Monday, June 4, 2012

THE REAL STORY BEHIND CAPTAIN BARBELL



Pinoy Komiks #2, June 6, 1963

One who is not familiar with Mars Ravelo’s Captain Barbell character would quip that it’s ridiculous. Some would even say that the character is laughable. How in the world would anyone think of creating a superhero whose power is dependent on a barbell? But there is a story behind it.

It all started with another immortal character created by Ravelo – Darna. Many writers today believed that Darna is a copycat of Wonder Woman. This is actually a case of “racist” misinformation. Ravelo’s concept of Varga (Darna’s predecessor character), which he called “Kamanghamanghang dilag” (Wonderwoman) predates that of Wonder Woman.

In 1939, after seeing Superman in the first few issues of the Action Comics and newspaper comic strips, he created Varga as the female counterpart of Superman. He started telling his story and showing his creation, clad in more or less a Philippine flag-like costume, to his American friends as the Philippines’ answer to Superman. He believed in the concept that the U.S. is male and the Philippines is female. Unfortunately, several publishers including Liwayway turned him down saying that “a female superhero won’t sell.” So he archived it until after World War II when it was first published it Bulaklak magazine Vol. 4 No. 17 on July 23, 1947. He was, however, disappointed when Wonder Woman came out in All Star Comic #5 in December 1941. Ravelo sincerely believed that Charles Marston, the creator of Wonder Woman, was here in the Philippines sometime in 1939 (if this can only be proven?), and was allegedly one among those who heard his story of Varga (During his early twenties, Ravelo was quite vocal in storytelling about his komiks ideas). He sincerely believed that some of the concepts of Varga, his “Wonderwoman from the Planet Marte” was bootlegged.

Pinoy Komiks #5, July 18, 1963

Ravelo vent out a sort of retaliation on the Captain Marvel character. This time, he admitted doing the spoofing himself, and out came Captain Barbell. He tailor-made the character Tenteng (Captain Barbell’s alter-ego), to Dolphy, who was then a comical skinny actor, as a pun or insult, as opposed to the matinee-idol type Billy Batson (Captain Marvel’s alter-ego). He specifically told illustrator Jim Fernandez about that, and you can see the obvious similarity between Dolphy and Tenteng in Fernandez’ drawings (“Captain Barbell,” Pinoy Komiks, 1963). He even intended the character to have a funny transformation, that Captain Barbell would turn into a skinny bungling superhero (Ravelo, however, later changed that story, which became “Captain Barbell vs. Flash Fifita”). (Un)Fortunately, Captain Barbell became a great hit and Dolphy made his character Tenteng quite a sensation. So, Ravelo changed his mind and continued the legacy of Captain Barbell.

Captain Barbell issue no. 8. Notice how
Jim Fernandez illustrated Tenteng.
Does he not look like Dolphy?
In the original Captain Barbell komiks series (May 23, 1963 – June 18, 1964), and in the first movie, Tenteng was a laughable skinny young man very much maltreated by his four step-brothers, Bruno, Badong, Baldo & Banong. When I asked Uncle Mars what was Tenteng’s full name, he revealed that it was originally Penitente Mumolingot, and smirkingly hasten to add “huwag mo ng itanong” (don’t bother to ask). When I asked Tita Lucy (Ravelo’s wife) years later, she didn’t know about the “Mumolingot” surname but told me that Tenteng was actually taken from the name of a tall lanky boy who bullied Ravelo as a kid.

In the original story, Tenteng released a genie from a bottle and in return the genie gave him three wishes. His first wish was for a fried chicken. His second wish was a barbell he alone can lift that possesses the power to transform him into a super being the moment he shouts “Captain Barbell” (much like “SHAZAM” in Captain Marvel). His third wish was for the genie to become small again. Unfortunately the genie got eaten by a cat.

The start of the story was filled with comedy (with Dolphy’s unequalled portrayal of Tenteng in the movie). The original Captain Barbell (portrayed by Bob Soler) had an eye mask and a real barbell made of “magical” solid gold. Captain Barbell and his alter-ego Tenteng each has a separate identity and portrayal. Tenteng is funny and a weakling while Captain Barbell is a serious character, and superstrong and invulnerable to any man-made weapons. He doesn’t, however, have superspeed as being portrayed on the television series. In fact, GMA 7’s adulterated version of Captain Barbell is almost entirely different from the original character, in storyline, costume & characterization. I would think Uncle Mars would pound them with a barbell if he is still alive today for adulterating his creation.

