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Friday, December 23, 2011

San Juan Bautista Parish Church, once Cebu’s most opulent church

DIONISIO Alo stood seething with anger as authorities tore down the magnificent San Juan Bautista Parish Church in Parian in the late 1870s.

“His heart bled with every stone that was removed and all he could do was bite his lips causing them to also bleed,” said Ang Sugbo sa Karaang Panahon: An Annotated Translation of the 1935 History of Cebu by Fe Susan Go.

Alo, who was capitan of the Parian gremio, was so angry at the destruction that he unknowingly crushed the golden handle of his baston.

The destruction of what had been described in various historical sources as the most magnificent church in Cebu was the end of centuries of struggle between the local mestizo community and the Spanish friars who wanted control over the structure.

San Juan Bautista Parish in Parian
The San Juan Bautista Parish Church in the Parian district is described as having been the most magnificent church in Cebu. (PHOTO USED WITH PERMISSION FROM THE CEBUANO STUDIES CENTER OF USC)

The Parian church, according to Go’s translation submitted to the University of San Carlos as her masteral thesis in history, “has never been surpassed by any other church that has been built in Cebu, such as the Cathedral, the Seminary and San Nicolas.” It was built in 1602.

What remains on the site today, the San Juan Bautista chapel, is but a faint reminder of an opulent past.
“The church was made of stone blocks, plastered together in a mixture of lime and the sap of the lawat tree. The roofs were made of tiles, and the lumber used was molave, balayong and naga. The paraphernalia used in the mass was made purely of gold, the pews were carved by a sculptor of the Parian, the altars were covered with stone slabs with money and gold inlaid, and the church bells were big and loud. The tolling of these bells was so loud that it could be heard as far as Hilotungan ang the town of Talisay,” Go said in her thesis.

“The Augustinian friars upon seeing the magnificence of the church of the Parian, got envious, and employed every shrewd means they could think of to take over the Parian church,” the thesis said.

Fr. Rafael Vasquez, a Parianon, however, fought back and kept the friars at bay.
Go said in one of her footnotes that Augustinian Fr. Santos Gomez Marañon filed a petition “to have the Parian parish supressed and incorporated into the Cathedral.”


Go said, “Many reasons for this request were given, but it definitely had the earmarks of a direct challenge against the dominance of the Chinese mestizo community of Parian and their elaborate church, which far outshone the cathedral.”

Through the years, however, the rivalry with Spanish friars continued with succeeding priests and capitans of the Parian gremio.

During the time of Don Pedro Rubi as Parian captain, the bishop ordered that masses be held at the church only on Sundays.

During the time of Don Maximo Borromeo as captain, the bishop “removed the right of the Visayas priests to officiate mass in the Parian Church.”

“In retaliation the residents of the Parian decided to make use of the school across from the church and converted it into a chapel where the parish priest of Parian could officiate the mass.”

In 1875, Dionisio Alo, known as Capitan Isyo, became capitan of the Parian gremio. With the San Juan Bautista fiesta in June approaching, Capitan Isyo called for a meeting to discuss preparations. The fiesta was a big affair in the area with most Parian residents spending “as much as three thousand pesos” for the celebration.

Capitan Isyo also wanted to discuss who would replace their parish priest, the Ilonggo Fr. Anselmo “Pari Imoy” Albanceña, who died in December 1874. The replacement would be celebrating the fiesta mass.

Fr. Tomas de la Concepcion, the parish priest of the cathedral, told the group “to request the bishop to appoint a white priest.” De la Concepcion said there was no Filipino priest capable of being named to the post.

Capitan Isyo, however, strongly disagreed and shouted at a cabeza de barangay who agreed with the suggestion.

“At that instance, a quarrel broke out between the two. While Capitan Isyo used his prerogatives as head of the mestizo gremio, Padre Tomas also made use of his power as representative of the Bishop in order to force Capitan Isyo to yield and accept (a) white priest as their parish and spiritual guide.”

The heated and bitter exchange ended with the two deciding not to hold a mass for the fiesta or even holding any celebrations.


