Showing posts with label history. Show all posts
Showing posts with label history. Show all posts

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

History on the beaches of Tacloban

The venue for a workshop we attended in Tacloban last week was Patio Victoria near the airport. Upon arriving at the venue, one couldn't help but notice the historical marker on what appeared at first as a big piece of rock on the property. The 'rock' turned out to be a pillbox constructed by the Japanese forces along what was part of the beaches of Tacloban as part of the defense against the impending landings of the American forces who were to commence the liberation of the Philippines in World War II.

Pillbox at the Patio Victoria parking lot
Another pillbox at the beach
These are what remain of the defenses constructed during the Second World War. You can just imagine how the place looked like back then and perhaps think about how many people died in the area from all the fighting that took place there. My friends and I were joking that perhaps there were ghosts in the area and its not a place where you would want to take a stroll after dark. Further along the same coast is the place where Gen. Douglas McArthur landed on the beaches of Leyte to declare hist return to the Philippines.
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Wednesday, August 16, 2017

ANZAC Memorial, Sydney

One of my uncles from my father's side of the family was a Korean War veteran. He used to tell us a lot of stories about his stint in Korea from 1950-51. Among those were his experiences fighting with and against soldiers from other countries. Among those he fought with were Australians and New Zealanders (Kiwis?). They were collectively called ANZAC, short for Australia and New Zealand Army Corps. I recall his tales about their fighting together to hold the line against wave upon wave of North Koreans and Chinese and their success in doing so despite the high price they paid for their gallantry.

The ANZAC memorial is devoted to the memories of fighting men from Australia and New Zealand who sacrificed themselves in many theaters of war including those in Europe, North Africa and the Pacific.

The ANZAC memorial across a reflection pool
A sculpture that represented the sacrifices made by the men and women of ANZAC
View of the reflection pool and Hyde Park from the memorial building

I wanted to take more photos inside the memorial but I thought and to me it would have been disrespectful to the people to whom this landmark was built for. Inside the building are several memorials to ANZAC troops for the major engagements they fought in. For details, one can check out their website here. War is never a good thing but then these have to be fought in order for good to confront and ultimately triumph against evil. And this requires much sacrifice. Memorials such as this reminds us of how much sacrifices fighting men have had to make so we could live in peace.
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Friday, March 17, 2017

Catholic Cemetery of Cabatuan, Iloilo

Nanay Nene was finally laid to rest last Wednesday, March 15, 2017 at the Cabatuan cemetery. The cemetery is located at the outskirts of the town but along the national highway that eventually leads to the next town of Sta. Barbara as well as the access road to the airport, which is on land within the jurisdiction of Cabatuan. The cemetery is centuries old and is easily identified by its distinctive main gate and mortuary chapel. I decided to post photos I took last Monday when I visited the cemetery to see the progress of preparations at our family tomb located beside the chapel. Nay Nene was to join her parents, other siblings and close relatives who had passed away years ago and Tatay and my cousin Manong Joam already made arrangements for her interment here. Meanwhile, a close nephew, Dexter, committed to improving the tomb in addition to works he already had done for the tombs bearing his parents, my cousins.

Mortuary chapel
Mortuary chapel wall and grills
Details on the mortuary chapel
Altar and crucifix
Main gate featuring a centuries old arch leading to the mortuary chapel
There was a time when a clear view of the chapel from the main gate was blocked by the tomb of the town's most prominent son, Tomas Confesor. He was a prominent senator during the Commonwealth and after the Second World War. That tomb was eventually moved to the town plaza.
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Friday, November 4, 2016

Lingayen Beach

My recent trip to Pangasinan afforded me a change in environment. I think I've been in the office too long and despite the outdoor environment provided by the university where I work, I longed for some fieldwork outside Metro Manila. Pangasinan has so many interesting places to visit that you would have to be satisfied with going to a few for such a short trip. Near Dagupan is the provincial capital of Lingayen, which is also along the sea, sharing the coastline with Dagupan. Lingayen Bay is both life giving and historic. Life-giving because of the bountiful seafood it provides a lot of fishermen, their families and other people who benefit from marine resources. Historic because it has been witness to a lot of events including those in World War II when Japanese forces landed here to start their invasion of the Philippines. The beach is now a public space and enjoyed by many who come here to relax or perhaps contemplate (mag-muni-muni).

