august â€“ september 2010
Volume II number 3
US$ 5.00â€˘PHP 150.00
President & Co-Publisher | Cora M. Oriel
5 Keeping A Journal
Editor-in-Chief & EVP ASIA | Lito Ocampo Cruz
By Roger Lagmay Oriel, Publisher
Publisher & CEO | Roger L. Oriel
Associate Editor | Louie Jon Agustin Sanchez cONTRIBUTING EDITORS | Nancy Reyes Lumen, Candy Villanueva-Lykes, Rene Luis Mata, D.M. Reyes, Althea Lauren Ricardo, Joel Pablo Salud, Walter Villa
A Hero’s Welcome
7 Editor’s Notebook In Season
By Lito Ocampo Cruz, Editor-in-chief
Contributing WRITERS | Alma Anonas-Carpio, Jewel Castro, Mark Anthony Cayanan, Susan Lara, Ruben Nepales, Janet Susan Nepales, Rochelle C. Pangilinan
8 Destination: Hamilo Coast
Contributing Photographers | Joe Cobilla, Phillip Kimpo Jr., Ted Madamba, Raphael John Oriel, Miko Santos, Andy Tecson
22 Once in Childhood: Jose Rizal’s Laguna Reveries
Art Director | Le Grande Dee Pedroche Assistant editor | Marie Angeli S. Syjueco
Vice President for Advertising | Noel O. Godinez
By jennifer balboa
Vice President for Sales | Sharon Ann Z. Bathan vP for Circulation & special events | Vince Samson Staff Writer | Billy dela Cruz Staff Artists | Edward Dy, Napoleon Laurel, Jr., Valory Lim, Bienvenida Salazar, Kendrick Tan, Joyce Diane Balansag Circulation Manager | Arthur Sibulangcao Accountant | Ria Fabro balikbayan Magazine is published by Asian Journal Publications, Inc. 2/F Units D&E Fort Palm Spring Cond., 30th Street, cor. 1st Avenue, Bonifacio Global City, Taguig, 1200 Philippines. Tel. (632) 856–4921 Send subscription inquiries to email@example.com, and advertising queries at firstname.lastname@example.org. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopy, recording or any information storage of retrieval systems, without permission in writing from the Publisher. Asian Journal Publications, Inc. regrets that no responsibility can be accepted for unsolicited material, which will be returned only if stamped, addressed envelope is enclosed.
By TRICIA V. MORETE
By JOEL PABLO SALUD
Rizal Slept Here
32 Essence of place
Mystic Mountain: Laguna’s Legendary Makiling By louie jon a. sanchez
38 old school
Parnassus at Mt. Makiling: Philippine High School for the Arts By marie angeli syjueco
40 Ex Libris UST opens library treasures exhibit for quadricentennial 46 period piece
Once Upon a Movietime By jewel castro
The Perfect Timing of Edith L. Tiempo
By lawrence lacambra ypil
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Rhyme and Space By Rene luis mata
By danton remoto
60 balikbayan life
The Hilot is In
By candy villanueva–lykes
65 The Soulful Filipino By jennifer balboa
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photo by ray soberano
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Keeping A Journal By roger lagmay oriel, publisher
Fresh from another
astounding show of the Filipino-American Symphony Orchestra (FASO) at the Pasadena Civic Auditorium and at the Rock Auditorium in San Diego, we could not help but feel proud at the heroism shown by each man and woman on stage by playing those lovely tunes from the silverscreen for our fellow Filipinos. The medium is of course the movies, and who would not be moved? The scenes became poignant once more, and the overwhelming response encourages us to carry on.
The musicians composing the FASO indeed show how encompassing heroism is. And while our national hero Dr. Jose Rizal, our foremost exemplar, wasn’t known for music, we believe that each performance is our homage to him who first believed that it is worthwhile, even a call of duty, to serve the Filipino. This issue of Balikbayan Magazine also honors him as we return to his roots and remember his days as a young boy innocently witnessing destiny unfolding into history. We showcase the province of Laguna, particularly Rizal’s hometown, Calamba, now a bustling city, and the mystical Los Baños, where one can commune with Mt. Makiling. Laguna is a bastion of our country’s heritage. As one of the eight provinces which first revolted against Spain, immortalized by the sun’s eight rays in the Philippine flag, Laguna played a major role in our becoming a truly Filipino nation. Rizal is but one of her proud sons, carrying fond memories of what was then the pristine Laguna de Bay, the festive celebrations, and those neighborhood streets where they ran and played as children. He was also a witness to the growing discontent of his fellowmen at one point, and once seeing the chance to speak, he wrote furiously, in the cold and sadness of Europe, the two great Filipino novels that we know today. In our recent visit to Rizal’s home in Calamba, we were amazed at how our national hero always remembered. To say that he had never forgotten his roots is merely an understatement; in fact, through the letters and the memorabilia available for viewing at the Rizal Shrine, we could already have a glimpse of the memory man’s mind. He was away, but was never away. He remembered his father and especially his mother, who first taught him. He remembered his sisters who doted on him. He also remembered his brother, Paciano, his a pillar of strength during the times of searching. Most of all, he remembered the motherland. Laguna today has transformed itself into a boom province, where development and rapid industrialization mingle with history. It is home to a good number of real estate developments, being an ideal ground for residential and even commercial enterprise. It also boasts of several other natural wonders, such as the Pagsanjan Falls in the south. The churches too are worth visiting, and Laguna towns are surely on the must-see lists of visita iglesia season. Laguna is also a haven for folk art as it is home to cottage industries selling native products. The town Paete is one great example. In our visit at the foothills of Mount Makiling, at the complex of the Philippine High School for the Arts, perhaps the only one of its kind in the country, we saw the majestic lake that is Laguna de Bay amidst rapid growth. Maybe Rizal also walked this way, we don’t know, but we probably share the same amazement at this at once mystical and breathtaking scenery, fit for heroes coming back home. Indeed, this is Balikbayan country where everybody gets a hero’s welcome. g
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photo by ray soberano
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editor’s notebook By lito ocampo cruz, editor-in-chief
Indeed, we are in for a glorious harvest. Take your pick
from our bounty of stories that will surely bring us back to our fields of dreams and wondrous homecomings. In this issue we showcase Hamilo Coast once again, a sprawling new development by the SM Land. With its newly opened Country Club and condominiums, Hamilo Coast has become a paragon of convergence between the cosmopolitan and the great outdoors, typical of current trends in design. Manila Bulletin writer Tricia Morente brings us there and shows us the boundless possibilities it offers. We also take a trip to Jose Rizal’s hometown, the old city of Calamba in Laguna, where the home of the national hero still stands. We remember his hopes and dreams in an essay by Philippines Graphic editor Joel Pablo Salud. Joel lets his namesake speak about his childhood Calamba, where he spent time “with little hint” as to his heroic destiny. Meanwhile, Jennifer Balboa, a De La Salle University MFA in Creative Writing candidate, visits the Rizal Home while Balikbayan associate editor Louie Jon Sanchez writes about the Makiling which, perhaps, sparked Rizal’s creative fire. Louie explores the mythic proportions of this enchanted mountain and recalls the other “re-tellings” from the different eras of Philippine culture. Writing for the first time in this issue is award-winning poet Lawrence Lacambra Ypil who is on his way to the Washington
University in St. Louis (MO) in the United States on a Fulbright scholarship, MFA in poetry and creative nonfiction. Larry, as he is fondly known, pays homage to the grand dame of Philippine letters, the poet Edith Lopez Tiempo, National Artist for Literature. He celebrates Tiempo’s unforgettable verse and her contribution to every Filipino writer’s summer dreams and memories. We also offer here an insightful and intimate review of the much talked about Man Asian Literary Prize winning novel, Ilustrado by Miguel Syjuco. Syjuco’s teacher at the Ateneo de Manila University, Danton Remoto, remembers his student’s long apprenticeship in the art as it happens in the much acclaimed novel. La Salle faculty and award-winning screenwriter Jewel Castro returns to our pages with a nostalgic look at our favorite period films—from the classic Ganito Kami Noon, Paano Kayo Ngayon, to the most recent Baler, a much awarded film about the last stand of the Spanish army in a hometown church in Quezon. We also have a very enlightening piece on the concept of Filipino space by our design expert Rene Luis Mata, and two essays on wellness by travel editor Candy Villanueva and Balboa. This magnificent harvest is proof that love of country is always in season. g
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By tricia v. morente | photos by le grande pedroche, anton lorenzo and andrew tadalan
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Living in Manila
definitely has its perks. I’ve always likened it to New York in that it has everything a restless individual needs, and that is ample distraction. Oh yes, Manila will undoubtedly hold you captivated with its fastpaced corporate power jobs to its endless malls and sprawling event venues offering diverse culture, cuisine and entertainment experiences. However, while city life may not always be a bad thing, leading a busy, fast-paced lifestyle will eventually take its toll on most. Burnout, confusion, loss of inspiration—these are just among the unfortunate results that stem from a full-throttle existence. Luckily for weary city dwellers and habitués looking to escape the chaos, another benefit of living in Manila today is that the perfect weekend getaway is just a three-hour drive away. Tucked cozily along the rustic shores of Nasugbu, Batangas, Hamilo Coast boasts of vast hectares’ worth of natural beauty spread across verdant forests, lush mountains, breathtaking coves and 25 kilometers of clear coastline. Within this
abundant setting lies the ultimate leisure experience—Pico de Loro Cove, SM Land’s recently developed exclusive leisure community. A sprawling 37.5-hectare property, Pico de Loro Cove is home to the first of SM Land’s many master-planned destination developments. It promotes a unique vacation lifestyle with its exclusive residential enclaves; its man-made salt-water lagoon, bordered by a two-kilometer promenade; and the recently opened Pico de Loro Beach and Country Club, which hold the key to various indoor and outdoor leisure activities both the laidback and adventurous resident and club member can enjoy.
