Constitutional Law 1 Malacañang Field Trip

September 25, 2008. Our Constitutional Law 1 professor, who happens to be the Dean of the Ateneo School of Government, made us go to Bantayog ng Mga Bayani and Malacanang Palace instead of holding our usual late afternoon class in UP to talk about extraordinary powers of the chief executive.

It was a good time to talk about the topic, since incidentally it was also the week of the 36th anniversary of Pres. Ferdinand Marcos’ imposition of Martial Law.

First stop was Bantayog ng Mga Bayani near the National Power Corporation compound along Quezon Avenue. The place serves as a memorial to the hundreds of martyrs, from students and workers to the priests and nuns who fought the dictatorship decades ago. It was an inspiring reminder of how valiantly our people confronted the oppression that prevailed and a stark reminder of how we should uphold and continue to fight for the freedom that we all value.

After an hour or so, we all proceeded to Malacanang Palace in Manila, which we all know, unless you’re not a Filipino, is the seat of the Chief Executive of the country.

Of course, the only part we, or the general public get to see, is the museum area or the Kalayaan Hall building of the Palace compound, which was not totally uninteresting because the same compound served as the past Governor Generals and past Presidents’ working area. Among the rooms in the building were the room from where President Marcos broadcasted his Martial Law proclamation, and the cabinet meeting rooms of pre-Martial Law presidents and even the offices of the Spanish and American Governor Generals. We also got to sit at the same chairs they sat on, among other perks. Or perhaps it was only because the curator allowed us preferentially.

After the tour of the Malacanang museum, our professor gave a brief lecture on the extraordinary powers of the chief executive based on the constitution. After his lecture, he was supposed to bring us to Mall of Asia for dinner, but instead he asked us to proceed to Intramuros.

We had dinner at this restaurant called Barbara’s adjacent to San Agustin Church. It had a really old-rich Spanish colonial feel to it. Even the air in the restaurant smelled old and musky. We were the only group in the place. The food was great, however. It was relatively expensive, but well, it was our professor’s treat.

Ninoy was not alone

August 21, 2008. Some of my brods and I went to Tarlac City in Tarlac to join the provincial government’s commemoration ceremony of Ninoy Aquino’s 25th death anniversary. We left UP pretty early and arrived at the province around nine in the morning. Before proceeding to the provincial capitol, we also passed by the municipal hall in Concepcion, Aquino’s hometown, and where he was once Mayor.

At around ten, we arrived at Tarlac City to meet the governor, Victor Yap, who is another brod. The commemoration ceremony was held and I was even asked to give a spontaneous speech in front of all the elected provincial officials and employees.

We went back to UP a little past lunch time. That night, we held a memorial at the theater of College of Law, also in honor of Ninoy Aquino.

25th death anniversary Ninoy Aquino

Invoking what Conrado de Quiros apparently wrote, a friend of mine, Anton wrote that it is an act of betrayal to remember only Ninoy Aquino as one of a handful of heroes of Martial Law. Indeed, it is. History as we know it may be tilted in favor of some, so many Filipinos like me may not truly know the unblemished truth. But for me, sans his death, Ninoy Aquino may not have been an extraordinary statesman. He was a traditional politician, apparently, in more ways than one. Some may say that his heroism may not really come from his own actions. His death is, obviously, not something he did. But I say the act of returning to the Philippines amidst a real threat of danger and assassination is heroic. He gallantly spoke against the dictatorship, but so did thousands of others, some more than him. But nevertheless his assassination set him apart from the rest of those who went against the dictator. And as many literature say, it was part of what ignited the “peaceful revolution” that toppled the Marcos regime in 1986. His assassination punctuated and sealed his fate as a national hero.

In the same breath, let us also always remember the thousands of political prisoners, and martyrs of the Martial Law regime, most of whom may not have had the same privilege of having the commemoration to the extent this country gives the late Senator but are no less heroic, including two Upsilonians, Melito Glor and Merardo Arce, from whose names the Southern Tagalog and the Southern Mindanao Regional Operations Commands of the New People’s Army are named after.

More than remembering, we must continue to realize that the social conditions that bore fruit to the activism and heroism of thousands of heroes and martrys of Martial Law still exists. And for as long as such conditions persist, we must transcend the mere act of commemoration and remembrance because the struggle for genuine change and liberation ensues.

US Trip ’07: Atlanta Cyclorama

Atlanta Cyclorama May 25, 2007. The first place we went to was the Atlanta Cyclorama in Grant Park, Atlanta. A cyclorama, as the name suggests, is a cylindrical piece of art or backdrop. The Atlanta Cyclorama is, apparently claimed by some as the “world’s largest painting,” and is indeed a very huge piece of art wrapped in a cylindrical chamber. In the middle of this cylindrical chamber is a rotating audience area, which rotates around the cyclorama while a taped narrator discusses the history behind the painting and the various trivia regarding the items depicted in the painting.

Honestly, this one was really boring. Our family barely know anything about the American Civil War, and I couldn’t care less about all the intricacies and side stories of the various people involved in the Battle of Atlanta.

Though the museum and the ‘show’ was largely historical in focus, and largely irrelevant for Filipino tourists, we still of course appreciate my aunt bringing us there. Entrance fee is at $7. Just right next to the Atlanta Cyclorama is the Atlanta Zoo. We didn’t go there, as we weren’t interested. We simply went back to Loganville and had lunch with Tita Nene’s family.

After lunch, we went to downtown Atlanta to visit the Georgia Aquarium and the newly-opened World of Coke.

Magellan discovered the Philippines?

January 15, 2006. We attended anticipated mass at Sta. Maria yesterday. For his homily, the priest talked about the feast of the Sto. Niño. He started off by attempting to narrate the history of the Sto. Niño. He began by asking a question to an audience of mostly high school and grade school children. “Alalahanin natin, sino ba ang nakadiskubre sa Pilipinas?” he asked, in a fishing kind of way. “Si…?” he continued. “Si Magellan!!” the children in front answered in chorus. The priest affirmed, “Tama! Noong nadiskubre ni Magellan ang ating bansa, dala-dala niya ang isang imahe ng batang Hesus…” and so he continue with a narration of the Sto. Niño’s history. Tsk, tsk.

My point is, if Magellan discovered the Philippines, how the hell did the pre-colonial Filipinos settle in these archipelago?