But there’s a glitch:  he’s a first-rate philanderer.  Doesn’t spare anybody, even ‘las muchachas.’  Has children with various maids.  She is in complete denial, preferring to cook her problems away in a house in wonderland…”

“You would think he’s so proper, aloof, and all…  No.  Like so many of his peers, he likes fooling around with ‘las criadas y muchachas.’  Has children with them.  Que horror!!!  But she’s not leaving him anytime soon.  Why waste all those Php billion Manila properties???!!!  She’s just making sure that none of his bastards will be legally recognized, despite the new Family Code.”

“There are all those rumors…  But I think they’re just mistaking him for his father, who was notorious for picking up the caddies at Manila Golf… And as for his wife, she wouldn’t know one from the other, and if she does, she certainly will never say.”

“I don’t know why she married him.  He was introduced to our group at a resto one night and he was some sort of penniless backpacker…  He even smelled.  Then he’s repackaged as ‘the this of the that’ and she marries him!?  Hardly ‘mejorar la raza’…”

“How can she allow him to treat her like that???  He treats her like a maid.  Sometimes, he’s embarrassed by her and has to explain to peers why she’s not from the ‘hood, although she is certainly ‘de buena familia.’  The truth is that no sane girl in his immediate set would have married him, cautioned as they were by their parents of his family’s eccentricities and downright weirdness.  Well, she comes from a crazy family too — her siblings are all rare birds —  so one of these days she just might casually walk out on him and he won’t know what to do…”

“When they became engaged, she was trumpeted as ‘la heredera de muy buena familia’ and his oddly bedazzled family, also very rich, pulled all the stops to welcome her.  ‘Que guapa!  Que simpatica!’  they cooed.  That was before they found out how fractious and leveraged her family was and she found out how miserly, miserable, and weird they were.  Now, it’s simply ‘No comment.’ on both sides.”

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Marriage.  As Tina Turner sang in that long-ago song:  “What’s Love, got to do, got to do with it???”

The whole idea of marriage is a tad complicated for my limited comprehension.  It is one of the reasons why I have opted to stay single.  All that winding and unwinding:  too many wind-ups as it gets on its way and too many wind-downs as it gets out of the way.  In that light, I’m perfectly happy with the comfortable menage a trois of I, Me, and Myself.   🙂   🙂   🙂

*unfinished*

The fruits of summers past

ANONAS.

ARATILES.

ATIS.

BALIMBING.

BALUBAD [ KASUY ].

BAYABAS.

BUKO.

CACAO.

CAIMITO.

CALAMANSI.

CALUMPIT / KALUMPIT.

CAMACHILE.

CEREALES.

CHESA.

CHICO.

DALANDAN.

DALANGHITA.

DAYAP.

DUHAT.

DURIAN [ DAVAO ].

GUYABANO.

INDIAN MANGO.

KAMIAS.

LANGKA.

LANZONES.

MABOLO.

MACOPA.

MANGGA.

MANGOSTEEN [ DAVAO ].

MANZANITAS.

MARANG [ DAVAO ].

MELON.

PAKWAN.

PAPAYA.

PINA.

RAMBUTAN [ THAILAND ].

SAGING NA LAKATAN.

SAGING NA LATUNDAN.

SAGING NA SABA.

SAGING NA SENORITA.

SAMPALOC.

SANTOL.

SINEGUELAS.

SUHA.

ZAPOTE.

Rizal in Rome

Dear Readers,

In case some of you would like to help raise the life size bronze statue of our National Hero Dr. Jose P. Rizal in Piazzale Manila in Parioli, Rome, here is a worthwhile project…  Donations are EE 1,000 upwards.

Thank you,

Toto Gonzalez

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Cynthia Romualdez Velez

McKinley Road,

Forbes Park, Makati City

February 21, 2011

As I went about the City of Rome last year, I visited the Piazzale Manila in the prestigious district of Parioli where hundreds of Filipinos, mainly migrant workers, converge daily around a bust of our national hero Dr. Jose Rizal. It is their gathering place away from home.

This year marks the 150th year since the birth of Dr.  Rizal (June 19, 2011). To celebrate this incredibly significant milestone, a life size bronze monument at Piazzale Manila is proposed to replace the existing bust which is currently one of the tiniest Rizal monuments worldwide.

