August of 1896 was about to end. Shortly after the members of the now-discovered separatist movement the Kataastaasang, Kagalang-galang na Katipunan ng mga Anak ng Bayan (popularly known as the KKK or Katipunan) cried out for freedom in Balintawak, (which some say was held in Pugad Lawin) the leader of the movement, Andres Bonifacio began to plot their next move against the Spanish colonial government: an attack on the Spanish gunpowder depot in San Juan del Monte called El Polvorin.

Before dawn of August 30, 1896, Bonifacio and about 800 men launched their offensive. Despite being poorly armed against the Spanish troops stationed in El Polverin, the Katipuneros managed to prevail at first as the Spaniards retreated to defend the Manila waterworks building, the El Deposito* where the Katipuneros moved to next.

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The Iglesia ni Cristo at F. Manalo, San Juan

The Iglesia ni Cristo, (INC) the religious group founded by Felix Manalo in July 1914, grew in numbers and influence by the 1930s. Even after World War II, in which the INC suffered greatly as well, it still managed to become a dominant force in Philippine society, thanks in part for its practice of bloc-voting that many aspiring politicians sought to have.

Perhaps the most visible example of INC’s growth after the war was the building of what would be its central temple and offices in Barrio (now Barangay) Santa Lucia in the then suburban town of San Juan outside Manila. From 1952 to 1968, this would the INC’s “home base,” so to speak. And even then, its San Juan complex was a sight to behold, never failing to draw attention from anyone who passed by the area, INC member or otherwise.

Iglesia Ni Cristo at Barangay Santa Lucia, San Juan (courtesy of chitchuandnoan.com)

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Discovering the birthplace of Philippine television

October 23, 1953 is a milestone event in the history of Philippine mass media, and of Philippine television in particular. This date is now being celebrated as the birth date, so to speak, of television in the Philippines.

The idea of television in the Philippines was something seriously thought about since after World War II as the country was trying to rebuild after the destruction it experienced. In fact it was the dream of an American engineer named James Lindenberg that the country would be the first in Asia to have the first television broadcast through the company he founded in June 13, 1946: the Bolinao Electronics Corporation. (BEC)

James Lindenberg (courtesy of Xiao Chua)

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commemorating the first shot of the Philippine-American war

At this time, we marked the 111th anniversary of the outbreak of the Filipino-American war, part of a chain of events that began way before of how we ended up being screwed by the Americans who were in the processing of building their own colonial empire and became their “little brown American brothers” regardless of the positives and negatives that were borne out of these events.

For those who at least still remember those lessons in Philippine history way before, we were told that the Filipino-American war began on February 4, 1899 when an American soldier named Willie Grayson fired that first shot. Depending on which book you read, Grayson either shot a Filipino soldier who violated the demarcation and crossed American lines at the San Juan bridge which at that time served as the boundary of the areas under American and Filipino control or one from his command (did not specifically state if it was Grayson himself or someone else) fired the shot in retaliation to opposition by Filipino soldiers because Grayson’s command violated the demarcation.

And for a long while, the San Juan Bridge (which was also known as the Tulay ng Balsahan) was the accepted site where it happened.


an old image of San Juan Bridge (courtesy Philippine American war by Arnaldo Dumindin)

|Then, almost 10 years ago, research done by Benito Legarda, the former head of the Philippine National Historical Institute (NHI) showed that the actual site where the event took place was actually in an area called Blockhouse 7 which marked the boundary between Manila and Barrio Santol in what is now Quezon City. To be specific, it was at the corner of what we now know as the streets of Sociego and Silencio in Sampaloc/Santa Mesa district. (it could go either way as far as the address is concerned though technically the site is in Sampaloc)


So in 2003, the NHI decreed officially that the first shot of the war happened in the vicinity of the former Blockhouse 7, prompting not only another change in our history books but also moving the marker commemorating the first shot of the Philippine American War to this quiet corner of Sociego and Silencio. (quite coincidental too that Sociego’s name comes from the Spanish word which means tranquility and Silencio’s from another Spanish word which means…you guessed it, silence)



the site of old Blockhouse 7

This has naturally stirred protests from some quarters in San Juan as it has lost a part of its own history with this move by the NHI. Nevertheless, the NHI stood pat on its findings and San Juan Bridge lost a marker…until recently.

Now San Juan Bridge has a new marker courtesy of the NHI, which puts the bridge back on the pages of history again. (or it could also be taken as NHI’s “consuelo” gift for having lost the old marker of the first shot) Unfortunately the paint on the marker’s lettering was worn off when I took this:

the new marker at San Juan Bridge

But basically the marker states that it was on that bridge on January 29, 1899 where the Filipino and American forces drew up the agreed demarcation line between the two forces which was to be violated less than a week later. It also adds another piece of tidbit that a battle between Filipino and American forces happened on the bridge on February 5, 1899, a day after the firing of the first shot.

Given the confusing and sometimes conflicting nature our history has been suffering under for quite sometime, I’m afraid it will not be the last we will hear of stories of moved markers and history being told as more confusing than before.

credits: Inquirer, Aguinaldo: dubious hero? blog, Philippine American war by Arnaldo Dumindin

© The Urban Roamer


the most awkward-looking Rizal ever

Today marks another commemoration of the martyrdom of the Philippines’ national hero, Dr. Jose Rizal.

And being the country’s national hero, you can never escape his name and image almost everywhere you go, from the streets you traverse to the matches you use.

Then again, he is THE national hero so there’s not much one can do about that.

That principle will also apply whenever we come to see him standing in front of some town plaza or municipal/city/provincial hall in his trademark long black overcoat and, sometimes, holding a book or two on his chest as if he was about to sing the National Anthem.

This particular monument of Rizal however, takes the cake for having a “unique” representation of him. Continue reading