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Category Archives: HISTORY

I hope there will be no regrets

“When we lose one we love, our bitterest tears are called forth by the memory of hours when we loved not enough.”

–Maurice Maeterlinck

By Alex P. Vidal

NEWARK, New Jersey — If Iloilo City in the Philippines is a human face, the condemned Iloilo Freedom Grandstand sitting on the area of the 600-square meter Sunburst Park, serves as the face’s mouth.

It has been one of Iloilo City’s most prominent landmarks facing the “eagle” building on J.M. Basa Street for more than 50 years now.

In the name of development, it will soon disappear and relocated to Muelle Loney, adjacent to the waterfront area of Customs House Plaza, Sunburst Park’s old name.

Because of its intrinsic value, many Ilonggos have considered it as part of the metropolis’ tangible past.

Owing to its cultural and practical values and especially that it’s not an eyesore, some Ilonggos are sad that after the face of

“The Most Loyal and Noble City” or “La Muy Leal Y Noble Ciudad de Iloilo” has undergone a major surgery this year, its mouth, a reminder of the metropolis’ culture and complexity, will no longer be found under the nose.

In one of his “farewell” visits in various places in the Philippines, Gen. Douglas MacArthur, accompanied by President Carlos Garcia, set foot at the Iloilo Freedom Grandstand on July 10, 1961 and delivered a nostalgic speech.

This event will forever be etched in the memory of the Ilonggos.

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We just hope that there will be no regrets after the Iloilo Freedom Grandstand has been demolished.

It can’t be denied that the Iloilo Freedom Grandstand, renovated by the late Rep. Raul Gonzalez Sr. several years back, has brought character and certain charm to the neighborhood that Ilonggos had lived in ever since the late political maverick former Senator Rodolfo Ganzon gave it a sparkling name nearly 50 years ago.

Once it’s gone, there is no more chance to restore or save one of Iloilo City’s most memorable historic sites.

Once a major bureaucratic decision has been made with finality, no one can be certain what will be valued in the future.

Once a piece of history is destroyed, it is lost forever like a member of the family who passed away.

The memory of the Iloilo Freedom Grandstand has taught us about the history that happened before we were born; it’s imposing image has promoted the respect for those who lived in different times and different political and social climates not only in the city and province of Iloilo but also in the entire region.

It has cultivated pride of our past and heritage making the Ilonggos unique in the world.

 

 

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Iloilo Freedom Grandstand perfect!

“The true work of art is but a shadow of the divine perfection.” –Michelangelo

By Alex P. Vidal

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NEWARK, New Jersey — The present location of the Iloilo Freedom Grandstand on J.M. Basa Street in downtown Iloilo City in the Philippines is perfect.

Some Ilonggos find it difficult how to locate the Hoskyn’s Compound, the Iloilo Sports Complex, the Plaza Libertad, the Fort San Pedro, the Nelly’s Garden, the Jaro Belfry, the Rotary Ampitheater, Camp Martin Delgado, among other major destinations in the “City of Love”, but they know how fast to reach the Iloilo Freedom Grandstand.

It is the only public grandstand in the Philippines known for its easy access to the regional government offices, universities, parks, landmarks, churches, seaports and arrastre services, a shopping center, media institutions, a business center, a police camp, and the Filipino-Chinese community.

It is the only public grandstand in the Philippines where all types of vehicles and other modes of transportation, except airplane, can enter and park (the archaic Panay Railways used to operate in the back).

When Ilonggos seek redress of their grievances, they march to the Iloilo Freedom Grandstand.

There, they easily attract public and media attention.

The issues they bring before the bar of public opinion reverberate all over the metropolis and are easily circulated.

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When Ilonggos hold ungated mammoth cultural, political, sports and religious programs they easily attract national and international attention when they hold them at the Iloilo Freedom Grandstand like the Dinagyang Festival, which recently commemorated its 50th year, miting de avance of political parties, and evangelical fellowship prayers of various religious denominations.

