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Friday, March 21, 2014

Macarthur Palm

There is an ornamental plant that is ubiquitous in many areas in Luzon, but I did not know what its name was. I then heard from older folks that its name is "Macarthur," leading me to assume that the commonplace palm was labeled as such in honor of the famous American general who said the famous line, "... I shall return." This ornamental palm is being planted by the Metro Manila Development Authority on large pots along its footbridges.

Macarthur palm, ornamental plants, Macarthur, palm
Image Credit: Cainta Plant Nursery

It turns out that Macarthur (Ptychosperma macarthurii) is originally found in isolated occurrences in the Northern Territory and Queensland in Australia, and New Guinea. The palm was introduced to the Philippines in the 1900s. It was named for Sir William Macarthur (1800-1882). He was was one of the most active and influential horticulturists in Australia in the mid-to-late 19th century.

Macarthur palm, ornamental plants, William Macarthur
William Macarthur (Image Credit: Wikipedia)

My presumption about the plant and Douglas MacArthur have been incorrect, but there is still a connection can be made. In 1942, the general said the line "I came out of Bataan and I shall return." during a speech in Terowie, South Australia. Everyone knows that two years later, he fulfilled this promise in the shores of Palo, Leyte.

Macarthur palm, ornamental plants, Douglas MacArthur, Leyte
Douglas MacArthur's landing in Leyte, 1944 (Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons)
Because of these associations, I now see the Macarthur plant in a new light. It may not be related to General Douglas but it made me remind of a historical event that started the end of the Second World War and glorified victorious returns in all sorts of battlefields.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Jose Rizal's First Novel: "Noli Me Tangere"

Noli Me Tangere (Latin , "Touch Me Not") is a novel written by Dr. Jose Rizal during the colonization of the country by Spain to expose the abuses of the friars and the government on which they wield a heavy influence. One hundred and twenty seven years later, it can be noted that this problem about the supposed separation of Church and State is still one pf the most pressing issues in our country today.

Noli Me Tangere, Jose Rizal

Originally written in Spanish, the novel's title refers to John 20:17 in the New Testament of the Bible. When Mary Magdalene tried to touch the newly-risen Jesus, He said "Touch me not; for I am not yet ascended to my Father."


Noli Me Tangere, along with its sequel El Filibusterismo, is now a required reading material for high school students throughout the archipelago. One of the most popular translations was made by Domingo D. De Guzman, Francisco Laksamana and Maria Odulio De Guzman. The front cover of this version is shown above.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Boy Bawang Chichacorn

KSK Products' Boy Bawang Chichacorn is a brand of chichacorn that the company claims to have a "soft crunch with stronger taste of garlic." A delicacy in the Ilocos Region, chichacorn refers to corn kernels that are deep-fried in vegetable oil until crunchy. Salt and sauteed garlic are then added for flavor. The company says that Boy Bawang Chichacorn is intriguingly delicious. It adds that one can enjoy the weekend watching favorite TV show while munching into a pouch of this snack. I beg to differ since I eat this product at any time and day of the week I choose.

snacks, Boy Bawang, Boy Bawang Chichacorn, chichacorn
100-gram pouch of Boy Bawang Chichacorn
snacks, Boy Bawang, Boy Bawang Chichacorn, chichacorn
Back of packaging

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Fidel V. Ramos: The President Who Undertook the Most Number of State Visits

Former President Fidel V. Ramos, who celebrates his eighty-sixth birthday today, made 24 state visits during his six-year term from 1992 to 1998. It was the highest number of such category of foreign trips among all Philippine chief executives.

According to the official gazette of the Philippine government, the state visit  is the highest form of diplomatic interaction between the Republic and foreign nations, so it demonstrates the highest form of diplomatic ceremony. It includes full arrival honors and a state luncheon or state dinner that is held in honor of the visiting head of state. The state visit is undertaken at the invitation of the host country.

Fidel Ramos, state visits, Presidents, Philippine foreign relations
President Ramos at the Pentagon (Image Credit: U.S. Department of Defense)
In comparison, the official visit is undertaken by the head of government at the invitation of the head of a foreign government or of a foreign high-ranking government official. A state luncheon or state dinner is not required in official visits. Working visits, which concentrate on topical agendas, do not require an invitation from the host country. Working meetings are conducted and media availability may be provided.

Shortly after Ramos' election in 1992, Ramos traveled to Brunei Darussalam (October 4 to 6) and to Thailand (December 17 to 20), both on official capacity. Following is a list of the ensuing state visits undertaken by the 12th President of the Republic of the Philippines:

January 27 to 30 - Malaysia
February 11 to 13 - Singapore
March 9 to 13 - Japan
April 25 to May 1 - People’s Republic of China
April 25 to May 1 - Hong Kong
May 23 to 26 - Republic of Korea
September 20 to 24 - Indonesia

August 6 to 8 - Brunei Darussalam

March 6 to 8 - Amsterdam
March 16 to 18 - New Zealand
March 18 to 23 - Australia 

Note: Ramos attended three summits in 1996: ASEM Meeting in Thailand (February 29 to March 3), Nihon Keizai Shimbun's International Conference in Japan (May 16 to 17) and ASEAN Leader's Informal Meeting in Indonesia (November 27 to December 2). He made an official visit to Brunei Darussalam on August 18 to 19. 