The story of Dr. Rizal represents the courageous spirit of migrant Filipinos, the “heroes” of our generation. Today, Italy is home to more than 150,000 Filipinos. The legacy of Dr. Jose Rizal is not only for migrants, but also for the children of Filipino Italians who must learn to appreciate the life, teachings and patriotism of our national hero.

The Philippine Embassy to the Holy See, through the efforts of Ambassador Mercedes A. Tuazon, has been granted by the City of Rome, the necessary permits to erect the new life size bronze statue of Dr. Rizal. In coordination with the Ambassador, we appeal to your generosity to help make this project a reality.

The artist to be commissioned is still under consideration. It will either be an Italian, Giorgio Conta, or a Filipino master based in Rome, Tomas Concepcion.  Both have made life size bronze statues of Pope John Paul II which are now considered some of the best modern statues in the Vatican.

Total project cost is €28,000 euro (twenty eight thousand euros).  The cost of the bronze statue is €25,000 euro and €3,000 euro for the transportation, installation and improvements of the island at Piazzale Manila where the statue will be mounted. The park covers an area of 1,248 square meters with a beautiful fountain at the center of this mini park.

As the legacy of your generosity as a donor, your name will be immortalized on a plaque on the monument or in a time capsule in Rome.  Your tax-deductible charitable donation will be directed through the Center for Peace Asia Foundation, Inc., who will issue the charitable tax receipts. Ms. Lydia L. Sison is in-charge of receiving the donations address is 391 Dr. J. Fernandez Street, Highway Hills, Mandaluyong City 1550 Metro Manila Philippines, telephone (632) 5311314.

I hope this project will find favor with you as it pays fitting homage to our national hero in the eternal City of Rome. Please do not hesitate to contact me if you require more information or details. Thank you very much for your kind consideration.

Yours truly,

Cynthia “Cindy” Romualdez Velez

The ties that bind

We had a wonderful dinner last night for two dear friends, Rick and Regina, residents of Vancouver, on their annual visit to the “hometown.”  Being a well-liked couple, for the 18 days they are here, relatives and friends jockey for dinner, lunch, merienda, and breakfast slots to entertain them.  I knew this so I already requested for a dinner slot some 90 days ago when the annual Manila visit was just in the works:  I asked for 03 February 2011, Thursday.  I did not know then that it would actually be the first day of the new Chinese year of the Rabbit.

It was a cozy sitdown dinner for 36 persons at the “Gino’s dining room” of Gene’s “Cafe Ysabel” in San Juan:  Rick, Regina, Ditas, Gilbert, Nikki, Tito, Rory, Marivic, Lisa, Cindy, Chichi, Nening, Jackie, Ado, Amy, Butch, Agnes, Rose, Tess, Lulu, Tony, Marietta, Giging, Pepet, Eileen, Rookie, Ana, Noel, Vina, Tito, Patis, Serge, Salie, Martha, Edward, and I, Toto.

For starters, there was a table laden with Regina’s favorites from traditional Spanish-Filipino cuisine:  “galantina de pollo,” “rabo de toro” / “menudo Sulipena,” “jamon,” “chorizos,” “palitos” [ traditional puff pastry cheesesticks ], etc.;  the chef even added the gamey “chorizo merguez” of beef and lamb.  The guests could take their pick of any drink from the bar.  French champagne, Regina’s favorite, flowed freely.  Many bottles of “Moet & Chandon” Brut Imperial were on hand.

In true Gonzalez-Arnedo “Sulipan style,” “Croquembouches” [ cream puff trees ] of various sizes, candles, and spring flowers decorated the long tables for 20 pax, 10 pax, and 10 pax.  It was always the way the family entertained, still entertains, and will always entertain…

“On the table” were the house bread with herbed olive oil dip and truffled liver pate topped with orange confit and crackers.  The actual dinner started with “duck rillettes, roasted walnuts, & feta cheese on mesclun greens with raspberry vinaigrette”;  “roasted pumpkin soup with orange essence & black sesame puff”;  “smoked & saltcrusted ‘lapu-lapu’ with baby carrots and green beans”;  “mango & lemongrass sorbet”;  “‘cochinillo’ with cognac demiglace [ or traditional liver sauce ] with guava confit & wild rice with pine nuts & spinach”.

