It’s Lola Basyang’s Birthday!

Originally authored on February 11, 2019

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For many years, readers mistook the real Lola Basyang as an old woman full of ancient stories stuck in her antiquated baul, only to find out later she was a man. Lola Basyang became a generic name in Philippine society depicting an old grandmother telling stories to her grandchildren meant to teach moral lessons. It was in the pages of Liwayway Magazine, which he co-founded in 1922, where Severino Reyes’ Mga Kwento ni Lola Basyang appeared and eventually became the most widely read prose feature of the magazine. Until today, the name Lola Basyang is still being used by different art forms, stage and, television shows.

On February 11, 1861, Severino Reyes, a noted playwright, writer, dramatist, and acclaimed as one of the giants of Tagalog and Filipino Literature in the early 20th century, was born in Sta. Cruz, Manila. A well-educated man who attended several institutions of higher learning, he completed Bachelor of Philosophy at the University of Santo Tomas. Proficient in both Tagalog and Spanish with a fair knowledge of Latin, Greek, Hebrew, and several Philippine dialects, Reyes could converse profoundly on religion, history, philosophy, literature, arts, and sciences.

“For to Children Belong the Kingdom of God”: Infant Jesus

Originally authored on January 20, 2019

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Babies always signify purity, innocence, warmth, and new beginnings. They are instruments to break the barriers and boundaries. It was a sound judgement for Ferdinand Magellan to present the statue of the Infant Jesus as a gift to Princess Humamay upon landing on the Philippine islands. The gesture captivated her heart as a mother, which even disarmed the resolve of King Humabon and his tribesmen. Infants proved to possess the power of uniting which led to the natives’ baptism and conversion to Catholic religion.

Steeped in history and religious traditions, every January, the entire Philippines is abuzz with feasts that celebrate the Child Jesus which centers in Cebu. The Santo Nino traces its origin to the Holy Infant Jesus of Prague. In our country, this statue is the oldest relic. Years after Magellan’s miserable crew left the Philippines after a skirmish led by Lapu-lapu which took Ferdinand’s life, the returning Spaniards still found the natives worshiping the same image of the Infant Jesus. Due to Filipinos’ rich cultural background, they are known to be very loyal in their devotion to religious figures.

One Hundred Years of Philippine Women’s Leadership

Originally authored on January 26, 2019

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful committed citizens can change the world!”

Compared to other parts of Southeast Asia, women in the Philippine society have always enjoyed a greater share of equality which predated the coming of the Spaniards. Based on the context of Filipino culture, standards, and mindset, the concept of gender equality already existed.

Women before could become village chiefs in the absence of a male heir. They could achieve status as medicine women or high-priestesses (Babaylan) and astrologers. Whether some Filipino men are willing to admit it or not, women wield considerable authority, the housewife in particular.


Image may contain: 1 person, text that says "Francisca Tirona Benitez Epitomized the ideal woman she believed every Filipina should aspire to be: one who has successfully combined the art of homemaking and the pursuit of a career and still be of service to the community."

In June 9, 1919, through the vision of seven far-sighted pioneering Filipino women educators and civic rights leaders, Clara Aragon, Concepcion Aragon, Francisca Tirona Benitez, Paz Marquez Benitez, Carolina Ocampo Palma, Mercedes Rivera, and Socorro Marquez Zaballero, the Philippine Women’s College was founded with the assistance of the prominent lawyer Jose Abad Santos who drafted its constitution and by-laws.

Remembering Francisco Santiago, The Father of Kundiman

Originally authored on January 29, 2019

His name may go missing, but his songs are here to stay. Those nationalistic songs to remember him by.

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A composer, pianist, teacher, and film director. Born January 29, 1889 in Santa Maria, Bulacan to a musically inclined peasant parents. When he was seven years old, he took piano lessons from a private tutor and after three years further studying pianoforte under Blas Echegoyen, Faustino Villacorta, and Primo Calzada. He had to support himself throughout school. His most famous piece was “Anak Dalita” which he wrote in 1917 was sung before the Royal Court of Spain upon the request of King Alfonso II.

A Painful Recall: Battle of Manila (February 3 – March 3, 1945)

Originally authored on February 1, 2019

Did the Americans destroy Manila in 1945?

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“It was a firebath! All around us there were explosions and fires, the best imagination of hell one could get.” Manila was being destroyed from inside and out. Men, women, and children retreated below ground where conditions inside cramped air raid shelters deteriorated as the hours turned to days. Bunkers built to house a single family at times held multiple. “We lived like dogs”, as recalled by an American internee in Santo Tomas.

The immediate objective of Americans in 1945 was to rescue the POWs in Cabanatuan and the internees at Santo Tomas. Once this was achieved, the Americans turned their attention to Manila, and this time, avoiding civilian casualties was no longer a concern. Some historians put the sole blame for Manila’s destruction upon the general’s ego and hubris; that MacArthur had to prematurely launched the assault on Manila so that he could personally trumpet the city’s liberation as his crowning achievement in fulfilling his “I shall return” at the earliest possible moment.

The Right Place for Disputed First Mass in 1521

Originally authored on February 22, 2019

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Butuan is racing against time in an attempt to establish the historical truth. With the Quincentennial fast approaching in 2021, it is not giving up on its claim that the first mass was celebrated by Spanish colonizers in Mazzaua, an island in Butuan, 498 years ago. For decades, it has been a long drawn out conflict between Mazzaua and Limasawa in Leyte.

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The pursuit of legitimacy yielded a group of proponents galvanized by a common goal regardless of the existing Republic Act 2733 giving credence to Limasawa as the national shrine to commemorate the first mass held in the country that gave birth to Christianity.

Feast of Our Lady of Lourdes: Comforter of the Afflicted and Health of the Sick

Originally authored on February 10, 2018

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It was May 8, 1892 when the Capuchins opened the first chapel of Our Lady of Lourdes in our country. During the outbreak of Spanish-American War in 1898, the Capuchin community gathered at the chapel and before the venerated image of the Virgin promised solemnly to dedicate to her the new church that they were building if she would save the house and the city of Manila from the terrible destruction of the announced bombing by the Americans.

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Manila did not suffer the fearful effects of the bombs of the military fleet from Dewey and the powerful protection from Mary was obtained. Being faithful to his promise, Rev. Fr. Alfonso of Morentin, the superior of Capuchin Fathers consecrated to the Virgin of Lourdes the new church and was officially proclaimed the “Titular of the Church of the Capuchins”.