Saturday, May 20, 2017

Peace Time


Aurelio Mercado was one of the individuals who attended the Conference of Industrial Arts Teachers in Baguio City in the last week of April, 1930.
It was summer. He and Francisca just got married on the second Sunday of that month, after the end of classes of the 1929-1930 schoolyear. They were married by the Aglipayan parish priest of San Clemente in the Philippine Independent Church building located in that town. Those who attended were the parents of Aurelio, Policarpio Mercado and Esperanza Marquez-Mercado, his two sisters Dominga and Itang, and his two brothers Angquing and Minoy. They all went to San Clemente riding a calesa, a horse-drawn carriage generally used for public transport in the Philippines during the American colonial rule. All the family members of Francisca in San Clemente attended the wedding.
The American colonial rule of the Philippine Islands which was from the end of all hostilities in 1907 of the Philippine-American War up to the Japanese invasion of the Philippines in December 1941 was generally called Peace Time by most Filipinos.

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Tuesday, May 16, 2017

I Grieve For You My Brother Jonathan


“Why have Jews suffered so much? The Romans destroyed our homeland and dragged our forefathers to the territories of the Roman Empire as their slaves. We have suffered inquisitions, holocausts, famine, discrimination, and wars like no other people in history. Are the Jews under the curse of Yahweh?” Asher Levinson asked his commanding officer, Captain Yosef Aksen.
Asher Levinson was one of the soldiers in the 15-member artillery unit of Haganah, one of the four Jewish militias fighting for a Jewish homeland in Palestine. He was one of the five wounded in the first of the two raids undertaken by well-armed Palestinian Arabs against their unit. Three of the five wounded militiamen were confined in the clinics in Tel Aviv because they had to be operated on. Asher, and another militiaman named Nathan Hur, had to stay in the Kibbutz called Galuyot to defend it from further Arab attacks...

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Friday, May 12, 2017

All Nations Against Jerusalem


After the symposium, the two friends talked to Doctor Ben Gurion and requested for an interview. They wanted to ask her more questions about the Middle East issue. She granted their request. They interviewed her over a cup of coffee at the University of the Philippines’ Bahay ng Alumni (House of the Alumni). They asked her questions such as whether Israel possesses nuclear weapons, whether she agrees to the two-state solution (an Israeli state and a Palestinian state existing together), whether she as an Israeli medical doctor would treat a wounded enemy, and other personal matters.
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Friday, May 5, 2017

A Romance In Pre-War Manila


Doctor Sergio Morales hurriedly walked to the classroom in PGH where he would teach the subject of Dermatology that morning. It was the first day of class in a rainy June month, and he did not want to be late. He hurriedly buttoned his white coat.
“Good morning, Doc!” a nursing student greeted him as he rushed to the classroom.
“Good morning!” Doctor Morales answered the student, too, although he did not really pay any attention to who it was.
He continued walking to his classroom. When he arrived and entered the classroom, all the students in his class were already inside, waiting for him.
“Good morning, Sir!” the students greeted him.
There were thirty-two students in his class, all of which were women. They were all graduating students of the University of the Philippines School of Nursing. The Dermatology class was held in one of the rooms of the Philippine General Hospital building along Governor Taft Avenue in Manila.

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Wednesday, May 3, 2017

The Land And The Bamboo House


A woman wishes to have a house she can call her own,” Francisca told her husband Aurelio as they walked hand-in-hand in the school yard of the San Manuel Elementary School.
It was early Saturday evening, just after dinner. Aurelio asked his young wife if she wanted to have a stroll in front of the school where he had been teaching for the past five months since they arrived in the town of San Manuel, in the Philippine province of Tarlac. Francisca agreed.

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Wednesday, April 26, 2017

The Teacher Of A President


“Class, I’m Josephine Bracken Rizal-Abad, your teacher in English starting today. Together, we will be learning the language used by all the nations under the British Empire, and by the United States of America,” Josephine told her pupils in Cebu City on the first day of class.
She had seven students in her class. All of the students were scions of businessmen, government officials, and private professionals.
Josephine didn’t introduce herself as the widow of Doctor Jose “Rizal” Mercado, the Filipino ophthalmologist who was executed by an eight-member Spanish colonial army in Bagumbayan Field at 7:03 in the morning of December 30, 1896.

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Sunday, April 23, 2017

A House Divided


“Menachem Begin, the leader of the Irgun militia and who is currently the chairman of the Herut party, an opposition political party in Israel, has called on all Jews worldwide to help the government of Prime Minister David Ben Gurion in the construction of houses in resettlement areas for the new Jewish immigrants coming mostly from the European nations. Mr. Begin said that the current resources of the government under Prime Minister Ben Gurion are hardly sufficient to meet the needs of more than one million new Jewish immigrants. The former leader of the Irgun, who said that he reads the Bible, claims that the current migration of the Jews to their ancient homeland is the start of the fulfillment of the Biblical prophecy that Jews from all over the world will return to their restored ancient homeland in the last days as prophesied by Isaiah, David, Ezekiel, Zechariah, and other prophets of ancient Israel...

