San Nicolas and Santa Teresita: Historic and Folkloric Notes about some of its Barrios

Exploring forgotten stories about the barrios of San Nicolas and Santa Teresita.

Balandis: the Slanted Houses Along a Road in Cuenca/Alitagtag

Exploring this quaint area in Cuenca and Alitagtag where the houses are slanted away from the road.

Mataasnakahoy: Historical and Folkloric Trivia about some of Its Barrios

Revisiting obscure barrio histories of the barrios of the Municipality of Mataasnakahoy.

An Old Tourist Spot in Taal Called the Pansipit Fishery

A throwback to a by-gone era, when tourists around Luzon visited this resort in Taal and Lemery.

The Hitchhiker who Gets on at the Zigzag in Cuenca Batangas Lipa

A tall tale familiar to all who drive through this curving road in Cuenca. Is it really a tall tale, though?

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30 September 2015

Behaviour Not Fit for Movie Houses

Image captured from the original Heneral Luna trailer on YouTube.

If there is a movie that intrigues me enough to make me want to actually go to the movie houses here in Lipa, I always make it a point to go see the day’s first showing. First of all, I get to choose the houses’ best seats. More than this, the majority of moviegoers prefer to go later in the day. Thus, there are less people to get annoyed with.

28 September 2015

Heneral Luna, Epy Quizon’s Mabini and Teaching History

Image captured from Heneral Luna official trailer on YouTube.

I finally got to watch the much talked about Jerrold Tarog film “Heneral Luna.” Those who have not seen the movie yet, it is definitely worth the bother. It is a hundred-fold better than your stereotypically formulaic Filipino movie; albeit I do not personally think it will be capable of winning an Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film.

The battlefield scenes loudly cry out for ‘budget’ and ‘CGI;’ and while the primary actors delivered strong performances, the same cannot be said of the supporting cast. The American actors, in particular, looked like they were plucked from off the streets and gave performances that screamed ‘workshop.’

Heneral Luna is nonetheless far from being your cliché-ic historical fiction. It has elements of drama, action and gore to elicit powerful emotions; but lightens these up with whimsical irreverence at times to draw laughter.

Above all, it delivers a powerful message. That the Filipino’s greatest enemy is himself holds true more than a century after the war during which the movie is set touches a raw nerve in the contemporary Filipino.

I have no desire to turn this into a full movie review; so at this point, I turn everyone’s attention to Epy Quizon and his portrayal of Apolinario Mabini in the movie. Quizon gave a strong enough performance in the movie but he also looked a tad too mestizo on screen.

I would have preferred a Malay-looking actor if just to be true to the images of Mabini that we all gawked at in our high school history books.

But outside of the film, social media went gaga over a post that Quizon was supposed to have made about some college students asking him why he was seated for the duration of the movie.

If I was as historically challenged as those alleged college students and did not know that Mabini had lost use of his legs due to polio, I would not have noticed anything remarkable about Quizon being seated all the time.

First of all, Quizon’s character was arguably peripheral to the story; and second, I do not recall any scenes that made Quizon being seated seem out of place. In hindsight, perhaps a scene or two showing him being carried on a hammock would have been so much more useful to the historically challenged.

At any rate, all the attention that Quizon’s post received must have given the movie a new lease on life as it was close to being pulled off movie houses around the country but has since passed the PHP 100 million mark.

There was a whiff of hypocrisy to the way social media feasted on the alleged college students who raised the question about Mabini being seated. If indeed this happened, then yes, the students probably deserved the ridicule.

On the other hand, I taught History for nineteen years and I am the one not surprised. History is just not for everybody; and particularly so in the modern day when careers are built on a student’s strength in Mathematics, Science and English.

History is the cumbersome subject that by its nature requires plenty of reading and memorisation, things that are often beyond all but the most diligent of students. Convincing students of its relevance to the present is any History teacher’s most challenging task.

