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On General Luna's 152nd birthday.. What if..?

Of course party poopers will raise up the fact that General Luna never won a big battle. That is true and the fact made Historian Teodoro Agoncillo fall from the Apo Lakay Ferdinand's graces. Apo Ferdinand wouldn't tolerate any slight to an Ilocano's honour! There will be a "what if" question still. What if he were not assassinated? How will the war been prosecuted? Here there are no clear and easy answers. The war may have lasted longer enough for the Americans to reconsider and seek a political settlement. That would happen 75 years later in the Paris Peace Talks, for a different war with similar aims, national liberation. The war would not end until the Americans recognised the North Vietnam republic as a sovereign belligerent state. Luna's guerrilla tactics may have likely worked. It did work 43 years later. The Japanese occupiers were really able to hold the main urban centres of Manila, Iloilo etc. Elsewhere they guerrillas were killing them off. Proo…
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Voices of the Martial Law Babies

I was in my fav ramen house eating what else?, all tables were taken, when two men in their early 50s asked if the can share the table with me. I said yes. I learned that they came from a meeting of their high school alumni Christmas reunion committee and were waiting for their wives to finish shopping. They were high school buddies. The men graduated from a well known Manila public high with a good CAT unit. Since Trililing was the staple of the evening news on the LED HD TV, talk of course was on the events of the last few days. The men were trying to recall how it was to grow up during the Martial Law years. One thing defined our years; Marcos taking off Voltes V from the air and replacing it with ugghhh "Candy Candy" and "Paul in Fantasyland"! It appeared that from our child's eye, this was a great folly of dictatorship. And we learned as we became young men, follies are what makes dictatorships fall. All three of us were at EDSA 1986, the two men on the b…

Dr Francisco Tongio Liongson's difficult doctoral thesis in medicine

Doctor Francisco Tongio Liongson is one the almost forgotten patriotic Filipino scientists . In fact the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) does not mention him in its biographies of Filipino scientists. The Senate of the Philippines official history has something on him as a politician, for he became Senator in 1916, but hardly mentions his scientific contribution. Yet he is seen in almost all “group photos” of the Ilustrados in Madrid together with those we remember. Jose Rizal, Marcelo H Del Pilar, the Luna brothers. Liongson was a propagandist who studied for his doctorate in medicine in Madrid, defending his thesis entitled “La Celula Ante Microbio” in 1895. He was the second Filipino medical research scientist to have graduated from the Complutense. The first one was the enfant terrible Antonio Luna who defended his thesis in 1893. Luna and Liongson worked in the same research institute, Institute Pasteur in Paris under the mentorship of Elie Metchnikoff, the father…

Science advice for government

That science has contributed to the advancement of society cannot be overemphasized. Much of the applications of science that has resulted in innovations (e.g. gadgets) or a better quality of life (e.g. reducing the child and maternal deaths, extending the human lifespan) were due to governments creating and adopting the right policies. These policies encouraged the application of science and technology to ensure the best quality of outcomes for society.
Government sets the environment that enables scientific research. It does this by directly funding research and rewarding innovation. Governments mainly do these through the research universities. While the business sector also contributes to innovation, government may provide tax incentives as policy to promote innovation.
Who sets the research priorities? In most democratic governments, the scientific community and the government through various forums do these. Most governments have a science ministry headed by a cabinet minister.…

The Confederacy and the Filipino

I always had an interest in the Confederate States of America (CSA). For one thing, it almost made it impossible what the United States claimed it stood for in the Philippines when they defeated our Republic in 1899 and ruled the country until July 4, 1946. But to understand our love-hate relationship with the USA, we need to look at the history of the CSA. President Duterte’s diplomatic rant about Bud-Dajo won’t have its bite without looking at what the CSA was all about. The fact is the agrarian slave based CSA lost the war to the industrial Yankee North. The fact is also, in Reconstruction, the CSA was rehabilitated and even with its incorporation with the USA, a lot of what the CSA stood for survived. Jim Crow, segregation, equal but separate remained in the Southern States. His Excellency Fidel V Ramos, President of the Philippines experienced this on a train ride to Georgia as a West Point Cadet in the early 1950s. This was something he recollected in a speech to cadets in the…

Postnormal science and the dengue vaccine controversy

While science can explain much about the natural world and has resulted in technological advances that makes life better, it has uncertainties. Any scientific and technological application in our daily lives has risks. The job of scientists, most especially statisticians, to is make sure these risks are at a manageable level. The medical and environmental sciences are two disciplines in which the conclusions of these sciences intimately affect our personal lives and that of our loved ones. The applications of these sciences in daily life, entail risks. A good medical doctor should be able to advise you of the risks of side effects of a drug. Likewise a good environmental scientist should be able to advise you of the risks of using environmentally damaging technologies. While environmental scientists and doctors of medicine can come up with the scientific theories of their disciplines, applying these in society is another matter. The application of these becomes more complex and si…

A continuity of 1896, Duterte's Revolution

The pundits have spoken. The Pinoy traditional political landscape has been completely refashioned. And who refashioned it? The mass of the electorate! The lettered elite is aghast and caught unawares but they shouldn’t be, only if they seriously read the history of the Philippine Revolution. The 1896 Katipunan revolution was a truly mass movement, consisting of the working class, pesantry, middle and professional classes and the landed and lettered elites. The participation of the pesantry and the working classes were not due to propaganda alone. Neither were they deceived by their folk Catholicism. They saw meaning in these expressions which saw in their definition of nationhood. For without these the revolution would have not been a force and immediately would have been crushed. The historian Rey Ileto notes that the folk Catholic “Pasyon” is the wellspring of Filipino ideologies of revolution. The meanings the peasants found in the Passion of Christ has counterparts in the jour…

Dutertismo? Simounismo? Revolution?

It is a good thing than in 2015 Anvil republished Dr Mila C Guerrero's 1977 doctoral thesis on "Luzon at War, Contradictions in Philippine Society, 1898-1902. Here we read her thesis that the Philippine Revolution of 1896 is now seen as a revolution that resulted in social levelling for social change but rather for regime change in the state and church e.g. replacing the Spanish leadership with the Filipino and on the religious side, replacing the friar with the Indio clergy.. And the Katipunan revolution never had a program of addressing social inequity but had one on legal inequity whilst preserving the privileges of the propertied class (who were to collaborate with the Americans later). The Katipunan was inspired by liberalism current in Spain then. This Rizal knew had its political limits and perhaps is the reason why he did not advocate revolution then. But Rizal in the El Filibusterismo knew that the romantic anarchism of Simoun may be a portent of what is needed and …