Wednesday, December 15, 2010

¡Buenas Pascuas! (1891)

Christmas in the Philippines is, according to the grown-ups, a holiday for children; the children do not perhaps share this opinion and the thought can even be hazarded that they have an instinctive fear of Christmas. Indeed it is a day when they are woken up early, washed, and loaded with new, expensive and showy clothes, silken booties, huge hats, woolen, silk or satin suits, without forgetting four or five little scapulars bearing the gospel of St. John, and thus encumbered taken to High Mass for almost an hour, compelled to suffer the heat and the smells fo the tightly packed and sweaty congregation, and, if not forced to recite the Rosary, to be quiet and be bored or go to sleep, punished and scolded for every movement or any prank that might soil their new clothes. So it is that they neither laugh  nor are merry at all, and in their round eyes can be seen a nostalgia for their old every-day clothes and a protest agains so much embroidery. Afterwards they are taken from house to house to visit relatives and greet them, as is the custom, by kissing hands; there they have to dance, sing, and put on exhibition any graces they may have, whether or not they feel like it, and whether or not they are at ease in all their finery, with the usual scoldings and snappings whenever they try to have their own way. The relatives give them coins but these are taken over by their parents and that is the last they hear of these presents. The only thing clear they get from the holiday are the scoldings and the discomforts, and more of the that not a stomach-ache from a surfeit of sweets and biscuits in the house of the more generous relatives. But that is the way of the country, and the Filipino children make their entrance into the great world by means of these trials, after all, turn out to be the least sorrowful, and the least ardous, in their lives.

The grown-ups who live by themselves have a share of their own in the holiday. They visit their parents and their uncles and aunts, bend a knee, and wih them a Happy Christmas; their presents are a sweet, a fruit, a glass of water or some trinket.

José Rizal
El Filibusterismo
Ghent , Belgium 1891

Translated by Leon Ma. Guerrero (1961)

Link to Spanish Version

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Disillusion (1932)

     He  became petrified as he held his breath. Could it be possible? Didn't his eyes deceive him? This Sylvia who was giving him her hand affectionately was she the same Sylvia of twelve years back, all loveliness in the New Luneta, near the rocks? She had aged, grown thin, and was evidently sick. She was just any woman. She could not be Sylvia, the Sylvia he had waited for, for twelve long years. They had met in the market and  Salvador had to exert extra effort trying to recall her, to recognize in this emaciated figure he was looking at, the woman he had dreamed so much about. Twelve years lost! Twelve years of useless hatred of her husband, of the wretched guy who had never done him any harm, and all of this, only to end up this way. The disenchantment of reality was coming to him even as illusion was fading away with the repugnance he could not help feeling at the sight of this haggard creature.
    He bade her goodbye and excused himself with trivial words. he all but shrank from the touch of the hand she extended to him affectionately. And right here and then he decided to Joaquin's stupefaction who did not understand anything at all.

    "I'm sick of Baguio! Let's go back to Manila at once..."

Enrique K. Laygo
Excelsior, Manila
April 20, 1932

Translated to English by Pilar E. Mariño

Link to Spanish Version

Monday, September 27, 2010

Chang-Chuy's Umbrella (1876)

A procession that seemed interminable, composed of eight thousand women, was crossing the Barcas Bridge going towards Binondo. They were the cigarette girls of La Fábrica de Tabacos del Fortin on their way home.
Chang-Chuy enjoyed watching them. He admired their easy manner, the peculiar sound of so many slippers and the constant swinging of  their arms.
Chang saw one with a coquettish expression who smiled at him affectionately as she passed by. This pleased Chang so that after saying good-bye to his fellow Chinese, he followed the girl.
When the cigarrera noticed that Chang was following her, she turned to face him and said in a special language that many indios speak:
“¿Cosa quiere suya conmigo”(What do you want with me)?
“Mia quiele placticalo” (I wish to speak to you) , answered Chang, speaking in broken Spanish as they usually do there.
“¿Y para cosa” (What for) ?
Because you are magandan dalaga.
“¡Aba!“ She exclaimed. “This Chinaman is falling in love with me!”
“Yes, icao mariquit” (Yes, you are pretty)
Kansia (Thanks)”,  she answered him in Chinese.
Mia quiele mucho con suya y tiene cualtas para puede compla saya y candonga” (I like you very mucha and I have money to buy you a skirt and a carriage), Chang insisted.
When she heard the word cualtas (money), the girl’s eyes opened wide like windows.
“Very well,” she said, “ Sigue suya conmigo para habla bueno-bueno con aquel mi tia” (Follow me so you can have a good talk with my aunt).
Chang-Chuy, noting her willingness, was pleased to accompany her. She lived in Sibacon. The careless Sangley talked to the aunt of that Venus called Quicay (nickname for Francisca). The aunt, who was very shrewed, allowed him to have an affair with her niece after he made a formal marriage proposal.
Chang agreed to whatever the two women wanted, and returned home happily because he had at last found an india who loved him.

