Trese and today’s haunted Philippines

Analysis and Opinion

By Irineo B. R. Salazar

Forget all I wrote about the Philippines in this blog. Watch Trese to get what haunts the country. While my writings touch the auditory aspect of our beings and I have looked at things with logic, Trese goes deeper by touching our feelings, showing us pictures and telling a compelling story.

LOOKING DEEPER

Many see how well Metro Manila of today is represented – from the Meralco building which even I clearly remember, to the Ocampo Pagoda Mansion in Quiapo that Manolo Quezon pointed out. Some will point out how a “kambal” points with his mouth in one scene, or how there is a “Bawal Umihi Dito” sign between the warrior twins in one scene, and many obsess about ChocNut now.  Others will point out that a good cop like Captain Guerrero is unrealistic in the Philippine setting. Though I think we should heed the advice of Trese’s mother, a babaylan, and always look deeper.

The debate about Liza Soberano’s dubbing is SO typical of Filipino nitpicking and missing the point. The director himself, Jay Oliva, said that Trese’s voice was meant to be monotonous. She has been through hard things in life, a bit like Batman, the other person Filipinos like to delegate things to as in bahala na si Batman, and like fellow PTSD victim Batman she never is subdued, emotional only in private settings. Filipinos expecting teleserye style dramatics are so wrong – just go watch Erap flicks! Don’t watch Fernando Poe Jr. though, I truly like him as his voice is controlled yet caring in his roles.  

SPOILERS AHEAD!

Some Filipinos found the low-key delivery of Trese’s voice “uncaring”, but one look at how she has flashbacks to how she had to hide in a cave as a little girl upon her mother’s behest – while saving a little girl from aswang about to eat her – shows she does care. She is able to save the girl and still has flashbacks to how her father finds her in the hiding place, leads her out, she sees lots of dead aswang – and her mother killed by them. Filipinos who think “caring” (malasakit in Filipino) is shown through dramatic displays are the kind that fall for Sara Duterte punching a sheriff to “protect” urban poor.

Some say PNP Capt. Guerrero and the police were portrayed too nicely. Well he does have shock in his face when a prisoner (who has sent zombies to the precinct to avenge his brother killed by cops) asks him “what’s my name” and then tells him “see, we are just numbers you don’t care about” – summing up a feeling many Filipinos can have about their government at times. Conscience hits him, later he tries to convince Trese not to kill the prisoner (“one life to save many”, she says) to get the amulet he has in his body which she has to destroy. His name is Raul Lazaro – and he coughs it up.

POWER AND VIOLENCE VERSUS FAMILY

The Filipino warrior mindset, though clearly on display in the action sequences of the movie, is also seen for its negative sides in many parts of the series. “I don’t trust them, they are murderers” is what Alexandra Trese tells her father when he decides to adopt the war god’s twin sons. What Anton Trese answers is that they are just children raised with violence (their mother is a rebel commander who adored her war god husband) and that he wants to give them a chance in form of areal family. Family sense is what saves Alexandra Trese from the temptation of power offered to her in the end.

Family is also what she thinks of in the most emotional sequence for me, when she is somewhere “between worlds”, after banishing the God of War from the world of people. She nearly cries when she thinks of her adopted brothers, the war children, saying “Team Trese” – something she then treated dismissively. Will Villanueva effectively wrote in his article here about “Heneral Luna” that what the general rejected was LOVE, so he failed. Bonifacio, orphan and revolutionary leader, may well have preached kapatiran or brother-/sisterhood as a regulative against power for its own sake.

WOMAN POWER

Left-wing Filipina feminists MIGHT deeply hate the portrayal of the Mindanao rebel leader Ramona, as she says she seeks power not money and is willing to make human sacrifices for her husband, the war god Talagbusao, himself the Bukidnon god of war. A Mindanaoan on social media even accused the authors of Metro Manila bias, I recall. One from Baguio also saw the mixing of Cordilleran chants and varied tribal legends as typical for Manila. Guess I COULD nitpick too, protesting the portrayal of the Bikol snake-goddess Oryol as a high-class prostitute, casting evil spells, within the Tresecomic.

Back to the Cordilleran chant though, with its mostly old women’s voices. The role many Filipinas have at home, making their husbands “Takuzas” as Will once wrote here, was their role in society before the Abrahamite religions (Islam and Christianity) strengthened the male role. In pre-colonial Philippines, babaylan were certainly a counter-weight to the mostly male warriors urges for power and violence. Trese, a young woman, showing an unchecked and wily war god his limits is like a revival of old roles, even if her style of dress may be modern, like a “Goth”, or Trinity in “Matrix”.

KNOWLEDGE POWER AND MEASURED ACTIONS

It is also important that chants like those of the Cordilleran women also kept oral history alive in the old Philippines, when writing was not yet used to pass knowledge onwards. Native culture was not ignorant, so Anton Trese having a huge library is no contradiction to his Lakan role. Someone on social media compared Alexandra Trese to the kind of classmate who will go to the library during school breaks, and she does have a bluestocking vibe in the flashbacks where she is raised by her father. Later trials transform her into a warrior, but still a warrior who (quickly) thinks before acting.

She does have moments of temptation to pure violence, like in a scene where she says that the “Accords” her father had made to keep balance between the “tribes” (humans and the different denizens of the magical world are just a piece of paper, and that the tribes must learn to fear HER. Netizens humorously described the strong contrast between the old-school politeness she has with allies and the ruthlessness she shows towards enemies as “Tabi-Tabi po” vs. “Stabby-Stabby po”, though like James Bond, she never abuses her “license to kill”as the Lakan she is after her father.

One can understand her temptation though, as she might have seen how her father’s attempt to make a rainbow coalition including the people-eating aswang were about as well-meaningly naïve (or maybe no other choice?) as Cory including Enrile (also an aswang?) in her first cabinets. She does overhear the Prince of Aswang, still on the council after some aswang gangs had killed her mother, telling Anton Tresethat he is “trying to show moral ascendancy” by sparing the sons of the War God. The War God later trying to portray her father as a WEAKLING and a HYPOCRITE sounds too familiar.

THE DEMONS OF TODAY’S PHILIPPINES

Different tribes run by families in an uneasy peace at best and open war at worst, a government that is uncaring and useless at best and violent at its worst, accords that are quickly superseded once those who stood behind them are gone, many addicted to violence and power, most helpless – what kind of place is that, for God’s sake? The supreme God of old, Bathala, is mentioned just once, by Trese when she thanks the Tikbalang Maliksi for an important message, conveying his blessings upon his tribe. She does seem to like him, though she usually is seen taking him off his natural high horse.

The comic portrays that and other character development better though, as the six series of the first and hopefully not last season on Netflix did limit certain detailed storylines. But the series AND the comic strikingly portray Metro Manila as a microcosm of a Philippines forsaken by god and love, with the demons and yes, also the horses running wild, though Tresedoes start taming Maliksi by winning against him, then invoking the honor of his father and tribe. Maybe in today’s Philippines, those who want good back have to tame the proud first – by WINNING. And making the honorable loyal allies.

CONCLUSION

Authors, unlike intellectuals, write from the gut, so many of these things I see may not be intentional. But like a picture is worth a thousand words, a narrative is worth more than a hundred of my essays. And the after-credit scene spells more trouble for a place already rent by its internal, tribal conflicts – with a female demon of obvious nationality coming through the harbor, eating two longshoremen, finally perching on a building, looking at Metro Manila and coldly, menacingly hissing “Trese”. The author may know or not, but the building shown was built just before the Japanese occupied the Philippines. How a possible second season will play out is a very good question, given that and more.

The nightmare of the Philippines Trese shows includes the portrayal of a corrupt mayor having slums burned down, other urban poor lured by him into being eaten by aswangs – all in order to sell land to property developers.  Still some Filipino intellectuals might only see Trese as just showing “middle-class fears” that of course also lead to President Duterte. Well, I guess the beauty of literature and art is what it evokes in us, and Trese does evoke very different reactions among differentFilipinos.

The gut does have its own wisdom – IF one does not succumb to fear. The fearlessness of Trese, who has gone into the baletetree and survived, might be what Filipinos need to save themselves – from the living nightmare the country has become. Not the old neediness that looks for saviors and heroes.

Irineo B. R. Salazar
June 19, 2021, after midnight
Happy 160th Birthday, Dr. Jose Rizal

__________

Cover photo: Netflix

Comments
158 Responses to “Trese and today’s haunted Philippines”
  1. LCPL_X says:

    I hope they add more creatures, to include Badjao myths, Moros and Aetas. But what I saw so far 1-4 (5 and 6 , I’ll watch later when time permits). I really like it.

    Encapsulates the Philippines well, as analogy to rich princelings, sigas, adiks, etc. etc.

    Police station and zombies was the best episode for me so far. Thanks for the heads up on this, Ireneo.

    • Welcome. The production BTW is an interesting team up. Budjette Tan for the stories and Kajo Baldissimo for the pictures of the comics plus Fil-Am director https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jay_Oliva who is a seasoned superhero pro.

      The comics kind of developed the vision over a decade, while Oliva I guess managed to compress it while keeping it somewhat comprehensible and interesting for non-insiders, with the flashbacks exactly where they should be and complementing the main story.

      Good I resisted the urge to spoiler more on the last part. The (good) spirits that inspired me must have told me wait till LCPL_X finishes it. 😮 Let me know when you have. 🙂

  2. NHerrera says:

    Just like LCPL_X, I thank you too, Irineo, for the blog on Trese. It seems that with cultural items such PH tribes, aswangs, etc — some from your native Bicol region — Trese, the animated comic series, is right down your alley of varied PH interest.

    I understand it is among the most viewed in the PH on Netflix. [I have not watched it. I may just be content with your essay. The usual time-consuming Netflix “series” offerings put me off. ]

    We, readers/ contributors of TSH blog, know how to contextualize Trese. But I wonder about the effects it may have, say, in our socio-political life for the majority of Filipinos. I hope it is viewed as just a form of entertainment and not reinforce the negative socio-political realities in the PH.

    • Thanks, I do see the possibility that people interpret things “wrongly” but that is just the way it is. I do hope enough understand the message of the babaylan from Mount Makiling, Trese’s mother, to look deeper.

      It can take time for a people to progress from the simpler realm of feelings and sight to the world of rationality and logic, so Juana’s posting on Twitter is the optimistic counterpoint to yours, where this will all go really depends..

      • Of course there is the kababawan like those who find the aswang prince sexy and post about how ripped he is, but there are also counter-depictions that make fun of it:

        SPOILER Episode 6 – – –

        On the other hand, way deeper, the temptations and dangers of violence and power are very clearly Illustrated in these scenes where Trese sees herself as a kind of evil tokhang queen, and the God of War tells her it is her pre-ordained destiny:

        • kasambahay says:

          mababaw din po ako and feel more for the ghouls. to me, they have the faces of those begging in quiapo, thin and emaciated with poor dental health; missing both upper and lower teeth and would have hard time eating people, sinking their teeth deep into human flesh, tearing and ripping flesh off bones, their arms thin and barely able to lift a kilo of rice.

          if ghouls are that powerful and endowed with superhuman strenght, maybe they could grow teeth well embedded in the gum line, to best serve their purpose. with strong mandibular and well pronounced both cuspids and bicuspids, plus canines and molars that would have no problems cracking bones. the way we crack chicken bones and suck the morrow off them.

          and ghouls they dont have to look ugly but appealing like trese, their skin unlike the skin of farmers, weather beaten and made leathery by the tropical sun.

          trese seems to reinforce the notion that brown skin is walang kwenta, best killed off.

          • Well, the aswang prince many find attractive is also whiter and taller than his subjects, so I guess even in that Trese unconsciously mirrors Philippine society – in its prejudices.

            Maliksi the Tikbalang, son of Señor Armanaz the Great Stallion, looks Spanish mestizo:

            Trese herself looks more Chinay in the comic than she does in the series, though the shape of her face still does point to some possible Chinese ancestry. I think all that and her alliance with the dragons who own malls and supply her with dragon’s blood to pass dragon gates will play out in the second season which looks likely. Maybe even the mystery of the Binondo fire of March 23, 1870 which is the number 003231870 she uses to dial the Santelmo fire spirit is an intriguing thread they might spin in the future.

            Funny, I have seen an FB comment to the share of this article by Joe that thinks the aswang look “Chinese”. Maybe those that eat urban poor do, those in port area don’t.

            Another “issue” in Joe’s FB share is whether Nuno is GMA, or Panelo like many think.

            • The aswang leader is almost more popular than a K-Pop star with some by now:

              Maybe this aswang and his group are the ones some think look “Chinese”:

              Trese and the reactions to Trese all are reflections of the country to date.

      • NHerrera says:

        Like JP, I do hope so too.

        • sonny says:

          I steer clear of what we used to call “mga lamang-lupa” creatures and that world – always mindful of their reality as mentioned in St. Mark’s Gospel. I had a personal encounter with a mangkukulam in our Ilocos Sur hometown. Don’t touch or be touched by them!

          • NHerrera says:

            Yes, good suggestion. Perhaps in the case of Trese as an entertainment, or to learn cultural nuances as indicated by writers, if one prefers or has the time.

            My best regards to you and your family, sonny.

            • sonny says:

              Thank you, NH. My regards likewise to you and the family. Missed your comments during your absence.
              The subject of the occult is especially apropos to our culture because of our animistic practices and makes us particular vulnerable to this “world.”

          • A major implied premise of Trese is that the world of people and the world of the shadows can no longer avoid intersecting in overcrowded, dystopic Metro Manila.

            Like the ferry of the dead of Manobo goddess of death Ibu manages to have the MRT built over it, just like many a Manila street used to be estero and therefore floods.

            Nunos who live under manholes as there are no more earthen mounds for them to stay.

            Tikbalangs who have their own tropical forests in the top floors of skyscrapers.

            As Alexandra tells us at the start of the opening scene around 3:00: “..my father used to tell me, leave the shadows be. Light will be there to maintain the balance. Night has taken the city.. ..there is no light to keep the shadows in check, there is only me.”

            • sonny says:

              (Irineo, belated thanks for the PhD material you shared. It is quite a find bcoz it has accurate and substantial insight into our national psyche. It belongs to my sociology readings alongside Fr. Mercado, SVD and theologian-sociologist Jose de Mesa.)

              I am following your thread with much interest, as usual.

          • distant observer says:

            Thank you sonny, was looking for a comment in that direction. Sadly, Netflix is full of content steering us towards the “mga lamang-lupa” world. Trese is by far no exception.

            • The first Trese comic came up in 2005, during the Arroyo period when the Philippines was already going down the rabbit hole. Now a kind of lamang-lupa is the President.

              Dreams AND nightmares are the unconscious giving us clues. Though there is a lesson in the concept of bangungot, the nightmare that can actually kill. Though the Balinese who believe in something similar believe it is possible to come out of such a nightmare – by turning one’s back on the creatures one encounters. The Balinese also have very old, animist ideas of how to heal human spirits that are damaged – white magic of healers. BTW a native healer among both Bikols and Warays is called a mananambal, of course the question of how to distinguish them from the evil mangkukulam is a valid one.

