The Philippine Senate, Then and Now.

Roughly 100 years ago, we had our first Senatorial election in which our forefathers decided to seat 24 gentlemen from all around our nation to help our then President Emilio Aguinaldo run the government, and not so distant from now (less than a month) we will again, decide to elect 12 of our senators, with the same purpose, hundred years back.

But, what was the difference back then, when seating a senator compared to now, is there a big difference or everything remained the same?

Let us see.

The first senatorial election was held on October 3, 1916 after the passage of the Jones Law, an act that created the Philippine Senate. Before the act was passed, it was the sole discretion of the President to seat whom he, or his faction, feels is capable in helping him in running the government. But with the law enacted, it was the first time in our history to give the power to the people to choose their own senators.

Also, our first senators are representatives of our 12 regions, like a congressman today, since the lower house was not yet commissioned before, making the balance of power in every provinces and regions. Included in that batch was our eventually 2nd president Manuel Quezon, who was also the first Senate President of our Country.

Quezon was the most popular senators before, not only because he garnered the most votes in his hometown, but he was also one of Don Emilio Aguinaldo’s closest ally and friend, before they have fallen apart due to Aguinaldo’s decision to heavily side with the Americans when the 2nd Presidential Election was coming.

Aside from him, majority of our first senators were also War veterans like Pedro Maria Sison who had represented La Union, Pangasinan, and Zambales, Isauro Gabaldon from Nueva Ecija who had represented Region 3, and Francisco Villanueva from Ilo-Ilo city who had pushed the envelop in order to include the Visayas region in the first Malolos Congress.

These gentlemen are not only war veterans, who had put their lives in line for the love of our country, but also lawyers and statesman by profession. Don Pedro Maria Sison had a province under his belt (Sison, Pangasinan more popularly known as the last stop and first bus stop of buses, mostly Victory Liners, to and from Baguio City) and Gabaldon Nueva Ecija after the late Statesman Isauro Gabaldon.

To add, during the first senatorial election, we only had 2 political parties which was Nacionalista and Progresista unlike today we had tons of them, which only makes the choosing very difficult but also gives avenue to undeserving candidates to run for the seat like most of our senators and politicians today (local and national).

That being said, let us look now into our current Senate as well as have a glimpse on the latest survey of the front runners for senators.

Now, out of the 24 seats, we only have 7 lawyers and two of the most brilliant minds to ever graced the Philippine Politics were on their twilight years, Juan Ponce Enrile is at 92 years old and Miriam Defensor-Santiago is at 70, who is also running for the presidency but is the last, according to the latest survey. The current Senate President Franklin Drilon, the Cayetano Siblings, Chiz Escudero and the BAR top notcher Koko Pimentel completes the list of the Senator Lawyers.

If you may ask, am I being biased to lawyers, yes, not that I am one, but as a Senator, I think, he who understands the law can and will make better laws for the land, the learning curve will be shorter compared to those who have difficulty in understanding it, this is not an absolute truth but a mere observation of the author, and probably majority of the thinking voters of the land.

Aside from the 7 Lawyers, to somehow complete the list of our senators, we 3 have former movie action stars (Lapid, Revilla, Estrada), a business mogul (Villar), a daughter of a longtime politician (Binay), 2 former rebel leader (Trillanes, Honasan), an anchor woman (Legarda), 2 sons of former Philippine president (Ejercito, Marcos), 3 sons of former senator (Guingona, Angara, Osmena), Cousin of the current PNoy (Aquino), a former senator and host of Eat Bulaga (Sotto), daughter of the Philippine Action Movie King (Poe), and husband of the Philippine’s Star for all Season (Recto).

It was arguably, if not the, one of the most diverse pool of senators we had since its conception 100 years ago, but the sad thing was, they only lived half (or even less) to the expectation of bringing different hats and tricks on the table, but was blemished by the very different propagandas, scandals, and personal issues.

Nonetheless, we will cut half of them, in the coming days, and try to replace them with a better version, hopefully, but judging from the latest survey, we might be having another zoo for senators, hopefully not.

