Thursday, October 27, 2011

Staging “Tatlo”: Three Women in Jose Rizal’s Noli Me Tangere

The coming of the All Saints’ Day (or what others commonly call as ‘Todos los Santos’) brings to my mind Jose Rizal’s novel Noli Me Tangere. This novel of international fame begins with a sumptuous dinner a few days before All Saints’ Day. And with the novel in mind, I’ll share here about a play I’ve watched about three woman characters in the novel. It is actually a play reimagining these women’s roles in the story, with some comic lines and political references thrown in.

This play entitled “Tatlo” revolves around the story of Sisa, Maria Clara, and Salome. The part about Sisa, to a certain extent, stays true to her life story as read from the novel. But it deals deeper into the psychological effects of her husband’s treatment of her and their children. Maria Clara’s part however was totally different as she transformed into a humorous lady. Her lines and actions were simply hilarious, something that we could not have possible imagined Maria Clara of doing in the novel. Salome’s part was appropriately put in the end as it pacified the excitement of the first two parts. Semi-serious but still comical, the story on Salome put into a present setting her dilemma regarding Elias’s plight and her future.

The original script for ‘Tatlo’ was written by Nick Pichay and Chris Millado. This particular play was directed by Edward Perez, currently affiliated with Colegio de San Juan de Letran Calamba and ARTIST, Inc.

(Acknowledgement goes to Ms. Susa of the Culture and Arts Department, Colegio de San juan de Letran Calamba, for providing the photos above.)

Sunday, October 23, 2011

An Afternoon Walk in Intramuros, Manila

* the semi-controversial monument put up for
former President Cory Aquino, former Senator Ninoy Aquino,
and former Jaime Cardinal Sin found
on th
e outer part of Intramuros near Manila Hotel

* these young plants to be grown as trees have the label
“Tree Planting Sagot sa Global Warming”;
still found on the outside walls of Intramuros

* a portion of a golf course outside Intramuros;
Hotel is partly seen on the left

* one of the entrances to the fortress

A rather early walk-out from a conference I attended a few months ago led me to the historic place of Intramuros. It was not my first time to visit the place but I never realized that a thorough walk and keen attention to details would be the two most important things to do and to have if I really have to see and appreciate the whole of Intramuros until that time. What I am wishing as I writ this today is that I will be able to find the time (perhaps a day or two would do?) to fully make a circuit of this old fortress and marvel at the remaining architectural treasures still found in the place.

* Behold, Intramuros! Letran Intramuros is partly seen on the background

What I shall share here are just some of the photos I took as I braved the afternoon heat in Intramuros. They are, admittedly, random in nature as I only wanted to walk through its streets.

Lourdes Church and Convent

Here once stood the first permanent house of the Franciscan Capuchin Friars in 1891. First chapel built in 1892. Dedicated to Our Lady of the Divine Shepherd (Divina Pastora). Statue of Our Lady of Lourdes carved by Filipino sculptor Manuel Flores in 1892. Church designed by Federico Soler built in 1897. The Lady of Lourdes was enshrined in 1898 as titular head. Church and convent destroyed in 1945. Moved to Quezon City in 1951 where the original statue stands today. (Source: Intramuros Administration marker)

* view of some of the structures in Intramuros

* one of the marvels of Intramuros: the San Agustin church;
San Agustin Museum is founds on the right

* the door of the San Agustin Church with its ornate carvings;
this door never fails to amaze me; it always seem that it is transporting
me back to the Spanish times in the Philippines

* the office of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines
(CBCP) in 470 General Luna Street, Intramuros

* a wall graffiti in Intramuros

The sources of the information snippets were the historical markers found in the sites of the structures.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Why Back Trails Blog is Worth the Effort

Just opened my e-mail account for sending and receiving messages about my blogs and I came upon this short message. It looks like a message from an elderly person but whoever the person might be, the person's letter definitely raised my spirits. It shows that it pays to share things about our country’s history, culture, and tradition however naïve it may seem to some. Beyond receiving positive messages such as this one, it feels good to see one of the backbone purposes of this blog getting realized and that is to make Back Trails a platform for open discussions for and about the Philippines’ history and culture.

Novice, yes. This blog still has a long stretch of road to tread. But I am glad of simple pats to the back like this one. Hail to Back Trails!

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

My Civil Service Exam Experience and a Short Revisit to Santa Cruz, Laguna

* morning views en route to Santa Cruz, Laguna

* a street in Santa Cruz town proper

* Civil Service Exam schedule

The plan to take the Civil Service Examination was brewed for three years already but it was only this year that I was able to acquire the time and resources to file the necessary documents and eventually take the said exam. This plan was made and carried out not out of whim but out of the desire to take the first few steps towards materializing one of the plans I have often talked about. That plan, incidentally, was posted by the organizers of a writing contest which I joined last year (click here to visit the said website):

* screenshot of my profile from

Whether I’ll be fulfilling this plan in the near future is, for now, unclear. In any case, the point is that I was able to take the exam.

