Monday, November 7, 2011

Richard Kissling -The Swiss Sculptor Who Designed the Rizal Monument.

"Dreaming of becoming a Sculptor"

Richard Kissling 1848-1919
Swiss sculptor Richard Kissling, the man who designed the Rizal Monument was born on April 14, 1848 Wolfwil in the canton of Solothurn, Switzerland. As a young boy, he fashioned figures on dough,  telling his parents of his wish of becoming a sculptor. Young Richard started his training in sculpturing as a plasterer in Solothurn. Then moving to stones and granite, his first commissioned works were grave stones. At age 22, he went to Rome to work and train under eminent Swiss sculptor Ferdinand Schlöth

After 13 years in Rome , he went back to Switzerland, where one of his works, a bust of Alfred Escher was  noticed in the Zürich Exposition of 1883. It won him a commission work to build the fountain/monument honoring Escher in the Zürich main train station.

Swiss National Hero

In 1892, Kissling won the competition to design the monument of Swiss national hero William Tell for the town of Altdorf  in the canton of Schwyz. With 30 artists joining the contest, Kissling's design of  William Tell with his arm around his son and a crossbow won first price. The famous William Tell monument of Altdorf  is probably Kisslings most famous work.

Richard Kissling posing with the plaster model of perhaps his most famous opus-the William Tell monument in 1893. The final bronze statue was then cast in the famous Thiébaut foundry in Paris. Almost two decades later Kissling would also send the plaster model of the Rizal monument to the same foundry in Paris for casting. Photo courtesy of "Hommage a Kissling"-Kunst und Kulturverein Uri/ Erich Schenker

"Kissling produced a detailed image of Tell, which cast him as a peasant and man of the mountains , with strong features of muscular limbs his powerful hands rest lovingly in the shoulder of little Walter. Kissling did not try to represent the pierced apple, which would have detracted from the solemnity of the composition. Kissling would eventually be commissioned to provide monuments for dozens of town in Switzerland. His bronzes gave  Swiss tangible image of figures in their national history, in the days before mass media'"-- From Swissinfo

Another National Hero

In  mid 1905,  Kissling read an ad about an international competition initiated by the Philippine government   to design the monument of  Filipino national hero José Rizal. According to the files of the Bundesarchiv or the Federal Archives of Switzerland,  it was actually the  Schweizerischer Bundesrat or the Swiss Federal Council who received first the said ad and then passed it on to the Gesseschaft schweizerischer Maler, Bidhauer und Architekten or the Association of Swiss Painter, Sculptor and Architect.  So after getting the detailed features and photos of the subject and after doing a research at a Zürich library,  Kissling decided to join the competition. He then began his work on the scale model of the design he later would named and submit as "Motto Stella" (Guiding Star).

Winners were then announced in 1908, first prize going to "Al Martir de Bagumbayan"  by Italian Carlo Nicoli, second prize going to Kissling.  Unfortunately Nicoli was not able to fulfill the necessary requirements to seal the contract and due to other vague reasons, the commissioned work was awarded to Kissling.

The Swiss federal Council of 1900- "Schweizerischer  Bundesrat". The seven-member executive council which constitutes the federal government of Switzerland and serves as a collective head of state. The Bundesrat received the contest ad from the Philippine government.

Study on Rizal monument-Ink on paper. Perhaps the earliest plan by Kissling on the monument. Dated 1905. Kunsthaus Zurich.

Photo of the the plaster design (Entwurf, bozeto) of the Rizal monument. This was the one Kissling sent as his entry to Manila for the international competition-the search for the best design of a Rizal monument. Photo 1907. Courtesy of "Hommage a Kissling"-Kunst und Kulturverein Uri 1988/ Erich Schenker

Wassen and Gothard Granite

In 1911, Kissling then began his work on the monument. The bronze statue of Rizal including the figures around the main statue of the subject was conceptualized in his Zürich atelier then cast in Paris. It was then transported to Wassen, in the canton of Uri for mounting and measurement for its granite base, pedestal and the obelisk. Wassen  happens to be a place where the famous Gotthard granite could be found. From there,  Kissling easily managed the necessary cut of the stones.