Followers of Capitan Isyo feared he would be excommunicated and tried to change his mind but the nationalist community leader just told them, “I would prefer that the church be destroyed rather than have a friar in it.”
Parian Church, according to "Ang Sugbo sa Karaang Panahon", “has never been surpassed by any other church that has been built in Cebu, such as the Cathedral, the Seminary and San Nicolas.” (PHOTO USED WITH PERMISSION FROM THE CEBUANO STUDIES CENTER)
Parian Church, according to "Ang Sugbo sa Karaang Panahon", “has never been surpassed by any other church that has been built in Cebu, such as the Cathedral, the Seminary and San Nicolas.” (PHOTO USED WITH PERMISSION FROM THE CEBUANO STUDIES CENTER)

Fr. Tomas kept a grudge against Parian and “boasted to his priestly friends, especially the friars, that he was obsessed with the complete destruction of the Parian church.”

When Fr. Tomas reported the incident to the bishop, including Capitan Isyo’s declaration that he would rather have the church destroyed than have a white priest in it, the bishop felt insulted.

On June 24, 1875, the bishop forbade the parish priest from saying mass in the Parian church. The community’s fiesta celebration was also overseen by the Cathedral parish priest. Capitan Isyo could not do anything and his enemies made sure he would keep his post so that they could exact their revenge. They told residents that the capitan was to blame for what happened in Parian.

The bishop then ordered a Spanish engineer to check the durability of the Parian church. The engineer later informed the governor that the materials used to build the church were weak and the structure, including the stone wall that surrounded it, should be torn down.

Date of destruction

The governor of Cebu then ordered the destruction of the church. He also ordered the bishop to take possession of everything inside the church, including its statues and bells.

While Ang Sugbo Sa Karaang Panahon listed the destruction of the church as having occurred in 1875-1876, Go said “the actual destruction of the church seems to have taken place in late 1878 or 1879.

According to information printed on a photograph found at the Cebuano Studies Center in the University of San Carlos, “the convent of the church was spared and was used later during the American regime as a public library and a fire station.”


Thursday, December 22, 2011

Cebu..Then and Now

Pictures of Cebu...Then and Now

Water Front, Cebu early 1900s

Water Front, Cebu modern times

Mabini cor Colon 1900
Colon Streetis the oldest street in the Philippines and is located in the heart of Cebu, Visayas
Colon Street

Mabini cor Colon 1990s
Governor's Palace, Cebu
Carcel, Cebu
Custom House, Cebu
Basilica Santo Nino
Cebuanos at a small dock in Cebu
Children diving at old Cebu Port 
Port of Cebu
Mactan Bridge
Osmena Boulevard, Cebu
Shangrila Hotel @ Mactan, Cebu

Colon, oldest street in the Philippines

Colon Street
COLON STREET. This thoroughfare in downtown Cebu City is the oldest street in the Philippines. The undated photo of the old Colon Street above was taken from the book City Of Cebu, which was published by the Cebu City Government in 1970.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Philippines Wants to Acquire F-16 Fighter Jets from US

F-16A at AMARC Arizona, USA (photo : F16net)

THE Philippines has reportedly asked the US for a squadron of used F-16 “Fighting Falcon” fighter jets to boost the country’s external defense.

While the request calls for the F-16s to be given to the country for free, the Philippine government is willing to pay for any upgrades or modifications that may be needed for the aircraft, sources said.

The proposed deal reportedly involves the transfer of used F-16s from the US’s excess equipment now stored at the US Air Forces’ “aircraft boneyard” in Davis-Monthan Air Force Base in Arizona.

The F-16 “Fighting Falcon” is one of the most versatile multi-role fighter planes in the US Air Force. It has been used since 1974.

The recent saber-rattling by China over the Spratly Islands and some other areas on the West Philippine Sea has prompted the country to seek an air superior fighter plane, sources said.

The Philippines has always relied on the US for its external defense because of the RP-US Mutual Defense Treaty, thus the country has seen no need to boost its external defense in the past.

