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The Witness

It stood there, this old, rickety shack, isolated from the rest of the houses in the village, a perfect witness of the passing of time. Do its walls remember faces? Do the posts remember the stories of life this modest house might have seen? Does the house remember the names of the people who might have lived there?

Posted 3 years, 1 month ago at 7:43 pm.


Weekly Photo Challenge: Horizon

May we thread life knowing that each day a new and different sun arises from and sets in the horizon.

Posted 3 years, 6 months ago at 12:39 pm.


Just Some Silly Things

Sometimes, it’s nice to think of silly things.

Like whether the clouds shape themselves purposely into horses,

or whether the clouds and the sun play patintero in the sky. The clouds would try to suppress the sun and the sun would try to get away from the clouds.

Like whether the sun would laugh at the clouds when it is able to find its way out,

or whether the clouds get lost in the vastness of the skies.

Like whether the clouds love the play of colors when the sun sets,

or whether the clouds are mesmerized by the golden sunset.

Posted 4 years ago at 12:34 pm.


Here, Where JR Used to Lie

It was early 1800s. The first cholera pandemic in the world which started in India in 1817 had reached Manila and frequently visited the Philippines until around 1824. Thus, a cemetery in Manila, which was started upon by the Dominican priests in Manila in 1814, was completed and opened in 1820 to intern the casualties. It was named Cementerio General de Dilao.

The cemetery has a circular structure. Lined on its walls are niches that were used as tombs.

There used to be five tiers of niches. But it was reduced to three when the floor was raised due to flooding.

In the late 1800s, the cemetery became a resting place for the well-off families in the walled city of Intramuros. Later, it accommodated those that came from nearby places such as Binondo, Sampaloc, Malate, Ermita, and Quiapo. The growing population in these places prompted the building of an outer wall.

Here’s a picture to give you an idea how thick each of the the wall is.

On February 17, 1872, the remains of the three martyred priests implicated in the Cavite mutiny—Fathers Mariano Gomez, Jose Burgos, and Jacinto Zamora—were buried here.

On the early morning of December 30, 1896, another body of a man was interred secretly in the cemetery immediately after his execution by musketry. It was buried between the two walls, in an unmarked grave.

The dead person’s sister searched for his body among other cemeteries in Manila. She eventually found out that his body lied at the Cementerio General de Dilao. According to historical accounts, she bribed a gravedigger to mark the grave with R.P.J., the reverse of his initials.

The man’s body remained at the cemetery for almost two years, until it was dug up by his family in August 17, 1898 and kept in an urn at the family’s home in Binondo. On December 30, 1912, his remains were transferred to the base of the Rizal monument in Luneta (now Rizal Park).

Internment at the cemetery was stopped in the early 1900s. The remains of those who were buried there were transferred by their descendants. During World War II, the Japanese forces used the cemetery to house their supplies and ammunitions. It was an ideal place because of its thick walls.

Today, the well-trimmed grass lawns and plants, the tall trees that surround it, the century-old acacia tree in the middle of the park, and the Catholic chapel that’s a favorite wedding venue betray its past. The walls that have once sheltered remains are now silent witnesses to family picnics, musical soirees, weddings and receptions, and lovers’ quiet moments.

Cementerio General de Dilao is now known as Paco Park, a National Historical Shrine. It is located along General Luna St. and at the east end of Padre Faura Street in Paco, Manila. It can be reached via LRT (alight at UN station and then walk or ride a padyak); jeepney (those plying Taft Avenue, alight at the corner of UN Avenue); or taxi.

This trip to Rizal Park is part of my Lakbay Rizal@150. The Rizal Park, Rizal Monument, Rizal Fountain, and the site of Rizal’s execution are four of the sites included in the Lakbay Rizal @150 of the Department of Tourism.

Posted 4 years, 2 months ago at 12:28 pm.


Pasakalye sa Tag-araw

Summer na!

Nagbubunyi ang langit sa masiglang kulay na asul habang mahinhin itong sinusuyod at kinikiliti ng malabulak na mga ulap. Sa lupa, ramdam ng mortal na balat ang kakaibang init ng halik ng haring araw. Hatid ng init na ito ang daluyong ng masasayang mga alaala–mga maliliit na piraso ng langit–sa panahon ng tag-araw:

Ang maingay na panahon ng taguan, patintero, at habulan na sumubok sa kakayahan ng tsinelas na goma.

Ang masiglang pagtatampisaw sa mga ilog at lawa, at pamimingwit, at ang pamamangka.

Ang maigting na pag-aagawan sa lumang duyan na kahit butas na ay kaakit-akit pa ring sakyan.

Ang masuyong paghalik sa paa ng alon at malambing na paghampas nito sa dalampasigan.

Ang namaos na lalamunan sa pagkanta sa videoki sa mga reunion at pistahan.

Ang matatamis na ngiti at maiinit na yakap na pasalubong sa mga nagbabakasyon na balikbayan.

Ang matiyagang paghihintay sa pagdaan ng mamang sorbetero sa kanto, at ang pananabik na matikman ang sorbetes bago pa matunaw ito.

Ang paghimlay ng araw sa kanluran, ang pagsalisi ng gabi, at ang pagdiriwang ng mga tsismoso at tsismosa sa labas ng bahay, sa ilalim ng kahaliling liwanag. Kuwentuhang walang humpay hanggang lumalim ang gabi, kasabay ng pag-awit ng mga kuliglig sa gabing pangko ng punong mangga ang buwan.

Ang mga ito ay ilan lamang sa mga larawang kaakit-akit na iginuguhit ng panahon ng tag-araw, mga larawang patuloy nating minamahal, binabalikan, ipinagdiriwang, at iniingatan. Dahil ang summer sa Pilipinas ay panahon ng pagtatampisaw sa saya, ng pagtupad sa mga pangako at pagtanaw sa pag-asa, ng mga paglalakbay, ng pagsalubong sa buhay, ng pakikipag-isang dibdib sa kalikasan, at ng muling pakikipagniig sa lupang pinagmulan.

(published online last summer at the Kablogs Journal.)

Posted 5 years, 1 month ago at 1:23 pm.