Monday, November 29, 2010

Confession Of A Murderer

Listen, I have a confession to make. My officers and the rest of the troop do not know that the two men we executed near the mountains of Maragondon are my former neighbors in Tondo. We grew in the same environment before we joined separate revolutionary movements. But nobody knows this except me. I am a soldier of a new republic and what I just participated in is part of my patriotic duty. I do not have a guilty feeling, bothered or whatsoever, by what we have done. Though the brothers are fellow Filipinos and not Spaniards, they became our enemies and I am here to serve and to protect the government.

May 10, 1897 - and that was yesterday - will remain in my mind till the rest of my life for I became part of this heroic act of executing these two traitors who have sinned against the revolutionary movement. The death verdict was already passed months ago and the presidential commutation of death sentence was received and already communicated to them. The two brothers deserve to die and I think they have sensed death already since the Tejeros Convention. They are dangerous and anyone who do not recognize nor respect the Supreme Government of the Philippine Republic must be considered bandits. They organized many men and collected firearms for the purpose of overthrowing the government and they even plotted to kill the national president, Gen. Emilio Aguinaldo. Based from what I saw from their eyes yesterday, they fully accepted and very proud of their impending death. They never even uttered words begging for dear life. Oh, their courage indeed is beyond description.

The Bonifacio brothers,- Andres and Procopio, were unaware that one of their tormentors and killers was a former neighbor. They did not recognize me for sure. I was only ten when my family moved from Tondo to Indang. Together we grew up in that proletarian community in Azcarraga with all its filth and poverty. How can I forget Azcarraga, that wide and long thoroughfare where from its west, you could find a lighthouse near the mouth of Pasig. The lighthouse was very visible from our homes. A beautiful marker facing Manila Bay was just part of many wonderful memories of my childhood, our childhood, of Andres and his younger brother Procopio. And if I remember right, the so-called Supremo was the oldest of four Bonifacio brothers, and the other three being Ciriaco – also a Katipunero who was also killed some months back – Procopio, and Troadio. They have two sisters, Esperidiona and Maxima. In Indang, at 19, I joined the Magdalo under the command of Col. Jose Ignacio Paua.

Deep inside I am proud every time I hear about Andres maybe because of my memories of Azcarraga or simply because he is a respected brother in this struggle, though his rank is higher than mine and he's more popular than myself. I do not exactly know why I have this feeling. I feel proud when he and Gen. Emilio Jacinto attacked Spanish force guarding the powder magazine in San Juan del Monte in August last year. This attack launched by the KKK made Katipunan’s presence felt heavily by the Spanish authorities and prompted the Governor General to proclaim Martial Law in the provinces of Manila, Cavite, Laguna, Batangas, Bulacan, Pampanga, Tarlac and Nueva Ecija. On the day after the encounter, other towns around Manila also rose in arms. And the bloody arm struggle between the Spanish forces and the Katipuneros have started. All to the credit of Andres Bonifacio and, I hate to say this, to Magdiwang.

Yes, I am proud of Andres but I believe he is not qualified, academically-wise, to be the supreme leader of the revolution more so at this infantile stage of the republic. He only reached primary school because his mother - Catalina de Castro who I heard then hailed from Zambales – and later his father, our local tailor, died, leaving Andres with his brothers and sisters to face the world by themselves. Andres, without doubt, can raise a family but definitely not to lead the revolutionary government and the whole country. Tell me how could a lowly and uneducated warehouseman, messenger and salesman of British and German firms be our president? We need academically qualified leaders in Emilio Aguinaldo, Mariano Trias, Severino delas Alas and the rest of the calculating Magdalo leaders and not the stubborn and overly aggressive Bonifacio and the rest of the Magdiwang. Being a confirmed Mason, Bonifacio do not believe in God, as claimed by the leaflets allegedly distributed by one of our leaders in Magdalo, Daniel Tirona.

I do not care how history would judge us by killing Bonifacio yesterday. I am sure, time will come, many historians, politicians, students, scholars and academicians will ultimately oversimplify history. Only few will be interested in finding out our deepest secrets anymore and learn from them. With foreign invaders around, our idea of true heroism will be generalized until it become lip service. One and a half centuries from now, historical details no longer be given emphasis. The people of the next generation will remember only discrete bit of information - rather than vivid, often violent details - like how we killed the Supremo and his brother yesterday. Reading history in the future will only be trivial and will never be arresting and probing but when hate something that will hurt memories of a dead man and woman even how bad he or she was. History will no longer be the main instrument in educating the people to assert their basic and fundamental rights in the face of social problems of their day.

