A royal decree dated 12 May 1579 ordered the construction of a church in Manila, the first ever church in the Philippines (to be followed by dozens). The governor general in Manila “raised the money from the natives.” (La Casa de Dios, the Legacy of Hispanic Churches in the Philippines, by Fr. Rene B. Javellana, S.J.)
Wait, what? So the natives paid for the church? And all the subsequent dozens of churches around the Philippines? But weren’t they — poor? Not to mention, they weren’t even Catholic?
The first Bishop of Manila, Domingo Salazar, arrived in the Philippines over two years later, in September 1581. When Salazar’s ship set out from Spain, it had carried 30 Dominicans and members of the secular clergy. By the time his ship landed, on the coast of Bicol, 29 of the Dominicans had died, mostly from disease.
Week 179 of the Tuesday Photo Challenge is STONE (“Turn to something a bit more permanent.”)
Self went searching among her recent photos for examples of stone.
First, the fire pit at Manggapuri Villas, Purok Pagdanon, Don Salvador Benedicto, in the Philippine province of Negros Occidental (Dear Departed Dad’s home province). Just beyond, shrouded in mist, the still-active Canlaon Volcano. Don Salvador Benedicto is about an hour-and-a-half drive from Bacolod City:
Next, a photo of Courthouse Square, just prior to the Annual Redwood City Salsa Festival:
Finally, a statue of General Douglas MacArthur on the Philippine island of Corregidor (That’s self standing with son and his cousin Georgina, 20 years ago. She found the photo when she was cleaning out the closets recently):
Like the Molave was a long poem in eight parts, published 1940:
The little brown brother opens his eyes to the glaring sound of
the Star Spangled;
dreams to the grand tune of the American dream;
is proud to be part of the sweeping American magnitude;
strains his neck upon the rising skyscraper of American
ideals, and on it hinges faith, hope, aspiration;
sings the American epic of souls conceived in liberty;
quivers with longing brotherhood of men created equal;
envisions great visions of the land across the sea where
dwell his strong brothers.
Self’s story was first published in J Journal, 2012. She just decided it will be the title of the new collection she’s completing. Thanks to the editors at J Journal, who published it and nominated it for a Pushcart.
Read the excerpt below:
And if our Lord and the Virgin Mother had not aided us by giving good weather to refresh ourselves with provisions and other things we had died in this very great sea. And I believe that nevermore will any man undertake to make such a voyage.
— Antonio Pigafetta, Chronicler of the Magellan Expedition
The crew encountered the giant during the winter, after months of battling the water just south of Brasilia. He was described by the sailors as being twelve or thirteen palmos tall, which is to say, over eight feet.
Self has decided to post an excerpt from Don Alfredo & Jose Rizal, published in Sou’wester, 2007.
Much thanks to Valerie Vogrin for publishing the story. It’s still one of self’s favorites, one of those stories that come in a rush, one of those stories that need to stay inside for a long time while you search for either the courage or the recklessness to set the words down:
When I started to do research for the story, there were things I discovered about my great-grandfather that bothered me. For instance, I discovered that he had more than one wife, the youngest a girl of 14. And he was uncommonly cruel. He tried his best to hide the fact that there was a strain of indio blood in his family, and he would beat his darker-colored servants mercilessly. He died mysteriously, perhaps a victim of poisoning.
You see, my cousin said, we are related to the National Hero of the Philippines, Jose Rizal. The one who was shot by a firing squad, at Luneta Park, in 1896.
As Jose Rizal stood before the Spanish firing squad, accused of being a renegade and an underground solidarity worker, George Dewey was entering Manila Bay.
Self decided to post a little more of self’s Yamashita/ World War II story, “The Seeker of Buried Treasure.” (She repeats a few paragraphs from the last post. Then adds two more paragraphs)
Tell me why Yamashita was happy when he received the orders to go to Luzon. Go! Go! He was ordered. Go lead the Imperial Army, salvage its honor, do not retreat, confront that marauding bear, the United States. Wipe from memory the soldiers singing White Christmas. How those people love Ol’ Blue Eyes. The Packard is the only car the rich will drive. And the chauffeurs wear white gloves even in the heat.
