Saturday, January 12, 2008

Manila Times National Essay Writing Contest 2007 on the go!

Now this was quite a surprise that I got just a few hours before year two thousand seven ended. It was a day spent plying the streets in Bayan just to observe the busyness of the people at the eve of the Year of the Rat. I’ve been hoping and pass-praying for days now. There were only ten (10) individuals who were e-mailed by The Manila Times. That is indeed a very small number compared to the ones I’ve joined before. 
Here's a snippet from the e-mail sent to us.

Mon, 31 Dec 2007 14:14:58 +0800
From: "The Manila Times National Essay Writing Contest 2007"

Dear ladies and gentlemen,

Holiday Greetings to you!Thank you for joining The Manila Times National essay writing contest 2007. This is to confirm receipt of your entry in the Category B of the contest.Results of the contest will be published in The Manila Times on February 10, 2008. Prizes will be awarded to the winners in appropriate ceremonies at The Manila Times College (formerly The Manila Times School of Journalism), 371 A. Bonifacio Drive., Port Area, Manila, on February 22, 2008.

Sincerely,M. E. Corazon J. Jazmines
Project Officer


Snob did this I believe; that individual who have swallowed a incessant laugh machine and does not bother to go beyond two or three lines of words.

Uncovering Real Philippine History Details (A Short Book Summary/Review)

Since the elementary days, I have been fascinated by the stories on Philippines history. Grade Four days were spent in studying the geography and light Philippine history details. Grade Five was a step forward. Here we delved with the innumerable names of places, people, individual etc. We were then required to pass a project for every grading period: a diorama or a collection of images of the topics discussed.

Further events fostered my interest in the subject when we reached the sixth grade. Again, it was like the previous flow of discussion but there has been incorporated interpretation of the events. It was fun as I have gone as far as to involve myself to a quiz contest .Unfortunately for me at that time; I still had no easy access to the important literatures concerning the subject. One of my classmates was a daughter of a school principal who of course must have been able to provide the necessary materials for her daughter. The deserving winner, Dustin I think was his name, was of course well beyond our current knowledge on the subject. He won in the division level and went as far as the Bicol Region for the regional level competition.

But that did not bust my interest, merely fanned the fires within so to speak. Upon reaching high school, I was able to secure a spot in the provincial contest but later on discovered, to my utter dismay that I would land on the contest as an observer and alternate. But that was my first encounter with the Oblation, literally. I spent the day walking through the streets of UPLB, which was the venue for the contest and came across that one heck of a nude sculpture. Who knew that I was going to be with him officially four years after?

The next year, I joined in again, and this time as an official participant. I snatched a place in the individual category (heck, the round was mockingly easy!) but our group was not able to accumulate enough points to proceed to the next round. I did not join any Philippine history contests again and I had to wait for three more years before I was able to lay my hands on the books in the UPLB Library.

I was placed under a nice professor in history who was a Spanish Language student in FEU during his days. His style was more on the interpretation of the events and how a particular event affected the succeeding events or was affected by preceding events. The examinations, as far as I could remember, were mostly essay types, on interpretation still I think.

I finished that G.E. subject (with a very good grade) but that did not stop me from browsing through the books in the library. The next moment, I saw myself flipping through the pages of the notes and stuff written by Ninoy Aquino during his long exile which were secretly passed on to Cory when visiting.

Then there were those documents supporting the events recorded in most Philippine history books. There are I think more than 10 volumes and I just went to the expense of reading portions of the series. They’re huge I tell you.

And for no reasons at all, just before 2007 ended, my feet led me again to the Filipiana section and snatched a new-looking book amidst the deteriorating materials around. For the whole Christmas vacation I devoured it although it took me some time to finish through some of the sections because of the old Tagalog style of writings especially of Emilio Aguinaldo.

