Thursday, May 4, 2017

*431. MAY DAYS IN PAMPANGA

‘TWAS IN THE MERRY MONTH OF MAY. Kapampangan kids—including the children of Evangelina Hilario-Lacson and Serafin Lacson—dress up as Santacruzan characters, for the annual Maytime procession.

The merry month of May was named after Maia, the  Greek goddess of fertility, a mother figure in mythology. Thus, since the 18th century, it has come to be the month associated with the Virgin Mary, with many special devotions and religious rites taking place in May.

Kapampangans not only hold the traditional Flores de Mayo processions which celebrates the titles of the Virgin listed in the 13th century Loreto litany, but also conduct a different version of Santacruzan. Sabat Santacruzan--which dramatizes the finding of the True Cross by St. Helena-- is different in that the procession is halted several times by costumed actors who challenge the Reyna Elena in a poetic joust and engage her troop in a swordfight derived from yesteryear’s moro-moros.

Along with the Sabat Santacruzan are celebrated the various town fiestas and festivals of this province. Floridablanca, Mexico, Masantol, Sta. Rita, and San  Fernando observe the feast days of their patrons in various days of May. The Sampaguita Festival of Lubao, the Batalla of Masantol and the Pinukpukan Festival of Floridablanca all happen on this sunny month.

The first day of May also marks Labor Day, in celebration of laborers and the working class.  It brings to mind the memory of  the “grand old man of Philippine labor”—Kapampangan Felixberto Olalia Sr. (1903-1983), the first chairman of the Kilusang Mayo Uno (KMU) founded in 1980. Much earlier, he had founded the National Federation of Labor Unions, and became a champion of labor causes,  like  Crisanto Evangelista during the Commonwealth years. Olalia  and his family suffered for his work—he was imprisoned several times even in his advanced age;  his own son, KMU lawyer Rolando Olalia met a violent death in 1986, part of  supposed plot to rid the Aquino Cabinet of left-leaning members.

With May upon us, we look back at some of the past events of significance in Pampanga, which transpired on this fifth month of the year.

1 May, 1942. The execution of jurist-martyr-hero, Jose Abad Santos.
There are several conflicting dates of the hero’s death. What is known is, Abad Santos, his son Pepito, and Col. Benito Valeriano were captured by the Japanese on 11 April 1942 in Barili, Cebu. He was ordered executed by Gen. Homma and taken to Malabang, Lanao on 30 April.  Keiji Fukui, the interpreter during Abad Santos's confinement, supported by his diary notes, put 2 May 1942, 2 p.m., as the date of his death by musketry.  But the hero’s biographer, Ramón C. Aquino, claimed that May 7 was the date given by Pepito himself during his testimony at the war trials. Recently, the National Historic Commission of the Philippines, re-set the date to May 1.

1-18 May, 1910. Appearance of Halley’s Comet
Halley’s Comet made its appearance to the world, after approximately 76 years (it last appeared in 1835). People of Pampanga were struck with awe as the spectacular comet lit the skies before sunrise for 18 days.

4 May 1899. Philippine revolucionarios led by Gen. Antonio Luna burns San Fernando Church.
Not only was the church razed to the ground by revolutionary troops, but also the Casa Municipal and several houses to render them useless to the approaching American forces.

6 May, 1933. The Pampanga Carnival ends.
To celebrate the strides made by the province in the last two decades, the Pampanga Carnival Fair and Exposition--“the greatest concourse of people on the island of Luzon”—was held for 2 weeks, beginning on 22 April, 1933. The venue was the 12-hectare Capitol grounds in San Fernando. Appointed as Director General was the Hon. Jose Gutierrez David, Pampanga’s delegate to the 1934 Constitutional Assembly. More than a display of prosperity, the Carnival was also meant to be a concrete expression of local autonomy in keeping with the principles of a truly democratic government.Almost all of the 21 towns of Pampanga came to participate in the fair that was patterned after the national Manila Carnivals. The fair ended with the selection of Miss Pampanga.

7 May, 1866. Birth of Dña. Teodora Salgado, financier of the Revolution
During the Philippine Revolution, Kapampangan women came in full force to aid the revolucionarios. Not only did they activate La Cruz Roja (Red Cross) for the sick and wounded revolucionarios, but also funded the activities of local revolutionary groups.  On such generous financier was Teodora “Dorang” Salgado,  daughter of Joaquin Salgado and Filomena Basilio of San Fernando. The life of the “grand dame of San Fernando” reads like a telenovela: she was twice-widowed, thrice married, childless--yet she surmounted all these trials to emerge as Pampanga's most successful--and richest—businesswoman.

7 May, 1899. Gen. Aguinaldo moves the seat of the government to Angeles.
The revolutionary leader, coming from San Isidro, Nueva Ecija, transferred the seat of his government to Angeles. Mass was held in the town, attended by his soldiers.  Aguinaldo stayed in Angeles until July, when he moved his government to Tarlac.

12 May, 1812. The proposal to make Culiat a self-governing town is vetoed by Spanish friars.
Sixteen years after Don Ángel Pantaleón de Miranda, and wife, Doña Rosalía de Jesús, settled on a new land that grew and prospered to be Culiat, the residents proposed that their new town be given autonomy to organize its own governing body. The proposal was disapproved by friars led by Fray José Pometa.