A three-hour scenic drive from Manila leads to Pico de Loro Cove, a leisure community set in Nasugbu, Batangas that offers boundless wonders and possibilities for its residents and club members
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Currently a two-and-a-half to three-hour drive from Manila when you take the scenic Tagaytay-Nasugbu route, SM Land is currently working on shortening travel time to the cove by as much as an hour and a half. Commencing its operations in 2011 is a 90-minute ferry ride from the pier at the Mall of Asia Complex, docking at Papaya Cove, which neighbors Pico de Loro. An alternative land route via the Ternate-Nasugbu tourism highway is also on the works, enabling residents to bypass the narrow Tagaytay ridge and arrive at the cove in an hour and a half tops. With these alternative routes well on their way to completion, the coming year will see Pico de Loro’s leisure lifestyle options more accessible to both residents and club members. The best of both worlds What’s great about Pico de Loro is that it’s a real cove, says Herbert M. Herrero, the Project Director for Pico de Loro Residential Condos. “One of the key features of Pico de Loro is its natural environment,” he says. “Being a bowl-shaped cove, it enables city dwellers to not only appreciate the ocean, but the surrounding forest as well. Here you will really feel embraced by nature.” With the previous year’s onslaught of natural disasters, there has been a growing consciousness among people about the importance of leading sustainable lifestyles. And this is something SM Land abides by when it started developing Pico de Loro. Working in tandem with the World Wildlife Fund (WWFPhilippines), everything in Pico de Loro is designed to enhance and sustain the natural environment, preserving what’s there for generations to come. And rightfully so, as the cove is a marineprotected area home to over 99 species of fish and its surrounding forest a haven for birdwatchers everywhere. To date, the cove has 45 species of birds—38 of which are resident; seven are migratory; and 11 are endemic to the Philippines. “We wanted to make sure that we are very careful when doing this type of project,” says Herrero. “Most of our initiatives in the cove were a result of our partnership with WWF. They advised us on what’s best for the environment, from solid waste management, coastal resource management, application of renewable sources of energy, and holding workshops for our internal groups.”
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The Country Club’s pool complex has spectacular views of the surrounding mountains and the lagoon. | balikbayanmagazine.com | AUGUST – SEPTEMBER 2010 | balikbayan | 11
A Jacana ground floor garden loft unit with interior design by Manny Samson & Associates. 12 | balikbayan | AUGUST – SEPTEMBER 2010 | balikbayanmagazine.com |
Condo leisure living at its finest Living in any of Pico de Loro’s four condominium clusters— Jacana, Myna, Miranda and Carola—is synonymous to living the ultimate resort lifestyle. With the completed Jacana and Myna clusters are being progressively turned over, unit owners are beginning to experience the perks of seaside condo living in their weekend vacation homes. “It’s a ‘lock up and go’ lifestyle,” says Herrero. “To make sure we take care of the our condominium common areas, we’ve commissioned a professional property management outfit that takes care of security and the maintenance of the completed buildings. Later on, we will also offer asset management services for unit owners who intend to come in only during weekends. People buy our units as they see it not only as a weekend home, but also as investment. However, we are not discounting the possibility
that later on, they will make Pico de Loro their primary home— especially with the ferry terminal starting operations early next year.” Indeed, who would not want to wake up to a stunning view of the ocean, the lagoon or the mountains? Judging from the rapidly depleting number of unsold units in the recently topped-off Miranda and Carola, it is clear that even with the recent economic downturn, people still want to seize the opportunity to own their own piece of paradise. Those who long to be part of the Pico de Loro community may choose between owning a one-bedroom, two-bedroom, threebedroom unit. Inspired by Tropical Contemporary styles, the modern lines and materials of the condominiums blend effortlessly with the surroundings. There are also lofts in the ground and penthouse floors.
The Jacana cluster is now being progressively turned over to residents.
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Let the good times roll There are two tickets to get into the exclusive Pico de Loro community—you can either buy a unit or become a member of the Pico de Loro Beach & Country Club, which offers individual and corporate shares at P500,000 and P850,000 respectively. As soon as residents and club members activate their memberships, one helluva weekend awaits. Centerpiece to the Pico de Loro community, the Pico de Loro Beach & Country Club boasts of world-class facilities that include an impressive pool complex, a bowling and billiards hall, a gym, indoor basketball, tennis, badminton and squash courts, an interactive play area for toddlers, a Wii room, a game and karaoke room, a library, a huge ballroom and a host of function rooms.
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“Apart from our indoor leisure amenities, we also offer outdoor activities like snorkeling, scuba diving, trekking, biking, windsurfing, kayaking and fish-feeding,” shares Reena Ayuyao, Senior Manager for Club Membership. “We also come up with activities for our members. Just this summer, we arranged Pico Camp, a children’s camping activity for our young members where they spent a couple of days exploring the environment, as well as making use of our sports facilities.”
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Whether it’s just sunbathing on the Beach Club’s lounge pool, traversing the club’s stunning 6.5-km bike trail, or simply taking in the magnificent view beyond, club members will find it impossible to run out of things to do. Some even opt to stay the night as Pico de Loro recently offered select ground floor loft units at Jacana and Myna for lease while the Pico Sands Hotel—an exclusive 150-room boutique hotel that will accommodate club members and their guests—is under construction.
The Beach Club nestled between coastline and mountains. | balikbayanmagazine.com | AUGUST – SEPTEMBER 2010 | balikbayan | 17
Live, love and eat Gustatory pleasures abound. The Pico de Loro Beach & Country Club is also home to the culinary delights crafted by Executive Sous Chef Carlo Santiago, whose prowess in international cuisine is experienced by guests at the Beach Club’s Sun Coral Café and the Country Club’s Lagoa restaurant. Named after the brightest coral in the ocean, the Sun Coral Café with its vibrant red, yellow and orange interiors is a favorite hangout among guests. Its ala carte menu features family favorites
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like burgers, pizza and pasta, and homegrown Pinoy classics, while a weekend buffet showcases dishes of different continents. “Members can expect different cuisines during weekends at the club,” shares the young chef. While there are plans of eventually converting the Sun Coral Café into a specialty restaurant, it features the same Filipino, European and American fare served at the Lagoa restaurant, which overlooks a stellar view of the pool complex, the man-made lagoon, and a peek of the ocean. “It’s a continuous view of the
water,” enthuses Ayuyao. Another favorite spot among guests after a long day spent partaking of the club’s activities is Brisa Bar, which opens at 4 p.m. Here you will find members lounging on the deck of the Beach club, sipping their favorite cocktails while watching the sunset. It makes for a perfect, relaxing ending to a particularly fun, actionpacked day. It is also the perfect place to party the night away, with its breathtaking view of the entire cove. Indeed, with the luxurious vacation lifestyle awaiting them at the
Pico de Loro Cove, residents and club members alike will always find a reason to celebrate. Pico de Loro Cove holds all the key ingredients in that much sought-after recipe for success—invigorating experiences for all the senses, excellent service at its finest, and the knack to make residents and club members forget—the whole length of their stay—all of life’s complexities, giving them that sudden boost of inspiration as they find their bliss in this piece of paradise. For more information about Hamilo Coast and Pico de Loro Cove, call (02) 858 0333 or log-on to www.hamilocoast.com. g
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By joel pablo salud
The evening shifted as though the weight of stars bore down on
this corner of the universe. It’s half past eleven in the evening, a Wednesday, a few days prior to the rising of the full moon. A child was heard a-screaming, belting from one end of the spectrum to the other a cry yet to be silenced by the surrounding darkness. Beneath the looming scar that sliced the night from the birthing day, a poor mother pleaded to the Virgin of Antipolo to save her newborn son. Save for that evening’s defiant moon, the night was pitch black, and nothing but angels and a clutch of stars had heard her cries. Years passed with little hint as to the hand of destiny on this child. At the azotea, Pepe, as he was fondly called, would spend his motley afternoons and sad evenings alone, frightened by tales of ghosts, the nuno sa punso, the parcenobis—a creature that was much European in nature than Filipino. His family would do this in order for Pepe to take his supper. However, the lure of the unknown and the possibilities the imagination holds had all but forced the young Pepe to do their bidding. The generous patch of earth where Pepe—or better known as Jose Protacio Rizal--was born goes by the name Laguna, Castilian for “lake” which, even now, lies at the border of the north side of the province. It was no doubt a province richly endowed with grace, as from Rizal’s own diary: Reminiscences: “I had nine sisters and one brother. My father, a model of fathers, had given us an educational commensurate with our small fortune, and through thrift he was able to build a stone house, buy another, and to erect a little nipa house in the middle of our orchard under the shade of banana trees and others. There the tasty atis displays its delicate fruits and bends its branches to save me the effort of reaching for them; the sweet santol, the fragrant and honeyed tampooy, the reddish macupa, here contend for supremacy; farther are the plum tree, the casuy, harsh and piquant, the beautiful tamarind, equally gratifying to the eyes and delightful to the palate; here the papaya tree spreads its broad leaves and attracts the birds with its enormous fruits; and yonder are the nangca, the coffee tree, the orange tree, which perfumes the air with the aroma of its flowers; on this side are the iba, the balimbing, the pomegranate with its thick foliage and beautiful flowers that enchant the senses; here and there are found elegant and majestic palm trees loaded with enormous nuts, rocking its proud crown and beautiful fronds,
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the mistresses of the forests. Ah! It would be endless if I were to enumerate all our trees and entertain myself in naming them! At the close of the day numerous birds came from all parts, and I, still a child of thee years at the most, entertained myself by looking at them with unbelievable joy. The yellow caliauan, the maya of different varieties, the culae, the maria capra, the martin, all the species of pitpit, joined in a pleasant concert and intoned in varied chorus a hymn of farewell to the sun that was disappearing behind the tall mountains of my town. Then the clouds, through a whim of nature, formed a thousand figures that soon dispersed, as such beautiful days passed away also, leaving behind them only the flimsiest remembrances. Alas! Even now when I look out the window of our house to the beautiful panorama at twilight, my past impressions come back to my mind with painful eagerness!” The evenings where images to remember for the young Rizal— the dark mantle, “gloomy though starred,”—where he described a certain brightness in the clouds as the presence of Diana, one of Rome’s mythical goddess. “Afterwards, as the clouds break up, so to speak, little by little, she is seen beautiful, sad, and hushed, rising like an immense globe, as if an omnipotent and invisible hand is pulling her through the spaces. Then my mother would make us recite the rosary all together. Afterward we would go to the terrace or to some window from which the moon can be seen and my nurse would tell us stories, sometimes mournful, sometimes gay, in which the dead, gold plants that bloomed diamonds were in confused mixtures, all of them born of an entirely oriental imagination. Sometimes she would tell us that men lived in the moon and the specks that we observed on it were nothing else but a woman who was continuously spinning.”
