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Jul 14th
Home Sections MiscellaNEWS Saving the Filipino Historical Monuments and Sites
Saving the Filipino Historical Monuments and Sites PDF Print E-mail
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Tuesday, 18 September 2007 04:27

Part One of an Occasional Series

According to my grandfather-in-law, Isabelo (Don Belong) de los Reyes, as told to his youngest son Vigan (my father-in-law), the problem with our homeland was that our people never built historical monuments or even shrines like those found in Indonesia or even in Indochina or Siam (Thailand). Then Don Belong said also that our ancestors and even our immediate ascendants never bothered to write down historical records of major events and even the wars for Philippine independence against Spain and later against the Americans. And if I may add to Don Belong's laments, there are very few written personal accounts by guerilla leaders during World War II. Even my father, Dominador (now deceased) who used to be a college editor in Cebu, refused to write his wartime memoirs. I was really interested in his exploits, since he was called by the Japanese and the Makapili collaborators as the "Butcher of Bulusan." Dominador Reyes, whose hometown was Bulusan, Sorsogon, headed the Lapuz Guerillas' so-called "Liquidation Squad." The squad apprehended pro-Japanese Filipinos, who were never heard again after they were arrested.

Don Belong's words actually inspired me to form a group of Bicolnons dedicated to saving the 30 remaining Spanish-built churches in the Bicol Region. But it shall indeed take a great effort, as a Sorsoganon architect whom I asked to inspect the decaying church in Barcelona, Sorsogon, said that the ballpark figure for its retrofitting and restoration would amount to a minimum of one-milliion dollars (per church). And of course, we have quite a number of opponents who say that the money should be invested instead in small income-generating projects for the financially-disadvantaged people of the town and the province where the old church is located. So I said that the compromise goal would be to raise two-million dollars to take care both of the retrofitting/restoration project and for the socioeconomic projects. I plan to head a mission to Barcelona, Spain, sometime next year, so as to ask my Hispanic friends and the people of Barcelona to help us raise the funds. Incidentally, the Barcelona town in Sorsogon Province is the only town in the Philippine named after the great Spanish city of Barcelona.

We intend also to formally present our idea of reviving the Spanish shipyard in Sorsogon Bay, so that we can construct the replicas of the galleons used by the Fernando de Magallanes expedition. After all the 500th anniversary of the start of the Magallanes expedition shall be on Sept. 20, 2019, which is just 12 years away. I first presented the idea of organizing the Magallanes 500th anniversary way back in June 1996 when I organized the Fiesta Hispana y Filipina in West Covina, California. Spanish diplomats and Spanish Americans attended the said event. Why Sorsogon has the right to participate in the coming historical event of the century? Because there are only two towns in the Philippines named after Magallanes and they are located in the Provinces of Cavite and Sorsogon. Cebu has the Magallanes district and Makati has the Magallanes Village but only Sorsogon and Cavite have the Magallanes town. It is appropriate, therefore, for Spain to help in building the replicas of the Magellan's ships at the proposed Sorsogon shipyard.

I have floated the idea of Overseas-Filipino workers (OFWs) and immigrants contributing to a fund to build new museums in their home provinces, the building of the Magallanes galleon replicas and even Philippine Presidential libraries. But it takes time to persuade our fellow OFWs to join in the bandwagon of doing a cultural renaissance. However, my friends and I are that patient. We organized on March 17, 2005, the first-ever Philippine Presidents' Day (PPD) in Los Angeles, California. The PPD has been done with a modest commemoration of the deceased Philippine Presidents for the past three years. We are now preparing for the Fourth PPD in March 2008. It will be held again at the Social Hall of the Filipino-American Community of Los Angeles (FACLA).

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Last Updated on Tuesday, 18 September 2007 06:17

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