At the Swiss Alps. The monument during its mounting in Wassen.  (Photo courtesy of Gemeinde Wassen/ Wassen Community Website, Uri, Switzerland)

The quarry for granite in Wassen. Where the stone of the obelisk and the pedestal of the Rizal monument was taken   (Photo courtesy of Gemeinde Wassen/ Wassen Community Website, Uri, Switzerland)

From the Alps,  the cast bronze statue, the stones of the base and pedestal were transported via railway to neighboring Italy where it took a ship from the Mediterranean going to the Suez and traveled to the Philippines where it was reassembled in the Luneta.

In 1913, to commemorate the 17th year of Rizal's execution Richard Kissling's "Motto Stella" was unveiled.

Kissling in 1914

Almost Forgotten

Richard Kissling died in Zürich  July 19,  1919. The once famous artist of his country, who was once called "national sculptor of Switzerland", died almost forgotten, owing to the fact that his "classic-heroic" style was already considered obsolete in his time. It was said that the plaster model of one of his famous work "Alfred Escher Monument" was even thrown in the Lake of Zürich.


The William Tell monument in Altdorf.

Statue of Alfred Escher in Zurich main train station

Rizal monument. Notice the similarity to the Escher statue revealing the style of the artist. 

Coat of arms of  Municipality of Wassen

Coat of arms-Canton Uri

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Rizal in Schaffhausen, Switzerland

José P. Rizal

Coat of arms of  Schaffhausen
Located at the northern tip of Switzerland, bordering Germany, Schaffhausen is one of the charming cities in the alpine nation. It is also the capital of the state or canton with the same name; Schaffhausen. The city is known for its Renaissance era buildings decorated with exterior frescoes and sculpture. In the old section of the city, one can  find the historic fort, the Munot. In the Middle ages Schaffhausen was as a city states  enjoying  autonomy from the Hapsburg. In 1505 they joined the Swiss confederation.

José Rizal together with Maximo Viola, visited Schaffhausen in June 2-3 1887.  They billeted themselves in Hotel Müller, just across the city's main train station. It was actually their grand tour of Europe before José Rizal's first homecoming to the Philippines. But why did they included Schaffhausen in their itinerary? What was the reason of their stop to the city?

Hotel Müller in the early 1900.

Rizal had this strange attraction to bodies of water. He immortalized the Pasig river in his writings. From the Pacific to the Elbe there was always something in bodies of water that stirred the romantic spirit in him. This travels with Viola is a good reference. Dresden to Leitmeritz is in the path of the river Elbe. what totally gave him away is this stop in Scahffhausen. There were no friends and personalities to visit there. No events to see and no places of high interest......except; the mighty "Rheinfall" (the Rhein Waterfalls)

The "Rheinfall" is Europe's largest waterfalls, it is located on the Upper Rhine river in the municipality of Neuhausen Am Rheinfall (part of canton Schaffhausen). About 20 minutes drive by bus in the center of Schaffhausen.

Postcard of the "Rheinfall" during Rizal's time

Maximo Viola wrote in his travel memoir with Rizal in Europe on their stop to the Rheinfall in 1887: "It was the grandest cascade in Europe; we forded the river in front of the same cataract in a small boat which vibrated very much on account of the surge produced by the great quantity of water in its vertiginous and noisy fall. We bought some souvenirs of our visit to that beautiful cascade and then proceeded to Schaffhausen."
Dr. Maximo Viola

Viola did not mention the places they visit in the city of Scaffhausen, nor was there any reference of what they did. He just referred the travel book they were using that time (Baedekers). Rizal in his letter to Ferdinand Blumentritt merely mentioned that they will visit Schaffhausen. Judging from Viola's own  account, the high point of the visit in the Schaffhausen area was no other than the "Rheinfall".