The rich tapestry of images that was the Laguna of Rizal’s time opened the doors for the young poet to soon after discover his lifelong passion: Writing. His father had paid an old man to take Pepe to realms not even books could ever do. The young boy saw the Laguna de Ba’i for the first time while on board a casco, a wooden river boat—large and heavy. Near the catig, the ship’s outriggers, he spent ogling the night sky, “admiring the grandeur of the liquid element, the quietness of the night, while at the same time a superstitious fear took hold of me when I saw a water snake twine itself on the bamboo canes of the outriggers.” “With what joy I saw the sunrise; for the first time I saw how the luminous rays shone, producing a brilliant effort on the ruffled surface of the wide lake. With what joy I spoke to my father for I had not uttered a single word during the night. Afterward we went to Antipolo,” Pepe wrote in his journal. At the Pasig, before reaching Antipolo, Pepe felt only the deepest emotions. Laguna then was to be the birthplace of everything Rizal had written in his works: the rivers, bamboo groves, the “bluish mountains of my province and the white surface of the lake that I discerned through some ruins, sparkling like a mirror and filled with graceful sails. ”This, too, was the place where stories he had grown to love took hold of his life and thoughts, ever so convinced that “what was printed must perforce be the truth. And why not, since my parents, who punished me for the smallest lie, emphatically enjoyed me to attend to my books, to read them diligently and understand them.” It bothered him little that he had to stay up all night—those special nights with his mother while they both look out the window or read from a rare book Pepe described as the Amigo de los Niños. And while the young boy abrely understood Spanish, his mother took the task of reading the book to him, enjoining him to follow her example. And it was on the floor of a stone house polished by banana leaves that Rizal had learned the labyrinth that was his life. Years later, some say on a steamship bound for San Francisco, California, or a sonorous place in a quiet forest, Rizal wrote what was to become the destiny of his life: “Many years have elapsed; the child has become a man; has sailed the most famous foreign rivers and meditated besides their copious streams. The steamship has taken him across the seas and all the oceans; he has climbed the region of perpetual snow on mountains very much higher than the Makiling of his province. From experience he has received bitter lessons, oh, infinitely more than the sweet lesson that his mother gave him, and nevertheless the man preserves the heart of a child and he believes that light is the most beautiful thing there is in creation and that it is worthy for a man to sacrifice his life for it.” g | balikbayanmagazine.com | AUGUST – SEPTEMBER 2010 | balikbayan | 23
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tourbuzz by jennifer balboa | ajpress photos
When I went to Calamba, Laguna to see the house of Jose Rizal for the first time, typhoon Basiang had just shaken up Metro Manila and surrounding provinces. So it was with much awe that I stepped inside the Rizal Shrine, the house where the national hero grew up, seeing it unscarred by the fury of the storm.
I wondered, how much of the house stands from the original structure and how much had been restored? My guide Belen could not give a percentage, but she pointed out that nearly all the furniture are replicas, and that the restoration was done faithfully by the government according to the design of the original house. After all, more than a century has passed since Rizal was born in there. Countless calamities have occurred since. One cannot fault, say, the capiz shells from the windows to get chipped or cracked under such circumstances, Belen said. But Calamba has done its best in caring for the house of its favorite son.
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Guests and neighbors welcomed The ground floor lobby served as a store. It was where the family sold the home-made atsara (native preserved vegetable salad), sweets and bagoong (salted shrimp paste) prepared by Rizal’s mother, Donya Alonso, assisted by his sisters. A giant woven basket lay upside down on the lobby’s grounds, huge enough perhaps to have served as a hiding place for all the Rizal children in play. It is a bulilingan, said Belen, a corn and rice storage basket. Belen then pointed out to another quaint artifact next to the giant basket–a gilingan or sugar cane crasher, made of stone. The gilingan was actually an original Rizal property, one of the finds in an excavation conducted by the government on the grounds of the property prior to its opening to the public in 1951. A grand stairway leads the visitors up to the huge living and dining hall for guests. The guest hall contains the standard antique long dining table flocked by high-backed wooden chairs. One could imagine the Rizals hosting a dinner in that space, with guests feasting on dishes spread across the table’s heavily embroidered runner. The dining space is surrounded by shelves of glass and dark wood, replications of the family library which could also lead one into imagining the Rizals’ guests leafing through the family’s wealth of books. Next to the great guest hall is the sala, which contains a much loungier atmosphere, given its seats with sulihiya weavings made of fine rattan. The sala also has the widest stretch of capiz windows in the house. Air flows freely through these windows and into the entirety of the house, also notable for its high ceilings. The entire two-storey house’s towering stance from outside owes much to that high-ceiling feature. How could the boy Rizal not dream of lofty things, playing and sleeping underneath such seemingly limitless spaces? The heart of the home The sala leads to the sisters’ room at the right and the boys’ room at the left. A poster on the wall of the sisters’ room poses a question: how could have all of Rizal’s nine sisters fit themselves in that one room? There is even only one bed, wooden and canopied and obviously big enough to accommodate only three sisters. Belen, ever quick with answers, pointed at a folded woven banig or sleeping mat, tucked between a dark wooden dresser and the wall. The Rizal girls slept on banigs? That fact sure surprised and impressed the commoner in me. Meanwhile, since there were only two Rizal sons, Jose and the elder Paciano, their room was more than spacious. It contained only one wooden bed and even lesser furniture than the sisters’ room. But it had one handy necessity–a marble washstand. This does not signify that the boys were more privileged than the girls, though, because right next to the boys’ room is the master’s bedroom. Don Francisco, the patriarch, and his wife Donya Alonso had to pass through the boys’ room to get to the door of their own room. And what is to see in the room of the masters? The biggest wooden and canopied bed in the house, of course. The house’s lone almario–a tall open cabinet for pillows, banigs, and mosquito nets. And a butaca, obviously for Don Francisco, where he must have sat to read before sleeping, perhaps laying his elbows on the chair’s long arm rests while rocking himself with its to-and-fro sliding motion.
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How the boy Rizal must have marveled at the structure, I thought, when a full grown adult like myself could still be so amazed by it. And how he must have missed that amazement as he went on his travels, with not even death seeing him home.
photo by ray soberano
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Fanning the hearth Numerous other quaint sections can be found in the Rizal house. There is an azotea, where the family took care of hygienic needs, and where a wooden bucket hung on a pulley over one portion, aimed straight at a well below, another original feature of the house. Of course there is a kitchen, which contained replicas of a wood and stone stove and a giant stone jar hanging over a wooden frame. The stove was where they also heated their coal flat-iron while the stone jar served as a water cooler. Clay pots and jars were hung on a frame by the kitchen window to let air and sunlight to naturally disinfect them. At the family dining hall was a long yet low wooden table
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with long benches at each of its lengthy sides. How could the family manage eating their daily meals seating on benches? Then I look up and see what Belen called a punkah, an Indian fan made of a long rectangular wood-and-cloth frame, hanging above the table. The fan moved when its strings were pulled by servants during dinner time. How the boy Rizal must have marveled at the structure, I thought, when a full grown adult like myself could still be so amazed by it. And how he must have missed that amazement as he went on his travels, with not even death seeing him home. I suddenly saw the futility in my puzzling over how much in the house was original or not. The mere fact that I paced the spaces that Rizal pinned for in his exile privileges me enough. g
essence of place by louie jon a. sanchez | ajpress photos
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Like in most things in Filipino culture, we can always begin with Jose Rizal. As the foremost Philippine folklorist, he penned in La Solidaridad in 1890, the story of the young woman who would become a hometown legend.
In various versions of her myth, the maiden known as Mariang Makiling, is described in Damiana Eugenio’s Anthology as “a fairy,” “a goddess,” “a fantastic creature, half-nymph, half sylph.” “Whatever she was,” says the translation by Guadalupe Fores-Ganzon, “she was not mortal.” The woman whose identity and origin fascinate believers became a lasting symbol for the province of Laguna, and she could not help but be one considering that the mountain named after her (or in a positional dialectic, the very story’s origin), first appears in the horizon of travelers, welcoming them into a land at once familiar and mystical. Makiling is certainly a metaphor, a symbol, and the poet and critic Edgar Samar, a native of San Pablo, Laguna, even reverts back to this idea by remembering the context of the writing of the myth. “Rizal was also the first to retell the story of Mariang Makiling, published in an issue of La Solidaridad, with the intent to address the unjust acquisition of lands by friars that affected his own family in Calamba,” he wrote. Thus, in a deeper sense, she could also be embodied history— a body that is history.
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Rizal, with an apparent journalistic acumen, wrote Makiling’s myth by returning to the very orality of the story. In locating this “young woman who inhabited the beautiful mountain which separated the provinces of Laguna and Tayabas (now Quezon),” he utilized what he called “eyewitness accounts” (segun testigos oculares), “common belief” (segun creencia general), and some other references that symptomatically pertained to what was known of an other. No one seemed to be sure where she dwells. “While some mention a palace as her house, brilliant like a golden shrine surrounded by gardens and beautiful parks, others affirm that they saw only a miserable hut of patched roof and walls of sawali.” Rizal commented: “Such contradiction can lead to the belief that both sides lie atrociously, it is sure, but it could be also that Mariang Makiling had two houses as many well-to-do persons have.” The mention of abodes in Rizal’s version of Makiling is very peculiar, as his varied descriptions of the lady were given by commonners, and even “an old servant woman we had—an Amazon who defended her home once against bandits and killed once of them with a spear-thrust.” He was surely sounding them off, symbolically, making them speak against the empire. In the main, her enchanting encounters with people getting lost in her forest, her magical and oftentimes cinematic apparitions, “allowing the wind to blow her flowing hair” under the light of the moon, and her kindness in loaning things to poor farmers, “on the condition that they would be returned to her together with a hen, white as milk and one that has not yet started to lay eggs,” was fascination turned into anguish. Thus her loss in the public, and even physical sphere, has actually become a lasting image and consequently, an allegory for a culture’s desire to break free from colonial repression. “Some put the blame for this on the inhabitants of a certain town who not only refused to give her the customary white hen, but also failed to return the jewels loaned to them. Of course, they vigorously deny such an accusation and say that Mariang Makiling was offended because the Dominican friars wanted to despoil her of her lands by appropriating half of the mountain area,” Rizal continued, as if allowing in his utterance a postcolonial slippage. “However, it has been many years ago since her presence was felt in Makiling. Her misty silhouette no longer wanders in the deep valleys nor does it tarry over the fields during moonlit nights. The melancholy note of her soft, mysterious harp are no longer heard today, lovers get married without receiving from her gifts or gems. Mariang Makiling has disappeared or at least has fled from the treatment of men.” “Rizal’s “Mariang Makiling,” says critic Resil Mojares, “is a particular construction of history. “It speaks to us from a definite time and place (Madrid—or a remembered Laguna— in 1890) through a particular person (Rizal). There is much in it that is biographically and historically particular.” In his book, Waiting for Mariang Makiling: Essays in Philippine Cultural History, Mojares expands the reading and finds alternative texts that seem to echo the longing for the lost lady of the woods. And he finds the same narrative thread, only in differing historical realities. Following the example of Rizal, the Filipino indeed has never stopped looking for Mariang Makiling. If Mojares is to be agreed with, we can also conclude that “(i)n these texts one discerns something of the mental landscape of the times in which they were produced. They are part of a discourse that runs throughout the length
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No one seemed to be sure where she dwells. “While some mention a palace as her house, brilliant like a golden shrine surrounded by gardens and beautiful parks, others affirm that they saw only a miserable hut of patched roof and walls of sawali.” Rizal commented: “Such contradiction can lead to the belief that both sides lie atrociously, it is sure, but it could be also that Mariang Makiling had two houses as many well-to-do persons have.”
