Francisco Baltazar of Bulacan and Bataan

If Francisco Baltazar were alive, do you think that he would be a famous writer? Or perhaps blogger? I was a second year high school student when I read his most popular work of art, Florante at Laura.

It was not because I was interested, it was because we were required to read his book and occasionally recite some of the stanzas. Francisco Dela Cruz Balagtas was born in April 2, 1788 in Panginay, Bigaa, Bulacan. Bigaa is now known as Balagtas. Born to a poor family, Kiko had to work as a servant to the wealthy Trinidad family of Tondo. This gave him the opportunity to finish his studies in Colegio de San Jose and then later in San Juan de Letran.

He had an inborn talent for writing and he was able to use it to his advantage. Being a hopeless romantic, he created poems for the women that caught his eyes. His greatest love (before meeting his wife) and greatest pain was a lovely lady named Maria Asuncion Rivera. He called her “Celia” in his writings and signed his works as “Francisco Baltazar.” He used this pseudonym until such a time when he legally registered it under the governor decree (adopt a standardized Filipino name and surname) issued by Narciso Claveria. Loving Celia caught the ire of his rival, the wealthy cacique, Nanong Capule of Malabon. He pressed false charges against Kiko with the aid of a paid witness. Kiko was said to be spreading false rumors about Celia and her family. He was sent to jail but what broke his spirit was when Celia married Capule. It was said that the Florante at Laura was a reflection of his own life and love story. In 1838, he was released from the jail and his works were already published.

O Love! Thou all-omnipotent one,
Who sporteth ev’n with sire and son;
Once sworn to thee, a heart then on
Defies all else: thy will be done.

He moved to Balanga, Bataan to start a new life. He accepted a job there and then later on met Juana Rodriguez Tiambeng who came from a rich family in Udyong (now known as Orion). Their union produced 11 children but only 4 made it to adulthood. Their most famous child was Victor who organized and led the local Katipunan unit in Udyong in the revolt against the Spaniards in 1898.

His quiet life did not last long as another problem costed them not only his freedom but their money, as well. For the second time, he was imprisoned in 1849 for allegedly cutting the hair of Alferez Lucas’ servant. He was released in 1860 and he came back to an impoverished house as their money was used for his case resolution. He went back to writing to support his family. Two years after his release, his health deteriorated. His famous last words to his wife on his death bed were “Ipinagbibilin kong mahigpit sa iyo, putlan mo ng mga daliri ang sinuman sa ating mga supling ang mangangahas na humawak ng panulat at magtatangkang manaludtod.” He discouraged any of his children from writing because as most people believe during those times, writers did not make any money.

He died in February 20, 1862 and was buried in Udyong. Balagtas Day is celebrated in Bulacan and then in Bataan (since 2018) to commemorate the most notable Filipino poet of all times.

Instant Love and Instant Good-Bye

Note: I was able to retrieve an old typewritten diary that I wrote in 1996.

Summer of 1996 at the dance hall; I was so tensed practicing our dance steps for the event later as it was my first time in two years to dance in front of  the public. Good thing, I was in the company of Jenny, Ronna and Ness; they were my shock absorber. I wouldn’t be this tensed had the audience were not foreigners! We finished the practice by lunch time and we were expected to be back by 2:00 PM. The guests were expected to arrive by 2:30 PM. I felt exhausted but I had to make it.

At exactly 2:30 PM, 25 Japanese teens and 5 Japanese adults entered the room smiling. We exchanged pleasantries; the Filipinos, in Tagalog while them, in Nippongo. You wouldn’t know by their genuine smile that they came straight from the airport. The program started with a brief speech from one of the Japanese adults. It was followed by a Japanese song performed by the Japanese teens.

The following day, we toured them around the province. A Japanese teen greeted me with a broken “Maganda umaga, binibini.” The tour went fine; the two adults Kadaka and Tosho asked me a lot of questions. Kadaka-san was fluent in English while Tosho-san had a hard time understanding me. I didn’t see myself as a fluent conversationalist but some of them thought that I was!

When we reached Bagac, we got off the tourist bus and started the ceremonial hiking. I became fast friends with Yoshie and Yuka. Yoshie was good in music; she played the piano well. We show them the Filipino-Japanese Friendship Tower.

