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From a Prison Cell to a Room for Peace

14 Apr

A plaque, which can be found in Castell de Montjüic, Barcelona, Spain bears José Rizal’s portrait, a sample page of  El  Filibusterismo and the cover of the newspaper La Solidaridad  dated 1889.

by Nathaniel Sisma Villaluna, Photos by ACassandra Molera

“It all started with José Rizal. He is a symbol of freedom. His ideas, his fight for democracy led us to be the First Democratic Republic in Asia.”

This was how Philippine Ambassador to Spain, Carlos C. Salinas described our national hero during the inauguration of the three rooms on the parade ground of the historical Castell de Montjüic  in Barcelona, Spain  last April 8, 2011.

The City Government of Barcelona, represented by Vice Mayor Ignasi Cardelús i Fontdevilla  has dedicated the first three  of the eleven rooms to Dr. José Rizal  and  two other  illustrious historical figures of  Catalonia–Francesc Ferrer i Guàrdia and Lluis Companys.

Rizal, Ferrer i Guàrdia and Companys were imprisoned in Montjuïc Castle and executed by firing squad for defending their principles and their fight for freedom.

“They committed the crime of being free thinkers,” noted Oriol Illa, the Vice Chairman of the Fundació Francesc Ferrer i Guàrdia.

Already restored and reformed, these rooms which served as the prison cells of these  three heroes and other prisoners sentenced to death will be used by the city’s International Resources Center for Peace for its future courses and peace-related  activities.

José Rizal’s room is Sala 17.  A plaque bears his portrait, a sample page of  El  Filibusterismo and the cover of the newspaper La Solidaridad dated 1889.

It was to be remembered that on September 2, 1896, a week after the outbreak of the Philippine Revolution, José Rizal left Manila for Spain. He was to go to Spain first before going to Cuba as a volunteer doctor. But even before he could reach his destination, he was arrested by the Spanish authorities on board, jailed in Montjüic Castle in  Barcelona and shipped back to Manila where he spent the last three months of his life in Fort Santiago.

Incidentally, it was here in Barcelona where Rizal wrote his first literary work in Spain, titled “El Amor Patrio” (Love of Country) which   appeared in Manila’s daily “Diariong Tagalog “, under the  pseudonym, “Laong Laan”.

Sala 17  will join several  historical landmarks that the Catalonian government has dedicated to José Rizal. Last year, a plaque was also unveiled in Plaza de Buensuceso commemorating the place where Rizal and his friends used to meet for the La Solidaridad group and publication.

The Castell de Montjüic  is now one of the most popular  Barcelona tourist attractions visited by hundreds of tourists everyday.

“We Filipinos should be very proud of José Rizal“ said   Rizal’s great great grand nephew, Harold Langer Sy-Quia.

He was with his mom, the great great grand niece of our national hero, Noelle Sy-Quia who also graced the inauguration ceremony brimming with pride and joy.

Noelle Sy-Quia, great great grand niece of Dr. Rizal and her son Harold Langer Sy-Quia

“We are very pleased about it.  We have been waiting for this and now it is happening in time for his 150th birthday. This is a great satisfaction to the family.” She declared at the end of the event.

Also present were Consul General Eduardo José de Vega and Filipino community leaders Fr. Avelino  Sapida , president of Kalipi (Kapulungan ng mga Lider Pinoy sa Barcelona),  Sr. Paulita Astillero, Director  of Centro Filipino, among others.

Consul General Eduardo José de Vega, Fr. Avelino Sapida, Mrs. Noelle Sy-Quia, Ambassador Carlos Salinas, Mrs. Isabelita Salinas and Vice Mayor Ignasi Cardelús i Fontdevilla.

The new Ambassador to Spain Smile of the Week

13 Apr

The new ambassador of the Philippines to Spain Carlos C. Salinas smiles during the unveiling of the plaque of Jose Rizal at Castillo de Montjuic  last April 8, 2011. Photo by AC Molera.