Red cross volunteers, social and health workers find the Iloilo Freedom Grandstand as the perfect venue to distribute truckloads of goods, medicines and other donations that need to be expedited for victims of typhoons, fire, and other natural calamities.

Because of its location, the Iloilo Freedom Grandstand has been considered as the epitome of public service, the vanguard of freedom of expression, the sanctuary of the voiceless and oppressed, the mecca of tourism, the show window of the Ilonggos’ character and cultural heritage.

Bonifacio Drive is not a Bonifacio Drive without the Iloilo Museo and Iloilo Capitol, in the same manner that Calle Real is not a Calle Real without the Iloilo Ampitheater and the Iloilo Freedom Grandstand.

The J.M. Basa-Mapa-Aduana-Ortiz-Guanco rectangle would be arid and lifeless if not for the presence of the majestic Iloilo Freedom Grandstand, the pride of all Ilonggos.

 

 
 

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What has the Iloilo Freedom Grandstand done to deserve death?

“It is not the honor that you take with you, but the heritage you leave behind.”

–Branch Rickey

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By Alex P. Vidal

NEWARK, New Jersey — What have I done to deserve death? Did I humiliate the Ilonggos?

Did I commit a heinous crime against humanity?

Did I play host to scandalous and violent activities?

Did I pose a threat to national security?

Did I obstruct traffic and the pedestrians’ right of way?

Did I pillage the environment and natural resources?

Thus would have been the valid laments of the condemned Iloilo Freedom Grandstand in Iloilo City in the Philippines if it could only speak and protest its imminent extermination.

Instead of being “rewarded” for bringing pride and honor to the Ilonggos since it was built some 60 years ago, the Iloilo Freedom Grandstand faces demolition in the modern era when men are equipped with scientific knowledge and expertise to build and renovate.

Instead of being preserved and restored to its old glory for helping showcase and sustain the Ilonggos’ spirit, aesthetic and ingenuity in the global village, the grandstand will be blown to bits in the age of technology when innovation and state-of-the-art infrastructure are at fever-pitch.

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The Iloilo Freedom Grandstand has been known to be the Ilonggos’ version of Munich’s Allianz Arena, Rome’s The Colosseum, Milan’s San Siro, Barcelona’s Camp Nuo, Portland’s Providence Park, New Zealand’s Forsyth Barr, Poland’s Stadion Energa, Rio de Janeiro’s Maracana, Boston’s Fenway Park, and Hungary’s Pancho Arena.

It is a source of their hope and pride, not shame and scandal.

Where is our gratitude?

But, wait a minute.

Proponents of the move to dismantle the grandstand and transfer it to Muelle Loney facing the Iloilo River, will argue that the Iloilo Freedom Grandstand will not be actually wiped off the face of the earth.

It will only be transferred to pave the way for expansion and improvement of the Sunburst Park, where the present Iloilo Freedom Grandstand on J.M. Basa Street stands.

From its present location where it faces the giant eagle in a building across the street, pedestrians, and passing vehicles to Muelle Loney, where it will face the river, the boats, and the fishes.

In simple explanation, it will be “demoted demographically.”

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The Iloilo Freedom Grandstand is a legitimate asset. Demolishing it doesn’t make sense.

Preserving it is one aspect of paying homage to our heritage with which we can interact and adapt.

The grandstand, which has survived the test of time, has specific historic context.

It should have been meticulously and exactly preserved.

Since it has become part of our character and identity over the years, the Iloilo Freedom Grandstand must be lived in, interacted with and maintained by the public.

The outdoor structure, conceptualized after the Ilonggos’ right to elect their local officials commenced in 1950, has changed with us, thus recording a piece of each generation’s story from circa fifties to Internet Age.

Ilonggos are morally and patriotically obliged to respect this community resource and preserve it for future generations.