First on the survey was Tito Sotto (God bless Aldub), then by re-electionist Franklin Drilon, and familiar faces up until the fourth. Coming in five is (Lord have Mercy on us) Filipino Sensation and boxing superstar Manny Pacquiao, who was not only known for his speed and left hook, but also for his absences as a congressman. As per the record, he only went inside the Batasang Pambansa, this year alone, 4 times, but unfortunately he is ahead, in fact way ahead of senatoriables who are far more capable than him like Isko Moreno, Toots Ople, and Jerico Petilla, to name a few.

Going back to the list, second timer (hopeful) Risa Hontiveros, who is known to be  an ally of the progressive group Akbayan, who are known to purposely disrupt presidential speaking engagements, form unorganized movements against all the presidents, vandalize government properties, etc. etc. is seventh from the list. If my calculations are correct, she will be the first person from the activist group to have a seat in the senate, and the saddest part is that we might be funding their rallies and whatnot along the way, so God Help Us.

On the brink of the list was former DOJ Secretary Leila De Lima, who was not only a Lawyer but a worker as well. Giving her the credit, she had worked her ass of as the Justice Secretary, and I think, she can hold herself as a senator. Unfortunately, like 9th front runner, Joel Villanueva, they have been tarnished with their political ads, who might have been our money, but who gives a rat’s A anyways. No One but a few of us.

I might be on the edge of judging their capabilities and characters but you can’t blame me, I guess, because of the past. We had better senators then who had the chance to shape our nation into greatness but opted not to, and with these list, I can’t argue anymore. I hope I am wrong.

Let us all vote wisely, let us pick the most competent of the candidates and not the most popular, because at the end of the day, competent beats the popular, all day.

Not The Andres Bonifacio You Knew

From the time Philippine history was introduced as a subject, Katipunan’s Andres Bonifacio was portrayed as an uneducated, hot headed, and poor commoner who had enough of the Spanish abuse, reason why he went at arms with them (prematurely) in 1896. However, according to accounts of the Supremo’s closest relatives, friends, and former wife, he is not the person that our textbooks have been projecting the moment it was taught inside the classroom.

According to his closest friends, the Supremo had jobs as a sales man, a storekeeper, an agent (just to name a few) for foreign companies in Manila before the war broke in the late 1800s. With this information at hand, it only not meant that he had a very good means to provide for himself and his family but he is also good in Spanish, which is at that time, the international language in the Philippines.

It was also portrayed that Bonifacio was a no-read-no-write lad, but based on his wife’s account, Ka Oryang’s parents (most especially his father), is not in favor with his then “nobio/nobyo” because he was a Freemason, which was then had a very bad image, thanks to the religion that we had at that time. If you were to analyze the situation, back then (up until now), Freemasons was a secured organization that only accepts educated and middle to upper class members of the society (Rizal and Mabini was one of them). That being said, Bonifacio is far from the illiterate poor “bodegero” that our past historians have projected.

In addition, aside from being a Freemason, he was also a La Liga Filipina member, which means that he had access to the doors of the “illustrados” and had known popular persons in the society such as Jose Rizal and the Luna brothers.

Bonifacio, like Rizal, was a wide read person and in fact, some of the books that Rizal had or read was the same books that the Supremo had and unlike Aguinaldo, who had admitted publicly in an interview that he never read any of Rizal’s book (Noli and El Fili) because he had a small (if not none) command of the Spanish language, Bonifacio read and was inspired by El Fili who at that time was in full Spanish transcript.

Based on his relatives’ account, Bonifacio was not only fluent in Spanish but other language as well such as French in which he had read Victo Hugo’s Les Miserables and the French Revolution books, that ignited the fire in him to finally take up arms against oppression.

Clearly this accounts and close to facts evidences only showed that the Andres Bonifacio hero we knew from Delos Santos, Zaide, Agoncillo is a total 360 degree person from the real one. Based from the jobs he had as a salesman, a clerk, a messenger, a storekeeper for a foreign company showed that he was not a commoner but in fact a well bred gentlemen.

