Thursday, February 12, 2015


INDONESIAN President Joko Widodo was recently in Manila where he signed an agreement on combatting drug crime, discussed maritime affairs with Filipinos as parties to the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea and the Coral Triangle Initiative, invited his Philippine counterpart to attend the commemoration of the 60th anniversary of the Asia-Africa Conference which Jakarta will host this year, and offered a wreath before the monument of the Philippine national hero at the Rizal Park.

Widodo’s state visit bore the Joint Declaration on the Protection of Migrants and Migrants Workers and a Memorandum of Understanding in the Field of Technical Vocational Education and Training. While Indonesia’s leader was in the Philippine capital, Hong Kong Judge Amanda Woodcock convicted Ms. Law Wan-tung of beating and starving her 24-year-old Indonesian maid Erwiana Sulistyaningsih — the case that sparked international outrage over Chinese crimes (of grievous bodily harm, criminal intimidation and failure to pay wages) committed against contracted Southeast Asians in the very same financial hub that was rebuked by the peaceful civil disobedience campaign (Occupy Central with Love and Peace).

President Jokowi’s Manila sojourn also brings to mind Jose Rizal’s historical notes in his landmark essay The Indolence of the Filipinos, particularly Part 2: “In 1539 the warriors of Luzon took part in the formidable contests of Sumatra, and under the orders of Angi Siry Timor, Rajah of Batta, conquered and overthrew the terrible Alzadin, Sultan of Atchin, renowned in the historical annals of the Far East.” This little-known incident in ASEAN history occurred 18 years after the ill-fated Magellan Expedition and 26 years before the Adelantado’s arrival in the Visayas, indicating a robust relationship among Malays in the pre-Hispanic period. “Spaniards did not reach Luzon until 1571,” according to Rizal.

In another ground-breaking essay (The Philippines A Century Hence) Rizal contemplated a squad of post-Hispanic invaders, assessing the motivations and likelihood of each potential imperialist, and crossing out the Empire of the House of Orange-Nassau of the Netherlands for the following reason: “Holland is sensible and will be content to keep the Moluccas and Java. Sumatra offers her a greater future than the Philippines, whose seas and coasts have a sinister omen for Dutch expeditions. Holland proceeds with great caution in Sumatra and Borneo, from fear of losing everything.”

In that essay, Rizal saluted, too, the hardiness of his compatriots in his Archipelago and in the Nusantara: “The Philippine races, like all the Malays, do not succumb before the foreigner…In spite of the numerous wars the Filipinos have had to carry on, in spite of the epidemics that have periodically visited them, their number has trebled, as has that of the Malays of Java and the Moluccas.” Indeed, Rizal’s scenarios of conflict and analyses of underdevelopment ought to be required readings in the Cabinets and bureaucracies of Widodo and Aquino.

President Joko Widodo was hosted last February 9 in Malacañan Palace where P’Noy related that “in 1944, an Indonesian journalist named Rosihan Anwar came across a poem written by our national hero, Dr. Jose Rizal, entitled Mi Ultimo Adios, or ‘My Last Farewell.’ Struck by Dr. Rizal’s words, he would translate this into Bahasa Indonesia. Just as Dr. Rizal’s death inspired our forebears to persevere in the fight for justice and independence, it is said that Rosihan Anwar’s translation of his words inspired Indonesians during your country’s struggle for independence. This speaks to our shared values and to the importance our people give to democracy, true freedom, and inclusive prosperity.”

Noynoy Aquino’s toast can also be placed in the context of World War II, which was a trans-continental confrontation between Good and Evil, and in 1944, February 18, Thursday, to be exact, Marcial P. Lichauco wrote in his Diary of the War in the Philippines: “The entire press and radio facilities of the country continue to remain in Japanese hands. Although we cannot find out exactly how many Japanese soldiers there are in the Islands, to all outward appearances they are just as numerous as ever, enjoying the same privileges and acting as insolently as ever.”

“All transportation facilities remain in Japanese hands...The Japanese language continues to be a compulsory subject in all our schools...” [page 197] The Manileno diarist’s entry for 12 February 1945 was even more grim: “Monday night, With the water supply still cut off, with not a scrap of food available in the public market and with very little of it left in our own larder, with no electricity and, consequently, no lights, no gas, and, consequently, no fuel for cooking – try to take care of 113 refugees, many of whom are wounded, who have been wished on you during the past 48 hours. This is the problem confronting Jesse and me today. What little powdered milk and oatmeal are left for Cornelia and Loretta, they are now sharing with the refugee babies which include among them a one-month-old infant whose mother was struck down by a Japanese bullet as she fled from her burning house.”

Copies of Lichauco’s “Dear Mother Putnam: Life and Death in Manila during the Japanese Occupation 1941-1945” can be acquired for a few pesos from Sylvia Lichauco of the Parish of our Lady of the Abandoned “Sigaw ng Batingaw 1945-2015” Project and from the Ayala Museum, which is commemorating the 70th Anniversary of the Battle for Manila with the exhibition “Manila: My City at War!” and a series of survivor accounts, expert lectures, film showings, and cultural performances scheduled on all Saturdays of February 2015.

Sylvia Lichauco-De Leon is also the Executive Producer of “Manila 1945: The Rest of the Story,” a full-length documentary film (captained by Peter Parsons and Lucky Guillermo), which was premiered last February 5 at the former Senate Hall, National Museum, P. Burgos Street in Manila. Among others in attendance were the Deputy Chief of Mission of the US Embassy in the Philippines (Brian L. Goldbeck), the Chairman of the Philippine Veterans Bank (Roberto F. De Ocampo), the leading lights of the Veterans Federation of the Philippines (retired guerrilla Colonel Emmanuel V. De Ocampo of the Hunters-ROTC), the Chairman of the National Commission For Culture and The Arts (Prof. Felipe M. de Leon, Jr.), and retired Major-General Jose P. Magno of the Philippine Army.

The gala premiere for the “Manila 1945: The Rest of the Story” film was the occasion as well for the launch of the special commemorative edition of the book Manila 1945: The Rest of the Story, published by the Philippine Veterans Bank, edited by Peter Parsons and Lucky Guillermo and produced by Spyron AV Manila.

Finally, anent Oplan Wolverine of December 2012 to arrest Malaysian terrorist Marwan: “The Moro pirate has disappeared but there remains the outlaw who infests the fields and waylays the farmer to hold him for ransom.” [Rizal, 1889-1890]

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