Saturday, December 31, 2011

New Year's Resolution

Friday, December 30, 2011

Rizal in a G-String

Gongs were competing with the rain during the Rizal’s sesquicentennial birthday bash at the still unnamed open gallery of Kidlat Tahimik at Assumption Road. Musician Shant Verdun even created an instant glockspiel using metal tubes, scrap galvalized roofing and sewing machine parts to go with the pattong (gong beating and dancing) and the pop-synth music of DJ Mark Zero as Kidlat and other Baguio artist in g-strings were dancing around the bonfire.
On the separate galleries connected through ramps are the Warholian Rizal montage by Benji Mallari and the mosaic portrait made by Kabunyan de Guia. Rene Aquitania arranged an atang (offering) of Rizal and Baguio artists using photos, monobloc chairs and candles. Kawayan de Guia added dancing Igorots with Rizal, Juan Luna and Dr. Ariston Bautista ogling at a French girl in Luna’s painting, “Parisian Life.” Two University of the Philippines Baguio Fine Arts students also did a papier mache rendition of “Pambansang Kamao” where Rizal is the boxer (with the novels “Noli Me Tangere” and “El Filibusterismo” as his gloves) breaking into two a TV set showing “American Idol.” Of course, the idea by the way was suggested by Kidlat.
So while hundreds of municipalities were cleaning up their Rizal-in-overcoat statues, here’s one trying to recreate a Rizal in a G-string.
“I was invited but I preferred to be here,” said Kidlat, who was wearing a G-string and Rizal T-shirt.
Rizal, as far as history books go, never went to the Cordillera but it was the Cordilleras which “visited” Rizal in, of all places, Madrid in Spain.
It happened in 1887 at the Parque del Buen Retiro which is included in the Philippine Embassy’s Rizal Madrid Tour which can be downloaded.
“This was Rizal’s favorite park in Madrid which inspired him to name his place of exile in Dapitan, Zamboanga del Norte as “Mi Retiro.”  This was also the site of the Exposición de Filipinas of 1887 in whose Palacio Cristal pavilions were exhibited Philippine artifacts, art works and botanical specimens.  For including in the exhibition “samples of Philippine peoples” such as the Igorots, Manobos and Negritos, Rizal criticized “civilized” Spain for violation of their human rights,” the brochure said.
In his letter to his friend Ferdinand Blumentritt, Rizal wrote, “I have worked hard against this degradation of my fellow Filipinos that they should not be exhibited among the animals and plants!  But I was helpless.  One woman has just died of pneumonia … and the newspaper El Resumen has made a smutty wisecrack about it!”
“I would rather that they all got sick and died so they would suffer no more.  Let the Philippines forget that her sons have been treated like this — to be exhibited and ridiculed.”
More than a hundred years later, scholars are still debating Rizal’s angry letter.

The Madrid Exposition had been welcomed by the Filipino ilustrados already in Europe and they joined in the arts and science competitions, noted George Salman in his 2001 book, “The Embarrassment of Slavery: Controversies over Bondage and Nationalism in the American Colonial Philippines.”  

“The Madrid Exposition, however, put live Igorots on display. Ilustrados objected that this was an assault on human dignity and a misrepresentation of the Philippines,” said Salman.
Rizal said to Blumentritt that “from what I understand, it is not an exposition of the Philippines at all but only of the Igorots.”
But Denis Richard Byrne in his 2007 book, “Surface Collection: Archaeological Travels in Southeast Asia” said that of the 44 representatives of ethnic minorities in the Madrid Exposition, only eight were Igorots. But these eight were industrious enough to create a “Rancherria de los Igorottes” in the exposition grounds. The woman whom Rizal mentioned to have died was a Muslim.
“These great nineteenth century expositions is an occasion for the metropolitan population to savor the sense of being at the pinnacle to which history has climbed,” said Byrne.
“It put them, quite simply, in a different class from the rest of the world,” he added.
The late historian William Henry Scott said that this brouhaha over the Igorots in Madrid glossed over the injustice given to the Cordillerans under the hands of the Spaniards “for the result of the Spanish occupation was grim indeed.”
Scott said that beyond the deaths and sufferings brought to the Igorots, the grimmest result was “the creation of a distinction between lowland and highland Filipinos which contrasted submission, conversion and civilization on the one hand with independence, paganism and savagery on the other.”
Some modern historians insist that the Filipino ilustrados were aware of that distinction and were slightly miffed into being lumped with the Igorots but it was Rizal, indeed, who rose up from that created social construct.
In his answer to an Augustinian friar in Madrid who said that the rancherria delos Igorottes was an actuality of the pre-Hispanic civilization, Rizal countered that “it is a humiliation for us, Igorots and indios though we may be, to be governed by the people Europe has discarded as representatives of darkness.”
But 17 years later, in 1904, the Americans, the new bright light of civilization, would repeat the same spectacle, bringing Igorots to be presented live at the St. Louis International Fair. And the same distinction and Western high-handedness would be repeated, as Rizal warned. 

Monday, December 26, 2011

Beach Photos Bingo

Sunday, December 25, 2011

My Funniest Headlines for 2011 (International Edition)

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