Why the Catholic Church should apologise to Rizal's mother
By Dean Reyes Bocobo in Manila/Philippine Daily Inquirer | Asia News Network 

Manila (Philippine Daily Inquirer/ANN) - Coming so swiftly on the heels of Christmas and the Slaughter of the Innocents, the annual Rizal Day holiday on December 30 usually passes fleetingly by as just another blessed day off, before we all plunge merrily into the noisy revelries and celebrations of New Year's Eve.

[In the late 20th Century, some of the well-known speakers on Rizal Day began those festivities a little early, perhaps even before or during their oratories!]

Headed by President Benigno S. Aquino III, this year's Rizal Day event at the Luneta features a full-dress reenactment and commemoration, by the Knights of Rizal and the Grand Lodge of Free and Accepted Masons, of the 1912 transfer of Rizal's remains in an urn, from the custody of his family in their house in Binondo into the hands of the public for a wake at the Ayuntamiento in Intramuros, then burial at the Luneta.
There is an historic photograph taken in the City of Manila on Rizal Day 1912, showing the urn with the bones of Jose Rizal borne on a military caisson drawn by six black horses, and flanked by an honour guard of the Knights of Rizal [with caps and striped sashes] and white-clad members of the Grand Lodge of Free and Accepted Masons. The location of this 1912 event is now the Plaza Binondo de San Lorenzo Ruiz.

