Heritage in Remembrance: Hermano Pule

Originally authored on July 22, 2015

One hundred forty-three years hence, we give honor to a forgotten hero whose martyrdom came three decades ahead of the execution of the Filipino priests Mariano Gomez, Jose Burgos, and Jacinto Zamora who sparked the revolutionary ideals of Jose Rizal and Andres Bonifacio. Apolinario de la Cruz, known as Hermano Pule, hailed from Lucban, Tayabas (now Quezon Province). He was born in July 22, 1814, exactly two-hundred one years ago.

Gliceria Marella Villavicencio: Ang Anghel Ng Himagsikan

Originally authored on August 18, 2016

Whenever a tour is scheduled in Taal, Batangas, the visit to Ka Eryang’s historical house is a never miss. It is the home and sanctuary of the Philippine Revolution. It is more popularly known today as the “wedding gift house”, a gift by her husband Eulalio Villavicencio, a wealthy ship owner.

An illustrious Filipina, Gliceria Marella was born in Taal on May 13, 1852 from an affluent family Vicente Marella and Gertrudis Legaspi. At the age of 12, she attended the Sta. Catalina in Intramuros but had to stop when her elder sister died and she had to continue the responsibility of managing the family estate.

Four years before the Philippine-Spanish war erupted in January 1892, Eulalio went to Hongkong and delivered P18,000, from the family’s personal funds, to Dr. Jose Rizal to finance his subversive propaganda movements against Spain. In gratitude, Rizal sent an ivory dagger, as a keepsake to Dona Gliceria and propaganda pamphlets. Eulalio helped in disseminating leaflets and copies of La Solidaridad. It did not go unnoticed and the suspicious Spaniards accused Eulalio of being a filibuster for inciting rebellion. He was imprisoned in the Old Bilibid Prison in Manila when his association with the revolutionary movement was validated.

Dr. Maximo Viola: Ang Tagapagligtas Ng Noli

Originally authored on August 30, 2015

“A friend in need is a friend indeed!” The original manuscript of Rizal’s first novel, Noli Me Tangere could not have seen the light of day due to financial constraint if not for the timely assistance of Viola. He funded the first 2,000 copies for publication. In deep gratitude, Rizal gave him the last galley proofs and the first published copy wherein it was written: “To my dear friend, Maximo Viola, the first to read and appreciate my work. Jose Rizal March 29, 1887, Berlin.

Born in Barrio Sta. Rita, San Miguel, Bulacan, he was an only child of Isabel Sison of Malabon and Pedro Viola of San Miguel. After his early education in his hometown, he finished a degree in Colegio de San Juan de Letran and sailed to Spain to study Medicine in University of Barcelona where he met other Filipino students, notably Jose Rizal with whom he developed a close friendship. He finished his doctoral degree in 1886 and before returning to the Philippines, together with Rizal, they toured Germany, Hungary, Austria, and Switzerland where he met Ferdinand Blumentritt, a foreigner friend and supporter of Rizal.

The Rock Star Lechon


Lechon is the food that defines the Philippines. It is the most celebrated dish especially around Christmastime. Regardless of the reason for celebration, lechon remains constant in a Filipino party which serves as the highlight of the event.

Tracing back to pre-Hispanic life, roasting of pork had been practiced in our country . Spain cannot stake a claim to be our source. From the personal account of Antonio Pigafetta, he described the religious rituals exclusively performed by women, presided over by the high spiritual priestess called Babaylan.

While the women danced on a cambay cloth to pay homage to the sun while chanting, sipping wine and playing reed flutes, a live large hog fattened for the purpose lay abound on a grass mat and sacrificed by a Babaylan who dipped the tip of her flute in the hog’s blood and marked the natives’ forehead with it.

The feasting then began after the Babaylan was awakened from her trance while the hog was butchered and roasted for the natives’ celebration.


How to Strike A Balance

Originally authored on October 4, 2015

A paradise beyond Boracay before the neoliberal policies where blindly implemented by the government. Semirara, one of the three major islands of Caluya in Antique, is home to Panian Mine, the largest and only open-pit coal mine in operation since 1999 in the country. A huge investment by DMCI in a rapidly changing climate both in politics and biosphere. A place where extracted industries are placed at the heart of national development policy, corruption, elite capture of wealth, toxic waste dumping, tailings leaks, labor abuses, blatant land grabs in cahoots with local government agencies are the norm.

