Tag Archives: history

A visit to the Victims of Martial Law Memorial Wall in Manila

Filipinos around the world marked the 39th anniversary of Martial Law yesterday, September 21. The date ironically coincides with the International Day of Peace. Indeed, a sense of eerie peace can be achieved by silencing (literally) noisy dissidents to one’s rule – which is what Ferdinand Marcos did. Because of a research I was doing, I found myself walking in the area between Universidad de Manila (formerly the City Colleges of Manila) and the City Hall Wednesday afternoon.

The Bonifacio Shrine (near Manila City Hall)

There are two prominent historical landmarks in the area: Bonifacio Shrine and the Victims of Martial Law Memorial Wall. It was unveiled in 2006 by then-Manila mayor Lito Atienza to “remind the generation of today and tomorrow of the Filipino’s struggle against the injustice and oppression brought about by martial rule.”

A marker at the Victims of Martial Law memorial wall in Manila

Knowing that Martial Law is being commemorated that day, I expected to see some sort of beautification for the place. I was wrong. In fact, it seems like no Martial Law-related event was done there at all. Is it because Atienza is a bitter political rival of current mayor Alfredo Lim? After seeing the memorial wall, I had the following observations:

Martial Law Memorial Wall dedication text

1) It recognizes the fact that even if Marcos technically lifted Martial Law in 1981, he wielded dictatorial powers until 1986.

2) Sen. Benigno Aquino, Jr. was listed as a Martial Law casualty in the year 1983. What are its implications? Have they just pinpointed Marcos as the mastermind in the former’s assassination?

Sen. Benigno Aquino, Jr. was listed as a Martial Law casualty in the year 1983

Here are other pictures I took:

Probably the most recognizable feature of the Manila City Hall

What are those birds?

The contents of the Kartilya ng Katipunan can be seen at the back of the Bonifacio Shrine

From Manila Bulletin – Memorial Wall for Martial Law victims unveiled:


Pay rules for the August 29 and 30, 2011 regular holidays

August 29 is National Heroes’ Day this year, while Eid al-Fitr falls on August 30. These are not fixed annual dates. National Heroes’ Day is observed every last Monday of August while the date for the Eid al-Fitr depends on the Islamic calendar. We all know that National Heroes’ Day is a legal national holiday. One only has to refer to a Philippine calendar to see that. But did you know that Eid al Fitr is a national holiday, too?

The Philippine Department of Labor has to be strict about the implementation of the holiday pay

That is mandated by Republic Act 9177, a law signed during the time of President Gloria Mcapagal-Arroyo. The entire text of RA 9177 can be accessed at . August 30 this year has been declared a regular holiday by virtue of Proclamation No. 234 signed by President Benigno Aquino III. You can read the proclamation at

Since Eid al-Fitr is now included in the list of regular holidays ( ) just like National Heroes’ Day, employees who report for work on August 29 and 30, 2011 will be getting double of their regular pay REGARDLESS of his/her employment status. Meanwhile, those who opt to take advantage of the holiday will still be able to get their regular salary for those dates whether they are a permanent or a casual employee. We can only hope that employers choose the tuwid na daan by paying their employees what’s due for them.

Gov’t braces for huge demonstrations during Aquino’s 2011 SONA tomorrow

Mga Paghahanda sa SONA ni PNoy, tuloy kahit umuulan


Sa kabila ng malakas na buhos ng ulan nitong hapon, nagpatuloy pa rin ang ginagawang paghahanda ng mga ahensya ng pamahalaan para sa ikalawang State of the Nation Address ni Pangulong Benigno Aquino III bukas ng hapon. Sa bahagi ng Commonwealth Avenue mula sa St. Peter’s Parish hanggang sa Sandiganbayan overpass (sa palunukan ng IBP road na siyang daan tungong House of Representatives), kapansin-pansin ang mga naglalakihang truck ng MMDA pati na ang mobile control vehicle ng pulisya.


Naglagay rin ng advanced command post ang Quezon City Police District. Nakahanda na rin ang mga magsisilbing harang laban sa mga rallyista gaya ng iron fence at mga container. Naglagay rin ang mga autoridad ng urinals sa mga lugar na inaasahang pagdadausan ng programa ng mga demostrador bukas. Idineklara na ng pamahalaan ang suspension ng klase mula elementarya hanggang high school bukas hindi lamang sa Batasan Hills kundi sa buong Lungsod Quezon. (I took these photos. You may repost with credits.)


By the way, UP Diliman Chancellor Caesar Saloma, Ph.D has announced that classes tomorrow, July 25, are suspended.

Expect protesters and the police to face off in this exact location tomorrow

There's the Quezon City Police District, putting up a makeshift command post in the area

I guess rallyists who'll try to confront the police will be temporarily incarcerated here

An MMDA flood control unit in Commonwealth Avenue? For what?

