Andres Bonifacio, atapang a tao.

I wonder if kids today still know this humorous poem:

Si Andres Bonifacio, atapang a tao.
Aputol a kamay, hindi atakbo.
Aputol a paa, hindi atakbo.
Apugot a ulo, hindi atakbo.
Aputol a uten, atakbo atulin.

They probably know the first line, but not the rest of it. I’ve wondered who wrote it, how and when it became popular; but like many popular poems and songs, it’s difficult to find reliable information in the Interwebs. The poem is disrespectful to the Supremo of the Katipunan, I know; but I’d like to think that Bonifacio would be the first to laugh if he heard it.

Today, of course, is 148th birth anniversary of Andres Bonifacio. Next to Jose Rizal, Bonifacio is the most popular Philippine hero. Many still argue that he should be the national hero, instead of Rizal.

In history class, Bonifacio and Rizal are often presented as opposites: the former was the poor, orphaned, uneducated, and hot-headed revolutionary, while the latter came from a rich family, calm and intellectual reformer.

I wish I had Ambeth Ocampo as a professor. His broadsheet column on Philippine history is always interesting, removing popular historical figures away from their idealized pedestal, making them more human and sympathetic. A recent column fancied a comparison of Rizal and Bonifacio if they were Ocampo’s students.

We have no school records for Andres Bonifacio who, according to the late Teodoro Agoncillo, barely finished the equivalent of today’s grade four. What is often forgotten by teachers and students who presume that Bonifacio was poor as a rat and barely made ends meet by peddling canes and fans on the street is that Bonifacio was home-schooled. His father may have been a tailor, but in the 19th century tailors were paid quite well and Bonifacio had a private tutor who taught him to read, write and do simple math. What the Supremo lacked in formal education he covered with a lot of reading.

If we are to believe Pio Valenzuela (a most unreliable historical source), as cited by Epifanio de los Santos in his 1917 Bonifacio biography, the Supremo often “went without sleep at night in order to read.” Valenzuela also provided a list of books that Bonifacio was supposed to have read, including “History of the French Revolution,” “Lives of the Presidents of the United States,” “International Law,” “Civil Code,” “Penal Code,” the Bible (in 5 volumes), Victor Hugo’s “Les Miserables,” Eugene Sue’s “The Wandering Jew” and “Ruinas de Palmyra.” Valenzuela also said that Bonifacio liked talking about the French Revolution.

An even older article also listed the books from his library that Bonifacio read. Yes, Bonifacio had a library. And he read Les Miserables. I can’t even look at that doorstopper without my eyes hurting at the length of that monster of a novel. I wonder what he thought of the Cosette-Marius-Eponine love triangle.

That’s another difference he had with Rizal: Bonifacio’s life had no prominent love story. His most famous poem seemed to sum up his idea on love:

Aling pag-ibig pa ang hihigit kaya
Sa pagkadalisay at pagkadakila
Gaya ng pag-ibig sa tinubuang lupa,
Aling pag-ibig pa? Wala na nga wala.

(Which kind of love exceeds
In purity and nobility
More than the love for the homeland,
Which love is greater? None, none at all.)

Maybe Ambeth Ocampo could share something about Bonifacio’s love life in the future. Unlike Bonifacio, who was actually married twice, Rizal had several well-known love affairs and these were frequently mentioned whenever a new Rizal biopic comes out.

Rizal had at least three local movies made about his life. Bonifacio probably only had one.

Rizal and Bonifacio as students
November 30 is Andres Bonifacio Day in the Philippines

Burgundy, Amelie, and mopeds.

Leo mentioned last Saturday that The Juna was inviting us to The Juna’s apartment in Pasig. Since Bern and I were so broke during the weekend, we accepted the invitation. The Juna served The Juna’s guests with pasta and burgundy and we watched several moview until dawn while drinking several cocktails.

By daybreak, nearly everyone else was asleep, while Leo and I were watching Amelie. Leo has not seen the movie before, and it was the only movie that night he sat on without turning his eyes away from the screen. Even after several years, the movie still has it charm.

There are so many things to like in Amelie. One that I saw again was the character Nino’s Mobylette moped. The movie ended with Amelie and Nino riding a moped around the streets of Montmartre.

There was a time when pedaled mopeds had a surge of popularity in the Philippines. And then the fad ended so you could hardly find one in the streets today. Most Filipino cyclists would opt for a scooter or a more powerful motorcycle.