Another interesting fact by Supremo’s younger sister, Espiridonia Bonifacio, is that the account of their business (selling fans and canes) was thriving, because she remembered that the price of their canes at that time were bought at around 50 to 100 pesos (it wasn’t clear if by bulk of individual, nonetheless, it was a serious amount of money back then)

However, do not be confused of Bonifacio as a haciendero or an elite, Big NO! he belonged to a middle classed family who can eat at least  3 meals a day and sometimes can buy things they need or want. One fact that can and will attest that Bonifacio belonged to the B class of the society is that he nor his family had no hacienda or mansion unlike the Rizal estate in Calamba and the Aguinaldo shrine in Cavit, or the Luna Mansion in Ilocos.

In all fairness to the Philippine Government, there were efforts to locate for his house or ancestral home, but most of them burned down or ruined during the American-Spanish War. The surviving houses, where the Bonifacio’s (Andres and Ka Oryang), lived were marked by the Government’s historical commission to commemorate the Supremo.

In hindsight, since winners writes history and clearly Aguinaldo won his battle against Bonifacio, did he intentionally portrayed the Supremo as his own image that was tweaked a little bit as poor commoner to capture the hearts of the common masses?

The Betrayals of Gen. Emilio Aguinaldo

Clearly, as what this blog site implies, the author is not (and will never be) an Aguinaldo fan. It is also clear, unlike to what is being (and have been) taught in school, that Aguinaldo is after all for personal favor and not what was written in our history books. Despite his glorified image, it is undeniable that he was the person behind the deaths of the most important(if not “The”) persons in the Philippine History, as well as betrayals and the sale of our country.

That being said let us count the ways, how many times, Don Emilio Aguinaldo favored himself over our beloved country.

Philippine’s For Sale (Pact of Biak na Bato)

With the death of Katipunan’s Supreme Leader, Andres Bonifacio, the Philippine revolutionary stronghold started to lose grip, prompting Aguinaldo (and his cohorts and cabinet) to take refuge in a remote cave in the province of Bulacan, called Biak na Bato. Together with his cabinets and loyalist, they have agreed on and signed a pact selling the Philippine Revolution to the Spanish empire for 800,000 Mexican Peso, half of which will be Aguinaldo’s and the other half will be distributed to the entire party.

At that point in time, the move made some Filipinos, most specially those who are still fighting and not present in the Pact of Biak na Bato, angry and felt betrayed more overly those who are relatives of the one’s who were killed in action (I can’t fathom the way Donya Oryang (widow of Andres Bonifacio) felt during that time).

However, later on, it was refuted (by the Aguinaldo loyalist and relatives) that the move is some sort of a tactic to gather funds and ground in order to purchase firearms and recruit more revolutionaries, in relation to the second salvo of the revolution. Also, they claimed that without the Pact of Biak na Bato, the Spanish could have still went after the revolutionaries but all of it died down with the sale.

True enough, the Spanish purchased the revolution but agreed to only pay Aguinaldo in half (400,000 Mexican Pesos), and promise to pay the other half after his exile in Hong Kong. The other 400,000 Mexican Pesos was never fulfilled and Aguinaldo never had purchased additional firearms (and revolutionaries) with his money.

Balimbing Republic

In 1941, during the Japanese Regime, Aguinaldo went to the radio and appealed to the country not to take up arms against the Japanese Forces, but join them in arms instead.

Other, most specially the Anti Aguinaldo forces, saw this gesture not only as betrayal but a mere revenge after he lost the seat to the then Speaker of the House, Manuel Quezon, with the hopes of getting the presidency or at least the highest Philippine representative during the occupation. Unfortunately, after all his efforts to take the seat, it was given to Jose P. Laurel.

Supremo’s Murder (Andres Bonifacio)

He first ordered the exile of Katipunan’s founding father Andres Bonifacio and his brother Procopio because of treason and conspiracy to kill Emilio Aguinaldo. On his credit, Aguinlado, tried the Bonifacio brothers, with Jury and a defense lawyer.Be as it may, the Jury and the Bonifacio defense lawyer were all Aguinaldo loyalist and fellow Cavitenos (during that time regional differences were at it’s highest peak).