National Capital Region Police Office's Mobile Command Vehicle

The government must be preparing for an all-out confrontation with the rallysts!


These containers will obviously serve as roadblocks against the demonstrators

No one can avoid the call of nature, right? 😛


A Filipino myth about the origin of homosexuality, as told by Dr. Damiana Eugenio

The issue about the origin and nature of homosexuality has been the subject of a never-ending debate and tons of academic research for many years now, with no end in sight. On one hand are those who say that it is genetic (or, as Lady Gaga put it, “born THAT way”), and on the other are those who claim that homosexuality is just a choice one person makes.

While going over Philippine literary icon Damiana Eugenio’s Philippine Folk Literature: The Myths (published in 1993, it is part of a seven-volume series containing Filipino legends, riddles, epics, folktales, legends, myths, riddles, and proverbs) for my Environment History early this month, I stumbled upon what is described as a Filipino myth about the origin of homosexuality. Here it is, as written in Dr. Eugenio’s book:

This compilation by Dr. Damiana Eugenio contains a Filipino myth about the origin of homosexuality

This compilation by Dr. Damiana Eugenio contains a Filipino myth about the origin of homosexuality

There was a time when there were no homosexuals in the world. One day, Christ and St. Peter were travelling from town to town teaching the people. The sun being very hot, they stayed in a cottage to take a nap. They were roused by the noise made by the people in the next house. Peter went to ask the neighbors not to make so much noise for they wanted to rest. Jesus and Peter then resumed their siesta.

After a few minutes they were again disturbed by the shouts of the neighbors. Peter once more went to the place of carousal, drew his sword and cut the heads of all the people he found. He then sheathed his sword and went back to the Master saying nothing about his deed. But everything was known to Jesus, who said: “Peter, creature of your impulses, what crime have you committed? When shall you fully learn to follow my precepts and example? Go, place the heads on the bodies again.” Peter, without a word, obeyed and hurriedly did what he had been told. In his haste, he stuck some female heads to male bodies and male heads to female bodies. This mistake of St. Peter explains the existence of homosexuals.

Unlike other myths included in her book, Dr. Eugenio did not mention in which region of the Philippines this story came from. Despite that, we can make some inferences. First, this is unlikely to be an original Filipino tale, based on the use of the Lord and St. Peter as characters. The thing is, homosexuals must have been around as early as then. Second, it seems that the notion of “babae sa katawan ng lalake” (literally, a woman in a man’s body) came from here.

Third, the story reinforces the belief that homosexuality is unnatural. This story is actually funny. Imagine a saint beheading a bunch of people just because they are disturbing his sleep? And God didn’t really punish him for that crazy act!


Eugenio, Damiana. Philippine Folk Literature: The Myths. UP Press. Diliman, Quezon City. 1993. Pp.313-314

Juliana dela Cruz, “Folktales.” Fansler Manuscript Collection. P. 45 (Dr. Eugenio cites this as her source for this story)

Did you know that July 6 and 7 are two very important dates in Philippine history?

We commemorated two very important events in Philippine history last week. National hero Jose Rizal was banished to Dapitan, Zamboanga del Norte in July 6, 1892, heralding the end of his La Liga Filipina and the Propaganda movement as a whole. Upon knowing about Rizal’s banishment the following day, July 7, Andres Bonifacio (who is a member of the La Liga) founded the revolutionary group Katipunan, with the aim of ending Spanish rule in the Philippines.


Last week, the nation should have marked the anniversary of Rizal's deportation and the founding of Katipunan

Last week, the nation marked the anniversary of Rizal's deportation and the founding of Katipunan (Credits:


Knowing the significance of these two momentous events, I am deeply disappointed that the dates became virtually unnoticed to most Filipinos – who were bombarded last week with news reports about the corruption in PCSO. What a shame that over a century after Rizal and Bonifacio showed heroic leadership to Filipinos, here we are battling the scourge of corruption.

2011 Thai elections and the Filipinos’ lack of sense of history

Something interesting happening over there in Thailand Thailand will be having a general election this coming Sunday, July 3. This is Thailand’s first nationwide poll since Abhisit Vejjajiva became prime minister in December 2008. I have maintained a particular interest in Thai political affairs for over half a decade now. Thaksin Shinawatra, the Thai leader from 2001 until his ouster by a military coup in 2006 is a familiar name to some Filipinos, and for mixed reasons (as I mentioned in my previous post).


In the clearest indication yet of Thaksin’s enduring political clout, this year, his younger sister, the 44-year-old Yingluck Shinawatra, is the main opponent of Abhisit for the premiership. Pre-election surveys indicate that Yingluck’s party has a good chance of winning enough seats to make her Thailand’s first female prime minister. Unlike the Philippines, Thailand has a parliamentary form of government. The Thai media seems not to regard the fact that a female can actually lead a predominantly Buddhist country as important, or at least not as important as the fact that she is Thaksin’s sister.