              • distant observer says:

                Thank you Irineo, I don’t think I want to enter a lengthy discussion about metaphysics here, although would love to have such a conversation with you in person.

                Don’t get me wrong; I absolutely love the fact that Filipino culture and producers got a global audience with this Netflix series. And it’s beautifully made. However, just like other art promoting occult concepts, it is based on false principles. You quote the opening scene “my father used to tell me, leave the shadows be. Light will be there to maintain the balance. Night has taken the city.. ..there is no light to keep the shadows in check, there is only me.”

                While the first part of this quote is true, the second part is misleading. One cannot fight darkness with darkness, only light. And there is light, but it cannot be found in the occult world. To avail this light, we shall not concern ourselves too much with the underworld, as sonny rightly points out.

            • sonny says:

              You’re welcome, DO.
              Going through Irineo’s blog on this topic is very informative as he navigates for us our culture in the metaphors of mythology. I am following the threads with the Greco-Roman mythologies as models albeit gingerly for religious reasons.

  3. Some more tidbits:

    1) MRT train to the afterlife

    2) the Ifugao chant of the intro

  4. J says:

    “One can understand her temptation though, as she might have seen how her father’s attempt to make a rainbow coalition including the people-eating aswang were about as well-meaningly naïve (or maybe no other choice?) as Cory including Enrile (also an aswang?) in her first cabinets. She does overhear the Prince of Aswang, still on the council after some aswang gangs had killed her mother, telling Anton Trese that he is “trying to show moral ascendancy” by sparing the sons of the War God. The War God later trying to portray her father as a WEAKLING and a HYPOCRITE sounds too familiar.”

    I have a very similar take. I think the series is really about the unraveling of EDSA Republic.

      • MLQ3 goes a bit further and postulates that the 500 year period of Western influence since 1521 is now over: https://opinion.inquirer.net/139712/the-500-year-interval

        Trese (maybe unconsciously) shows that Zeitgeist – the battle is NOT anymore between the still Western-patterned (somewhat Napoleonic) authoritarianism of Marcos and the Western-patterned democracy Cory brought back in 1987.

        It is between warrior babaylan Trese and Datu Talagbusao, Bukidnon God of War. Trese’s mother is a babaylan from Mount Makiling whereas Talagbusao is from Mindanao.

        The setting is modern at the surface, high rises and all, the mentality is very much 1521.

        The Ifugao chant with a rock band behind it, the electric guitar crying at the end as a young woman dressed in modern clothing is shown using ancient weapons, casting ancient spells with the old alphabet – that is exactly the soundtrack and video of today.

  5. NHerrera says:

    Like JP, I do hope so too.

  6. Two articles that make certain stuff even clearer:

    https://jdrayas.wordpress.com/2021/06/20/trese-netflix-review/amp/

    “..The setting seems to be a blend of mid-2000s Metro Manila and it’s 2021 self. You can see Alex using a Nokia 3310 to summon Anselmo and the mayor seems to be more of a version of Joseph Estrada who was still imprisoned at the time and not the enemy of the Ayala Center/QC crowd, Rodrigo Duterte although I admit there are some hints of Digong in him..”

    https://trese.fandom.com/wiki/Dragon

    “..The dragons of Manila have formed clans, specifically stationing themselves around Chinatown. They have mapped out the lei lines of the city, establishing their businesses and homes along them. Collectively, they call their lei line system “the path of the dragon.” Using these lei lines, they discovered a transportation system that can only be accessed with a spell, a specific sigil, and their blood.

    The Gotianleung family, owners of Robertson Mall, have provided the Trese family with vials of their blood for access to this system..”

  7. A really GREAT review of Trese:

    And of course one of the funniest scenes:

    LCPL_X have you watched till the end now I mean really post-credits?

  8. i7sharp says:

    “Flatland” can provide more context
    https://joeam.com/2015/09/15/salvation-by-austerity/#comment-137260
    because ghosts are believed to exist in the 4th Dimension.

    More here:
    https://www.math.brown.edu/tbanchof/abbott/Flatland/ISR/ISR201.html

    What can help the Philippines prepare?

    • A very interesting read on the multiple dimensional worlds which existed in the author’s mind almost 200 years ago, and are now available to us today in tangible form via computer.

      “Unlike its human operator, a computer has few preconceptions about what dimension it is in. Just as easily as it keeps track of three coordinates for each point, it can, when properly programmed, keep track of four or more coordinates. Often a fourth coordinate can indicate some property of the point on the screen, like color or brightness. At other times it can represent a fourth spatial coordinate, interchangeable with the other three, just as the length, width, and height of a box can be manipulated in three-space. If we want to work with a four-dimensional box, we must provide information of a reference frame with four segments, not just three. In the same way that we can complete a drawing of a three- dimensional box once we know the images of the three segments in a reference frame at one corner, we can make a three-dimensional model of the shadow of a four-dimensional box once we know the positions in three-space of the images of the four segments in a four-dimensional reference frame. We can then go further and project this three-dimensional framework down to the computer graphics screen, where we can interact with it the way we did with the blueprints for a building or the plans for a machine tool. Thus we use all of our experience with interpreting two- dimensional images of three-dimensional objects to help us move up one further step to interpret the three-dimensional representations of objects which require a fourth coordinate for their effective description.”

      I don’t see the relevance to the Philippines which seems to be unidimensional most days.

      • NHerrera says:

        The subject brings to me the mathematical concept of Tensors, Tensor Fields, and Infinite-dimension Tensor. Tensor, an important tool in physics and the other sciences.

        • NHerrera says:

          … the Philippines which seems to be unidimensional most days.

          How about zero-dimensional? Haha.

          • I was feeling generous today. 🤣🤣😂

            • Ah, wonderful! Great reading!

              • If we look at the additional dimension of relatability, here is my tentative take:

                1) war twins Crispin and Basilio on a night out with Karl might alternate between talking about national defense and making all kinds of jokes.

                2) ghost hacker Jobert and our Gian might talk about Bitcoin and BPO all night.

                3) Captain Guerrero, his soldier nephew and our LCPL_X might talk about policing, battle and rules of engagement all night.

                4) Trese and our Juana might talk about all sorts of battles and mythical beings. Including the best ways of killing aswang

                5) Nuno and our kasambahay might get along when it comes to talking about how simple people are looked down on way too often.

                6) Joe might find the prisoner Raul Lazaro very similar to his fisherman friend. He might also write a blog about a new council if there is one, criticizing both those who are too arrogantly moralistic as well as the aswangs who have no principles at all.

                7) I could imagine a chat over the bar about all kinds of diskarte with Hank who reminds me of a real cousin of mine, or a serious discussion about Filipino mythology and history with Anton Trese in his big library of course.

                8) I could imagine NHerrera, who is a native of Tondo after all, blending into the aswang market near the port and getting undercover information, even computing some things and telling Trese: “Alex this is unlikely”. Trese be like “the aswang are smuggling stuff!”.

                9) Will and Mary might feel a bit lost among all the pagans and demons. Though one of Trese’s brothers is a priest, they may well ask him how he gets along with that world.

                BenignZero would get along with the aswang of course, his wife with the mananggals.

              • P.S. Micha might tell Nuno: “you were right to against Trese. Her father laughed at you and all she did was give you ChocNut, while ignoring social justice and not even doing anything to improve your housing and getting you out of that dirty manhole”.

                P.P.S. Chemrock might say: “why are all these gods and demons acting like a barangay? Why do their quarrels affect not only the Philippines, but nearly cause the world to end?”

              • Terrific. One can do something similar to Rizal’s fictional characters, I suspect. You are the scholar.

              • Yes one could.. I made a comment maybe six years ago placing TSOH characters in Rizal’s time, with you as one rare Spanish friar one the side of the natives, TSOH as his house and all of us in varied roles, including Karl as a villager coming for the food..

                Back to Trese, Budjette Tan, the creator of the Trese story (Kajo Baldissimo from Davao made the drawings) mentioned in socmed and in interviews that one inspiration for Trese’s black coat was Rizal’s coat. Crispin and Basilio for the twins is clearly Rizal too.

                I do feel that with the series – especially having it dubbed in Filipino – Trese may have scored a bigger hit than the Noli did in its time. The comic was a niche for those who speak English as it was English only and mostly too expensive for below middle class. Noli and Fili were great but I guess you need tribes of people and mythical beings to capture the absurdity of today’s Philippines, modern at the surface, tribal underneath, with past attitudes and present realities colliding, spirits summoned via mobile phone..

                There is an article on Trese’s folklore BTW which has my father either interviewed freshly or quoted from older works, explaining exactly what aswang are and what they do in eating people’s life force- I wonder how much he taps into the folklore of his childhood as his village is known as aswang country par excellence. One of his former students found a scholarly paper on the Internet about Trese as modern myth making. Now if the Ifugao had their epics Trese is an epic of the modern tribal Philippines, I would say.

                Miyako Izabel, the Lumad anthropologist, mentioned that the opposition needs good narratives to win. Edgar might say someone has to develop a good counter-narrative to that of the “warlock” Duterte (as he called him once) and I guess many in the opposition are too modern and rational to accomplish that. Wait, Trillanes has the warrior and demon-slayer (ICC case filing) narrative working for him. VP Leni has the matriarchal healer narrative on her side. Some VP Leni supporters have proposed “Team Ginhawa” as the opposition narrative. Ginhawa or well-being (finally life-force) is what aswang eat. Now who has been damaging the life-force of the nation especially in pandemic times? Reboot stuff based on that instead of boring people with the more abstract “Accords”?

              • On a related note, these two tweets on the impossibility of decolonizing the Philippines as the Philippines is a product of all those years also, BUT the possibility of dismantling the gross inequalities that are a result of colonialism:

                It is akin to what I said that a Filipino-speaking Cynthia Villar is as bad as a mestizo haciendero in the old days. New masters with “brown skin and flat noses” (c) MRP.

                And of course the fusion (c) Sonny of different influences is still ongoing since 75 years and Trese is a product of these present times where the contrasts between old and New are most jarring. What Filipinos finally make of all of this is the big big question.

              • It certainly is a dominant piece of entertainment. I think the opposition has no marketing people.

                I could see myself as a friar. Tall and stooped though, not fat. Tending to stare at people a lot, quiet.

              • The opposition is too unwilling to use “white magic” which is what marketing would be.

                Alexandra Trese: “white magic respects free will while black magic doesn’t”.

                The government uses the black magic of lying and trolls already.

              • NHerrera says:

                Irineo, talking of multi-dimensions, you have captured some of those dimensions in the Trese Netflix series, through the use of 11 of the readers/ contributors of the TSH blog. Nice

            • NHerrera says:

              Interesting that the matter of “hotness” does not escape notice from some viewers. Yes, the graphics indeed radiate that, among others.

              • This review calls the visuals of Trese “tropical Gothic” – a term that was used for the novels of none other than Nick Joaquin:

                https://www.nme.com/en_asia/reviews/tv-reviews/trese-review-netflix-filipino-anime-budjette-tan-kajo-baldisimo-2966866

                “..Trese’s best intersections of fantasy and realism get the gritty energy and sprawl of Manila right, making the anime feel at once natural and magical. Dwarfish earth elementals keep humans as pets. Lightning elementals, hands and eyes crackling with raw energy, own and run power companies. Mighty horse encanto live in heavily forested headquarters atop high rise buildings. And the predatory aswang monsters have their own wet market for illegal human meat – in this world, even monsters need an off-grid system for sustenance.

                The folklore elements in both the series’ urban setting and its story arcs are what made the Trese comics so beloved. In the anime, those elements ramp up the magic realist vibe: the contrast of giant trees against neon lights and sexy wind elementals flirting at illegal street races will be visual heaven for those who dig this flavour of tropical gothic.

                Alexandra Trese stands at the centre of Trese with the best reaction to the madness of her Manila: moody, sullen and distrustful. Caparisoned in a Chinese-cut trench coat and with a relaxed readiness to do battle at the drop of a centavo, she looks like what any city-dwelling Filipino feels on a normal day..”

                https://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-57424360 – this review is also great:

                ..”In [the case of the tiyanak], you can see a sense of mythology combining with some Catholic ideas in the Philippines,” Resto Cruz, a lecturer in social anthropology at the University of Edinburgh, told the BBC.

                “These were indigenous beliefs that had always existed in the Philippines of creatures like the aswang – so when the Spanish arrived bringing Catholicism, it created this combination – resulting in the kind of Catholicism you see today, where there is an insistence of faith, but at the same time, still a belief in these creatures.”

                But according to Rev Fr Hermel O Pama, many in the Philippines do not see “any difficulty in being Christian and paying a healthy sense of respect to the belief systems that have existed [since pre-colonial times]”.

                However, Prof Lim told the BBC that Spanish colonisation may have influenced modern Filipino society in more ways than one.

                She quotes folklore scholar Herminia Menez, who suggests that the original aswang were actually babaylan – female shamans who refused to convert to Catholicism.

                “According to Menez, the figure of the [aswang] was retooled to discredit and disenfranchise [these] female shamans,” she says.

                In Trese however, the role of the babaylan is one that’s reclaimed by its lead character, Alexandra Trese – and portrayed as an overwhelming force for good.

                “Alexandra is introduced as a fusion of the masculine-identified warrior (mandirigma), with the feminine-identified shaman-healer (babaylan),” Prof Lim tells the BBC. “She herself is a very modern take on a pre-colonial animist figure.”..

          • LCPL_X says:

            NH,

            The UFO report set to come out this week is hinting that UFOs may not be solely from outer space but could also be from inner space, deep ocean/under mantle, and the space in between meaning still here on Earth but another dimension and we’re just now able to document it via current tech.

            I know houses or places are said to be statistically speaking more haunted. Stories of ghosts and strange unnatureal occurences.

            And geologists who actually set out to find gold or silver, other metals too, based on stories told by locals, say the more haunted type stories the likelihood of said metal they are looking for in the area to be found. Gold is known for this, and in the Philippines Filipinos document these stories to gauge likelihood of gold.

            With all the volcanic, tectonic plates, veins of rare metals, even the proximity to waters (where they are also documenting these UFOs), conductors of electro-magnetic energy may all be related to all this dimensional phenomena, to include ghosts, all characters of Trese, and UFOs.

            p.s. ___ Ireneo, have finished 5 and 6 , and now excited for S2. I wonder if they are consciously mirroring current events, or if the original Trese comics did start out with these storylines. in the early 2000s.

            • LCPL_X says:

              I know houses or places *next to high tension lines are said to be statistically speaking more haunted. Stories of ghosts and strange unnatureal occurences.

            • The series has its own scriptwriters who are advised by the original comic creator, have read all the comic books – but Budjette Tan has no final say at all on the stories.

              They do respect the comic book stories but have changed them to make season 1 into a coherent arc, I like how they did it though I am not of the original comic fan crowd, my knowledge of the strip has grown over the recent years from the inclusion of the original MRT story (“13 stops” which the MRT does happen to have) in the Manila Noir detective stories book – I never was much of a horror fan but I was always a detective stories fan.

