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‘Lupang Hinirang’ or ‘Bayang Magiliw’?

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Archived on YouTube is an engaging TED talk delivered by Joey Ayala at the University of the Philippines Diliman that proposes a more musical and euphonic way of singing the national anthem. While his version makes sense and is definitely in tune with Filipino sentiment and musicality, it runs counter to the present Flag Law that needs review and perhaps revision by Congress. To appreciate Ayala’s version, it is definitely better than the “hataw-birit” renditions sung as introduction to Manny Pacquiao’s boxing matches in the United States that mimic the American anthem.

Posted: March 14th, 2014 in Columnists,Columns,Featured Columns,Featured Headline,Inquirer Opinion | Read More »

‘Chicharon’ and furniture in Baliuag

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If we are to go by the results of the recent local and international auctions, the prices of Philippine art have not only hit the roof but actually shot out of it! There is so much liquidity in Manila these days that many speculators have jumped on the bandwagon and have been buying names rather than pictures.

Posted: March 7th, 2014 in Columnists,Columns,Featured Columns,Featured Headline,Inquirer Opinion | Read More »

Treasure in Paete

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Laguna offers a variety of attractions for tourists. Nature has blessed the province with lush mountains, hot springs, cold pools, and postcard-pretty landscapes. It offers folk crafts and distinct cuisine. It is the birthplace of heroes, and Jose Rizal is its most illustrious son.

Posted: March 5th, 2014 in Columnists,Columns,Featured Columns,Featured Headline,Inquirer Opinion | Read More »

Remember Figueroa?

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There was a time when all our coins, down to the near-worthless one-centavo coin, had the image of a historical figure engraved on them. One could then learn some Philippine history by looking at the face of the coins and about significant Philippine flora and fauna on the reverse.

Posted: February 28th, 2014 in Columnists,Columns,Inquirer Opinion | Read More »

Visual history

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Bohol is one of my favorite places in the country because it has something for every taste and budget.

Posted: February 14th, 2014 in Columnists,Columns,Inquirer Opinion | Read More »

Flowers in Philippine history

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Each semester I remind my students that there are many engaging things to be found on the Internet than porn. Last week two readers who read my column “Flora de Filipinas” supplied links that led to a digital copy of the text of the Augustinian Manuel Blanco’s “Flora de Filipinas segun el sistema sexual de linneo.” Unfortunately, the sex here will excite only botanists.

Posted: February 12th, 2014 in Columnists,Columns,Inquirer Opinion | Read More »

‘Flora de Filipinas’

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Known to Filipino bibliophiles as an oversized set of books, “Flora de Filipinas,” published in the 19th century, contains obsolete text and timeless illustrations of Philippine flowers as classified by the Augustinian botanist Manuel Blanco. It is rare to find a complete set in mint condition, which accounts for its hefty price tag. Three decades ago my father and I walked past the Amsterdam coffee houses that served marijuana, and pretended to be uninterested in the red-light district where women of all colors, shapes, sizes, and perversions were displayed in open shop windows. My father wanted to buy an old map of the Philippines, so we went to the shop of Nico Israel who had reprinted Carlos Quirino’s pioneering “Philippine Cartography.”

Posted: February 6th, 2014 in Columnists,Columns,Featured Columns,Featured Headline,Inquirer Opinion | Read More »

Adventures with soy sauce

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My first morning in any foreign country is usually spent trying out the local breakfast and going over the local newspaper. Before visiting any of the recommended tourist spots, I head to the local market or the grocery closest to my hotel to get a sense of prices and learn a few useful words for fruit, vegetables, bottled water, and chichiria to help me navigate restaurant menus later. One can learn a lot about a new place and people by sampling their food.

Posted: January 28th, 2014 in Columnists,Columns,Inquirer Opinion | Read More »

JFK, diarrhea, and history

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Reading about Leonard Wood’s brain tumor and how it may have affected the way he ran the Philippines as US governor-general made me wonder about occupants of Malacañang and other seats of power elsewhere in the world in other times.

Posted: January 24th, 2014 in Columnists,Columns,Inquirer Opinion | Read More »

Cleopatra’s nose, Wood’s brain tumor

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Blaise Pascal, in his posthumously published work “Pensees” (Thoughts), said of Cleopatra’s nose: “Had it been shorter, the whole face of the world would have been changed.” Historians who order the universe in a linear fashion and consider only the deeds of great men may disagree with the musings of the 17th-century French mathematician, but then how different would Western history be if Julius Caesar and Marc Antony were not charmed by Cleopatra? How different would Philippine history be if Manuel Luis Quezon was not killed by TB and Leonard Wood by a brain tumor?

Posted: January 21st, 2014 in Columnists,Columns,Featured Columns,Featured Headline,Inquirer Opinion | Read More »

A brain preserved in Yale

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Leonard Wood has gone down in Philippine history in a bad way. From what I remember from history class, he was against: Filipinization of the government, greater autonomy for the Philippines, and Philippine independence.

Posted: January 17th, 2014 in Columnists,Columns,Inquirer Opinion | Read More »

Rizal tried hashish

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Marijuana is a prohibited substance in most parts of the world. In some places it is tolerated for medicinal use by patients suffering from lingering and painful illness. In the Netherlands marijuana and some special mushrooms remain illegal but are tolerated in small quantities. In Amsterdam you can order marijuana and light up inside a “coffee shop.” Be warned, however, that you cannot do the same in Maastricht.

Posted: January 15th, 2014 in Columnists,Columns,Editor's Pick,Inquirer Opinion | Read More »

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