Judging from Baedekers travel guide, I believe Rizal and Viola visited the Munot, the old town center or perhaps even the bell of Schiller. As a former residence of Schaffhausen who had seen its vibrant tourist industry and known its history, I cannot help but conclude that no doubt they spent the rest of their time visiting those famous places of Schaffhausen. Where else would they go?...."Sicher d' Schaffhuse!"



Observation deck of the Rheinfall

The back of  Hotel Múller's receipt during Rizal's time

The former Hotel Müller. Picture taken 1996

The marker installed by the PH government  

The hotel viewed across the train station. 1996 photo

The hotel in the early 1960's


The Munot

                                                                View of the old city

The view of the Munot  from the Rhine River

Me at Schiller's Bell, one attraction in Schaffhausen

Thursday, September 29, 2011

The Harry Stonehill Story

From G.I. Joe to Tycoon
"History repeats itself,  first as tragedy, the second as farce"   
                                                                      -Karl Marx                                                                                                                                  
The Uncanny Businessman

Harry Stonehill courtesy of Lopez Museum
In the less than two decades of his stay in the Philippines, Harry Stonehill  was able to build a business empire reputedly valued at around 50 Million US Dollars. The 18 corporations  he started in the country were pioneering and high earning business ventures, some of which are still existing today.

From tobacco, to glass manufacture, to cement production and publishing,  Stonehill was the uncanny businessman never ceasing in his search for new ventures. Reclaiming parts of Manila Bay and turning it into an opulent district was said to be his original idea.

Indeed, Harry Stonehill was turning the country into his business playground when suddenly his luck turned sour. In 1960 he was  subject to a congressional investigation on alleged tax evasion charges. What happened next in the following years were series of events falling into places exposing Stonehill on his alleged illegal business activities. Charges of bribery, influence peddling, economic sabotage etc. surfaced. Discovered to be receiving money from Stonehill in exchange of favors were known government officials and media men . The scandal even reached the president and some of his cabinet members.  Feeling a  fallout in the case, then President Diosdado Macapagal  ordered Stonehill's sudden deportation without trial. Macapagal even dismissed his justice secretary Jose W. Diokno who was heading the government investigation on the Stonehill case.

Lieutenat Harry Solomon Stonehill

Harry Steinberg (aka Harry Stonehill) was born 1918 in Missouri USA to a hard working immigrant couple who traces their ancestry to Polish Jews.  The family then moved to Chicago where Harry Stonehill spent his formative years. In 1942 he changed his surname by translating it literally from its Germanic form to its anglicized version  thereby becoming Stonehill. He first came to the Philippines in 1945 with American liberation forces, (where he was a lieutenant) and settled in Manila. Consumer goods in the Philippines were scarce after Liberation and it gave the young Stonehill the hint to where to focus his entrepreneurial drive. He first started selling basic items such as needles and threads in Chinatown, (supplied by his mother from Chicago). Then he went on marketing of all things, American Christmas cards in the country. Afterwards, he moved on to bigger undertakings selling army surplus supplies, from boots and vehicles to chocolates and Spam. It was during this time that Stonehill established together with his US army friend ex Sergeant Ira Blaustein one of his early corporation - the Universal Trading Company. But it was in the Tobacco industry that he had his first big hit.

Tobacco King

Harry Stonehill  introduced in the market a cigarette brand called "Puppies". It became a hit, outselling competitors thereby confirming his reputation as the new Tobacco king of the Philippines. He did this by introducing Virginia tobacco to Ilocos, encouraging the farmers of the region to grow this kind of tobacco, hiring experts to help the tobacco farmer and then buying back their crops.

By the end of the 1950's Stonehill's business empire was made up of good standing companies such as Republic Glass Corporation for glass production, Philippine Tobacco Corporation for tobacco and tobacco curing, Philippine Cotton Corporation for cotton and textile, American Asiatic Oil Corporation, Far East Publishing for  media and publishing and other outstanding venture such as  low cost housing projects etc. His companies were leading the industrial sector and at the same attempting, as he claims,  to give new economic power to the Filipino middle class. Then came the 1960 congress hearing against Stonehill on  charges of tax evasion, charges which Stonehill simply labeled as "a campaign of vilification".