“Friendship? Like you and me?” Yoshie said to me.

After the tour, we went back to the hall for lunch. Kadaka-san asked the group to mingle with each other. The Japanese teens were distributed and soon I was in the company of Yoshie and Kazume. They were so friendly and adorable, we could be friends forever! A tall, white and handsome Japanese teen approached me and said, “Nice dance.” He was pertaining to the event yesterday. My Filipina friends blushed upon hearing this. He was their favorite! He got a camera and took pictures of us. My heart could melt at that time!

Kadaka-san and Tosho-san teased me if I wanted to go to Japan someday. Of course, I said yes! (Now, I don’t know if they meant going there through a marriage for convenience, travel or work! LOL!)

That night, there was a mini-party at the hall. I was able to meet more friends like Keiko. The tall, white and handsome Japanese teen approached our group. I asked his name again because I couldn’t remember.

“Takayuki. But you can call me Tako,” he said smiling.

He said something in Nippongo and the group teased him. One of them translated it in English.

“He said, you’re the prettiest!”

“Yes, you are a beautiful lady, ” Tako seconded.

Another guy named Yozuka,  the rebel-without-a-cause and the Mr. Nice Guy named Takeshi seemed to agree. I was not used to hearing flattering words; I felt the gush of blood on my cheeks.

The newspaper dance with Tako was a success because at his towering height, he could lift a petite woman like me. He was gentleman enough not to take this opportunity at his advantage. At one moment, I thought I could hear his heartbeat. His hands were cold and I wondered if it was the air conditioner or his feelings that were revealing him. At one point, he asked my age.

“18,” I said, “What about you?”

“20.”

The newspaper dance was tiring so we just rested after it. He asked about my hobby and I found out that we both loved swimming. Yozuka made face.

The next game was trip to Jerusalem. Conscious of each other’s feelings, I decided to be prim and proper by not choosing to sit down on Tako. After the warm-up games, we had disco until the early hours of the morning.

The next day was their last stay in the Philippines. I brought a small address book and asked them to write down their name and address. Tako wrote a heart symbol. The brief and unforgettable time with him became a treasured memory.

“Happy trip, Tako,” I said.

He held my hands and said, “Why don’t you come to Japan?”

“Maybe someday?” I said.

Takeshi smiled at me and said “Sayonara.”

Yozuka bid his farewell and said that he would never forget a girl like me.

The Japanese girls were more emotional, they were crying while saying their good-bye. I found myself crying, too in the company of Yoshie S, Yoshie, Yuoko, Keiko and Kazume. They were my instant friends and what an instant good-bye! It was the most dramatic demonstration of love and friendship that I would cherish forever.

***************************

Fast forward to 2018. As I was reading this piece of shit (joke!), I couldn’t help but notice that my young self was too vulnerable about falling in love. My young self was too naïve and too focused on the romantic side of love (no wonder, I had some heartaches before!)The good thing was, I was able to feel that electrifying moment.

 

 

 

Mt. Samat (Bataan) Photos

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Panoramic view of the Dambana ng Kagitingan grounds.

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The situation when Maj. Gen. Edward P. King  surrendered to the Japanese forces (red lights). The blue lights represent the Allied Forces whereas the red lights, the Japanese forces.

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Just look at what happened to Balanga then. =(

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That’s Maj. Gen. King.  Talisay is such a historical place that most Bataenos take for granted.

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Stairway to the cross.

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Tsk! Tsk! Tourists, please don’t throw your garbage anywhere!

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The magnificent cross and our flag!

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View from the top.

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Ah, that’s Manila on the other side of the sea!

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My personal mission is to be grateful for all the sacrifices made by our ancestors during the war era.

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Not sure what this hall is for.  Hihi!

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When Birthday Is A Thing Of The Past

You used to be excited about your birthday, Chariz!

You used to be excited about your birthday, Chariz!

First off, happy birthday to you Chariz!

My three-year old son attended a birthday party yesterday. Though he was initially grumpy because of unfamiliar faces, his mood lightened up when the clown performed some magic tricks. When we got back home, I reminded him that tomorrow is his elder sister’s (Ate) birthday. He got excited and asked if it would be just like the birthday party that we attended.