Don José Montero Y Vidal
Cuentos Filipinos

English Translation from the Book “Cuentos Filipinos”  published by the Ateneo de Manila University in 2004 (Renán S. Prado, et al.).

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Capitán Ipe, the Charitable (1917)

Manuel Palanyag was a poor father, to whom god had given many children, but who, reduced to utmost poverty, absolutely lacked the resources with which to assuage his hunger, that of his wife, who had just given birth to a healthy and beautiful baby, and of his other ten offsprings, all little ones.
            He looked for work and could not find any.
            He knocked on the doors of the rich, but as soon as they saw him, they told him:
            “But, you beg for alms, you are so strong, still young, and quite robust? Are you not ashamed to do that? Why do you not work?”
            “I long to work, I am anxious to work, but I cannot find work. I have a wife in bed and all my eleven small children ask me for food, what can I do but to resort to charity so that they will not die of hunger?”
            “We do not believe you. In Manila nobody who is industrious dies of hunger; here there is enough work. And so as you well know it, you can leave; we do not want to support loafers.”
            Those who used to speak that way were not right. Manuel Palanyag had told the truth. He looked for a job three days ago and did not  find any. The Chinese sari-sari store vendor did not want to give him anything on credit; he had learned about his terrible misery. He was desperate and full of the most intense pain. It was not only that people had refused to help him, but they had also unjustly and severely censured him. Criminal thoughts crossed his mind, but because he was by nature honest, immediately he rejected these, choosing his death and that of the family that he loved, before doing any action that for always would disgrace him. He returned to the miserable and unhealthy hovel where he lived with his family. Upon entering, he was surrounded immediately by his children asking for food.
            “We are hungry, Tatay,” --- they shouted at him.
            Sobbing, he answered:
            “Wait, my children, wait a little bit more.”
            And he told his wife sadly, what had happened to him when he begged for alms.

Pascual H. Poblete
Revista Filipina, Manila
December 30, 1917

Translated to English by Pilar E. Mariño

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Magellan’s Monument (1847)

To perpetuate the memory of the famous sailor Ferdinand Magellan, who in 1520 discovered the Philippine Archipelago, a project to erect the monument depicted in this page was conceived. It serves as a reminder of the glory of this illustrious mariner and the era in which, with the power of the cross rather than arms, Spain conquered these domains, bringing to its inhabitants the welfare and happiness that they have enjoyed since.

The necessary funds were collected from voluntary donations. In the beginning, it was thought that the monument should be built in Cebu, which was where Magellan first landed and where he also died, unfortunately. However, due to overriding reasons, it was decided that the monument should be built in the capital of the islands. It has been proposed to be placed in front of the Puerta de Isabel II, in an area near the river between Santo Domingo and the Fortin, where there is spacious land. Here, it would not be difficult to make a walkway with trees and seats, which could serve as decoration for the monument. It will also be useful to those who wants to take a paseo, a recreation that Manila lacks.

Until now only the foundations and some steps are finished, which will server as the base of the monument. At present, they are constructing the pedestal and the fluted column. The portions that will be brought from Europe – where they have been commissioned – are the spherical globe that crowns it and the dolphins that will adorn it. Like the circular balustrade, these will have to be made of bronze.

The drawing depicts only a proposed project. However, it would not be surprising if some changes or alterations get made before it is finished.

José Honrato Lozano 1847
Album Vistas de las Yslas Filipinas

English translation from the book Filipinas 1847 by José María A. Cariño.

Link to Spanish Version