1. "But what does art mean to all of us. If that art, if that life, has been only of use to you, but not to others."

    F Sionil Jose. June 3, 2011

    A line from his amazing speech during the Cultural Center of the Philippines tribute for Alejandro R Roces.

    In other words, artists have to figure their works within a larger calling. They must create, not only worthy works, but art that speaks, that crafts, that brings together and unearths or repairs. Else that ‘art’ just becomes another form of masturbation. Art, to be truly great and meaningful, has to have a higher purpose.

    And art can be found, not only in physical representations, but in a life lead. A life dedicated to something greater is a form of art in and of itself. Put on a performance to inspire.


  2. Requiem for an Artist

    A good man died today. One of the best actually. In so many ways, he truly was. And much like his idol, he was the finest of the Filipino.

    The news will probably be breaking soon, though his family wanted to keep it quiet. Keep the memorials simple, much like he was. He was a simple guy. When I think back on his life, that is probably the best way to describe him. He was simple. Not in thought, or writing, or legacy. No, those were complex and deep. But he…he was simple. He smiled and laughed and treated everyone the same. He didn’t see so-called class distinctions. He saw Humanity. He saw Filipino. He didn’t care about anything else. That’s something can’t be said for many.

    I was lucky, I grew up under his wing. I can’t think of anyone who influenced me more. From my writing to how I approach Philippine history and culture. I could spend hours writing stories about him. And that wouldn’t even be enough to capture his wit, his knowledge, or his depth of understanding of who we are, what it meant to be Filipino.

    He  has accolades a plenty. From his public service to his writings, he has enough. It’s the unknown aspects of his life, though that are worth remarking. All the writers he supported, the stalwarts of Philippine literature and culture who are around because of him. Or LABAN. The organization that he founded, supported, fought for during those dark days of Martial Law. He initiated reforms that helped somewhat eliminate American colonial thought in our history.

    He was a fighter. He was a guerillero during World War II, a real one. That spirit carried over to public service and into Martial Law. He didn’t believe in personal attacks, he believed in arguing points and positions. Even those who were on opposites side of the spectrum respected him. He always told me that was something he appreciated, he worked for.

    I’m sure the paeans will come this week and next. And they’ll be flowery and wonderful. People who he fought side by side with will pay their respects. I know I will.

    He signed off from his column last year. Faded quietly. He signed off simply: He wrote as he wrote. He did his −30-. He had a dream for the Philippines. He tried to make that dream a reality. And in the process he left us with insights into the Philippines that have not been replicated.

    And somewhere, the Philippine’s hermano mayor, the man who gave us back the fiesta, is presiding over a party. And asking for another glass of red wine. Along with Nick Joaquin for sure.

    I’m going to miss Tito Anding.


  3. "Look at those toy soldiers playing at war. For years they had nothing better to do than to march in loyalty parades and bang the heads of civilians who could not fight back. Now they ask these same civilians to keep their asses from being blown off."

    - Anding Roces EDSA I.

    My favorite #EDSA1986 quote. Brings a whole new meaning to ‘bandwagoning’.

  4. The Pahiyas

    I’ve always had a bit of a soft-spot for fiestas (probably because of who started my exploration of Philippine history).

    He aptly described them as our “highest community expression”. And this is an remarked truth about fiestas: they are one of the social organizations that binds a Philippine community together. They also are one of the lingering threads that connects modern Philippines to our Spanish past and, ultimately, to our pre-Hispanic history. They are not just the our highest community expression, in their way they express much of what is our soul.

    Today is the Pahiyas Festival of Lucban. Lucban is a famed center of pagan and Catholic religiousness: it is one of the unique towns in the Philippines.

    The dominant leitmotif of the pahiyas is the kiping (made from rice paste and cast in multiple colors). The pahiyas and Lucban fairly explodes with colors on fiesta day.

    The patron saint is San Isidro Labrador, patron saint of farmers. In the Philippines, he represents as much farmers as the introduction of the plow, and the domestication of the carabao. Much like everywhere else, agricultural development, the shift from sustenance to surplus farming, allowed bigger communities. In the Philippine setting, we sometimes point to the Spanish-era policy of grouping under the bell, as what drove town formation. But, without concurrent innovation in agriculture this would not have been sustainable. The pahiyas (and the other carabao fiestas) celebrate the two driving forces behind the formation of the Philippine nation: agriculture and Catholicism.

    Pahiyas is roughly translated as “peaceful offering”. And that is what is at the heart of the fiesta: a thanksgiving and veneration of Nature and a reminder (and thanks as well) to San Isidro for a harvest.

    Lucban grew in the shadow of Mt. Banahaw (a famed pagan and Catholic pilgrimage site); it was, in the 19th century, the site of the Hermano Pule revolt. The town, in it’s celebration of the pahiyas connects so many threads of Philippine culture and history together.

    It is the fiesta at its syncretic best.

    Note: Just got the image from Google search. So thanks to the uploader!