12 May, 1962. Pres. Diosdado P. Macapagal moves the date of Independence Day from July 4 to June 12.
The United State, through the Treaty of Manila, granted  independence to the Philippines on 4 July 1946 to coincide with its own Independence Day. In 1962, Pres. Macapagal issued Presidential Proclamation No. 28, which declared June 12 a special public holiday throughout the Philippines, "... in commemoration of our people's declaration of their inherent and inalienable right to freedom and independence".  Republic Act No. 4166 formalized the date by proclaiming  June 12 as "Philippine Independence Day".

20 May, 1897. Insurrectos raid Talimunduc in Angeles.
On this day, a band of insurrectos led by a capitan from Barrio Tibo, Mabalacat raided Talimunduc (now Lourdes Sur) and recruited new members. Local officials managed to pursue and disband them, and 7 men were caught, including Crispulo Punsalana and Cornelio Manalang. They were supposed to be taken to jail in Bacolor, then the capital of the province, but they disappeared; rumors had it that they never got to their final destination and were all killed.

 21 May 1919, Major Harold Clark dies.
Major Harold Clark, the military pilot stationed in the Philippines and who gave his name to Clark Air Base, died in a seaplane crash in the Panama Canal Zone on this day.

28 May, 1870. Birth of Brig.Gen. Maximino Hizon, Pampanga’s  revolutionary hero.
This Mexico native became the caudillo of the Revolution in Pampanga who rallied Kapampangans to fight the Spaniards under Gen. Emilio Aguinaldo’s revolutionary banner. He ordered the execution of the parish priests of Mexico and San Fernando, Pampanga, and later led attacks against Americans in a foiled attempt to recapture Manila. Hizon was captured by the Americans and exiled to Guam where he died of a heart attack in 1901.

Friday, April 28, 2017

*430. FOLK SONGS OF THE KAPAMPANGAN REGION

I WANT TO TEACH THE WORLD TO SING. Kapampangans out on excursion trips usually brought their stringed instruments to make beautiful music while on the road, or while enjoying their picnic. People would sing along to add to the merriment of the moment. 

Pampanga’s musical traditions begin with folk songs and melodies. These are the first songs that you heard growing up, on your Ingkung’s knee; the lilting lullabye that Ima hummed in lulling you to sleep. These are also the songs that you sang in school, full of nonsense and made-up rhymes, songs about Atsing Rosing, Mariang Malagu and Kapitan Besyu.

They are the songs sang by peasant workers to fight off boredom and drudgery, to express pride in their labors, however humble. They are the stirring kantang Ukbu that galvanized a national movement, patriotic paeans to a country.

They are the dirgeful tunes you heard being chanted on Holy Week, the hymns and carols that you dutifully sang in church services and the frenetic beat that devotees danced to in annual kuraldals. From the plaintive serenatas of many a lovestruck swain, the sweet chords of a kundiman to the bawdy tunes that livened up many a drinking spree, these songs are a part of our race since time immemorial, wrought by anonymous wordsmiths, and handed down from generation to generation through oral tradition.

Folk songs we call them, music of the common people that says so much about how we live, love and laugh. There are various touchstones that define this kind of music.

First, the anonymity of authorship. Unlike formal poetry, where names like Crissot, Gallardo and Yuzon are associated, there are no such names to speak of in folk poetry. Because of the continuous transmission process, there are no fixed attributions and sources. Which means, the longer the transmission period, the more impossible it is to determine the originator.

Second, the language. Folk song lyrics are generated by common people who are largely untutored, with nary a care for the rigid disciplines of literature as taught in schools. They give free rein to ideas and emotions without a thought for forms, meters and aesthetics, telling stories with natural flair, earthy words and all. The lyrics are uninhibited, the language(s) raw, spontaneous and even mixed.

It is not:
Legwan king kaladua, legwan king katawan
Nung iti mikalu, sunlag ya ing legwan
Ugaling uliran, mayap a kaniwan
Selan at sampat lub, dit a pamagaral
Nung miakma iti king santing ning laman
Tunggen keng malagu, babai ninuman

But it is:
Y Mkaka kung Maria, mamuli yang tapis
Purung purung sutla, habing Camarines
Ninu ing tatalan, ninung talabitbit
I kaka kung Peping, anak ng Don Pedro

It is also:
Kabang teterak ku, lulundag, luluksu
Miyagnan ing sagakgak, pakpak ding gamat ku.
Emuku tiknangan, anggang mepagal ku
Susunga ku rugu, tutulung sipun ku..

And likewise:
One day, misan a aldo
I saw menakit ko,
A bird ayup kano
Flying susulapo

Third, folk songs are a work in progress. The Kapampangan folk song evolves by continuous alteration, as opposed to its formal literary counterpart where every word is fixed, the form precise and permanent. Folk songs are subject to versioning and customizing, in the course of their transference, a cultural process perfectly permissible to fit the needs of the times. Folk songs survive  because of effective adaptation and it is correct to sing:

Papatak, papatak
Magkanta la ring tugak
Lilintik-lilintik
Magkanta la ring itik

But it is also okay to sing:

Papatak, papatak
Magkanta la ring antak
Lilintik, lilintik
Magkanta la ring Instik!