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of our history, a conversation deep but often unarticulated.” From the novel Ginto sa Makiling by Macario Pineda, to the villanelle by Jose F. Lacaba, written in 1965, during what Mojares describes as “a climate of growing social disillusion”, the collective apostrophe of Philippine culture towards this lost being has found its way in various historical moments bearing different timbre but nevertheless invoking the same nostalgia Rizal carried in his heart while walking the steep inclines of the mountain. “I do not know if this is true or not,” continues Rizal, as if foretelling his nation’s future. “I have wandered several times along the slopes of Makiling and instead of engaging in shooting the poor doves who were cooing at each other among the laves of trees, I thought of Mariang Makiling.” The mystique has struck him, has remained in his heart of hearts. Seeing the beauty of the mountain that is home to other “enchanting sites worthy of being the home of gods and goddesses,” he has led the search for this lady who vanished forever. Signing the piece with his nome de plume, Laong Laan, his act of writing has expanded to further searches for the symbol of the nation embodied by this lady by the woods. The novels of course, Noli Me Tangere and El Filibusterismo, are sterling pieces in his body of works. As the primal folklorist, he not only penned the Mariang Makiling story, but the timeless Monkey and the Turtle fable, considered today as the very first Filipino children’s story. As a vanguard of poetic tradition, he also delivered in Berlin, Arte Metrica del Tagalog, the groundbreaking codification of indigenous Filipino poetry. These are but a few ecriture of Makiling that found its way in various writings in the Philippines. Most recently, the critic and fictionist Rosario Cruz Lucero recalled the myth of Mariang Makiling alongside other women characters in local myths, like Mariang Cacao, supposedly Makiling’s Visayan counterpart. In remembering the myths, Lucero has formed a basis for a Filipino feminist reading, which attempts to free the female free from the bondage of mountains created by patriarchal culture. Mount Makiling remains a mystical landmark in Laguna, as well as in the cultural landscape of the Philippines. And it will remain to be ever elusive because it is what it is—other worldly. g
old school by marie angeli syjueco | the ajpress
Parnassus at Mt. Makiling: Philippine High School for the Arts Before there was the movie, Fame in 2009, which was based upon a 1980 film about young talents attending the New York City High School for the Performing Arts, there was already the Philippine High School for the Arts (PHSA) back in the 1970s. Inspired by the belief that our artists play an important role in nation-building, PHSA serves the goal of conserving the Philippine arts and culture through continuously implementing programs that are committed to training young artistsscholars.
As a public, secular, and non-profit institution, PHSA combines general secondary education level program with a special curriculum geared toward recognizing and developing gifted artists and leaders. The school is also committed to the preservation, enhancement and promotion of the Filipino heritage. PHSA is a special school established by Presidential Decree (PD) 1287 and founded on June 11, 1977. In 1990, under Executive Order 420, it was converted into a regular government agency attached to the Department of Education (DepEd). And it implements programs in consultation with the Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP). This institution, which is located at the mystical Mt. Makiling, is probably the Mt. Parnassus of Filipino young artists. The beautiful mountain is conducive for learning the arts, and a powerful source of inspiration for the artists and their mentors. Furthermore, the experience of living away from home together with their peers and mentors, instills an attitude of independence and the spirit of cooperation. The school envisions to become the center for excellence and leadership in arts, research, training, education, and support programs (ARTES). Its mission is to develop artistically gifted and talented students by implementing a special secondary education curriculum and support programs. True to its mission, PHSA offers a special arts curriculum prescribed by the DepEd. The curriculum includes subjects in support of the specialized studies in the disciplines of creative writing, dance, music, theater arts, and visual arts. g
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Academic Records of Dr. Jose P. Rizal in UST. On loan from the collection of UST Archives.
UST opens library treasures exhibit for quadricentennial An exhibition of the most precious gems in the library of Asia’s oldest university ran beginning June 17, 2010 at the University of Santo Tomas campus along Espana, Manila. Dubbed “Lumina Pandit”, this unique exhibition is now housed in the university’s Miguel de Benavides Library and will run until January 2011 when the UST celebrates its 400th anniversary.
Four hundred years ago, Archbishop of Manila, Miguel de Benavides, O.P., bequeathed a modest amount of money and his personal library for the foundation of a “seminary–college” to prepare young men for the priesthood. This was the beginning of Asia’s oldest university and its library—now a reservoir of knowledge, wisdom and truth accumulated through its four centuries of existence—a vital witness to the Philippine’s story of emergence. Far from being “just a university event”, Lumina Pandit mirrors
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the country’s struggles to become a nation through an impressive display that includes a never-before-seen replica of the first printing press in the Philippines; the first book written in Tagalog and printed by a Filipino printer, the Librong Pag-aaralan nang Manga Tagalog nang Uicang Castila; key documents such as the oldest book of the UST Library, authentic copies of the Act of Foundation of the university, the Royal Cedula given by Philip IV in 1623, the Papal bulls, and Royal decrees juxtaposed with period objects from the UST Museum.
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Biblia Sacra Antwerp: Christopher Plantin, 1569-1573 413x280x115
Opera Omnia Hippocrates, Coi Venice: Typographia Radiciana, 1737 340x220x31mm
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Title page of Doctrina Christiana, en Lengua. Española y Tagala, 1593 (reproduction).
In Supereminenti, granting the College of Santo Tomás de Manila (UST) the Right of a University in Perpetuity Pontifical Bull of Innocent X, 1645. On loan from the collection of UST Archives. 44 | balikbayan | AUGUST – SEPTEMBER 2010 | balikbayanmagazine.com |
Lumina Pandit’s collection of treasured books includes Pigafetta’s narrative on the first circumnavigation voyage of Ferdinand Magellan, as well as the master works of Copernicus, Aristotle, Galileo, Strabon, and Thomas Aquinas, books that eventually led to the Filipinos’ exposure to new ideas in the fields of law, medicine, agriculture, architecture, engineering, and theology, and established the Philippines as the only country in Asia whose children were nurtured in a Scholastic tradition that stretches back all the way to classical civilization. The UST has become a true icon in Philippine life, a mirror of its struggles to become a nation. When the Americans created the University of the Philippines, the UST was already 300 years old. Now a few months short of 400, its Library has preserved through the ages the records showing the academic grades of a number of the Filipino nation’s fathers, four Presidents, six Supreme Court Justices and many other outstanding UST alumni— all of which Lumina Pandit will display for the first time, along with works that reflect how issues of importance such as catechism, nationalism, freedom, equality, commerce and trade, economics, human rights, and others were discussed then and have affected us as a nation. The exhibition’s name Lumina Pandit is derived from the Latin “lumina” (light) and “pandere” (to spread). Lumina Pandit aims to “spread light” through a retrospective on history. g
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period piece by jewel castro
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The sun sets in Baler as the church bell tolls for the Angelus. It is time for them to part. Celso, the Spanish soldier, says he wants to walk her home, but Feliza, the Katipunero’s daughter, says he can not. She starts to say something about her father, but he silences her with a kiss.
They start as a couple of gun shots ring out, ricocheting against the mountain slopes, and they turn with fear towards the sound. “Insurrectos,” Celso whispers. “They’re just hunters,” Feliza tries to reassure him. “Shall we meet again tomorrow?” she asks him. “We can meet by the river.” “Must we always meet this way?” he asks her, but because he says it in Spanish, she does not understand. He has been teaching her Spanish for a year now, but she can only comprehend his language when he speaks it slowly for her. He teaches her another sentence. “Say this,” he says. “Nunca te olvidare.” “Nunca te olvidare. What does it mean?” “It means I’ll never forget you.” She promises to never forget him in his language, now both foreign and familiar. He accepts her promise with a kiss as the sun disappears completely behind the majestic Sierra Madre. This scene from Mark Meily’s film Baler expresses the fear of forgetting and the desire for remembrance, which are also the forces that drive the creation of period films like these. In this country where the monuments of the past are easily destroyed by the clockwork destruction (as Eric Gamalinda puts it) wrought by our islands’ tropical temperament, our cinema plays an important role in preserving our national memory. Unfortunately, the production of period films can easily turn out to be a producer’s worst nightmare, as the bringing back of the past often turns out to be a tremendously expensive project. The past must be re-imagined and reconstructed—figuratively and literally—through sets, costumes, and props, and these require a huge budget. Finding suitable locations can be very challenging, as one needs to find the spaces that are the least altered by time and technology. Imagine how difficult it would be to show, for instance, Pasig river without the garbage, or EDSA without the MRT. Every detail has to be faithful to the time and place of the period. Even the way the characters move and talk, their gestures and diction, require the obsessive attention of the director, so as to make the dream of the past come alive. As if production were not difficult enough, marketing a period film is also tough, as they tend to bring unpleasant memories of taking written examinations and writing reaction papers that usually follow film viewing sessions for Araling Panlipunan or Philippine History classes. In order to capture an audience, the biggest hurdle is to be able to convince the movie-goer that there is something in the film that is relevant to him or her in a personal sense. The period film must not simply be about historical events, but about people, whose inner struggles reverberate through time to form an intimate connection with the viewer in the present. Forbidden love is a recurring theme in Filipino period films. Always, the stories of “great love” involve the traversing of great distances between races, social classes, or political convictions, as in Meily’s Baler and Joel Lamangan’s Aishite Imasu. Though Baler is set at the end of the Spanish regime and Aishite Imasu is set in the Japanese occupation, one can not help but feel for lovers Celso and Feliza (played by Jericho Rosales and Anne Curtis), or Ignacio and Ichiru (Dennis Trillo and Jay Manalo), whose hearts are torn between their love for each other and their loyalty to family and country. | balikbayanmagazine.com | AUGUST – SEPTEMBER 2010 | balikbayan | 47
Coming of age is a universal experience, and this is also an enduring theme in local period films mainly because these films also portray our birth as a Filipino nation. In the Peque Gallaga classic, Oro, Plata, Mata, youngsters Trining (Cherie Gil), Maggie (Sandy Andolong), and Miguel (Joel Torre) discover the aches of first love and sexual longing in the midst of their families’ struggle to survive during World War II. While the older generation tries in vain to preserve the innocence and decorum of their ways, Trining dances in front of guerilla soldiers and Miguel tries to lose his virginity with a servant girl. More than just expressions of adolescent lust, these experiences wear down the boundaries between social classes, between amo (master) and alila (servant). Another aspect of this coming-of-age is the experience of betrayal. Trining betrays her boyfriend Miguel as she explores relations with a guerilla, while Maggie betrays her boyfriend, who fought at Pearl Harbor, as she seeks solace in Miguel and his telescope. Deep in the jungle, the horrors of war transform them, forcing Miguel, the mama’s boy, to eventually put aside his telescope and learn how to use gun and knife, and the ladies to cast away their embroidery to suture wounds. Eddie Romero’s Ganito Kami Noon, Paano Kayo Ngayon? also portrays a journey of coming of age as it tells the story of Nicolas “Kulas” Ocampo (Christopher de Leon), a country bumpkin whose innocence makes him vulnerable to unexpected twists of fate. His mother’s death and the accidental burning of his nipa hut compels him to go on a journey from his hometown to find a new life. Along the way, he encounters a band of travelling Zarzuelistas and falls in love with the beautiful and ambitious aspiring actress Diding (Gloria Diaz). As he watches her perform in a duet, he imagines himself to be the man singing opposite her and suddenly breaks into song, making a fool of himself in front of Diding and her audience. The next day, while having siesta by a river, Kulas approaches Diding to apologize for his behavior in his thick Batangas accent. While both Kulas and Diding are both travellers in search of new ground, their conversation shows how very different they are. Helpless in the presence of Diding’s loveliness, Kulas says, “Baka kapag kilala ka na e, baka hindi mo na ako makilala.” (I think if you become famous, you will forget about me.) Diding lifts her regal chin. “Anong kapag?” she answers. “Talagang magiging tanyag ako. Balang araw, makikilala ako sa buong mundo: Diding, artistang Pilipina.” (If? I will become famous. Some day, the world will know who I am: Diding, Filipina actress.) With exasperating simplicity, Kulas asks, “Bakit mo hinahangad iyan?” (Why would you want that?)
