Tuesday, February 19, 2013


WHERE ARE THE CHESTNUTS ROASTING ON AN OPEN FIRE? The formal 1914 Christmas dinner for the members of the 2nd Field Artillery Regiment featured a range of delectable dishes--from roasted turkey and salads to glorious desserts. Personal Collection,

What’s Christmas dinner like for hundreds of American servicemen and their families, in a tropical Asian country thousands of miles from home? This Christmas Day menu for the officers and men of “Battery F” 2nd Field Artillery stationed at Camp Stotsenburg (now Clark Field) in Pampanga, gives us a glimpse of the holiday fare specially prepared to give everyone a taste of home.

At that time, living conditions at the Camp were still not exactly up to par, and the troops were experiencing low morale. In fact, a Lt. Bentley Mott, who served in the 2nd Field Artillery Regiment, had packed up and left the year before, complaining of boredom and the abject lack of available amusements. Determine to improve the service, a special Christmas menu was prepared for the regiment, which was actually copied from a selection served the previous year for the officers of the Jefferson Barracks .

Americans who pined for the flavors of home started their own version of “noche buena” with a piping-hot soup made from pureed green peas. There was also fresh celery stalks, olives and pickles to munch, in preparation for the piece de resistance: Roast Turkey laced with Oyster Oyster Dressing and Cranberry Sauce. The succulent fowl was enjoyed with sidings of Mashed Potatoes,Candied Sweet Potatos and Succotash. The turkey meal could also be slathered with Giblet Gravy for a different taste experience. Also for one’s delectation are Cold Sliced Hams and Cole Slaw with French Dressing.

The Christmas desserts featured your choice of Mince Pie, Peach Pie and Fruit Cake—all-American holiday staples, not readily seen on Filipino tables. An assortment of Cheese and Crackers rounded off the heartwarming dinner. As a fitting finale, hot cups of Coffee were served and fine Cigars were distributed to partakers of the Christmas meal.

The sumptuous Christmas Dinner of 1914 would have certainly warmed not just the tummies but also the hearts and minds of these soldiers, rekindling memories of Christmasses past in the mainland, and of their own Yuletide traditions totally unknown in this alien country. By the 1920s, with the Americanization process effectively in full swing in the colony, the Philippine—even without Turkey dinners, snows and mistletoes-- had become the top choice of most officers wanting to be assigned overseas.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013


YOU'VE GOT THE CUTEST LITTLE BABY FACE. Carlos "Bolet" Salvador Gomez Jr., firstborn child of Carlos Ramiro Gomez Sr., and Paz Dionisia Dizon. He is descended from the Masnou-Gomez family that expanded to include other well-known clans like the Nepomucenos, Mercados, Abad Santos and Dycaicos. 

Nestlé dairy products were known to Filipinos as early as 1895, imported by Sprungli and Co. Bear Brand Milk (“Marca Oso”) was the first milk brand to be enjoyed by Filipinos, made popular due to brilliant marketing. For example, the brand had its own float during the first ever Manila Carnival of 1908, one of the first examples of clever promotional gimmicks in the Philippines.

It was only in 1911 that Nestlé and Anglo Swiss Condensed Milk Co. was established formally in the country. This paved the way for the introduction of more milk products—and more unusual marketing initiatives.

Milkmaid Sweetened Condensed Milk was one such milk brand from Nestlé that made full use of promotional premiums and print advertising. To drive sales, it gave away collectible tableware marked with their familiar icon—a Swiss milkmaid. Another popular gimmick that engaged its audience was its search for the country’s most “Beautiful Babies”, a print campaign launched in the late 1920s. Readers were encouraged to send pictures of cute babies and the chosen “beautiful babies” appeared on the pages of The Philippine Free Press, the leading newspaper of the day.

One lucky winner in 1929 was a bouncing Kapampangan baby boy, Carlos Salvador Gomez Jr., of Mabalacat, Pampanga. Born on 7 February 1929, Carlos or “Bolet” is the firstborn of Carlos Ramiro Gomez Sr. and Ma. Paz Dionisia Dizon. The senior Carlos is the son of Salvador Ma. Leon Pedro Gomez, a prosperous sugar planter, and Amalia Teresa Gomez---first cousins— both descended from the Spanish Masnous of Valladolid. In fact, Amalia is the granddaughter of Fray Guillermo Masnou OSA, a former priest of Angeles, who fathered a child with Sto.Tomas-born Patricia Mercado. Their son, Esteban Gomez, is Amalia’s father.