Dessert was “Chef Gino’s molten ‘Callebaut’ chocolate cake with raspberry sauce and homemade rum raisin ice cream”;  there was a myriad selection of coffee and tea;  Cafe Ysabel chocolate truffles and pralines made from “Callebaut” chocolate.

All the fine and interesting French, Spanish, American [ Napa ], South American, and Australian wines which accompanied the dishes were personally selected by Gene.

As a nod to Regina’s, and the genetic Lopez [ Iloilo ] sweet tooth, there was a separate dessert table that featured “Pasteleria Mallorca’s” genuine and faithful renditions of the old “Las Cibeles, Pasteleria y Salon de Te” favorites — Spanish “crocombuche” / French “croquembouche,” “tarta Madrid,” “milhojas,” “naranjas,” and “yemas” — as well as the traditional Gonzalez-Arnedo “sans rival” and large, special “ensaimadas.”

Every single guest took home a “loot bag” with “Pasteleria Mallorca’s” “argelianas,” “palillos de Milan,” and “lengua de gato,” which are the favorites of Manila’s establishment families.

Because everyone knew everybody else [ indeed, every single person had family, business, and social connections to each other ] conversation was extremely lively and that precious, high decibel level was reached — my personal barometer of a successful, even wildly successful, party.

No new people, no nouveaux riches, no arrivistes.  Just peers who knew each other, whose parents knew each other, whose grandparents knew each other, whose great grandparents knew each other…

Every single one was descended from one, two, three, or even four old Filipino families:  Araneta, Zaragoza, Teodoro, de la Fuente, de los Reyes, Cojuangco, Madrigal, Paterno, Vazquez, Earnshaw, Bayot, Tuason, Legarda, Prieto, Valdes, Roces, Lagdameo, Revilla, Zamora, Hidalgo, Padilla, Ongsiako, Gallego, Laperal, Litton, Manahan, Garcia, Casas, Cuyegkeng, Cu-Unjieng, Huang, Lopez [ Iloilo ], Ledesma, Soriano, Jalandoni, Jalbuena, Montilla, Gustilo, Rodriguez [ Bacolod ], Hizon, Rodriguez [ Pampanga ], Escaler, Gonzalez, Henson, Pamintuan, Guanzon, Valdes [ Pampanga ], Feliciano, Tinio, Gabaldon, de Santos, Aquino, Cancio, Ponce, Tesoro, Lopez [ Balayan ], Solis, Kalaw, Katigbak, Escudero [ San Pablo ], Gala, de Villa, Rivera, Fabella, Almeda, Yaptinchay, Singson y Chiong Veloso [ Cebu ], Osmena, Velez, Cuenco, Acebedo [ Leyte ], Pedrosa, Romualdez, Pelaez, et. al..

In essence, the group was a Filipino version of the old New York families of Edith Wharton’s and Henry James’ novels…

The ties that bind.  The stories of generations, the clasps secured by time.

I feel the earth move!

Yeah baby, the earth’s movin’, under our feet, and we better be ready for it…

Conversations about: Fernando Cueto Amorsolo, 1892 – 1972, painter

What a laugh…  I grew up in my Lola Charing’s house which was proudly hung with oil portraits by THE Fernando Cueto Amorsolo.  Unfortunately, all of them, save for Lolo Augusto’s posthumous one from 1947, were from the 1950s, a period decried by serious collectors and scholars for mediocre works because of his deteriorating eyesight.  The one of Tito Willy looked specially sad;  Amorsolo had explained to Lola Charing that he was mimicking the style of Rembrandt.  It looked like Rembrandt on downers.  In any case, they were perfect for Disneyland’s “Haunted Mansion” ride.  Fearing that we grandchildren would neglect and eventually sell them, my uncle Brother Andrew donated the whole spooky lot to the various art gallery units of the DLSU De La Salle University.  They must be haunted by now.

So when I found myself in the houses of family friends with magnificent, blindingly lit Amorsolo genre paintings, I was surprised by how sunny and happy they looked, so unlike ours.

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.

The Families of Old Pangasinan

BAYAMBANG.

GONZALEZ.

LINGAYEN.

SISON.

MARAMBA.

PECSON.

PEREZ.

BENGSON.

BRAGANZA.

