A skirmish in “Rombong”

Very little is known or documented about the history of resistance in the Island of Romblon during the Revolutionary Period and during the Philippine-American War. From what we can gather in the internet and in some history books, we know that in 1898, General Emilio Aguinaldo dispatched his generals to the Visayas to expand the authority of his revolutionary government to the Central and Southern Philippines. And on 25 July 1898, Katipunan General Mariano Riego de Dios captured Romblon. Four days later, the Spanish politico-military governor Don Carlos Mendoza formally surrendered control of the Island to the Revolutionary Forces.

Romblon formally became a province on 16 March 1901 after the Americans established a civilian government in the Island.

My wife being a native of Romblon and having been mesmerized by the island’s unspoilt and natural beauty and by its warm and friendly people, I have taken keen interest in studying the culture and history of Romblon.

And so, after stumbling upon an article published in the newspaper THE MANILA FREEDOM, dated 23 December 1899, I knew I stumbled upon a gem – a veritable proof of the Romblomanon’s gallantry in battle and brave resistance against the invaders. I thought, this could very well be the first clash on record between the American forces and the Filipino resistance in Romblon during the Philippine-American War.

In the article, it was reported that the American gunboat Concord returned to Iloilo on 19 December 1899. Onboard was the corpse of a Private Folley of C Company, Eighteenth Infantry, and a wounded Marine from the Concord’s crew. This, according to the article was “the result of an attack against the insurectos on a small island to the North of Panay, called Rombong [Romblon].”

It was reported that the American forces under the command of General Carpenter, “consisting of the First Batallion of the Eighteenth Infantry, seconded by the Mosquito fleet,” easily captured Concepcion and Capiz.

“Concepcion, the supposed point of strongest resistance in the province, and Capiz, the objective point of the advancing column, each fell into Carpenter’s hands with very little opposition, only a few shots being fired at either place. The intermediate small towns of course hoisted white flags at the first approach of the Americans.”

Following his easy-pickings in Concepcion and Capiz, General Carpenter then proceeded to the Island of Rombong (Romblon), “upon hearing of an organized force at the abovementioned island, determined to carry off all the laurels to be found at the North, and if need be, take his men far up towards Luzon.”

General Carpenter dispatched companies C and D of the Eighteenth Infantry and gave orders to the Concord and its Mosquito fleet to capture Romblon.

“In due time the place was reached and the truth of the reports concerning the insurecto force was verified.”

The Concord’s men tell the following story of the attack on Romblon:

“After some maneuvering to find the best point for attack, the Concord began to make her shrapnel sing genuine American songs and her rapid-fire guns talk pure English, seconded by the doughty little whistlers from the Mosquito fleet. The enemy, well entrenched as they were, stood it well for a short time, then, choosing the safest of two or three evils, began to survey the general trend of the hills in the rear. This movement was not joined in by all, however, as the subsequent firing showed very conclusively. When the shelling seemed to have demoralized them sufficiently, a landing of the men was begun.”

“No sooner had the boats come within easy range, then a rapid fire was opened upon them from the ditches and precipitous hill, to which many of them had retreated. At first fire, Private Folley yielded his life, having been shot dead while yet in the boat. Then fell the lad from the Concord, wounded in the knee.”

“But a landing was made, despite the bullets of the enemy, and a charge, shared equally by soldier and sailor, soon [did] the common tale of victory for American arms and the utter route of the enemy.”

Although the battle ended in the defeat of the Filipino forces, owing to the rapid-fire guns of the Americans, the valiant effort of these fighting Romblomanons to defend their island is highly commendable. This little chapter in Romblon’s history of defiance and resistance during the Philippine-American War must be recognized and told.

“The island is a small one, comparatively…” it said so in the article in the MANILA FREEDOM. But these brave Filipinos in this small island of “Rombong” did put up a hell of a fight! They proved to be a very worthy opponent to the Americans, so much so that they said: “A force sufficiently strong will no doubt be landed immediately. With all their cunning tricks in slipping out of tight places, they may well thank their stars if they escape from there.”

#Romblon #PhilippineAmericanWar


The gunboat Concord



Election looms inside COMELEC

comeleclogo_largeThere’s an election coming up, and the Commission on Elections (COMELEC) is not the one conducting it, but the Labor Department’s Bureau of Labor Relations (BLR).

Last January 26, 2015, the BLR issued an order that a Certification Election be conducted among the rank and file employees of the COMELEC under the supervision of the Bureau. The BLR order came after the COMELEC Employees’ Union (COMELEC-EU) filed a Petition for Certification Election before the Bureau for the purpose of finally determining the sole and exclusive negotiating agent of all COMELEC rank and file employees.

The COMELEC-EU filed the petition in its bid to represent in collective negotiations more than 4,500 employees of the COMELEC nationwide. It averred that despite the existence of three (3) employees’ associations in the COMELEC, no collective negotiation agreement (CNA) has been forged for the benefit of its employees.

