September 25, 2023

WHILE WALKING DOWNTOWN (Baguio City) with some young foreign, Far East, scholars some few years back, one of them suddenly changed the pleasantries by telling me: “Sir, may I ask you a not-so-strange question?” And I promptly replied:
‘OF COURSE, YES! Let’s hear it now, please?’ And she went:
“SO IMPRESSIVE AND lasting – in heart and mind, was your coverage of the Battle of Tonglo which you said the History books say in..” [She was groping for the year, when another one in the group volunteered: ‘1759, March something, right Sir?’ shifting gaze toward me. (I just nodded and said farther):
‘MARCH 18, 1759, The Spanish – together with their Lowland conscripts, attacked the village pueblo/pueblecito de Tonglo, ‘in retaliation’.. you remember?’ But the asking one, had something further to say:
“YOUR PEOPLE MUST be very proud about it: village men – including women and young boys, hurling stones, bamboo spears with hardened tips, etc., against the muskets and little canons of the invaders”
‘YES, THOSE ARE what are written or recorded in the chronicles – mostly by foreigners and/or missionaries.’ [And asking-one again:].
“IN THIS GENERATION though, it would seem or appear ‘ironic’. [PAUSING a while, and again:]
“IRONIC SEEMINGLY SIR – in the sense that your people fought the Invasores here. Yet, in later times, your country was finally named ‘Philippines’ – in honour of one king Philip of Spain? That’s what we read in your History books that some of us here bought at Easter School Weaving last week, Sir?”
‘YES, INDEED.. HOW ‘ironic’ – but, let me dwell meanwhile with your qualifying modifier of ‘seemingly’. You see
IT WAS NOT only here in our mountain villages where the Spanish were met with recalcitrance and/or resistance.
‘IN CEBU, MARCH 16, 1521, the Conquisatador Ferdinand Magellan was met and killed by Lapu-Lapu and his warriors in the Battle of Mactan [stopping for some while in my mobile narrations – as I noticed all of them glued somewhat to my words; resuming]:
‘IN BICOL, IN Manila {Yes! In Manila, Sir!’ someone in the group interjected}.. lots of battles .. and mostly reflected in those books you were saying you bought.. And you’ve read too the ‘Longest revolts’ viz.
‘PALARIS AND DAGOHOY rebellion(s) – so named in said books? [most of them already nodding, my eyes now back to asking one]”
‘AND NOT ONLY the Spanish. Take for samples: Basilan and/or Jambaongan (now Zamboanga):
‘THE SPANISH WENT Thereabouts in 16 –, but were repulsed; then the Dutch in 17 –, then the French, same century – but all repulsed, by the resisting ‘natives’ thereat; until sometime in 18 –, when the Spanish finally established dominion over there. See my points?’ [And they go: “Yes, sir!” The others just nodded, and were silent but looking serious as if to say some things more].
‘SO MANY BATTLES, revolts, skirmishes and the like. Yes, I’m really proud to be sprung from a race so freedom-loving. I’m sure you are too of your own respective countries and people. Now
‘AS TO YOUR question why in spite of these struggles and confrontations in those war fronts, we still got the name ‘Philippines’, that will require yet miles of details before we arrive at the correct answer(s).
‘SUFFICE NOW MOMENTARILY for us to qualify the impressions as generally appearing “ironic” – until further resolution. That would be all, folks, your ride is waiting. I’m taking a cab.’ [I went back to the University just in time – 10 minutes before my class schedule, but still reflecting:]

“SEEMINGLY IRONIC”, THOSE young people – my audience a while ago were saying.. how seemingly indeed, but History is what is: it can not just be changed or modified-to-accuracy, anytime, anyplace – by anybody.
ANYWAYS, ‘IN FAIRNESS’ (says in-expression daughter Mogretch), Spain gave us – or we ‘inherited?’ a lot of lasting things: government, religion, languages, even social culture. Ain’t that so, fellows or gagaits? And
AFTER ALL, HOW many of us folks in ‘these Heights’ can ever think of Irony, per se, if you inform them that La Trinidad (Benguet) was named after the wife of that ‘intrepid’ conquistador, Col. Guillermo Galvey (or Gakbey). The valley was dwelt in by ‘500 houses (but later ‘reduced’ to 160 or s.t.) – surrounding a lake, teeming with fish and eels, plus wild life… they came to drink and visit, depositing what they left there..”
ON ACCOUNT OF which it was then called Beng-nget (describing the odorsome lake). It used to be part of: el pais de los igorrotes (“the country of the Ygollotes”). This wider pais area, is now called Cordillera; it’s not a mountain ‘native’ term, is it? Ah-ha let’s ask the term experts. Ayo, ayo, ino.