March 2 to 5 - India
March 5 to 7 - Bangladesh
March 7 to 9 - Pakistan
March 9 to 10 - Qatar
March 10 to 11 - Bahrain
June 21 to 22 - Oman
June 22 to 24 - Greece
September 13 to 15 - Kuwait
September 15 to 17 - Czech Republic
October 15 to 17 - Myanmar
October 17 to 18 - Lao People's Democratic Republic
November 26 to 27 - USA
November 27 to 30 - Canada

Ramos' last foreign trip as President happened from April 7 to 10, 1998, when he went to the United States in an official capacity.

SOURCE: Official Gazette of the Republic of the Philippines

Monday, March 17, 2014

Battle of the Mermaids on Primetime TV: "Kambal Sirena" vs. "Dyesebel"

Philippine primetime television will see the "Battle of the Mermaids" starting tonight as the leading networks, GMA Network and ABS-CBN, offer programs that feature the mythical creature: Kambal Sirena (Tagalog, "Twin Mermaid) and Dyesebel. Both programs can be seen from Monday to Friday.

The sirena or mermaid is a staple of Philippine folklore and popular culture. Similar with other cultures, the sirena is commonly portrayed as a beautiful woman with the upper body of a human and the tail of a fish. Aside from having long and flowing hair, the breasts of the sirena are typically covered by a pair of large seashells.

GMA Network seems to have gained a headway by commencing the broadcast of its Kambal Sirena exactly a week ago. Kambal Sirena features Louise delos Reyes in a dual title role. Support is provided by Aljur Abrenica, Mike Tan and Angelika dela Cruz.

Kambal Sirena is about twins named Alona and Perlas. One of them is born with gills behind her ears and the other with a mermaid's tail. (Note: Alona is presumably derived from alon, the Tagalog word for "wave"; perlas is Tagalog for "pearls). The twins' mother moved along with them to an isolated island due to worries that neighbors might be surprised by their strange features. Circumstances eventually led the twins to live separately.

Kambal Sirena, television programs, GMA, GMA Network, Louise delos Reyes
Image Credit: GMA Network

On the other hand, ABS-CBN is going to present Dyesebel starting March 17. This fantasy drama series is based on a graphic novel by Mars Ravelo, whose other works have been licensed to the network. Anne Curtis will play the title role. An ensemble cast led by Gerald Anderson and Sam Milby.

Dyesebel, Mars Ravelo, television programs, ABS-CBN, Anne Curtis
Image Credit:

The story of Dyesebel is about a young mermaid that discovers the world above the ocean and gets involved in a love triangle. It has a long history in film and television starting with a 1953 movie having Edna Luna role. Vilma Santos, Alma Moreno, Alice Dixson, and Charlene Gonzalez followed suit in playing the role of the well-known mermaid in movies in 1973, 1978, 1990 and 1996.

Interestingly, Marian Rivera played the character in the 2008 TV series of the same name on GMA Network. Anne Curtis played the role of the eponymous  goddess who can transform into a mermaid, a harpy or a centaur in the 2008 ABS-CBN series Dyosa. 


Other notable Philippine TV programs about mermaids include ABS-CBN's Marina starring Claudine Barretto in 2004. GMA Network matched it in the same year with Marinara starring the comedienne Rufa Mae Quinto. In 2011, ABS-CBN aired Mutya which launched child actress Mutya Orquia in the title role.

The sirena is also commonly associated with gays in Philippine popular culture. In light of Filipinos' love for spoofs and spin-offs, an enterprising producer can adapt Kambal Sirena into a series or a movie titled Kambal Siyoke. (Siyoke is a slang term for a homosexual man.).

It is off-topic but now that spoofs have been raised in the discussion, why not remake the U.S. TV series Breaking Bad into either Breaking Bading or Beking Bad (Bading and beki are other common slang terms for a homosexual man).

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Yoyoy Villame's Famous Song About Magellan

493 years ago today, the Portuguese explorer Ferdinand Magellan sees what is now called Samar Island after leaving the Landrones on the Pacific Ocean. Magellan was sailing westward looking for the Moluccas.

In the 1970s , Roman "Yoyoy" Villame immortalized this historic event through the novelty song Magellan. Villame mentioned that Magellan landed in Limasawa. In reality, Magellan took 12 more days to reach the said island.

Creative licenses might have been observed in the songwriting at the expense of historical accuracy but it's nice to know that once upon a time Filipino artists had a sense of history. Following is the music video featuring Villame. The lyrics are also provided.