Owing to its colorful history, the preservation of the Iloilo Freedom Grandstand can help strengthen the community’s future.

The Iloilo Freedom Grandstand’s imposing presence in a piece of property of the former Customs House Plaza, would have helped create vibrant, cultural downtowns that will further draw art, festival, tourism, and other activities which in turn draw investment, revenue, and economic growth for Iloilo City aside from solidifying a community’s past.

 
 

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Bizarre Dinagyang crime stories

“In a closed society where everybody’s guilty, the only crime is getting caught. In a world of thieves, the only final sin is stupidity.”

–Hunter S. Thompson

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By Alex P. Vidal

NEWARK, New Jersey –– After witnessing the cold-blooded murder of a plainclothes cop from Arevalo district during the  1990 Dinagyang Festival final night in Iloilo City in the Philippines, I became convinced that there should be a gun ban when the Ilonggos celebrate the feast of Señor Santo Niño every year.

The cop (I can remember him only as “Ben”) was gunned down while answering the call of nature on the rear tire of an owner type jeep where I was sitting and parked on corner Valeria and Ledesma Streets in the City Proper, a stone throw away from our News Express editorial office.

“Ben” died on the spot from multiple gunshot wounds fired by an unknown assailant at past seven o’clock in the evening.

I was holding my friend Emmanuel “Boyet” Carillo’s state-of-the-art camera (which was burned in a fire that gutted their house in Kalibo, Aklan weeks later), thus I was able to take some photos as “Ben” sprawled on the pavement bathing in his own blood.

The case has remained unsolved.

We also support the move of the Police Regional Office 6 (PRO-6) and the Iloilo City Police Office (ICPO) to prohibit glass bottles and cans during the revelries.

Glass bottles and beer or soft drink cans can become deadly if used by drunken revelers as weapons.

Senior Inspector Shella Mae Sangrines, ICPO spokesperson, said in a recent press conference they did not want revelers to carry illegal weapons, drugs and other harmful contraband, thus they would inspect all backpacks.

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The police may also check belt bags aside from backpacks.

Drug dealers and gang members carrying deadly weapons and illegal substances will eschew backpacks now that the police have announced what type of bag to be strictly perused during the festivities.

Some thugs who use backpacks are not really members of drug syndicates, terror groups and street-level fraternities engaged in riot.

Some of them are small time robbers or pickpockets.

One afternoon during the 1998 Dinagyang Festival, I “saved” a 17-year-old out-of-school teenager from being lynched by an angry mob near the Ledesma Street gate of Mary Mart Mall in Iloilo City.

“Randy” was being punched and kicked by male and female attackers while tightly embracing his backpack.

I intervened and was able to stop the carnage. When I checked the victim’s backpack, it contained several Nokia and Philips  analog cellular phones.

He was a “snatcher” cornered by some of his victims.

I negotiated with the maulers and helped them recover their cellular phones right away. I escorted the “snatcher” away from harm after he promised to go straight.

Since I was into sports, I encouraged him to train as amateur boxer in the YMCA gym. After a series of bouts in our weekly boxing tournament at the Iloilo City Freedom Grandstand, I introduced him to the late then City Administrator Angelo “Bebot” Geremias and brought him to Lapu-Lapu City in Cebu thereafter where he won a bronze medal in the inter-city youth slugfest.

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Drunkenness should also be regulated if not avoided during the Dinagyang revelry.

In the 1994 Dinagyang, the grandson of a prominent Filipino-Chinese tycoon hogged headlines when he was “drugged and molested” by two gay hairdressers who befriended him at the Freedom Grandstand, the main judging area for ati dance competitions.

“Anthony”, who once worked with former Sen. Joselito “Lito” Lapid as stuntman in an action film shot in Cebu, alleged that he passed out and wasn’t able to go home after a drinking session with the two hairdressers while waiting for announcement of winners Sunday evening.