              There ARE the “dragons” who own malls in the original series, seems Trese has helped one of their princelings, Jeremy, and that is where she gets her supply of “dragon blood” to open these teleportation “dragon gates”. Obviously Chinoy oligarchs and their kids, as opposed to Armanaz (Armanaz tower in Trese looks exactly like Ayala tower in Makati) representing a mestizo oligarch (he says “we have ruled over these lands for millenia”).

              That Trese uses her OWN blood to activate the dragon gate, and the shock of the Datu at her having dragon blood (see Ep 4 where she uses dragon blood from vials) is an indication of possible Chinese ancestry. The Binondo fire and Santelmo a loose end?

              They did change the original I gather, making Trese’s mother fully native in the series while she is part-Chinese in the comic, so I guess they might construct a narrative around the 1870 Binondo fire, a dragon and a kid saved from the fire and given the surname Trese as he survived bad luck. Nobody knows his dragon father wanted to sacrifice him, like Talagbusao wanted to sacrifice his twin sons, but hey it isn’t my role to imagine a second season. Could be a nice twist though if the Jiangshi that arrives in Manila is descended from the same dragon as Trese, who in Season 1 said “The Bond of Blood may be strong, but the Bond of Family is stronger”. Now that alone is a kind of twist only the Fil-Ams in charge of the series can pull off I think. Will season 2 ending have Trese telling the Jiangshi “..but the Bond of Country is stronger than race”? It would complement her telling the old school Datu who believes in blood only and unchangeable fate that people make their destinies nowadays. But that isn’t my story to write..

              • ..though they might also tell us more about the Trese family, especially her four older brothers: the warrior, the professor, the priest and the thief. Her grandfather Prof. Alexander Trese who might be the old man standing besides Anton at the balete tree.

                Possibly also her sister Sinag. The last thing Alexandra says is “Alex, we’re home” but we just hear her voice. She is in front of the balete tree clutching the dagger which contains the soul of her twin sister. Does the dagger talk to her in this magical place? Or did the twins switch places inside the tree and we have been seeing the warrior twin all along? Or did Anton mislead everyone about which twin died at birth or shortly after, given the scariness and ambiguity of the fifth and sixth child prophecy? Cliffhangers galore!

              • kasambahay says:

                dragon blood? those are fake dragons, lol! celestial dragons kasi have pearls under their mustache and they’re susceptible to pure iron. jams their power and make them susceptible. they would not go near iron gates, or anyone wearing iron belts, bracelets, etc. anybody who knew the secrets of the dragon can master a dragon sans dragon blood. that’s my critique.

                and like any good dragon, jeremy was charitable but did not let on. at kung may utang man siya kay trese, jeremy ought not pay habang buhay. one payment is enough.

                that’s the problem with most pinoys: to think that payment for utang is for habang buhay.

                I am not editor and cannot dictate the author of trese, but I can be critic.

        • “The horror! The horror!” I got a C in Tensors for attending class. To this day I have no idea what that class was about.

          • NHerrera says:

            Understandable. You have these math symbols associated with Tensors with several subscripts and superscripts, all of them appearing at the same time — enough to put off a lot of us. 🙂

        • i7sharp says:

          @NHerrera

          “Tensors Are The Facts Of The Universe” — Lillian Lieber

          I learned, for the first time, of “tensors” a little over a month ago.
          On May 13, to be exact – if I go by the notes I started on the subject.

          This article is supposed to provide a simple explanation of tensors:
          https://vitalflux.com/tensor-explained-with-python-numpy-examples/
          x-
          In this post, you will learn about the concepts of Tensor using Python Numpy examples with the help of simple explanation. When starting to learn deep learning, you must get a good understanding of the data structure namely tensor as it is used widely as the basic data structure in frameworks such as tensorflow, PyTorch, Keras etc.
          -x

          • NHerrera says:

            Yes, Tensor needs the help writers can give to explain that esoteric subject. Thanks.

            • LCPL_X says:

              I got interested in Flatland awhile back, and have thought of it regularly since. Then I got interested in Quantum physics, superposition etc. and angled my thought of Flatland thus.

              Now its NH’s Tensors and I’m just now realizating its utility, thanks to i7sharp as well, this is the stuff that still very much interests me, and coincidentally i was recently reading up on Van Der Waals force and bonds and electricty etc. so that too is relevant here.

              But the more i think about this subject especially in regards to the physics and reality of Trese in Netflix, not just the socio-politico but all this dimension stuff, i also rememeber a novel that I’ve not thought about for years now really, titled Sophie’s World.

              In which stories themselves become reality, in essence we’re like God and think worlds into being,

              https://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/books/sophie-s-world-in-danger-living-as-though-everything-centres-on-our-time-is-just-as-naive-as-thinking-the-earth-is-flat-a6685241.html

              Not quite an original concept in the arts, Borges i think started this thinking, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Garden_of_Forking_Paths#In_modern_culture

              Similarly Kant’s initial elaboration as Space and Time being both lenses (albeit separated by Kant, consolidated by Einstein) intrinsic to our minds, could in relation to the subject at hand of tensors and dimensions and Trese, in that Space and Time or how our minds are designed (like migrating animals to the Earth’s magnetic fields)

              are confined specifically to this dimension. But inadvertently because radio waves, then radar, then light fiber optics and other signals flowing around us, and just like those high tension lines next to houses,

              we’ve now been able to keep on distrupting our own lenses of perceptions that we’re now able to observe these things. I can’t help but think though that by doing so we’ve put ourselves in danger, just like when we first imagined the Devil. Where and when our minds come to play in all this is also really interesting.

              Great commentary in this thread! Keep it coming, i7sharp deserves special recognition. This is why I’m a fan of his mind. Weird connections.

      • i7sharp says:

        @Joe

        The latest issue of the New Yorker magazine has a long article on data visualization.

        https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2021/06/21/when-graphs-are-a-matter-of-life-and-death
        x-
        When Graphs Are a Matter of Life and Death

        Pie charts and scatter plots seem like ordinary tools, but they revolutionized the way we solve problems.

        An 1824 time-series graph by William Playfair. Early viewers were bewildered by conventions we now take for granted.[Image by William Playfair]

        Until recently, some transit departments still preferred to work by hand, rather than by computer, using lined paper and a pencil, angling the ruler more sharply to denote faster trains on the line. And contemporary train-planning software relies heavily on these very graphs, essentially unchanged since Ibry’s day.
        In 2016, a team of data scientists was able to work out that a series of unexplained disruptions on Singapore’s MRT Circle Line were caused by a single rogue train. Onboard, the train appeared to be operating normally, but as it passed other trains in the tunnels it would trigger their emergency brakes. The pattern could not be seen by sorting the data by trains, or by times, or by locations. Only when a version of Ibry’s graph was used did the problem reveal itself.
        -x

        The article closed with this:
        “Data visualization has progressed from a means of making things tractable and comprehensible on the page to an automated hunt for clusters and connections, with trained machines that do the searching. Patterns still emerge and drive our understanding of the world forward, even if they are no longer visible to the human eye. But these modern innovations exist only because of the original insight that it was possible to think of numbers visually. The invention of graphs and charts was a much quieter affair than that of the telescope, but these tools have done just as much to change how and what we see.”

        The Flatland article did not seem to refer to the work of Ibry nor of Playfair’s.
        I must say a lot of the stuff is WAY over my head!

        • Thanks, it does seem to be a visual world with You Tube replacing paper reports and graphs making the point where reams of data cannot. Distance learning has shoved kids around the world in this direction. My son does video projects like a pro, shares and edits them live, and has become my technical consultant. Because he’s better at it than I am. Words on paper are becoming quaint.

          • NHerrera says:

            Quaint or old-fashioned. But not to the theoretical mathematician who prefers the paper/ notebook and pencil/ pen. Ok, to one who is partly in tune with tech, perhaps a writable tablet with a digital pen, and perhaps a spreadsheet (Excel) for quick number manipulation — taught to him by his son/ daughter or grandson. Then satisfied with his equations and theorem, works with his young, tech-savvy Doctoral student (aka “slave”) for the fellow to do the graphics. 🙂

    • LCPL_X says:

      I’m really digging the comics (or at least the ones available online). The art is really good.

      Much of my knowledge of these creatures featured in Trese initially I learnt from bargirls there.

      My favorite one is of a really tall beautiful woman, carrying a monstrous looking baby. I hope Trese includes this one, as there is no name for this giant woman w/ baby it seems, but I noticed only girls from Mindanao knew about this one. Not exactly White lady.

      White ladies and stories of them on the street and in houses were aplenty.

      Mananangal, when they detach and are flying around, you ‘re suppose to find their bottom half and put like salt, charcoal or dirt on it preventing them from re-joining and becoming whole again, thus killing them.

      From the article below, I just realized cafre is Spanish for barbarian/brute initially used to call non-Christianized Negrito; well in Bisayan they called the same Capre in Tagalog, Agta (which too is a negrito but I think only called Agta in Bisayas).

      https://ph.asiatatler.com/life/trese-quick-guide-on-the-monsters-of-philippine-folklore

      the Tikbalang I always thought anachronistic, thinking that the Philippines only had horses when the Spaniards came, like over here in North America. Turns out the Hindus provided horses to the Philippines long before the Spanish arrived.

      And part of Hindu iconography is of Vishnu as half horse.

      Creatures aplenty for sure, Ireneo. And they seem to be cut and paste from all sorts of places. like Duwende is Spanish. I’m curious now if St. Elmo’s Fire is also of Spanish origin.

      So you have all these creatures seemingly from all over the place. My question is if

      there is a pantheon like the ancient Greeks has the original Titans, but before them there were much old gods/creatures, then the Olympians came, etc. Sic itur ad Astra, I guess for the Romans they just copy pasted and changed their names. But you can see Greco-Roman tradition attempting to order their unnatural creatures and gods.

      So if there is a pantheon of sorts where exact would Datu Talagbusao fall.

      As for the 5th and 6th child stuff. Not so much the prophecy but as Lakan I never really understood why Alexandra mattered so much. But as something much bigger than just Lakan makes sense, E5 and E6 tied S1 one perfectly. But as a 1st season show, I do hope they expand bigger next, to include OFWs ala Gaiman’s American Gods, Netflix is worldwide after all. But I hope they connect her knife (kris) to Moros first. Jinns are also popular in southern Philippines.

      Looking forward to S2.

      • LCPL_X says:

        I remember being led thru a really dark place in the hills, not so far from the city, with my guide a Bisayan, saying Tabi, Tabi (they don’t say po). and I feeling the same apprehension my guide had, I felt compelled to repeat Tabi, Tabi myself. with a couple of sorry and excuse me, thrown in for good measure, LOL. Not my finest hour, but when in Rome…

        “For instance, one of the best case studies on IW was the success of Edward Lansdale defeating the Hukbalahap Insurgency during the early 1950s. His success was not through bombs and bullets; it was brains. Lansdale was a rabid student of Filipino culture, and he used it to his advantage. He exploited vulnerabilities in target audiences by using the folk stories of the barrios, lore, myths, and taboos (Currey 1988, 101). Lansdale utilized the “Eye of God” in villages causing villagers to distrust the rebels, broadcast false aerial messages about “friends in the rank”[vi] (Currey 1988, 101), painted night graffiti of the “Eye of God” in Huk camps, fostered rumor campaigns, employed a respected mystic to predict doom for the rebels, and re-enforced the belief of Aswangs (Filipino Vampire) among the enemy (Currey 1988, 102). This combined psychological warfare campaign coupled with a simultaneous civil military effort led to Hukbalahop’s demise and irrelevance by 1954. Lansdale was successful, because he understood that basic primordial cultural beliefs and superstition carry deep resonance. Hukbalahap members were undoubtedly Marxists and rejected religion, but they still were frightened by the supernatural tales of the Aswangs told to them by their trusted Lolas and Lolos. Successfu, IW campaigns address these cultural and psychological issues. At present, Pineland unfortunately does not have a wealth of material that aspirational Lansdales could use to address culture and psychology.”

  9. https://philstarlife.com/geeky/268264-trese-aswang-characters-history-and-folklore

    ..Mary Jane Rodriguez, president of the Aliguyon-University of the Philippines Folklorists, said Trese goes much deeper than being a scary TV series. 
     
    “The interconnectedness of things, this is what folklore captures. It’s not just the idea of scaring,” Rodriguez, who also teaches Philippine studies and Filipino language courses at UP, told PhilSTAR L!fe in an online interview.

    At its most basic, Rodriguez said supernatural creatures have been made up in our rich folklore as creatures that harass people, mainly those who violate the laws of nature, because these characters usually have the job of guarding the integrity of nature..

    LCPL_X, this was pretty clear in the original 13 stations story where the MRT and the ferry to the afterlife are on the same route, causing bad things to happen to people riding the earthly MRT. Trese solves it there by telling the train driver of the dead people’s train to only use the route between 1-4 a.m. – this is akin to issues caused in Manila like flooding due to roads built over old esteros. Or why does a Nuno have to live under a manhole when they used to have earth mounds? Everything covered by concrete today..

    If the Bible was telling Adam and Eve to conquer the Earth, “native” religions are more on maintaining balance especially of nature. This is how the article/Rodriguez continues:

    ..“The more you destroy nature, the more evil they become. Aswang in the early times, according to the early chronicles, was some sort of an animal-like creature; not necessarily humans, nor human-like. The depiction only becomes clear as the contemporary period enters,” she said.
     
    “To us, the aswang is described as a creature that lengthens its tongue and takes a fetus. But it evolved in the context of gender politics between the colonial priest who happens to be male and our pre-colonial babaylan who happens to be female. This clash of colonial Hispanic vs. pre-colonial indigenous cultures and belief systems and the concomitant triumph of colonialism led to the ‘demonization’ of our pre-colonial beliefs,” she added..

    • kasambahay says:

      ah, the aswangs and their propensities for human fetuses, if we have more aswangs around we would have less need for abortion clinics, and our population will not be that high, lol!

      sa amin lang po, ang pangontra sa aswang is to reverse our under clothes, turn them inside out and that is supposed to confuse aswangs, also protect us from hexes and curses. no one need fall prey to aswangs.

      • kasambahay says:

        it’s okay for our nunos to live underground and in utility holes, the vietcongs had done it too; they once lived underground, created elaborate tunnels and managed to get the better of uncle sam.

        and apparently, terrorists in mindanao lived in man made caves dug on mountain sides. as well, in gaza, palestinian terrorists dug kilometers of underground tunnels and evade israeli forces.

        and if city buildings in manila collapsed, it may well be because nunos have dug and corrupted the basement, lol!

    • Wilfredo G. Villanueva says:

      Thanks, Irineo, for the mention.

      It’s our bunso who programs the movies or series that wifey and I watch. We just finished season 2 of Ozark.

      She passed Trese, thinking it’s for young people. So Trese is next on our list, if the strong-willed daughter agrees.

