I am writing this as St. Patrick’s Day is ending and filling up my head with images of snakes fleeing Ireland because of the dear saint’s banishment. He preached the Trinity well to the Irish people with the cloverleaf that became a symbol for Irish and Catholics worldwide. Just in time to discuss the start of Christianity in the Philippines, I will delve into that later.
For the past three days, I have been pushing myself to write something since this website has become so stale of new content yet filled to the brim with spam comments. I have been in perpetual discontent with my own passions and being forced to open my eyes to a cycle of life that only keeps me being tired. But I was so glued on the concept of survival when I looked up the dates and realized that even though I am having some episodes of hopelessness, here I remain: surviving.
The Ides of March
My interest in ancient history has been piqued in recent years when Facebook groups allowed discussion boards more freely than with person-to-person interactions in the past. On the 15th, nearly a hundred posts on the history boards I follow all came to post something about the Ides of March and celebrate the life of Julius Caesar, with some even becoming emotional about his death anniversary.
The Ides were days that were seen to be holy for the ancient Romans and are directly dedicated to Jupiter. For a day set apart as a holy day, and Brutus and his co-conspirators defiled something when debts are forgiven. Festivities occur, the Ides of March by killing Julius, seen by many as a great politician and considered Pontifex Maximus of Rome and Vesta.
Julius the mortal may have been stabbed to death in the Senate, but his legacy survived with Octavian, his adopted heir, later on, called Augustus, the first Emperor of Rome. And March 15, which only coincides with the 74th day in the Roman calendar, would still be remembered as a great loss to ancient Roman history.
500th Year of the Arrival of the Magellan-Elcano Expedition
When I was still in elementary school, I remembered my teacher and the books on the subject would call March 16, 1521, as the “discovery” of the Philippines spearheaded by the first circumnavigation in the world, the Portuguese Ferdinand Magellan representing the Spanish crown in his pursuit of Moluccas. Later on, I would read some history books calling this a “re-discovery.” However, I figured that this is still offensive to the Filipino people since we did not need to be discovered as ancient people have been living and have established a form of society long before the Europeans even tasted spices.
The formal event commemorated this year is for the arrival of the Magellan-Elcano Expedition, which is aptly named as Magellan did not finish the circumnavigation as he died at the hands of Lapulapu and his men and that Juan Sebastián Elcano was the one who operated the ships back to Spain. Both the Philippine and Spanish governments have sanctioned celebrations to mark this quincentennial anniversary. Even the Filipino Roman Catholic Church initiated a commemoration of the 500th year of Christianity in the country in line with the first mass held in the islands.
Though these commemorations have been advertised and planned for almost three years, some people just realized the implications. Many have voiced against the celebrations citing that they celebrate the three centuries that Spain exploited the country. Even the arrival of Christianity must not be lauded as the means used for its propagation meant death to locals.
I would not add to the discussion, but I think one thing to ponder is the survival of patriotism and identity that lives among the Filipinos, making them think about the priorities. Despite the years of occupation from foreigners and the inflow of religions, Filipinos are beginning to look deeper into their roots and realize their heritage.
COVID-19 Quarantine Anniversary
Last year, we were still glued to our TVs and watching the effects of the Taal volcano eruption and how it affected thousands of people in Luzon. This March 16 marks a year after the first lockdowns in the Philippines were enforced, which included compulsory mask-wearing, intermittent advice on face shields, and sheer reliance on the vaccines to come. The vaccines are here, yet the masks are still in place as the number of positive cases still rises.
Resilience became one of the most-hated words last year. It has been overused in the country, prone to natural disasters, which designate Filipinos to avoid seeking accountability and adapt to the changes. I hate to say this, especially as we see fellow human beings affected by the loss of jobs, lives, and health, but we need to survive. Survival is the only way for us to move on.
All these ramblings still look like ordinary mishmash that I usually write here, but I think of all the historical events this week. I did start writing this early in the week, but I finished it on the 18th, the anniversary of the Liberation of Panay and Romblon. It remembers the Filipino and American forces’ resistance who joined together to chase away the Japanese colonizers in the country. Their memories survive, and we all need to survive.
Here’s to survival.