He woke up the following morning in the sidewalk of J.M. Basa Street without a shirt. His other personal belongings went missing. He confessed to police he suffered a “swollen penis” and was treated in the hospital.

When one of the hairdressers was stabbed dead by an unknown suspect in Brgy. Tanza-Baybay in the City Proper weeks later, “Anthony” disappeared in Iloilo City.

“Anthony’s” cousin, “Jaguar”, who owns a resort in Boracay in Caticlan, Aklan, got mad when police coaxed him to cooperate and pinpoint his cousin’s whereabouts.

I accompanied the cop who went to the cousin’s office, a lending firm, in downtown, City Proper. The cop managed to enter and talk to “Jaguar” briefly before being rebuked.

I was left outside “Jaguar’s” office after being denied entry by “Jaguar’s” secretary.

“Anthony” hasn’t been seen again.

 

 

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‘Spirituality will save us from moral, cultural, economic, and political decay’

“Formerly, when religion was strong and science weak, men mistook magic for medicine; now, when science is strong and religion weak, men mistake medicine for magic.”

–THOMAS SZASZ

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By Alex P. Vidal

 

Even if we elect the best politicians to lead our country, we can’t survive as a nation if we lack or refuse to adopt spirituality as a way of life, warned Dr. Richard Plana, Iloilo’s top guru on spirituality.

“Our concept of spirituality should be universal and not parochial,” explained the Ilonggo university professor. “Spirituality will save us from moral, cultural, economic and political decay.”

Plana cited “the glory that was Greece and the grandeur that was Rome.”

“They are all in past tense because aside from the fact that they now belong in history, Greece is not anymore glorious and Rome does not have grandeur,” he said.

India has survived as a nation and is now a force to reckon with in education, economy and technology because of its spirituality, he stressed.

Plana said when we turn to spirituality, “our mental and intellectual stocks will develop and we become a light in the world if the best in us, the apex in us is drawn out.”

HOMILETICS

The psychology professor revealed he specializes in teaching of homiletics and hermeneutics, the modern studies of arts, sciences and theology.

Homiletics means “to assemble together” and in theology the application of the general principles of rhetoric to the specific department of public preaching. The one who practices or studies homiletics is called a homilist.

According to Plana, homiletics is the study of the composition and delivery of a sermon or other religious discourse. It includes all forms of preaching, the sermon, homily and catechetical instruction. It may be further defined as the study of the analysis, classification, preparation, composition and delivery of sermons.

It was learned that the formation of such lectureships as the Lyman Beecher course at Yale University resulted in increased attention being given to homiletics, and the published volumes of this series are a useful source of information regarding the history and practice of the discipline.

HERMENEUTICS

Hermeneutics broadly is the art and science of text interpretation. Traditional hermeneutics is the study of the interpretation of written texts, especially texts in the areas of literature, religion and law.

Plana said a type of traditional hermeneutic is biblical hermeneutics which concerns the study of the interpretation of the Bible. In religious studies and social philosophy, hermeneutics is the study of the theory and practice of interpretation. Modern hermeneutics encompasses everything in the interpretative process including verbal and nonverbal forms of communication as well as prior aspects that affect communication, such as presuppositions, preunderstandings, the meaning and philosophy of language, and semiotics.

The terms exegesis and hermeneutics have been used interchangeably. However, hermeneutics is a more widely defined discipline of interpretation theory, because it includes the entire framework of the interpretive process, encompassing written, verbal, and nonverbal communication. Exegesis, on the other hand, focuses primarily on written text.