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Diding looks at Kulas with disdain. “Ikaw ba nasisiyahan ka na sa kalagayan mong iyan?” (Are you satisfied with the way you are?) Kulas smiles. “Ewan, pero hindi ko naman iniisip ang mga iyan e.” (I don’t know, but I don’t really think about those things.) Diding replies with a certainty, not from ignorance, but experience: “Kawawa ka Kulas. Sa mundong ito, kung di ka matutong lumamon, ikaw ang lalamunin.” (Poor Kulas. In this world, you must learn to eat, or be eaten alive.) In the course of his journey to Manila, Kulas encounters different people, different faces of Filipinos, such as Lim, a Chinese-Filipino merchant who becomes his great friend as he takes him on his sampan (boat) to Manila, and Kidlat, a rebel leader whom Kulas first testifies against but later becomes his ally. Eventually, Diding develops a fondness for Kulas and his amusing yet exasperating candor, but their relationship is short-lived as her ambition turns out to be more powerful than her tender feelings towards him. Her incurable desire for the unattainable moves her to leave Kulas as she falls in love with a married man, Tibor (Eddie Garcia), a dashing and sophisticated Ilonggo who is the complete opposite of Kulas. During this time, the Spaniards are fleeing the Philippines, and the Americans have begun to take over. While nursing a broken heart, Kulas witnesses the death of his friend Lim as they are caught in a shootout between the rebels and the last of the remaining Spaniards. While trying to figure out how to get Diding back, he sees the senseless killing of a Filipino by a fellow Filipino after a petty argument. When her lover Tibor is paralyzed by a stroke and his wife comes to Manila to take him back to Iloilo, Diding runs back to Kulas and expects him to take her back and marry her. Although he still loves her, his encounters with Filipinos fighting for independence and searching for identity have given him something else, something bigger to strive for than a woman’s fickle affections. He decides to leave and join the Filipino movement. When Diding begs him to stay, he tells her, “Kaya kita iiwan, habang minamahal kita nang ganito, nang taos-puso.” (I am leaving you now, while I love you. Like this, with all my heart.) Kulas’ fall from innocence is heart-breaking, but inevitable and necessary, like Trining’s decision in Oro, Plata, Mata to become the rebel leader’s woman to save her family, or Feliza’s confrontation with the finality of Celso’s death in Baler. In the hands of great filmmakers, historical films such as these succeed in fleshing out the events that would otherwise exist as mere dates and names for students to memorize just long enough to pass a test, or as long weekends plotted on our busy calendars. Revisiting our past through the cinema reminds us that the story of our freedom as a Filipino nation is not just a story of battles fought and won, but more importantly, it is a story of longing and losing, of severing and searching, of always remembering, of always reliving—Nunca te olvidare!—no matter what the cost, our one great love. g (for Jake)
persona by lawrence lacambra ypil| photo by Ian r. casocot
The first time I met Edith Tiempo was in the summer of 1997 in Dumaguete.
And one could say that this encounter was made in the best of timing: I was an incoming Junior in college and a fresh young writer, hungry for words, and eager to learn from anyone who was half-willing to speak and listen, for hours on end, for days even, and talk about the rigors and rewards, the blessings and curses of poetry. Edith Tiempo, of course, was already, well, Edith Tiempo: premier and first-rate Filipino poet, mentor and literary “mother” of generations of Filipino writers in English, and although her husband, Filipino fictionist, Edilberto Tiempo, had only recently passed away two years back, here she was, in all her graceful and quiet presence, at the head of the table, running the writing the workshop they had both put up close to four decades ago. My poem was the first piece to be discussed for the day, “first blood” one could say, and although the piece did not receive the unabashed celebration I so innocently, so foolishly expected, to finally have the honor of being read, being analyzed, being pored over (at some point being ripped apart!) by the mother-poet herself was, the least one could say, unforgettable. Dumaguete National Writers Workshop I had, of course, already long heard of the famed longest-running national writers’ workshop held in Dumaguete every May. My professors at the Ateneo, Danton Remoto and DM Reyes, were both products and panelists to this yearly gathering of writers. Essays written by many Filipino writers in English were rife with references to the quaint sea-breezes of Dumaguete, its tree-lined boulevards, the golden glitter of its sunrise shores. That whole month spent at the foot of the Tiempos, Edith and Edilberto, were always described as the “summer that changed their lives”. To any young writer, wishing, hoping, to get a pat in the back, a nudge in the right literary
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direction, these workshops were a veritable rite of passage. Established in 1962, the Dumaguete National Writers Workshop was the first and is easily the longest-running writer’s workshop in the country. Fresh from earning their master’s degrees from the famed Iowa Writer’s Workshop, Edith and Edilberto Tiempo returned to Siliman University in Dumaguete, and set up what would eventually perhaps be the most influential workshop in Philippine literary history. To say that Edith Tiempo, herself, would change the landscape of Filipino poetry, and set its tone for the next forty, fifty years, would certainly not be an exaggeration. It is without doubt that any major Filipino poet in English would not have been influenced by (whether in faithful loyalty to or even antagonistic refusal of) the Tiempo stamp of what’s called the New Critical poetics: “paradox” and “ambiguity” and “craft” and “metaphysics” and, yes, most of all—“form”. A whole way, in other words, of approaching poetry, by emphasizing the art and craft of shaping thought and meaning through a careful attention to words. While the Tiempo brand of “formalist” poetics has long been considered a critical and pivotal cornerstone of Philippine poetry in English, it is undeniable that the Tiempos were heavily influenced by the ideas that they had encountered in the US. Edith Tiempo herself admits to having been strongly influenced by the work of Cleanth Brooks in his textbook Understanding Poetry. In the years that she spent as an Iowa International Writing Fellow at the University of Iowa, she trained under the mentorship of the American poet Paul
Engle. She received an M.A. in English from the University of Iowa in 1949, a Ph.D. in English from the University of Denver in 1958. And although she had returned to the Philippines to set up the Silliman Writers Workshop by 1962, she continued to keep ties to the US by serving as an exchange professor in both Western Michigan University and Wartburg College in Iowa between the years 1963 and 1965. While it is tempting for many literary historians to proclaim Edith Tiempo as a solely “Filipino sensibility” (as if it were at all possible to propose the notion of a pure and homogeneous cultural core) the truth of the matter is that Edith Tiempo’s poetics is as heterogeneous, as cross-cultural, as multiple and varied as the great artists of her generation like Bienvenido Santos and NVM Gonzalez, for example, who spent extended amounts of time overseas. Which is not to tamper or lessen the literary feats that have been accomplished by Edith Tiempo. Many of the exemplary and successful artists in the twentieth century were products less of literary isolation than of cultural hybridity. Theirs is the story not of stasis or permanence, but of dislocation and travel, variety and multiplicity, immigration and return. What the figure of Edith Tiempo then, perhaps, most fully represents is the fruitful exchange made possible by a cross-cultural, globalized context. Not the spotless and elusive out-of-nowhere innocence of the “pure-bred”, but the exciting and productive conglomeration of multiple influences (both Western and Filipino) giving shape and texture to the life and work of an artist. What makes Tiempo’s case distinct is that by transplanting herself onto fertile creative soil that was Silliman University in Dumaguete, she performed what many balikbayans attempt to but rarely succeed in doing: intertwine the multiple aesthetic and cultural heritages they that are continually laid claim to and inherit. Like a successful graft of sorts, then, a transplant which takes, not too different from the orchids which Tiempo herself so loves to grow in her garden. The Romantization of Tiempo It is easy, of course, to romanticize the life and work of Edith Tiempo. In many ways, trajectory of Tiempo’s life and career assume the shape many of us aspire our lives to take: leave the Philippines, go abroad in order pursue our life’s work: study, earn a living, learn what the world offers for us to learn, and then hopefully return to the country in order to give back whatever it is that we have either earned or learned. Edith Tiempo may be considered to have been one of the lucky ones that have made such a fruitful and productive return. Many of us never come back. In many cases, the attractive pull of the “new country” in terms of the financial returns and the rich cultural ideas it offers, keeps us full in place in the space we precisely planned to have stayed in only temporarily—the dream of “giving back” unfortunately postponed to the nether regions of an imagined retirement if not altogether forgotten. For some, this fateful return is fulfilled but always at a price. Sometimes, it is done at the cost of a well-meant idealism that fades fast in the face of the unanticipated context which characterizes much of home: a complicated bureaucracy, a cultural mindset averse to change, sometimes the grave mismatch between dream and reality. It is easy to picture Edith Tiempo in the fading sunlight of her garden in Dumaguete writing poems, meeting young writers in the blissful heat of summer, talking about words. What is more difficult to imagine are the numerous challenges rarely talked about by Tiempo which she has had to face in the past close to fifty years of running the workshop, writing her poems, sustaining the mind and heart of an artist. The reception of Tiempo’s poems, likewise, sometimes suffer from
the same easy and convenient sentimentality. It is no surprise that her most popular poem is “Bonsai”. A short lyric on the paradoxical nature of love’s simultaneous expansiveness and density, abstraction and concreteness, grandness and simplicity, “Bonsai” is easily Tiempo’s most recited poem. Short lines, coupled with a light conversational tone and concrete imagery, lend the poem a wonderfully accessibility, that is easy to appreciate in poetry readings. The opening lines attest to this apparent ease: “All that I love / I fold over once/ And once again/ And keep in a box / Or a slit in a hollow post / Or in my shoe.” Further down the poem, things, however, get a little bit more complicated. For this is no mere flimsy poem on love’s tender and easy sentimentality, but a deep and not altogether simple philosophical treatise in verse on love’s “utter sublimation / A feat, this heart’s control / Moment to moment / To Scale all love down / To a cupped hand’s size”. In fact, it makes the bold and brave proclamation, no mere sentimental poet could bring himself to propose: that “life and love are real / Things you can run and / Breathless hand over / To the merest child.” (Line-cut approximating so wonderfully this same breathlessness!) Readers (and listeners) captivated by this beautiful short poem, and perhaps thinking that the rest of Tiempo’s work revolves around the easily-saccharine topic of love, however, may come out unfortunately surprised when they read her other works. But not altogether disappointed. If there is anything that ties together the far-ranging, far-reaching works of Edith Tiempo, it is their simultaneous careful attention to the delicate immediacy of the everyday life, the quotidian detail, and the expansive sense for the abstract and the paradoxical. For where else but in the concrete textures of the daily, do we find life’s biggest questions? As in the case of withering, withered violets whose own caged rhythms perfectly capture the necessary restraint in the heart (pun intended) of all passion. (“Rhythm of violets”). Or the face of an old aunt, “ruined” by time, graced by memory, figure for the synecdochic union between fragment and whole, the moment and for-all-time, the ravage of the years transformed into an “old, enduring glow.” (“To an Old Aunt”) Objects, touched by the wise eye of Tiempo, become the metaphysical locuses, the blessed intersections of time and space’s contradictions. As in the plastic flowers of “Emily on East Bloomington Street”, both beautiful in their fax transcience and irrevocable permanence. Or the leaves of a mango which become the setting for the sight of a sudden city of the mind. (“Serpent from the Charmer’s Box”). Always “the mind achieves / [t]he conjunction of belief / [w]ith leaf” in Tiempo’s poetry. And for this reason she remains relevant, even if fact essential, to any young poet wishing to give shape to his sentiment, rhythm to his thoughts, and write the years away.