The recent events in the Spratlys, however, prompted the need to have an air superior fighter to discourage the Chinese air force from intruding into Philippine air space.

About five years ago, the Air Force mothballed its eight remaining 1960-vintage F-5 “Freedom Fighters” that were acquired from South Korean and Taiwan because they are no match for the more modern fighters now used by practically all civilized countries and are expensive to maintain.

Thus, the Air Force had to rely on trainer planes to support the government’s campaign against Moro separatists and communist rebels.

Before the Arroyo administration stepped down, it purchased 18 Italian-made SF-260 trainers that are also being used as light ground attack aircraft.

In addition, the Air Force has S-211 trainer jets that are also used as maritime patrol aircraft and ground attack planes.

As maritime patrol aircraft, however, the S-211s are not that efficient since they lack electronic equipment to “see” what they are patrolling. Thus, what the aircraft can “see” are all that the two pilot can spot with their eyes.

The Air Force has five S-211 jets.

The F-16 “Fighting Falcon” is a multi-role jet fighter aircraft manufactured by Lockheed Corp.

It is meant to be and air superiority fighter.

Indonesia recently acquired 24 F-16 fighters. It is also used by the air forces of Taiwan, South Korea, Thailand and Singapore.

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Friday, December 16, 2011

The Philippine Navy Expects to Receive the Second USCG Ship Early Next Year

USCGS Dallas WHEC 716 (photo : USCG)

PH Navy getting another refurbished US Coast Guard vessel

MANILA, Philippines - The Philippine Navy expects to receive another refurbished US Coast Guard cutter, its second, early next year, Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin said on Tuesday.

"I was told it (cutter) will come early next year. Sigurado na yun (That,s for sure)," Gazmin said.

The first Hamilton class cutter, renamed the BRP Gregorio del Pilar, will be commissioned on Wednesday by President Benigno Aquino III.

Gazmin described the acquisition of the Hamilton class cutter as a "hot transfer," with the Philippines to shoulder only the refurbishing of the vessel.

However, no price has been set and Gazmin said the cost of the ship will depend on its condition.

During Monday's turnover at Camp Aguinaldo for the new Armed Forces chief, President Benigno Aquino III vowed to further boost the military's capabilities both for external and internal defense.

See Also :

DND eyes 3 more Hamilton-class ships
14 Desember 2011

MANILA, Philippines - The government is planning to acquire as much as three Hamilton-class ships to beef up the Navy’s maritime defense capabilities, officials said yesterday.

Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin said they are trying to acquire two more cutters after they received the BRP Gregorio del Pilar from the US Coast Guard early this year. The BRP Gregorio del Pilar is the Philippines’ first Hamilton-class cutter – a high speed vessel that can cut through waves – and is now its largest ship, at 380 feet long.

“We are trying to acquire three,” he said referring to the Hamilton-class cutters.

This was confirmed by Navy spokesman Lt. Col. Omar Tonsay, who revealed that two more Hamilton-class ships may be acquired from the US next year.

“The plan really is to acquire three ships,” Tonsay said in an interview.

“One may be acquired early next year. The other one (would be acquired) hopefully later next year,” he added.

Tonsay said the two ships would secure the energy projects in Malampaya off Palawan. The funding for the acquisition of the cutters would come from the Department of Energy.

“It will expand the area of sovereignty patrol conducted by the Philippine Fleet,” he said.

Tonsay said they have yet to determine the acquisition costs for the two ships. He, however, said the cost for each ship would not be far from that of BRP Gregorio del Pilar, whose transfer cost was pegged at P450 million.

The BRP Gregorio del Pilar will be commissioned today to pave the way for its deployment to the West Philippine Sea to secure the country’s energy projects. It was acquired under the US Foreign Military Sales program using proceeds from the Malampaya project funds.

During a visit to Manila last month, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton assured the Philippines that the US would provide a second war ship to the military.

The ship, named US Coast Guard Cutter Dallas, may be transferred to the Philippines by the first or second quarter of 2012. The military has sent a Navy team to the US to determine the requirements for the acquisition of the second ship.