Stonehill with his lawyers in the congressional hearing 1960

The Empire Crumbles

The congressional hearing on Harry Stonehill resulted in the lawmakers unable to pin down the American Mogul. It seems like whatever they threw against him, Stonehill had always a ready answer.The hearing itself became a media event thus making Stonehill  a household name. Then in March 1962 events took an unexpected turn. Harry Stonehill and his business associate Robert Brooks were arrested on charges of frustrated murder. Meinhart Spielman,  former general manager of Philippine Tobacco Corporation accused the two man of beating him (almost to death). In filing the charges, in fear of his life,  Spielman then revealed to the NBI (National Bureau of Investigation)  the tobacco company's shady dealings .This prompted Justice Secretary Jose W. Diokno to order the NBI to conduct raids on the various offices of Stonehill.

The NBI was said to have seized about two truckloads of documents and the raid also revealed Stonehill's  wiretapping activities on a number of government officials. But the most damning piece of evidence against Stonehill was the discovery of the so called "Blue Book". It was where Stonehill listed the names of more than 200 public officials, businessmen , and media people who received money from him in exchange for favors, and  information. The then Senator Ferdinand E. Marcos was said to be on the list and even President Diosdado Macapagal himself. ( having received 3Million Pesos worth of campaign funds).


Stonehill and Brooks were arrested on March 3 1962 on charges of tax evasion, economic sabotage, blackmail and corruption of public officials etc. On August 3 1962 five months after their arrest, President Diosdado Macapagal ordered that the two respondents be immediately "deported by the first available transportation from the Philippines". Macapagal would be criticized with this action,  Stonehill's and Brook's legal woes would continue in the US, where their own government would bring them to court with almost the same charges ranging from tax evasion, unfair business practices, illegal dollar export, economic sabotage etc.

Unable to take roots in the US, ( he was constantly hounded by the US government), Harry Stonehill and his family (he had four children with his second wife, a Filipina, Lourdes Blanco) would then wander from country to country. In 1963, Mexico deported him, the next year Canada deported him also. He briefly stayed in Japan, England and Brazil until finally settling in Switzerland and in Spain. Most  friends who visited him in his so called "exile"would attest to Stonehills longing to return to the Phillippines which he considered home.

Defining Harry Stonehill

One cannot help but ask again; Who really was Harry Stonehill? How was it possible that  in the span of  two decades he became such  a powerful man in the country? Did the CIA really played a role in his downfall?  Why did the US, his own government turned against him?

In 1987, a year after the Edsa I Revolution, Harry Stonehill made a brief visit to Manila and hinted on recovering his wealth. Nothing came out of it. On March 2002 Harry Stonehill died in a hospital in Malaga, Spain. He was 84.


    I. What happened to Stonehill's Assets?

The Million Dollar question

In 1963 the Philippine Senate did a probe on Stonehill's asset.  
According to the BIR, Stonehill, Brooks and the Philippine Tobacco Corporation owed the government a total of 115 million Php in specific, corporate and income taxes from 1959 to 1961.  It was revealed later by the Senate Blue Ribbon Subcommittee headed that time by Sen Lorenzo Sumulong that the necessary liens were not issued until it was too late. As a result not a single centavo was collected from the 115million Php. It was also revealed that 10 million Php in Stonehill assets were transferred to four aliens and five Filipinos. The transfers were made from 4 to 24 of April 1962. They were transferring assets while under arrest? Confidential information received by the Senate Blue Ribbon Subcommittee  was to the effect that certain former government officials were among the transferees  of the Stonehill stocks. In January 1965 Senator Ganzon charged that Stonehill empire continued to flourish in Manila, run by ten dummies of  Stonehill.