As a response to the clamor of Filipinos in Barcelona i.e. the Philippine  Consulate General (Philippine government’s official representatives to Barcelona, Spain) and various Filipino organizations spearheaded by KALIPI (Kapulungan ng mga Lider Pinoy sa Barcelona) , the city government of Barcelona granted a plaque which commemorates Rizal’s brief imprisonment in the Castillo de Montjuic, an old military fortress.  Rizal arrived in Barcelona, Spain on October 3, 1896. Before he attempted to go to  Cuba, he was imprisoned for a few hours in this castle,  and upon the orders of military governor Eulogio Despujol, he was sent back to Manila and eventually got executed. Catalan heroes like Lluis Companys and Francesc Ferrer Guardia were also imprisoned here. Nathaniel Sisma Villaluna and Daniel Infante Tuaño

Read related news in Spanish by El Héroe Nacional de Filipinas José Rizal tiene una sala dedicada en el castillo de Montjuïc, en Barcelona (España)

You may also read our previous entries:

This is not Intramuros

Dito sila nagchichismisan noon

Carrer del Doctor Rizal

Flowers for Pepe

Bawal bang mahalin ka?

7 Apr

Pinoys just like any other may engage in love types which may challenge sanctified societal conventions. The distance from the nuclear family and the ‘openness’ of the host country foment an opportune climate for experimenting a new way of expressing love. Some of them are embroiled in forbidden love, some engage in same-sex affairs and others in interracial relationships. There are those whose way of coping with love is to demur and defer it opting for single-blessedness. Some of these are well-taken while some others view them with supercilious contempt.

The Pinoy lover, just like nature, abhors vacuum. There’s got to be love one way or another. And they cope with it either by approach-approach whether acceptable or not or they may try the avoid-avoid. After all, love still makes the world go round. The Pinoys abroad are no exception. The emotion of love draws out the genius in every Pinoy. They love all they will and they love all they can.

Pabalat ng ika-7 isyu ng Ang Bagong Filipino. Upang makakuha ng kopya, i-click lamang ang link na ito: Ang Bagong Filipino numero 7

Basques in Manila

5 Apr

Basque names are easily recognizable in street names (Echague, that runs along Quinta Market through sa ilalim ng tulay), places (Plaza Goiti), and provinces (Nueva Vizcaya). They are still with us in business: the Aboitizes, the Elizaldes, and the Ayala side of the Zobel de Ayala clan. Continue reading: Luis H. Francia\’s Basques in Manila

Manila’s Jai Alai stadium. Among the jewels of that period was Taft Avenue, a mini-Champs Elysee, with grand homes, sparkling movie houses, colleges and spectacular Art Deco buildings. One of the finest buildings was the Jai Alai stadium, opened in 1940 as a home for the Basque game of the same name and quickly adopted as a playground by the rich and glamorous.

¿Cómo suena Chavacano?

28 Mar

Daniel Infante Tuaño

A veces me preguntan los españoles si nosotros los filipinos aún sabemos hablar español, dado que Filipinas fue colonia española durante trescientos treinta y tres años.  Siempre les contesto que sí, que hay muchisimas palabras que aún están presentes en el vocabulario filipino. Sin embargo, ya no hablamos el idioma porque el español dejó de ser un requisito en la universidad y otros colonizadores nuestros, los estadounidenses, impusieron el inglés como lengua oficial durante los años de ‘asimilación benevolente’.  El inglés es ahora la segunda lengua oficial de Filipinas, y todos los filipinos pueden comunicarse, es decir, pueden entender y conversar, en inglés, aunque sólo hayan estudiado educación primaria o no tengan estudios.

Sin embargo, algunos filipinos, sobretodo los que habitan en Zamboanga y en algunas zonas de Mindanao y de Luzon (tales como Cavite y Manila), hablan una especie de criollo español conocido por el nombre de Chavacano. Al contar esto, siempre recibo una mirada extraña o incluso algunas risas, ya que la palabra Chavacano (escrita Chabacano en español) tiene un significado peyorativo, a saber, dícese de algo o alguien de mal gusto, vulgar o grosero. De hecho, el Chavacano es fruto del contacto entre la población indigena y los colonizadores hispanohablantes (españoles peninsulares y los novohispanos o mexicanos). En aquellos momentos, era tal el número de dialectos e idiomas que se hablaban que, aunque los hispanohablantes consideraban como ‘vulgar’ esta manera de hablar español, les bastaba y la consideraban de gran importancia para hacerse entender con los habitantes autóctonos.