With the ongoing cultural renaissance in Pampanga, Kapampangan folk songs are being rediscovered and enjoyed.  Folk songs are no longer just the interest of historians, musicologists and seekers of quaint entertainment, but of late, they have found favor as part of the repertoire of youth bands, mainstream singers local music icons led by Pampanga’s best known minstrel, Totoy Bato. After all, folk music has played a very important part in almost everyone’s life. Without a doubt, the folk songs we learned from our childhood, from our parents and friends have been instrumental in shaping our taste for music in all its melodious permutations. There is no better reason to start singing them again. So pick up a guitar, raise your voices, and sing your heart out!

Monday, April 17, 2017

429. KAPAMPANGANS IN HOLLYWOOD

THE KING AND HIS WIVES Rosa del Rosario portrays one of the wives of the Siamese monarch in the 1946 film, Anna and the King of Siam, portrayed by Rex Harrison. Looking on is another "wife", Evelyne de Luzuriaga.

In the 1920s, Hollywood beckoned with promises of stardom, fame and fortune to aspiring performers and actors, budding ingénues, ambitious directors and starving artists. Indeed, of the thousands who swarmed to Tinseltown to audition and answer casting calls, many were rewarded with film roles, and turning an elite few into international celebrities.

The first wave of Filipinos to arrive in Los Angeles coincided with the rise of Hollywood. They, too, were lured with the prospects of employment that the blossoming film industry offered. In 1929, Metro-Goldwin Mayer sounded out a casting call for extras for the movie “The Pagan”. Hordes of Filipinos went to audition, and many passed the 5 foot height limit set for these extras. For decades—in movies like “She” (1935, starring Randolph Scott, RKO Radio Pictures) and “The Real Glory” (1939, a Spanish-American War film starring Gary Cooper ), Filipinos were often cast in savage native-type and service-type roles, uncredited and underpaid. They would find more job security in the periphery of Hollywood as waiters, busboys, bartenders, cooks, chauffeurs and househelps.

Filipino star-wannabes would wait for the postwar 1940s before they could see one of their own claim a legitimate acting role in a Hollywood film. Kapampangan Rosa del Rosario (aka Rosa Stagner), an American-Filipina mestiza from Bacolor, was already an established star in pre-war Philippine movies when she, on a visit to the U.S., caught the eye of an American director who was casting Asians for his  movie. She won the role as one of the king’s 14 wives in the film classic, “Anna and the King of Siam” in 1946 (to be redone as the musical “The King and I” in 1954). She was unbilled, however, in this Rex Harrison starrer.  That same year, she  appeared as Celia in the “The Border Bandits”, opposite Johnny Mack Brown and in “An American Guerrilla in the Philippines”.

More than a decade later, another artist with roots in Lubao would carve her own niche in Hollywood: Ruby Neilam Salvador Arrastia aka Neile Adams, actress-singer-dancer and wife of 60s hottest Hollywood male star, Steve McQueen. She moved to the U.S. after the war where she took dancing lessons. The pert and pretty Neile found herself being cast in shows and musicals, and one of her early appearances was in “Pajama Game”, staged at the Carnegie Hall. She moved on to TV and films,  with credits in the 1952 movie, “Grubstake” and as Patsy St. Claire in “This Could Be The Night” (1957). Husband and wife appeared in a memorable episode in “Alfred Hitchcock Presents”. Separately, Neile had a recurring role in the TV series “Five Fingers” as Rita Juan in 1960, and went on to guest star in top TV shows thrugh the 60s,70s and 80s, like “The Man from U.N.C.L.E.”, “Love American Style”, “Bob Hope Show”. “The Bionic Woman”, “ The Rockford Files”, “Fantasy Island”, “Vega$” and “Hotel”. In 1986, she wrote “My Husband, My Friend”, a biography of her husband Steve, who had died of cancer in 1980. Coincidentally, Neile’s son (Chad McQueen) and grandson, Steven R. McQueen (Jeremy Gilbert in “The Vampire Diaries”), are both actors. A nephew, Enrique Iglesias, is a singer and an occasional actor.

Before being known as an international jetsetter, Angeles-born Minda Feliciano flirted with modeling and acting. In the U.S., she started auditioning for acting roles and, in 1959, won a regular slot (she played the hula-dancing receptionist, Evelyn) in the popular TV series,”Hawaiian Eye”, produced by Warner Brothers. Today, she is also well-known as Michael Caine’s-ex.

The toast of West End and Broadway, Lea Salonga, has also penetrated the U.S. showbiz industry, both as actress and singer. While still with the hit musical ‘Miss Saigon’ . she was tapped to sing key songs for such movies as “Aladdin” (1992) and  “Mulan” I and II ( 1998, 2004). She had a once-in-a lifetime experience of singing “A Whole New World” at the 1993 Oscar Awards, which went on to win Best Song. Leas was also seen on a 1995 TV film produced by Hallmark Hall of Fame, “Redwood Curtain”. The film chronicles the search of an Amerasian piano prodigy for her biological father, aVietnam veteran. Other credits include guest appearances in hit TV series “ER” , “As The World Turns” and most recently, in “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend”.