Pinoy Komiks #31, July 16, 1964

Furthermore, after the power of the magical barbell left Tenteng (in the end of the original series), the barbell was thrown into the sea. In the succeeding series, the magical barbell re-emerged and found new rightful owners: Captain Barbel hence became the alter-ego of the limping Dario (“Captain Barbell Kontra Captain Bakal,” Pinoy Komiks, July 2, 1964), and the legless cigarette vendor Gomer (“Captain Barbell Versus Flash Fifita,” Liwayway, December 26, 1966).



NOTE: Based on an unpublished interviews by the author with Mars Ravelo in 1985.

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Thursday, February 23, 2012

THE LOST WORKS OF MARS RAVELO

THE LOST WORKS OF MARS RAVELO

In 1985, I was introduced by then MOD Filipina magazine editor-in-chief Ernie Evora Sioco to Marcial “Mars” Ravelo (1916-1988), the “Dean of Filipino Komiks Writer” and “Father of Filipino Komiks Superheroes.” I was asked by Mrs. Sioco to interview Mr. Ravelo. I did two interviews with “Uncle Mars” as he was fondly called by the people around him. Both of the interviews revolved around many things from comparing politics of old to politics of the 1980s, to komiks and the different comic characters he created, most especially the superheroes. The interviews were done in Pilipino; one inside the office of Mr. Antonio Tenorio, then Atlas Publication’s head of Komiks Department, in the old Atlas Compound in Roces Avenue, and the second in a Savory Restaurant together with his wife Lucy and Mrs. Sioco. He was around 70 years old, but aside from what he called “a few moments of lapses” he was still quite sharp on his wits.

The interviews were not published in MOD then because Mrs. Sioco was thinking of starting a Pilipino-language magazine. But when Gintong Mariposa magazine was established several years later, I misplaced the envelope where the cassette tape and typewritten notes of the interview (the result of my family’s transferring from one house to another). It was only about three years ago that I was able to recover it.

In the interview, I did some background profiling of Ravelo, and noted that he was the creator of many of the unforgettable characters in Philippine pop culture: Rita, Trudis Liit, Roberta, Si Gorio at Si Tekla, Maruja, Facifica Falayfay, Bondying, Dyesebel, among others. His komiks dramas like Basahang Ginto and Tubog sa Ginto were literally acclaimed as cinematic gold. His superhero characters like Darna, Captain Barbell and Lastikman were also immortalized in films and television series.

Today, after comparing my notes with what I was able to gather about Uncle Mars in the Internet, it dawned on me that what he revealed to me in the interviews were valuable information unknown to most people.

Do you know for example that Ravelo’s first published works came out around mid-1938 when he was still a struggling 22-year-old cartoonist? But if you browse through the Internet and a couple of very “shallow” komiks history books, you would read that Rita (Kasinghot), published in Bulaklak magazine in 1947, is tagged as the first published komiks creation of Ravelo. That’s nine years off the mark!

In my interviews, Ravelo revealed that “sa abot ng natatandaan ko” (as far as I can remember), his first published works were “Ponchong” and “Bemboy.” And had not Liwayway magazine turned him down on his Varga (Darna’s predecessor character), history would have put Darna’s origin inside Liwayway’s pages instead of Bulaklak, and she would have been the Philippines’ first komiks superhero (Yes, at least one-a-half years ahead of Wonder Woman's first comics appearance!).

For two years since rediscovering the text of the interviews, I spent part of my spare time trying to find remnants of Ravelo’s lost works. I scoured libraries and my collector-friends’ bauls for naught. It was only recently that I got lucky. I found “Bemboy” courtesy of komiks collector and archiver Jose Dennis Villegas’ blog.

According to Mr. Villegas, he acquired the very rare find, a 1939 Mabuhay Extra magazine containing Ravelo’s komiks strip “Bemboy,” from an antique dealer. Now I’m also scouring even junk shops for Ravelo’s lost works, expecting to be lucky one of these days and perhaps find his other lost work, “Ponchong.”

Both Bemboy and Ponchong, like many of the Ravelo-created characters including Narda (Varga/Darna alter-ego), Bondying, Tony (of “Tiny Tony”), etc., were names of his childhood playmates.