Video Credit: YouTube / Roy Ramos

On March 16, 1521
When Philippines was discovered by Magellan
They were sailing day and night across the big ocean
Until they saw a small Limasawa Island

Magellan landed in Limasawa at noon
The people met him very welcome on the shore
They did not understand the speaking they have done
Because Kastila gid at Waray-Waray man

When Magellan landed in Cebu City
Rajah Humabon met him, they were very happy
All people were baptized and built the church of Christ
And that's the beginning of our Catholic life

When Magellan visited in Mactan
To christianize them everyone
But Lapu-Lapu met him on the shore
And drive Magellan to go back home

Then Magellan got so mad
Ordered his men to camouflage
'Mactan island we could not grab
'Cause Lapu Lapu is very hard'

Then the battle began at dawn
Bolos and spears versus guns and cannons
When Magellan was hit on his neck
He stumble down and cried and cried

Oh, mother mother I am sick
Call the doctor very quick
Doctor, doctor shall I die?
Tell my mama do not cry
Tell my mama do not cry
Tell my mama do not cry

That's the end of Magellan
In the island of Mactan long time ago
Ladies and gentlemen

Saturday, March 15, 2014

This Week in Philippine History and Culture (March 15 to 21)

Mar. 15, 1565: Bohol chieftain Sikatuna and Spanish explorer Miguel Lopez de Legazpi did the sandugo blood compact in the Visayan island. The act was done to establish their friendship and begin amicable relations between the two parties. It is celebrated and commemorated annually through the Sandugo Festival in Bohol.

Mar. 15, 1818: Revolutionary general Mariano Alvarez (d. August 25, 1924) is born in the town of Noveleta in Cavite province. Alvarez was known as the president of the Magdiwang faction of the anti-Spanish secret society Katipunan. In 1981, the Carmona Resettlement Project in Cavite was incorporated as the municipality of General Mariano Alvarez in his honor.

Mar. 15, 1941: The Philippine Airlines takes its maiden flight between Manila (from Nielson Field) to Baguio City with a Beechcraft Model 18. This milestone made the Philippine's flag carrier the first and oldest commercial airline in Asia operating under its original name.

Mar. 16, 1521: After leaving the Landrones (presently known as Mariana Islands), Portuguese explorer Ferdinand Magellan sees what is now called Samar Island. Magellan was sailing westward looking for the Moluccas. 

Mar. 16, 1960: Araneta Coliseum, considered the biggest coliseum in Asia during its time, is inaugurated. The facility, commonly known as "The Big Dome," was named after its owner J. Amado Araneta. It opened with a boxing match between Gabriel "Flash" Elorde and Harold Gomes for the World Junior Lightweight. Elorde's win was witnessed by more than 33,000 spectators. The cost of general admission then was 80 centavos and reserve section was five pesos. 

Mar. 17, 1957: Philippine President Ramon Magsaysay (b. August 31, 1907) was killed when the presidential plane, Mt. Pinatubo, crashed into Mt. Manunggal in Cebu.  Magsaysay was the first Philippine president to die while in office.

Mar. 18, 1928: Fidel Valdez Ramos, the first post-EDSA Revolution President of the Philippines, is born in the town of Lingayen in Pangasinan province. Ramos ran in the 1992 presidential elections under a coalition of Partido Lakas Tao (Tagalog: "People Power Party") and the National Union of Christian Democrats. 

Mar. 18, 1968: The Jabidah commando was said to be massacred in Corregidor island. The alleged massacre resulted from the failed "Operation Merdeka", a plot to destabilize Sabah. The plot was intended to capitalize on the instability by either intervening in the island on the pretext of protecting Filipinos living there, or by "the residents themselves deciding to secede from Malaysia."

Mar. 19, 1723: Josefa Gabriela Silang (d. September 29, 1763), the first Filipino woman to lead a revolt during the Spanish colonization of the Philippines, was born in the town of Santa in the province of Ilocos Sur.

Following the assassination of her husband Diego, Gabriela continued the revolt Diego started against Spanish authorities. The masses who admired Gabriela named her "Generala" due to her policy of harassment against the enemy. The women's advocacy organization GABRIELA (short for General Assembly Binding Women for Reforms, Integrity, Equality, Leadership, and Action) was named after her. 

Mar. 20, 1942: General Douglas MacArthur says the famous line "I came out of Bataan and I shall return." while conducting a speech in Terowie, South Australia. MacArthur was the commander of the U.S. Army Forces in the Far East when the Philippine Commonwealth was in exile in Australia. The exiling followed the Japanese Imperial Army's invasion of the Philippines. Two years later, on October 20, 1944, MacArthur in the shores of Palo, Leyte. 

Mar. 21, 1947: The Joint United States Military Advisory Group (JUSMAG) was established as a result of the military cooperation agreement with American advisers placed in all branches of the Armed Forces of the Philippines. JUSMAG played a crucial role in suppressing the Hukbalahap Rebellion, a Communist insurgency that lasted from 1946 to 1954, against the Philippine government.

SOURCES:  The Kahimyang Project and Wikipedia: The Free Encyclopedia