Thus, since 2012, the COMELEC-EU has been organizing all over the country to gather the support of rank and file employees with the end in view of coming up with a draft CNA Proposal for the Management.

Executive Order 180, which outlines the rules governing the right to organize of public sector employees, states that an accredited public sector union or association may enter into collective negotiation with Management for terms and conditions of employment or improvements thereto.

A plethora of economic and non-economic benefits may be negotiated except increases in salary, allowances and travel expenses that are specifically provided for by law. But because there is no accredited employees’ organization in the COMELEC, its rank and file employees has never reaped the benefits they are entitled to in collective negotiations.

In its order, the BLR said 4,538 rank and file permanent and casual (plantilla) employees with salary grades 1-24 may participate in the Certification Election. They will be voting for the following organizations, the COMELEC-EU and the Alliance of COMELEC Employees in Service (ACES) to represent them in collective negotiations. Employees also have the option, NO UNION, should they choose not to be represented by any employee organization. An Election Officer was also designated by the BLR to facilitate the pre-election conference and conduct the election.

The winner in the Certification Election shall be granted automatic accreditation by the Civil Service Commission, thus entitling it to enter into collective negotiation with Management.

This is the first time workers of the COMELEC nationwide will be trooping to the polls to elect the employee organization of their choice. But in this election, COMELEC employees will no longer be at the helm. It now belongs to the DOLE-BLR.

All rank and file employees of the COMELEC are therefore enjoined to participate in the upcoming Certification Election. It is high time that we unite all employees into one organization in order to fully realize the lawful benefits that we haven’t been enjoying for the longest time.


COM_TriShout outs to the newly formed association, COMELEC TRISKELION. They had a successful gathering last January 30, 2015 at Bahay na Tisa in Malolos City, Bulacan. In the said meeting, the election of COMELEC Region III Director Atty. Temie Lambino as Chairman of the COMELEC TRISKELION was upheld. Meanwhile, COMELEC Region V Director Atty. Romeo Fortes was unanimously elected by the members gathered as Chairman Emeritus. Dir. Fortes was a Founding Father of the Tau Gamma Phi Triskelions’ Grand Fraternity.

A Grand Salute to all my fraternal brothers! Mabuhay!

COMELEC to the peripheries

“The Church in the Philippines is called to acknowledge and combat the causes of the deeply rooted inequality and injustice which mar the face of Filipino society, plainly contradicting the teaching of Christ” – Pope Francis, Homily for the Manila Cathedral Mass, January 16 2015

Photo from ABS-CBNnews.com

Photo from ABS-CBNnews.com

A whole nation was in awe and in a state of euphoria when His Holiness Pope Francis, dubbed as the People’s Pope, visited the country last week. Despite the scorching heat and pouring rains, millions turned-out to catch even a glimpse of the ‘rockstar’ Pope in his activities and even along the designated Papal route. Fathers were seen carrying their children over their shoulders for a chance that His Holiness might stop and kiss them. Mothers bore Santo Niño images to have them blessed. Millions more were glued to their TV sets to watch the Pope.

“I felt annihilated (wiped out),” was how Pope Francis described the moments that moved him most during his brief stay in the country. “To see all of God’s people standing still, praying, after this catastrophe, thinking of my sins and those people, it was moving, a very moving moment. In the moment of the mass (in Tacloban), I felt as though I was annihilated, I almost couldn’t speak. I felt very little. I don’t know what happened to me, maybe it was the emotion, I don’t know. But I didn’t feel another thing, it was quite something. And then the gestures were moving. Every gesture,” his Holiness Francis told journalists in a press conference on his flight back to Rome from Manila. Such sincerity and humility!

Indeed, that fleeting moment when the leader of the world’s more than a billion Catholics visited our country will forever be etched in our collective memory. But more than our #FeelingBlessed Twitter, Facebook and Instagram posts that, as expected flooded social media the past days; we as nation, should live up to the teachings and message of Pope Francis – that of genuine concern and service to the poor and the needy.

Pope Francis minced no words in asking all of us to respect the dignity of the poor. “Above all, I ask that the poor throughout this country be treated fairly – that their dignity be respected, that political and economic policies be just and inclusive, that opportunities for employment and education be developed, and that obstacles to the delivery of social services be removed. Our treatment of the poor is the criterion on which each of us will be judged. I ask all of you, and all responsible for the good of society, to renew your commitment to social justice and the betterment of the poor, both here and in the Philippines as a whole,” he said.

The COMELEC, as the sole government agency tasked to ensure the right to suffrage of every Filipino, should be inspired by his Holiness’ message and be moved to uphold its duty to reach out to the most vulnerable sectors in our society and make every effort to guarantee that their voices, through their votes, are counted, and counted accurately.