How the twists and turns of history produced amazing moments in time, frozen in these historic photographs, is poignantly told by Asuncion Lopez Bantug, granddaughter of Sisa, the sister of Rizal, in her classic biography "Lolo Jose: An Intimate Portrait of Rizal" [Manila: Intramuros Administration, 1982]. It turns out to be an intimate portrait also of the mother of Jose Rizal, Dona Teodora Realonda Alonso Rizal (1827-1911) and of his entire family.
She describes the events following the execution of Jose Rizal on December 30, 1896, how his mother was denied custody of his remains, how he was denied a Catholic Church burial on consecrated ground and how he was secretly buried at Paco Park in an unmarked grave.
As Bantug wrote: "The previous evening (December 29, 1896), Dona Teodora had gone from one official to another, begging to be given her son's body after the execution. None was moved by her pleas-except for the mayor of Manila, Don Manuel Luengo, who acted on his own to grant her wish. She and Don Francisco spent the morning of the execution secluded in the house of my Lola Sisa, with whom they had been staying, on and off, since their eviction from Calamba. Lola Sisa had ordered a coffin for her brother and it was sent in a hearse to the Luneta as soon as word came that all was over.
"What was my Lola Sisa's consternation to learn that the body was gone-and nobody able, or willing, to tell her where it had been taken. She hurried to the city cemetery at Paang Bundok [where, in a farewell note, my Lolo Jose had expressed a wish to be buried], but no body had been taken there. She made the rounds of the suburban graveyards, but in none had there been a burial that morning. Other members of the family were going from one authority to another, begging to be told where the body had been buried, but were met only with silence and a shrug.
"But my Lola Sisa refused to give up. She continued her round of the graveyards-and was finally rewarded. At the Paco Cemetery, the old city graveyard no longer in use, she noticed Mayor Manuel Luengo and some army officers inspecting a grave. When they left, Lola Sisa hurried to the site. It was a freshly dug grave and could only be that of her brother. She went to the sexton and persuaded him to mark the grave with the small marble slab she carried. The marble slab, designed by family friend Doroteo Ongjungco, was inscribed with three letters, RPJ-my Lolo Jose's initials in reverse. The family feared that a more explicit tombstone might prompt the authorities to remove the body and hide it elsewhere, to prevent any public veneration of the Rizal grave. It is said that a guard was placed at the Paco Cemetery to discourage snoopers."
The Rizal family did not gain custody of his remains until the end of the Spanish colonial regime at the hands of Commodore Dewey in 1898. Rizal's bones were exhumed from the cold oblivion of Paco in the wake of the Mock Battle of Manila Bay.
"Two years later, in the turmoil that followed the American occupation of Manila, his family seized the chance to recover my Lolo Jose's body unhindered by Church or State," wrote Bantug. "Spain had fallen in the Philippines; American troops took over in Manila on Aug. 13, 1898. Four days later, on Aug. 17, my Lola Sisa, accompanied by her daughter Angelica, sculptor Romualdo Teodoro de Jesus, Higino Francisco and Doroteo Ongjungco, went to the Paco Cemetery and had the grave dug up.
"The body was found to have been buried directly into the earth, without a coffin. Nevertheless, the clothes were still recognisable, though whatever my Lolo Jose had hidden in his shoes had long rotted away. A vertebra showing a bullet wound was kept in a glass and silver cup in Lola's house.
"The remains were taken to my Lola Sisa's house, where Higino Francisco and Romualdo Teodoro de Jesus themselves reverently washed the bones. They were later placed in an ivory urn carved by De Jesus. This urn was venerated in frequent public ceremonies during the 1900s, when Rizal began to be honoured as the National Hero of the Philippines."
And so in the repose of his family's bosom, in his mother's everlasting solicitude, Rizal's bones lay for 14 more years. Unbeknownst to them and shortly thereafter, Americans such William Howard Taft [the first Civil Governor under American Occupation] and Henry A. Cooper [Dem., Wisconsin] had discovered Rizal for themselves through his writings, while wrestling with the thorny question of what America ought to do for, about, or with the Philippines.
In 1901, the United States Philippine Commission issued Decree No. 243 authorising a suitable monument for Jose Rizal, with funds for its construction to be raised by public subscription. A worldwide design contest for the future Rizal Monument elicited work from the creme-de-la-creme.
The proclaimed winning design, which was a fantasy in Italian Carrara marble by Carlo Nicoli ["Al Martir de Bagumbayan"] was, however, never built. The simpler second place winner, "Motto Stella" by Swiss artist Richard Kissling, is what we find in the Luneta today.
Bantug described the culmination of a monument building process that apparently outlived Dona Teodora by 1912.
"In 1912, the foundations were laid for a monument at the Luneta that would also serve as the final tomb for the hero's mortal remains. On December 29, 1912, the urn containing the remains was borne in solemn procession from the family's house to the Ayuntamiento, that fine Marble Hall that had been a symbol of Spanish sovereignty in the Philippines. [Teodora Alonso was laid in state in the same location the previous year.] In the salon of the Ayuntamiento, the urn was enshrined on a magnificent catafalque surrounded by innumerable floral wreaths, offerings of the nation. Throughout that night, the Knights of Rizal and other patriotic groups as well as the public kept vigil round the catafalque."
"Next morning, December 30, 1912-16th anniversary of the martyrdom-the urn was borne to the Luneta on an artillery caisson drawn by six horses. Thousands joined the procession and thousands more lined the streets.
"At the Luneta, the obsequies were led by acting Governor-General Newton W. Gilbert and the two ranking statesmen of the Philippine Assembly, Sergio Osmena and Mariano Ponce, the latter one of Rizal's dearest friends. Then the urn was deposited in the centre of the base over which would rise the monument...
"The monument they accomplished has become a national landmark, the most visible tribute of the nation to its greatest son.
"But neither of his parents lived to see his monument."
Rizal's father, Francisco, died in Manila in 1898. His mother, Dona Teodora, died in August 1911 just a year and a half before Rizal's burial at the Luneta on December 30, 1912, the event whose centenary we commemorate today. She had lain in state in the very same Ayuntamiento the year before Rizal was buried at the Luneta.
In the year 2000, the good Pope John Paul II offered apologies on behalf of the Vatican to all who had been wronged or harmed in history by the Catholic Church, notably to Galileo Galilei for the events of over three centuries ago involving his predecessor Urban VIII and the whole question of the Earth being the Centre of the Universe.
He called on all the prelates of the Catholic Church in various countries to follow his example in making such historic apologies for wrongs that need acknowledging.
I think the Philippine Catholic Church does owe such an apology to Rizal's mother for their inhumane treatment of him, even as a convicted demiurge of the Philippine Revolution, in denying her custody of his remains. The Philippine Church has not heeded the call of Pope John Paul II in any matter within their realm. They must think that, unlike him, the infallibility gives them impeccability.
It was cruel and unjust to deny Dona Teodora such a pitiable request after the State and Church had united in executing him and satisfying their blood lust against the insurrectos through him.
I appeal for historic apologies to her and not for Jose Rizal [who'd neither want nor need it]. Or else the Church should suffer forever the present exclusion from Philippine history that has continued unabated since 1912, when final funeral rites for the national hero before final interment at the Luneta were given to the Masons, and denied to the Catholic Church.

