Saturday, May 25, 2013

History Comes Alive! At the Ayala Museum for 2013

Historians. History professors. History students. History majors. History enthusiasts. It doesn’t matter what kind of history person you are. Dr. Ambeth Ocampo’s lectures have always been a magnet for every one who has affinity to Philippine history. And here comes his lectures for the years 2013.

So mark again the calendars and planners and make your way to the Ayala Musuem for the lectures to be held on June 29, July 20, August 31, and September 21, 2013.

* Photo credit: from Dr. Ocampo’s Facebook page

Lakbay sa San Fernando, La Union: The Trip Back Home (Part 5)

 * Ilocos version of suman:tupig!

 * view of the Pagudpud beach; taken from a jeepney  

* view from the ride back home

After all the conference stuff it was good to head back home again (and to work as well). The late afternoon and night ride proved to be as enjoyable as my first trip. Streets were flooded in Christmas lights (unfortunately I failed to capture them due to the moving bus) and knowing that the hub of Christmas lantern making is Pampanga, it was indeed a pleasure to see those giant lanterns shown along the thoroughfares.

Northern Luzon as a whole is quite an interesting place to roam. Hopefully, when resources and time permit, we would be able to do so.

Lakbay sa San Fernando, La Union: 7th Nakem International Conference (Part 4)

The main purpose of my visit to San Fernando City, La Union was primarily to attend the 7th Nakem International Conference, a conference covering wide topics from the languages and education. This particular installment of the conference carried the theme Panagtagikua: Our Right to Our Languages, Our Right to Emancipatory Education. I attended the conference with a paper presentation in tow.

Although it turned out that most of the participants and presentations are from the Ilocos region (or can speak Ilocano for that matter) I was never treated a total stranger. I got to know several elders and it was good to know many things about Ilocos – from the stories about tabako, to the Marcoses, and to the importance of family and relatives there. Conference-wise I realized that there still many things to be learned from the Ilocos region judging from the number of presentations. Researches on language and education are of particular interest for they are obviously trying to strengthen the grounding of the Ilocano language into their region.

With that in mind we can see that an advocacy gains meat and gravity if a concerted effort is done by a large number of people or group. I cannot see how or when the people in attendance would ever get tired of what their researches or endeavors. Love, respect, and passion are evident from them. If we are to learn anything from the Ilokanos, it’s not the often-told trait of kakuriputan (so they say), but this strong drive to put forward their advocacies.

 I was also able to present my short paper after several changes in schedule and it was an honor indeed to be able to discuss some brief things about what my short paper with none other than Dr. Aurelio Agcaoili who is one of the pillars of Nakem Conferences. Based in Hawaii, he nevertheless continues to widen our knowledge about the Ilokanos and the Ilokano languages. He may no longer remember me but I thought it was polite of him to translate to me some of the details of the presentations done during the two nights we were there. 


Finally, those nightly cultural presentations certainly made it more evident how strong their drive to intensify the Ilokano identity is. Composed of songs and traditional dances, the presentations were headed by the group Fokloriko Ti La Union. One trait that I saw (which as far as I remember is rarely seen in the Tagalog regions) is the raw enjoyment of the viewers to that point that they stood up, clapped their hands, and almost danced together with the music or the presentations. Lovely were those nights indeed.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Lakbay sa San Fernando, La Union: Tour of the City (Part 3)

The city of San Fernando in La Union province is strategic. It is close to the seas and that same time enjoys the proximity of the mountains. To have a commanding view of the city, one may climb up the high grounds where the provincial capitol building is found. I don’t know exactly the name of the place but upon going on the top you will be given a visual treat of the city.

 * behold the Freedom Park

 * a journey of a hundred stairs begins with as single step

 * posing for freedom (park)!

 * the sun peeping through the greeneries

Freedom Park

What I did was walked south along MacArthur Highway until I reached the street leading to what they call the Freedom Park. This park, composed of a flight of stairs going up a hilly area and of statues of some of the prominent figures in Philippine history, was constructed during the tenure of Governor Juvenal Guerrero between 1968 and 1975. There was also a signage in the place stating that it is also called the Heroes Hill Park. It would be better if you visit this place early in the morning. It’s not just for the fact that you may use it to trim down some fat (by running up and down the stairs). To see the sunrise from this place is simply superb.

La Union Capitol

If you try to climb beyond the stairs of Freedom Park, you will find yourself in the area of the Provincial Capitol. Beware only of some stray attack dogs (fortunately I was able to go past one when I did my climb). The monolithic La Union Capitol is good place to have a view of the city. If the view from Freedom Park is already stunning, how much more from the rooftop of this relatively high building? In the lobby you will find an exhibit about the past governors of the province and on the center is the provincial seal and a bust of Don Joaquin Ortega y Joaquino, the first civil governor of La Union, installed to the seat on August 15, 1901l. It is highly possible that the place is recently constructed. Besides the obvious fact that it has all the touches of modernity, a small marker notes that the building was reconstructed through the Philippines Rehabilitation Act of 1946. So the old one must have been part of the casualty of the liberation of the city during the last days of the Japanese Occupation.

     * Pransis sa Pagoda

* views of San Fernando City, La Union

Filipino Chinese Friendship Pagoda

Another good place to visit which right beside the capitol is the Filipino Chinese Friendship Pagoda. A place symbolizing the harmony between Filipinos and Chinese, it has a relaxing atmosphere good for meditation in the early morning or for breather whether solo or in group. Needless to say, I made the visit solo. On a relatively higher ground is a pagoda where there is a more stunning view of the city. It may have been on an impulse but I immediately climbed up the railings to take photos of the grounds below. Ah, the wonders of nature indeed! The lingering fog and the rising sun made the visit all the more worth it.