After the trial, he ordered for the brothers to be exiled, but later on recalled his orders and gave in to his general’s advice (pressure) to kill the Bonifacio brothers, instead, for the sake of their cause. On the wake of an offensive by the Spanish forces in Maragondon Cavite, he ordered the execution of the Andres and Procopio Bonifacio in the Maragondon mountain ranges, some called named it Mount Buntis, some Nagpatong, some Tala, but unfortunately, until now, no one is definite the exact place of execution.

With the death of Bonifacio, he made himself the Supreme Leader of Katipunan that eventually led to the first Republic of the Philippines, but the manner of how he took the seat only showed that he is more into the personal rather than the patriotic edge of the blade. To make matters worst, he treated Andres Bonifacio like a common criminal, by ordering to shoot Andres Bonifcaio at the back (which is only given to traitors, like what the Spanish government did to Jose Rizal) and by not giving him a proper burial.

The Assassination of Gen. Antonio Luna

Gen. Antonio Luna gained notoriety during the Filipino-American War right after the Filipino-Spanish war. He is known to be a hot headed and ill tempered but very disciplined and dedicated general, of whom, many are happy and sad/bitter at the same time.

Luna was Aguinaldo’s highest commanding general but had gained many foes along the line, including some other generals and advisers of Aguinaldo.

Like Andres Bonifacio, Luna was killed by Aguinaldo’s men, but unlike Bonifacio’s, Aguinaldo denied the allegation until his death. Nonetheless, even though the evidences are pointing towards the men of Aguinaldo (and himself), no single person was tried nor convicted of Luna’s death on June 1899 in Cabanatuan City.

Aguinaldo’s name came into picture when he allegedly summoned Luna to Cabanatuan City, as he will be named secretary of war only to find out his arch nemesis (and a known Aguinaldo ally) Felipe Buencamino, behind Aguinaldo’s seat.

After a verbal altercation with Buencamino, Luna angrily came down the City’s capitol building and out of the square to his two trusted aides Col. Francisco “Paco” Roman and Capt. Eduardo Rusca, when he heard a gunshot inside the compound which prompted him to go back to confront the person who fired the gun. While looking for the culprit, he was upfronted by Capt. Jalonillo (another Aguinaldo ally and fellow Caviteno and was victim of the General’s wrath when he failed on a mission ), with a bolo to the head.

After Gen. Luna (and Paco Roman) was killed, Dona Trinidad Famy Aguinaldo (Aguinaldo’s Mother), peered out of the window and uttered or asked the question “Yari na ba yan?” which was/is a two standard phrase that can be interpreted as “is it done?” or “is he dead?” adding fuel to the controversy.

Don Emilio Aguinaldo went to live and witness the emancipation of our country until his death in 1964 at the age of 94 outliving his fellow Spanish “Hero” by a margin of 60+ years (Luna died at 32, Bonifacio died at 33, Jose Rizal died at 35, Del Pilar died at 24, and so on). In addition, Gen. Aguinaldo was not shy to show the entire country of his personal ambition like what he did during the Pact of Biak na Bato and the Japanese Occupation.

Nonetheless, like the old saying goes, winners write history, reason why he was (and still is) treated as a national hero well in fact he can be tagged as a traitor and betrayer.

Col. Agapito “Yntong” Bonzon, A Traitor or A Good Soldier?

Is he a traitor, like most of the men behind the death of Supremo Andres Bonifacio, or a very loyal soldier to his superiors that is willing to take every bullet in the name of camaraderie and respect to his commanding officer?

You’d be the Judge.

For those who are unaware who he is, Col. Agapito Bonzon or more popularly known as Col. Yntong, was the arresting officer of Andres Bonifacio in Limbon Cavite on April 28, 1897 , and based on his reports to General Emilio Aguinaldo, he had no recourse but to fight fire with fire, as Bonifacio turned hostile towards him (and his arresting team), when the Supremo learned that he is up for an arrest because of sedition and treason.