I don’t mind getting a Derringer for myself, though. Maybe I’ll get myself one, should I decide to sell one of my kidneys.

Pastry food trip at the Mandaluyong city hall complex.

Even when we’re practically broke last Sunday, Bern and I still found time to explore the food market in the Mandaluyong city hall complex. The city hall always sets up a flea market around Maysilo weeks before Christmas, bringing noisy crowds, gaudy lighting and heavy traffic in the area.

Because we hardly had money left, we were only able to buy a few pastries. Despite the price, they were actually quite good.

Spaghetti with shrimp and coconut milk.

Two things I’ve always wanted to use with pasta are curry and coconut milk. Come to think of it, I’ve already used curry with noodles before. I used egg noodles in a dish I found in my Asian cookbook. I’ve yet to try it with pasta.

There are still some uncooked shrimp left in the freezer yesterday, so I thought of cooking them before Bern arrived. I thought of adding them to misua but at that point Bern already passed the wet market; I can’t ask him to buy some patola anymore.

And then I found some powdered coconut milk in the pantry. Bern and Alex used it a few days ago to make ginataan. There was still plenty of powder left over and I figured I could try it with pasta.

I sauteed the shrimp with garlic and onion until the orange shrimp juice oozed out. I then added the dissolved coconut milk and a little cream. To flavor the sauce, I added black and cayenne pepper. The pasta was added to the sauce and stirred before serving.

For an experimental sauce, it wasn’t bad. It should go well with more cocunut milk. I only used a cup of coconut milk for around 200 grams of shrimp and 250 grams of uncooked pasta; I could add maybe half a cup more and remove the cream entirely. Adding squash to thicken the sauce should also work well, with or without the shrimp.

But why would anyone even think of renaming EDSA?

I was watching the late night news and it was mentioned that there is a proposed bill in the Congress to rename Epifanio de los Santos Avenue, better known as EDSA, to after former President Cory Aquino.

The House of Representatives is now tackling on first reading a bill seeking to rename Epifanio de los Santos Avenue (EDSA) to Cory Aquino Avenue.

The plenary is tackling House Bill 5422 was filed by Rep. Rene Lopez Relampagos.

In his explanatory note, Lopez paid tribute to Aquino’s contributions to the country’s democracy, as well as the thoroughfare’s place in the nation’s history.

EDSA was the venue of the People Power revolution of 1986, of which Aquino is considered a heroine.

“It would be but a fitting tribute to former President Corazon Aquino, a woman of courage and valor, that EDSA, an avenue that became testament to the country’s love of democracy, be named after her,” the lawmaker said.

The name of EDSA itself has been synonymous to the 1986 People Power revolution that ended the Marcos dictatorship. Local historians should remind Rep Lopez to study his history more closely.

The People Power revolution did not merely bring Cory Aquino to power; what the revolution did was end Ferdinand Marcos’ regime. The revolution was a collective action of Filipinos who have had enough. EDSA, not Cory, was the symbol of a nation uniting to oppose dictatorship. To single out Cory would be to disrespect the other heroes that made People Power possible.

Furthermore, to disregard the name of Epifanio de los Santos also shows how ignorant Rep Lopez of Philippine history.

Epifanio de los Santos

Epifanio de los Santos was a Filipino intellectual whose fields of interest could rival that of Rizal. His Wikipedia entry lists him as “a noted Filipino historian, literary critic, art critic, jurist, prosecutor, antiquarian, archivist, scholar, painter, poet, musician, musicologist, philosopher, philologist, bibliographer, translator, journalist, editor, publisher, paleographer, ethnographer, biographer, researcher, civil servant, patriot and hero. He was appointed Director of the Philippine Library and Museum by Governor General Leonard Wood in 1925.” The man’s CV must have run to several pages.

The man was regarded as an expert on Filipiniana with a collection of artworks, documents, manuscript, literature and various other articles that was considered the best in the world. The busiest road of Manila was actually named after a Filipino who showed his love for his country by collecting and studying everything he could find about Filipino history and culture. It’s sad how if one should randomly ask someone who Epifanio de los Santos was, hardly anyone who know the answer.

EDSA should not be renamed to anything else. People may not know who the person it was named after (for which we should be ashamed of ourselves), the road has nevertheless become an icon for the Filipino collective consciousness. Renaming EDSA bastardizes its contribution to Philippine independence.

There are more pressing issues that needs legislation, Rep Lopez. You would serve the country better by focusing more on more important matters.

EDSA to be renamed Cory Aquino Avenue?