Creating national identity, of course, is why History is relevant. Most students will probably understand this principle easily enough; but it will nonetheless probably not make them exert the same effort in the subject as they will in what are generally regarded as the ‘major subjects.’

Thus, History is often relegated to the status of a subject one has to take because it is a course requirement; unless, of course, one is dead set on pursuing a degree in the social sciences. At least in the school where I used to teach, career preferences were often in favour of those in the Sciences rather than the Liberal Arts, of which History is a part.

What this creates is a ‘History lang’ mentality. Many History teachers will probably agree with me what a royal pain it is to have to explain to parents why their children failed in the subject; and precisely so because of this mentality even among parents.

I end with a word to those who feasted on the memes and other posts that ridiculed the alleged students who asked why Mabini was seated for the duration of the film Heneral Luna: I hope you did not snore through your History subjects while in school.

History is innately rich and wonderful to explore; but probably not because one has to pass a three-unit course but more because it gives everyone a crystal clear picture of who one really is. The present, after all, is what History creates.

Heneral Luna, the film, cannot be more explicit about this. More than a century later, we are still a bickering disunited people; and if the film touches a nerve, it is because it tells all of us the obvious: we, the Filipino people, need to get our act together.

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25 September 2015

Virtual Street View Tour of Lipa City

Morada St. leading to the city proper.

What on earth, you might say, was I thinking doing a virtual tour of Lipa City when I effing live here? Well curiosity, they do say; killed the cat; and it is if nothing else a powerful motivator.

21 September 2015

Street View Technology in the Philippines: How It was Done, Pros and Cons

Screen capture from:

Although Google Street View was first introduced as a feature of Google Maps and Google Earth as far back as 2007, it likely permeated Filipino consciousness only over the last two days ironically with not just a little help from one of Google’s deadliest competitors, the social networking site Facebook.

16 September 2015

Aldub v Pastillas Girl in the Battle for Network Ratings

The two giant networks use the stories of Yaya Dub (left) and the Pastillas Girl for ratings.

Before anything else, I will be upfront and say that I am a Showtimer rather than an Eat Bulagâ-er, a condition forced upon me because for the longest time my GMA-7 cable feed was unwatchable. It works fine now; but I am also a creature of habit and will not suddenly watch Eat Bulagâ just because it does.

15 September 2015

Cody, the Black Labrador who Saved my Brother-in-Law’s Life

Cody, the black Labrador who saved my brother-in-law's life.

My sister and her family had just moved to a new home, and I was curious to see what it looked like. I had also promised to cook a meal for my niece Apples after she saw a picture of my mashed potatoes that I posted on Instagram.

10 September 2015

Getting a Full House During an Azkals Game at the Philippine Stadium

The Philippine Sports Stadium early n the evening:  a glorious sight.

While the Philippine Sports Stadium in Bulacan is not exactly in the same league as the Olympic Stadium in Beijing, it is nonetheless a work of art as far as I am concerned. The INC, for all its recent troubles, has really done Philippine football a great service.

08 September 2015

Diary of a Failed Uzbek World Cup Qualifying Conquest

First, the Concerns

To say that I was excited about making the intergalactic trip from Batangas to Bulacan to watch the Philippine Azkals play against Uzbekistan is a massive understatement. That this is at all remarkable is because at my age and after a lifetime in football, I can often be extremely blasé in my attitude towards the game.

05 September 2015

Should You say ‘A Historic’ or ‘An Historic’?

For a Filipino, this really should not even be a relevant question; and especially so before the age of cable television. But then cable television did come along, and with it beamed live into our living rooms international news networks like CNN and the BBC.

04 September 2015

Philippine Azkals Cruise to Friendly Win over Maldives

Image captured from video at The AFC Hub YouTube Channel.

Such is football that the fortunes of two countries which contested a five-goal thriller in the semi-finals of what used to be the AFC Challenge Cup can contrast dramatically just one year after the fact.