PCOS Justification

Fact check
Published on Business Mirror Online, Tuesday, 27 November 2012 18:53
Written by James Jimenez / Spox

OVER the past few days, several groups have again gone on a major offensive, attempting to undermine public confidence in the automated election system (AES) rolled out by the Commission on Elections (Comelec) in the May 10, 2010, national and local elections.
At the heart of these renewed attacks is the claim that, because of a legal tussle between the Precinct Optical Scan (PCOS) machines provider and a technology company (from which the provider obtained a worldwide license “to make, have made, use, import, offer for sale, lease and sell” voting systems utilizing certain technologies developed by that company), no source code for the 2010 AES was ever deposited with the central bank—as required by the automation law—and that the 2013 elections are somehow in jeopardy.
Time for a fact check.
What these attacks have left unsaid are: first, that the licensing agreement between the provider and tech company included a provision whereby the tech company is obligated to place all its source codes in escrow so that if it ever breaches its licensing agreement with the provider, the provider can take those codes out of escrow and use them to cure the breach.
This common provision in licensing agreements, which gives protection to the license-holder against the possibility of the licensing party reneging on its obligations, was the subject matter of the dispute between the PCOS machines provider and the tech company;  and, it is important to note, between them alone.
By no stretch of the imagination does this legal dispute mean that the provider never got any source codes which it could then, as per the licensing agreement, use for its business. Thus, as between the PCOS machines provider and the Comelec, the source codes were duly submitted to a third-party reviewer, which in due time completed its review, thus triggering what is called the trusted build—essentially, the creation of the final version of the software for use in the automated elections, using the reviewed source code. In 2010 the entire trusted build process was publicly conducted, after which the source code—which was the basis of the trusted build—was deposited with the central bank, together with all the verification mechanisms necessary to validate both the existence and the authenticity of the escrowed code.
In fact, in compliance with the law, the Comelec even prepared facilities—manned by representatives of both the provider and the tech company—that would have enabled interested parties to actually examine the source code. Unfortunately, the review process was boycotted by the very same people who now claim that the code never actually existed.
Second, the doom-mongering neglects to mention that since 2010, an enhanced version of the system was developed and tested in 2011, with the end in view of using that system for the elections in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao. While the ARMM elections were scrapped, the system—enhanced from 2010—remains available for the Comelec to use in 2013; again, independently of whatever legal issues remain between the PCOS machines provider and the tech company.
As an interesting sidelight, the suit between the provider and the tech company was actually raised before the Supreme Court last month, in a supplement to a motion for reconsideration filed against an earlier decision of the Court, which upheld the validity of the Comelec’s purchase of the PCOS machines for the 2013 elections.
In its decision however, rendered on October 23, 2012, the Supreme Court saw no reason to reconsider its earlier ruling, and went on to affirm the “conclusion that the assailed Resolutions issued by the Comelec and the agreement and deed entered into between the Comelec and Smartmatic-TIM are valid.” The Court, in fact, added: “Lastly, we need not further discuss the issues raised by movants on the alleged glitches of the subject PCOS machines, their compliance with the minimum system capabilities required by law, and the supposed abdication of the Comelec’s exclusive power in the conduct of elections as these issues have been either thoroughly discussed in the assailed decision or in the earlier case of Roque Jr. v. Commission on Elections.”
Unfortunately, it seems that even this definitive ruling by the highest court in the land is not enough to convince some quarters that the law was complied with, and that sufficient safeguards are in place to preserve the sanctity of elections.
Instead, it is apparently easier to imagine a grandiose deception that was supposedly carried out under the very noses of both media and civil society and, allegedly, with the full complicity of all the powers that be.
James Jimenez blogs at http://james- jimenez.com and tweets as @jab-jimenez on Twitter.