Go Zero!

Originally authored on January 31, 2018

Our planet cannot save itself and scream: “ENOUGH!”

How much waste floats around in our oceans? Do we take into consideration the amount of trash we’ve dumped in garbage sites?

Most of our garbage ends up in the sea or landfills, and this is where the cycle continues. The fish eat the trash, and people eat the fish. The animals eat the garbage and people eat the animals. Go figure! The degeneration of the earth would mean our demise!

Surigao: Bleeding Our Paradise To Death

Originally authored on April 4, 2016

A heart-wrenching image, the barren mountains tell their own story.

Our country is the fifth most endowed in mineral deposits, it is third in the world in gold, fourth in copper, and fifth in nickel – not to mention having sizable deposits of iron, chromite, cobalt, and platinum. This could go a long way towards alleviating poverty and driving our economy forward. But why is it not working for our people?

Who Benefits From Gold Mining? NOT LOBO, BATANGAS!

Originally authored on September 24, 2015

Throughout history, our non-renewable mineral resources have enriched a few at the expense of the entire nation and our natural heritage. Fully aware of the massive consequences of mining, multi-sectoral groups denounced the pre-development works of Egerton Gold Phils., Inc, which had already drilled 173 holes for the exploration wherein each approximately 1 kilometer deep to check for gold deposits. The group sought the suspension of further drilling and cancellation of mining agreements involving the project. Lured by the promise of job opportunites, the barangay captains consented, not realizing what open-pit mining entailed. Lobo is home to 40,000 people as well as to Mount Baloi, a watershed that provides potable water for the province of Batangas. The process of separating minerals from ore by the use of mercury and lead would eventually mix with the water would endanger the lives of Batangueños. The contamination will also poison and kill marine life in rivers and lakes in the same area.

Why Should We Care If Mine Tailings Spill?

Originally authored on October 5, 2015

Dubbed as the heart of the Philippines, Marinduque is the geographical center of our country. Coincidentally, the island is shaped like a human heart, making its monicker quite fitting. However, it’s prolonged been ravaged at its very heart ever since the open-pit mining at Mt. Tapian in 1969 was used to produce copper concentrate. Placer Dome, a Canadian company, co-owned 40% and managed the corporation. Soon, several open pits were set-up, tunnels to drain, and dams were built to serve as storage of mine waste directly flowing to the rivers. Agricultural fields were inundated, drinking water was contaminated. Fish, shrimps, and other food sources were instantly killed, causing loss of livelihood for the local people which made it challenging for them to survive.

Old Manila’s “Last Lung”: The Arroceros Forest Park

Originally authored on August 7, 2017

In the middle of the polluted downtown Manila area is the 2.2 hectare mini-forest of indisputable historical and archaeological value. Arroceros was derived from the Spanish words rice dealer, the trading post where Filipino dealers engaged in barter with Malay and Chinese traders in the 16th and 17th centuries. It also became the site of the historic Fabrica de Tabacos in the 19th century and was a military barrack during the American era.



When people speak of preserving heritage these days it often concerns a structure that is threatened by destruction or alteration in the name of progress. Nobody can deny that the Parul is heritage. The naughty sidelights “only in the Philippines”, on a different light, has raised a positive meaning whenever we take pride in initiating the use of lantern in the form of a star to welcome Christmas season. It had since been our link to the past that refuses to be sidelined in every Filipino home here and miles away.

Inspired by the Star of Bethlehem, the first recorded maker of big lanterns, Francisco Estanislao, whose creation in 1908, was made of bamboo and coconut cloth. It was believed that Estanislao, a vendor and saltmaker from Pampanga made the piece for Simbang Gabi to attract the villagers to the church. The tradition transformed in the 1930s wherein Estanislao’s daughter, Fortunata married Severino David who made 16-foot lanterns that were lit by batteries from American military vehicles. Their union produced five boys and three girls.