COMELEC Commissioner Luie Tito Guia hit the nail right in the head when he said that “the Pope’s message is for us (COMELEC) to empower the poor, the marginalized, those from the vulnerable sectors, by working for the implementation of the principle of ‘one person, one vote’ and free choice. We can then help reduce, if not totally eradicate, what the Pope calls as “the scandalous inequality” in our society.”

Indeed, the COMELEC, as Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle put it, must go with Pope Francis not in Rome but “to the peripheries,” to the sectors often neglected every elections – the indigenous peoples’ (IPs), the senior citizens, the persons with disabilities (PWDs), the overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) and persons deprived of liberty. These sectors’ participation in elections are often hampered because of accessibility and discrimination. Thus it is imperative that the COMELEC must go directly to them so that they are not disenfranchised of their right to vote.

It is the COMELEC’s duty to ensure a more inclusive electoral exercise. By going to the ‘peripheries’, the COMELEC is fulfilling Pope Francis’ message against injustice and oppression that give rise to “glaring and indeed, scandalous, social inequalities.”

Now more than ever, as it gears up for the May 2016 National and Local Elections, let the COMELEC be guided by the Pope’s call for everyone to take part in “reforming the social structures which perpetuate poverty and the exclusion of the poor.”

Let no one be left behind when it comes to our right to elect political leaders that are, according to Pope Francis, “outstanding for honesty, integrity and commitment to the common good.”

Summa Cum Laude

You lived and died with honor, Jennifer
Never mind those that think otherwise;
Those that had nothing but disgust on how you saw yourself
and how you lived your beautiful life…

Pay no heed to those that consider you far less important
than the lopsided ‘friendship’ that ultimately killed you,
that star spangled delusion that drives many
to even mock and disparage you, each time
the television flashes images of your once beautiful body,
now lying lifeless with your face shoved down the toilet.

Oh how they put you in disdain! You had it coming,
you were a transgender, a prostitute; so you, they had the gall to say,
deserved your gruesome end…

But you lived and died with honor,Jennifer
Dispense with those imbecilic insinuations,
ignore those bootlicking officials that is killing you many times over
every time they dismiss your murder as a humdrum occurrence,
inconsequential in the sphere of our nation’s ‘strong and enduring friendship’
to the land of your killer.

You’ll be passing on with highest honors Jennifer
You never died in vain
For you are now showing the world
that there’s no honor in blind servility,
in dogged subservience to a master,
that tramples, rapes, and massacres our collective dignity.

You deserve no less than justice.



Meet me tonight,
so I can spill my guts
at the table, full of beer bottles,
empty, just like myself;

So I can explain the long and short
of the story, muddled,
like the various versions of me
you’ve heard a countless times;

Meet me tonight,
so that I may recount
what I had to endure
to deserve whatever feelings
you hold for me;

So that I could tell you that
I may have looked the other way,
I still am drawn towards you…

Or am I too late?


Hindi ka pala maglilinis ng pilak

Hindi ka pala maglilinis ng pilak,
mamamaalam ka na pala
sa binubuo mong mga pangarap

Sa mura mong edad
‘pinamukha sa’yo ang kasuka-sukang reyalidad
na kahit ang karapatan ng mga kabataang
mag-aral, matuto, ay may bayad…


Hindi ka pala maglilinis ng pilak, Kristel,
gigisingin mo pala ang buong bayan
sa karumaldumal na katotohanang
ipinagkakait ng lipunan
sa mga kabataang tulad mo
ang kanilang kinabukasan

Pag-iisahin mo pala ang damdamin
ng mga mamamayang magpuyos
sa edukasyong walang kahihiyang
ginagawang negosyo ng iilan

Yuyugyugin mo pala ang pundasyon
ng pinakamamahal mong Pamantasan,
kakatukin mo sa bumbunan ng mga nasa poder ng kapangyarihan,
para matauhan sila sa kabulukan ng kanilang mga patakaran

Hindi ka pala maglilinis ng pilak,
mag-aambag ka pala sa ultimong pagkintab
ng kinabukasan ng mga kabataang
iyong naiwan





Hindi pa rin tapos
ang serye ng mga aftershocks,
pagkatapos ng lindol
na nagmula sa
anterior ng vertebral column
at posterior ng sternum

Kinulang yata
ang papel at tinta
ng seismograph
sa tindi ng yugyog

Malamang ay hindi naapuhap
ni Charles Richter na
maaaring lumampas
sa iskala ang lakas
ng pag-uga

Mataas at malakas
ang tsunami na idinulot
ngunit wala itong nalunod, nalubog
na mga ala-ala at paalala

Malakas din ang
naganap na pagyanig
ngunit wala itong ibinuwal
na mga istrukturang
nagpapaalala sa mga ala-ala

Walang sinabi ang yanig,
walang sinabi ang rumagasang tubig
at inaalmusal na lamang ngayon ang mga aftershocks