      Onward to loving the Philippines, Duterte or no Duterte.

      • Alexandra Trese is also a strong-willed bunso, but seems they have books not TV.

        My little sister used to monopolize the remote control of our TV but that was 1990s.

        Trese is not considered suitable for below 18 because of the horror and violence.

        One could consider it to be like Game of Thrones or Lord of The Rings in a way.

        Fairy tales targeting mainly young adults but also possibly interesting for older folks.

        ‐———

        Will, though Anton Trese is not Christian, he is someone who does value family.

        Though his attitude towards adopting children is not the typical Filipino one.

        It is his bunso who is very skeptical of the war twins that he adopts.

        ‐——-

        https://propertyreport.ph/news-and-events/2021/06/21/20871/manila-among-most-stressful-cities-in-the-world-german-study/ – on the side of reality, Manila today is now officially what I always suspected it was – one of the most stressful places in the world.

        That such a city creates fantasies of demons is not new, scares like the mananggal in Sampaloc or the oldest legend of the white lady of Balete drive are part of its lore – it was already a stressful place in the days when you were young, or my youthful days.

        Interesting that many a family has its own lore of having seen duwende or having been in haunted houses. The youth that are interested in Trese now are often no longer directly in touch with that. I have read of a millennial who watched Trese with his father and was surprised at how familiar he was with all the lore. The makers of the comic, specifically Budjette Tan, said “we made a show about what scared us as kids”. In any case, maybe at some point Manila will be a less stressful and somehow scary place.

        • kasambahay says:

          here’s a sobering thought for netflix addicts, our country’s looming power shortages. and with rotating brown outs fast becoming common occurrence, there will be less time to netflix.

          dark nights with only the stars in heavens above and flickering candles in many homes, scary imaginations will sky rocket, abetted by dark corners and their elongated shadows. and putting aside the ails and problems of the day gone by, families will huddle together and tell scary stories.

          the sad realities of life can wait another day.

          • Not too long ago – 1968 – less than 10% of Filipino houses in the provinces had electricity and maybe 1/3 in Manila. A lot of people already had battery-powered transistor radios then which few had just after the war, so there was a bit of an alternative to the old nighttime huddle of families, but it wasn’t too far in most families yet. Thanks to USAID, not Marcos, the provinces and towns of the archipelago rapidly electrified in the 1970s.

            Strange though that my father who used to say ghost stories freaked him out has gone pretty deep into Bikol folklore, checking out why Oryol the snake-woman decided to help Handyong the warrior-king in the founding legend of Ibalon – and the idea of balance between good and evil he describes as old belief in ancient Bikol, very similar to Anton Trese’s idea of balance, is weird or even shocking for us who are formed by Christianity.

            Someone told me damn your father should be careful, what if the burial jar he found that now is in a museum in Naga is really from the first king of the Bikolanos? There are other articles based on his book on epics where he describes the exact meanings of different triangles and skulls on the burial jar – lots of that conjuring symbolism are also in Trese.

            https://vincibueza.wordpress.com/tag/oryol/

            ..What surprised me is the name of the first “demonio” Naguined or Nagini (as described by Lisboa) which in India refers to the feminine form of the word Naga or snake beings. Can this be a demonization of the Bikol Nagini[d], displacing the images associated with indigenous religious leaders and divinities transforming them into “demonios” and witches in the conversion project of the Spanish colonizers? Perhaps.
            Oryol, the snake woman of the Ibalon epic, and Naguined are connected in this light. The connection of snake and the feminine is mostly in the sense of rhythm and tides. In ancient times, the snake was seen as the earthly counterpart of the moon, which rules the tide of the sea and of women. Women in turn was seen by the primitives as the embodiment of the earth and master of the rhythms, seasons and tides of the earth and the creatures on it.

            This is where the character of Oryol in the epic Ibalon finds significance. Three things are important in this discussion: Oryol being a Nagini or a snake being, Oryol as the daughter of Aswang and a killer of men and lastly, Oryol and her supposed fickle-mindedness in the epic Ibalon.

            As a snake-woman, she is a Nagini and master of the seasons and the tide – of change. The reader is reminded of how Oryol shifts from a beautiful woman to that of a snake, always luring men to their death in the Higabo spring. (Realubit, 1983) The snake as chthonic, as opposed to telluric (the tilled soil) is the highest symbol of the unknown, of the mysterious, as it lives in caves and the crevasses underground. This association to the woman is important because the woman can be considered as also being chthonic, inward, whose body was seen as a mystery, capable of giving birth like the earth. Oryol as a snake-woman is a symbol, an image of mystery that guides the unseen forces of pregnancy, ebbing and flow of the tide and phallus and the rhythm of planting and harvests so useful to the agricultural Bikolanos of that time.

            The story also tells us that Oryol is the daughter of Aswang, god of evil and the brother/sister of Gugurang, chief of the gods. Many have accepted the image of Aswang (the Bikol god and not the nocturnal ‘monster’) as masculine  but it is also possible that Aswang is female, the sister of Gugurang.   Being the daughter of Aswang, one is immediately exposed to an icon of evil. But analyzing how in the rituals the balyana is ambivalent, supplicating Aswang one time and then giving offerings to Gugurang in another, may show how the pre-hispanic Bikolanos viewed evil occurrences as controllable. The balyana in a way becomes a daughter both of Gugurang and Aswang of good (karahayan) and evil (karaotan) or more precisely, light and darkness, an intermediary between the two extremes. Oryol on the other hand, as a symbol of the dark, the night and the dark soil, is an image of the wilderness, the untamed earth in which no man has ever conquered. In a sense, the imagery of her luring men to their deaths may be construed as an initiation, just as the men of Kali, Ishtar, Kore, and other mystery cults have to die symbolically, which means losing a part of themselves, and facing the darkness of the untamed regions of their psyche, in order to emerge as the hero.

            But Oryol is also ‘fickle-minded’. The epic states that Oryol sometimes helped Handiong in the killing of wild creatures that roamed Bikol like the Pongos. Only recently, Prof. Zeus Salazar authored a book about an archeological find in Libmanan, Camarines Sur entitled “Liktao at Epiko: Ang Takip ng Tapayang Libingan ng Libmanan, Camarines Sur.” It is interesting to note this research as Salazar asserted an important part of the epic Ibalon, how Oryol ‘changed her mind’ and helped Handiong. The epic-fragment itself is silent on why Oryol changed her mind and later on helped the principal hero Handiong. The said cover of the burial jar (now in the Museum of the Holy Rosary Minor Seminary in Naga) purportedly implies an ancient civilization in Libmanan possibly founded by a Historical Handiong. Important in the argument of Salazar is the part in the artifact where a man seems to be talking to a snake whose left hand is holding a deer, perhaps an offering. Salazar asserted that this was the missing part in the epic where Handiong talked to Oryol..

            • kasambahay says:

              I deliberately did not mention radios po, school kids kasi outside cities are reliant on modules and on radios for their distance learning. face to face learning is sometimes suspended because of pandemic.

              I would hate to see school kids tuning in to trese instead of tuning in to their teachers lecture.

              and because of high unemployment and money being scarce, parents probly dont want their children wasting batteries.

              a supply of fresh batteries is needed for use during emergencies like typhoons, floods, etc when there is power failure. to power flashlights and to listen to news on radios.

              • Trese is not for those below 18 anyhow, and I guess those who are reliant on modules and radio for distance learning don’t have Netflix either.

                They probably barely have enough Internet speed or access.

  10. Reactions to Ep1+2 of Trese:

  11. https://www.bulatlat.com/2021/06/23/trese-beyond-folklore-and-monsters/

    ..The feminists in our midst have reason to celebrate the entrance of Alexandra as a no-nonsense heroine, cool, feisty and focused, and ready to slay monsters with her knife in the flick of an eye. If the Chinese have their legendary warrior Mulan and the Vietnamese have their lone warrior Raya (of the Last Dragon), the Filipinos have their mandirigmang babaylan by the name of Alexandra who can navigate unscathed the dangerous world of the natural and supernatural and keep, as enforcer of accords, the balance of both worlds — all for the love of family, homeland or country. That Alexandra’s two assistants, the twin Basilio and Crispin, are male pays homage to gender-fairness and women empowerment.

    Alexandra, though, is not empowered or steeled without a price. Through flashbacks she suffers the torture of seeing her domicile attacked by criminal creatures, by her mother’s disappearance, by the weight of her father’s legacy, and by the constant battles she has to wage and muster. The conditions under which she lived, grew up and struggled have molded her character but it is also in this context that mythical creatures are enabled to rouse the viewer’s consciousness about the current state of Philippine society. Undeniably, Trese is rich in contemporary social realities that resonate with ordinary Filipinos.

    For example, the battle between the natural and supernatural could translate into the battle between the weak and the powerful. But the weak is also quick to rely on a hero in times of adversity as Alexandra and her team are called upon to solve cases of oppression or injustice, be it theft, robbery or murder — the word “nanlaban” brings home memories. Even among humans, monstrosity is displayed by a corrupt politician lying brazenly and razing down poor communities or the police exercising brutality.

    Likewise, among monsters, conflict is never alien as ghoulish criminals race for more power and supremacy. The fight among the powerful is more brutal as they have more skills and tools to inflict damage upon each other, and the stakes are far greater.

    But the viewer can be so caught up in the thrill and excitement of the visual aesthetics as it works on our fears — with creepy beings on a roll, showing their fangs and bloody intensity, though at times staging cuteness, humor and sensuality – that the hidden messages could be lost. Too many images or symbols are dropped such that one has to go back to the story to explore what’s lurking behind the metaphors and allusions..

    https://pop.inquirer.net/111601/where-does-trese-stand-in-our-current-political-climate

    ..On the show’s fourth episode, cops arrest a supposedly unruly drunk, and is detained inside police headquarters.  Guerrero sees his cops treating the prisoner badly by using unnecessary force and tells them to stop, which is met by disdain from the said cops.
    He tells the prisoner, “I’m sorry about my men. We’re all assholes here, but I’m trying a lesser one, if you can believe that.”

    Later on in the episode, it is revealed that the prisoner had summoned zombies to attack Guerrero’s police headquarters – an act of revenge for his brother who was shot by cops a few years back.

    These are a few notable lines the prisoner says:

    “None of you cops are saints. The ones who gunned down my brother sure ain’t.
    “We’re not people to you, just numbers, statistics. If you really gave a damn, you would put names to all our faces.”

    Captain Guerrero responds to this by naming those his people have killed, and asking for the prisoner’s name as well, in an effort to sympathize and connect with the character.
    This episode clearly shines light into the reported brutal drug war occurring in the Philippines, in which police brutality get news prominence but with seemingly little consequence for alleged perpetrators..

    ..While others found the character of Guerrero being a “good cop amongst the bad” as quite distasteful in a country brimming with police brutality. In addition, the mere fact that Trese had been working with police throughout the series didn’t sit well with others. The series tried its best to humanize the character, although it might not be convincing for many..

    ..Despite all of this, Trese comics creator Budjette Tan apparently had no intention of “making a statement or an agenda,” according to the BBC.
    He says, “it is interesting to see how people suddenly relate to something that happened just yesterday. We wrote the story 15 years ago and somehow – whether that’s good or bad – it still seems to be relevant today,”..

  12. NHerrera says:

    OT

    I am very sad about the passing of former president Benigno Aquino III. He was 61. Truly the good die young.

    I can imagine some will be or now busy with their fingers writing an essay on his passing, especially one who said he will be happy to be in the foxhole with him.

    • Maybe later. It’s too heavy for now.

    • NHerrera says:

      QUOTABLE TWEETS

      JoeAm:

      President Aquino understood concepts and values and contexts. He could tell a good story, and a good lesson. He served with honor because he was representing his parents. Not for greed, power, or fame. He raised the nation to high esteem in the eyes of the world. RIP good Sir.

      Irineo:

      RIP PNoy, who never claimed he was perfect. Why does merely doing the right thing irritate some Filipinos, make them accuse people of “claiming moral ascendancy”? Why is decency “elitism” for some, when human decency should be the minimum expectation? Condolences, Philippines.

    • LCPL_X says:

      R.I.P.

      He was an avid reader of the blog, no?

      • LCPL_X says:

        https://www.exurbe.com/machiavelli-s-p-q-f/

        I was reading an old blog, and this paragraph seems relevant here now:

        “Machiavelli definitely loved Florence as much as the Romans loved Rome, and worked to protect it as much as Brutus or Cicero. Florence also deserved to be loved that much. It deserves its S.P.Q.F. I’ve had, not just this year, but several earlier opportunities to get to know Florence in person, and even more years to read deeply into Florentine history and really understand all the invaluable contributions this city has made to the world. I could never call myself a Florentine, but I do believe I am now someone who understands why Florence deserves to be loved that much by her people, why Florence deserved Machiavelli, and his efforts, and all the efforts of the other great figures—Dante, Petrarch, Ficino, Bruni, Brunelleschi, Cosimo and Lorenzo de Medici—who worked so hard to save it—through art, philosophy and guile—from the destruction that always loomed.”

    • NHerrera says:

      Here is Former Philippine president Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III’s acceptance speech on the occasion of the Ka Pepe Diokno award for his efforts to assert the Philippines’ sovereignty in the West Philippine Sea conferred February 26 by The De La Salle University (DLSU), in partnership with the Jose W. Diokno Foundation. The speech was read by DLSU College of Law Dean Gil de los Reyes.

      https://www.rappler.com/voices/thought-leaders/full-text-noynoy-aquino-speech-jose-diokno-awards-2021

      How can self-respecting Filipinos, especially leaders of the country not agree! If nothing more was done but that one act carried successfully by his similarly committed compatriots Pnoy deserves our lasting gratitude.

      He truly deserves to rest in peace.

        • kasambahay says:

          aba, the trio of announcers seemed to have gotten the laughing sickness, contradicting the solemnity shown in dabaw where flags are already in half mast. duterte has declared june 23 – july 3 as days of mourning for ex president noy, to pray and show respect for the departed.

          and the three above started off with laughter. I am supposing their station is jubilant and not in mourning with no flag in half mast.

        • NHerrera says:

          I will not be surprised if even Go/ Rogue — hard to distinguish between them, except the former tries mightily but fails in his efforts to show he cares — advise these brain-challenged guys, hinay, hinay lang.

          • The genie is already out and the anger is growing against the three, just like the anger is growing at Atty. Gadon who insinuated that PNoy had a certain virus.

            Pretty gross to disrespect not only the dead but by extension those who grieve for them.

            • kasambahay says:

              ah, it was duterte that gadon disrespected as well. duterte kasi signed proclamation 1169 declaring 10days of mourning, for people kuno to pray and pay respect to newly departed ex president noy.

              rather than heed duterte and stay true to proclamation 1169, gadon insinuated and disobeyed the said proclamation. I think, gadon is due for a fine.