Ravelo also told me that the two persons that influenced him early in his career were Irish cartoonist George McManus (1884-1954) and Jewish-American animator Max Fleischer (1883-1972). McManus’ cartoon strips “Rosie’s Beau,” “Bringing Up Father,” and “The Newly Weds, influenced him so much both in his style of writing and drawing. The character Ponchong he said was a Filipino version of Jiggs, the character in “Bringing Up Father” that brought McManus to fame and fortune. The komiks strips "Totit," "Ipe," “Buhay Pilipino” and “Si Gorio at Si Tekla” were reminiscent of McManus’ style.

For the character Bemboy (I earlier thought it was “Bimboy” until I saw the comic strip discovered by Villegas), he recalled having a playmate who argued with his mother a lot because he put so much attention to his dog that he always neglect to do his home chores. It so happened that Fleischer created a character named “Bimbo,” the dog with a human girlfriend, which is “Betty Boop” (the character that immortalized Fleischer). Ravelo sort of experimented during his early works, intermixing the real story with fiction, and also interspersing the drawing styles of McManus and Fleischer with his own.

Varga is another casing point of Ravelo’s early style of drawing. True to his accounts, Varga’s illustration is a cross between McManus and Fleischer. And based on his story, the timeline of Varga should be put around 1939 and not 1947.

To quote Ravelo: “Alam mo naisip kong gawin yung Varga para itapat kay Superman. Lalake yung sa mga Amerikano, babae yung sa atin. Di ba ayos?” (You know I thought of creating Varga as a counterpart of Superman. Male on the part of the Americans, female on our part. Isn’t that okay?). It can also be noted that Varga was a character archived twice. By some twist of circumstance, the name Varga became the ownership of Bulaklak magazine (during those times, intellectual property right is not yet in effect) and when Ravelo left the publication in 1949 after a falling out with its editor, Varga stayed behind. Ravelo took Varga’s personality, revised her costume, and brought her to Pilipino Komiks, and renamed the character Darna.

For more than six decades the character Varga was lost, never again to be seen until ABS-CBN Channel 2 made it into a TV series which started on August 2, 2008. The character portrayed by Mariel Rodriguez, however, was very different from the original creation of Ravelo. The superheroine’s costume was change, as well as her origin and beginning. The name of her alter ego was also change – from Narda to Olga.

There were so many which can be considered as lost works of Ravelo. While they are listed among his resumes, many of his works no longer have existing copies. Before Iskul Bukol’s Miss Tapia, there was already “Miss Tilapia.” Before Jinkee Pacquiao was even born, Ravelo already have a character named “Jinkee.” Truly, sad to say, much of the priceless legacies left by this legendary komiks great maybe lost forever.

Now, anyone of you heard about “Boksingera?” Can you find me an existing copy of the “Baby Bubut” komiks series? Ah yes, how about “Zorina,” “Kitikiti,” or “Nakangiting Halimaw?”



Note: Mars Ravelo was one of the “Founding Fathers” of MOD Magazine. He was the one who brainchild the Pilipino Komiks Incorporated’s Sixteen Magazine (June 22, 1968, with Orlando R. Nadres as its first editor). Later, under Atlas Publishing, Ravelo’s Sixteen eventually expanded to the large-sized Sixteen MOD Filipina (December 6, 1974), then to MOD Filipina (October 10, 1975), and finally to the MOD title (July 3, 1992) we know today. It is also interesting to note that MOD’s earliest ancestors were written in Tagalog and later in Taglish before English became its permanent medium.

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Saturday, January 14, 2012

PEDRO BUKANEG: Father of Ilokano Literature

Pedro Bukaneg is one of the colorful figures in the history of the Philippines, particularly in the annals of Samtoy (ancient name of Ilocos, or Ylukon to the neighboring regions). From meager written sources and abundant oral traditions, biographers are able to weave the elusive strands of his life and remarkable achievements. They rhapsodized him as the first Ilokano man-of-letters. They compare him to Moses because as a newly-born baby, he was found floating down the river by a woman; to Homer, for he was born blind and grew up to be a popular bard; and to Socrates, because he was not good-looking as a man but wise. As the first Ilokano poet, orator, musician, lexicographer, and linguist, to appear in the limelight of history, whose name and deeds enhance the glory of Ilokandia’s literary heritage, history has bequeathed upon him the title of “Father of Ilokano Literature.”