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Tiempo Today Today, Edith Tiempo continues to maintain her guiding presence in the workshop she and her husband put up close to five decades ago. Considered by more than two generations of writers to be the “mother” of contemporary Philippine poetry in English, she may very well be more aptly called grandmother these days. At ninety-one years old, Tiempo is no longer as active in the writing workshops as she used to be. These days it’s her daughter, the poet Rowena Torrevillas, connected with the international writing program of Iowa, that serves as the workshop director. Former Dumaguete fellows, now turned writers, have also been especially involved in the past years: Susan Lara, Krip Yuson, DM Reyes, Sawi Aquino, Myrna Pena Reyes, Bobby Flores Villasis, Marjorie Evasco, to name just a few. But even this gradual change of hands, I am certain, Edith Tiempo herself will find to be only the most natural turn of events, at the most perfect timing: a new place for the workshop (in the Lamb-Sobrepena Writing Village in Valencia), a new set of fellows every year (until the young stop writing then there will always be a workshop), her continuing presence (even if only in the form of a brief lecture of poetry), and a year from now, close to fifty years of the Dumaguete National Writers Workshop. How fast time must fly for Tiempo: golden! g
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What makes Filipino space? It’s what we make of it. We often
think space as an area with dimensions. What we don’t realize is that we make that space, and it doesn’t need walls or barriers to create it. It’s all a question of Filipino space. One may not approve of it, but then it’s what we call a complete package called culture – damaged or not. It’s the way a person conducts himself in relation to his environment. And how he at the same time creates that environment. Space is an extension of man. What he does with it therefore is an extension of himself. But this goes both ways. He can also be affected by space.
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design by rene luis mata | ajpress photos
It’s all about one’s personal bubble. If you ever get invited to a Pinoy home anywhere abroad, you’re bound to get that aura in the house that signifies you’re in the personal space of a countryman. There’s something about space that goes beyond the visual. It’s the sound of it, the smell of it, the way one arranges his furniture. The little trophies and medals on the living room shelves. Your graduation picture. Nora Aunor’s poster. Minimalism, thy name will never be Filipino. There’s something about the Pinoy that needs a Baroque solution – Pinoys hate empty spaces. He needs to fill up any blank spaces with something to break the monotony. If it isn’t Baroque, at least it’s his Asian side, where every single space is chock-full of clutter and color. Scores of examples such as a whole wall full of memorabilia and the ever-present folk dancers and over-
sized spoon and fork. In the dining room, the inevitable Last Supper, etc. And don’t forget Sto. Niño! The Filipino doesn’t need walls. He makes space as he requires it. So a single space would have several functions as the need arises. This means a typical Philippine home does not need separate spaces for living, dining, or kitchen. One usually sees each space flowing into another. Each space is separated only by the activity it supports. And many times in a day, it changes. One achieves this through furniture groupings, a play of levels, even pierced screens and bamboo curtains. In all this, its only the visual that may separate spaces. Often times, the auditory connection remains. It is a fact that the whole family does everything in one space, most often the parents’ bedroom, or the kitchen. The living room is for show.
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Has anyone ever been to an ancestral house where paper-thin walls and pierced transoms only succeed in keeping visual privacy? You still hear who’s on the other side. It is a fact that the Filipino’s sense of privacy is very different from a Westerner. This can be seen in any Philippine neighborhood, where everyone is geared to a street life where everybody knows everybody, and all windows open to the outside. When one knows his neighbors, one doesn’t need a closed door. Except in “gated” subdivisions, where one follows poor replicas of American suburbia, and nobody knows his neighbors.
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This is the very philosophy one finds in the most humble of Philippine abodes–the bahay kubo–or the house on stilts. The sense of space then simply is an extension of the Pinoy’s socio-cultural means of identity in relation to himself and his neighbor. Unlike Westerners, his concept of distance and privacy is identical to the personal bubble he keeps around himself. This is why Westerners compartmentalize all their living spaces. Their concept of privacy is also different, and they need a lot of breathing space and privacy. Filipinos are a gregarious people and need their comrades to define themselves, on the other hand. In cold climates, it is so much more difficult for a Filipino to keep this open sensibility. It is however a mark of the Pinoy that there always seems to be visitors and people going in and out at all hours of the day, even in zero centigrade weather. There have been numerous complaints of housekeepers and managers, as well as neighbors who cannot understand the high levels of correspondence that occurs in all Filipino homes. There simply is no way going round it. There are even horror stories of a strange fish smell reeking through the heating as our Pinoy family cooks bagoong with his pakbet in the dead of winter. Or in the summer, where barbecues abound on balconies – smoke and all gets into the airconditioning. And the never-ending karaoke of sound – whether APO, or Sylvia La Torre – that continues till midnight. So what is Filipino space? Or better yet – what is space to a Filipino? Space is what you make it. So let’s flaunt it! g
8 Forbes Town Road
The lucky luxury condo Among all the luxury condominium projects in the metro today, one particularly stands out to be the luckiest by virtue of its address and location. The 8 Forbes Town Road Golf View Residences in Bonifacio Global City is this lucky address. Numerologists have long accorded 8 as a number that will surely bring prosperity. As for its location, 8 Forbes Town Road is the last remaining lot within this city’s mini township, Forbes Town Center, that borders the prestigious Manila Golf and Country Club. “We are saving the best and the luckiest for last. 8 Forbes Town Road is the investor’s last chance to claim such a prestigious address right here in Forbes Town Center, Bonifacio Global City,” noted Megaworld FVP for Marketing and project head Noli Hernandez. Here, a luxurious scene welcomes you every time at the grand lobby: the pristine views of the golf course’s perfectly manicured fairways. And once you get to your unit, the view is equally perfect, with the greeneries interspersed with the Makati skyline. Even the amenities are equally luxurious. The infinity-edge pool at the amenities deck borders the golf course for a pleasurable swimming experience. A total of 16 amenities will fill your day with activities. Burn calories at the jogging path or perform exercises at the Tai Chi station. Or take the time to finish your newest blockbuster novel at the landscaped garden. Cap your day with a splendid dinner at any of your township’s classy restaurants. Take your pick from fabulous choices at the new Burgos Circle row or at the Forbes Town Center strip along Rizal Drive. Whatever cuisine or winery you choose, your day will surely end well. 8 Forbes Town Road is another prestigious development of Megaworld Corporation, the country’s number one residential condominium developer. Call 815-1888 or visit the Forbes Town Center showroom along Rizal Drive cor. 26th Street at Bonifacio Global City. Or check out www.megaworldcorp. com. g
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filipiniana by danton remoto
means the enlightened ones, the indios during the dying days of the Spanish regime who could afford a European education. And in the true tradition of all colonials, they soaked up the education, filtered it, and then used it as a weapon against their colonial masters. They were the seeds that later bore fruit in the Philippine revolution of 1896. The modern ilustrado is the subject matter, point of departure, and even the writer of this whirligig of a novel. Winner of the Palanca Grand Prize for the Novel and the estimable Man Asian Literary Prize for the Asian Novel of the Year, this much-awaited book generally lives up to the raft of accolades and reviews it has received. Full disclosure: the author, Miguel Syjuco, was my former student at the Ateneo de Manila University. I still remember well his hair dyed blue, his clipped and laconic words, his elliptical stories about love and life among the bored and the rich. I am even listed in the acknowledgement section, and thus I will try to maintain full journalistic objectivity. The novel begins with a physical body and ends with a nonphysical one. The corpse of Crispin Salvador is fished from the Hudson River. Obviously a take-off from National Artist for
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Literature Jose Garcia Villa, the hermit of Greenwich Village, who had a love-hate relationship with the Philippines. But unlike Villa who stopped publishing in 1958, this professor of literature and eccentric writer is supposed to have finished The Bridges Abalze (TBA), a novel that will restore him to the front ranks of Philippine writing. But alas, he is gone. So his student and remaining friend, named Miguel, goes back to Manila to, as they say, put the pieces of the puzzle together. The missing novel is supposed to expose the horrendous crimes of the elite, the greedy ones who are responsible for the narcoleptic state of the country. Back in Manila, the capital of chaos, Miguel tries to tie the strings together by talking to Salvador’s few friends and his many, many enemies. He sifts through poems, interviews, novels, polemics and memoirs. Thus, the novel Ilustrado begins to run on several tracks along
with the other books of Crispin Salvador (Manila Noir, The Enlightened, Autoplagiarist, Kaputol Trilogy), the biography-inprogress, Crispin Salvador: Eight Lives Lived by Miguel Syjuco, blog entries, and jokes, some of them salacious and scandalous. The result is a novel that has at least three dimensions of reality, all going on at the same time: an angry and dizzying excoriation of how the Philippines ended up in this sinkhole. Of course, this novel is not for everybody. I’ve met people — literate ones — who asked me, “What did you teach him that made him write like this?” Well, I would answer, I just taught him how to write sentences. The postmodernism he got from his teachers at Columbia. But there is nothing wrong with postmodernism -- with its spirit of play and its self-consciousness -- especially if applied to a halohalo, upside-down, horizontal-vertical culture and history like the Philippines’s. Ilustrado is a brilliant performance, all right, but what remains with me are the small moments between lovers, between family members. There is the lover’s quarrel between the narrator and Madison, his American girlfriend. “That was one of the lovers’ things Madison and I did, our own affectation of Atlantic academia: we referenced fictional characters as they were people we to learn from… “It’s because for people who live in the mind, real people are blurred, not fully-fleshed out, compared to characters who come alive when read on the printed page. There is the fleeting memory of his parents, a short sketch that is vividly drawn: “Both my parents dancing a waltz at a wedding in the garden of an ancestral home somewhere on this island, Dad whispering something in her ear, Mom pulling him close and laughing as the crowd behind them watched — this is how I best
