Showing posts from 2007

Lists & Families.

The End Of One, The Beginning Of Another?By Frank A HilarioToday, December 31 (Manila time) is the day of the Holy Family of Jesus, Joseph & Mary according to the calendar of the Roman Catholic Church worldwide. In the Philippines, the only Roman Catholic country in Asia, the interjection ‘susmaryosep!’ actually has the names of the Holy Family but in a different order: Jesus, Mary, Joseph. The order has significance in Philippine culture, which is familial and, yes, matriarchal: At home, a mother is more important (and more powerful) than a father. The mother mentioned before the father; I don’t know about St Joseph, but as a father, I don’t mind. I don’t mind feeling less important because I feel that, actually, to the Filipinos neither the mother nor the father is important – the family is. That is why divorce is anathema to our culture and will always be so; you can sculpt that on stone.Yesterday, I saw with my own eyes that somebody else can be the most important of all, even…

Translating a hero. When Words Collide and Meanings Get Lost

Now that I’ve done my own bit of translating 19th century Spanish to 21st century English, I personally know that something is always lost in the translation. In the case of the greatest patriotic poem of that century, ‘Adios, Patria Adorada,’ I hope the loss is not too much of a good thing. Why did I a non-linguist translate the Philippine National Hero Jose Rizal’s ultimate poem? I didn’t feel comfortable with the translations I had read. While I couldn’t speak Spanish to save my life, I was vaguely unimpressed with what I saw when I compared those translations with the original (consulting the English-Spanish dictionary) and against each other (consulting my own English translation that I kept revising). Both Filipinos, was Jose Rizal who was a Tagalog writing in Spanish different from a Frank Hilario who is an Ilocano writing in English? That is a question of colonialism. In the late 19th century, wasn’t Rizal a colonial of the Spanish friars, and in the early 21st century am I …

What's Wrong With Christmas?

Nothing. What’s Wrong With You?!‘Merry Christmas anyway!’ Whatever Mikep was trying to say in his email, on December 19, I made the mistake of replying to my good friend with that greeting. He emailed back, ‘You know very well Christmas is a pagan holiday. So let’s celebrate!’That’s a triple strike. One, Mikep is American, pagan – he has no religion; so, let the pagans celebrate! Two, he’s in the USA, I’m in the Philippines. Three, he knows that I, Filipino, am Roman Catholic, and it was the Catholic Church that instituted the celebration of Christmas on December 25, thank you very much. This was the birthday of the Roman god Mithra, ‘god of the unconquerable sun’ and thus this day of the dying year was ‘the most sacred day of the year’ ( He was also called Mithras, the god who continued to give life to the earth ( Do you see? The Catholics, not to mention the Protestants, these purportedly civilized people, are celebrating a pagan festival – at the very…

December Lights, December Meanings.

Building Individuals Building Institutions
Building A Country Called The Philippines By Frank A Hilario
The History Place ( gives me a good list of what happened or who died or who was born who was important in the month of December throughout recorded time, but it misses on the most patriotic date celebrated in my country, the Philippines: 1896 December 30, in the early morning of which the frightened Spanish conquistadores executed Dr Jose Rizal, a man of peace whose very personality reminded his enemies the greatness his race was capable of.I call Rizal’s execution The Spanish Mistake, since that act angered the Filipinos so much they rose in arms against the Spaniards and toppled an empire. Both The History Place and The Spanish Mistake remind me that when you make a mistake in history, someone is bound to take notice.Thanks to the incomplete list of The History Place, I have had the insight that I have to jot down my own December List and record my own December Mea…

Merry Christmas, Rich!

What Do You Do With The Poor? Wrong QuestionBy Frank A Hilario
Good news can be funny, and in the least expected place too. Funny, but it's the Bible, yes. Know what? At 5 early this morning, Tuesday, December 11 in Manila, surfing the Web looking for the poor, I suddenly realized the New Testament has a funny bone. Here’s what made me laugh, this verse coming bright from the Gospel of St Matthew 11:5 (English Standard Version 2001,
The blind receive their sight, and
the lame walk, and
the lepers are cleansed, and
the deaf hear, and
the dead are raised up, and
the poor have good news preached to them.St Matthew, not fair!The national hero of the Philippines, Jose Rizal, himself wrote on the first page of his first bookNoli Me Tangere (1887): ‘Like an electric jolt the news circulated around the world of social parasites, the pests or dregs which God in His infinite goodness created and very fondly breeds in Manila.’Not funny. The rich receive gifts, the poor receive j…

Merry Christmas?

Consequently, Merry Christmas!By Frank A Hilario
I wrote this a year ago in another blogsite, but I find its appeal strong to me as I review my essays, so I'm re-presenting it here.The debate rages on to this day, more than 100 years after his martyrdom on 30 December 1896, as to whether Jose Rizal, national hero of the Philippines, did in fact renounce his Roman Catholicism and become a Protestant in effect, without being baptized? That’s a big question; this time, I just want to talk about Rizal’s Christmas in relation to Rizal’s Christ, when Rizal was merely drifting from Catholicism to Protestantism.In his time, did Jose Rizal, emerging non-Catholic, celebrate Christmas? I thought he didn’t, until I checked the correspondence. I found two references to Christmas Day, and the two reveal much of Rizal’s idea of Christmas and of Christ. Rizal’s Christmas is as colorful as his life, except that his Christmas does not revolve around Christ as God. That takes color off my Christmas.T…

Family Affairs.

Having Done Well, ICRISAT Must Do Better!By Frank A Hilario
Poor Team ICRISAT! The International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics is exulting, celebrating its 35th anniversary this week, November 21-24, with the knowledge that it has been rated O (Outstanding) by the World Bank. Excellent, I say. Now I shall expect more.I? I am the poor; while my needs are few, my number is legion. Let science go figure that one.This is typical science considering the needs of the poor: The FAO Newsroom mentions insufficiencies in the following ( food, micronutrients in the diet. To meet those, there must be, in FAO’s opinion, a war on hunger, and biotechnology should be able to contribute to it.And this: David Dickson, Director of SciDev.Net, lists down the poor’s needs as (a) a greater share of the benefits of development, (b) energy supply, (c) cure or treatment of diseases, (d) options in response to climate change.Is anyone actually meeting the needs of the poor…