Many aspects of Bukaneg’s life are obscured by legendary mists, so that it is quite difficult to dissociate the historical Bukaneg from the legendary Bukaneg. It is speculated that Bukaneg might have been born early in 1592. It is said that one day in March, 1592, a laundry woman found a little baby crying inside a floating tampipi (big basket for keeping clothes) along the bank of a stream (now called Banaoang River), a tributary of the big Abra River, which flows between the town of Bantay and Vigan, Ilocos Sur. She took the baby and saw it was a boy, ugly and blind. This story parallels that of the Biblical Moses, who, was an infant found by an Egyptian princess (daughter of pharaoh) inside a basket floating down the Nile River. The only difference is that Moses was neither ugly nor blind. Evidently, Bukaneg was a victim of the brutal custom of destroying infants born with physical defects, practiced not only in Samtoy, but also in Sparta, Persia, and other nations of anquity.

After saving the poor infant from a watery grave, the kind-hearted woman brought him to the parish priest of Bantay, who baptized him as Pedro Bukaneg. The name Bukaneg is said to be a contraction of the Ilokano phrase “nabukaan nga itneg,” meaning “Christianized heaten.” History still has no information as to who were Pedro Bukaneg’s parents.

God had invariably given Bukaneg certain wondrous qualities to overcome the handicap of being blind, such as intellectual brilliance, retentive memory, sensitive musical sense, magnetic eloquence, and gift for learning languages. He was brought up and educated by the kind Augustinian priests in the convent of Bantay, a priory (motherhouse) for new missionaries assigned in Ilokandia.

As Bukaneg reached manhood, he proved to be a remarkable Ilokano who was well liked and appreciated by the Augustinian friars. A gifted linguist, he mastered Latin, Spanish, Ilokano and Itneg (Tinggian) languages. He possessed an extraordinary talent for assimilating all things pertaining to theology, the Bible, and Spanish literature which his Augustinian tutors taught him, and also the Ilokano folk songs and traditions he heard from the old barrio people. Being a romanticist, he composed poems and songs which were so tenderly sweet that he gained fame among the Ilokano masses as a gifted troubadour.

The authorship of Biag ni Lam-ang, the famous Ilokano epic, was attributed to him by some authors. This was, however, a disputed issue. For the epic poem, containing 294 stanzas, about 1,500 lines, and the syllables of each line range from six to 12, was chanted by the Ilokano folks since pre-Spanish times. It is possible that Bukaneg, being blind, might have dictated it from memory to an amanuensis; consequently, it was put into writing and was preserved for posterity. We owe it thus to Bukaneg that this priceless Ilokano popular epic was saved from oblivion.

Bukaneg was good not only in poetry but also in oratory. He preached the Christian religion in the streets of Vigan, Aringay, and other towns, and persuaded many of his people to discard their old beliefs. Large crowds of people always listened to him when not minding his ugly face and blindness. Because of this, he came to be called the “Apostle of the Ilokanos.”

The Augustinians friars recognized Bukaneg’s talent as a linguist. During the early days, Augustinian missionaries who arrived from Mexico and Spain studied the Ilokano language in the Augustinian convent of Bantay by way of preparing them for their apostolic labors in the mission fields of Ilokandia. Bukaneg was their teacher in the Ilokano language. Aside from his teaching, he wrote Christian sermons in Ilokano, translated the novenas and prayers from Latin and Spanish into Ilokano, and helped in the preparation of the first Ilokano catechism and grammar.

The first Ilokano catechism was the Ilokano translation of a book containing Christian doctrines by a certain Cardinal Bellarmine, which was printed in the Augustinian Convent of Manila in 1621 by Antonio Damba and Miguel Seixo. Bukaneg was a great help to Fray Francisco Lopez, an Augustinian missionary- linguist, in the preparation of the book titled Libro a naisurat amin ti batas ti Doctrina Cristiana nga naisurat iti libro ti Cardenal a angnagan Belarmino (Book Containing the Laws of the Christian Doctrine written by Cardinal Bellarmine).

The first Ilokano grammar, also authored by Fray Lopez, titled Arte de la Lengua Iloca (The Art of Ilocano Language), and printed at the University of Santo by Tomas Pinpin (c. 1580-c.1650) and Tomas de Aquino in 1927. In the prologue of the book, Fray Lopez admitted the considerable assistance given by Bukaneg. The book is now considered extremely very rare. One copy of it is preserved in the British Museum in London. Later editions of this valuable book were printed, with certain revisions, such as those made by Fr. Fernando Rey (1792), Fr. Andres Carro (1793), and by Fr. Cipriano Marcilla (1895).

Unfortunately, many of the poems, sermon prayers, and other works written by Bukaneg have all been lost. It is believed that a large number of linguistic works, poems, novenas, and prayers which were attributed to the Spanish friars were really composed by Bukaneg.