 

 

 

 

 

 
 

The people who talked to God

“If you look only at Genesis as an allegory, you have a major problem, because if it’s an allegory, then tell me who our ancestor was? If Abraham was real, then from Abraham if Adam isn’t real, if it’s just an allegory, it’s just a story, then what’s the real Adam who really fell in a garden and really sinned? Where did we come from?” KEN HAM

By Alex P. Vidal

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The first people introduced in the Book of Genesis are Adam and Eve.
They live on our Earth and eventually have children.
We tend to think of Adam and Eve as people like ourselves, and as a family with children.
“Is this a valid assumption?” asked Dr. Erwin Ginsburgh in First Man. Then Adam! “Were they really people like us? How might they have differed? What were they? Let us look at the available information.”
The Legends of the Bible, a compilation of material made by Rabbi Louis Ginzberg and used by Ginsburgh as reference, claim that Adam either visited or passed six other worlds before he reached the Earth.
This is the story narrated by Ginsburg, a physicist, in the book, which he also described as “a scientific interpretation of the Book of Genesis”:
In the Book of Genesis we find Adam and Eve living in a Garden of Eden.
This garden provided anything necessary to support life for two people.
Their food came from their plant kingdom. But there were two trees which were taboo: the so-called Tree of Knowledge and the so-called Tree of Life.
The Book of Genesis (3:22) says that the fruits of the latter tree could provide immortality.
Eve breaks the taboo relating to the Tree of Knowledge. She and Adam ate the forbidden fruit from this tree (Genesis 3:6).
Because of this, and to keep them from eating of the Tree of Life (Genesis 3:23), both she and Adam are forced to leave the garden where everything was provided, and must support themselves in our world.
They have at least three male off-spring who have difficulty living with each other, and the problem reaches a climax when Cain kills Abel (Genesis 4:8).

SONS

When their two remaining sons, Cain and Seth, marry we are never told where their wives came from.
Among later descendants, the biblical record shows that there is a tendency for intermarriage within the group.
Adam and his immediate descendants, are very long-lived. Many of the first descendants have life spans greater than 900 years.
Noah is famous for having survived the biblical flood.
After Noah, the lifespan of his son, Shem, falls dramatically to about 600 years.
Then there is a second fall in life span to 438 years for Shem’s son Arpachshad.
The life span stabilizes for three generations, and then a third fall to about 200 years occurs at the time of Peleg.
By the 20th generation, Abraham, the lifespan is down to 175 years.
Ultimately, man’s life expectancy falls to approximately present day lengths.
No lifespan can be listed for Enoch, the father of Methuselah, because the Bible does not record his death.
Significantly, there is explicit mention of the death of all the others, but not Enoch.
Genesis says (5:23 & 24), “In his 365th year Enoch walked with God and was not of the Earth, for God took him.”
The Legends discuss this further in the section called the “Translation of Enoch.”
The last paragraph of this section is especially interesting to a 20th century reader: “To the right of him sparkled flames of fire, to the left of him burnt torches of fire, and on all sides he was engirdled by storm and whirlwind, hurricane and thundering.”
Noah was 500 years old when his son, Shem, was born; none of Adam’s descendants had an heir so late in life.
Shem’s birth occurred at a time when Enoch would have been 900 years old if he were alive.

COINCIDENCE

Was it coincidence that Noah waited until he thought Enoch had lived out his normal lifespan of some 900 years?
Abraham lived about 2,000 years after Adam’s birth.
The Legends discuss in detail the fact that the bodies of the first and second generation did not decay at death.
Specific mention is made that Abel’s body did not decay.
Since the second generation is directly descended from Adam and Eve, we can expect this generation to have inherited, and the bodies of the third generation decay after death.
Something must have changed between the second and third generations. In fact, very specific instructions are given for preparing the bodies of the first two generations before they are “buried” in the cave of Machpelah near Hebron.
According to the Book of Genesis some of the members of Adam’s family were the originators of metallurgy, music and domestication of animals.
Genesis (4:20-22) relates: “Jabal was the father of such as dwell in tents and have cattle. His brother’s name was Jubal: he was the father of all such as handle the harp and pipe. And…Tubal-Cain, the forger of every cutting instrument of brass and iron.”
Why should the Bible identify the start of some of the major facets of high civilization?
In addition, the Book of Genesis says that members of Adam’s family talked to God.
It is not clear whether all the late generations were able to talk to God, but certainly Noah, the 10th generation, and Abraham, the 20th, do have this ability.
For God told Noah to build a ship to survive the flood (Genesis 6:14) and also God entered into a covenant with Abraham (Genesis 15:18).
The ability to talk to God seems to decrease from this time onward, although Moses is still able to do so much later.
There appear to be some final vestiges of this power later in the Bible when the prophets received visions and warnings from God.
Today, is extra sensory perception a remaining fragment of this ability to communicate with God?
Adam apparently had some technically advanced and highly sophisticated devices.
In addition to the well-known Thee of Knowledge and the immortality-giving Tree of Life, there was a set of God-made clothes that made the wearer invincible and irresistible.
The Legends claim that Nimrod (Noah’s great-grandson) is supposed to have worn them.