Pres. Cory Aquino 'betrayed the Filipino people'

Cory ‘betrayed the Filipino people’
9:36 pm | Friday, October 5th, 2012

Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV’s back-channel negotiations with China reminds me of the US bases negotiations in the early 1990s during the presidency of Corazon C. Aquino, mother of incumbent President Noynoy Aquino. Our “beloved” Cory disregarded the position of the Philippine negotiating panel headed by then Health Secretary Alran Bengzon and came up with her own position similar to the American position.

Reading the excellently researched and documented book, “A Matter of Honor: The Story of the 1990-91 RP-US Bases Talk” by Dr. Alran Bengzon, the conclusion is that President Corazon Aquino betrayed the Filipino people. It is a good thing that the Philippine Senate, then headed by Senate President Jovito Salonga, rejected the 1991 Treaty of Friendship, Cooperation and Security between the Philippines and the United States on Sept. 16, 1991.

Bengzon, a 1991 Ramon Magsaysay awardee for government service, resigned in July 1991 as chair of the Philippine negotiating panel in disgust of what President Corazon Aquino had done. As he wrote in the foreword of the “Bases Talk Reader,” the accompanying book on key documents of the 1990-1991 Philippine-American cooperation talks, “the events of September 1991, with the Senate vote and the attempts by the Executive to overturn it, only served to confirm my conviction (of resignation).”


Marcos didn't order Ninoy's Assasination

Marcos didn’t order Ninoy’s assassination

10:49 pm | Monday, August 20th, 2012

Amid the annual patriotic fanfare in celebration of the heroic legacy of Sen. Benigno “Ninoy” Aquino Jr. looms the dark question that has lingered in the back of our national consciousness for 29 years now: “Who was really behind the assassination of Ninoy?” For almost three decades, a common answer perpetuated by media and through word-of-mouth has been that Ninoy’s death was orchestrated by his political archnemisis—President Ferdinand Marcos.

However, the assertion that Marcos was behind Ninoy’s killing is a categorical falsehood. Ninoy and Marcos may have been brothers, but their story does not resemble that of Cain and Abel.

Before they rose to national prominence, Ninoy and Marcos were fraternity brothers in the Upsilon Sigma Phi. 

Marcos joined in 1937, and Ninoy later in 1950, while they were students at the UP College of Law. Throughout their entire lives, Ninoy and Marcos remained loyal members of the fraternity. Ninoy often invited the “brods” to his home in Manila, and later in Boston during his exile. At the height of his power, Marcos made it a point to invite the resident brods from UP to MalacaƱang during the Christmas season for the singing of Christmas carols. At one memorable gathering of Upsilonian alumni, Marcos spoke the words that have become part of our fraternal lore: “Brod is thicker than water.”

However, these fraternal bonds did not stop them from engaging in electrifying debates that shaped the political discourse of their time. In fact, during the Marcos administration, Upsilonians could be found on all sides of the political spectrum, from the administration to the opposition, and even the far left with the New People’s Army. This is because the Upsilon Sigma Phi is a brotherhood that transcends political beliefs and ideologies. The thought that a brod could be driven to fratricide by power, greed or any other influence is an affront, an insult, to the sincere fraternal bonds that have held our institution together for almost 95 years.

On this anniversary of the martyrdom of a true Filipino hero, let us remember that the spirit of the Ninoy-Marcos rivalry was essentially a clash between wildly different political philosophies competing to become the vehicle for Philippine development and prosperity. It was not a blood feud. The blatant lie that Marcos had anything to do with the assassination of Ninoy must be stricken from our national discourse once and for all.

Let us also remember that principled political debate should be contested with mutual respect, dignity and honor. The personal need not be soiled by the political. It seems that many of our contemporary leaders in government and civil society need to be reminded of this important lesson.

And after all these years, perhaps it is finally time to faithfully investigate and expose the true mastermind behind the assassination of our fallen brother, Ninoy.

Upsilon Sigma Phi,
University of the Philippines Diliman,