In the 9 November 1929 print ad, the healthy-looking Carlos Jr., is featured alongside other winners, Roque Abentino (San Juan, Rizal), Lourdes Domecillo (Cebu, Cebu) and Marciano Romero Jr. (Nueva Ecija).

Carlos Jr.’s siblings included Romeo Ismael, Ben Hur Angel, Carmelo Pompeyo Melchor, Mar. Julieta Arlette and Pedro Edgardo Tadeo. When Carlos Jr. came of age, he married Zenaida Novak Feliciano of Magalang on 14 March 1950. They had 10 children: Butch, Stella, Marc, Gina, Nella, Gabby, Lisa, Carla, Noel and Paola. Carlos Jr. died of brain aneurysm at age 68 on 31 October 1997.

The imposing gated white house (renamed "Tubigan")  where the Gomezes currently reside still stands, beautifully preserved along the national highway in Barangay San Francisco. It was bought by the late Kokoy Romualdez, brother of former First Lady Imelda Marcos, who married into the Gomez family. Once sequestered by the government, it has since been returned to the Gomezes. It is a reminder of a time now gone, when the world was younger, more innocent, just like the little Mabalacat boy Bolet, once adjudged as one of the country’s most beautiful babies for 1929.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

*322. His Seminary Yearbook: BISHOP TEODORO C. BACANI, JR.

IT IS RIGHT TO GIVE HIM THANKS AND PRAISE. The future bishop of Manila, as a fresh graduate of Philosophy of San Jose Seminary, 1961, Teodoro C. Bacani Jr. of Guagua.

The first time I came face to face with Bishop Teodoro “Ted” Bacani, Jr. was when he officiated the memorial mass of my uncle, Msgr. Manuel Valdez del Rosario, who passed away in 1987. A longtime priest of San Roque Parish in Blumentritt, Padre Maning had been a bosom friend of many known personalities and celebrities, including Bishop Ted, a fellow Kapampangan, who was originally from Guagua. Bishop Ted provided a light moment amidst the somber atmosphere by recounting how, upon alighting from his car, a crowd had looked and pointed at him, screaming: “Yoyoy Villame is here!”. The people inside the church chuckled at his anecdote, knowing well that Bishop Ted was popular in his won right, a powerful voice who never feared of speaking up in the days of People Power.

Born on 16 January 1940 in Manila, he went to various schools in Manila; at age 6, enrolled at the Instituto de Mujeres (Roseville College). Upon graduation, he went to Letran and earned his High School diploma in 1956. he entered San Jose Seminary in 1956, and began his priestly training, earning a Philosophy degree in 1961. He remained in San Jose to pursue his masteral degree in Philosophy for two years. On 21 December 1965, Ted officially became a priest with his sacerdotal ordination at the Manila Cathedral.

His first assignment was as an assistant parish priest at San Antonio, Zambales, a post which he held for two years. His superiors took note of his promise, and the next year, he was sent off to Rome to study Dogmatic Theology at the Angelicum University, finishing his doctorate in 1971. Upon his return, he resumed his ministerial duties in San Narciso, Zambales till 1976, when he became the Parish Priest and School Director of St. James, in Subic, from 1976-79.

After that stint, Fr. Ted became a professor of Theology at the San Carlos Seminary, assuming the deanship from 1982-83, on top of being a Theology consultant of the Archdiocese of Manila. On 6 March 1984, he was appointed Titular Bishop of Gauriana at age 44, and his ordination as Bishop took place on 12 April 1984. His consecrators included Archbishop Bruno Torpigliani, Bishop Amado Paulino and Archbishop Paciano Basilio Aniceto.

 As Bishop of the Ecclesiastical District of Manila, he was involved in many major activities—from chairing the Archdiocesan Commission on Marriage and Family Life Ministries (1984) and the National Pastoral Planning Committee (1985) to serving as a parish priest of San Fernando Dilao of Paco and acting as the Spiritual Director of the Mother Butler Guild. In the heady days of the People Power Revolution, Bishop Ted was the Chairman of the CBCP Committee on Public Affairs in 1986.

On 7 December 2002, he was appointed Bishop of Novaliches. On April 2003, his personal secretary filed a sexual harassment case against him which forced him to resign his post, later that year in November. While remaining a bishop in good standing with all rights and powers as bishop, he was not given charge of any particular diocese.

Unfazed by these turn of events,the now-retired bishop emeritus remains an authoritative force in the church, speaking his mind about current issues--from the RH bill, divorce law to boring sermons and over-emphasis on Santa Claus. Recently, Bishop Ted challenged politicians to pass a law against political dynasties to prove their sincerity in serving the country in the 2013 elections.