II. The corporations he started where are they now?

Geronomo Z. Velasco's book published 2006
The Stonehill ventures had also produce outstanding industrialist . One of such was the late Geronimo Velasco, Minister of Energy during the Marcos era. In this memoir book. Velasco related how he was tapped in the late 1950's by Stonehill to build a glass plant in Pinagbuhatan, Pasig,( a place he described in his book as a 'duck farm"). The plant would be known as Republic Glass Corporation (RGC) Velasco would then lead the plant in its early years then becoming President when Stonehill  was deported  (Stonehill allegedly sold his stocks to Castle and Cookes in 1962. The plant is still operational but now under Japanese management). It was also in the ground of the  plant in 1974 that Velasco, while riding his horse "Lightning", received the news of his impending appointment to the Marcos cabinet. When this book was published people thought it would be a tell all revelation about the Marcos years but instead it was an outstanding study of the country's attempt to achieved energy sufficiency.  Velasco puts premium in energy self reliance as a prerequisite to industrialization and development. Much of Velasco's vision remains unfulfilled. History would prove him right with the global trend in the search for alternative power source .

III. What happened to some personalities involved in the Stonehill Case?

President Diosdado Macapagal

No matter how hard he and his government tried to remove the stigma cause by the  Harry  Stonehill case,  people  would go on associating him with it  for years. Stonehill's case would be openly discussed again with the allegation of corruption that hounded the administration of Gloria Macapagal Arroyo. (ZTE deal, Jocjoc Bolante Fertilizer Scam etc.) People could not help but draw the parallelism of the separate cases involving father and daughter. Diosdado Macapagal would seek a second term of office but was soundly defeated, in an ironic twist of fate,  by Ferdinand E. Marcos.

Jose W. Diokno
He came out as the hero in this case and it did define his career as a public official. When he was dismissed as Justice secretary he openly questioned the president's decision  allowing Stonehill to go with this words: "How can the government now prosecute the corrupted when it allowed the corrupter to go".  In 1963 he was elected senator. He was imprisoned when Marcos declared Martial Law. Released and was appointed Human Right Secretary during  Cory Aquino's term. He died in February 1987. Filipinos still remembers "Ka Pepe" and his valiant stand against corruption, abuse of power and dictatorship.

Meinhart Spielman
Meinhart Spielman vanished, he was never seen again. Reports said that he was brought to Sulu and was murdered there. Unconfirmed  statements claimed he  was a CIA man.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Manuel N. Luna- 19th Century Filipino Violin Virtuoso

One of the Talented Luna Brothers. 

Manuel Luna as painted by his brother Juan Luna

A Matter of Introduction

Perhaps we can say that Manuel Andres Luna y Novicio was a man of incredible talents. Belonging to the illustrious Luna brothers,  he was first a mariner then studied music and the violin to become one of the famous Filipino violinist of the 19nth century.

Manuel Andres Luna y Novicio was born in Badoc , Ilocos Norte on June 30 1856. The eldest son of Joaquin Luna and Laureana Novicio in a brood of seven.  Manuel studied at the Ateneo Municipal then later to the prestigious "Escuela Nautica" where he and also his brother painter Juan Luna finished their seaman's course. Manuel graduated in his class with  honors and earned the certificate:"Piloto de Altos Mares".

Brothers Manuel and Juan Luna worked  in ships that sailed the South Seas. While his brother Juan was interested in art, Manuel spent his free time learning to play the violin . Once back in Manila, he decided to take the instrument seriously studying under Spanish violin pedagogue Prof. Remifio Calahorra. It was Prof. Calahorra who advised Manuel Luna to travel and continue his music studies in Europe, In 1897 the young Manuel Luna then sailed to Spain.