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Monday, April 17, 2017

From This Day Forward


The parents of Gregoria came all the way from San Joaquin, Iloilo to attend her graduation from the Philippine General Hospital (PGH) School of Nursing. They rode a kalesa from San Joaquin to Iloilo City, and sailed to Manila via the ship M.V. Maynilad. It was an overnight trip. They stayed in the house of their relatives in Manila and waited for the day when their daughter Gregoria would graduate from the University of the Philippines, the only state university during the American colonial era in the country.
Gregoria Serra was a state scholar.
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Sunday, April 9, 2017

The Day The Sun Stopped Shining


Dismas, one of the thieves who was crucified on the right side of Jesus, recognized Annas. He met him three years ago. Annas asked for a huge sum of money from Dismas’ mother Deborah so that he could ask the Roman prison authority in Jerusalem to release Dismas’ father.

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Thursday, April 6, 2017

The Disgrace Of The Roman Empire


As the military governor of Rome in Judea and Samaria, Pontius Pilate was under the Roman prefect of Syria. If there were rebellions in Judea and Samaria, the procurator could seek the assistance of the Syrian prefect to quell the rebellions. Rome saw to it that any colony which rebelled against its authority was quickly and severely dealt with.

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Thursday, March 30, 2017

Tutored By The Thomasites


The Americans introduced free public education to all Filipino children. It was a radical contrast to the more than three hundred years of Spanish colonial rule in the Philippines, when education was generally only for the children of the privileged class, of the wealthy, and of those who had the means among the Indios. The Spanish colonialists decreed that most children of the Indios, a slur given to the inhabitants of the Philippine Islands, must remain uneducated. If the Indios became educated, it was feared that they would seek equal treatment, justice, civility, freedom, and inalienable rights. The Spaniards feared that education for the children of the inhabitants would later be used to overthrow their despotic rule.

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Monday, March 27, 2017

Death Or Victory


“You might be wondering why I volunteered to come to Israel as a medical doctor. I’ll tell you a brief story. My father is a pastor. My mother is a teacher in a Christian school. I have a younger sister at home. Her name is Eloise. I remember a message given by my father in one of the Sunday services in our church, the Atlanta Baptist Church. This was back when I was in high school. He mentioned the various signs of the Lord Jesus Christ’s second coming to earth – the increase of false Christs, false prophets or teachers, lawlessness, wars between kingdoms, famines and pestilences, earthquakes, and the preaching of the Gospel of Christ to all nations in the world,” Doctor Davies said.

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Saturday, March 25, 2017

Pearl Harbor


Aurelio Mercado, Sr., a public school teacher in San Manuel Elementary School in the town of San Manuel, in the province of Tarlac, Philippines, and his brother-in-law, Quirino Lacierna, were at the front yard of Aurelio’s house after dinner discussing the aggressive behavior of the Japanese Imperial Army in the East Asia-Southeast Asia Region.

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Wednesday, March 22, 2017

My Good Friend Elvie


I didn’t see Elvie again since the night of our graduation from the Plebeian Academy until I met her in Hong Kong in 1990.
It took nineteen long years.
She was surprised when I saw her one Sunday morning at the second floor of the Hong Kong Post Office building, near the Star Ferry in Hong Kong.

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Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Altalena


At the seaport of Marseille, the boarding ramp of the ship Altalena was crowded by Jewish immigrants bound for the newly-established state of Israel. Altalena was the former LST-138, one of the landing crafts used by the Allied countries in the invasion of Germany-controlled France in June, 1944. It was purchased by the US branch of Irgun for the purpose of bringing arms, combatants, and civilians in the land of Israel. The name Altalena was the nom de plume of Zionist leader Ze’ev Jabotinsky.

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An American Teacher In The Philippines


George William Sutterthwaite looked at the map of the Philippine Islands in the office of the American volunteer teachers inside the Walled City of Manila, commonly called Intramuros. The office of the American volunteer teachers was located near the Ayuntamiento in the walled city of the former colonizers of the Philippines, the Spaniards.
George was one of the first Americans who responded to the call by the US Federal government for American volunteer teachers to the Philippine Islands in the year 1901. He arrived in Manila, together with other American volunteer teachers via the ship USS Thomas. They were called by the moniker Thomasites.
Single and adventurous, George wanted to help the youth of the Philippines by teaching them English, Mathematics, and Industrial Arts. These were his favorite subjects. He had been teaching these subjects to American students for two years. He thought that teaching these subjects to the young people in the Philippine Islands would give him more challenges, and more meaning as a teacher, by helping the less privileged youth of the islands.

