Tuesday, July 25, 2006


Aside from the one 103 comments I received in my Inbox, here are a few more reviews for the article, "It's The Hacienda World As We Know It".

Some were good:
I read your article and found it enlightening to say the least. I was not offended by it at all, and did find parallels in my growing up in Manila/Pasay. My grandmothers were Filipinas, and grandfathers were Americans who transplanted to the Philippines following the Spanish-American War. Although I left the Philippines for greener pastures, I do treasure the years I did spend there, particularly my formative years. Thank you for writing the article.

I was forwarded your treatise (treatise daw!) on the rise and fall of the Kastilaloy wannabes. Being a fellow part-Spanish, part-Chinese, part-Filipino (read: mongrel!), I thought your piece was hilarious. And perhaps more importantly (but only just), it was so true! Especially so as a full-time stock-market watcher. Apart from the Ayalas, and to a much lesser degree the Lopezes and the Aboitizes, I am always asked by foreign investors: "Where have all the Spanish gone?" And my answers run along the same lines as your piece's -- though clearly in much less... eloquent fashion. I feel the economics of the Tisoy's near-extinction from the local business sphere is summarised thusly: "the Spanish are asset-rich, the Chinese are cash-rich." Which is the PC way of saying Tisoys are lazy so-and-so's with an over-inflated sense of entitlement, while the Chinoys are hungry, cunning, agressive bastards (in the best possible sense). I forwarded the article on and got one telling reply: "Well he's getting ultra heat from this and its only beggining. He obviously hit a lot of big sensitive nerves." From a super Tisoy, obviously. Major sense-of-humour failure. I love it. Good on you for speaking your well-informed mind!

I read your controversial article with much interest and I was able to relate. As for those who don't agree, puh-leeeeeeease! You are most right and as for other mestizos you talk about, the american-mestizos ARE very different, they have a lot more backbone...I think you are doing a very commendable job in getting filipinos acquainted with their own culture (something that seems to be sorely missing in this country.

But among the (very few) positive letters I recieved, this is by far my favorite one. By a man named Josemi (above) who used to work for the Intramuros Administration (an institution close to my heart because I am in Intramuros everyday.) It's not often that I meet other Tisoys with a fondness for the walled city. Too bad he isn't here to complete the work he started.

!Hola Carlos! I am Jose Miguel Razon living here in Vancouver, Washington. My cousin Tany Garcia who lives in la Madre Patria, Madrid sent me your article. I am very impressed. Como sabes, I am Spanish-Filipino and I thoroughly enjoyed your openess and objectivity in your article.. as well as the historical nuances. The obliteration of Intramuros... yes, that was the focal point cuando todos tuvimos que ir a muchas otras partes. I worked for the Intramuros Adminsitration as an archival transcriber and translator form 1985-1987 and my old boss, Fr. Merino handed me stacks upon stacks of archival material just waiting to be transcribed and translated. IA is probably not existence any more... or is it? I worked under Sonny Tinio... but those were the old days. I felt then Carlos that I had in my hands (though photo copies of archival texts from the Museo Historico Militar and Archives of the Indies) that I was doing something noble to perhaps rekindle our rich hispanic past. I left the Philippines in 1987 headed to NY, NJ and then Montreal , Canada and then Portland, Oregon.. then to California and then here now in Vancouver. I work for a financial company handling all their Spanish accounts. What can I say? You write with so much lucidity and accuracy peppered with your winsome love of the English language. I've forwarded your article to my family in Australia who will no doubt appreciate what you had written, again with so much clarity and you also wrote as a third person.... taking in all the impressions that people mentioned to you. I am 49 years old and single and love living in the US because I can speak Spanish here and, cono, get paid for it. When I talked to one of my clients (who was from Argentina) she asked me where I was from. I told her. She said , "ah para un filipino usted habla muy bien espanol" so I told her that I am of Spanish ancestry (and Italian and Swiss and British on my Mum's side) When I tried to explain to her where the Philippines was, she replied, "ah si.. las Filipinas esta al lado de CUBA y Puerto Rico!!!!!!" I calmly explained to her where the Philippines is located. Your article bordered on hilarity which I thoroughly enjoyed. Nothing was exaggerated and you hit the nail right on the head! My love for the Spanish language was fired up in 1979 when I wanted to take avanced courses at the Centro Cultural de la Embajada de Espana and I finished the course. I spoke the espanol de casa and wanted more. I began to work as a free lance tour guide after that for major tour agencies. I would like to contribute essays and such and I think that your Walking Tour of Intramuros would be something to get involved in too.
Sinceramente y kita kita....