Centuries from now, majority of the Filipinos will no longer be interested in this critical study of history anymore, I am sure. Take it from me, time will come, unlike other heroes and luminaries, Andres Bonifacio's birthday will be remembered but not the day he died. People will remember the Magdalo leaders but not how and why we kill Bonifacio and his brother.

Their followers may call me and my officers and the rest of our troop, political murderers but we do not care. For tomorrow, centuries from now, Filipinos would again be putting into political power murderers like us…

(Photo soflinked from

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Songs of Fanny and Fatima

Fatima Soriano, the young singer-evangelist will be coming to San Jose this Sunday, November 28, as a guest speaker in the Advent Recollection sponsored by the Worship Ministry of Saint Joseph (Cathedral) Parish.

While most of the young guys and gals adore and idolize the international singing sensation in Charice Pempengco, to them, the name Fatima Soriano is “never heard”. But lately, Fatima had been into mainstream when she sing “Nandito Lang Ako”, theme song of child-oriented TV series then called “Momay”, aired over ABS-CBN Channel 2.

Born in 1993, Fatima was diagnosed with retrolental degeneration (a severe eye defect that leaves her nearly unable to see) when she was 3 months old. Not only that, when she was 10, she suffered severe renal failure but she endured them all and struggled and pray hard for a normal life. Despite this handicap, she refused to accept defeat and continue make her life worth-while. Instead, she rose to the top of her class at the Braille-enabled day care center she attended. She also became a very active choir member in their parish. Fatima, though none of her song landed in the Top Ten of the Billboard 200 album chart and never been a guest on “Glee”, I know that every time Fatima renders a song, somebody is singing with her. Not Oprah Winfrey but the Great Physician that took away her almost incurable kidney problem then. Especially that first song which says :

“My suffering is my offering
I'm offering all my sufferings
and if ever I will face, more trials and more pains
then I offer them gladly again
then I offer them gladly again…”

But more than a century ago before Fatima Soriano was born, in the early 1900’s, Fanny Crosby became popular. Crosby was an American lyricist best known for her Protestant Christian hymns. She was one of the most prolific hymnists in history, writing over 8,000 despite being blind since infancy. During her time Fanny Crosby was one of the best known women in the US. Here’s a piece from one of her songs :

“Oh what a happy soul I am,
Although I cannot see;
I am resolved that in this world
Contented I will be.
How many blessings I enjoy,
That other people don't;
To weep and sigh because I'm blind,
I cannot, and I won't."

The songs of both Fanny and Fatima bear the same message I am sure. Inspirations that we have to hear- and not only see - in order to believe.

What would be Fatima Soriano’s Advent sharing for us on Sunday? Let’s come and see …

(Photo from Fatima Soriano's Blog Site)

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Fr. Bernhard's Mission Possible

This German missionary had been brought to Lubang by his congregation, the Society of the Divine Word (SVD), more than forty years ago and he practically spent most of his life in that northern tip island of Occidental Mindoro. He is Fr. Bernhard Kasselmann, SVD who will be more than 70 come Monday, November 22, his natal day.

Looking back from our province’s past, in 1922, the Philippine SVD took over Lubang Island in 1923 where Fr. Henry Demond SVD pioneered the work and later, another missionary, Fr. Carlos Krusenbaum, SVD, was assigned in Tilik. The “chronologically-enhanced” Fr. Bernie, as we fondly call him, is the most senior (sounds like “monsignor”, huh?) priest in my diocese. The cigarette puffin’ cleric transferred to the Bishop Residence here in San Jose few months ago and he will be staying here until Only- God- Knows-When.

A missionary is always a missionary regardless where s/he is and what social and spiritual realities s/he is facing. The Encyclical called “Redemptoris Missio” is quite clear in emphasizing that geography cannot be the sole criterion for determining the frontiers of the mission “ad gentes” in our modern day (RM, n. 37). A little trivia : the Second Vatican Council passed a decree on the Missionary Activity of the Church called “Ad Gentes” from the Latin “To the Nations,” and is from the first line of the decree, as is customary with the Roman Catholic documents. It was promulgated by Pope Paul VI on December 7, 1967.