              • Miyako Izabel who is half-Bisdak and half-Lumad says this about Gadon:

              • kasambahay says:

                dds trolls and gadon et al, if they can do kabastusan to dating presidente noy, they can also do kabastusan to both duterte and gloria arroyo once they’re both dead, funds are exhausted and salaries no longer forthcoming. they may change allegiance too and be critical of the hands that once fed and funded them. their way of crawling up to the new powers that be.

                duterte had better start looking closely within his circle, already his proclamation 1169 ay isinantabe po and disrespected. duterte not being taken seriously. even his rep sa united nation, priorly sinantabe din po si duterte and voted to have israel investigated vs atrocities committed on palestinians, contrary to duterte’s wishes.

                if dutete’s rep can do it, trolls can do it too, already duterte’s proclamation, the 10 days of prayer and mourning for the newly departed is being turned into days of fun and merriment to dishonor the dead. and of course duterte will bear it with not a word, seeing how it will be like when he too is no longer around and power has shifted. president noy today, president duterte tomorrow.

                methink, kalag kalag applies to all, not just to gadon. those that empower gadon will bear their fair share of kalag kalag too. kampai!

  13. Glossary for Trese and Philippine folklore: (Part 1)

  14. NHerrera says:

    Benigno S. Aquino III:

    “I can forgive those who did me wrong but I have no right to forgive those who abused our people … “I had a simple goal in life: to be true to my parents and our country as an honorable son, a caring brother, and a good citizen … My father offered his life so our democracy could live. My mother devoted her life to nurturing that democracy. I will dedicate my life to making our democracy reach its fullest potential: that of ensuring equality for all. My family has sacrificed much, and I am willing to do this again if necessary.”

    —Inauguration speech, Quirino Grandstand, June 30, 2010

    “To my Bosses: You gave me an opportunity to lead our efforts to transform society. If I had said “no” when you asked me to take on this challenge, then I could just as well have said that I would help prolong your suffering. I cannot do that in good conscience. If I had turned my back on the opportunity, then I might as well have turned my back on my father and mother, and all the sacrifices they made for all of us; that will not happen. On our journey along the straight path, you have always chosen what is right and just; you have been true to your promise, and I have been true to all of you.”

    —SONA, 2014

    “If we say yes to something we believe is wrong now, what guarantee is there that the wrong will not be further exacerbated down the line?”

    —interview with The New York Times, 2014

    • NHerrera says:

      Here is Manuel L. Quezon III @mlq3’s tweet which referenced a tweet by Now You Know @nowyouknowph — which tweet by mlq3, JoeAm “liked” in Twitter:

      Not just that; he brought that pocket copy of the Constitution to every meeting and on every journey he made, foreign or domestic to keep it within easy reach and reference.

      — Tweet by Manuel L. Quezon III

      Every time Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon—then Senate president under the Aquino administration—would be called into the office of former President Benigno S. Aquino III, a book of the 1987 Constitution is always sitting on top of the chief executive’s desk.

      — Tweet by Now You Know

      I brought this up because like President Benigno Aquino, JoeAm is a fellow traveler. JoeAm must have mentioned The Constitution in TSH a zillion times in the many essays and comments in his Blog.

  15. i7sharp says:

    Apropos yesterday, today, and tomorrow?

    “For we wrestle not against flesh and blood,
    but against principalities, against powers,
    against the rulers of the darkness of this world,
    against spiritual wickedness in high places.”
    Ephesians 6:12 KJV

  16. Well, just three things about that, I do agree that the wild/dark side has its dangers:

    1) ancient Germans did warn their kids to look away if they saw what was called the “Wild Hunt” led by Odin/Wotan, the old pagan supreme god of the Nordics/Germans – they could end up sucked into it just like one could be sucked into a game of Jumanji.

    2) Trese itself has Alex tempted by the God of War to become someone who will pass something like a demonic version of Judgement Day as “the sixth child of the 6th child”.

    2a) the chosen one motive is in a lot of fantasy stories including Star Wars and Dune, there is the ancient motive of Temptations of the “Dark Side” (Star Wars) and of too much power like God-Emperor Leto II in Dune, or the Ring of Power in Lord of the Rings.

    2b) LOTR itself has aspects of Wagner’s Ring Saga which is based on the older Legend of the Nibelungen. Like Trese, the Ring Saga also has gods, demons, heroes, villains and even treacherous dwarves. Is the moral of the latter not to trust the likes of Gadon, ever?

    2c) the Nibelungen saga has the old Gods self-destructing in the end, I suspect it was because it was a story from the early period of German Christianization. Though the revival through Wagner eventually had Hitler and the Nazis with their evil occultism.

    3) while occultism and fascism can go together, so can fanatical Christian belief and fascism. The Romanian fascists of WW2 used the symbolism of St. Michael and saw themselves as demon-slayers. But then again Star Wars warns of how overuse of power and violence can lead to the Dark Side even with good intentions, and LOTR has those who have borne the Ring of Power eventually leave with a boat, even if those who did not want to go mad knew to not actually WEAR the Rings of Power. Many lessons there.

    Of course there is the bangungot, the deadly nightmare, and the kapre who with his cigar keeps the sunset far away and makes sure the night never ends. Fair enough warnings.

    • i7sharp says:

      @Irineo

      I do not know who or what you are addressing with this:
      “Well, just three things about that, I do agree that the wild/dark side has its dangers …”

      In any case, I tried to google for images related to these below terms in the following order:
      1. evil “Ephesians 6:12”
      2. evil “Ephesians 6:12” “King James”
      3. evil “Ephesians 6:12” “King James” Marx

      In the first two instances, the results were, as expected, images quoting the verse.
      In the 3rd instance, where, among the four items, “Marx” is mentioned last, most of the results showed many images of Marx … first.

      Among those that were listed or shown well below Marx’s images, is the image that is linked to this:
      http://www.renewamerica.com/columns/miles/140825
      Irineo, perhaps, if only because, the article mentions of a book (“Marx and Satan”) written by a Romanian, you can relate the gist of the article to what you have written here:
      x-
      3) while occultism and fascism can go together, so can fanatical Christian belief and fascism. The Romanian fascists of WW2 used the symbolism of St. Michael and saw themselves as demon-slayers. But then again Star Wars warns of how overuse of power and violence can lead to the Dark Side even with good intentions, and LOTR has those who have borne the Ring of Power eventually leave with a boat, even if those who did not want to go mad knew to not actually WEAR the Rings of Power. Many lessons there.
      -x

      Thanks!

      • The article is trash, the kind of extension of real-world acts into a lunacy of belief that leads the emotionally or intellectually handicapped into realms of fantasy by which they live their lives. Kindly don’t bring any more of that stuff to the blog. I allow this one because it is such a clear example of the nutty thinking that is driving a whole lot of Americans to think Biden is not president and COVID vaccines magnetize people so forks stick to their foreheads. Whooo whoooo whooooo!

        • Joe, this is a good opportunity for me to place the disclaimer I didn’t think necessary as everyone who reads me knows my rationality – I don’t actually believe in the occult.

          1) if my father and his former student Prof. Mary Jane Rodriguez (who might be raising an entire coven of witches by now *joke) think ancient superstitions and fairy tales had to do with the balance of nature, I also see aspects of human nature – bad and good.

          1a) tabi-tabi po may have similar usefulness as what sewer workers here in Europe do when passing through, banging with a stick so rats hear they are coming – nothing worse than the possible reaction of a rat that feels it has been sneaked on and attacked, is what I recall from the documentary I watched. I also recall kinda musing along the river here once when it started slowly getting dark. Since I was sitting with some grass around me I heard something furry come near and stood up – it scurried off. Huge rat or squirrel?

          1b) dwarves as potential troublemakers has just one possible analogy to crab mentality and envy, with Gadon as one of its purest examples. Stories of the undead were an analogy to people like Enrile and his darkened mind described by Joe in an old article. Stories helped people build discernment in the pre-Enlightened days of mankind, warn kids of dangers in life. As the Philippines IS still mostly pre-Enlightened it might need it.

          1c) the old stories and insinuations now being repeated by anti-yellow forces that Aquino’s death is “convenient” for elections are in the same sick line as speculations about who was actually behind Ninoy’s murder, or Jesse Robredo’s plane crash.. ..yet I can’t help but find an analogy to the God of War telling Alexandra Trese that her father killed her twin sister. The evil mislead the not fully informed good with partial stories, sometimes because the good missed out, like Obi-Wan failed to tell Luke Skywalker..

          2) the rabbit hole of demonizing anyone is what we must avoid, even if old stories (and new ones like LOTR, Star Wars, GoT) warn us about how actually evil people can be. Applying Occam’s razor is useful to separate the likely from the unlikely.

          2a) Conspiracy theorists who try to make Yellow look like a weird cult that regularly sacrifices its own for political gain are lunatic fringe, clearly.

          2b) That Marcos, Arroyo and Duterte or MAD have been working together is rather more supported by evidence. I find stories about how human rights victims were actually treated far more scary than aswang animes as I know real people were hurt or killed.

          2c) I still find Imee Marcos remiscent of the manananggal queen in Trese. Well, it is scary that she actually ordered a young man who asked her the wrong question killed, as a US court found out re Archimedes Trajano. No need for her to hover around at night.

          https://pbs.twimg.com/media/E3wH3UQVkAIidpV?format=jpg&name=medium

          • kasambahay says:

            bangungot, those supposedly died in their sleep having succumbed to nightmare. there is probly a medical explanation to that. there are people suffering from sleep apnea maybe unknowingly dahily ayaw kumunsulta sa doctor, kapos sa pera. maingay matulog at maybe heavy snorer and thrashing in their sleep. karamihan, the muscles in their palate sagged and blocked their airways, the lucky ones wake up shaking and gasping for air, the unlucky ones may end up brain damaged, some died in their sleep. then again, lot of people young and old died in their sleep, some peacefully.

            there are medical devices used to cure sleep apnea, some are costly at baka hindi abut kaya ng marami. there are cheaper sedatives, some are herbal and available over the counter. the restless leg syndrome, those kicking and twitching in their sleep, may look like having nightmare but common sleep abnormalities po yan. maybe due to poor nutrition. vets reported that dogs sometimes dream and have nightmares too, whimpering in their sleep.

            it is adviced po not to read horror stories before going to bed, and not to watch scary flicks maybe like trese prior to bedtime, the brain kasi may play back scenes and then nightmare happens.

            anyhow, I’ve heard about steven spellberg, americal author of horror stories, made millions of book sales, from book sales and movie deals, often have nightmares too. but he always wakes up and gets to write about his nightmares. apparently, nightmares make for very lucrative business. the scarier the better.

            • You mean Steven King. I recall reading an interview where he says he leaves one light on in his bedroom when he goes to sleep at night as he is actually a bit afraid himself. Steven King draws on the old tradition of ghost stories in his native New England.

              I sleep worse when I have watched actual detective stuff which I used to watch a lot – that stuff is scarier especially when it is based on real life stories, like many a story in the Sunday evening German Tatort murder series. In horror stories especially if they are in cartoons one knows what is there isn’t real, crime stories make you reflect on how bad people can be which is scarier.

              Like I mentioned there is something similar to bangungot on Bali, one more evidence of common animist traditions that preceded the coming of religions like Hinduism, Buddhism, Islam and Christianity in the Malay triangle.

              The idea of a Kris having a soul forged into it is also something not unknown to Malay traditions: https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kris – “Both a weapon and spiritual object, kris are often considered to have an essence or presence, considered to possess magical powers, with some blades possessing good luck and others possessing bad.”

              Based on this page, Trese’s Kris Sinag is similar to a Visayan kris, Anton Trese’s sword is Moro while Datu Talagbusao’s sword is Bagobo. Of course we already know that the latter is the Bukidnon God of War while Ibu is the Manobo goddess of death. Well, I guess it is symptomatic of today’s Philippines that they all are now in Metro Manila.

              https://fb.watch/6nC_AY5-5x/

          • Good to know. I was about to appoint you official Society Warlock.

            • Well, I guess there are two ways of telling vital truths:

              Joe’s rational way, for example:

              And Trese’s allegories:

              Imagining the “tribes” of the Philippines as a strange assortment of creatures does have its charm, just like dreams and nightmares can tell us important things..

              ..but one has to wake up and not get lost or sucked into the dream or nightmare.

          • LCPL_X says:

            “Like I mentioned there is something similar to bangungot on Bali, one more evidence of common animist traditions that preceded the coming of religions like Hinduism, Buddhism, Islam and Christianity in the Malay triangle.” Ireneo, weirdly i’ve had dreams where i was a horse before, running around in the southwest region (that’s where I do most of my hiking/camping when I can); but re bangungot “Sudden unexplained nocturnal death syndrome (SUNDS) has been reported worldwide. SUNDS is endemic in Southeast Asia and is colloquially known as Bangungut in the Philippines, Lai Tai in Thailand, and Pokkuri in Japan. Although SUNDS in Thailand and Japan have been determined to be phenotypically, genetically and functionally identical to the Brugada syndrome, the relationship between Bangungut/SUNDS in the Philippines and the Brugada syndrome has not been clarified. This paper explores the concordance between Bangungut/SUNDS and the Brugada syndrome.”

            I have dreamt many times in which i’m drowning and have woken up to things around my bed knocked over, I could only surmised i was kicking. I know Marines who tend to have nightmares in which they are pressed down upon and could not move. Also heard of falling into eternity nightmares, immobilized also part of that dream. I’m also a firm believer of spontaneous combustion having read plenty of examples of them online (this happens too while sleeping). I noticed bargirls there when sleeping also had weird dreams, they usually talk in their dreams. All very interesting not the most settling time when sleeping next to stranger lol!,

            I’ve read studies too in which the visual cortex in the back of your brain feeds more information to your eyes whilst asleep, than when waking the other way around eyes to visual cortex.

            • There is the folk belief among a lot of Filipinos that the soul goes traveling while people dream. My Sorsogon grandma told her Grrman daughter-in-law, my mother, not to wake us kids to quickly “to give the soul enough time to return to the body”.

              I wonder if this kind of belief is all over the Philippines but it probably will be one of those old animist beliefs in common with the rest of the Malay world and even SEA, just like the idea of bangungot which has equivalents in Thailand etc. like you found out.

              Re dreaming a dog owner who had his dog sleeping on his lap and trembling told me dogs kinda dreaming of what happened during the day. It could be the mammal brains way of “analyzing” and adapting to new situations, and related to why sleeping over stuff sometimes brings us humans clarity, whereas sleep deprivation or lack can lead to paranoia. I can also imagine that general sleep deprivation due to traffic may have impaired the judgement of many a voter in Metro Manila in recent elections as well.

              Narratives of all sorts – from folklore to Bible stories – could be the way cultures and civilizations “dream”. This is why they all say a lot about the Zeitgeist. There has been that kind of analysis for different generations of American superheroes, for instance.

              Superman and especially Batman breathe 1930s America, Captain America and Iron Man 1960s USA, Guardians of the Galaxy this millennium. As for Philippine superheroes, Darna and Trese represent very different periods, sensibilities and mindsets.