Merry mayhem of May

Understandably, the recently concluded national elections were the not-so-merry mayhem of May 2010 [ specially for the defeated ].  It’s a done deal and there’s nothing we can do about it.  So there but for the grace of God go all of us Filipinos…

Without those godawful national elections, the usual, annual, merry mayhem of May in the Philippines is the joyous, unending stream of town fiestas all over the country.  Starting on 01 May is the time-honored, traditional month-long fiesta of Antipolo in honor of the legendary and miraculous “Nuestra Senora de la Paz y Buenviaje” Our Lady of Peace and Good Voyage.  There are the weekend “Santacruzan” processions commemorating Santa Elena Augusta and the finding of the “Tunay na Krus” true Holy Cross, the most popular [ and the most delightfully campy ] of which are those of Marikina City.  The 1800s “Flores de Maria” ritual is still celebrated in many Laguna and Quezon towns like Pila, Laguna.  The first Sunday of May is the feast day of the twin Holy Crosses of the towns of Bauan and Alitagtag in Batangas celebrated with the “Sublian” and “Loua” rituals in the morning and afternoon.  04 May is the feast day of Santa Monica who is the titular patron of Angat, Bulacan and Mexico, Pampanga;  her feast day is also celebrated in Minalin, Pampanga days later on 09 May.  12 May is the feast day of “Nuestra Senora de los Desamparados” Our Lady of the Abandoned who is the titular patron of both Santa Ana, Manila and Marikina City.  13 May is the feast day of Our Lady of Fatima and it is celebrated in many new parishes in Manila and the provinces.  The second Sunday of May is the traditional feast day of San Agustin in Baliuag, Bulacan.  On 15 May is the traditional feast day of the Spanish farmer San Isidro Labrador and his wife Santa Maria Toribia de la Cabeza, and every town who has him for its titular patron celebrates its fiesta — “Parada ng mga Kalabaw” in Pulilan, Bulacan; Binan, Laguna; “Pahiyas” in Lucban and “Pa-agaw” / “Agawan” in Sariaya, Quezon;  etc..  Forty days after Easter is “Piyesta ng Pag-akyat” the Feast of the Ascension of Christ, the town fiesta of San Pablo, Laguna;  the original “festejado” image [ heirloom of the Escudero-Marasigan Javier family ] is feted with traditional pomp and pageantry on that day at the Villa Escudero.  17, 18, and 19 of May every year is the famous three-day fiesta “Obando Fertility Rites” [ a Spanish Catholic adaptation of the Filipino precolonial “Kasilonawan” fertility ritual ] of Obando, Bulacan, where many couples wishing to have children participate:  17 May is the feast day of San Pascual Baylon, 18 May that of Santa Clara de Asis, and 19 May of “Nuestra Senora de Salambao.”  22 May is the feast day of Santa Rita de Cascia who is the titular patron of Santa Rita town in Pampanga;  her feast day used to be a big celebration at the San Agustin Church during PreWar.

Attending an annual fiesta in a typical Philippine town can be a lot of fun, but attending a nationally popular town fiesta — such as the “Ati-Atihan” in Kalibo, Aklan;  the “Pahiyas” in Lucban, Quezon [ 15 May ];  the “Kasilonawan” [ Obando Fertility Rites ] in Obando, Bulacan [ 17,18, 19 May ];  the “Libad” in Apalit, Pampanga [ 28, 29, 30 June ];  the “Pagoda sa Wawa” in Bocaue, Bulacan [ first Sunday of July ] — can be difficult, very difficult.  For starters, one has to leave home [ Manila ] very early, 5:00 or 6:00 a.m., armed with cash, light food, drinks in coolers, extra clothes, comfortable footwear, portable loo for the kiddies, a camera, a videocam, a laptop, etc..  [ Attendees who trooped to the “Pahiyas” in Lucban, Quezon last 15 May 2010, Saturday, left Manila at 6:00 a.m. and arrived 9 hours later in Lucban at 3:00 p.m..  😛 ]

For the “Pahiyas” in Lucban, Quezon, it is ideal to leave at 12:00 midnight [ or even 10:00 p.m. of 14 May ] of 15 May to more or less ensure a 6:00 a.m. arrival in the town.  One can spend the whole day anyway admiring the “kiping” [ colored, pounded rice ] fiesta decorations, looking around the old town, and shopping for local delicacies and native crafts.  As in all Philippine fiestas, there are the “great bum stomach challenge” and the “great bathroom challenge” for everyone!!!