From a toddler’s point of view, all birthdays must come up with a celebration: cake, ice cream, balloons and clown. Adi expected his Ate’s birthday to have those features. A week ago, I asked my daughter how she wanted to celebrate her birthday and she said that at her age (turning 16), she found it weird to even celebrate it.

Ah, gone are the days when she used to ask me every now and then how we would celebrate her birthday. Since her birthday falls on a summer, the usual celebration was a swimming party for the family. The most memorable one was our beach party at my mother’s friend’s private resort in Bagac, Bataan in 2008. When proximity was an issue, we would just hang out in Villa Amanda Resort in Abucay, Bataan. The owner was my mother’s boardmate in college so there was always pancit bilao delivered to our cottage for free. Chariz was so happy at the sight of the pancit and thought what an “expensive” gift she had! (Of course, I appreciate the pancit, Tita but my point is, from a child’s point of view, little gifts really mean a LOT.)

Where we used to unwind and celebrate.

Where we used to unwind and celebrate.

The moral of the story, like what I’m always saying, “minsan lang sila bata” especially now that kids grow up really fast, physically and emotionally.Enjoy the times when your kids are still very much dependent on you. Take every opportunity to be there for them. Bring your kids to the mall, buy them cotton candies, let them window-shop (and buy the item if it’s worth it) with you, accompany them to the salon or barber shop, attend PTA’s—these would seem like simple activities to you but in the eyes of a child, being with their parents is the greatest gift one could ever have.

Remembering Bataan

taken from the web

taken from the web

old bataan 2

“Where are you from?” a classmate in Baguio asked me. It was the start of the second semester and we were given the opportunity to get acquainted with our classmates. It was just a classroom affair though.

Proudly, I told him that I was from Bataan. His round eyes widened and he let go a smirk.

“And where is that on the map?” he asked.

“I can’t believe you don’t know where Bataan is. It’s near Pampanga,” I replied.

“Oh, I haven’t been to Pampanga,” he said.

“Really, so don’t tell me you haven’t been to Manila, too. You will pass by Pampanga when you travel down to Manila,” I informed him.

Of course my classmate was just trying to annoy me by deliberately pretending that he didn’t know where on the Philippines my province was. He succeeded in annoying me though.

I left Bataan in 1994 for Baguio to pursue my studies there. Since then, I would only visit my province twice up to four times per year. Working in the lowlands after college gave me the opportunity to go home in Bataan weekly. Those were one of my happiest days. I was able to visit my family while exploring the beauty of my province.

It is true that you wouldn’t know what you got until you lose it. When I was away from home in college, I always dreamed of my grandmother’s house. It was a big old house where I spent part of my childhood and teenage years. There was nothing really special about that house except the good old memories of the persons who lived there.

Before we had the Robinson’s in Balanga, we were happy with VETAF’s and the arcade. The town plaza was simple and the Balanga Cathedral was old and mossy. We definitely have better structures now and better facilities; it’s good for the new generation to be growing up to a more modern society but I can’t help but feel sorry for myself for not taking the opportunity to enjoy the old Balanga as it was. Monuments and architecture are the artistic and realistic reflections of an era; I just lost my era to a better one, I guess.

An officemate proudly told me that she had been to Dambana ng Kagitingan for five times. I told her that I’ve only been there once and it was in 1993. So near and yet so far, when I was in Bataan, I wouldn’t care about the tourist spots there but now that I’m a province apart, I am pining to be there and explore the province. Maybe the same holds true for my current feelings for Bulacan or Quezon City; I wouldn’t appreciate being here unless I move to another place and realize what I have missed.

With Evangeline Pascual and Janine Tugonon as beauty front-runners, one of my officemates couldn’t help but conclude that most of Bataan women are pretty. Now speaking like an outsider, I agree with her observation because most, if not all, of the girls and women that I chanced upon in Beanery and some of the bars there were pretty.

But typical Bataeno/Bataenas are snob and do not merge easily into an outsider’s culture. The pride is inborn and the mentality of superiority is always there but never admitted.