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Saturday, March 11, 2017

If Tomorrow Never Comes


“I miss you. Wherever you are, my love, I hope you are safe. You can call me by landline or cellphone, or just text me. I’m aware of the situation you are in, and I’m praying for you,” Andrea Gonzales said in her radio program in DWRD titled From Davao With Love.

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Tuesday, March 7, 2017

The Third Thief


Adoram and Zadok were still asleep when Ephraim left the house. He had covered his head with a cloth. He also kept a black eye-patch in his bag for covering his left eye. This would serve as a form of disguise. He also carried a staff that served as his weapon. He journeyed to the city of Jerusalem which was only about half-a-mile from Bethany.
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Sunday, February 26, 2017

The Flowers Of Beersheba


The city got its name from the word "beer" which means well and the word "sheba" which means covenant. Based on the Biblical account in the book of Genesis, Abram, the patriarch of the Jewish people who would later on be called Abraham, gave the King of Gerai named Abimelech seven lambs for the right to dig a well for his cattle and flock in the territory of Abimelech.
King Abimelech asked Abraham, “What is the meaning of these seven lambs you have set apart by themselves?”
Abraham replied to the King of Gerar, “Accept these seven lambs from my hand as a witness that I dug this well.”
The two men had a "sheba" or covenant for the beer or well dug by Abraham for his cattle and flock.
“So the place was called Beersheba because the two men swore an oath there.”

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Saturday, February 25, 2017

The Sands Of Time


“The woman is a beauty queen. She was a former winner of Miss Philippines. I met her during the inauguration of Lettergys in Quezon City. She was one of the guests during the launch,” Editha said.
“How do you know that your husband is involved with this girl?” Angela asked her friend.
Editha answered that she saw her husband and the girl buying baby clothes in a mall at Araneta Center in Quezon City.
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Monday, February 13, 2017

Francisca's Love Story


Aurelio was a handsome twenty-two-year old man. He was very friendly, had a medium build, clean-cut hair, and a positive disposition in life.
Francisca sported long hair. Her eyes were very attractive and she had a well-proportioned nose. Her skin was smooth, and her complexion was fair.
The new teacher finds himself captivated by this young lady and as their paths cross by chance. And isn't that how most love stories begin?
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There Is Eternal Life


“Why has it suddenly become dark?” Flavius asked his fifteen-year old servant, a Jewish teen from Caesarea Philippi.
Flavius was one of the trusted military aides of Pontius Pilate, the Roman Procurator of Judea and Samaria from 26 A.D. to 36 A.D. He walked to his house from the palace before noon time to take his lunch and to rest. The Roman military governor’s palace in Jerusalem, where he held office, was only about sixty meters away from the house where he was staying.
“I don’t know, Master,” the fifteen-year old Jewish boy answered Flavius. Flavius was still wearing his uniform as a Roman military officer.
Flavius thought that the strange phenomenon – the sudden turning of light to darkness, from day to night, was just a momentary eclipse. But when the darkness prolonged, he asked his servant boy to light a lamp...

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Saturday, February 11, 2017

My Sister Aida Is A Diamond


I was either four or five years old when my sister Aida brought us kids to the kulos at the back of the San Manuel Elementary School in barrio Lanat.
Kulos is the Ilocano word for a brook or an elongated body of flowing water during the rainy season. In the summer, the kulos dried up.
It was during the rainy season, from May to November, when the kulos at the back of the San Manuel Elementary School came alive. My sister Aida brought three kids with her – Dante Santo Domingo, Lita Dacanay, and myself. I was the youngest of the three kids.

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Thursday, January 26, 2017

If We Ever Meet Again


“Fiestas should never be banned in the Philippines,” Catherine Steinberg told her high school batchmate from the Moncada Catholic School. She was on vacation in her hometown in the Philippines.
“Do you have fiesta celebrations in Denmark, too?” Alma de la Cruz, her batchmate, asked her.
“Well, sort of. But not the fiesta we have in almost every town in the Philippines. Here in our country, fiestas have been a tradition of our people since the Spanish colonial times.

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Friday, January 20, 2017

Olympians


Norbert Mercado talks with long-time sports journalist Ron de los Reyes about Filipino Olympic athletes who could have won the first Olympic gold medal for the Philippines.

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The Sheridans


The group of American teachers came to the Philippines aboard the US transport ship USS Sheridan. They sailed from San Francisco, California to Manila several weeks before the arrival of the USS Thomas. The ship brought the first batch of Thomasites – 365 male and 165 female teachers.

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Thursday, January 12, 2017

Benham Rise



Benham Rise has vast deposits of methane ice, which is being considered as the fuel of the future. Having a vast repository of this resource could make the Philippines one of the richest nations in the world.

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Thursday, January 5, 2017

Autumn Of An Emperor



“Fourteen years ago, I saw a very bright star from this balcony. Now, not a single star can be seen in the sky,” Emperor Augustus Caesar whispered to himself as he watched the eastern sky from the balcony of his room in his palace.
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