Saturday, July 29, 2006


In a paranormal saloon in Malate the other evening, the roving eye of Gentleman Ben Razon captured a fragment of a wild night of feral chortling and death by laughter. But ho-hum, as the raucous who know the place would say; it was just another Oarhouse evening.

Notable highlights of repetitive redundancies: the Great Elvis was there and provided everyone with his protracted Sponge Bob schtick; not a few thought Ben later that night would drop but he fooled everyone with his Extreme Tower of Piza impersonation -- without any visible prop (very impressive), the performance lasted thirty minutes before Ben suddenly bolted upright in two seconds to get this shot. Probably only with the exception of Atengteng, most everyone in the bar had agreed that the operatic "Titina ni Titina!" performance by Mon Aba-ibilotmo and Ben fully deserved the cries for encores, which of course the two delivered with verve; in fact, reports are that the honorable Regmanh Manhmohan Singh also wants to learn the song. And, finally, yet never ever last and neither the least, generous Arlie ordered sizzling tofu again and again and again for everyone (thanks Arlie... bukas uli...).

If you want a definitely better tasting serving of that night at the Oar, with choice coup-coup and animal narratives, you have to drop by the Oarhouse blog, curated by Senyor Razon. The denizens and stories are all there.


A few weeks ago, I was asked by the indefatigable Corazon Fabros to write a short message for a memorial event they had organized for the late scholar and activist, Daniel Boone Schirmer. The event was appropriately set for July 7, which was the 114th anniversary of the founding of the revolutionary movement led by the great Andres Bonifacio that had freed the Philippines from centuries of Spanish colonial rule, called the Kataastaasang Kagalang-galangang Katipunan ng Mga Anak ng Bayan (the Highest and Most Honorable Association of the Sons of the People; the shorter name being The Katipunan).

The Philippines has long had staunch friends overseas, and some have been more steadfast than others. Boone, as he is fondly called, was one of them.

Together with other Americans in 1973, Boone founded the Friends of the Filipino People group, which campaigned to end US support for the Marcos dictatorship, the release of political prisoners and the removal of U.S. military bases from the Philippines.

Boone died last April 21 of congestive heart failure. He was 91. The great historian, Howard Zinn, described Boone as a person who "was totally committed to a vision of a different kind of world.... He was an activist, but with all of that he was a very gentle, a very sweet person. He was very unshakable in his conviction that war and racial and economic injustice were wrong."

Of Boone and the days of the anti-Marcos struggle, Dr. Jorge Emmanuel, a US-based Filipino activist, wrote: "To see an old man working feverishly in the FFP office, folding pamphlets, licking hundreds of stamps, answering phone calls, and working late into the evenings with such intensity gave us so much hope in the face of overwhelming odds. He inspired both Filipinos and Americans alike… We cannot help but mourn his passing."

"[A]lmost 90 years old, frail and having survived a hip replacement operation and two recent bouts of pneumonia," remarked a letter nominating the scholar and activist the Lifetime Achievement Award of the Association of Asian American Studies, which he received in 2004, "Boone continues to speak out against and write about the US wars in Afghanistan and Iraq."

Walden Bello quips that perhaps "the greatest irony of Boone's life was provided by the contrast between his anti-imperialist politics and his name. He got it from his great-great-uncle, the famous frontiersman and 'Indian fighter' Daniel Boone, who played a key role in the westward expansion of the United States." In typical fashion, wrote Bello, the "contradiction" Boone just took "in stride and joked about it."

I was in Hanoi at the time of the memorial and I regret not being able to bear witness to the occasion. I did manage to send a message, however, one with a frame that makes it easy to slide right into after a short account of the Oar asylum, a treasured palace of remembrances.

"When a house of memory passes away, unlike other edifices, the memory house multiplies because its architecture is generosity and its wood is vigilance and the soil on which it was built is durable, renewable soil that other houses of memory have supplied with equal generosity. I never met Daniel Boone Schirmer but I have absolutely no doubt that the House of Boone lives. We struggle for the day when solidarity shall become the only debt that people shall owe one another, confident that with sacrifice this day is very possible if only because of the example of friendship that Boone has so selflessly shared to a hardy though all too often too forgetful community called the Filipino people.

Renato Redentor Constantino

Thanks again for dropping by.

Next up -- flamenco, an aquarium, topside-down the ocean, and a writer friend from the barracks days of the Polytechnic U. of Nemesio Prudente.



All photos by Red except #2: (1) A blackboard in Jolo used for a workshop in preparation for a great play about a largely forgotten -- at least to most of the country -- battle and slaughter in Philippine history, at the hands of the so-called benevolent American occupation army in the Philippines. (2) Red and Kala at the Oar by Ben Razon. (3) A US cannon in Corregidor. (4) Inside the Bud Dahu crater in Jolo, Philippines.

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