Tuesday, January 28, 2020

Dogeaters In Coney Island

NOT ABOUT MANGYANS, but recently discovered book The Lost Tribe of Coney Island by journalist Claire Prentice is a welcome addition to the imperial Gothic shelf, especially because its story took place on nearby ground. The event was an offshoot of the St. Louis Exposition of 1904, not out of government initiative but private enterprise this time, when Truman K. Hunt, doctor and conman in charge of the Igorot village in the Midwest, returned to the Philippines after the exposition closed and recruited his own band of Igorots comprising 51 men, women and children who were eventually exhibited in Coney Island and became a hit at its old Luna Park (nothing to do with the new Luna Park with the Cyclone roller coaster) in the summer of 1905. Their exploitation, deception and degradation in the big city is told and documented by Prentice in this amazing book. "Americans gone rogue, as Prentice puts it, have long been a part of the Philippines’ landscape, but Truman Hunt, an inveterate liar, a bigamist and a slave driver, seems nearly unparalleled as far as scoundrels go. In some sense, this slick-talking charlatan becomes a stand-in for America itself, or a certain version of America in its more opportunistic historical moments, blind to its own faults and willing to do anything to turn a buck. As Antoinette Funk, Hunt’s lawyer, declared at one of his trials: 'The government set the example of exhibiting the people. The government was the first to bring them to this country for show purposes.' She had a good point, if not a defense."--Robin Hemley in The New York Times 

A young Igorot girl at Coney Island in 1905 (via Claire Prentice)

Seeing $$$: Truman K. Hunt with some Igorots at the World's Fair in St. Louis in 1904 (via Claire Prentice) 

Sunday, January 26, 2020

Winter Mission

AROUND WINTERTIME IN THE Northern Hemisphere every year, octogenarian Dr. Godofredo Ng (Uncle Freddie to all of us), former surgical director of Carolina Medical Mission, brings his entourage all the way from Raleigh, North Carolina to our hometown in Mindoro to do noble work. Assisting him when in Pinamalayan are doctors and dentists from the Ng clan at Pinamalayan Doctors' Hospital: Tess' sisters Dr. Eloisa Ng and Dr. Joyce Ng, late brother Dr. Robert Ng† (who still directs from above), cousins Dr. Antonio Ng, Dr. Marivi Ng, Dr. Adonis Ng, sister-in-law Dr. Mignonne Ng and niece Dr. Romina Ng. Uncle Freddie's medical mission for Mangyan children last week, held in the hospital's covered court, looks like a success from these photos, shared by Dr. Eloisa Ng, Tess' youngest sister. I'll never tire of saying this: I love my wife and her family.

Dr. Godofredo Ng, former surgical director of Carolina Medical Mission (Photo by Spencer Dempsey)

Saturday, January 25, 2020

Children Of The Ash


Mangyan children collecting charcoal on the side of the Bongabong River. Wood is covered with soil and rocks and set on fire for a certain period of time to produce charcoal. The temperature of the wood must not be too hot for the wood to produce the best charcoal. After the wood cools children help sift through the sand and soil to get every small piece of charcoal they can find. (Photo and caption by Jacob Maentz)

Saturday, January 18, 2020

The Postma Manuscripts

I COMPILED INTO A BIBLIOGRAPHY (in neither the MLA or APA format) all of Antoon Postma's work deposited at the Mangyan Heritage Center library in Calapan, accumulated in his almost six decades of working and living with Mangyans from 1958 to 2016. Aside from the five books and about a dozen journal articles he has seen publication during his lifetime, the bulk of his remaining documents are unpublished manuscripts, many of which one may consider as overlapping and repetitive, but testimony to Postma's accreting and evolving understanding of his subject. I am most interested in information I am yet to discover on subjects like Mangyan reducción efforts by early Spanish missionaries, Mangyan interaction with the American imperial government during the early 20th century, abuses committed against Mangyans by the military and lowland Christians in more recent times, and information of anthropological importance (or curiosity) like the rituals in gathering of honey, boiling water to make salt, removing poisonous substances in wild tubers to make them edible, and so on. I wish Postma had done research on the shore-dwelling Mangyans in Bansud before they were driven inland by Christian settlers from Marinduque (the name of the town came from "basud", Mangyan word for "delta" where they once farmed, fished and flourished before turning to the mountains.) But there is none.

With what is available however, book-worthy nonetheless, I have asked Emily Catapang, Executive Director of MHC, to have their text typed up in a CD and submitted with hard copies to UP Press or Anvil for consideration, and she is open to the idea. To enter Postma's world in Panaytayan, Mansalay, Oriental Mindoro, click on his photo in Kurt Hoerbst's slideshow.

(by Kurt Hoerbst, 2007)

Postma's 2004 handwritten transcript (first page) of Karyo's account of his travel to America in 1904, as gathered by Fletcher Gardner in 1939 

Saturday, January 11, 2020

Down Fern Hill

HARAO! BUT BOKAL doesn't need a whack of yantok Mindoro to ford the stream.

Downstream from Manihala Falls, Bansud, Oriental Mindoro (Thanks to Xplorra)

Wednesday, January 1, 2020

One For The Crewman

I ENJOYED WORKING on this, but fun does not always mean good, so there may be changes. I encounter and interact with a lot of Pinoy ship crewmen in my job, all hardworking but underpaid, and this is my tribute. Galley cook photo by Martin Florin Emmanuel. Happy Leap Year!

Saturday, December 14, 2019

Make It Eleven

MONDAY MARKS MY 11TH YEAR of service in the government of this country, but I only have last year's certificate to highlight the occasion because recognition is only given after every five years of accrued service, and this one arrived late due to the last government shutdown and the reorganization of our port management. Despite the dishonor brought upon the agency by an unworthy chief executive and his jackals, there is enough noble work in it to keep one going, so I carry on. The next certificate comes in late 2023, which I will surely get the following year, shortly before I retire in early 2025. Then maybe I can finish that book on the back seat. Happy Holidays to all!

Saturday, December 7, 2019

Public Ivy Benefactor

WILLIAM E. MACAULAY (1945-2019), businessman and philanthropist behind Macaulay Honors College which gives free college tuition (and more) to high-achieving NYC students regardless of family income (before Sanders' and Warren's proposed universal program, but with the high-achieving phrase), passed away last week in a hospital in Cleveland after a heart attack. He is honored with gratefulness for the opportunity his legacy gives gifted NYC college students, as Sara applies for a slot in Fall 2020.

Macaulay with a few of his scholars

35 West 67th Street campus

Thursday, November 28, 2019

Man Friday Repost

BECAUSE I WANT TO GET BACK into its groove after serious history stuff, I am reposting this piece from two years ago. Subway papercut art by Asian-American Bianca Levan. Have a great Pinoy Thanksgiving!

Friday, November 22, 2019

The Folk Element

BECAUSE I BELIEVE THAT the most unadulterated version of folklore is one that was collected (in accessible English) long ago, I was glad to find a copy of the first edition of Filipino Popular Tales (1921) by Dean Spruill Fansler, an early scholar of Pinoy folklore from Columbia University and protege of Franz Boas, "Father of American Anthropology". From 1908 to 1914, Fansler taught at the then young University of the Philippines.