* a tiny map for the room assignments for the Civil Service Exam

* the stage inside PGMNHS where I was awarded a prize for editorial writing

* exam takers after the three-hour test;
note that PGMNHS starte
d out as Laguna High School in 1926

The exam itself was relatively challenging and I can only hope to pass it. Except for a few glitches, the exam proper proceeded as planned. It felt good to feel again the pressure of time. It felt good to be like a student again, at least for three hours. But more than that, I was glad to return to Pedro Guevarra Memorial National High School where I was once awarded a prize for writing an editorial piece more than ten years ago. I could not help but take a few photos just to bring home a few remembrance of the place.

* two backs: the back of the Santa Cruz church and
the back of a Jose Rizal statue in the town plaza

* a statue erected in the town plaza most likely
in commemorat
ion of the soldiers and fighters during World War II

* a view of Santa Cruz Town Hall

* a wall art (a bas relief of some sort probably?)
found alon
g a street in Santa Cruz;
the sun on the bottom part contains the words ESSO CHEMICALS

* view of the bridge and the river near the town plaza;
too bad
I was not able to take note of the river’s name

* children swimming in a river in Santa Cruz, Laguna

I came out of the testing area in high spirits and passively endured the searing noon heat to take a stroll through some of the streets in the town proper and see some of the old houses still standing in town. The town center is somewhat sleepy during that Sunday afternoon except for the roaring engines of the passenger jeepneys plying the road breaking the general silence. Upon arriving at the bridge near the town plaza, I saw some children fighting off the heat by swimming on the river. An urge come upon me to go down the riverside and join the swim. Perhaps next time, I should really give in to such things. Small pleasures are sometimes the most memorable.

* different views of Villa Valenzuela in Santa Cruz, Laguna

A ‘Mansion’ in Santa Cruz: Villa Valenzuela

A rather prominent structure near this particular bridge and river is a huge house, more like a mansion to me, called Villa Valenzuela. I was able to track some online searches regarding this house and so this revisit is a fortunate one (as my previous shots of this mansion were rather blurry and dark). It is curious how the place ended up being a restaurant of some sort. The presence of a restaurant could have enhanced the place but the owners seemed to have a different thing in mind. But then, who am I to comment? At least the mansion itself is kept intact although the place obviously needs some thorough make over. If that happens, it would be like a welcome diadem of the town: an elegant mansion at the entrance of the town proper.

* view of some of the houses found in Santa Cruz, Laguna

As with the other houses in town, it seemed (without the benefit of history reading materials) that the town enjoyed a period of elegance as can be observed from the presence of those big houses. They are not strictly Spanish in form and structure and so I have a rather naïve guess that they are from the early 1900s era. It would be more elegant to see such houses in full bloom again; most of them are in need of repairs and repaints. I was not able to check yet if they are any cultural or heritage groups or organizations existing in Santa Cruz but it would be good to have one or two. The town is blessed to possess such architectural treasures. What remains to be done is for the townsfolk to take the initiative to preserve them. After all, they are already collective treasures of the Santa Cruz people.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Travelling and Knowing the Philippine through its Trees: The Pinoy Trees Blog

Many share the passion for travel but it would be interesting to know more about the individual motivations for travelling.

Today I learned of one. Patrick Gozon, who is trained in the field of architecture but who is also a plant enthusiast, travels to places to see different species of trees and flowers. His tours and blogging started out as part of his thesis and evidently it grew into something larger that. Browsing through his blog entries, one will be surprised to realize that we can learn many things from trees, plants, and flowers. The origin of the names of towns and cities for example. His passion for trees and plants definitely helped Patrick guide him towards knowing which tree’s or plant’s name was used to name a place.

Old houses for Pransis. Trees for Patrick. Whatever the motivation, the point is one gets to know more about the Philippines, its culture and tradition, and more importantly, its history. Knowing the Philippines, I realize just now, must be on a daily basis. One does not have to travel everyday to different places. After all readings are good supplement. The important thing is a day does not pass that we do not learn something about the Philippines. And today I learned more than just a historical snippet thanks to Our Philippine Trees Blog.

My Copy of “Remembering Rizal: Voices from the Diaspora” Book Finally Arrives

Due to work schedule, I had to leave to my sister the registry notice from the post office informing me of a package sent to me. I was wondering what package it might be for I have not requested any catalog from the internet in the past few weeks. It was with excitement that I learned that it was the complimentary copy of the “Remembering Rizal: Voices from the Diaspora” book in which two of my poems have been included for publication.

* the package sent by the editor himself, Mr. Edwin Lozada

* view of the book cover

* the title page

* part of the table of contents

Published by the Philippine American Writers and Artists, Inc. (or PAWA, Inc.), the book is mainly a collection of writings on and/or about Rizal by Filipinos either studying or living abroad. The introduction part made me realize how fortunate I was to have this chance to share two works on Rizal: only two poets from the Philippines were included in the collection.

Content wise, the book is definitely a rich source of new thoughts about Rizal, ranging from re-imagining parts of Rizal’s novels to translating some of his works from their original Spanish forms into English. One interesting write up is the analysis of an alleged photo of Jose Rizal in a Masonic garb. The position of the writer is that the man was not Rizal based on the analysis of the man’s facial and body features.

* “Ode to Usman” poem

* “Stove Flames” poem

* a short bionote

The book has a total of 320 pages and can be ordered online (see for purchase details). My hope is that copies of the book can be readily available here in the country. After all, the book is all about a Filipino. It should be read by fellow Filipinos.