              Budjette Tan had one quibble about the way the Fil-Am scriptwriters of Trese Netflix changed her fundamentally fro he said that the sequences where she creates her own force field shield is too “Marvel” as she always derives her power from some objects in the comic and most of the anime too – the dagger, a bottlecap to seek the stones that raised the zombies, etc. – Darna too has no superpowers save for the stone she swallows, originally a meteor from the planet “Marte”, Sonny would be the one who would know the original Mars Ravelo comic I think. Some who analyzed Filipino and Western concepts of heros say that Western heros started off as Greek demigods while Filipino native heros are simply humans. Lots of Filipinos like Batman most due to that.

              • sonny says:

                I do remember DARNA & KAPITAN KIDLAT series. These were also shown in the Philippine movies – Rosa del Rosario as Darna and Armando Goyena played Kapitan Kidlat. The popular Tagalog comic creators I remember were Clodualdo del Mundo, Mars Ravelo, Francisco V. Coching.

              • kasambahay says:

                begging your pardon, Irineo, naglalaway po ako. yayyyyyyyyyy! superpower indeed! my mind uberly haywired duterte kasi now wants citizens superpowered, supercharged and maybe armed to the teeth! to help authorities fight whatever whenever! citizens are going to be better than darna, drunk with happiness. power at their fingertips at last.

                happiness is a warm gun, heard that somewhere. but, if evil paternalistic lacson has his way, citizens wont be armed. maybe, he feared armed citizens going loco and pointing gun at him instead of their middle finger, lol! alex, eat your heart out!

                if I have a gun, I’d personalize it and decorate it with sequins.

    • LCPL_X says:

      These are the major reasons the majority of scholars think Ephesians wasn’t written by Paul.

      First, Ephesians is very general, whereas the rest of Paul’s letters are written to specific circumstances.

      Second, Ephesians doesn’t fit within the life of Paul as we know it. There is no plausible historical situation in which to put it. This problem is especially large because at points the author of Ephesians writes as if he doesn’t know the church (he say he heard of their faith in 1:15, and there are basically no greetings at the end of the letter). When Paul probably spent a number of years in Ephesus.

      Third, the author of Ephesians simply feels different from the rest of Paul’s letters. The author of Ephesians treats Paul like someone who is distant and honored. It lacks the passion, joy, anger, and urgency of the authentic Paul.

      Fourth, major marks of Paul’s thought are missing from the letter. Paul’s emphasis on the death of Jesus and on the cross are missing. Ephesians is much more concerned with the resurrection and exaltation of Jesus. Similarly, there is no mention of believers dying with Christ. There is no mention of justification by faith.

      Fifth, a comparison of the words used in Ephesians leads many to suggest is isn’t Pauline. For example, “good works” is never used in authentic Paul. There are 40 words that occur only in this letter in the entire NT, and another 51 words that do not occur in the rest of Paul. And many of these words have significant similarity to the post-apostolic writing. It’s more than just words, but modes of expression that are different. Key phrases such as “spiritual blessing,” (1:3) “foundation of the world,” (1:4) “mystery of his will,” (1:9) “the word of truth,” (1:13) “father of glory,” (1:17) and “the spirit of the mind,” (4:23) (these are just a sample) have no Pauline counterpart. Ephesians uses the word “devil” (4:8; 5:14) instead of Paul’s more usual “satan” (Rom 16:20; 1 Cor 5:5; 7:5; 2 Cor 2:11; 11:14; 12:7; 1 Thess 2:18).

      Sixth, there are some important theological perspectives of Ephesians that do not match with Paul. Most importantly, the eschatology of Ephesians is much more realized than that of authentic Paul. The expectation of the coming of Jesus has faded into the background and the church is more concerned with growing up or becoming mature. Paul’s thought is dominated by eschatology; Ephesians is not. Paul very rarely speaks of the universal church, but the universal church is a major (possibly the major) theme of the letter.

      Seventh, the writing style of Ephesians is also really different. Ephesians tends to multiply synonyms, combine genitives, repeat certain phrases, and leave out conjunctions and particles. The sentences in Ephesians are often way longer than those of Paul. 1:3–14; 1:15–23; 2:1–7; 3:1–7; 3:14–19; 4:11–16; 5:7–13; and 6:14–20 are all one sentence in Greek.

      • LCPL_X says:

        ALICE MORE: Arrest him!

        SIR THOMAS MORE: For what?

        ALICE: He’s dangerous!

        WILLIAM ROPER: For libel, he’s a spy!

        MARGARET MORE: Father, that man’s bad.

        MORE: There is no law against that.

        ROPER: There is! God’s law!

        MORE: Then God can arrest him.

        ALICE: While you talk, he’s gone!

        MORE: And go he should, if he were the Devil himself, until he broke the law!

        ROPER: So! Now you’d give the Devil benefit of law!

        MORE: Yes. What would you do? Cut a great road through the law to get after the Devil?

        ROPER: Yes! I’d cut down every law in England to do that!

        MORE: Oh? And when the last law was down, and the Devil turned round on you, where would you hide, Roper, the laws all being flat?

        This country is planted thick with laws, from coast to coast — man’s laws, not God’s — and if you cut them down — and you’re just the man to do it — do you really think you could stand upright in the winds that would blow then?

        Yes, I’d give the Devil benefit of law, for my own safety’s sake!

      • sonny says:

        Weird coincidence – I’m currently reading Peter Kreeft’s introductions to the books of the Bible. On Ephesians he writes:

        “WE ARE CHRIST’S MYSTICAL BODY –

        Ephesians is to the epistles as John is to the Gospels: the most mystical, profound and universal of them all.
        Paul probably wrote Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians and Philemon from prison in Rome around A.D. 60 or 62. Ephesians seems to be an encyclical (circulating) letter for all the churches in the region (Asia Minor) for it mentions no specific problems or controversies in any local church. Its topic is universal — totally universal, in fact. We may call it Paul’s treatise on “the cosmic Christ”. …”

        • i7sharp says:

          Spiritual Wickedness in the High Places – Vatican, DC,

          There is a LOT of details mentioned in this video.
          So, there is a LOT of claims in it that one can try to refute.

          Or call “trash.”
          If so, let us be very specific.
          In any case, let me say that I – making the most of what little I know –
          intend to relate the discussion to how the Philippines (“haunted” or not) can best prepare against wickedness in high places.

          • Hey, I love Dan Brown novels!

            • LCPL_X says:

              If I was an artist i’d paint vaginas all day long too, Joe.

              • LCPL_X says:

                these two are closest to the subject of the video above. Lol!!!

              • Okay, thanks. Move on. Get off his first example and into the Dan Brown symbolism as to how Washington’s streets are satanic. I think that’s his point.

              • By the way, the comments on the video are absolutely empty of content or comment on the substance of the sermon. Weird. Like people were listening, but not listening, and following with eyes glazed over.

              • 😂😂🤣🍺 I bet you would. I took the first one out. Too sexual for an intellectual . . . blog.

              • LCPL_X says:

                The notion that city planning, architecture and landscape design won’t have any meaning hidden or otherwise would be a weirder proposition; I’m sure if there’s money splurged and/or a public space, the person or group behind said design will insert meaning into their work.

                Like the design of the US dollar bill and other bills. Yeah, Masons are who made up the Founding Fathers, same same in Philippines, its the group secret society aspect of it. And they do have symbols derived from Greco-Roman tradition and then Rennaissance art. The obelisk is Egyptian, columns are Greek but also Indian.

                But the video is more about numerology really than Dan Brown stuff. What’s weird is the interpretation, like that Banquet of Chestnuts link (you’ve deleted) well new scholarship has deemed that story propaganda from the Borgias enemies. So it all depends on who’s interpreting, same with Ephesians.

                Symbols I like, less so numerology unless there’s more to the number than mere coincidental stuff, like maybe hidden equations. Had I known that walkway surrounding the Washington monument was actually a vagina, Joe, i’d have picnicked inside it , instead of in the grassy area! but realize , Joe, that the video i7sharp shared above is also anti-Catholic.

            • LCPL_X says:

              And apropos to all this is… https://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2021/06/catholic-bishops-joe-biden-abortion/619288/

              In a break from the Vatican and past policy, the American arm of the Roman Catholic Church this week kicked off a process that could eventually sanction the exclusion of President Joe Biden, the nation’s second Catholic president, from receiving holy communion.

              On Thursday, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, which consists of all Catholic bishops in the US and the US Virgin Islands, voted overwhelmingly to draft “a formal statement on the meaning of the Eucharist in the life of the Church” that would clarify church policy on the topic — at least in the US. If approved, such a statement could allow individual bishops to prevent Catholic politicians who disagree with church doctrine about abortion from receiving the sacrament of the Eucharist, a sacred rite in Catholicism.

              It’s a change that has been pushed by conservative bishops with renewed fervor in recent months, following Biden’s victory over former President Donald Trump, and appears to specifically target Biden, who is vocal about his Catholic faith, and whose personal views on abortion have been subject to question throughout his time as vice president and while campaigning in 2020 for the Oval Office.

              • Seems to me the Church will be making its pastoral theme smaller, angrier, and less relevant. Following the path democracy is on. I deleted one of your posts about sex in the Vatican. I have many Catholic faithful as readers and simply don’t need to go in that direction.

    • sonny says:

      “Self-Control” – very masterful, catchy echo of the spirit of the pop scene of the that time. I remember very well.

      • LCPL_X says:

        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peter_Kreeft

        This guy looks interesting, thanks sonny!

        As for Paul’s or not Paul’s authorships, I’ve also read that it was his disciples that penned these later letters, like Plato to Socrates. or D5 and her staff tweeting. hence the difference.

        I’m agnostic either way really, so long as people are hip to the fact that We simply don’t know, doubt is good when dealing with inerrancy; or as Peter Kreeft’s example if you can convert while in college even better. so long as you’re not spoon fed this stuff while young, then dogma.

        As to all this pseudo-epigraphy stuff, we can see it here in our commentaries. When i7sharp writes, I can see his writing style as well as his thought process. same with Joe. and Ireneo’s. I gotta hunch if we expand that exposure to people’s writing styles and thought processes, we’d not really diverge too much say from high school/college.

        For example, in my case, I’ve since cut my paragraphs in halves and thirds, much shorter as to not have a text wall. And like Joe i’ve experiment in this 140 characters phenomena. of aphorisms and ditties. to no avail.

        But I’ll wager, if everyone got their essays from college or high school here, read ’em again, you’ll not find a lot of difference. Maybe adjustment s for social media nature of writing these days, but our grammar and writing styles will still be very similar.

        As to thought process i think that will be similar too, only difference will be in the number of data points and anecdotal stuff from our experiences and stuff we’ve read or seen.

        I don’t know how Peter Kreeft argued for Paul’s authorship, i’ll Google more on his position, but for sure as far as casting doubt on Paul’s hand in the letters, the arguments for writing style and grammar is of preponderance. IMHO.

        Do people change while in prison of course, their world view their perspectives, but I doubt writers especially back then, don’t really change grammatical and writing styles, this type of change is more related to exposure of other ideas and reading more stuff. So…

        Inerrancy is always my goal when talking of Bibles and Qurans, etc.

        But I am a fan of arguments, so will read more on Peter Kreeft. Thus am always open to superior arguments on the matter, but from my perch of Google and the example here in Joe’s blog’s commentaries, writing and thinking are like signatures. MRP for example had a very peculiar way of playing with metaphors, I suspect kb to be him because of kb’s over use of ‘po’ as means of staying in character (though I ‘m sure Ireneo’s right, it’s not MRP, but I do miss him… errrrr his writing style 😉 ).

        • LCPL_X says:

          chempo’s for example is tight as far as writing styles go,

          but when subject matter changes from banking to the Qur’an or theory of evolution or viruses, etc. etc. then his mind tends to go loose or limp. But the writing style is still very much chempo’s; just the thought process goes 180 change. I think its in attempting to account for ledger by the books type thinking with more chaotic less certainty subjects. Like balancing the books.

          IMHO, chempo’s is the best case re Paul’s non-authorship or authorship of Ephesians. My point, if Paul’s mind expanded from individual church issues to more general view of church, then why change writings too. Sorry, after thinking about MRP’s examples, I realized chempo’s was a better example. You don’t see this in yours, NH’s or Joe’s thinking processes.

          • Hmm, I’d say chempo is more an argument that one person can write in two styles, tight and loose, connected only by a sense of commitment to justice.

            • LCPL_X says:

              That’s my point Joe, his thinking may diverge (banking vs. conspiracies) but his writing is always chempo. But ones writing becoming different as one thinks from specific to general (ie. Ephesians), that doesn’t happen. p.s. tight and loose I was referring to his thinking, not writing.

              pps I’ve not read Ephesians in koine Greek, nor do I know koine Greek, just Googling , so simply pointing out that the argument re writing style vs. thinking style can be applied to the blog. Why Paul’s authorship is dubious.

      • LCPL_X says:

        Authorship and Authenticity

        Colossians and Ephesians are very similar to each other in many ways, but both are significantly different from the earlier “undisputed” letters of Paul; yet biblical scholars disagree as to how these differences can best be explained.

        Some scholars say the differences are the result of shifts in Paul’s thinking as he got older; thus, both letters must have been written late in Paul’s life, just before his death (see Col 4:3-4, 10, 18; Eph 3:1; 4:1).

        Other scholars say the differences are better explained by considering the letters to be pseudepigraphic; some of his followers wrote after his death to carry on his teachings, applying and adapting them to changing circumstances.

        The authorship of Colossians is disputed about 50/50 (half of all scholars think it is authentic; the other half think it is pseudepigraphic); on the other hand, Ephesians is almost certainly pseudepigraphic (80/20 divide among scholars).

        When and from where were these letters written?

        If they are authentic: in the early 60’s, from Caesarea or Rome, while Paul was imprisoned (Phase IV of Paul’s life)

        If they are pseudepigraphic: in the 80’s or 90’s, probably from Asia Minor (maybe from Ephesus itself?)

        In either case, the author(s) know(s) some people in these churches, and they know several of the authors’ associates, indicating lots of travel back and forth between the various Pauline communities in Asia Minor.

        Ephesians was almost certainly written later than Colossians, and is literarily dependent upon it.

        It is placed earlier in the NT in most Bibles today simply because it is longer (Eph has 6 chapters; Col only 4 chapters).

        In some early manuscripts of the NT, however, Ephesians is first in the group of Paul’s letters, thus functioning like a “cover letter” or introduction to the Pauline corpus.

        https://catholic-resources.org/Bible/Paul-Colossians-Ephesians.htm <<<

  17. NHerrera says:

    Why does the death of a noble man causes such grief?

    It may be because for for a period, an undefinable wave engulfs us. A wave that causes us to stop from the daily grind to reflect that though we are biological animals, we are different. Animals do not have a sense of morality and love of country.

    Former President Benigno S. Aquino III was that noble man. I am very proud to be a citizen born in a country that produced such a man — “for all seasons.”