Young Ethan Dizon, whose father, Eric Dizon,  traces his ancestry to the Dizons of Mabalacat, made his acting debut as a 3 year-old child actor in the CBS hit series, “How I Met Your Mother”, He then had guest roles in  “Grey's Anatomy”, and “'Til Death”. His film credits include: “Get A Job”, “Bad Words” ( with Jason Bateman), and the “The Inevitable Defeat of Mister and Pete”, where he is best-known for playing Pete.  In 2017, he will be seen in “Spiderman: Homecoming”. A gifted artist, he was nominated for Best Actor at the NBCU Short Film Festival 2014 in "Paulie", where he played the title role.

Rico Hizon made a name for himself as an international journalist, but his credentials now include acting in a Hollywood film. In the 2016 film“I.T.” topbilled by Pierce Brosnan, the BBC correspondent portrayed himself in this nail-biting thriller directed by John Moore. Rico Hizon’s mother, Leonor Morales, is from Mabalacat.

Behind the camera, Kapampangans have also left their mark in the American entertainment industry. Leading the way is the venerable Gorge Sunga, who first joined CBS as a production supervisor of “The Judy Garland Show” in 1963, and later, “The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour”. He went on to produce the hit TV shows  "Good Times," (1974)  "The Jeffersons," (1975) ,  “All in the Family” (1974)  “Three’s Company” (1976) and many other successful serials. In 1989, Sunga was elected  officer of the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences.  For his commitment to diversity in television, an award in his honor was created and given yearly at the Media Access Awards. The Sungas are from Guagua, Pampanga. 

Two world-class film artists and technicians of Kapampangan descent are currently making waves in Hollywood.  Winston Quitasol, whose mother is from Pampanga, has worked on many known animated feature films like Disney’s “Big Hero 6”, where he was the senior lighting artist. He has also served as visual effects technical director and lead digital compositor in some blockbuster movies like “Ghost” (1990), his first movie project. Recent works include “SpiderMan 2”, “ Iron Man 3”, “300: Rise of an Empire” and “Frozen”.

On the other hand, animator Jess Española, from Lubao, made history when he was won the prestigious Emmy Award for his work on “The Simpsons” in 2008 ( ‘Eternal Moonshine of the Simpson Mind’ episode). The U.P. Fine Arts graduate overcame poverty (he was raised by a single mother), and working his way up, first, as an animator for Burbank Animation in Makati. He then joined Optifex which did the Hanna-Barbera cartoons (Flintstones, Scooby Doo, Jonny Quest) . Española did so well that he was sent to the U.S. mother studio in the U.S. which led to opportunities after the Manila offices downsized. Eventually, he moved to America, where Española worked at Film Roman for “King of the Hill,”, one of the primetime shows of Fox that also includes Matt Groening’s “The Simpsons”.

More recently, in the CBS TV sitcom “The Great Outdoors”, Kapampangans were treated to an episode in which the characters of actors Joel McHale and Stephen Fry,  spoke  in Kapampangan—albeit, with a thick American accent—so they could disguise their secret plan to leave young campers in the wild without their smartphones. The idea was conceived by story editor/ writer, Kristine Songco, who sought the help of her father in crafting the dialogues. The Songcos are a prominent family from Guagua.

While we have yet to see a Filipino actor conquer Hollywood with the same degree of success as China’s Anna May Wong and Jet Li;  Hong Kong’s Bruce Lee and Jackie Chan;  Japan’s George Takei and Pat Morita; Taiwan’s Ang Lee and Malaysia’s Michelle Yeoh, we are happy  to note that a few Kapampangan artists are leading the way towards the attainment  of their great Hollywood dream--always ready for anything--especially their close-ups!

Sunday, April 9, 2017

*428. Sky’s No Limit: CAPT. BEN HUR D. GOMEZ

FINDING HIS CORNER OF THE SKY. The future aviation pilot, Ben Hur Gomez y de Leon of Mabalacat,  as a young high schooler at Letran. "Benny" was named after the main character of a Hollywood movie of the same title, "Ben Hur", starring Ramon Navarro. Courtesy of Capt. Gomez.

One of the leading names in modern Philippine aviation is a Kapampangan provinciano who didn’t even finish high school but rose to become an international pilot and founder of the premiere flying school in Pampanga. Capt. Ben Hur Angel D. Gomez (b. 15 Dec. 1931) was one of 6 children of Carlos Ramiro Gomez Sr. whose mestizo looks were courtesy of his ancestor, Fray Guillermo Masnou aka Nicanor Gomez. His mother, Paz Dionisia de Leon , was the daughter of Don Jose de Leon, who owned vast tracts of lands in Mabalacat, parts of which she inherited. With their consolidated wealth, the Gomezes built a large farmstead  in Tubigan at the boundary of Stotsenburg, where their children grew up.