Last June 13, Wassana Naunam of the Bangkok Post wrote an interesting news story with the subhead: “Army’s reassurances do little to comfort as Yingluck’s rise suggests Thaksin’s ouster pointless.” Here are some excerpts:

Thaksin's sister Yingluck to face off with Abhisit Vejjajiva for the Thai premiership (credits:

Thaksin's sister Yingluck to face off with Abhisit Vejjajiva for the Thai premiership (credits:


The military staged a coup on Sept 19, 2006 to overthrow Thaksin Shinawatra, Ms Yingluck’s elder brother. If Pheu Thai wins the election and former Prime Minister Thaksin returns to Thailand through an amnesty, the power seizure – in the view of those who engineered it – would be tantamount to a total waste… While several opinion polls show the popularity of Pheu Thai and Ms Yingluck is rising, political observers are keen to see how the military will react. (emphasis mine)


Thais are evidently anxious about the election results. If Abhisit manages to turn the tide to his favor and remain in power, most will probably see this as a repudiation of Thaksin and his allies. A Yingluck premiership promises to be more complicated. As mentioned in the news piece, her win would decisively show that most Thais are still on Thaksin’s side. This would put all of those who helped oust Thaksin in 2006 in an awkward position. All of their efforts to oust, prosecute, and banish Thaksin from the Thai political scene would go down the drain.


Filipinos’ lack of sense of history


I can’t help but compare it to what is happening in the Philippines. Filipinos have ousted two presidents through popular revolts, Ferdinand Marcos (in 1986) and Joseph Estrada (in 2001). But, lo and behold, Filipinos seems to have lost their sense of history. Estrada unsuccessfully sought to regain the presidency in last year’s polls – or less than three years after he was convicted of plunder. Over nine million Filipinos voted for him, ranking 2nd in a field of nine candidates. Nine million people wanted to have a convicted plunderer to be their president? Wow.


Marcos may have died in 1989, but in the years following the 1986 EDSA People Power, Marcos’ relatives had maintained their political power in northern Philippines. Last year, his wife Imelda won as district representative, while his daughter Imee became a provincial governor. Marcos’ son and namesake, Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos, Jr., for his part won a seat in the Philippine senate. Many are hyping the possibility of him running for president in 2016. Does this mean that the popular revolts of 1986 and 2001 have become “tantamount to a total waste,” too?

Thaksin, President Arroyo, and other Filipino politicians

To me, Thaksin is a composite of three Filipino politicians: former presidents Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and Joseph Estrada (a former movie actor), and Senator (and 2010 presidential candidate) Manuel Villar, Jr. Arroyo shares Thaksin’s economic savvy.  Both also faced allegations of corruption, public disenchantment, and military unrest. Thaksin was not able to serve out his term unlike Arroyo, but in comparison to her, he remains a popular among the Thai masses years after being deposed. That’s something he shares with the charismatic Estrada. In his bid to regain the presidency last year, Estrada ranked 2nd in a field of nine candidates. Both Villar and Thaksin are self made billionaires, with Villar making it big in the real estate field. Both had been accused of using their political office to serve their business interests.

President Gloria Macapagal-Arro in a meeting with Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra

President Gloria Macapagal-Arro in a meeting with Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra

He’s known to have a close relationship with Arroyo, who also assumed power in early 2001, just a few weeks ahead of him. Arroyo liked Thaksin’s economic policies (termed as “Thaksinomics”) so much that she proclaimed herself in 2003 as one of its “disciples” (as reported by Newsweek and Time magazine).   Thaksin believed that “access to capital, employment opportunities, and basic social services can transform disadvantaged regions into growth engines,” and this philosophy has been emulated by a number of Asian leaders, not just Arroyo.


When she sought her own term as president in 2004, one of her challengers, Senator Panfilo Lacson, vowed to be like Thaksin, who he described in a campaign ad as “buo ang loob (courageous), walang takot (fearless).” Both he and Thaksin are former cops known to crack down hard (to the point of excess) on criminals. Thaksin, however, received much criticism from Filipinos when he was quoted to have criticized the way 2005 SEA Games competitions (which the Philippines hosted that year) are being officiated. Arroyo gave Thaksin’s insinuations a semblance of credence when she ordered an official investigation into the matter instead of defending the Filipino athlete’s excellent performance.


The following year, the sale of Thaksin’s telecommunication conglomerate to a Singaporean firm (where he supposedly earned billions) triggered a political firestorm. After months of protests and much dillydallying on Thaksin’s side (on whether he will resign or not), the military launched a September 2006 coup that ultimately ousted him. Though Thaksin has been out of Thailand since then (except for a brief period in 2008), he remains a force to reckon with there. Within two years after the coup, two of his political allies served as prime minister, though they were both eventually forced out of office.

%d bloggers like this: