Sunday, December 11, 2016

An Ode to Fidel Castro

Fidel Castro is finally dead. It was an eventuality that I have been waiting to happen since I arrived in Havana in February 2008 as a wide-eyed year-old Foreign Service Officer. Having been raised in a middle class household and educated in a pro-American educational system that saw only evil in Communism, I am not a Fidel Castro fan. Never was. Never have been. And I see much commonality with the Cuban diaspora who yearn to be back to their homeland.

Sunday, July 3, 2016

Remember the Cubans

Interwoven flags: Cuba and the Philippines (source: CubavsBloqueo).
I am constantly reminded of the fact that I am probably the lone gatekeeper of information pertaining to Philippine-Cuban relations at the Department, having been the last man standing at the now-defunct Philippine Embassy in Havana, which closed down on 31 October 2012.

Sunday, February 28, 2016

The Mexican Connection, Part 2: The Subversives and the Deportees

The great rebellion of the Manila Datus in 1587-1588, led by no other than Legazpi's own creole grandson.
The necessity of moving people between the Spanish colonies of New Spain (Mexico) and the Philippine Islands was not just economic in nature (lack of skilled manpower) but also due to brewing political upheavals. The first recorded arrival of natives from the Philippines to Mexico was necessitated by the first big revolt against Spanish colonizers in Manila led by almost all local datus or chieftains of note in 1587-1588. One of the chief organizers was no other than the mestizo grandson of Miguel Lopez de Legazpi, whose hispanized name was Agustin de Legazpi. He was the product of the marriage between the son of a Tondo prince (one of the brothers of Tondo Chief Rajah Lakandula) and Legazpi's daughter. Despite being of mixed race, he identified himself with the natives and was appalled by the mistreatment of his brethren by the Spanish colonizers.

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Communing with the Dead in Patzcuaro

Tarascan family in the Island of Janitzio honor their ancestors with offerings.
There is one country in the world where Dia de Muertos is celebrated way too seriously - Mexico. Sure, most former Spanish colonies in Latin America (Philippines literally counts as a Latin American country, in my estimation), have their own versions of this festival which was created by the fusion of indigenous folk beliefs with Roman Catholic traditions. Mexico, however, has one of the liveliest variants, with a unique syncretism of ancient Aztec veneration of the Goddess of Dead, subsumed into the general traditions of Christianity.

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

The Mexican Connection, Part I: Commonalities

Postage stamp issued in 1965 by SEPOMEX commemorating 400 years of Philippine-Mexican links.
My first impression of Mexico when I first visited the country in 2008 was that it felt so familiar. Since then, I have lived in Mexico for almost two years from 2012 to 2014 and this impression has been largely confirmed. The Philippines and Mexico are basically similar countries separated by a vast ocean.