Sure Joey, contribute away!

But needless to say, most opinions about my essay were, well, not so good. The negatives flew in fast and furious, some coming as far away as the United States.

Celdran is no sociologist, and his use of rash generalization abounds in this article. If he opened his eyes he would see that this UNIVERSAL PENCHANT for being superior to the next guy is a societal ill existing in most countries, not exclusive to his streotyped mestizo ... the Anglo vs. all non whites and every ethnicity in the US...the Anglo vs. the blacks in apartheid throughout Africa... the anglicized (ala Michael Jackson) blacks vs. the more African featured blacks everywhere... the haves vs.the have-nots... the Christians vs. the Moslems... the Christians vs. the Jews... the notion that the Arian race is supreme.....it is all a sad state of affairs that prejudice exists in many forms...and people should be free to carry any passport they so choose and speak any language at the dinner table they are most comfortable with as long as they don't grandstand their theories as though their thoughts are original, as if they are privy to the inner feelings of every mestizo or fellow human being enabling them to judge why people behave the way they do...his generalizations about the "mestizo" are prejudiced and reminiscent of a friend in XXX whose half white daughter is not black enough (reverse prejudice)...as I recall a most gracious Enrique Zobel, visiting my parents when I was a child in Honolulu and clearing the table and insisting on doing the dishes!!! A man of his social stature happily doing the dishes!!! The epitome of the wealthy Manila mestizo unfairly streotyped in Celdran's article spoke great Tagalog, loved this country, never considered himself too good to do menial tasks like he did at our home if need be, was gracious, humble, generous and kind, worked hard and played hard, and what is so wrong with that???? Celdran is presumptuous and may I say blind to the notion that many a non mestizo marvels at the" fairness" of a newborn baby " ay ang ganda, ang puti puti ng bata", "ang bilog ng mata!" "ang tangos ng ilong"...I have heard those lines repeatedly over a lifetiime. It is wrong to cheat, wrong to be a bigot, wrong to think you are better than the next guy, wrong to abuse power...and you can be guilty of these things as a mestizo or not.

My reply:
Thank you for your opinion. I'm glad to see that this article - although not in it's finished form nor printed yet in any journal as of yet - has provoked some reaction here and wherever FILIPINOS (not indios, not tisoys, not chinoys, not ifugaos, - BUT all FILIPINOS - are located. But first, allow me to apologize for any offense you may have taken from the article, but what I said still stands and I cannot retract my words even IF I wanted to. But nevertheless, allow me to clarify some points you brought up.

"If he opened his eyes he would see that this UNIVERSAL PENCHANT for being superior to the next guy is a societal ill existing in most countries, not exclusive to his streotyped mestizo."

Nothing in the article mentions that I believe ONLY Mestizos are privy to such insularity. Read it again and you will see that I have no claims as it being a sole "mestizo" value. So now that that is clear, I am glad to see that you agree with me that perhaps "some" mestizos share this UNIVERSAL PENCHANT.

"Celdran is no sociologist"

Another thing we both agree upon. I am quite flattered that you might think so but unfortunately, I am merely a man who threw his observations and opinions up in the air, and wherever and on whomever it fell upon, I can once again only offer my apologies.

"Celdran is presumptuous and may I say blind to the notion that many a non mestizo marvels at the" fairness" of a newborn baby " ay ang ganda, ang puti puti ng bata", "ang bilog ng mata!" "ang tangos ng ilong"...I have heard those lines repeatedly over a lifetiime."

"A man of his social stature happily doing the dishes!!!"

