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Thursday, August 15, 2013

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

Aug. 15, 1945: The liberation of the Philippines from Japanese military becomes apparent as the Empire surrenders to end the Second World War. At noon that day, Emperor Hirohito read out the Imperial Rescript on the Termination of the War during a radio broadcast.

The Battle of Okinawa, the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and the declaration of war against Japan by the Soviet Union happened days before the Emperor's speech took place.

Aug. 15, 1945: Teen actress Gabriela Annjane U. Cruz, popularly known as Ella Cruz, is born in the town of Angat in Bulacan province. Cruz is part of the principal cast of the weekly miniseries Wansapanataym: OMG (Oh My Genius). She is also known for playing a mermaid in the defunct fantasy series Aryana.

Aug. 18, 2012: Jesus "Jesse" Manalastas Robredo (b. May 27, 1958) dies after the Piper PA-34-200 Seneca I aircraft carrying him crashed off the shore of Masbate. At the time of his death, Jesse Robredo was the Secretary of the Interior and Local Government.

Robredo was mayor of Naga City in Camarines Sur from 1988 to 1998 and from 2001 to 2010. He was a recipient of the Ramon Magsaysay Award for Government Service in 2000.

Aug. 19, 1878: Manuel L. Quezon, the president of the Commonwealth of the Philippines from 1935 until his death in 1944, is born in the town of Baler in the province of Tayabas. (Note: Tayabas province was renamed Quezon in 1946. The town of Baler is now part of the province of Aurora).

Among his many achievements, Quezon was known as the Ama ng Wikang Pambansa ("Father of the National Language). Through Commonwealth Act No. 184, s. 1936, Quezon established the Institute that was tasked with the development of a Philippine national language.

Aug. 20, 1572: Miguel Lopez de Legazpi (b. circa 1502), the first Governor-General of Spanish East Indies, passes away in Manila. As Governor-General, Lopez de Legazpi founded the city of Cebu in 1565. This makes Cebu the oldest Philippine city. He also designated Manila the capital of the Spanish East Indies in 1571.

Aug. 20, 1939:  Actor, film producer, and director Fernando Poe Jr. (d. December 14, 2004) is born. Dubbed as "The King of Philippine Movies," Poe is also popularly known as FPJ and Da King. In many of his movies, Poe played a character who champions the cause of the masses. Through the years, Poe developed a screen persona that propelled him to box-office and critical success.

Poe is also one of the few actors who ventured into film production. As a result, he developed an archive that includes almost 200 titles. Poe also directed some of his movies under the name Ronwaldo Reyes. In 2004, Poe unsuccessfully ran for President of the Philippines against the incumbent Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo. In 2006, he was was posthumously declared by Macapagal-Arroyo as a National Artist of the Philippines for Film. Six years later, President Benigno Aquino III confirmed the award.

Aug. 21, 1971: An explosion during a Liberal Party campaign rally kills nine people and injuring 95 others in Plaza MirandaManila. Among those injured on the campaign stage were senatorial candidates Jovito Salonga, Eddie Ilarde, and Eva Estrada-Kalaw. Party president Gerardo Roxas and mayoral candidate Ramon Bagatsing were also injured.

Aug. 21, 1983: Opposition leader Benigno "Ninoy" Aquino, Jr. (b. November 27, 1932) is assassinated at the Manila International Airport upon returning from the United States. After the imposition of Martial Law in 1972, Ninoy was arrested and incarcerated, along with other dissidents. Seven years later, he was allowed to travel to the U.S. for medical treatment following a heart attack. Aquino stayed there until 1983.

Ninoy's assassination put his widow, Corazon "Cory" Aquino, into the political arena. Cory run against the incumbent Ferdinand Marcos in the 1986 snap elections. Allegations of massive electoral fraud contributed to the People Power Revolution which ousted Marcos. In honor of Ninoy, Manila International Airport has  been renamed Ninoy Aquino International AirportThe anniversary of his death is now a national holiday in the Philippines.