The main road from the provincial capital makes the park and beach accessible to the general public. Parking is along one side of the road while the other side is occupied by food stalls. Either side of the road is lined with coconut trees.
The food stalls are mobile - most are carts like this of a coconut juice/water vendor
There's a lot of street food here and they are very popular.
Popular street food includes fishballs, kwek-kwek, isaw, etc.
We spotted this corn vendor and decided to get some for our healthy snacks. We went for plain corn instead of what seemed to be a popular order with grated cheese toppings.
I remember scramble being quite popular after school during my grade school years. Scramble though has taken a lot of bad PR as it has been associated with food poisoning, bad stomachs, diarrhea and has generally been regarded as dirty. Though we didn't sample the scramble shown in the photo above, we thought that scramble has gone a long way and remains popular. This version seems to be clean (read: prepared under sanitary conditions) and a lot of people enjoying it likely means no one's getting sick from consuming it.
Its not white sands but it is clean and cool to the touch. A lot of people weren't swimming despite what we saw were clean waters. Most people just stood and looked beyond, enjoying the cool wind and perhaps the ocean scent.
I was able to capture this beautiful sunset with what looked like the mountains of Zambales in the background.
The sound of waves hitting the shore is relaxing for me.
Footprints in the sand
The main access road to the beach is clear of motorized vehicles.

Lingayen beach is something that many people should be envious of. Not many towns can boast of access to the sea nor of clean beaches and waters. Not many towns have public spaces like Lingayen's beaches and parks. I think local governments should make a good and honest effort to develop or maintain public spaces.
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Sunday, October 30, 2016

On open spaces for the general public

This long weekend is something a lot of people were looking forward to to have a break before the long Christmas season. Undas is a time for homecomings as people flock to their respective hometowns to honor those who passed away. These cemeteries and memorial parks become very crowded when, for most of the year, these are usually quiet areas where few people venture to. But what if we had more open spaces where people can enjoy walks, picnics or simply getting together or perhaps do some solitary time? We don't have much of these despite so much encouragement as well as studies and example pointing to such open spaces (e.g., parks) enhancing quality of life and health of people. What I wanted to point out here is actually that we need to have more public areas in our cities and towns, and local governments should invest in these for the welfare of their constituents.

Here is a couple of panoramic photos I took at Lingayen during a recent trip showing the expanse of the public park near the beach and the beach itself facing Lingayen Bay.

Lingayen Park behind the Pangasinan Provincial Capitol complex is a wide expanse where people converge to picnic or take a walk. There are no structures here, which I thought was not necessarily a good thing considering the area is very exposed to the environment. I guess the local or provincial government can design and construct a few structures for shelter but these structures need to be designed according to the locale and using native building materials. And then there is also the need for proper maintenance. Perhaps considering all these concerns help make a case against structures in the first place?
Sunset at Lingayen Beach - its not white sands like what attract tourists to Boracay, Bohol or Cebu but the beach is clean, the waters are also clean and warm. You can become envious of what people here have in terms of public open spaces. Historically, maybe its hard to imagine for some that these beaches were where Japanese forces landed en masse in 1941 during the Second World War as they invaded the Philippines, which was then under the United States. I can imagine these beaches and Lingayen Park swarming with soldiers and military equipment, and with warships filling the bay to provide naval support to landing troops.

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Friday, April 1, 2016

Mourning at the University of the Philippines Diliman Faculty Center

It seemed like an April Fool's Day joke when we got a message that the Faculty Center or FC of the University of the Philippines Diliman was on fire. And then we saw the images on social media and were shocked by the realization of just how much was lost with the destruction of the building. Housed there are documents, art works and personal properties of faculty members, staff and students of the College of Arts and Letters (CAL) and College of Social Science and Philosophy (CSSP). Among those probably lost are the life works of prominent writers, poets and artists, copies of thesis and dissertations of graduate and post-graduate students, many of which you cannot put a price tag to describe their worth.

My memories of the FC includes many registration periods when I had to get an instructor's prerogative to get me enough units so I won't be underloaded for the semester (it was tough to get subjects during our time). I also recall submissions of reports and getting classcards for my grades from faculty members who had their offices there. I also attended some forums there as the FC was a popular venue for relevant discussions at the time including those that took up the issue of the future of US bases in the Philippines back in the early 1990s.