Algunos me han manifestado su interés en saber cómo es, cómo suena. Casualmente, en la actualidad uno de los grandes éxitos en Filipinas es una canción titulada ‘Porque’,interpretada por un grupo de jóvenes cantantes que se hacen llamar ‘Maldita’. Este grupo de la ciudad de Zamboanga ha logrado promocionar en Filipinas el Chavacano. Aquí tenéis un video y abajo están las letras. Ya diréis si suena vulgar o si suena bien. ¡Muchas gracias al Sr. Arnel German por compartir esta noticia!

Video Courtesy of MAD MEDIA WORKS

by Maldita

Solo-solo na mi cuarto (Alone in my room)
Hende ta puede durmi
(I could not sleep)
Bira-bira na cabeza
(In my mind it keeps coming back)
El dolor yo ya sinti (The pain that I felt)

Porque pa contigo yo ya quiere?
(Why was it that I liked (or loved) you?
Como bula lang tu ya perde (Like bubble you disappeared)

Porque contigo yo ya escogi?
(Why was it that I chose you? )
Ahora mi corazon ta sufri (Now, my heart suffers)
Bien simple lang yo ta pidi (What I ask for is too simple)
Era sinti tu el cosa yo ya sinti (That you feel how I felt)

Ta pidi milagro bira’l tiempo (I ask for a miracle to turn back the time)
El mali hace derecho (For this mistake to be corrected)
Na di mio rezo ta pidi yo (In my prayer I ask)
Era olvida yo contigo (That I forget you)

Todo-todo yo ya dale (I have given everything)
Ahora ta arrepenti
(Now, I am regretting)
Sobra-sobra el dolencia (Too much pain)
Tormento para vivi (It is difficult to go on (or to live))

Repeat Refrain and Chorus

No tu distorba
(Never bother me)
Y no atraca kay baka (Or even come near me)
palmadia yo contigo (I might be able to slap you in the face)
Nunca accepta (Never accept)
Si tu ay bira por dolor ya sinti (For if you come back, it is pain I feel)

Porque contigo yo ya escogi? (Why was it that I chose you? )
Ahora mi corazon ta sufri (Now, my heart suffers)
Bien simple lang yo ta pidi (What I ask for is too simple)
Era sinti tu el cosa yo ya sinti (That you feel how I felt)

Repeat Chorus

Porque contigo yo ya escogi?
(Why was it that I chose you? )
Ahora mi corazon ta sufri…(Now, my heart suffers)

Traducido por Eldon B. Tenorio

Cebú, ipinalabas sa Cuatro

23 Mar

Pagkatapos ng Manila, ngayon naman ay Cebu ang itinampok sa programang Callejeros Viajeros ng Spanish channel na Cuatro noong Lunes ng gabi. Halos pareho ang ipinakita–kahirapan, karangyaan, ang malaking kaibahan ng kalagayan ng mayayaman at mahihirap sa Pilipinas at ang impluwensiya ng Espanya roon. Ngayon nga lang ay may beaches at bird sanctuary. At hindi rin nawala ang mga street food kung saan makakakuha raw tayo ng diarrhea!

Sa mga hindi nakapanood, i-click lang ang link na ito: Callejeros Viajeros: Cebú

Who could persuade Gadaffi?

7 Mar


Libyan dictator Muammar Gadaffi

“”The price of oil is rising as unrest continues in Libya and its dictator refuses to skedaddle in the face of international condemnation. The regime in Libya has demonstrated its readiness to kill its own citizens to cling to power, and the citizens have shown their willingness to die for freedom. What is to be done?

There is one woman who can solve this impasse, one woman who has already established her powers of persuasion over Muammar Gaddafi. . .”


Imelda Marcos!

Read more: Jessica Zafra\’s Dream Couple International Edition

Pit Señor! Smile of the Week

1 Feb

Filipinos in Spain like members of Sto. Niño group are all smiles as they celebrate ‘Sinulog’ in Madrid. Photo by Bella Marte

In Barcelona, the Association Visayas-Mindanao once again displayed their colorful costumes and danced to the beat of the drum to  show their adoration to Sto. Niño. Photo by Elle Ladeza

The Sinulog is an annual festival held on the third Sunday of January in Cebu City, Philippines. The festival honors the child Jesus, known as the Santo Niño (Holy Child), patron of the city of Cebu. It is a dance ritual that commemorates the Cebuano people’s pagan origin, and their acceptance of Christianity.