For the “Libad” in Apalit, Pampanga, it depends on what one wants to see…  On 28 and 30 June — when “Apung Iru” leaves for the Apalit church and when he returns to his Barangay Capalangan shrine —  it is almost impossible to enter the perimeter of the town after 9:00 a.m. when the devotees start massing for the processions.  28 June is the “Visperas” and “Apung Iru” leaves his Barangay Capalangan shrine at 11:00 a.m. for the “libad” fluvial parade in the Pampanga river on the way to the Apalit church.  29 June is the fiesta proper and there are masses the whole day at the Apalit church and a town-wide procession in the late afternoon.  30 June is the “Pabalik” and “Apung Iru” leaves the Apalit church after the morning masses for the fluvial parade and raucous procession back to his Barangay Capalangan shrine where he arrives at around 3:00 p.m..  From 22-30 June there is the traditional, big Kapampangan “tiangge” surrounding the Apalit church.  As in all Philippine fiestas, there are the “great bum stomach challenge” and the “great bathroom challenge” for everyone!!!  Ideally, one should have a contact in Apalit to arrange day accommodations [ the bathrooms!!! ], meals, boat rentals [ for those who want to join the “Libad” fluvial parade ], tour of the town, shopping destinations, buying local delicacies, etc..

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Funny story about the “great bum stomach challenge” and the “great bathroom challenge” during the “Visperas” of the Apalit fiesta years ago:

That year, my good friends antique collector and creator of the “Museo de La Salle” Jo Panlilio, multi-awarded writer, director, and megawit Floy Quintos, and a very successful and famous showbiz personality whom we shall call “dear friend” joined me for the Apalit fiesta.  After successfully and literally eating our way through several Arnedo and Espiritu relatives’ houses in Barangay Capalangan and Barangay Sulipan, we finally exited through to MacArthur Highway’s heavy traffic on our way to yet another Arnedo and Espiritu relative’s house, this time in Barangay San Juan, the “poblacion” of Apalit…

Just as we exited from Barangay Sulipan to MacArthur Highway, “dear friend,” who had eaten so much, informed us that he had to go to the bathroom.

A few minutes later, as the unwelcome vision of heavy traffic loomed leading to the Apalit “Crossing,” “dear friend,” now sweating profusely and coldly, told us that it was imperative that he go to the bathroom immediately… or disaster for us!!!

“Mamah, EVAKalawkatigbak na talaga… !!!”  “dear friend” muttered frantically, shivering from the airconditioning.  With that desperate utterance he jumped out of the SUV…

So mustering all the courage he had, “dear friend” repeatedly and noisily rang the doorbell of the house nearest to us and requested, nay begged, to use their bathroom.  They very graciously acceded and ushered him inside their neat, newish house…

The quickwitted Jo Panlilio commented dryly:  “Ah, the miracle at GA-RA-BAN-DAL…”

[ Garabandal, Spain:  the site of controversial Marian apparitions from the 1960s-70s ]

Garabandal, of all things???!!!  The sheer nostalgia for the 1970s cracked us up!!!

With his characteristic perfect timing and delivery, Floy Quintos outdid the irrepressible Jo Panlilio by comically quipping:

“What Garabandal???  ‘A-PO-CA-LYPSE NOOOW’!!!”

“Apocalypse Now” indeed!!!  Bwahahahahah!!!

My face and Jo Panlilio’s were practically torn to two laughing our heads off!!!

Harharhar!!!   😀   😀   😀

Serious questions, stupid answers

Yes, I foresee that this blog post will definitely stir up a political hornet’s nest in the Internet… but these are serious, very serious, questions which every Filipino must address now, or forever hold his peace.

I have no objections to the election of Benigno Simeon “Noynoy” Cojuangco Aquino III as the President of the Republic of the Philippines.  Yes, I openly and frankly supported the presidential bid of his far more educated, far more accomplished, and far more capable maternal second cousin Gilberto Eduardo Gerardo “Gibo” Cojuangco Teodoro Jr..  And I will never, ever regret it.  To this day, I still maintain, and always will, that Gilberto Teodoro Jr., in the light of his myriad qualifications, should be the President of the Philippines.  But given that current impossibility, I am amenable to having Benigno Aquino III as the President.  I hold him solely responsible for upholding and honoring the heroic and altruistic legacies of his legendary father, Benigno “Ninoy” Aquino Aquino Jr., and his venerable mother, Corazon “Cory” Sumulong Cojuangco.  They are very, very, very hard acts to follow, but I am sure that Benigno III is, despite all perceived shortcomings, genetically hardwired to follow in their august footsteps.