To the manor born, Ben Hur and his siblings led comfortable lives, in a magnificent farmhouse with large rooms and bay windows, equipped with electricity powered by a windmill, and guarded by a tall, turbanned Indian Sikh. Ponies and other animals roamed the expansive yard which also had a playground. The young Ben Hur or Benny was doted on by his adoring aunts despite his “kuneho” (rabbit)  ears.

His Papang though, introduced him early to the value of hard work and responsibility. As young as 8, Benny  helped out in the family businesses which included not only the farm, but also a gas station, a bowling alley and a bazaar. He counted money, issued receipts, prepared vouchers and distributed wages to farm hands.

Benny finished his elementary years at the Holy Family Academy in Angeles, run by German nuns. He spent a year of high school at next-door Holy Angel Academy, but his schooling was interrupted by the war. The family moved to Manila, in their Pasay home, where they waited out the end of the war years.

In 1946, as the family was sending off their Papang to the U.S., the teenager Ben saw his first DC-4 at the Manila International Airport, complete with its smartly-dressed crew. That sight inspired him to become an international pilot.

In his last high school year at Letran, Ben applied to 3 flight schools in the U.S. He chose Embry Riddle Aeronautical School, not only because it was the biggest flight school in America, but also because the school had sent him a brochure with a pretty girl in bathing suit on the cover!! There, Ben immersed himself in his commercial pilot course, and in subjects like  instrument reading, and multi-engine rating, studying 16 hours each day. By so doing, Ben completed his flight course in 18 short months, instead of 33!

When he returned to Manila, he managed to land a his first paying job at the Philippine Aviation Development as a mechanic, earning a whopping  P350  daily. He also became a part-time pilot with an hourly fee of  P50 per hour. While the pay was good, his ultimate goal was to see the world and become an international pilot.  So, when Philippine Air Lines beckoned in 1953, he said yes to a new flying job, first, as a domestic pilot, then moving up to become an international pilot with the rank of a captain, flying the Viscount, BAC 111, DC-4, DC-8, DC-10 and the Boeing 727-200 in all parts of the globe.

His association with PAL would last 38 long years, accumulating over  33,000 flying hours without a single accident. During his stint with the nation’s flag carrier, Capt. Ben also served as president of the Airline Pilots Association of the Philippines (ALPAP) for 3 full terms. He initiated many landmark reforms like improving the salary structure for international pilots and their crew. He was also named vice president for Safety and Security and Asst. Vice President for Flight Operations.

Retirement for the captain meant returning to Mabalacat to resume his life as a gentleman-farmer. In the past, even as he flew planes, he was engaged in some profitable ventures here and there—from export-selling komiks and balut to Filipino communities in Hawaii, providing school bus services, to running a gravel-and-sand business . With his entrepreneurial acumen, he learned how to grow broilers and chickens--and soon, his OMNI Farms became a steady supplier of chickens to San Miguel Foods.

Then,  in 1994,  together with former colleagues,  he took over the old Clark Aero Club and transformed it into the country’s largest aviation training institute—OMNI Aviation Corporation. Capt. Ben would grow its fleet to 25 planes that includes Cessna 172s, and the flagship twin –engine plane, Piper Seneca.At its peak, OMNI Aviation attracted pilot-students from 28 countries and had over 300 enrollees, many of whom are ace pilots today.

It has been a great journey for the former pilot who continues to look for new fields to explore and conquer—even at age 81 . His latest project is his expansive museum home in Angeles that houses his varied collections that he accumulated from his trips abroad. On display are 135 crosses and crucifixes, various tableware from Asia ( netsukes, sake cups, chopstick rests, napkin rings), European crystal ware, Delft ware, brass sculptures, Buddhas, travel souvenirs and many more. He also enjoys occasional visits from any of his 5 kids, and grandchildren; there’s always a room reserved to accommodate them.

The still-sharp and healthy Capt. Ben has also been quietly giving back through his philanthropic works—from helping build the village chapel to extending financial help to indigents and handicapped people in need. Currently, he is even taking care of an old priest, who has helped him rediscover his Catholic faith.

It’s incredible, indeed,  how Capt. Ben could cram all these achievements in a single lifetime, fulfilling all his dreams that he relentlessy pursued.  Not bad for a provinciano and a high school dropout who describes himself as a graduate of the university of hard knocks! But then, he’s never known to set limits to what he can do---not even the skies which he once flew.

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

*427. ZOILO S. HILARIO: Pampanga’s Polyglot Poet

ZOILO'S ZEAL. The Kapampangan who wore many hats--as  poet, zarzuelista, diputado, Court of the First Instance judge, newspaperman--performed every role he assumed so excellently, that today, he is acclaimed as among the best in both Kapampangan and Spanish writing.Photo: CKS Collection.

The life of Zoilo J. Hilario (b. 27 June 1892/d. 13 Jan. 1963) is so multi-faceted that no no one title could be appended to his name. After all, Hilario was not just acclaimed as one of Pampanga’s most loved poets, but he was also a playwright, a parliamentarian, a newspaper man, a jurist, a researcher, a civic leader and an orator.