He even called Bonifacio his brother and said that he didn’t want to hurt him but he had no choice but to retaliate. After the dust settled, Andres Bonifacio was shot (in the arm) and stabbed in the neck (some claimed that it was Col. Yntong but some also say Col. Ignacio Pawa who had a bronze statue in Cavite). The wounds received by the Katipunan’s Supreme leader made him immovable and immobile and was carried through a hamock into his trial in Maragondon which eventually led to his death sentence together with his brother Procopio.

This was his side, however, there are always two sides of the coin, and according to the accounts of Andres Bonifacio’s widow Gregoria De Jesus or Ka Oryang to many, Col. Yntong’s claims were far from what really happened.

Ka Oryang said that Col. Yntong and his men were cordially welcomed by the Supremo in his house and even asked them to join him for breakfast and gave them packs of cigarettes when Col. Yntong left the Supremo’s dwelling, the day before his arrest.

The next day, the once peaceful Col. Yntong came back but, this time a different beast, he shouted profanities to the Supremo and called him “Walang Hiya“, maybe to urge Katipunan’s Supreme leader to retaliate and project him as a hot headed man, but Bonifacio came back peacefully and said that he had not done anything wrong to anyone in the organization.

However, as he was speaking, a shot was fired that eventually triggered a gun fight between the two factions. After the battle, Andres Bonifacio was fatally wounded, his brother Procopio was beaten senseless and another brother Ciriaco was gunned down. In addition, it was also accounted that Ka Oryang was sexually abused, but this is another story to tell.

It is really hard to tell or brand Col. Yntong as a traitor because of his actions against one of the, if not the most, important person in our history. On the other side of the fence, it is also hard to discredit his action as a regular soldier following an order from his superior(s).

Is it not Aguinaldo who had ordered Col. Yntong to come strong and throw garbs toward the Supremo hoping for the latter to draw his gun first?And is it not Aguinaldo who had ordered Col. Yntong to capture Bonifacio (and his men) dead (because of the stab wound in the neck and a second blow that was thwarted by a loyal Bonifacio man who offered himself to be stabbed instead of the Supremo).

You’d be the judge.

Philippine’s Evolution (Educational System)

Long before the Spaniards came to conquer our island, education has been there, but not sophisticated as it was today.

Chieftains or head(s) of the community are the sole responsible for the education of the entire village. They teach basic communication (writing and speaking) as well as the use of their weapons on hunting and wars.

When the Spaniards came, they introduced the proper form of education which was mostly headed and led by religious leaders (University of Santo Tomas – the oldest university in Asia) such as friars or cardinals.

However, the schools that they have opened were exclusive only for Spanish and Half bloods or mestizos, thus making Jose Rizal an illustrado and well educated man and Andres Bonifacio a self thought and educated common people.

When Uncle Sam came into the picture, they opened schools and universities to everybody and made English the primary tool in educating the country, which made them different to the Spaniards who made Spanish exclusive to them and to the half bloods.

The American’s education system is one, if not the, most important thing that they brought here during their regime that is why we are the hub of contact centers in the entire planet.

However, as good as it may, it created confusion to everyone (up until now) because we are incepted and educated, through their books, of snows, pancakes, winters, springs, falls, Santa Claus, etc. which is nonexistent in our country.

When the Japanese Imperial Army marched in, for a short duration, they have maintained the American education system, but required nihonggo as a subject as what they did to Saipan and Singapore during the WWII, which showed their love for Japan.

Of course through course of time our education system evolved from era to era.

During our grandparents, they have Latin subjects, which are heavily influenced by the Spaniards and their religion. My folks had Spanish and when it was my time English, History, Science, and Math were the most important subjects.

Today, as it is continually evolving, young students have visual arts, robotics, programming, and other modern trends, which are dictated mostly by technology.

Sadly, in today’s education system, History and Mother tongue had taken a backseat to give way to the more appropriate and advanced curriculums, which I heavily disagree on.

It is very vital for our education system to push more for, correct and accurate, history so our younger generations would know and appreciate the heroism of our forefathers and in turn, our younger generation will develop their sense of nationalism and love for the country, reason being this website has been created.