The Upcoming Renovation of the San Pablo Cathedral Grounds and Patio

 * carved out canopy

It seems that the San Pablo Cathedral (Saint Paul the First Hermit) in San Pablo City, Laguna is up for some renovations. A chance walk allowed me to see the remnants what was then an imposing canopy attached to the facade of the cathedral. On a nearby area is a notice stating the planned development of the grounds and the patio. This project is a joint work of the National Historical Commission of the Philippines or NHCP, Samahan ng Mahal na Pasyon, and the Diocesan Commission on Construction.

I could not help but think whether this work is administration-led. Recently, a new bishop was installed for the Diocese of San Pablo (see my blog post about it here) and he may seem to be the more historically-inclined leader. The removal of the canopy was a brave move knowing that it could have cost some money. But such removal highlights the fact the those behind this are more inclined now to pay respect to the cathedral’s and the the parish’s rich history. 

* the beautiful columns of Lice de San Pablo are now revealed  

* view of the church grounds which is set to be renovated

What remains to be seen is whether they will do the same thing with the modern-looking altar. Recently the front area of the cathedral was given a modernish refurnish (see my blog post about it here and here). Will they be making some moves towards restoring the original form and structure of the altar?

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Lakbay sa San Fernando, La Union: Tour of the City (Part 2)

 * Pransis starting out early for a visit to the city proper

* DZNL Aksyon Radyo office in San Fernando; saw this on my way to the city

It was only during the third of my stay in San Fernando, La Union that I got the chance to go out. But it was still a time-limited tour since we still have to wrap up the conference with several activities. So the best thing to do at that time was to wake up very early and plunge into the yet sleeping city with only a list to guide me.

It felt good again, riding in a tricycle and jeepney early in the morning with the cold air still seeping through the body. As with any other city visit, the first stop is necessarily the towering structure of all – the city or town church.

 * the San Fernando Cathedral façade 

* view of the church interior

 * a curious-looking angel holding the agua bendita; looks like a popular Filipina superhero

* church fixtures

St. William Cathedral

Decked with a very elegant façade reminiscent of the ones found in Latin America, the St. William Cathedral started out as a small chapel in 1764. This construction was overseen by Fr. Francisco Romero and Santiago Holarte at Barrio San Vicente known earlier as Pindangan. Later relocations included Tanque, Kabaroan, and its present location. The first sturdy form of the church was overseen by Fr. Juan Sorolla, Simon Guillermo, and Pedro Fernando from 1773 to 1786. An 1892 earthquake destroyed it. It figured in the Philippine Revolution when a certain Colonel Blas Villamor subdued the Spanish forces which took refuge in the place in 1898. The liberation from the Japanese force in February 26, 1945 left it destroyed. Reconstruction was made from 1947 up to 1949 and was first dedicated on February 10, 1949.

 * at the foot of the national hero; taken solo
 * city seal with the slogan: “In Union There is Strength”

* San Fernando City Hall 

 * Christ the King College in San Fernando

* Rimat Ti Amianan Expo 2012

* sunrise!

Several years later, on February 11, 1970, it officially became St. William Cathedral at the same time that the Diocese of San Fernando was established and the first bishop was installed in the person of Most Rev. Victorino C. Ligot. The interior was as elegant as its façade. The lighting in the early morning was simply dazzling. I noticed too that early morning joggers or runners took their time to have their own prayers said inside the cathedral. But there was a later addition to the cathedral and that was the canopy on the façade. This was sponsored by the Knights of Columbus and was made between 1984 and 1985.
 * an abandoned building right in the heart of the city

 * Battle of San Fernando marker

 * plaza gazebo

 * Francisco Ortega monument

 * open court at the city plaza

* part of the playground at the city proper

The City Plaza

The city plaza and its surrounding area are also full of interesting pieces of information and literal structures. One of them is the marker commemorating the Battle of San Fernando. The marker says:
“The Battle of San Fernando: The Battle of San Fernando began with assault on the Japanese position along the south bank of the Baroro River, Bacnotan, La Union by the 121st Infantry USAFIP NL[?] on 4 January 1945. [It was then] followed by the seizure of enemy strongholds south of Baroro and the concerted attack on enemy strong points situated along Oaig Creek where it crossed the San Fernando-Camansi Road, on Reservoir Hill, and Insurrecto Hill, and on the Bacsil-Apaleng range on  the second week of February. By 24 March 1945 the entire San Fernando araw was secured and enabled the establishment at Poro Peninsula the Headquarters of U.S. Army Base M. Build-up Area for the projected invasion of Japan.”
 * Plaza Hotel (of course I did not stay here; no budget)

* UCCP Capitol Church of La Union, Inc.

 * G.E. Antonino Memorial (Hall or Building; can’t read the words anymore)

* Mabanag Justice Hall
 * San Fernando Supermarket 

 * Ma-Cho Temple

The plaza has its own open courts and stage for different activities and performance and an adjacent playground for the children. Across the street are the city hall and a monument for Francisco I. Ortega (1904-1967), statesman, legislator, patriot, and a distinguished son of La Union.

There was a fair of some sort on the streets surrounding the plaza and it gave me a chance to buy some of the pasalubong I brought home and have a taste of some of the local products of San Fernando and La Union in general.