The book is entitled “Saloobin: Sagot ni Hen. Emilio Aguinaldo sa mga Paratang ng Dakilang Lumpo,” Anotasyon at Pagsaalin ni Emmanuel Franco Calairo, a surprising book on the statement of General and Former President of the Republic Emilio Aguinaldo against the accusations of the Gat Apolinario Mabini concerning the deaths of two of the towering figures of the Philippine Revolution namely: the execution of Supremo Andres Bonifacio and the assassination of the tactical general Antonio Luna.

I was personally in the belief that Aguinaldo was one heck of a traitor. Go to our library and you will see pictures of Aguinaldo vandalized with words such as “Traydor!” or with the more vulgar one such as “P_t_ng _na _o!” (I did not write on anything of those pictures despite my feelings for him.)

You get the idea. Standard history books has stated that Aguinaldo initially brought down a sentence of execution by death for the Supremo then to exile but later on “persuaded” by intimates to put it back again to death by execution. That was it. No more, no less.

But just as I was to live my life with a secret grudge for Aguinaldo, the book became an enlightenment (this of course, is basing on the premise that all of the contents of the said book are true). In the first half of the book, I got a picture of the persona of General Aguinaldo, mostly silent (as far as his statements went) and often times reduced to a ‘shocked’ man when surprises came his way. His attitude was more on the concern for others, which of course is expected during those tumultuous times. There are just numerous attributes of General Emilio that I was able to understand in reading the book but it would mean lengthy explanations which I am trying to avoid right now.

I would skip in discussing Apolinario Mabini. But it must be known through out the whole Philippine archipelago that our “Dakilang Lumpo” is one heck of a jealous man and inconsistent as to his very own statements. (Is it because of his handicap? We could only surmise…) This was communicated to us by the stories told to us by General Emilio himself and the accounts of Gregoria de Jesus on the meetings of the Supremo with him. These are separate events and we cannot claim that Aguinaldo and Bonifacio (through Gregoria) conspired to bring out these ‘tales’ if ever.

To put it in a few words, General Aguinaldo simply acted for the sake of the revolution as a whole. Bonifacio has become a liability and nuisance in the internal affairs of the revolutionaries and a conscientious leader would and must naturally act for the good of the majority. Although his feelings for the decision are quite the opposite, I personally saw the benefit of the execution but at the same time felt the sadness in which these internal problems have to end. Bludgeoning blood brothers is for me as shameful as selling your flesh in the streets.

But one cannot ignore the importance of Bonifacio in setting the necessary fire for the revolution. But history will tell us that he has not been successful in virtually all of his battles and thus become a liability and burden for the revolution.

Actually my grudge fell upon Antonio Luna. I’ll omit the title General just for brevity’s sake and not because of these ill feelings for him. He was a hot-headed (does that sound like me?) and a bit of a sadist with the people under his command. His one famous punishment for a group of people who did not obey his orders must have acted as the trigger to his assassination. And the accounts of Aguinaldo certainly tell us that he was not all connected in ordering Luna’s presence in that place in Cabanatuan, thereby setting the place for his death. I think when Aguinaldo said that forging documents was widespread during times of war he did not mean to clean his name but merely state the situations taking place at those times.

The book is in fact a collection of different accounts for different events and yet construct right before your eyes a string of cause and effect pointing towards the issue of the deaths of Bonifacio and Luna.

I would like to end this narrative with the subject of trust. The last segment on the accounts presented in the book talked of the arrest of Aguinaldo in Palanan, Isabela. Here we can vividly picture the talk, the invitation for refuge a seemingly natural scenario of the typical hospitality (although this term I think is debatable) of the Filipinos. Aguinaldo was still deceived up to almost half the duration of the arrest drama and here again we see the ‘shocked’ man at his best. The lesson? In times of peace or in times of war, there is this perpetual job to keep our trust to ourselves and only give them out IF and ONLY IF time, situation and reason deemed it okay to give them another person, however trustworthy that another person is. Humans will always be human, subject to corruption and demise.

Read the book, there is no reason not to enjoy it.