like to remember my parents.” There is the quarrel between the narrator and his rich grandfather called Grapes, who sent him to Columbia and put him up in an expensive condominium. The old man is disappointed because his grandson is just an editorial assistant at a NY magazine. “Grapes placed his seven-day pillbox in front of him, opened it to Tuesday, and began talking out tablets and capsules and arranging them on the tabletop. They looked like candies. He hadn’t even glanced at me since I walked in. Granma sat in the corner, looking at her hands. Grapes sighed. It was a brutal, crushing sigh. Like Acolus, the windwarden from Greek mythology, blowing down all too easily every wall I’d constructed within myself to contain my confidence and pride in the new life I’d just begun….” The old man wants him to write “nice stories” and avoid stories about corruption. In fact, he wants his grandson to become a politician himself! Who would take over the, uh, mantle of leadership? The lunacies of the rich are not spared. And what makes Syjuco different from you and me is that he writes about the milieu from the perspective of an insider. His strong suits are crisp dialogue and broad characterization. Here is an excerpt from a matron: “The poor girl died [in exile], while bicycling in Monaco. I’m convinced her hard life was because she was never baptized.” Or the same matron who funds one of the cottage industry projects for the poor: “Weaving, that’s what they do. Remind me to give you one of the loincloths they make. They’re wonderful as table runners…” Or the young, drug-addled set known by you and me, children of the famous and the rich, staples of the society pages: asleep by day and alive by night, like the social-climbing zombies that they are. Syjuco only has the harshest words for them. Or the tiger — king of the jungle — who is terrified of the fried bacon Grapes threw at him for breakfast. And the Boy Bastos jokes that would make your neighborhood thugs hoot with laughter fired by liquor. Or the merciless satire of the mad denizens of Philippine Literature. Good God thank you I was once this guy’s teacher, I was spared from his pen dripping with acid Ilustrado begins with a cliffhanger at the Hudson River and ends with one at the Pasig River. Between these two rivers lies one of the best contemporary novels a Filipino has written. Glistening with style and wit and leavened by humor, this novel kicks open the door of global fiction for Filipino writers. We may do well to follow in his enlightened footsteps. g
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balikbayan life by candy villanueva–lykes
It’s funny how a little flutter in my tummy can totally
change my views about health and wellness. Before, I would chug down a can of soda without a second thought, but now that I am expecting, this quickening in my midsection now serves as my conscience. Am I taking in too much saccharin and endangering my baby? Is this too much caffeine? The questions nag with every sip, slurp, and munch. And with all the talking heads buzzing around me (the internet, books, well meaning mothers, doctors, elders), I become paralyzed with fear. It does not help that many of the suggestions are contradicting. Do I listen to the elder who has grandchildren that can collectively make up an entire soccer team and fill up the bleachers, or do I heed the advice of a pregnancy expert with a PhD? When it comes to medical care, Filipinos find themselves on middle ground: between the advancements of science and technology and the so-called time-tested practices of the days of yore.
Photo from achiemoon blogsite
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Caught in the middle, I reach out to both sides to discover what is best for my little wonder who is blissfully unaware in my bulging abdomen. The doctor is online With the Internet a click away, it can both be a boon and a bane not only for expecting mothers but the clueless seeking immediate medical advice. It is after all, more practical and economical to search for treatments online than to seek professional help. This however presents several problems, one of which is the dangers of misdiagnosis and self medication. What may seem like a harmless headache can turn out to be brain tumour or aneurysm. We pop a pill hoping for it to go away, and before we know it, we’re being wheeled in the emergency room for brain bleeding. On the flip side, online information can inspire paranoia. Heart burn may make one’s heart beat a little bit faster as many sites suggest that what may seem like an acid indigestion can mean the onslaught of a heart attack or congestive heart failure. In any case, the false alarm can indeed quicken your heartbeat and lead you closer to a cardiac arrest. But then again, we cannot completely dismiss the benefits of unlimited and available information in the World Wide Web. It can provide quick relief especially if the doctor’s appointment (or for some, the pay check) is still a few weeks away. I remember receiving my results for all the routine tests that my ob-gyn required. Before my doctor’s appointment, I took a peek and found out I was positive for Rubella. I went through waves of emotions from anger to fear and hopelessness. My doctor’s appointment was a few days away, and the quickest relief was to go online. It didn’t help much as Rubella, also known as German Measles, is proven to be harmful to the fetus. It wasn’t fair, I thought. Apparently without my knowledge, I was infected, and now my baby had to suffer for it. Refusing to accept this fate for my first offspring, I decided to dig deeper and find the answer that I wanted to hear, or read in this case. This is another problem in itself: our quest to ease our minds by ignoring the answers that don’t sit well with us and seeking a second opinion – the pill that’s easier to swallow, never mind that it’s not the correct diagnosis. But I digress. In this case, my search for a second opinion turned out to be the right thing to do. My research allayed my fears. To be tested positive for rubella meant that I’ve successfully been vaccinated in the past and am therefore immune to German Measles. I thank the high heavens for Google. We can also thank the internet for cheaper home remedies. The problem with homemade remedies is the availability and the appropriateness of these treatments in the Philippines as most of these sites are authored by foreigners. For instance, a webpage suggests a home remedy for dry hair using burdock root, comfrey, elderflowers, and stinging nettle. It may be an effective concoction, but do we have burdock root, comfrey, or elderflowers readily available here? Do we even know what burdock root is? And assuming we’ve found these ingredients, will they work in our kind of climate and with our type of hair? Finally, after computing the cost and the hassle of getting all these ingredients together, we may come to realize that it is better to reach for a bottle of Pantene. All that quackery On the complete opposite of the spectrum, is our Lola or Yaya who strictly forbids a bath when we’re running a fever, greatly contradicting the modern medicine practice of administering iced baths to lower down temperature. Still on the subject of water, it is a common Filipino belief that we get sick when are caught under a drizzle. My husband, who is American, in case you haven’t surmised this yet (yes my surname is pronounced as “likes” not “leekes”), would no doubt scoff at this idea.
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It is for this reason that when our baby starts hiccupping in the future, I will quietly lick a piece of paper and stick it on his forehead just to test this old timer’s remedy. If that doesn’t work, I heard the wet string works as well too. Yes, with my somewhat old fashioned influences, raising a baby with an American may prove to be challenging. He has at one point questioned why Filipino toddlers run around with hand towels on their back. He probably would tolerate having his child wear a cape if it will absorb sweat and prevent pneumonia or the sniffles, but he will object to rolling talumpunay leaves into a cigarette for our child to smoke in case he’ll be afflicted with asthma. Unfortunately, my hubby will soon have to accept that the medicine cabinet of Filipino remedies are fully stocked. For instance we have the malunggay (moringa oelifera) leaves, and although it is still relatively unknown, this plant is considered as the miracle vegetable by the World Health Organization. Then we have alugbati leaves for abscesses and boils; luya – the Philippine’s power herb - for cold, cough, fever, and sore throat; and the lagundi (vitex nigundo) for dyspepsia, colic, rheumatism, worms, boils, and leprosy. The lana, local virgin coconut oil made of 90 day old coconut flesh, is used as a hair tonic, a massage liniment, or a facial mask. Some drink it to restore body balance and harmony and promote rejuvenation and body thermogenesis. It may be the potion of our grandfathers, but it already has gained respect in the modern world for its high content of monolaurines or lauric acid, vitamin E, and other anti-oxidants. And although the average Pedro would much rather grab a bottle of expectorant or a packet of lozenges, countless Filipinos still prefer these herbal remedies over conventional medicine. Researchers after all have backed up some of these traditional cures to be absolutely effective. And so some, if not many, have decided to marry the old and the new when it comes to health practices. For instance, while many chug down vitamin C and stock up on cold reliefs they also drink salabat (ginger tea) to ease the burning throat. Taking advantage of this trend, the enterprising ones have repackage the old into the new. We now see malunggay leaves
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in capsule form, along with the ampalaya and the lagundi just to name a few. Others have made these traditional remedies into more fashionable fares with trendy boutique cafes offering refreshing tonics like salabat iced-tea or pandan tea. Spirits in the medicine cabinet After Lola, we also listen to Tatang, the neighbouring spirit doctor. Filipino ideas of wellness are after all tightly entwined to mysticism, spirituality, and the supernatural. If something ails us, the spirits have something to do with it. I remember how my brother suffered a stage of sleepwalking when we were young. Science would have written it off as a sleep disorder, but our resident quack doctor read the melted wax droppings on the water as something else – a creature, that is not of this world, has possessed my dear sibling to wander out at night in his pajamas. Similarly, the Sudden Unexpected Death Syndrome (SUDS) has been heavily cloaked with superstition. Researchers have linked SUDS to acute hemorrhagic pancreatitis while folklore explains suffocation to be caused by a mythological creature defecating on the victim’s face. Somehow, for most Filipinos, bangungot is easier to understand than an acute hemorrhagic pancreatitis. We hear of fever afflicted children brought to manghihilots (traditional healers) or the tawas reader. Before the patient enters the door, the manghihilot already has a diagnosis: pilay. The tawas reader would claim that the child was “nabati” or “namatanda” (terms that suggest that the patient has brushed upon, and perhaps offended, a spiritual being). Immediately a prayer to gods unknown is uttered and a piece of luya is pinned on the child’s clothing. Oftentimes, the ailment goes away after a day or two. It’s either that or the malady gets worse and the child ends up in the emergency room. Still many prefer the resident quack doctor, perhaps because of our inherited beliefs in the god of the air, the wind, the water, and the earth, or maybe more realistically, because it’s much cheaper to see a quack than a real doc. After all, a donation is only worth as much as P 100. A doctor’s professional fee? At least P 350.
A new oasis The evolution of the spa as a new watering hole in the country has also brought about trends in wellness integrated with the old practices. Although most establishments offer state of the art techniques, they also include ancient healing traditions in their menu, hilot being the most popular one. Hilot, the centrepiece of Filipino traditional medicine, according to Dr. Jaime Z. Galvez Tan, Vice Chancellor for Research of the University of the Philippines Manila and Philippine health expert, is an “eclectic mix of indigenous traditional massage techniques from seven major ethnolinguistic cultural areas of the Philippines.” The therapeutic massage treats the veins, arteries, bones, and muscles to relieve pain, fever, sprains, immobility, and arthritis, and even to re-orient the uterus. Again spirituality is associated with this treatment as hilot is believed to be an armour against curses, hexes, witchcraft, and possessions of elemental spirits. Dagdagay is another authentic Filipino therapeutic massage adapted from the Igorots that is now being offered by modern spas. The tribal foot massage uses bamboo sticks to target deep tissues and stimulate nerve endings of the feet. Then we have paligo, a rich bath of air-dried tropical and indigenous aromatic leaves and flowers with medicinal properties that is proven to be more beneficial than the rose water or milk water bath of the west. There is a long list of traditional treatments that many establishments have incorporated into their packages, and although some of them sound archaic, many are actually based on science including kisig galing (directly translated as energy heal), biomagnetic energy healing, and tapik kawayan, the use of bamboo (kawayan) sticks to tap (tapik) body parts, identified through hand palpation, to have biomagnetic energy blocks. Couple these treatments with advanced technology and you have a holistic approach that an average Filipino – who believes in the modern and yet has not completely turned his back on the old – can accept. This integration of the new art and science with the traditional is known as Integrative Medicine or Complimentary and Alternative Medicine according to Dr. Tan. What does this mean exactly? It means that our generation is fortunate to be afforded the best of both worlds. It also means that on my due date, I will most probably listen to my elders and boil a certain fruit seed to help ease the birthing process on top of the epidural that I will most definitely take. g
Photo by Anton Lorenzo
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By jennifer balboa • illustration by Bien Salazar | the ajpress
One of my fondest memories of childhood was having those catechism classes in grade one. I remember wondering for the first time about how the Holy Spirit could be separate from the Father or the Son, and how a ‘spirit’ could be ‘god’. I did not dare ask the nun who taught us, so it was something that I carried for quite a long time. Then, some time later in my childhood, I heard a priest gave out a homily on ‘the mystery of our faith’. From then on I thought perhaps that that should be the default answer to my every Christian curiosity – “it’s a mystery!”
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Eventually, growing up, becoming a writer and a lover of the arts, and being quite an emotional person too, I began to associate soul with being in touch with one’s heightened feelings. I am in touch with my soul whenever I am in a state of ‘gravitas’, I thought, say, from feeling the pain in a bluesy song, or the joy in witnessing an anticipated 3D movie. So much so that in cases when I encounter a work that is mediocre, and I believe others experience this too, I tend to dismiss the work as ‘soulless’, because it failed to tap into my emotions, or in unfolding something emotional about the maker. This latter conception of ‘soul’ obviously does not touch at all into that concept of soul as the stuff that either goes to heaven or hell, depending on how much good or evil I have done. Actually, since grade one catechism, I have almost nearly forgotten of ‘soul’ as that thing which we must feed with good acts to ensure its entry to heaven. Perhaps I have just recently been conveniently adhering to the good ol’ plain “do unto others what you want to be done unto you” that I have lost touch with the catechism lessons. My youth may also be a factor in this – being more into living through the senses, I have overlooked a more ‘spiritual’ regard for my actions. I am confused about what ‘soul’ is compared to ‘spirit’. While I can regard ‘soul’ as in tune with the body because I associate it with my body’s emotions or heightened feelings, I also conceive of it as that hazy matter from God and should re-unite with him in the afterlife – that matter which, according to my catechism teachers, was in limbo before I was born, and could end up in hell if I’ve been a bad girl on earth. How could soul be both bodily and spiritual at the same time? Should I stop from calling an unfeeling artwork as ‘soulless’, and instead call it simply ‘unspirited’ (and having posed that question, does it now imply that I actually regard ‘soul’ higher than ‘spirit’?)? Is there even a difference? How could this ‘soul’ thing be so complicated? Apparently, it’s the local analogies of the ‘soul’ which seem to provide the answer, and some affirmations too on some of my clueless inferences. In The Soul Book by Gilda Cordero Fernando, my dilemma about the differences between ‘spirit’ and ‘soul’ were amply addressed. According to the book, most of Philippine regional tribes adhere to the concept of ‘soul’ as having two existences. One is physical and is associated with the human body and its life, while the other is spiritual, which is the existence independent of the body and the body’s life. Our Christian or western understanding of ‘soul’ as the life force, without which the body cannot live, is explained by the book. Death is said to be the separation of the soul from the body – and we as modern day Christians have grown believing in this. The western perspective holds that while the body cannot live without the soul, the soul can live without the body. While the soul is with the body, it can feel thirst or hunger and cold or heat. And the soul’s capability to exist independently from the body, though the body may have already succumbed to death, accounts for how the soul can carry on its own through its journey to either heaven or hell. That examination of the western perspective is contrasted with local tribal beliefs which uphold the soul’s duality. As earlier stated, our ancestors and tribal brothers claim that the soul exists both in ‘physical’ and ‘spiritual’ states. For them, therefore, the body retains life even without the soul, and the soul also can continue feeling bodily senses even without being attached to the body. This is the case for the Ibanags’ belief, which refers to the soul as ‘ikararuwa’. Another curious fact is how our Bisayan siblings, who refer to ‘soul’ as ‘dungan’, also regard the soul as ‘willpower’. Thus, if a person has a strong ‘dungan’, he would also be strong intellectually and psychologically, capable of dominating or influencing other people’s way of thinking, capable of bending or defeating other people’s ‘dungan’. When two persons engage in a battle of wills,
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therefore, it is said that their ‘dungans’ are competing against each other. I find these two points on the duality of the soul’s nature and the estimation of it as willpower helpful in clearing out my own basic confusions. At least, I would no longer feel a huge disconnect between regarding the soul as the hazy matter that can go to heaven, and the soul being my senses brought to the highest level whenever I am moved. At least I know now that my ancestors, perhaps caught in the same dilemma, were able to make sense of it all. Actually, they were able to make full sense of the entire soul/spirit mystique that they also came up with what may seem to the modern man as some of the most creative of reasonings for every soul-related thing. Too creative that most of them believe we actually have at least four to five souls in each of us. Ever heard the expression “light in one’s eyes”? Our Ifugao brothers have an explanation of why someone who is ill does not have that light – the soul residing in the eyes may have wandered off, causing the illness. The Ifugao believe that we have a soul residing in our breath too, the departure of which would cause death. Our Mangyan brothers from Mindoro, upon seeing the sudden movements or hearing the gasp of someone who was surprised, would reason that the person has had his chicken soul startled. Yes, chicken soul, not any chicken thingy for the soul. While a person is asleep and dreaming, they reason that that person’s pig soul is currently wandering away. They also refer to a shrimp soul and a cat soul in each of us. The book had no illustration for the case of the shrimp soul, but I think I can guess the scenario for the cat soul – it may be the soul responsible for our ability to land on our feet after a fall, or perhaps the reason behind one’s talent to sneak in and out of a room noiselessly unnoticed. Surely, though, it cannot be the one attributed to when we escape death. No local reference to the Western belief of “nine lives” here, for when we actually dodge death, the Mangyans credit it to our human soul, which may have heard a shaman’s call and went back to the body. The Ilocanos believe in a main soul too. In their variation, however, there are no animal soul companions. The Ilocanos refer to the main soul as ‘kararuwa’ and its accompanying souls as ‘karkarma’, ‘aniwaas’, and ‘araria’. The ‘kararuwa’ is the Christian equivalent of ‘soul’. The ‘karkarma’, the equivalent of the Greek psyche, represents mind or reason and our natural vigor. ‘Aniwaas’ is the one which wanders off during sleep and its failure to return can cause a person’s insanity, says the Ilocano belief. Same thing goes for the loss of ‘karkarma’, giving full sense to the expression “losing one’s wits”. When it’s time for death, though, what departs from the body to visit relatives and friends is the ‘araria’, the soul which has the poltergeist quality of making noise, disturbing animals, and banging utensils and appliances. The ‘araria’ also supposedly frequents places based on the occupation of the person who had the ‘araria’, thus that of a cook would hang out in the kitchen, while that of a civil servant might go clacking away at the keys of a typewriter in a government office. Too much soul for one body to hold? Our Bukidnon brothers even believe each of us houses seven. And it doesn’t end there, for our Bagobo kin, who believe that we have a good right hand soul and a mischievous left hand soul, also claim that even non-human entities such as plants, animals and objects have souls too. They say bigger animals even have two. It seems our tribal ancestors have got it all covered, actually using analogies on the soul to understand not only the supernatural but also the body. And our ancestors are certainly unlike my catechism teachers who unknowingly let me get away without reflecting on my childish confusions, with me attributing everything unexplainable to ‘the mysteries of our faith’. I would have not been tolerated by our ancestors had I lived with them, probably asking me to shake up my lazy ‘dungan’ a little bit more. g
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