I eagerly anticipated the national elections because I knew that the results would represent the current mindset of my countrymen and the state of my nation.  I looked forward to the numerical evidences that my countrymen had finally become more educated, matured, improved, and hence have become more discerning citizens.

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DISMAL.  VERY DISMAL.  INCREDULOUSLY DISMAL.

What the numbers revealed was nothing more than a dismal reality.  It was so dismal that it blew my mind.

Juan de la Cruz… How could we???!!!  How could WE…???!!!

How could we have given that mere number of 3,500,000 votes to someone so clearly deserving of the Philippine presidency as Gilbert “Gibo” Teodoro???!!!

How could we have given that mere number of votes to someone so clearly deserving of the Philippine vice-presidency, perhaps even more, as Mar Roxas???!!!

And on the distaff side…

???!!!  How could we have given all those 8,400,000 votes to the deposed Joseph “Erap” Estrada and make him the second placer for President???!!!

???!!!  How could we have given all those votes to Jejomar Binay???!!!  Yes, there are all those benefits — free birthday cake, Php 1,000.00/xx cash birthday gift, and all-you-can-watch movies for seniors [ in posh Rockwell, if one wishes ], free public grade school and high school tuition, books, school supplies, bags, uniforms for the youth, but how exactly do those come about???

How could we have given the top three slots in the Philippine Senate to movie action stars Jinggoy Estrada, Bong Revilla, and Lito Lapid???!!!  Are we finally going to shoot the ultimate Pinoy action movie???

[ Personally, I think it is the job of actors and actresses to look good, hone their craft and do it well, entertain their audiences effectively, stay behind the cameras, and remain onstage.  On the distaff side however, it is not the fault of highly-educated and accomplished politicians like Atty. Gilbert Teodoro, Ralph Recto, Atty. Adel Tamano, et. al. if they also possess matinee idol looks since they already have the great brains and the difficult training in the first place. ]

How could we have reelected all those aged pit bulls and rottweilers for the umpteenth time to the Philippine Senate???!!!  Shouldn’t we renew it with fresh blood?

Pampanga, how could we have given all those votes of the 2nd congressional district to Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo???!!!  Granting the fact that she has been a workaholic, intelligent, and effective President for 10 years [ at least we had a president who used her considerable brains and worked, worked hard, and worked regular hours, plus overtime, unlike… ]… shouldn’t we give a more idealistic, younger, and newer leader a chance to prove his/her mettle just like we did PGMA?

Ilocos Norte, how could we have made all three Marcoses — Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr., Imelda Romualdez-Marcos, and Ma. Imelda “Imee” Marcos — win their respective positions???!!!  Of course the years 1965-1986 were the boom years for Ilocos Norte, Leyte, and Manila, but do we have any idea what it was like for everybody else???  How could we repeatedly elect the vestiges and heirs of an infamous, reviled, and hated 21-year strongman rule/dictatorship to renewed power and influence???!!!

KUNG TAYO AY NAGUGUTOM, KUNG TAYO AY WALANG TRABAHO, KUNG TAYO AY BAON SA UTANG, WALA TAYONG KARAPATANG DUMAING.  HINAYAAN NATIN ITO.  GINUSTO NATIN ITO.  MAGDUSA TAYO, PILIPINAS.  DAHIL HANGGANG DITO NA LANG TAYO.  MGA SINUMPANG KAPUSPALAD.

I point a straight, accusing finger at the Filipino electorate and populace and you can damn me all you want but I will point at you again and again and again…!!!   😦   😦   😦

OHMYGOD.

OHMYGOD.

OHMYGOD.  WE HAVE NOT LEARNED.  WE HAVE NOT LEARNED ANYTHING!!!  ANYTHING AT ALL!!!

MY GOD, MY GOD, WHAT HAVE WE DONE TO DESERVE THIS???!!!

The National Hero Benigno “Ninoy” Aquino Jr. declared:  “The Filipino is worth dying for.”  I seriously doubt that now.  I’m more inclined towards Marie Antoinette’s apocryphal “Let them eat cake!!!”

Do we finally give up at this point???  Perhaps we should.

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