On This Day In Philippine History. March 17, 1521.

On March 17, 1521 Portuguese explorer Ferdinand Magellan and 150 of his crew, landed on the shores of the Philippine Archipelago, they are the first European explorer to set foot in our country.

Through the help of his Malayan interpreter Enrique (of Malacca), he befriended a high Cebu chieftain, Rajah Humabon his wife Ara Amihan, whom later on were converted into Christianity, making them the earliest Christian convert in the Philippines.

In addition, not only the first Filipino Christians, Rajah Humabon and Ara Amihan were also the first owners of the, now tourist attractions in Cebu, the Santo Nino de Cebu and the Magellan’s Cross. These two artifacts were Magellan’s gift to them when they decided to convert into Christianity.

It is well known that Lapu-Lapu killed Magellan, a couple of months after landing and converting the community of Rajah Humabon into Christianity, however, it was not specified in our history books that it was Rajah Humabon who led Magellan to the fierce chieftain of Mactan Lapu-Lapu, with a personal interest against the Philippine’s first hero.

According to accounts, Rajah Humabon and Ara Amihan convinced Magellan to confront Lapu-Lapu because of an outstanding feud between the two chieftains. It is also rumored that the main reason why Rajah Humabon accepted Magellan with open arms and converted his entire town into Christianity is to convince the Portuguese explorer to join him in arms against the Mactan chieftain.

on April 27, of the same year, with a small attack group, Ferdinand Magellan sailed into Mactan to confront Lapu-Lapu, in retaliation of his rejection into conversion, but was struck fatally with a bamboo spear from Lapu-Lapu and his crew.

Emilio Aguinaldo’s Confession

Emilio Aguinaldo is well-known and popular to be the first president of the Philippine Republic, but, like Ferdinand Marcos and Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, he is also one of the most controversial president we had.

Among all the controversies surrounded the Cavite General, the most standout was his involvement in the killing of Supremo Andres Bonifacio and his brother Procopio, because of treason. It lingered for the longest time who had them killed until a letter surfaced, with his signature, in 1948, claiming and acknowledging the brain behind the Bonifacio killing.

The day before his birthday in 1948, a letter went public which is something like a series of exchanges between him and Mariano Noriel and Pio del Pilar, his war Generals, regarding his orders for the fate of the Bonifacio brothers.

The letter initially goes:

Kung ibig po ninyong magpatuloy ang kapanatagan ng pamahalaang mapanghimagsik, at kung ibig ninyong mabuhay pa tayo, ay inyo pong bawiin ang iginawad na indukto sa magkapatid na iyan.”

(Translation: “If you want to go on with peace of mind for the entire revolution and want as well for us to live (as an organization), please reconsider your decree on the Bonifacio brothers.)

For the benefit of the few, Aguinaldo initially ordered the Bonifacio brothers to be exiled or deported.

He then answered with his signature with these:

“Dahil dito’y aking binawi at inutos ko kay Heneral Noriel na ipatupad ang kahatulan ng Consejo de Guerra, na barilin ang magkapatid, alang-alang sa kapanatagan ng bayan.”

(Translation: “Because of this, I retracted and ordered Gen. Noriel to enforce the judgement of Consejo de Guerra, to shot the Bonifacio brothers, for the sake of our organization’s order and stability.)

However, although the letter bears the acknowledgement, it depicts that he is just giving in on the recommendations of his trusted men for the sake of their cause and the country.

With this confession or letter, is it safe to say that Aguinaldo was a weak and fickle minded leader or a very strong and strategical leader, projecting a weak image, in order for him to easily go through the defenses of everyone in his staff without difficulty or hindrance.

Aside from the Bonifacio controversy, he is also under the microscope for two other controversies namely the Pact of the Biak na Bato wherein he sold the Philippines for 800, 000 Mexican Pesos and the execution of the fierce General Antonio Luna in Cabanatuan City, in which he behemothly denied until his last breath (these two controversies will be published soon, separately).