Aug. 21, 1988:  Guitarist and songwriter Teodoro "Teddy" de Villa Diaz (b. April 1, 1963), a founding member of the band The Dawn, is stabbed to death in Quezon City.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

The French Song that Inspired the Deadly "My Way"

Singing with a karaoke or videoke machine is a favorite pastime among many Filipinos. The 1969 song My Way, as popularized by Frank Sinatra, is a commonly selected entry in those machines; at least when the machine is installed in a private setting. Many patrons of karaoke bars, which are usually situated in public areas, have avoided the song in view of the so-called "My Way killings."

"My Way killings" refer to a series of murders in which the victims got shot or stabbed while singing that famous song. According to a 2010 New York Times article, news media have recorded at least six victims in the decade up to that year. Those crimes have been attributed to many reasons such as irritability due to off-key singing and drunkenness. Perhaps, the song has something sinister in it. To some people, the opening lyrics even portend someone's death:

"And now, the end is near"  
"And so I face the final curtain"
"My friend, I'll say it clear"
"I'll state my case, of which I'm certain"

Many karaoke bar operators have voluntarily removed My Way from their playlists. Consequently, patrons in other bars have stopped selecting the song in effort to avoid trouble. Despite this phenomenon, you may like to sing along with Frank on this video:

Video Credit: YouTube / PanMVideos

My Way might have an ominous association but not many people know that the lyrics were written by the equally popular singer-songwriter Paul Anka. Anka's basis for the music is the song Comme d'habitude (French for As Usual), which he heard while vacationing in France in 1968. 

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Susy and Geno of Sustagen Fame

Adults who were children during the '80s more or less remember Susy and Geno. Who are they? Susy and Geno were the mascots who endorsed Mead Johnson's Sustagen powdered drink that was available in chocolate, vanilla, and mocha flavors. The etymologies of their names are very obvious. Susy and Geno purportedly targeted a market comprising young girls and boys, respectively. Following are videos of Sustagen's past TV commercials that featured the duo. Those are available on iwantpromo's YouTube channel.

Video Credit: YouTube / iwantpromo
The title of the first TV commercial is Sustagen Con Yelo. There, Susy and Geno come into life from a storybook. They give a step-by-step procedure on how to prepare Sustagen with ice: Four spoonfuls of Sustagen, sugar, and water are to be combined. Shake, then add yelo or ice. Moreover, the pair touts Sustagen's 23 Resistensya (resistance) builders, or nutrients that help children achieve good physical health.

Monday, August 12, 2013

From the '80s: Cindy's TV Commercial

"When you're hungry ... Cindys is the place to be..."
"When you're hungry ... Cindys is the place to be..."
"Burger, French fries, fried chicken"
"Chicken barbecue, palabok, spaghetti"

"When you're hungry ... (When you're hungry) ... Cindys is the place to be..."

Those are the lyrics of  the catchy TV commercial jingle of Cindys Bakery and Restaurant. The jingle, which became popular in the '80s, still never fails to elicit the last-song syndrome. A visit to YouTube led me to a chance encounter with a video of the said jingle which can be played below.

I first saw this TV commercial around 1987. At the start, there are two young men who appear to be stranded in an island. They were then visited by an animated pink crocodile. (Perhaps this crocodile inspired the creation of Barney the purple T. rex). The trio then dances and dines inside a Cindys branch.

A man and woman, presumably Adam and Eve, were tempted by an again-animated serpent to eat an apple.   While Adam holds the fruit, it changes into a burger. It is then revealed that Adam is accompanied by Eve and the serpent inside that Cindys branch.

Friday, August 9, 2013

Insights into the Coconut-Eating Goats and "Kaldereta"

Common knowledge reminds us that the kambing, or goat, feeds on grass. Based on the picture below it is surprising to know that these animals also eat the meat of buko or young coconut. To those who like food, kambing reminds of a dish called kaldereta, which is very good pulutan. In drinking sprees, pulutan refers to the food that accompanies any alcoholic beverage.

kambing, buko, kaldereta, goat, coconuts

Goat's milk can also be made into cheese. Since cheese and wine are end-products of fermentation, the alcohol comes again into the picture. We can recall from elementary science that alcohol is generated during fermentation. Sap from buko can be fermented into lambanog, a distilled alcohol drink. Lambanog, beer, and even wine is best enjoyed with kaldereta.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

This Week in Philippine History and Culture (August 8 to 14)

Aug. 8, 1927: The Manila Stock Exchange, Inc. (MSE) is established by W. Eric Little, Gordon W. Mackay, John J. Russell, Frank W. Wakefield and W.P.G. Elliot. MSE, along with the Makati Stock Exchange is a precursor of the Philippine Stock Exchange.

