Category Archives: Icons

#342 Magellan’s Cross

Wikipedia Photo


Magellan’s Cross, located in Magellanes Street in Cebu City, is considered as one of the city’s major historical landmarks.

In 1521 the Portuguese navigator, Ferdinand Magellan, ordered his men to erect the original large wooden cross at the location where Cebu’s Rajah Humaton, his wife Juana, and 800 followers were baptised on April 14, 1521. The first Catholic mass in Cebu (in fact, the first Catholic mass in the Philippines) was also celebrated in the same site.

The original cross deteriorated over the years when the Catholic faithful took little pieces of the cross as mementos. In 1845 another cross was placed at the spot. The new cross was made of tindalo wood and inside a hollow splinters of the original Magellan’s Cross were preserved.

Today a tiled pavilion shelters the cross and a mural on the ceiling depicts the scene of the first mass and commemorates the conversion of the first Filipinos to Christianity.

Magellan’s Cross is a symbol of Cebu, and the chapel’s image can be found in its city seal. It is also considered as the symbol of Roman Catholicism in the Philippines. (Wikipedia and other sources).

Mabuhay ang Cebu!

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#323 Writings of Nick Joaquin

Publicity poster for a theatrical version of Nick Joaquin's May Day Eve

The literary works of National Artist Nick Joaquin (1917-2004) are considered to be the best in the canon of Philippine literature in English. A journalist and historian, Joaquin was known for his plays, short stories, essays and novels, although he also wrote poetry, practiced journalism and served in a number of cultural posts as reviewer, art critic and consultant.

Among his most widely published works are the The Summer Solstice (short story), May Day Eve (short story), The Woman With Two Navels (historical novel), A Portrait of the Artist as Filipino (play) and Cave & Shadows (metaphysical thriller), to name a few. Joaquin’s works are translated in many languages and he was one of the few Filipino writers published by major publishing houses in the US and Europe.

Joaquin also wrote using the pen name Quijano de Manila. Known for his vitriolic humor and acidic criticism, Joaquin was nevertheless loved by both the Philippine literati and artistic circles for his prolific pen, masterful language and writings that illuminate or examine the Filipino psyche and experience if not the human condition.

Long live Philippine literature!

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#318 Balangiga Bells

Wikipedia Photo

The Balangiga bells are three church bells taken by the United States Army from the town church of Balangiga, Eastern Samar in the Philippines as war booty after reprisals following the Balangiga incident in 1901 during the Philippine-American War.

One church bell is in the possession of the 9th Infantry Regiment at Camp Red Cloud, their base in South Korea, while two others are on a former base of the 11th Infantry Regiment at F. E. Warren Air Force Base in Cheyenne, Wyoming. At least one of the bells had tolled to signal the surprise attack by the Filipinos while the Americans were eating breakfast. The attack claimed the lives of more than 40 soldiers of the US garrison posted in the town.

The bells, which symbolized Filipino revolutionary courage, is tied to the event of September 28, 1901, when the villagers of Balangiga ambushed Company C of the 9th U.S. Infantry Regiment, while they were at breakfast, killing an estimated 48 and wounding 22 of the 78 men of the unit, with only four escaping unhurt. The villagers captured about 100 rifles and 25,000 rounds of ammunition. An estimated 20 to 25 of the guerrillas had died in the fighting, with a similar number of wounded.

In reprisal, General Jacob H. Smith ordered that Samar be turned into a “howling wilderness” and that any Filipino male above ten years of age capable of bearing arms be shot if they refuse to surrender. From the burned-out Catholic town church, the Americans recovered three bells which they took back to the United States as war booty.

Despite efforts of Philippine presidents and politicians, the bells remain under US government control but efforts are ongoing to recover the bells and re/install in Balangiga, Samar (Wikipedia and other sources).

Mabuhay at ibalik ang Balangiga Bells sa Pilipinas!