From a Cebuano word “sulog” which means “like water current movement”, the Sinulog dance consists of two steps forward and one step backward done to the beat of the drum. Continue reading Centro Filipino’s History of Christianity and Sinulog in the Philippines

Ang kuwento ng mga Nauna at Nangunang Migrante sa Espanya

29 Oct

Pabalat ng ika-6 na isyu ng Ang Bagong Filipino. Para makakuha ng kopya, i-click lamang ito: Ang Bagong Filipino número 6


Ang paglingon sa pinanggalingan ay labis na pinahahalagahan sa kulturang Filipino. Hindi tayo maaaring lumimot, lalung-lalo na sa mga nagawa at nakamit ng ating mga magigiting na ninuno. Hindi kailanman tayo makakalimot lalo na kung ang galos ng nakaraan ay siya pa ring kumikirot at sanhi ng hindi pag-unlad ng bayan. Sa ating pagkilala at pagtanggap sa pinagmulan, pinatitibay din natin ang ating pagkatao. Pinaalalahanan natin ang sarili na ang ating nakaraan ay hindi naging madali, at ang siyang nagbibigay ng kabuluhan sa ating kasalukuyan.

Ngunit maaari rin kaya na ang kasalukuyan at ang kaniyang patutunguhan ang siya namang magbigay ng kabuluhan sa ating nakaraan? Maaari kaya tayong lumingon nang paharap, matapos matuto sa nakaraan, at piliing sumulong sa halip na magpabalik-balik sa mga panahong nakalipas na?

Ang ating kasaysayan ay napupuno ng iba’t-ibang Pilipinong pumili sa direksiyong ito. Mga kahanga-hangang Pilipinong nanguna sa kanilang mga larangan at kapanahunan sapagkat ninais nilang abutin ang mga pangako ng hinaharap. Walang takot, walang pag-aatubili, na nangarap at kumilos upang tulungang maiangat ang kanilang kapwa tao. Walang tigil silang nagmasid sa higit pang malayo upang mas mainam na maihanda ang kasalukuyang landas patungo sa isang maginhawang bukas. Ang mga PIONEERS, o ang mga nanguna, kung sila ay tawagin, ang mga karapat-dapat na halimbawa sa patuloy nating pagsulong, at siyang makapagbibigay ng kahulugan sa lahat ng ating napagdaanan. Ang isyung ito ay isang pagkilala sa lahat ng mga Pilipinong matapang na nauna at nangunguna sa pagtahak sa hindi tiyak na hinaharap.

Lubos na nagpapasalamat ang Ang Bagong Filipino sa suporta ng mga sumusunod:

CBN Grupo BDO Remit

Platinum Care

Bar Taberna La Paloma/Supermercado M & M

da Best Barbecue Que he comido

27 Aug

by Nathaniel Sisma Villaluna

I hear my stomach gives  a faint grumble.  I try to ignore it. I focus my attention on the movie. Then I hear another grumble.  I turn to Kay, my film buddy who is seated next to me.  She turns to me and says, “Gutom na ako.”  (I’m starving) Oh.  Was it really my stomach that grumbled or hers?  But before I can ask her that, we both smile at each other  and connivingly  utter, “Barbecue tayo?” (Let’s have barbecue?) and release   sheepish giggles. We both know we were talking about the same barbecue of our favorite Pinoy resto somewhere in Raval. We stand up and leave the cinema fifteen minutes after the movie started.

Next scene, Kay and I are quietly demolishing a stick each  of gosh-this-so-good barbecue.   I  carefully slice the fat chunk of barbecue meat on my plate, gently put it into my mouth and shove a spoonful of rice. I chew it softly, savouring   the sweet taste of the meat and the complimentary blandness  of the rice being slowly cut into pieces by my teeth. Mmm. I think I just had a gastronomical orgasm.

Che Guevarra once said “Homesickness begins with food.”  Very true indeed.  While enjoying our sumptuous barbecue, Kay and I are transported back to the past.  She instantly remembers the Beach House carinderia in Sunken Garden in the middle of UP Diliman which served the best barbecue she had ever tasted in her entire life.  I, in turn, become nostalgic too and share my high school memories where during lunch, I would devour the best barbecue I had ever tasted in my entire career. I will never forget Strawberry Shortcake canteen in Bacolod as long as I live.