Aug. 8, 1967: The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), a geopolitical and economic organization is formed by IndonesiaMalaysia, Singapore, Thailand, and the PhilippinesMembership in the ASEAN has grown to include Brunei, Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, and Vietnam.

Aug. 10, 1519: Ferdinand Magellan's five ships set sail from Seville in an attempt to circumnavigate the globe. The five ships were Trinidad, San Antonio, Concepcion, Santiago, and Victoria.Juan Sebastian Elcano will complete the expedition after Magellan's death in April 1521 in the island of Mactan.

Aug. 11, 1976: Actor and dancer Virgilio Hilario Jr., more popularly known by his nickname Jhong, is born. Jhong Hilario is a member of the dance group Streetboys in the Philippines. Hilario also ventured into portraying character roles on movies and television. He is now one of the hosts of the variety program It's Showtime.

Aug. 12, 1969: Actor and product endorser  Ariel Aquino "Aga" Muhlach is born in Manila. Despite his matinee idol image, Aga Muhlach also won awards such as the FAMAS Best Actor award for the 1992 film Sinungaling Mong Puso and the Gawad Urian Best Actor award for the 1995 film Sana Maulit Muli. Muhlach is also known for topbilling the defunct sitcom Oki Doki Doc.

Aug. 12, 1982: Actress and television host Maria Izzadora "Iza" Usher Calzado is born in Quezon City. Iza Calzado started her showbiz career as a homegrown contract artist of GMA Network. In 2012, she transferred to ABS-CBN. Calzado will host the upcoming The Biggest Loser Pinoy Edition: Doubles.

Aug. 12, 1984: Marian Rivera, one of GMA Network's prime artists, is born in Madrid, Spain. Aside from being a movie and television actress, Rivera is also one of the country's leading product endorsers. She also released two studio albums, namely,  Marian Rivera Dance Hits and Retro Crazy.

In 2013, Rivera was again named as FHM Philippines' Sexiest Woman in the World. She first gained that recognition four years ago.

Aug. 13, 1898: Spanish and American forces engaged in a mock battle for Manila as part of the Spanish-American War. After the mock battle, the Spanish forces capitulated in order to prevent Filipino revolutionaries from entering the city.

Aug. 13, 2012: Salvador H. Escudero III (b. December 18, 1942), a former Cabinet official and incumbent Congressman, dies in Quezon City. Escudero was Minister of Food and Agriculture from 1984 to 1986 under President Ferdinand E. Marcos. He served as Secretary of Agriculture from 1996 to 1998 under President Fidel V. Ramos.

Escudero represented the First District of Sorsogon in Congress from 1984 to 1998; and from 2007 up until his death in 2012.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Weird Food Combo: Suman and Guava Jelly

Hunger is a physical sensation that extends to the head, pushing one to exert all efforts possible to address it at once. Anything edible, regardless of taste, becomes manna from heaven when hunger sets in. When I experienced hunger a few days ago, the first thing I thought of was to raid the refrigerator.

The first things I saw were a jar of guava jelly and suman. The voice of weirdness whispered to my mind, as it instructed me to form a food combo out of these items. To those who do not know what suman is, it refers to a glutinous rice cake cooked in coconut milk. The cooked rice is then steamed while wrapped in palm or banana leaves.

