The Quince Martires Experience

What I like most and look forward to in holidays is the privilege to stay up and wake up late and cuddle up in bed until I realize that it’s time for lunch. So, spare me the early morning commemorations, it’s a holiday. But for some twist of fate, I found myself early in the morning, under drops of drizzle, in a white shirt, in Plaza Quince Martires on January 4 (which also happens to be World Braille Day).

I was in schoolboy mode as I was sitting with similarly clad attendees under a collapsible tent as audience of a program, proved to be an unexpectedly enriching experience. (Then, I wished I had come earlier.) Interestingly, eleven of the Fifteen Martyrs were Freemasons. (Back when Philippine peso bills did not include the 200 and 1000 bills, all Filipino heroes on faces of the bills were Freemasons, except for Ninoy Aquino. Philippine history seems to be mum about this. Come on, I can’t be the only one who knows this.) I especially found it thrilling to find out that the first Rotary Club outside Manila is Rotary Club of Naga in the dawning of the 20th century. That itself is a monument of the Bicolano spirit of humanitarian service (or American influence on the convergence of businessmen, depending on how you see it). But seriously, that is one historical landmark. Rotary Club of Naga’s status as the pioneer Rotary Club outside the national capital is an irrefutable indication of the influence of local entrepreneurs that had quickly paralleled with Manila, before the more historically and culturally important cities in the Vizayas. What I’m trying to say is… Bicolanos seemed to be filthy rich back then. More importantly, I learned that the local pioneering Rotary Club outdid the state in recognizing the Quince Martires with the plaza by two years. I think I’m old enough to remember the rotary wheel which was said to have been formerly in the plaza before the Robredo administration executed a renovation which removed the decades old wheel because it was, as Congressman Gabby Bordado put it, “asymmetrical”. (I can sense some evasion of guilt in someone’s voice there.) I’m not too familiar with what renovation they did at that time; but I believe that the rotary wheel was a historical landmark and witness in itself, and any novel structure should be built around it. Symmetry should have adjusted itself around that symbol. Since the public and local government has been aware of this, I believe it rests upon the modern leaders to restore the wheel in recognition of the Rotary’s recognition of the heroes who are the subject of recognition. I understand the appeal of the Camarines Sur 3rd District representative to include the pupils and students in such commemoration ceremonies; but in all due respect to our legislative representative, to the memory of the martyrs, and to history, and in the name of pragmatism in the holiday season, that’s January 4, for crying out loud. The kids are probably on vacation somewhere. If I were a Grade 8 student getting the call to attend a program for the sake of history and culture, a few days after Media Noche, I would probably be more ready for leaving, rather than learning. Besides, the students would probably be seated at a part where the speakers would sound incomprehensible; and if ever they would get the chance of clear heeding, they would get an orientation on historical background of fraternal and service organizations and local leaders’ plans of services. I have heard much about Jose Rizal; and I don’t know why Quezon has a plaza to his name downtown, but tell me more about these fifteen Bicolano martyrs. I barely heard anything about their recognized heroic deeds. Can I get at least, a roll call?

Then Mayor Legacion stands up front to declare the city government’s policy decentralization of basic services by construction of barangay high schools and other government facilities, I just have a few issues with that. I suppose decentralization aims to decongest the center of its work load immediately. However, the flagship projects of this policy are construction of new public schools, which I suppose would take a lengthy period that decongestion of work load would be barely experienced. When services satellites are instituted, people would still opt and venture out to the city’s local central offices because the supposedly seasoned and more reliable service providers would stay in the central stations, while neophytes would man the satellites. So, if I need dependable delivery of services, I would go to the central station of the services, passing by the satellites in the barangays. Have you ever wondered why the Naga Central Schools and Camarines Sur National High School are very populated despite the presence of schools in barangays away from downtown?

Wait a minute, how did we get there? Oh, that was said to be a modern manifestation of martyrdom.

“And I heard a voice from heaven, saying, “Write, ‘Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on!’” “Yes,” says the Spirit, “so that they may rest”

Revelation 14:13