The talented poet was also adept in three languages, and was able to write “in poetic fluidity and grace” in both Spanish and Kapampangan languages. Moreover, the multi-lingual Hilario was also capable of writing in English; as  juez de primera instancia, he penned his decisions in that language.

Born in San Fernando to parents Tiburcio and Adriana Sanggalang, Hilario learned his cartilla from the school of Modesto Joaquin in Bacolor.  As a youngster, Hilario always had a way with words. Listening to adults’ conversations, he would versify their ordinary chats in fun. At 12, he wrote his first love poem to a neighbor’s daughter. Unfortunately, the girl’s mother discovered the letter and showed it to Hilario’s mother. Rather than be angry, Dña. Adriana was impressed with her son’s poetic skills, and became his number one fan.

From Liceo de Manila, he enrolled for his law course at Escuela de Derecho, graduated in 1911 and passed the bar thereafter. His studies over, he devoted more time to writing poetry. In 1917, he entered a contest sponsored  by the Casino Español of Iloilo and won, with his poem "Alma Espanola".  Hilario also became an esteemed member of Jardin de Epicuro, an elite literary society founded by Fernando Ma. Guerrero.

His Spanish writings were all published in book forms --Adelfas, Patria y Redencion, Ilustres Varones and Himnos y Arengas. But even as he wrote in Spanish, Hilario also became well-known for his outstanding vernacular poetry in Pampango. In 1918, he topped a poetry competition in Bacolor for his work, “Ing Babai”. Among the members of the jury was the great poet and playwright, Juan Crisostomo Soto. He became a poet laureate in 1920. Hilario was also involved as an editor of the bi-lingual newspaper, “E Mangabiran/ El Imparcial”, and later headed “El Paladin”, another local paper.

In 1931, Hilario forayed into politics and was elected as a congressman. Pres. Manuel L. Quezon named him as one of the first members of the National Language Institute to represent Kapampangan speakers in 1938. As a judge, Hilario was first assigned in Ilocos Sur in 1947, and rose to become a judge of the Court of the First Instance in 1954, based in Tarlac.

After his retirement, he devoted his time to his writings, and his collection of works were compiled in several books: "Bayung Aldo” (New Day) and  “Bayung Sunis” (New Rhythm). The prodigious Hilario also wrote the following plays—“Mumunang Sinta” (First Love), “Sampagang E Malalanat “(Unfading Flower), "Bandila ning Pilipinas" (Flag of the Philippines), “Juan de la Cruz, Anak ning Katipunan”, “Ing Mapamatubu” (The Loan Shark) and “Reyna Ning Malaya” (Queen of Malaya).

He continued his involvement with the government: as a legal adviser to former president  Emilio Aguinaldo and as member of the Philippine Historical Commission, until his death in 1963. He left behind his widow, Trinidad Vasquez of Negros Occidental, and two daughters, Rafaelita and Evangelina. His bust and a historical marker were unveiled on 27 June 1892—his 90th birthday-- in his hometown San Fernando, as a tribute to his sterling contributions to the province that he dearly loved, and who loved him back. 

SOURCES:
Hilario, Zoilo. Himnos y Arengas: Colecciones de Poesias. Nueva Era Press Inc., Manila. 1968
Hilario, Evangelina Lacson. Kapampangan Writing: A Selected Compendium and Critique, 1984.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

*426. MISIONEROS RECOLETOS IN MABALACAT

FR. ANDRES DE SAN FULGENCIO was one of 3 Recoletos that began ministering in Mabalacat, Capas and Bamban sometime in 1712, along with Frs. Juan de Sto. Tomas de Aquino and Manuel de San Nicolas. His namesake saint is shown on this estampita.

With the arrival of Miguel Lopez de Legazpi  in 1565, also came the Augustinians, who had a headstart in the evangelization of the Philippines and the Far East. Back then, missionary groups were assigned territories to govern, and in 1575, the Augustinians named their “provincia” after the Most Holy Name of Jesus (Santisimo Nombre de Jesus) . As early as 1572 though, Augustinians were already active in the Pampanga region. The succeeding missionary groups that followed were the Franciscans (1578), the Jesuits (1581) and the Dominicans (1587).2

The Recoletos (OAR, Order of the Augustinian Recollects), an offshoot of the Augustinian reforms in 1598,  were the 5th religious order to arrive, landing in Manila on 31 May 1606, with Fr. Juan de San Jeronimo leading the missionaries.  By then, though, most of the areas have already been assigned to the earlier groups, with the Augustinians dominating in most Pampanga towns.

These “Discalced or Barefoot Augustinians” had to make do with the remaining uncharted and remote Zambales/Upper Pampanga regions, naming their “provincia” after San Nicolas de Tolentino. The noble Recoletos braved the province’s wild and untamed northern frontiers—and are credited with the early development of Mabalacat through their ministry, the only town that was not subject to the influence of the Augustinians.

1712 is widely recognized as the founding year of the Mabalacat township, on the basis of a Negrito settlement under the leadership of Garagan. Like Magalang and Porac , Mabalacat started as a forest outpost. Historian Fr. Valentin Marin confirms this date, with the deployment of 3 pioneer Recoletos to Bamban, Capas and Mabalacat, namely, Fr. Andres de San Fulgencio, Fr. Juan de Sto. Tomas de Aquino and Fr. Manuel de San Nicolas .