Spain and her Music in the late 19th century

Nationalism in music was prevalent in Europe in the middle up to the latter part of the 19nth century. In Spain composers like Manuel de Falla,  Enrique Granados, Isaac Albeniz etc. created works that echoes Spanish themes and folk music. It is also a fact, that many of the greatest Spanish zarsuelas were written in the period (1880 to the 1890's ) and its was due to the group of patriotic composers and librettist  that revived the zarsuela form in the 1860's. In the field of instrumental music names like Francisco Tárrega (considered the father of the modern art of guitar playing) charmed the concert goers of Madrid and other cities of Europe playing his compositions with this instrument that is truly defined for Spain. Meanwhile two names were to be considered important in the field of spanish violin music. They would later be known as the two representatives of the "escuela española  violinistica" (spanish violin school). That two names are Pablo de Sarasate and Jesus de Monasterio. The former was to become probably the greatest violinist of the 19th century. The latter overshadowed by the brilliant career of  Sarasate, would then play an important role in the musical career of many of his students including Manuel N. Luna.

Jesus de Monasterio

Violinist and Conductor

Manuel Luna studied the violin at the Conservatorio de Madrid  under this renowned Spanish violin professor Jesus Monasterio y Agüero.  He was said to be admitted in an advance class due to his previous training. He also studied conducting at the same time. In 1879 Manuel Luna  received his diploma as "Professor de Violin" signed by the conservatory's director Emilio Arrieta

A Jean Baptiste Vuillaume  Violin
Jean Baptiste Vuillaume was a leading luthier in Paris in the late 1800. Manuel Luna's violin was a Vuillaume. After his death, his violin was entrusted to his brothers Jose Luna and to Gen. Antonio Luna. A recent auction of a Vuillaume (the picture above) fetched the prize of the instrument at  18,500 US dollar

The signature mark of the violin maker inside the instrument

Manila Awed

Manuel Luna then traveled to France and Italy, to see some of the famous violin soloist of those countries, observing perhaps to further hone his knowledge in violin performance. At the end of 1879, he returned to the Philippines and did a series of concerts. In December he was presented at the Variadades Theater playing accompanied with the piano,  the piece "Scena Di Balleto by Belgian violinist/composer Charles Aguste de Beriot (it is interesting to note that Monasterio studied under de Beriot). One Manila newspaper at that time said to have written:" Señor Luna played with brilliancy, delicacy, sentiment and purity of intonation, thus giving honor to Monasterio, his former professor"

His skills as a conductor earned him positive revues from leading journals of the time.  Having led ensembles and orchestras in outstanding performances in Manila . One such notable event was a January 8, 1881 concert,  when he conducted a big choral group and an orchestra in interpreting  Louis Niedermeyer's "Mass".

Manuel Luna was also often  mentioned side by side with his leading Filipino contemporaries like foremost violinist Gil Lopez y Villanueva, they were often called " the representative of a truly local talent."

Unfortunate End

Planning to return to Europe, Manuel Luna went to Agoo La Union to bid farewell to his parents, He caught a dreaded disease on his way and on July 15 1883 Manuel Luna died and was immediately buried. His price possession, a Jean Baptiste Vuillaume Violin was left to his brothers Joaquin Luna and Antonio Luna.

The Luna Brothers

Manuel Luna with brother Jose N Luna

Juan Luna -self portrait

General Antonio N Luna

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Gone is my River!

Of  Rizal And The River Communities of 19th Century town of  Pasig                            

José P. Rizal
 José Rizal immortalized and romanticized the Pasig River more than any other intellectual in our history. In his novels,  he mentioned the river many times and even wrote about the legends that abound in it. The climax of the Noli Me Tangere, that river chase on Ibarra happened in the Pasig river. Which part of the Pasig River?.......Not that far from my hometown of Pinagbuhatan, Pasig. If we deal with it with reality, we can say that Ibarra passed by our place before the shooting happened in the Laguna de Bay. But actually not only Ibarra. But Rizal himself had probably seen the rustic image of our barrio from the boat he was traveling many times.

