Searching for heroes? Here’s a compilation

GOTCHA - Jarius Bondoc (The Philippine Star) - December 1, 2015 - 9:00am

Why aren’t enough movies like “Heneral Luna” being made? Because, as this book is titled, they’re “Stories Rarely Told.”

Reader C. Soriano must have been so affected by Sat. late night TV to email: “I wonder if you also were watching ANC’s ‘Meet the ‘Presidentiables’.’ Grace Poe was asked if she thought Mar Roxas was a good manager as Secretary of Transportation and then of Interior-Local Governments. Not answering directly, she said better work could have been done, particularly with the woeful MRT-3 commuter railway. Then Roxas, asked about the same, replied that the MRT-3 maintenance before he came in was full of corruption, blah-blah-blah. If you were there, you could have detailed the anomalies committed by his appointee-GM Vitangcol et al as exposed by the Czech envoy, and why the railway deteriorated. Roxas wasn’t telling the real story. There should at least have been a video of the thousands of commuters waiting in long lines under sun or rain for trains that never arrive due to frequent breakdowns. Since you or Ted Failon were not around to show the real situation, please refute their lies and cover-ups.”

Thank you po for your trust, M. Soriano. Voters would know what to do with presidential candidates, as a matter of free choice. My focus is to expose the dubious PCOS. Any automated cheating benefits only the administration party. -JB

Stuart Alegre, New York City: “The big news here is the conviction of the very powerful state Assembly Speaker on all counts of corruption. The longest sitting state senator also is on trial for sleaze. Back there in Manila we have yet to hear of any Ombudsman action against the 20 past and present lawmakers charged in the third batch of pork barrel plunder: Senators Juan Ponce Enrile, Bong Revilla, Edgardo Angara, congressmen Prospero Nograles, Joseph Santiago, Roberto Cajes, Florencio Miraflores, Niel Tupas, Carol Lopez, Edgar San Luis, Arturo Robes, Joel Villanueva, Rodolfo Antonino, Reno Lim, Julius Ledesma IV, Evita Arago, Rachel Arenas, Alfonso Umali, Francis Bichara, and Marina Clarete. Also the multiple plunder raps long filed against ex-Speaker Arnulfo Fuentebella, well before the pork scandal. And why no cases against congresswoman Nancy Catamco, allegedly a pork fixer before like Janet Lim Napoles?”

Freddie Basa, Riyadh, KSA: “Here are photos I took last Nov. 22 of us OFWs (overseas Filipino workers) in long lines – more than 30 minutes – at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport, for refund of terminal fees charged with our purchase of airline tickets. Note the four tellers servicing more than a hundred of us at the refund kiosk. Those four somehow have jobs. But the NAIA management is paying them taxpayers’ money, to refund us fees that shouldn’t have been collected in the first place, since we OFWs are exempted. Worse, it is us (10 million) OFWs who are made to suffer the long queues and the congestion.”

* * *

It didn’t have to take required viewing for high school and college history students to make the recent film, “Heneral Luna” a hit. Word of mouth pricked public interest in the depicted major and minor heroes. Moviegoers invariably asked why there are not enough such historical narratives being produced.

The answer lies in part in the book title, “Stories Rarely Told: Hidden Essays on Philippine History.” Distracted by life’s other concerns, Filipinos seldom talk of heroic persons and deeds. The accounts largely remain buried in archives, so left un-popularized in the mass media. Is this why Filipinos can’t seem to learn from the past, and keep repeating its blunders?

“Stories Rarely Told” compiles 29 decades-old researches on the Spanish, American, and Japanese colonial periods. No boring dissertations, they are action-suspense dramas of famous and less-known movers and shakers. Many of them can be our own familiar granduncles and -aunts, to the point of taking them for granted instead of taking pride in their valor and patriotism. As author-editor Augusto de Viana notes, “many of the manuscripts are glossed over and almost forgotten” – until put together in 2013, and reprinted this 2015 (268 pages).

De Viana explains his selection of the articles: “By going through these stories, one can feel how it is to be in the past. It conveys the humanity of those present, and makes us feel the throb of history. These details are lacking in the narrative of national history. Often the events are simplified, and the actors reduced to stiff entities... Enlivening are the various perspectives from where these stories are told... from the center or the sidelines. Thus, we hear stories from the point of view of the marginalized, such as Macario Sakay when about to meet his fate at the gallows... of Josephine Bracken after the death of Jose Rizal or the life of Emilio Jacinto after he had done his part as the brains of Katipunan.”

The book has multi-versions of the events and dramatis personae. The assassination of Gen. Antonio Luna is told by those in the periphery. There are “Three Views of the Battle of Manila Bay” – by the contending Admirals Montojo and Dewey, and observing Katipunan general Alejandrino. The many facets of Gen. Gregorio del Pilar are presented: as lover boy, inexperienced leader, and sacrificer of life. There are claims of Katipunan atrocities, as told by the enemy.

Particularly intriguing was the chapter, “The Betrayal of Katipunan.” It culls from various first-person reports by the rebel, the sister whom he told about the movement, the mother superior of the orphanage, and the investigating friar-curate.

Compelling too are the attacks on Spanish forces led by Datu Akadir Akobar, because retold by no less than his childhood playmate and later commander.

The chapter, “The Little-Known Role of the Cebu Guerrillas in the Return of the Americans to the Philippines,” is long but exciting. It is not only about the secret warriors in Cebu but in Panay and Negros as well. It is not just about the return of the Americans but the cutting short of the Pacific War with the accidental capture of a Japanese general and his valuable documents.

“Stories Rarely Told” is available at Popular Bookstore, Solidaridad, and Tradewinds (in Metro Manila); Mt. Cloud Bookstore in Baguio City; Philippine Expressions (in the US); or order through New Day Publishers FB page, or email sales@newdaypublishers.com.

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Catch Sapol radio show, Saturdays, 8-10 a.m., DWIZ, (882-AM).

Gotcha archives on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Jarius-Bondoc/1376602159218459, or The STAR website http://www.philstar.com/author/Jarius%20Bondoc/GOTCHA


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