The US Coast Guard Cutter Dallas is a weather high-endurance cutter and has features similar to that of BRP Gregorio del Pilar.

Monday, December 12, 2011

After Warships, Aquino Now Wants to Acquire US Warplanes

F/A18 Hornet at the AMARC in Tucson Arizona (photo : Aerommore)

MANILA, Philippines—President Benigno Aquino will ask US President Barrack Obama for fighter jets when they meet, probably sometime next April.

Aquino, a member of the Philippine Air Force reserve, made this disclosure in a speech to PAF personnel at the opening ceremonies of the PAF Invitational Shootfest and firing range blessing at the Villamor Airbase on Saturday.

“We went to Bali, Indonesia, recently and when we’re leaving for the Philippines, we saw on their airport three F-16s parked and they would be given two squadrons more by our American friends,” Aquino said in an impromptu speech.

“I said, this looks rather equitable. Two squadrons for them, one ship for us,” he added in jest.
Aquino said he would remind Obama of the strategic partnership between the Philippines and the US.
Obama has invited Aquino for a state visit to the US next year.

“I think that when I and President Obama meet next year, perhaps around April, I will remind him of our strategic partnership. They might remember that we don’t have a fighter jet here,” the President said.
The Philippines has already acquired from the US a Hamilton-class cutter and has named the erstwhile US Coast Guard vessel as the Navy’s BRP Gregorio Del Pilar.

“The Navy will be getting—I am told, I have been assured—our second Hamilton-class cutter sometime next year,” Mr. Aquino said. “And we did request that when it is given to us, they would no longer remove the equipment installed for us to put back in place… and it appears that our request would be granted…. Perhaps not the entire system, but a lot of it.”

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton told Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin during talks in Manila in November that Washington would give the Philippines a second cutter virtually for free in 2012.
The Philippines and the US signed a Mutual Defense Treaty in 1951.

The US recently indicated its preparedness to assist its allies in East Asia and Southeast Asia to ensure the free flow of economic activity and the implementation of maritime rules in the region.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Navy Revives Plan to Buy P5-b Ship

Indonesia and South Korea will compete for the tender of MRV ship for Philippine navy (photo : Kaskus Militer)

The Navy has been cleared to begin negotiations for the purchase of a multirole vessel from any of the friendly nations, Rear Admiral Alexander Pama said on Sunday.

“The latest process that we had undergone with the Department of National Defense had good results and we did not encounter anymore objections,” Pama said.

“Hopefully, all the procedures required by the defense acquisition system would be finalized and early next year we can start negotiations for the acquisition,” Pama said.

But Pama said the Navy has yet to obtain President Aquino’s approval for the purchase plan, which is part of the military’s modernization.

An MRV, which costs at least P5 billion, will serve as a mother ship equipped with state-of-the-art radars and sensors for monitoring aircrafts and patrol boats, Pama said.

Early this year, Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin temporarily dropped the acquisition of an MRV

from the list of big-ticket items and gave priority to light sea-crafts for internal security operations and disaster response.

Gazmin changed his mind following China’s alleged intrusions into Philippine territorial waters particularly in the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea) where the hotly disputed Spratly islands is situated.

Last August, the Philippines acquired a patrol vessel—Hamilton-class cutter—from the United States Coast Guard for P423 million to beef up security at the Malampaya gas project. The Navy renamed it BRP Gregorio del Pilar.

“The dry-docking and repainting of PF15 costs P47.914 million while the refitting to our Navy configuration is P13.872 million. It was funded by the Department of Energy.”

On Dec. 14, the Navy with Aquino as the guest of honor will launch the commissioning of the vessel together with a Philippine-made Landing Utility Craft called BRP Tagbanua (AT296), a BO105 Helicopter (PNH422) and a refurbished Presidential Yacht called BRP Ang Pangulo (AT25).

The P189 million- BRP Tagbanua, made in Misamis Oriental, is configured to transport combat personnel, tanks, vehicles, artillery equipment, and cargoes in support of military operations and perform medical assistance as well as disaster, rescue and relief operations.

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