    • NHerrera says:

      * for a period

      • kasambahay says:

        PNoy’s death has left a hole in people’s lives, PNoy was irreplaceable. tinamaan ang matatamaan friends and enemies alike, regardless. he walked the talk and quietly in his own way, walang wang-wang, bihirang epal, and rarely announced his achievements. he came and went, and sadly missed. he was sickly but did not used sickness as excuse.

        a great man, a better statesman, rest in peace, PNoy.

        • Manolo Quezon gives a very nuanced character portrait of PNoy with all his complexities in this article: https://www.spot.ph/newsfeatures/the-latest-news-features/86591/benigno-noynoy-aquino-iii-tribute-a3256-20210626-lfrm4 – some excerpts:

          “..In contrast to Ferdinand Marcos who was a sniper—which requires long periods of lying-in-wait in ambush, and a very personal yet clinical relationship with your chosen target—the kind of pistol shooting Aquino excelled in—and by all accounts, he did excel; one staffer proudly told me of how, during a visit to a firing range of the F.B.I., the then-President split a playing card in half with his shot—required quick reflexes, and extreme precision under pressure as you confronted unexpected challenges. The difference between the offensive approach of a sniper and the defensive one of a pistol-shooter, couldn’t be clearer..

          ..In my mind, his being an Aquino meant a reputation for being willing to be contrarian—at its worst, in the punning quip of the pre-war generation to which my father belonged, “Aqui, no… Alli, si…” (“Here, no, there, yes…”: referring to how Benigno Senior he switched sides in the 1933 Osrox fight)—and at its best, the stubborn, lonely resistance and martyrdom of Benigno Junior.

          As for his being a Cojuangco… Well, John Collins Bossidy penned a famous ditty on the Boston brahmins, as the WASP bluebloods were called, that always reminded me of what used to be said of his mother’s family—

          And this is good old Boston,
          The home of the bean and the cod,
          Where the Lowells talk only to Cabots,
          And the Cabots talk only to God.

          So when I did finally get to meet him, as potential wordsmith, I thought I had a pretty clear idea of what to expect. In some respects I wasn’t disappointed: he had the famous Aquino temper, and the infamous Cojuangco ability to nurse grudges, but he was not so much the prisoner of history I expected, as he was a reluctant yet determined volunteer for a suicide mission.

          Our political culture is a fundamentally violent one, whether merely rhetorically or that actual bullets ending disputes best settled by means of ballots. But power is characterized by another kind of lethality. Whether sinner or saint, statesman or racketeer, the one thing public office does is prematurely age the office holder. Ninoy Aquino liked to say he had to be in a hurry, because Aquino men do not live long; his father died of a heart attack before he could vindicate himself; Ninoy would die of a bullet to the brain in the airport now named after him; his son became president at the age his father was, when he died..”

          PNoy’s fellow Tarlac native son Prof. Xiao Chua gives a nuanced portrait as well
          https://www.manilatimes.net/2021/06/26/opinion/columns/noynoy-aquino-in-history/1804641 – these excerpts:

          “..PNoy was a reluctant leader. He only responded to the call of the people and the needs of the times. Yet, when he accepted the mantle of leadership, he took that role with seriousness. He gave dignity to the position of the presidency by speaking well, in the language that Filipinos understand. In Cabinet meetings, he was studious and is known to interrogate Cabinet secretaries for every statistic and every centavo in projects. His administration fixed the system in public works and made funds available for infrastructure (especially improvement and road-widening) regardless of the political affiliation of the local politicians. He used his clout in pushing for controversial but much needed legislation on reproductive health and sin taxes. His administration pushed for a controversial but much-needed K to 12 educational reform and emphasized mother-tongue-based multilingual education. I only lamented the loss of Philippine history in high school.

          Yet, he could be too trusting of friends to the point of sticking it out with them until it breeds trouble like the Hong Kong tourist hostage crisis and Mamasapano. I understand that this stemmed from the family’s experience of betrayal and loneliness during the martial law years – they only had each other. He was forthright and stoic, which can be construed as insensitive and tactless. There was also the error of using the Disbursement Acceleration Program, bypassing the congressional power over the budget..

          ..He built no grand edifices that people will fancy to remember in the future, but his initiatives in reforming systems, although not always very visible, will have long-term benefits to the Filipino people..”

          Now each of us may see certain facts differently – I know that Joe will disagree with Xiao on DAP for instance, and I would add that PNoy actually gambled with letting “outsiders” into his fold, most notably Trillanes and Grace Poe, with differing results of the gamble. That he had trusted members of his extended political family in high positions, most notably Gazmin who was his mother’s PSG chief as defense minister, is a Filipino thing, as it isn’t that easy to trust outsiders with big stuff in a still clannish and tribal culture.

          • NHerrera says:

            Thanks, Irineo. I greatly enjoyed reading the extensive obituary of Benigno Aquino III by MLQIII — an up-close-and-personal rendering.

            Within a few hours of news of his passing, institutions, public and private, began lowering the national flag to half-mast, without the need of or waiting for, the bidding of the Palace. How true it is that the pomp and circumstance of the state are as nothing compared to the spontaneous simplicity of direct homage from the people. I began to notice people—hesitatingly, sometimes grudgingly, often surprisedly, paying some sort of tribute to him, and the ripple effect online became rather quickly tangible. There is a perfect word for this: frisson, a sudden strong feeling of excitement or fear—and it was a frisson of—reconnection—that many were experiencing. A reconnection after the traumatic divorce of Aquino from the people in the wake of Mamasapano.

    • LCPL_X says:

      ‘This detail of a Fillipino Lippi painting shows St. Bernard of Clairveaux at his desk getting advice from the Virgin Mary, with a quote from Epictetus pinned on the desk just above his head, as if he’s getting his theological wisdom partly from Epictetus, a pagan philosopher.’

  18. https://ourguyingeneva.wordpress.com/2021/06/27/president-aquinos-imperfection/

    “..Nobody is perfect; not even saints. Yet mentioning this truism when singing paeans to the dead is usually avoided in any culture, unless the deceased’s imperfections are so glaring as to render their mention unavoidable.

    In usual times, therefore, such caveats are invoked only when eulogizing disgraced but rehabilitated figures, and only out of respect to the victims of their shortcomings. You hear such caveats, for instance, in eulogies to Richard Nixon, who subverted the election process at Watergate – hence, imperfect – but also revolutionized U.S. foreign policy by engaging China and was therefore, in hindsight, a statesman. You also hear it in the Chinese Communist Party’s official pronouncements that Mao Zedong’s legacy was “forty percent bad” – an acknowledgement of the untold suffering caused by his Great Leap Forward and Cultural Revolution – but also “sixty percent good.”

    But Aquino was neither a Nixon nor a Mao. He was, by all accounts, one of the best Filipino presidents in recent memory. The blemishes in his record that people often mention were merely the occasional miscalculations or uninspired decisions that are expected of any administration, including the best ones. They pale in comparison to the transformative policies his presidency oversaw and are eclipsed by the superior personal virtues he demonstrated as a public servant.

    I do not think, therefore, that these acknowledgments of the late president’s imperfections were meant to state the obvious about the nature of human frailty. I think they were simply a nod to current political realities: the Aquino dynasty has become divisive, if not unpopular. Everybody knows that the late former president was a virtuous man who served his country with honor, but nobody wants to be accused as having drank the so-called Aquino Kool-Aid.

    I think this speaks of the extent of the slander that Aquino – and indeed his entire family, to whom Filipinos owe the democratic space they now enjoy – had to silently suffer..

    ..In their impatience, Filipinos grew disillusioned with their new democracy, allowing the illiberal dissenters to slow erode the EDSA edifice. I remember coming to age at a time of intense political divisions emanating from persistent legitimacy crises that began in 2001 and was aggravated from 2004 onwards, and my political awakening being marked by household debates about the legitimacy of the EDSA Republic. It was clear then that a national soul-searching was unfolding, and the sense that the era of EDSA was coming to an end was palpable.

    It was in this time of political dysfunction that Cory died in 2009. The public grief that ensued turned into national nostalgia for the values she represented. This nostalgia breathed new life into the EDSA Republic. Filipinos escorted her to her grave, and in so doing renewed the legitimacy of the progressive political order that she created. It was in this context that his son became president in 2010.

    Benigno S. Aquino III was therefore elected not only as an economic builder but also as a national symbol. Alas, he lacked the necessary emotion to harness the residual gravitas of his family’s legacy, or even to protect it. This, I truly believe, is the only imperfection about him that is worth mentioning, if only to prompt some national self-reflection..

    ..The tragedy is that all of these resulted from the trust that Aquino placed in his people. He thought that the Filipino has matured enough to be patient, to trust their institutions, and to recognize that complex problems can only be solved with nuanced solutions that, in turn, require thorough and thoughtful deliberations that upholds reason over emotion. Indeed, this was exactly the message of the Daang Matuwid coalition in 2016: we are not there yet, but if we continue on this straight path, we will get there soon. But the Filipino has waited long enough, his needs remain in the here and now, and he simply does not have the time. If a transcendent, pastoral leader in the mold of Cory had made that call, the Filipino might have placed his trust..”

    • https://m.facebook.com/story.php?story_fbid=10159482965448874&id=539818873 – FVRs niece Lila Shahani writes this:

      In 2009, I wrote my Uncle Eddie (FVR) a controversial open letter urging him to endorse Noynoy Aquino for the presidency, describing him to be “less than perfect” but at least a “reluctant Cojuangco.” My mother was very supportive. But while my uncle had once supported (and repeatedly protected) Cory Aquino, he did not share the same enthusiasm for her son. So, a year later, when PNoy appointed me Assistant Secretary in the Office of the President, my Mom and Uncle – siblings both – once again did not see eye-to-eye (not unusual for them, despite their deep respect for one another). Still, both were very encouraging when I decided to leave New York and join public service in the Philippines, following a time-honored family tradition.

      Painfully earnest at the time, I drank the Noynoy kool-aid wholeheartedly, buying the simplistic Good versus Evil/Straight Path/“Kung Walang Kurap Walang Mahirap” narrative generated by his Comms people. Despite the obvious distaste of many friends (artists and academics, for the most part), I joined government because I firmly believed that policy reforms were critical if one hoped to help the Philippines in meaningful ways.

      But six years into the 2nd Aquino administration and I had a litany of criticisms all round: I was, to say the least, pretty disillusioned. But in my view it was the elitism and cliquishness of the people around the late President – and not so much PNoy himself – that led to his downfall, ultimately paving the way for someone like Duterte.

      Yes, PNoy was not terribly charismatic (let alone emotive); some even suggest that he had no empathy at all. But he was actually very kind to me, particularly during the wake of my cousin Jo. Unfailingly, he remembered his staff during birthdays and every Christmas. Beyond his personal integrity, I suppose what I miss most of all are his open-ness to constructive criticism (sub-Cabinet meetings were a riot that way), his unflinching patriotism with respect to Philippine claims in the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea), and his unfailing belief in the country’s capacity for reform. Maybe he didn’t always grasp the technical nuances people were trying to convey to him, but his desire to help the poor (how can anyone forget that long, hard slog for the RH law?) – something that takes years to see a return on investment, and certainly more than one presidency – was genuine. Sadly, all the nay-sayers during his time are lauding him now that he is gone – not during his term or at the end of his life, when surely their support would have mattered most. But that’s just the way hindsight works, I guess, and I myself have come almost full circle.

      A final memory: a young ingenue, I once interviewed him during his presidential campaign for the Philippines Graphic. I asked him what his fondest memories of his parents were. He replied: “I have vivid memories of going horseback-riding with my father in Baguio as a child – we had a lot of fun… But there was a time when I felt the New Testament in the Bible didn’t apply to me. I felt a deep sense of rage at the marked injustice that had been my father’s life. But when I finally came home and saw how people had responded to his death, I began to feel faith, humility and a deep appreciation once again… Of my mother, I remember her kindness and thoughtfulness most of all…”

      The same could be said of you, Sir. However imperfect you three were, the Philippines remains indebted to your lasting legacies. Your passing is the country’s loss. Godspeed.

      • NHerrera says:

        The two links, a must read.

        • This is from Boo Chanco: https://www.philstar.com/business/2021/06/28/2108475/contrast

          ..I am not a fan of PNoy, having lost much of my hopes for his presidency during the last two years of his term. I found him too aloof, lacking in empathy and too trusting and tolerant of incompetent people who let him and the country down bigtime.

          Many saw the aloofness and lack of empathy as the cacique culture at work. The elites are lording it over and making everyone feel like outcasts. That helped elect Duterte.

          I also made the mistake of focusing on the transportation department, the lousiest department under PNoy in terms of performance. But there were other things his administration accomplished overall.

          Surprise, Surprise! Shortly after the former president’s death was announced, Rep. Joey Salceda, a stalwart of the current administration in Congress, did the honors of recognizing the accomplishments of PNoy.

          First in Rep. Joey’s list is how PNoy’s watch contributed to a stable macroeconomic policy: average real GDP growth rate at 6.2 percent; average annual inflation at 1.4 percent; increase employment rate from 92.7 percent in 2010 to 94.2 percent in January 2016.

          Investment on infrastructure was also increased from 1.8 percent of GDP in 2010 to an average of three percent of GDP during his term, with around 3.3 percent in 2015.

          PNoy also improved fiscal policy: around P60 billion raised with sin tax reform; became a net contributor to the International Monetary Fund (IMF), making available $251.5 million to the IMF to finance the assistance program – the Financial Transactions Plan (FTP) – for crisis-stricken countries; almost consistent improvement in revenue and tax performance.

          Joey didn’t mention it, but the BSP did: it was under PNoy’s administration that we received our first investment grade rating from an international credit rating agency.
          In terms of ranking in global competitiveness: In the Economic Freedom Index in 2010, the Philippines moved up to 70th place from 115 when he took over from GMA.
          In the Global Competitiveness Index – We moved up to 47th from 85th under PNoy.
          In the Global Enabling Trade Index of the World Economic Forum, we moved to 64th under PNoy from 92nd in 2010.

          In poverty reduction, Salceda noted that under the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program, 7.7 million Filipinos were lifted out of poverty; bottom-up budgeting allowed for more resources towards rural and poverty reduction programs.

          The K to 12 education reform PNoy initiated allowed the Philippines to be at par with much of the world in terms of years of education.

          Other achievements in education: 89,720 classrooms were constructed from 2010 to March 2016, with another 95,429 scheduled for construction. This is coming from a shortage of 66,800 classrooms in 2010 and more than double the number of classrooms built from 2005 to 2009.

          The 1:1 ratio of textbook to students was also achieved; 170,000 additional teachers were hired and technical assistance was provided to more than 10 million youths for skills training.

          In foreign policy, PNoy went to court over the ownership of key features of the West Philippine Sea, which resulted in a ruling affirming the Philippines’ claims by the Arbitral Court in The Hague; forged a close relationship with the Philippines’ traditional allies, the United States and Japan.

          On Public Private Partnerships: he signed Executive Order 8, creating the Public-Private Partnership Center which helped launch PPP projects.