The Manila to Laguna  journey (and vice versa), in the 19nth century were done via Pasig River. It is the ideal way since highways were non existence. Roads were unpaved, primitive and unsafe. The trip was usually done with steam boat or Casco. Rizal gave us a very vivid glimpse of that travel in the opening chapter of the El Filibusterismo, where the steam ship Tabo was traversing the Pasig River. What was interesting for me in this chapter was Rizal writing about the Pasig River waterway and the river communities of the town of Pasig  in the 19th century. For example in Chapter III he wrote:
"When Padre Florentino greeted the little group there were no longer traces of the ill humor of the past discussions. Perhaps they were influenced by the spirits, by the charming houses of Pasig,  the glasses of sherry they had taken to whet their appetite........

I asked many times, where could this houses be? What are those houses he was writing about? My research led me first to conclude that Rizal was describing the area around Sumilang nearing Kalawaan,  where houses were said to be beautiful and well built in the latter part of the 19nth century.  Subsequent inquiry specially with the historical experts of Pasig City suggested it could be the houses near the church. Remember, 19th century Pasig was different. The dominating edifice at that time was the church. Back then , from the Pasig river, if one is already in the vicinity of Sumilang one could see the church dome,  the bell tower and the houses that surrounds  it.
The view of the church from the Bitukang Manok. Note the dome of the church

*Then middle of Chapter III Rizal wrote of legends that abounds in the Pasig. The legends of "Malapad na Bato"(believed to be found in the Makati area),  Doña Jeronima's Cave (found somewhere in Barangay Pineda , Pasig) and the "Buwayang Bato" (said to be located also in Pineda or in Guadalupe, Makati), the crocodile that turned to stone, leaves us with more questions and mystery. Indeed Rizal immortalized the river with this tales. Incredible.                                    

           *The Legend of Doña Jeronima as Rizal wrote:

But of all this things written, the most interesting and the most candid,  was that last scene in Chapter I of the El Filibusterismo where a group of travelers were discussing on the upper deck of the Tabo . Two characters, Ben Zayb the journalist and Don Custodio, were talking about ducks...itik... that abound the area. Now quoting Rizal in the El Filibusterismo he wrote (Don Custodio telling Ben Zayb): "I am not talking of wild ducks, I mean the domesticated ones. Those that are bred in Pateros and Pasig." Rizal was actually mentioning the source of livelihood of my ancestors and that also of the ancestors of many Pasigueños who lived and still are living near the banks of  the river. To be precise, the barrios of Pinagbuhatan and the Bambang-Kalawaan area. For this are the places in Pasig where duck industry flourished for perhaps more than a century before its demised in the 1980's.

  Pateros river scene 19nth Cent. by Jose Honorato Lozano. Notice the "kamalig" and the "puya"or puyahan". 

 Rizal was so indeed a keen observer for he even discussed  in that El Filibusterismo chapter how duck feeds were obtained in the area and of course he also mentioned the famous "balut".

In the mid 1960's when industrial pollution started to ravage the Pasig River, the duck raising industry started it's decline. As feeds "caracoles" (river snails or "sambuele" in the local language),  became scarce, leading family of duck raisers in Pinagbuhatan started to abandon the business, which was then taken over by the Chinese entepreneurs, only to abandon it also later. The Kalawaan folks held on a little bit for years but as the 1980's came,  the whole duck industry of Pasig would be dead. Ending perhaps one of the oldest known industry of the river communities of Pasig.

If Rizal would see the Pasig River now from my hometown, he would probably say: "Gone is my river!"


1973 Photo
Circle marks the entrance of the cave. Its beside the c5 bridge connecting Pasig to Makati


Excavation done by  Barangay Pineda, Pasig

Old Picture of "Puyahan"                            

Familiar scene in duck raising areas  of Pasig and Pateros

19th Century  Pasig River Scenes

View from the town near Taguig on the Pasig River  by  Jose Honorato Lozano

 The casco as mode of transportation.

Mouth of the Pasig River (ETH Bibliothek Bild Archiv)

 Steam boats and cascos.