July 21, 2013

The One Time I Had Hoped for the Existence of Manananggal, Kapre, Tikbalang (etc)

In an alternate universe (namely my imagination), Maria Clara would have been a manananggal, avenged the death of her Ibarra, and kill Sibyla in the most grotesque way possible; Sisa would have been the infamous white lady in balete and would have killed as many constabulary soldiers as possible, and... so on.

Noli Me Tangere and El Filibusterismo are both fantastic novels, and it's quite a shame that it is not read for its story but for its "historical significance" alone. Honestly, I did not expect Noli and Fili to be ensnaring, because who the hell expect school books to be ensnaring?

Anyway, more than the historical accounts portrayed in the books, there were also comedy, drama, action, romance, thriller, and lots of tragedies. Hence, making Noli and Fili colorful and alive. Another amazing thing about the story is how it would make you imagine what life was like during Rizal's time, why he wrote what he wrote, and why such events unfolded the way it did, e.g. why the revolution has to fail in El Filibusterismo (huhu, I felt really bad that it did :| HAHAHA)

While reading El Filibusterismo, Bernardo Carpio was briefly mentioned, and it reminded me of all the other Philippine Mythological Creatures, and how I wish that they were real at the time. Then, I remembered a manga (Occhio del dyo?) that I read when I was in grade school. It was narrated there that the Filipinos who were far up in the mountains were not baptized so they turned into duwende, mananggal, engkanto, tikbalang, etc. Also, a friend told me that Spaniards made up stories about wicked spiritual beings so as to scare Filipinos who might go against the will of the Catholic church.

That got me thinking, which could have gone first: the kwentong bayan (of these mythological creatures) or the Spanish regime? What do you think?

"Where are the youths who will dedicate their innocence, their idealism, their enthusiasm to the good of the country?"

July 14, 2013

Regrets at 12 in the evening

Looking back, one of my greatest regrets was my grave disinterest in books, history, and literature. I dreaded reading and sitting long hours in class. I didn't know mythology of sorts because I didn't bother listening to it. All my book reviews were based on a one paragraph summary on the internet (or on the summary and opinions of my classmates).

I haven't read a single book until my first year in college.

Even then, I wasn't interested in books, I find reading as a difficult endeavor - it required me to come running for a dictionary every 5 seconds. I think that was the reason why I bought an electronic dictionary during my first year. That year was challenging for me, I was learning things for the first time - things that my classmates already know.

Pang, I felt ashamed of my ignorance in all aspects. I had to exert more effort to understand things that were mere reviews for my classmates. Fortunately, my friends didn't mind my lack of knowledge.

Still, I wasn't interested in books.

But I was exposed to different titles, stories, etc. because my closest college friends genuinely enjoy reading. I would be quietly astonished as they discussed themes and narratives that I've never imagined. I was like a child hearing all sorts of miracles. It was exciting!

Alas, I was interested in books!

Fast forward to the present, I still haven't read a lot of books, but I'm reading one regularly - mostly self-help books. Although I would like to read more story books, I'm trying to finish first the ones that my father and brother have- and these are mostly self-help books.

Currently, I find myself immensely curious in Philippine and world history. I really feel bad that I didn't take history lessons seriously. Although I also think that the way it was thought by most high school teachers is partly to blame. They teach it with emphasis on names and dates only, and not on the stories itself. This is not to generalize though as 2 of my favorite teachers in High School were history teachers.

I think teachers (and parents) should rethink the way they are selling history and literature to children, because apparently the status quo is not working.

I am glad and thankful that I have discovered the joys of reading :) It is almost like traveling, but less costly!

I just finished reading Noli and El Fili (for the first time) last month, and I have to say, Noli is my favorite book yet. Rizal is truly a wonderful author.

"We shouldn't teach great books, we should teach a love of reading" - B.F. Skinner

July 13, 2013

Intramuros - The Spaniards' Crowned City

Intramuros must have been a glorious city, so glorious that remnants of its glory can still be witnessed now - some 400 years later. 

When the Spaniards came in the Philippines, they had their first colony in Cebu, but having heard of the richness of Manila (Intramuros was Manila), the Spaniards decided to explore the said island which was then in control of the Muslims. Spaniards gained control of Manila after defeating the Muslims.

Manila was then made as the center of political, military, and religious control of the Spanish Empire in Asia. As such, walls were built to protect the city from pirates and foreign invaders. Thus, Intramuros. 

Within the Walls

Intramuros literally means within the walls (some 8 ft thick walls, that is!). Only the Spaniards and Mestizos were allowed to live in Intramuros during the Spanish regime. Observing the beauty and intricacy of the architecture of Intramuros made me a bit sad as images of hundreds of Filipinos rendering forced labor flashes through my eyes.

Surely, I'll be back in Intramuros (perhaps on my own) as I want to understand the place more (without fear that my companions are getting bored with this city's olden glory). Should you be interested to do the same, just let me know! :) 

Reminds me of the convent mentioned in Noli Me Tangere where Maria Clara died


1. To go to Intramuros by train, get off at LRT Central station, and walk to Intramuros. Make sure to visit before 5pm as most parks close by 5pm.
2. There is a visitors' center near Fort Santiago. You can drop by there first to get maps, advice, etc.

See you around!