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#308 Maynila sa Kuko ng Liwanag

Poster of "Maynila sa Kuko ng Liwanag" showing the young actor Bembol Roco


  Maynila sa Kuko ng Liwanag (Manila in the Talons of Light) is a 1975 classic Filipino film drama directed by Lino Brocka based on the novel by Edgardo M. Reyes. The film is considered as one of the classics of Filipino cinema in the 1970s and has established Brocka as among the Philippines’ most influential director.

The film starred Hilda Koronel, Lou Salvador, Jr., Tommy Abuel, and in his film debut, Bembol Roco (credited as Rafael Roco, Jr.). The cinematography is by Miguel de Leon, who would later became a renowned director himself.

The film attracted controversy following the censorship it went through and the rejection by the Marcos administration. First Lady Imelda Marcos was reported as having condemned the film for its negative portrayal of Manila and its residents. Foreign and local critics, however, praised the film for its editing and cinematographic qualities, and is widely considered up to this day as one of the enduring examples of cinema noir in the country. (Source: Wikipedia)
Long live Philippine cinema!

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#290 Philippine National Anthem

What is guaranteed to send goose bumps or feelings of nostalgia to expat Pinoys and winning athletes than to hear the first few notes and strains of the country’s National Anthem?

Lupang Hinirang is the national anthem of the Philippines. Its music was composed in 1898 by Julian Felipe, with lyrics in Spanish adapted from the poem Filipinas, written by José Palma in 1899.

Originally written as incidental music, it did not have words when it was adopted as the National Anthem of the Philippines and subsequently played during the proclamation of Philippine independence on June 12, 1898. During the American occupation of the Philippines, the colonial government banned the song from being played with the passage of the Flag Law. The law was repealed in 1919 and the song was translated into English and legalized as the “Philippine Hymn.”

The anthem was translated into Tagalog in the 1940s. A 1956 Pilipino (standardised Tagalog) version, revised in the 1960s, serves as the present anthem. Lupang Hinirang is Filipino for “Chosen Land.” Some English sources erroneously translate Lupang Hinirang as “Beloved Land” or “Beloved Country.  The anthem is also colloquially known as Bayang Magiliw. (Source: WikiPedia).

Long live the National Anthem!

Click here for a preview of the Philippine National Anthem:


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#277 UP Madrigal Singers

Philippine Madrigal Singers

The University of the Philippines Madrigal Singers (UPMS), also known as the Philippine Madrigal Singers or simply Madz, is one of the major cultural groups based in the University of the Philippines, Diliman. Its current conductor and musical director is Mark Anthony Carpio. They are the first choir in the world to win the European Grand Prix for Choral Singing twice (in 1997 and in 2007).

The Philippine Madrigal Singers was founded in 1963 by National Artist for Music, Professor Andrea Veneracion. The Madz is mostly composed of students, faculty and alumni from the University of the Philippines. The group’s trademark performance stance, singing in a semi-circle without a conductor, is instantly recognizable.

A standard Madz performance clearly exhibits the seamless fusion of their musical virtuosity, technical proficiency and soulful singing. Their highly eclectic repertoire spans the breadth and length of vocal music: from Renaissance madrigals to the avant-garde, from Filipino and international folksongs to the latest pop hits, even from the most cerebral choral masterpieces to the most humorous of novelty numbers. This world-class choir can sing anything with authenticity and professionalism while keeping their audience thoroughly entertained (Source: Wikipedia).

Mabuhay ang Philippine Madrigal Singers!

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#274 Philippine Flag

The national flag of the Philippines is a horizontal bicolor with equal bands of royal blue and scarlet red, and with a white equilateral triangle at the hoist. In the center of the triangle is a golden yellow sun with eight primary rays, each containing three individual rays; and at each vertex of the triangle is a five-pointed golden yellow star. This flag can indicate a state of war if it is displayed with the red side on top.

The Philippine Government “Flag and Anthem” web page states that the white triangle stands for equality and fraternity; the blue field for peace, truth and justice; and red field for patriotism and valor. The three stars symbolize Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao, while the 8 rays represent the 8 provinces that took part in the initial revolution against the Spanish. Ambrosio Rianzares Bautista, who wrote the Philippine Declaration of Independence and who read it on the occasion of its proclamation on June 12, 1898, has listed the eight provinces as Manila, Cavite, Bulacan, Pampanga, Nueva Ecija, Bataan, Laguna, and Batangas, saying that these eight were declared in a state of war almost from the start of the revolution. (Source: Wikipedia)

Long live the Philippine flag!