OK. Two comments that have me dumbfounded and I must admit that I don't know how to react to them at all. Please correct me if I am wrong. But in the first statement, it seems that you are proud of "puti" (white sharpnosed) features being considered as "better" or superior to non "tangos ng ilong" (brown flatnosed) features? And in the second comment, you seem thrilled about rich people taking pleasure in cleaning up after themselves? I am sorry, but no genetic features should ever be considered as superior to another and cleaning dishes is not like feeding the poor or building schools either - it's a basic chore every human being should know how to do. Frankly, I have nothing to say about these two comments all. As a matter of fact, I wish you could elaborate upon them for me. Lastly, please realize that my "rash" generalizations are rooted upon the opinions that I have heard and observations that I have made within that sector of society. The "Spanish Mestizo" of this new millenium (light, dark, and wannabees included) have completely insularized themselves and are totally out of touch with the rest of the Philippines. This NEW generation of upper middle class Spanish mestizos are nothing at all like the generation of the "gracious" Mr. Enrique Zobel which you remember so well (and some might say that is a good thing). Believe me, I did not create these characters or stories out of thin air. They are composites/archetypes of what I have experienced and heard in the thirty three years of living in Manila as a SPANISH MESTIZO himself. And I do not say "SPANISH MESTIZO" proudly nor with shame - I say it only as a matter of fact. In the end, my opinions will perhaps never be compatible with yours due to generational differences and/or upbringing. What I see here is that we can only agree to disagree for now. Nevertheless, thank you for your spirited response. I am glad that my article gave you the opportunity to think long and hard upon this issue.

Our correspondence then got heated and took a really bad turn:
Carlos, sorry to have upset you... the original response did not seem to bother you coming from what you thought was a man, but somehow, realizing i was a woman...you seemed rather disturbed...curious... 1) Not wanting to belabor this too much further...I wonder if most people would find humor or novelty at the thought of Donald Trump doing the dishes as a dinner guest ... your image of the mestizo as a spoiled brat, so to speak, implies that someone like EZ would think this beneath him, and my memory of this wealthy, powerful man doing the dishes stood out, not really having ANYTHING to do with the color of his skin or his heritage. Sure, anyone should be able to do the dishes for himself, but the fact that he did, a man who probably never does, shows not every upper crust mestizo is above menial tasks, as implied in your characterization of Inaki ...it came to mind after your mention of the Todas and the Sorianos. 2) Re the reference to non mestizos marveling at the "puti" and "tangos"...I am merely countering your characterization of the matriarch in Inaki's family who seemed to have disdain for the more native look...it works both ways...I frankly think the kayumanggi is exotic and beautiful. Where you deduced that I felt otherwise is merely in your imagination, because I never said it! The main point I make is that your tunnel vision, negative take on the mestizo is not exclusive to them and is such a screaming generalization...it does not offend me, it just annoys me that you seem to think you can conclude and point out that all these negative character flaws can be attributed to the mestizo and not just any spoiled Filipino of privilege, or for that matter any spoiled elitist in any country... As a result, I feel your article is frivolous...that is just my personal opinion...enough said.

Luckily though, the writer of the aforementioned letter and I ended on amiable terms. This is after all, the blogosphere and all opinions are simultaneously valid and inconsequential.

But not only did I manage to offend folks from way across the seas, I also managed to offend those as close as from within my own family:

M, Mr.M makes a good case in point. It is commendable that his rebuttal has focused on the merits of the persons stated and not on the divisive nature of the article. Needless to say, Carlos' actions have been upsetting to myself and my family included. I apologize to your family for any resentment that may have arisen from his writings.

Some likened the essay to popular literature...
It truly is offensive!!!... The Celdran article panders to the masa reading public ... without regard to history and truth ... it touches on half-truths, legends, exaggerations, gross errors, etc. ... makes for a no-brainer, funny, interesting reading (for an educated person who knows the difference) but can hardly qualify for what one would call a researched piece or a literary gem (and poses problems for those who don't know better) ... can we say Da Vinci Code? Read more on a thread here...

While others wondered from where the hell I'm coming from...
Do you also have Spanish blood? How do you feel about the chinese invasion of the Philippines? Doesn't it bother you? I feel you did a who lot of generalizing about the mestizos from the Philippines. Everyone has a right to an opinion but fact is fact. We are not all like the Elizalde or Ortigas who went astray. JD

My reply: I know the Ortigases and Elizaldes and trust me, there are more out there who have gone astray way farther than they did.

So at the end of the day, what's done is done and I cannot retract the words that I have written, all I can do is own them and apologize to all out there were offended by it while simultaneously thanking those who thought that the essay was a real eye opener about the current state of ALL Philippine-based Spanish Mestizos and their wannabees (and not just that of only ONE specific mestizo individual/family/group in particular).

This essay and this issue have now been put to rest. Don't expect any more replies from me regarding this but please do feel free to talk about it among yourselves though.

Hasta Lluego. Regular fluffy programming will continue tomorrow.