There is very little to celebrate as we observe our 123rd Independence Day.
In fact, there is more horror and irony in our contemporary life than we would like to admit.
A former Supreme Court justice fights for our rights in the Western Philippine Sea as a sitting president talks about the countless benefits of remaining friends with the People’s Republic of China.
This even as dozens of Filipino fishermen have lost their jobs due to the Chinese intrusion into the Philippine seas.
The height of betrayal was when Palace spokesman Harry Roque declared Julian Felipe Reef as part of Chinese territory. He didn’t stop to wonder why he was named after the composer of the national anthem, Julian Felipe.
Other scenarios in our contemporary life speak of blind idolatry.
A national literary artist came to defend a living tyrant who put more than 11,000 people out of work during the pandemic.
Recall that national artists receive a monthly allowance of 100,000 pesos from the people’s taxes. There must be a way to remind people of the rewards who rightly deserve to be called the National Artist for Perdition.
And here’s another update from the National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA) which is supposed to protect national heritage sites.
While no one was watching, the 89-year-old Manila Metropolitan Theater was renamed NCCA Metropolitan Theater without an official statement from the National Historic Commission why it must have a new name that has nothing to do with history.
On the one hand, Article 22 of Republic Law No.10066 prohibits renaming of national cultural treasures or important cultural property by local or national legislation without the approval of the National Historical Commission.
It applies to the Metro Manila Theater as it has been declared a National Cultural Treasure (NCT) since 2010.
This amounts to ignoring its past in favor of a government agency that oversaw its renovation.
In the light of recent developments, respect for the 123rd Independence Day – with flag raising, speeches and virtual parades – will come nowhere.
If so, you see National Artist as villains and government agencies as desecrators of national monuments.
With this in mind, we take note of a special tribute to the composer Julio Nakpil, of which 154e birthday was celebrated with a performance of his works at Casa San Miguel in San Antonio, Zambales.
Obviously, Nakpil embodies the artist as a hero.
While he was in music, he was also aware of what was going on in his country.
When the Philippine Revolution began in August 1896, Nakpil answered the call of duty to free his compatriots from the Spanish colonizers.
Under the pseudonym J. Giliw, he served as command secretary under Andres Bonifacio. With Isidro Francisco, he commanded the revolutionaries north of Manila when Bonifacio left for Cavite in December 1896.
After the end of hostilities, Nakpil falls in love and marries Gregoria de Jesus, Bonifacio’s widow with whom he has eight children.
Nakpil embodies the artist who loves his country to the core.
(Writer Carmen Guerrero Nakpil was married to architect and town planner Angel Nakpil, cousin of composer and patriot Juan Nakpil who is the son of Gregoria de Jesus, formerly married to Andres Bonifacio.)
With this in mind, Ms. Nakpil’s book – “Heroes and Villains” – offers us a front-row view of history totally dissociated from the point of view of the colonizers.
Did Magellan really discover the Philippines?
Nakpil delivers the cold and hard facts: “It was the people of our archipelago who discovered Magellan and the Europeans in 1521, and not the other way around, because most Filipinos were taught by our textbooks. “
The Philippines takes its name from the King of Spain, Philips II. What was he like and what was his place in history?
“In his youth, he was described as ‘slender, elegant and handsome’. After all, he was the grandson of the very handsome Philip I, aka Felipe El Hermoso, who was so gorgeous that when he died suddenly at the age of 28, the distraught queen Juana went mad and s ‘is forever called’ Juana la Loca. ‘ Historians like to say that she refused to have her body removed from her bedside and kept it there without burial “for years.” A parallel story to this royal madness says that when Magellan baptized Humabon’s wife in Cebu in 1521, he gave the “Queen of Cebu” the name “Juana” in honor of Philippe’s hapless grandmother. II, Juana La Loca, alias in English history as Jeanne la Folle. Fortunately, the Cebuanos did not know this little detail of their brief alliance with Magellan, otherwise they could have planned the massacre sooner, ”Nakpil wrote.
The secret delight of this book is that the story is told in the context of today’s Filipinos still misled by the official chroniclers of history.
After reading the book, you begin to see who the real heroes of the story are and who can rightly be called the villains.
Additionally, the book allows us to take a serious look at our mentors (the Spaniards, Americans and Japanese) for who they are.
She adds details of Spain’s little-known past: “There was a small nobility of peasants, usurers, mercantilists and a huge mass of beggars, vagabonds, bandits and slaves. In Madrid, officials, captains without company, soldiers of fortune, adventurers fleeing creditors, all sought passage to the newly mapped “Indies” (including the Philippines) in the hope of achieving wealth, respectability and a rich wife. (See Braudel, The Mediterranean and the Age of Philip II.) It is the worthy who came to this archipelago to rule it over us.
The author’s coup de grace: “Our ancestors were not pygmies, naked savages with frizzy hair, for many of us were carefully taught in our classrooms guided by strangers by our elders who had suffered brainwashing. We were one people, of Malay race, recognized by India, China, Japan and later Arabia as evidenced by their ancient chronicles, possessors of this land for many centuries. They had come between 200 BC and 300 AD from the vast continent of Central Asia, from places like Nepal and Johore, in their own boats because they were excellent sailors. They lived in organized communities, fiefdoms and villages called barangay (the name of their boats and again that of our smallest municipal unit). They were warriors, farmers, artisans, traders, exporters (Mindoro exported cotton to Malacca in the tenth century), investors in Moluccan companies. (H. de la Costa, Readings in Philippine History, and WH Scott, Barangay). they were quickly offered bribes of palm wine, greeted in bamboo palaces and fed roasted pork and gravy, rice and coconut, amid the music of the gong and maidens dressed in silk dresses shiny and makeup and servants wearing heavy necklaces, bracelets, and gold bracelets. Magellan must have warned his men against marveling too much at the wealth, beauty and generosity of these early Filipinos. It’s important to remember that scene (from Pigafetta, Magellan’s publicist) because that’s where we came from.
There is a lot to enjoy in Nakpil’s book, and readers will find out why as they walk through his 118-page sojourn in history.
It’s a nice mirror on which we can see the ironies of our chaotic national life and the tragedy of a national artist celebrating a national villain.