Today and the following days, we mourn the loss of the physical items that were destroyed in the fire that gutted the FC. Despite this, valuable memories of the FC are still with many people including present and retired faculty members, and present and graduated students of UP. I am sure that the FC will eventually rise from the ashes of the building and new memories will be forged by faculty, staff and students who will be occupying the next FC.
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Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Still on Philippine history - the British occupation and the Silangs

I have mentioned to friends that perhaps there should also be a movie about an often overlooked if not forgotten part of Philippine history, which is the victory of the British over Spain back in 1762. While some sources refer to this as the British occupation of the Philippines, what the former actually succeeded in holding was an area (very) roughly the expanse of Metro Manila. The British managed to hold this area for only short of 2 years as they withdrew after an agreement between Britain, France and other nations involved in the Seven Years' War in Europe.

There were some interesting persons back then and there were no lack for heroes with a couple no less who are now remembered for their efforts against Spain back then - Diego and Gabriela Silang. I'm sure there will be actors and actresses who would be lobbying if not auditioning for these parts. Perhaps, too, and more likely, the story for such a film will be revolving around this couple. Is any film maker or producer up to the challenge in coming up with this movie?

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Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Still on Philippine history - looking back at the Philippine-American War and the elite in the Philippines

An important part of the movie on Antonio Luna is the depiction of the Philippine-American War that included atrocities made by the Americans as they invaded and subjugated the Philippines. This was no mere insurrection but a war for independence against foreign rule. The events leading to the war as well as events during and after the war are barely mentioned in many textbooks included those used in our schools. No, this is not a case of being revisionist like how China and Korea accuse Japan for atrocities during the latter's occupation of those countries in the last century. The events whether good or bad need to be part of what is being taught in our schools because that is part of our history and it is important from the perspective of setting the context for how our country and its systems came to be.

Inevitable would also be the depiction of what people did back then to cope with life under a new foreign ruler. How was it in the countrysides? How was it in the cities? Did our elite collaborate with the Americans? To what extent and for what? These are questions that will haunt many who are afraid to confront that past in part due to the pains of wounds that could be reopened and in part because of the complicity of our ancestors especially those who may be depicted as the villains in those times. Aguinaldo, Buencamino and Paterno, for example, are now seen in a different light after watching "Luna" but we also need to understand their circumstances rather than just immediately judge them for alleged actions including the attribution of the deaths of Bonifacio and Luna. 

In my case, I am also interested with the role of the elite and circumstances of what is considered the first Philippine Republic in what could have been the first attempt at Public Private Partnership (PPP) in the Philippines. Based on what I have read, it was a disaster and our elite basically held our government hostage to the opportunistic terms for funding the government. There are writings somewhere probably stating how these very same elite with prominent names quickly sided with the Americans as the latter offered better terms for them to flourish. Perhaps some of the favourable terms included lands that were seized from the friars that were turned over by the Americans and became part of certain haciendas and other expanses of land that seem to be owned by few families?

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Thursday, September 24, 2015

On Luna and critical thinking about history

The Clairvoyant and I watched the movie about Antonio Luna last weekend. We were very curious about it when it first featured on cinemas and could only read about the commentaries and reactions to the film. It is basically about Gen. Luna, a man who was a part of the propaganda movement in Spain among with Jose Rizal, Marcelo H. Del Pilar, Graciano Lopez Jaena and his brother Juan Luna (to name the more prominent members of the movement). He returned to the Philippines at a time when Spain was in the process of being defeated by revolutionists with the aid of a small American force. With the agreement between Spain and the US ceding the archipelago for the then huge amount of 20 million US dollars, the revolutionists who declared independence in Cavite in 1898, soon found themselves at war with the US. Luna became a general of the fledgling Philippine armed forces and was tasked to lead forces to resist American expansion from Manila towards Central and Northern Luzon. To cut the story short (please watch the movie or get yourself a good history book), Luna was assassinated in Cabanatuan, Nueva Ecija, ironically, by his own countrymen.