Nope, this is not  going to be a promotional gimmick of the restaurant that cooks the barbecue in question. I am not a food critic either.  This is just, let me say, something that I want to share purely for the love of this meat-on-a-stick dish.  The thing is, when I half-jokingly told the owner of the restaurant that I was writing a piece about his barbecue, he just gave me a grateful smile. Yes my dear friends, no offer of, say, a Lifetime Free BBQ discount coupon in return. No sir. Instead, what I got was …uhm…a smile.

Back to the BBQ.  It has become my current favorite food of all time. I crave for it everyday. I even dream about it.  That is why I really had to teasingly tell off   the owner of the restaurant last week because  it had been two Saturdays now that they ran out of rice.  We had to skip our much-awaited BBQ-fest because for me, eating BBQ the Pinoy way without rice is like eating Spaghetti without pasta. Anyway, I accepted his explanation that a lot of people would come and order rice on Saturday evening. Thus, the shortage. Right.

Beach House Canteen in UP Diliman Sunken Garden. Photo by DarleneCMF

Some said that the word barbecue came from the word barabicu, a word which  in the language of both Timucua of Florida and the Taino people of the Caribbean means “sacred fire pit.” It connotes a grill for cooking meat, which normally consists of a wooden platform resting on sticks.  But there are others who claim that barbecue is derived from the French phrase barbe à queque which literally meant   “from beard to tail”.  They say that it was the French visitors to the Caribbean who described the method of a pig being cooked whole  as such, from beard to tail.  In the US, the word barbecue is also used to refer to a social gathering where food is served outdoors in the early afternoon and some grilling.

When the Americans came to the Philippines, they introduced barbecue to the Filipinos. Taking advantage of the always sunny weather in the Philippines, barbecues became an instant hit. The Filipinos added a twist to the dish though. Pinoy  barbecue is normally marinated in a slightly sweet sauce.  Do you know how a Pinoy barbecue is different from the rest?  Aside from the taste, it’s the look.  A typical Pinoy barbecue has  strips of lean meat  skewered into a thin barbecue stick and a strip of fat is added at the end of the stick. Unconsciously, the  fatty meat   is  normally the last to be eaten; serving  as the beguiler  of the aftertaste.  To us Pinoys, when we say barbecue, it’s always pork barbecue. But of course, we also have chicken barbecue and sometimes fish barbecue and more. In fiestas and celebrations, barbecues are common fixtures in the table.  Barbecues are extra popular among guests because it allows one to move around and socialize while eating.  Also in fiestas, people have the habit of forcing people to eat in their house.  Refusing to do so  and  declining the offer would be an insult to the host even if your stomach has no more space to fill. Thus, barbecues save the day.  Grabbing one stick  of  barbecue is already enough to show courtesy  to the host, assuring compliance and demonstrating appreciation for the invitation and of course, the food.

Initially, I wondered whether it was only me obsessing over this meat on the stick thing from this Pinoy restaurant.  But when I brought my German, American, Spanish and Venezuelan friends to try the  BBQ, they were unanimous in saying that they loved it! See, it was not just me.  And mind, they no longer showed their surprised faces whenever they saw me  with a plateful of rice to go with my BBQ. How plateful you might ask? Well, just imagine how much rice those construction workers in the Philippines usually eat at lunch, then you will know what I am talking about. Besides, I am really a rice person.

Barbecue sold on the streets of Manila

So how yummy this  particular BBQ really is? Very yummy.  I can attribute this  to how the cook marinates the meat.  The smooth thick  taste of the sauce that melts in my mouth. And mind, it doesn’t feel greasy once it touches the tongue. It instantly flirts with my taste buds. Add the softness of the meat and bam!  Everything tastes heavenly. No matter how I try to avoid eating cholesterol-rich food, this BBQ is an exception. I eat everything on the stick.  Sometimes, when nobody’s looking, I discreetly lick the stick for some residues left uneaten.  Eww you think and  Eww you say, but when it comes your turn one day, I bet you will do the same thing too.

So between you and me, and before I munch my last piece of meat, I am going to tell you  something: I officially declare that this barbecue is indeed the best barbecue in Barcelona and probably in the entire European Union. But, this is going to be our little Big Secret until the owner of the restaurant gives me that Lifetime Free BBQ discount coupon I asked him for. That would also be the time for me to divulge where in Barcelona  you can try this mouth-watering BBQ.

Now, if only the owner could  read this.