Let us go back to our birthday boy. I first met him in his San Raphael Parish in Looc sometime in the late 80s when I was invited to conduct a political education training there. Fr. Bernie is so fluent in Tagalog and I know no German. So, I did not bother to retrieve my unreliable English from my mental bookshelf that day and onwards. Riding alone in his blue Yamaha DT-125 motorcycle, he travel mountainous, rough and dangerous roads going to Agkawayan, Balikyas, Bulacan, Burol and the rest of the villages in mainland Looc. I was even shocked to see from my very eye that this old priest is also an acrobat. He gave us a little show or exhibition of sort using his bicycle,- pedaling in backward motion and other awkward biking positions- that amazed us all. But that was before. Now, he's no longer allowed even to set his foot on the kick starter.

Fr. Bernhard make things possible. In 1972, it is well remembered by the people of Cabra, an island community in Lubang, when he constructed a windmill and two deep wells as source of potable water in said coastal area. The project was funded by his friends and benefactors in Germany and elsewhere. Another ambitious project he accomplished is the computerized codification of individual profile of all his parishioners. He extensively gathered data of every single people within his parish. This work had been very useful in many pastoral and civic initiatives in Looc.

In his message for the World Mission Sunday 2010, Fr. Bernie’s compatriot, Pope Benedict XVI, said : “Like the Greek pilgrims of two thousand years ago, the people of our time too, even perhaps unbeknown to them, ask believers not only to "speak" of Jesus, but to "make Jesus seen", to make the face of the Redeemer shine out in every corner of the earth before the generations of the new millennium and especially before the young people of every continent, the privileged ones to whom the Gospel proclamation is intended.” Understandably, not only men of cloth can be missionaries but also the laity, specially those who are away from home. Like the Filipino migrant workers, the OFWs,- Catholics and non-Catholics alike.

Beer and finger foods will be served this weekend I’m sure, including packs of Marlboro for this special celebration of life. Let me reiterate, the OFWs are missionaries in their own special ways. To work hard in a faraway land for your family is also an expression of faith. To care for people in need, regardless of nationality, is proclamation of Good News as well. Ask Fr. Bernie if this statement is true and he will surely throw you his patented big wide grin, nod his head until his cone-shaped nose point to the sky.

For Fr. Kasselmann : “Herzlichen Glückwunsch zum Geburtstag und alles Gute!”…

(Photo of two SVD Saints from svdphc)

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Pacquiao Vs Pacquiao

Let us set aside the much-awaited Pacquiao-Mayweather fight for it is still very remote. Me? I am looking forward for a more interesting out-of-the-ring Pacquiao vs. Pacquiao scuffle. That big fight between Aling Dionisia against his own son, Manny. The Pacmom have been long convincing her son to retire from boxing was only coerced by Congressmanny to allow him to fight for the last time against Antonio Margarito. But the great Filipino boxer assured us, after his mauling of the Tijuana Tornado at the Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas last November 13, “Yes, I will continue to fight.” And Floyd Mayweather, Jr. is among Pacman’s prospective opponents.

The dream fight between Pacquiao and Mayweather, to refresh our memory, had already been archived twice when both the Top Rank and Golden Boy Promotions can’t seem to agree on vital issues, ranging from drug testing to purse split and fight venue.

Certainly, Manny has to settle privately this retirement thing including his career plans with his mother. They need to talk at once before Bob Arum arranged with the Mayweather camp or Shane Mosley’s or Juan Manuel Marquez’s. Equally interesting is who will win in this Pacquiao vs. Paquiao “fight”? Is it the mother or the child? Would the son again disobey his mother to please boxing fans all over the world and continue bring honor and inspiration to his beloved country, and his struggling and impoverished countrymen?

Or will he follow his mother’s advice, hang his gloves and pursue other tasks and careers outside of that brutal boxing ring? Remember, no mother – generally speaking - want to see her son being beaten or involved in dangerous endeavors such as fighting. No parent want to see their children engage in trouble and suffer beatings. Because she knows exactly that boxing – even she’s not into medical profession - being a very physical sport, can kill. Or it can do you harm, gradually or instantly. I am just excited to know if parental desire can be powerful or not in this particular instance.

Aling Dionisia is a Filipina mother beyond compare. Her life changed since Manny hit the jackpot - cars, jewelries, accessories, mansion, travels abroad, name it – and now, it seems, she’s very much contented with all of that. Since she is no longer cooking native delicacies to support her children, the most important thing for her now is his famous son’s health and safety. Ever since, she didn’t want Manny to box. This was the reason why her son kept his training secret when he was starting as a young pugilist. The desire for greatness have been so powerful while parental desire had been powerless long before that boy from General Santos became famous and wealthy. And he is a grown-up man now.