Ladies’ Home Journal and Life and Redbook are the most popular magazines. American hot dog can be had on a stick or on a bun. You choose.
The young ladies wear bobby socks and pleated balloon skirts. Some women are dark but they are still beautiful. Flashing eyebrows, thin like scars, wrists thin as stalks of bamboo.
And their laughter trills among the plants, winds around your brain, Yamashita. You receive MacArthur’s letter saying Desist, there shall be no rape or pillage. Or, MacArthur writes, I will make you pay. Make no mistake, I am coming.
Yamashita, did your mind go blank like a sheet of new paper?
Self bumped into Charles Tan at the Manila International Book Festival today. Also, Ambeth Ocampo, very busily engaged in signing copies of his books while being deluged by worshipful citizens. Also saw: Nadine Sarreal, Gwen Galvez, and Karina Bolasco. These women give credence to one of Dearest Mum’s sayings: “In the Philippines, women don’t grow old. Only the karabaw do.”
If self really cared about her appearance, she would move to the Philippines (which is terribly impractical; if not impossible)
In the meantime, self is engaged in reading a book called: Horacio de la Costa, S. J.: Selected Essays on the Filipino and His Problems Today, edited by Roberto M. Paterno and published in 2002. Fr. de la Costa, who taught at the Ateneo, was a great Filipino historian and writer. In one of the essays, called “The Role of Religious Women in Asia Today,” self gleans this fascinating nugget of information:
“When the Spaniards first came to Maynila, they found the women worshipping a wooden image in a pandan grove in what is now the district of Ermita. It was the image of a woman, and the Spaniards very naturally presumed that it was an image of the Virgin Mary, brought by some wandering Franciscan missionary around the time of Marco Polo. They dressed it up in velvet and cloth of gold and put a crown on its head and called it Nuestro Señora de Guia. But some time ago an architect got permission to cut a small piece from the base of the image and test it; and he found that it was molave, which suggests that it was carved in the Philippines and was not brought here from Europe.”
On one of Dearest Mum’s visits, she brought along a book written by one of self’s uncles. It was a beautiful book, a story of Dearest Mum’s side of the family. No expense was spared in the binding, or in the paper. Years later, in fact this very morning, self decided to begin reading it. And here are a few things she discovered about her mother’s side of the family:
Great-great-great-great-great grandfather Zoilo del Rosario was a platero (silversmith) in Santa Cruz, Laguna. He “crafted the brass and silver ornaments that adorned religious statues and church altars.”
The strands of intermarriage with the Chinese community were many and various. One of self’s ancestors married Benita Quiogue of Pateros, Rizal (the Quiogues would go on to found “the first modern funeral parlors in the Philippines.” Can anyone say “Six Feet Under”? Hello, perhaps this is the reason for self’s ever-present gravitation towards the morbid, in her reading as well as in her writing!) Zoilo the silversmith was married to a Martina Potenciana on May 18, 1819. The wedding records include a notation on the bride’s race: “Chinese mestiza.”
Self is also continuing to read Modesto P. Sa-Onoy’s History of Negros Occidental. Here’s what she reads on p. 19:
The early Negrosanon were fond of waiting for the last minute to perform their work. Fr. Ignacio Alzina, another Jesuit missionary who spent forty-five years in the Visayas, wrote about this mañana habit of the people, saying that “out of one hundred Indians (Filipinos were then called Indians by the Spaniards), ten will not be found, not even five, that will anticipate their tribute beforehand but they will let it go to the last moment. When they find themselves pressed and they are about to be arrested for lack of it, the men usually go off to the forest to look for the beeswax” which they used to pay for their tribute.
It must have been like doing homework, or writing a paper, dear blog readers. At least, that’s what the above passage sounds like, to self. Stay tuned.