Another Augustinian historian, Fr. Agustin Cadava, also validated the aforementioned year, although there are other dates mentioned. Fr. Licinio Ruiz, a Recollect chronicler, puts Mabalacat’s founding year at 1714, while Fr. Andres de San Fulgencio cited 1717 in his report.  Whatever, this would  make Mabalacat older than San Fernando (1756), Sta. Rita (1726), Sta. Ana (1759), San Luis (1762) and San Simon (1771).

Fr. Andres de San Fulgencio would play a major role in the  establishment of the Mabalacat mission, which would gain the status of a “mission viva” or an active mission center in a few years, from which the needs of nearby “visitas” , including those of Tarlac,  were ministered. Fr. Andres’ early labors included not only dispensing spiritual services like baptisms and conversions of Negritos but also community-building duties like tilling of agricultural lands and constructions of houses.

Though successful  in his early labors, the enthusiasm of Fr. Andres was met with lukewarm support from his elders, as it was only in 1725—a  full 8 years after the mission’s founding—that a full-time, regular missionary was assigned to Mabalacat. That distinction belonged to Fr. Alonso de San Gabriel of Toledo Spain, who served Mabalacat from mid-1725 to 1728.

The Recoletos played a significant role in warding off the British during the British invasion of the Philippines. . Simon de Anda secured the help of Recoletos in the re-capture of Manila. Mabalacat served as an important point of transport for loyalist soldiers from Zambales and Pangasinan, which had a number of Recollect-ministered pueblos.

Appointed as a companion priest to Fr. Joaquin, but elevated to full misonero rank in 1765, serving in that capacity until  his death in Bamban in Feb. 11, 1765. During his term, the British–Spanish War flared up. Lt. Governor and Visiting General  Simon de Anda secured the help of Recoletos in the re-capture of Manila. Mabalacat served as an important point of transport for loyalist soldiers from Zambales and Pangasinan, which had a number of Recollect-ministered pueblos.

Beginning in 1800, there was a 30-year disruption  of missionary activities in both Mabalacat and Bamban, due to acute shortage of priests (many died of tropical diseases like malaria), political unrest and new development in Spain. It was only in 1831 that Recoletos resumed their mission work in Mabalacat.

Notable Recoletos who came to work in Mabalacat include:  Fr. Alonso de la Concepcion (30 Mar. 1792-1794) an accomplished Recoleto who held important offices in Spain and the Recoleto province of the Philippines; Fr. Diego Cera (9 June 1794-1797) who stayed only for a year, until his transfer to Las Piñas, where he built the world-famous Bamboo Organ; Fr. Jose Fernando Varela de la Consolacion (1834-1843, re-assigned to Mabalacat 13 May 1858-1860), an ilustrado priest whose  biggest achievement was the elevation of the mission to a regular “parroquia” ca. 1836; Fr. Cipriano Angos del Rosario (served intermittently from 1840-1867), an important personage of the Order who was appointed as the Vice Rector of the Recollect Convent in Monteagudo, Spain; the saintly Fr. Juan Perez de Santa Lucia (23 Feb. 1844-Sept. 1845) known for serving and protecting Aetas, and Fr. Gregorio Bueno de la Virgen del Romero (30 Nov. 1875-10 Jul. 1898), the last Recollect priest known for putting a curse on Mabalacat before he was executed—that the town will never prosper.

Through difficult years, the Recollect Order helped in shaping the future of Mabalacat. They hold the record for building and administering the most number of churches and parishes in the country, until these were turned over to other orders or to secular clergy.

Saturday, March 11, 2017

*425. IMMORTALIZING KAPAMPANGANS IN 19TH CENTURY PORTRAITURE

THE QUIASON FAMILY OF SAN FERNANDO.  As painted in 1875 by Simon de la Rosa Flores. Central Bank Collection. Photo from the Press Reader.

It was Dr. Jaime Laya, former National Commission for Culture and Arts who observed” “Portraits are challenges to mortality. The originals may have long become dust, but their likeness remains—on canvas and boards—seeking to remind us living in the present, that they once were here.”

Portraiture is the most popular form of painting in the Philippines, and it took only 2 to 3 centuries for Filipino artists to imbibe Western portraiture art. Filipino portraiture came of age in the 19th century when the Filipino artist gained more confidence after achieving a measure of social and economic prosperity.  Portraits are able to depict not only individuals but an entire social class of family members. Thus, we see not only individuals, but  ilustrados, politicos, hacienderos, professionals, and even rich kids, who made Pampanga what it is now.

Early portraitists include the Spanish mestizo Damian Domingo, director of the first Philippine Art Academy in 1826, Severino Flavier Pablo (Capitan Viring) of Paco, whose 1836 portrait of Don Paterno Molo is thought to be the earliest to have survived ,Tondo-born master of miniaturismo Antonio Malantic (1820), and  the Asuncion family of artists from Sta. Cruz, Manila led by brothers Mariano Asuncion (1802), Leoncio, a sculptor (1813), Justiniano or Capitan Ting (1816), Antonio, Mariano Jr., Ambrosio, and Manuel Tarcilo (sculptor). Leoncio’s son –Hilarion—and grandson Jose Maria, also became noted painters.