INGENIOUS

There is also a very ingenious engraving device, the “Shamir,” which reputedly was used to cut stones for Solomon’s Temple, but which has since disappeared.
The Sword of Methuselah was reportedly used by Abraham when he and his small band defeated the armies of the five kings.
Even as amazing as these people were, they still had problems living with each other.
Ultimately, immortality and evil living led to the destruction of all of Adam’s descendants except Noah and his family (Genesis 6:17).
In an attempt to improve morality, as Noachide code of seven rules was drawn up to provide guidance so the remaining people could live with each other.
In the 20th generation, a very formal relationship was established between God and Abraham; specifically, a covenant was drawn up.
Apparently, there was no earlier need for such a formal arrangement.
As the lifespan of Adam’s descendants was falling and approaching that which we today consider as normal, and as it became increasingly difficult to distinguish, Abraham’s heirs from the rest of mankind, all the males descended from Abraham were circumcised.
Before this covenant, Abraham was known by the name “Abram.” As part of God’s covenant, his name was changed to “Abraham.”
The Legends also relate that Abraham was the first of Adam’s descendants who aged as he grew older.
In addition, Jacob was the first man who declined physically before death.
Before his time, death occurred quite rapidly.

 
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Posted by on December 8, 2017 in HISTORY, RELIGION

 

‘Let no one ignorant of geometry enter here’

“The direction in which education starts a man will determine his future life.”

— PLATO

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By Alex P. Vidal

 
NEW YORK CITY –– Plato was 29 when Socrates died, but it is not known when he started to write his many dialogues (most of which we still have) featuring Socrates as their central figure.
Socrates had a profound effect upon Plato whose own ideas only become clearly distinguishable from Socratic thought in his later works.
He may have been in his 50s when he co-founded his school with the mathematician Theaetetus. The school was named the Academy after the legendary Greek hero Academus.
Though the Academy Plato hoped to provide a good education for the future rulers of Athens and other city-states. The subjects taught were philosophy, astronomy, gymnastics, mathematics and especially geometry.
The inscription over the door of the Academy read “let no one ignorant of geometry enter here.” Amongst his pupils was Aristotle who, like Plato, was to be one of the most influential philosophers who ever lived.

TANGIBLE

Plato (427-347 B.C.) believed that everything tangible in nature “flows.” So there are no “substances” that do not dissolve. Absolutely everything that belongs to the “material world” is made of a material that time can erode, but everything is made after a timeless “mold” or “form” that is eternal and immutable.
Why are horses the same? There is something that all horses have in common, something that enables us to identify them as horses. A particular horse “flows,” naturally.
It might be old and lame, and in time it will die. But the “form” of the horse is eternal and immutable.
That which is eternal and immutable, to Plato, is therefore not a physical “basic substance,” as it was for Empedocles and Democritus.
Plato’s conception was of eternal and immutable patterns, spiritual and abstract in their nature, that all things are fashioned after.

 
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Posted by on March 20, 2017 in CULTURE AND HERITAGE, HISTORY

 

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