Though she keep on insisting him to retire, Dionisia Pacquiao could still understand that on top of such a situation, parental desires (note : "desires" NOT "guidance") can be disobeyed. Thus, "Pacman Knows" and "Pacmom Understands"…


Thursday, November 4, 2010

Hindi Lang Boksing

Dahil sa kaliwa’t-kanang public appearances ni Congressmanny nitong mga nakaraang araw, baka mas pinag-uusapan pa siya sa Tate kaysa kay Barack Obama. Sa totoo lang, kabado ako na baka ang mga kasalukuyang ‘distraction’ sa ensayo ni Manny Pacquiao laban kay Antonio Margarito sa isang linggo ay mauwi sa ‘destruction’ ng Pinoy boxing champ.

‘Langya, papaanong hindi tayo kakabahan kung mismong sina Freddie Roach at Bob Arum na medyo nagtatampo noon sa kabi-kabilang appointments ni Pacman sa labas ng training camp sa Baguio City, ay tameme ngayon sa mas grabeng abala o distraksiyon na dulot nito sa preparasyon laban sa pambato ng Tijuana, Mexico sa Dallas Cowboy Arena sa Nobyembre 13. Tingnan n’yo ha, bago umalis ang Team Pacquiao ng ‘Pinas noong bago mag-Undas, tiniyak ni Roach na kapag lumapag na sila sa Los Angeles, wala nang iba pang aatupagin si Manny kundi ang kanyang mga sparring partner sa Wild Card Gymn at ang mga training equipments doon. Pero nasunod ba ito? Hindi.

Si Bob Arum naman na medyo naging masama ang loob sa pagsali ni Pacman noon sa public events kagaya ng 10.10.10 Run to Save Pasig River at ang Family Sports Festival ng Philippine Military Academy (PMA) Alumni Association, noong nasa L.A. na ay nag flip-flap na rin ito.

Sa biyahe pa lang ay bugbog na kaagad si Manny. Noong Linggo, ayon sa ulat, dalawang oras at kalahati na nagbiyahe si Pacquiao papunta sa San Diego para i-coach ang kanyang basketball team doon imbes na nagpahinga na lamang sana siya matapos magsimba. Si Manny pa rin ang nasunod dito imbes na si Roach.

Si Arum naman, noong Biyernes, ilang minuto lang umano matapos ang praktis ay pinalipad agad ang boksingero sakay ng private jet ng Top Rank promoter papuntang Las Vegas para i-endorso ang kandidatura sa pagka-senador ni John Reid, majority leader ng Democrats. Si Arum at si Reid ay matalik na magkaibigan. Ewan ko kung naging matalik na ring magkaibigan sina Reid at Pacquiao.

Noong Sabado naman, umapir uli si Manny sa grand opening ng Nike Store sa Sta. Monica Place kasama si Laila Ali na kapwa niya endorser ng nasabing brand ng toga,.. este, sapatos. Maraming mga kaeklayan ang itinampok sa opening na wala namang kinalaman sa pagsampa niya sa ring sa Dallas. Maliban sa pag-introduce sa sapatos na kanyang susuutin sa laban niya kay Margarito. Hindi ba kumanta pa nga ito sa “Jimmy Kemmel Live” noong Lunes at tinira ang “Imagine” ni John Lennon na ka-dueto si Will Ferrell? Pero hindi na bago ang ganito at huwag nating ipalagay na kapag boksing ay boksing lang. Kung aking matatandaan, kahit si Gabriel “Flash” Elorde nga noon ay naging endorser din at naging artista.

Sa dami ng ‘side trip’ na ito ni Manny, kabado ako baka maubusan siya ng gasolina sa darating niyang laban. Baka masira ang kanyang konsentrasyon at mawala sa pokus. Huwag naman sana. O baka naman ma-over-exposed na siya at dibdibin natin masyado ang resulta ng anumang kahihinatnan ng aktuwal niyang laban sa susunod na linggo. Tandaan natin, mas gutom sa panalo si Margarito para makabawi siya sa kahihiyang inani niya sa kanyang laban noon kay Shane Mosley.

Pero sabi nga sa kanyang bagong tagline o catch phrase, “Manny Knows”…

(Larawan mula sa www.pinoyscoop)