In Pampanga, there was no lack of portrait sitters as the numerous members of the landed gentry sought the services of itinerant artists. The most prominent name is Manila –born Simon Flores de la Rosa (1839), who settled in Bacolor and made the rounds of Kapampangan towns, and a handful of his portraits form part of his legacy.

Perhaps, his most-well known is that of the Quiason Family of San Fernando, headed by Cirilo Cunanan Quiason and wife Severina David Henson and their Two Children” painted in 1875. Cirilo’s 2 brothers, Lucio and Pablo, were successful landowners and traders, and each one commissioned Flores to create family portraits. The painting cost 50 pesos per head, in gold coins,  for a total of 200 pesos. The seated baby is named Jose, and was originally painted with his male member exposed. When the baby Jose grew up, it was said he was embarrassed to see himself naked, so he—or someone--scratched away that part of the painting, causing a bit of damage. It has since been professionally restored, his nakedness covered.

In the town of Sta. Ana, Flores painted the pretty Andrea Dayrit. Her portrait hung in the 1840s Dizon house, famous in its time for its late Neoclassical and English Regency architectural details. Mexico has a couple of Flores portraits, and the most well-known is that of long-haired Miguela Henson in front of her dresser.  It is now in the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas collection.

Flores, who settled in San Vicente in Bacolor, also painted portraits of his wife, Simplicia Tambungui, originally from Guagua, but no work survived.However, in 1890, he painted a portrait of his brother Monsignor Ignacio Pineda Tambungui ,  a canon of the Manila Cathedral and a chaplain at the San Juan de Dios Hospital. In return, Msgr. Tambungui gave his brother-in-law church decorating-commissions in Pampanga towns.

Bacolor’s most influential couple in the 1850s also sat for Flores.  Don Jose Leon y Santos was one of the sons of gobernadorcillo Francisco Paula de los Santos and Doña Luisa Gonzaga de Leon. Jose himself became a town head of Bacolor in 1857. The oil portrait of him was done in August 1887 when he was 59 years old. He was married twice, first to Arcadia Joven y Suarez , and upon her death, Leon Santos wed her sister, Ramona Joven. Her portrait was completed in August 1882.  The paintings now hang at the Museo de La Salle.

One of the earliest known works of  Flores, dates from 1862,--when he was just 23 years old. It is that of Don Olegario Rodriguez (1806/1874), patriarch of the still-flourishing Rodriguez clan of Bacolor, when the subject was “56 anos.” Until Pinatubo of 1991, it used to hang in the sala of his ancestral house but has since been secured by Rodriguez descendants in Manila.

Meanwhile, in Candaba, Flores painted two doyennes of the “principalia” landowning class:  the severe-looking Severina Ocampo de Arroyo and the plump Quintina Castor de Sadie, a work dubbed as the “Fat Woman from Candaba.”  Since the 1980s, they have been with  Central Bank.

The Sioco progenitor of Apalit, Josef Sioco (1786/1864 ) has a surviving portrait, painted by Capitan Ting. A Chinese mestizo landowner known for his frugality (he was called  “Joseng Daga” because he stashed everything away, like a rat), he courted Marta Rodriguez of Bacolor. Turned down, he married the older, less attractive sister,  Matea,  in 1856. He was 70, she was 21. When Sioco died, Matea married Juan Arnedo Cruz. Matea, Juan and elder daughter Sabina had portraits done by Flores as well,  but these have disappeared, presumed stolen and sold in the 70s while being transferred to the Escaler house in Bacolor.  

Many prominent Pampanga families were immortalized by Flores on oil and canvass, but some of these have been lost forever or their whereabouts unknown : Julian Buyson of Bacolor, the Gils of Porac whose portrait was lost after the war, Saturnino Hizon of Mexico, Jose Berenguer and wife, Simona Linares of Arayat, haciendero Lino Reyes and wife Raymunda Soriano(lost in a 1928 fire).

Lately, two century old portraits surfaced and are now on loan to the Center for Kapampangan Center at Holy Angel University by the heirs. They are those of Don Maximinao Songco, gobernadorcillo of Floridablanca and Guagua, and his wife, Juana Limlingan y Chintuico. They were painted in the last decade of the 1800s (10 June 1893 to be exact), which saw the start of the merging of the sensibilities of the past with the new techniques of the day.

Now comes the interesting and mysterious part. Both paintings are signed --Sg. Lorenzo R. There was one accomplished portraitist by the name of Lorenzo Rocha (b.1837/d.1898), a product Academia de Dibujo y Pintura and former  painter to the Royal Chamber of his Majesty in Madrid. However, his  signature does not match those of the Songco portraits and more research is needed to validate the creator of these 124 year-old paintings.

The desire to be remembered after one is gone is only human. But, in the stories we conjure as we view these portraits--these people live on. Through their faces, expressions, finery and pose---we see people as the artists saw them. In a way, we can understand a bit more of the lives, times, attitudes and character of these people who have made Pampanga what it is today.