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The joy of Lent

FOR MY generation, Lent was the worst week of the year. Without DVDs, cable TV and the Internet, we were all a captive audience of movies on the agony and death of Jesus the Nazarene. Most of the TV networks (and even radio stations) shut down from Holy Thursday to Saturday, and the one or two that operated aired nothing but replays of religious movies such as “Ten Commandments,” “The King of Kings” and “The Greatest Story Ever Told.”

The heat of summer even seemed to remind me of the Hell that I’d go to if I didn’t fast or abstain from meat, or if I failed to pray in front of the crucifix to ask forgiveness for my sins.

Two of the many Filipino Lenten superstitions were to avoid taking a bath and traveling on a Good Friday, or else something bad will happen to you. Superstition indeed can lodge itself into one’s psyche that decades later, I would still beg off from a dive in a live-aboard scuba trip on a Good Friday, and in Greece last year backed off from what would have been a marvelous motorcycle adventure on that day.


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Rizal, Bonifacio and the ‘masa’ myth

JOSE RIZAL’S death anniversary today and Ceres Doyo’s reference in a recent column to a book titled “The Masses are Messiah” present a good opportunity to discuss the mythicizing in our country of the concept of the “masses.”

It was the historian Teodoro Agoncillo who popularized the myth of the masses with his biography of Andres Bonifacio, “Revolt of the Masses.” Agoncillo claimed that the Katipunan revolutionaries were the masses’ representatives: “despairing spirits, the oppressed, the downtrodden,” from the “lowest stratum of society.” Other writers would expand Agoncillo’s thesis by contrasting the “elite” Rizal against the “proletarian” Bonifacio. Leftist activists have even been brainwashed to hate Rizal and to believe that it was the Americans who just invented him to be our national hero, since he didn’t advocate armed revolution.

However, more up-to-date historians, especially those who mined the archives of the Spanish military, paint an entirely different picture of Bonifacio and the Katipuneros. (See http://kasaysayan-kkk.info).


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