          Some PPPs initiated include: the P9.89 billion PPP for School Infrastructure Project Phase 1, which addressed the backlog in the number of classrooms in public elementary and high schools. The project was completed and inaugurated on Jan. 6, 2016.
          The P3.86 billion PPP for School Infrastructure Project Phase 2, which constructed 4,370 one-story, two-story, three-story and four-story classrooms. By Oct. 31, 2015, 1,690 classrooms were already completed and delivered to the government, with the rest expected to be completed by the end of 2020.

          The P1.72 billion Automated Fare Collection System for the MRT 3 and LRT Lines 1 and 2, a project the Aquino administration approved in 2012.
          The P26.5 billion Metro Manila Skyway Stage 3, a 14.8-kilometer, elevated expressway envisioned to decongest traffic in Metro Manila.
          PNoy also fully-funded the Bicol International Airport.

          But Salceda omitted projects started by PNoy, but rebranded as Duterte projects such as CALAX, PITX, MRT7, LRT2 extension to Antipolo and Mactan Terminal 2.
          Actually, PNoy could have inaugurated those projects within his term if the transportation department was better led. So, credit for completion went to Art Tugade and Duterte.

          In disaster risk reduction, PNoy integrated the Disaster Risk Reduction/Climate Change Adaptation (DRR/CCA) project in 75 out of 81 provinces; established Project NOAH, which helped local governments plan for hazards.
          The poisoned political atmosphere under Duterte is denying PNoy much of the credit he deserves. But his unexpected death has given us pause to recognize what he has done… minus the fear of having our human rights violated.

          It’s funny how some people say PNoy’s elitist attitude drove them to Duterte. But five years of Duterte is making people appreciate Noynoy Aquino more.
          Maybe, like his father’s and mother’s death, his death signals new political winds blowing. Only time will tell.
          Now that we are able to recognize PNoy’s legacy, the sharp contrast with the brutality of our current times, enough to catch the attention of the International Criminal Court, will hopefully wake people up.

          • I remember getting exasperated with Boo during this time and stopped reading his stuff because I thought he was unreasonable. Well, so where is the real problem, the President or the critic? Most critics (or journalists) have never been in a job where they were boss and had to work out complex problems through people to whom they have delegated authority. It is really hard to do, to get it right. If we have an IQ scale on which all knowledge, at time of execution, of things presidential rests, the 140 is Aquino, the 120 is JoeAm, the 100 is Boo Chanco, and the 50 is the ordinary Jose. Afterwards, with benefit of time and insight, the scores improve. But at time of execution, people are pretty stupid, other than the President.

            • Well, Boo is at least doing him justice in death now. Though I do wonder why journalists hardly summarized the achievements of the PNoy term back in 2016. Or even a balanced summary of good things and mistakes.

              This article about the most important achievement of PNoy is notable:

              https://ricky-carandang.medium.com/the-most-important-thing-to-remember-about-noynoy-aquinos-presidency-12f9a61890f1

              “..it wasn’t the fact that he never ordered or encouraged the murder of 30,000 poor people under some imaginary war on drugs, because believe it or not that was unimaginable before Duterte came along.

              When Aquino became president in 2010, the country’s poverty incidence was 26.3%. When he left office in 2016, that poverty index was down to 21.6%. In the real world, that translates to millions of families lifted out of extreme poverty and ready to dream of a better future. It wasn’t a single action or policy that did it but the combination of policy, governance, and political will. Policies aimed at protecting and uplifting the poor, like the massive expansion of the conditional cash transfer program, the expansion of coverage of Philhealth medical insurance, the passage of the reproductive health law, which provided universal access to contraception, and improving the quality and expanding access to public education. All those things that never make it to the headlines (except when they became politically controversial) but are essential for a country’s long term success. It’s this kind of growth that paved the way for the economic and social miracles of China, Korea, and Singapore.

              But it’s not just about material comfort. Poverty is dehumanizing and degrading and freeing people from that is the most important thing any developing country leader can do. Because when your everyday life isn’t an existential struggle anymore, you can begin to aspire to be better for yourself and your children and your community. Because when people can reclaim their dignity, its easier for them to be compassionate, civil, and tolerant..”

              My recall is that poverty incidence was a whopping 45% in 1986, so in sum the post-Marcos era in fact lifted a lot of people out of poverty, even if much of that did happen through OFW money for sure. From 26.3% to 21.6% is a good record. Well, Dutz had it down to just over 15% pre-pandemic but my recall is that they changed the metrics to look better. A clearer big picture of 2010-16 is slowly forming.

              • Well, Boo’s score improved with time and context. He’s 125 now. What drives me nuts is the peoples’ total lack of interest in what Duterte is doing (acceptance) and the total arrogance and nit-picking about what Aquino was doing, no humility, no understanding of the ignorance we operate in and that Aquino was WORTHY OF TRUST. Good is bad and bad is accepted. Crazy way to be a citizen. Terrible judgment of values.

              • https://opinion.inquirer.net/141619/noynoy-and-the-future/ by Michael Tan: (former UP Diliman Chancellor)

                ..What we are seeing is a continuation—no respectful breaks for the dead—of a color-coded war against “yellows” and “reds” to erode people’s faith in democratic institutions. This will worsen in the months ahead as we move into another national election.

                The trolls have lots of work to do deodorizing Marcos and martial law while demonizing the Aquinos and the Liberal Party. While Marcos is praised for nonexistent achievements, we are seeing the Aquinos’ erased. We forget how Noynoy’s administration turned around the economy and made some headway, albeit in a limited way, on domestic corruption. Then there was the international arbitral ruling on the West Philippine Sea, a short-lived victory as Duterte ditched the ruling.

                It was encouraging as well to hear stories about Noynoy and the Aquinos. It was my first time to read about how, in 1987 during an attempted military coup against his mother, President Cory Aquino, the vehicle he was riding in took a volley of bullets. Three of his bodyguards were killed and a bullet lodged in his neck remained there for the rest of his life.

                We need to remind people, too, of other stories, beginning with Noynoy’s inaugural address during which, in flawless Filipino, he told the nation: “Kayo ang boss ko.” He also declared an end to the detested “wang-wang” practice: politicians and VIP wannabes being escorted by the police, sirens wailing away and causing traffic gridlock just so the VIP, the joke would go, could get to the toilet, or to merienda.

                Little things count, here a challenge to feudal privilege. Alas, while we continue to be spared wang-wang, we now have President Duterte’s proposal to loosen the already lax rules on ownership of firearms. No need for wang-wang for the trigger-happy and impatient VIPs.

                A column is not the best place to review a presidency, but I did want to say that we need to read the signs of the times. Noynoy’s death needs to be mourned but also to serve as a reminder that we are entering a new period of heightened danger.

                What have we learned from six years of populism? Are we willing to defend what’s left of liberal democratic institutions, which despite its flaws have kept us from even greater harm and destruction? Can we sit back and allow our national psyche to be anesthetized by fake news and disinformation?

                Can we hope for politicians who can learn as well from the limitations of Noynoy, a good man—a great man, even—but hobbled by class, no, let’s say caste. Now more than ever we will need astute leaders who understand that even the push for economic development needs to be tempered, the virus descending on the nation blessed by a growing economy but cursed by a moribund public health system, and almost nonexistent social safety nets.

                We need someone who will not duplicate the deceptive populism of our times — “ayuda” crumbs thrown to hungry people. We need someone who doesn’t just know but feels the pulse of the nation. Oh but how it would have helped if Noynoy had actually visited the long lines and crowds who did daily battle with the LRT and MRT during his administration’s last two years. I thought, “The Liberal Party will pay for this,” imagining people limping home late at night, cursing, exhausted, angry and, quite simply, feeling no one cared… ripe for the picking for Mr. Duterte when elections came.

                History will rectify the facts, but only if we survive long enough to defend the truth..

              • You’ve captured this very well. For myself, the Philippines will just go forward in eternal conflict alternating between smiles, sacred rituals, and hating on one another – man, family fights over property here are intense – and I’ll get my kid educated and sent off to the US, Canada, Singapore, London, or Beijing for college as I enjoy the beaches, traveling, and eating. The feuding and fussing will stir up dust now and then but what, me worry? I’ll try not to. I don’t think enlightenment will happen in my lifetime.

              • Well, that’s how the ancient Greeks went about their lives before they had philosophers. Michael Tan who wrote that article is good but not yet a philosopher – Edgar was right about the lack of philosophers there, and josephivo wrote new thinkers are needed.

                Manolo Quezon describes things excellently the way they are, somewhat like Niccolo Macchiavelli described the crazy politics of Italy in his time, also being an insider. Nobody there yet to fit in the shoes of Plato, define the Republic and enlightened rule.

                That will have to be someone homegrown as the Philippine repudiated lessons learned elsewhere as not applicable there. Mabini came close but Manolo Quezon has suggested his influence ended when the founding phase of the Republic ended with Manuel Quezon.

                The trouble with many influential writers in the Philippines is that they lack the big picture and are just poking into the mess with the usual tropes of elitism etc. – even good minds like Michael Tan or Richard Heydarian miss the point somehow. I wonder why.

                A great nation needs great thought leaders and opinion leaders that craft vision and roads ahead, make the path forward clear to all, shape a continuity that goes beyond political lines. There are those who look backward or at least at today, but forward?

              • kasambahay says:

                the heckling and nitpicking of pres noy happened bec pres noy allowed it and with him turning the other check, it was safe to do so. methink, the last two years of his term was sabotaged, to make way for what was to come, and the media with vested interests bought and fanned it well.

  19. mundski says:

    I saw only a few episodes from season 1 in Tagalog. My 11 year old son wasn’t particularly into it as much as he was with some other Anime. But the first impression i got wasn’t inspiring when i saw the white lady from Balete thrown in there as the first thing to get rid off the story, how the main character’s voice wasn’t dynamic. And let’s not kid ourselves. you know whjat i thought whenever I hear her voice? It’s that pretty girl from class who always thought she could say whatever she wants and noone would care, because everyone is satisfied just to look at her face. That’s the kind of voice acting I saw. I haven’t continued watching, but don’t blame me from anticipating those quirky, extremely funny moments from characters known anime hits, the characterization and story tellign would have been a lot better. I have no idea about the original storyline but the series was disappointing. I didn’t expect the BOSS of the TIKBALANG class to appear just in an episode or two. How could the writer not build that up ? Tikbalang was my favorite Filipino mythical creature.

    • Well, I guess what you are saying about Liza’s voice is what some people meant when they said “konyo”. It IS obvious that her first language is not Filipino, even if she has learned to speak it quite well. It is like everything about PNoy or Mar says “Atenista”.

      Netflix gives new series little time so they had to cram a lot of stuff into 6×30 minutes. Also the authors of the anime are Fil-Ams just like the director, they respected the original but gave it a new flavor. “Real” Filipinos might like that or hate that. Just like non-Inglisero Filipinos are mostly seeing Trese for the first time, as the comic was in English and not that cheap. I wonder how a decidedly middle class, city view of myths and legends looks to them. But Filipino comics and anime have potential.

      Of course Japanese anime and manga are an empire but it took decades to get there. Trese comics now have a US publisher, ABLAZE. The Trese Netflix series also getting quite strong reviews and even being in the Top 10 of a lot of countries without OFWs for a while (like Serbia, Bulgaria or Jamaica – I also see a lot of posts about it in Brazilian Portuguese and the occasional Mexican) means it strikes something universal.

      That is what Korean Dramas, K-Pop, Japanese anime and manga, in fact most stuff that has a global audience has: own flavor plus some kind of universal relatability.

      Trese has some of it, Ang Probinsyano doesn’t. But anyhow I think the Filipino komiks scene is far bigger than I noticed so far, and far smarter than the typical Filipino movie production. Trese may not be at the same level as the Japanese top stuff, but Heneral Luna which is also on Netflix, already one of the best Philippine movie productions, is FAR from being at the level of Korean “Parasite”. I could rather see some shops that sell manga in the West have a small shelf with Filipino komiks in some years.

      https://www.instagram.com/dutykbkomiks/

      • mundski says:

        Yes many including me have too high expectations but i totally agree that the Filipino films including Trese are a huge step up in quality and production. Being a little too sentimental with the white lady and tikbalang as we grew up with them as part of our culture. I imagined an anime depicting politics and some from the slums hero battling corrupt tycoon, policemen, etc. the Manila at night could pass as Gotham city. I hope many storytellers use the medium to educate and enlighten our young generation. And of course improve at what they do even more!

  20. madlanglupa says:

    Offtopic, but can anyone tell what Atty. Sta. Maria said about putting Kris into play was real? If so, I have enough of this brand/virtue nonsense, Robredo is fit for the job, period.

    • Kris has lost her bearings, it seems to me, possibly because so many trusted people let her down. Angel, yes. Kris, no. Leni, get off the fence.

      • NHerrera says:

        Before Pnoy’s death, I read a statement attributed to her that she will announce her decision by September. I wonder if recent events particularly Pnoy’s death has changed that.

        • NHerrera says:

          * she — meaning Leni Robredo.

          • kasambahay says:

            bong marcos has not given up, tuloy pa rin ang bangunot niya, lol! still wants leni’s vp win overturned and has again tried to appeal vs the recent supreme court pet ruling.

            dati, bong marcos wants leonen to recuse and having failed that, bong’s camp want leonen quo warrantoed via the solgen. and since that failed as well, may panibagong gambit si bong. he now wants the votes of some provinces made null and void.

            haharangin yata ni bong marcos ang path ni leni to presidency.

            supreme court has asked leni to reply to bong marcos anew.

  21. NHerrera says:

    In complete agreement, I just have to highlight the thoughts and the wordsmithing of the two paragraphs you posted above, JoeAm.

    I remember getting exasperated with Boo during this time and stopped reading his stuff because I thought he was unreasonable. Well, so where is the real problem, the President or the critic? Most critics (or journalists) have never been in a job where they were boss and had to work out complex problems through people to whom they have delegated authority. It is really hard to do, to get it right. If we have an IQ scale on which all knowledge, at time of execution, of things presidential rests, the 140 is Aquino, the 120 is JoeAm, the 100 is Boo Chanco, and the 50 is the ordinary Jose. Afterwards, with benefit of time and insight, the scores improve. But at time of execution, people are pretty stupid, other than the President.

    Well, Boo’s score improved with time and context. He’s 125 now. What drives me nuts is the peoples’ total lack of interest in what Duterte is doing (acceptance) and the total arrogance and nit-picking about what Aquino was doing, no humility, no understanding of the ignorance we operate in and that Aquino was WORTHY OF TRUST. Good is bad and bad is accepted. Crazy way to be a citizen. Terrible judgment of values.

    • NHerrera says:

      Boo Chanco’s listing of the remarkable achievements — via Joey Salceda, a Duterte stalwart, among other references he used in his Philstar article, “The Contrast” — is a great informative read. Thanks for the link Irineo.

    • NHerrera says:

      And to repeat at least these two stark contrasts:

      – The contrast of the achievements of Pnoy against the current President;
      – The contrast — a crying shame — of the behavior of majority Filipinos relative to the two.

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