How did the weird combo taste like? The milky richness of suman seamlessly merges with the jelly that lies on the border between tart and sweet. Appearance-wise, the look is not that good. The stimulus being brought to the tongue, however, compensates for this shortcoming. I highly recommend this food combo for snack and dessert.

suman, guava jelly, bayabas

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

This Week in Philippine History and Culture (August 1 to 7)

Aug. 1, 1901: Professional boxer Francisco Guilledo (d. July 14, 1925), popularly known as Pancho Villa, is born in the town of Ilog in Negros Occidental province. In 1994, Villa was poshtumously inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame. According to its website, Villa is considered by many as the greatest fighter in Asian boxing history.

Aug. 1. 1944: Manuel L. Quezon (b. August 19, 1878), the first President of the Philippine Commonwealth, dies in Saranac Lake, New York after many years of suffering from tuberculosis. Quezon's image can be seen in the 20-peso banknote.

Aug, 1, 2009: Corazon Aquino, the first woman President of the Philippines (b. January 25, 1933) passes away in Makati City due to colon cancer. Popularly known by the nickname "Cory," she was the husband of former Senator Benigno "Ninoy" Aquino Jr., whose assassination in 1983 contributed to the 1986 People Power Revolution. Incumbent president Benigno "Noynoy" S. Aquino III is their son. Cory and Ninoy's image is seen in the 500-peso banknote.

Aug. 2, 1968: A magnitude-7.3 earthquake hits Luzon with the town of Casiguran in Quezon province as epicenter. (The town is now part of Aurora province). Despite the distance from the town, the city of Manila was hit the hardest. This earthquake caused the infamous collapse of the Ruby Tower in that city. More than 270 people were killed, while about 261 were wounded.

Aug. 2, 1980: Actor and film producer Jose Sixto Raphael Gonzalez Dantes, more popularly known by the nickname Dingdong, is born in Quezon City. Dingdong Dantes started his career in show business as a commercial model. His film company, AgostoDos, is named after the Filipino translation of the date of his birth.

Aug. 4, 1987: Footballer Philip James Placer "Phil" Younghusband is born in Ashford, Surrey, England. Phil Younghusband plays as a striker for the United Football League team Loyola Meralco Sparks F.C. and for Azkals, the Philippine national team.

Aug. 5, 2005: Former senator Raul Roco (b. October 26, 1941) dies of prostate cancer. Roco's political career started in 1987 when he was elected as member of the House of Representatives from the Second District of Camarines Sur. From 1992 to 2001, Roco served as senator. He ran for president under his Aksyon Demokratiko in 1998 and 2004. Roco also served as Secretary of Education from 2001 to 2002.

Aug. 6, 1944: Entertainment journalist Lourdes Jimenez Carvajal, better known as Inday Badiday (d. September 26, 2003), is born in Manila. Many colleagues in show business referred to her as "Ate Luds." Inday Badiday was best known as host of the talk shows Nothing but the Truth, See-True, and Eye to Eye.

Aug. 6, 1964: Singer-songwriter and actor Edgardo Jose Martin Santiago Valenciano, popularly known as Gary V., is born in Manila. Valenciano is also dubbed as Mr. Pure Energy. Some of his hit songs include Di Bale Na Lang (Never Mind), Eto Na Naman (Here We Go Again), and Sana Maulit Muli (I Wish It Happens Once More).

He also acted in movies such as Hataw Na! and I Do Bidoo Bidoo: Heto nAPO Sila! Valenciano recently celebrated his thirtieth anniversary in show business on the variety program ASAP 18.

Aug. 6, 2011: Pioneering pediatrician and National Scientist Fe del Mundo (b. November 27, 1911) dies in Quezon City. In 1957, Del Mundo founded he Children's Medical Center, the first pediatric hospital in the Philippines. She was also known for developing an incubator made out of bamboo, intended to help those who live in rural areas without electricity.

Del Mundo was the recipient of the Ramon Magsaysay Award for Public Service in 1977. She was conferred the rank and title of National Scientist of the Philippines in 1980.

Aug. 7, 2012: Heavy monsoon rains started to affected the island of Luzon and western Visayas for at least two days starting August 7, 2012. The resulting floods led to suspension of classes and work in many areas. Click here for some pictures of the flood in an area in Bulacan.