I am sure the many scenes from the movie will continue to generate a lot of discussions about the actions of many of our so-called heroes including the tragic case of Emilio Aguinaldo, who has been unlucky to live long enough to be involved in a number of controversies even after his failed First Republic. There are many who have questioned his leadership and even his qualities as a person given his alleged implications or involvements in the deaths of Andres Bonifacio and Antonio Luna. More will continue to question Aguinaldo as a hero despite his legitimate contributions in the revolution and the war for independence.

I think the most important contribution of the film is its invitation for everyone who watched it to think critically about our history. Many of us tend to take our history for granted; accepting whatever are written in text books or what our teachers lectured in school. There is a saying that history is written by the victors and often those who are able to survive or live longer than the others involved in it. Much has been written about the Philippine Revolution and the Philippine-American War that followed what is claimed as our independence from Spain. However, it is important that we understand the circumstances and the contexts underlying the actions of personalities at the time. What were their motivations? What and whose interests did they serve? Were there collusions or collaborations? Were certain persons misled or fooled, and were people dumb enough to have fallen for ruses or intrigues? Like many events involving personalities, perhaps only time can tell whether certain people will be absolved or redeemed based on careful analysis and an evidence-based process to ascertain heroism or villainy.

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Thursday, June 25, 2015

Sta. Fe Train Station, San Diego, CA

A highlight of my 'do-it-yourself' tour of San Diego, CA was the Sta. Fe Train Depot or Railway Station. The depot was celebrating is centennial and for me represented part of America's railway heritage being part of a railway line stretching along the US' Pacific coastline. Following are photos in and about the Sta. Fe depot.

The historic Sta. Fe Train Depot building as seen from the San Diego MTS trolley station.
Front of the train deport showing a fountain and the main doors to the station building.
Entrance to the building, which contains the ticket office and waiting room for passengers and well-wishers.
One is greeted by this splendid view of the building's interior evoking a time when trains ruled in land transportation. An information booth is seen at the right while the food kiosk is at the left. The ticket windows are further at the center.
A closer (brighter) look at the interior of Sta. Fe Rail Station showing the wooden seats and antique chandeliers. The ticket office is clearly seen in the photo.
The kiosk inside the station building provides sustenance to passengers, well-wishers and passers-by. Note, too, the mosaic designs on the columns of the building.
A closer look at the station's ceiling and chandeliers shown arches emanating from the columns to support the roof. Such features are of earthquake resistant structures in this earthquake-prone region and particularly in the State of California.
Non-motorized pedicab, the San Diego trolley and the Sta. Fe Station
I took some refreshments at the kiosk in the station. The hotdog sandwich was good and the coffee was strong. I took the trolley from the station to explore San Diego along its commuter train lines. More on San Diego's trains and stations in future posts.
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Saturday, April 18, 2015

Picking in Tagaytay

The Clairvoyant spotted a house along the Sta. Rosa-Tagaytay road that sold antiques and other curiosities. We felt like we were in an episode of 'The Pickers' when we pulled along the road in front of the house. A woman emerged from the house to meet us and welcome us, inviting us to take a look at what they have. And they have a lot of stuff as can be seen upon entry to the house.

What could have been the sala or receiving area for guests is full of various items. The place was literally overflowing with stuff collected by the owners of the house from all over.
There were lots of Japanese dolls that seem to have been collected from many sources. I found that strange considering not so many people from the Philippines and particularly the surrounding areas of the house have gone to Japan. I suspect many dolls were brought from the second hand or 'surplus' shops that sold items from Japan.
What was supposed to be a kitchen was also full of stuff like candle holders, drinking glasses, framed old postcards, figurines, etc.
More items such as antique furniture like the chairs and tables in the photo are found in the rooms of the house. We notices a lot of old windows, probably recovered from old homes that were being demolished, and framed prints and paintings.
There were furniture sets and various framed items including what looked like souvenirs from trips in other ASEAN countries like Indonesia and Thailand. The wooden furniture were interesting because these were likely made from old hardwood and made by artisans now gone. You can probably have these restored to their old glory.
In addition to frames, there were also some interesting pieces like the dividers in this photo. The prints on the screens show images of what appears as royalty from China, Thailand or one of its neighbor countries, judging from what they are wearing.
Another looks at the walls show prints or reproductions of familiar paintings or photos. We suspect that while these prints or reproductions might have a little value due to their age, the frames would probably be the ones that are of significance partly because most appear to be of old wood.
There is what appears to be a bodega at the back of the house that is also full of various items including antique furniture, and furnishings and accessories.
Converted into a small table is this wooden slab that seems to be part of a desk dating back to when the Philippines was under the United States (Commonwealth period). The carving is obviously the seal of the US government. 
This is not your typical chair but actually an antique toilet. The pot is visible  through the hole in the seat.
I thought the prices indicated in most of the stuff were low especially with the antique furniture. Some likely had historical value so it would be worthwhile for someone on the hunt for authentic and valuable antiques to come with someone who knows these stuff. 