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#263 Black Nazarene Festival

Mass of Black Nazarene devotees near Quiapo Church, Manila

On January 9 a huge procession would take place every year in Manila during the Feast of the Black Nazarene. In terms of numbers it is by far the single biggest religious festival in the whole Philippines and the epicentre of the celebration is in Quiapo Church in the heart of downtown Manila.

This religious festival is both fun and unnerving to watch since a tremendously huge crowd of people, mostly men, usually show up on bare feet to show their devotion and penitence. For the whole day this mass of people would struggle to pull the carriage inch by inch in a slow procession of the Black Nazarene statue to Quiapo Church. Devotees believe that to touch the statue on this day would heal them of diseases.

Every year, when the Black Nazarene parade occurs, the center of Manila is virtually inaccessible to motor traffic. Hundreds of devotees faint or pass out due to the heat emanating from the pack of pressed bodies surrounding Quiapo Church and the adjacent square.

The Black Nazarene is a life-size statue of Jesus Christ brought by Augustinian Recollect friars to the Philippines on May 31, 1606 from Mexico. An Aztec carpenter reportedly carved the statue, which is now enshrined in the minor basilica of Quiapo. Devotees to the Black Nazarene usually flock to church on Fridays to pay their devotions.

Long live Philippine festivals!

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#258 Terno

Photo: Edwin Uy

Terno is the elegant, Spanish-inspired costume worn by Filipino women in the 20th century and which is still worn up to this day in special public occasions. The word ‘terno’ is Spanish for ‘to match.’

The Filipino terno refers to the matching of blouse and skirt, joined at the waist to form a one-piece creation, with both bodice and skirt made of the same material. The seamlessness is only one of its inventive features of the Filipino terno. The sleeveless are upright, flat against the shoulders like clipped butterfly wings. Its low neckline contours the bosom. The whole is nipped at the waist to let fall a shapely skirt that is rounded, flared or trailed at the hem.

Pioneering Philippine fashion designers have innovated on the terno and their designs elevated this national costume to a world-class high fashion statement. (Source: Filipino

Long live Philippine costumes!


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#212 Philippine Airlines

Although it went through turbulent times with a sullied reputation in the 1980s, the Philippine Airlines is one of the iconic brands of the Philippines being the oldest airline company in Asian that is still in operation.

Philippine Airlines (PAL) was officially founded on February 26, 1941, but its license to operate as an airliner was derived from the merged Philippine Aerial Taxi Company (PATCO) established by mining magnate Emmanuel N. Bachrach in December 3, 1930, making it as Asia’s oldest scheduled carrier still in operation. PAL’s commercial air service started three weeks later from Manila to Baguio, making it Asia’s first airline route. Bachrach’s death in 1937 paved the way for its eventual merger with Philippine Airlines in March 1941 and made it Asia’s oldest airline. It is also the oldest airline in Asia still operating under its current name.

Bachrach’s majority share in PATCO was bought by beer magnate Andres  Soriano in 1939 upon the advice of General Douglas McArthur and later merged with newly formed Philippine Airlines with PAL as the surviving entity. PAL restarted service on March 15, 1941 with a single Beech Model 18 NPC-54 aircraft, which started its daily services between Manila (from Nielson Field) and Baguio.

On July 31, 1946, 64 years ago to this day, chartered PAL DC-4 ferried 40 American servicemen to Oakland, California from Nielson Airport in Makati City with stops in Guam, Wake Island, Johnston Atoll and Honolulu, Hawaii, making PAL the first Asian airline to cross the Pacific Ocean. A regular service between Manila and San Francisco was started in December 1946,  the same year that the airline was designated as the flag carrier of Philippines. (From: Wikipedia).

Mabuhay ang Philippine Airlines!

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