We picked up a couple of stuff, which I will feature in another post. We had ideas about some of the furniture we saw, which we thought could probably be restored. We know some people who could do that for us (we have a furniture suki in Taguig).
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Monday, December 22, 2014

Preserving views - some thoughts on history and heritage

Much has been written about the Rizal Monument in Manila and the view of the monument being ruined by the construction of a high-rise condominium behind Rizal Park. While it is a very sensitive issue to many people especially those who are concerned with heritage conservation, some people tend to take the issue for granted; likely due to an ignorance or the utter lack of appreciation for history and heritage. So when I had the chance to take some photos of the monument I did so even though it was just a quick pass along Roxas Boulevard on board a vehicle.

A photo of the Rizal monument as we traveled along the northbound side of Roxas Boulevard
Another photo of the monument moments after the previous one and showing DMCI's Torre de Manila in the background
While the approval of the high rise condominium speaks volumes about how bad land use or zoning controls are not just in Manila but in many parts of the Philippines, it also says a lot about contractors, architects and planners in this country. Perhaps this is indicative of the times with people generally not giving a damn about history and heritage? Are people in general and professionals like architects and engineers in particular needing more education about history and heritage conservation?

I also chanced upon another view that was ruined by the same condominium. The same condo can clearly be seen in the background of what is an iconic view of Manila City Hall's clock tower. I don't have a photo of it yet but I will likely get one the next time I pass by the area. This is basically the same if not a worse case compared to the high rise condo behind Quezon City Hall, which for a long time remained unfinished due to many issues that hounded the developers. Have we learned our lessons from these experiences or shall the same mistakes be made once again elsewhere?
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Monday, July 28, 2014

Angono Petroglyphs - Part 2

It took a while for this Part 2 to be posted and I didn't want to delay this more considering July is ending soon and Part 1 was weeks ago. And so without further adieu, here's the second and concluding part of my feature on the Angono Petroglyphs in Binangonan.

The site of the petroglyphs is just a stone's throw away from the museum building that also serves as an indoor lecture venue during rainy days. There is a platform that was constructed in order for visitors to be able to view the petroglyphs without disturbing or vandalizing the archeological treasures. Many years ago when the platform was not yet constructed and people had direct and close access to the petroglyphs and many have left their unwanted marks there.

The original path to the petroglyphs is a narrow trail at the side of the mountain.
A close-up from the previous photo reveals the stairs carved from the stone that made the site more accessible in the past.
Figures of people performing what looks like rituals or worship can be seen everywhere.
I couldn't quite decipher if there were other activities depicted in the petroglyphs.
Some figures though are grouped and seem to indicate entire families who probably worshiped together. However, most interesting in this photo is a depiction on the center-left of what were supposed to be giant land turtles that roamed the area.
Beneath the petroglyphs are more recent carvings on the rock. These were made by vandals including those who probably thought that leaving their own marks would ensure that these will also be preserved for "eternity." Their presumptions are likely to be true but then theirs will surely be remembered as acts of follies if not stupidity.
Another example of the vandalisms at the petroglyphs site can be clearly seen at the center of the photo.
The petroglyphs are carved on rock that is generally protected from the elements. The same protection was likely given to the people who came here for worship or whatever activities they did back in those ancient days.
Noticeable are the many holes on the rock face.
A look back at the figures etched on rock gives one an idea of the extent of the petroglyphs.
Many parts have been subject to natural weathering and we've been informed that the holes are natural and not man-made.
In some parts, there are plants already growing on the rock but these don't seem to be a threat to the petroglyphs.
We'll also probably be back here another time. Aside from the casino and resort hotel in the area, there seems to be some other attractions including, of course, the many art museums a bit further on in the Angono town proper.
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