The Ilokanos also recognized Bukaneg as seer. They came to consult him whenever they were in trouble for they had implicit faith in his wisdom. Even the Spaniards look for him for the guidance in their hour of need. An anecdote was told that one day the Servant Don Nicolas de Figueroa, Spanish encomendero of Narvacan and Bantay, was shot to death by arrows and the arquebus which he was carrying was stolen. Shortly afterwards, a band of Itnegs (Tinggians) were captured near the scene of the crime and were taken to Bantay. One of these Itnegs was believed to be the murderer, but the authorities could not determine the guilty party in as much as all of the accused refused to talk.

In the midst of their judicial perplexities, the Spanish authorities called Bukaneg to help them in the trial. When Bukaneg arrived at the scene, he asked that all the Itnegs be freed from their bonds, explaining that “it was not right that all should suffer from the deed of the guilty man.” He walked around the circle of Itnegs who stood silently, betraying no emotions on their stolid faces. He placed his right hand over the breast of each one, feeling their hearts throb. After this strange ritual, he pointed one Itneg, declaring him the guilty murderer. Taken aghast by Bukaneg’s clever deduction, the Itneg broke down and confessed. He was accordingly punished. His companions, who were set free, returned to their village in the hills and related the tale of Bukaneg’s strange power of second sight.

Beloved by his people, Bukaneg died about 1630. His death was mourned by his people who had come to revere him as a man of remarkable talents. To his enduring fame, the Ilokanos, in recognition of his literary legacy, named the traditional Ilocano literary joust as Bukanegan, after his name, just as the Tagalogs name their literary joust Balagtasan, in honor of Francisco “Balagtas” Baltazar (1788-1862), the laureated “Prince of Tagalog Poets.”

Whether legendary or historical, Pedro Bukaneg’s greatest heritage is evident in the fact that compare to regional literature that developed consistently from the Spanish Period, Ilokano literature progressed at a pace as fast as that of the Tagalogs. In poetry, for example, from the time of Pedro Bukaneg, we have seen the likes of Leona Florentino, Isabelo de los Reyes, Mena Crisologo, Leon C. Pichay, Godofredo Reyes, Jeremias Calixto, Juan S. P. Hidalgo Jr, Jose Bragado, Reynaldo Duque, and many more. Aside from poems, stories and novels published in the magazine Bannawag, numerous books being published in Ilokano are clear indications of the wealth, as well as health, of writing in the Ilokano language.


REFERENCES

Almario, Virgilio S., “Writer’s Circle and How They Moved Philippine Literature Ahead,” Filway’s Philippine Almanac, Quezon City, 1991. ISBN 971-121-156-4

"Pedro Bukaneg: Father of the Iloko Literature." http://www.santa.gov.ph/ilocossur/heropedro.html. Retrieved: 2011-02-18

Ribo, Lourdes M., Reyes, Linda M., Language and Literature, Philippine Setting, Manila, 1998. ISBN 971-071-309-4



Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Calendar Evolution

The term “calendar” originated from the Latin word kalendae, which pertains to the “first day of every month.”

It is not known when the first calendar was made and who made it. But we know for a fact that, in the Bible, there were already chronological records even before Noah's time in the Book of Genesis, which is approximately 4,300 to 6,800 years ago. This approximation corresponds to the oldest archaeologically verified civilization, the Sumerians, and to their system of recording time.

Even much earlier, Stone Age people marked the passing of days by etching the walls of caves. Ancient Filipinos reckoned time by tying knots in a string to remember the days, or counting the full moons and carving the counts on bamboo poles. This is important for them in knowing when the palay should be harvested after planting, or monitoring the onset of the rainy seasons, as well as keeping track of their ages.

Later on, the periodic occurrence of natural phenomena helped the ancient people to measure time. The day equals the time the earth rotates on its axis, the complete passing of morning and night. The lunar month marks the time it takes the moon to complete its revolution around the earth. The solar year is the equivalent to a full circle of the earth around the sun.

In Mesopotamia (ancient Iraq), the first calendars of the Sumerian city-states were lunar (based on the movement of the moon). The Sumerian month begin with the moon's first crescent, and the lengths of the months varied with the period of the moon – 29 or 30 days – which is the same breakdown found among certain Stone Age recordings.

The Egyptians were the first people to adopt a predominantly solar calendar. They were also among the first astronomers of ancient times, and their knowledge of astronomy helped them device their calendar. They noted that the Dog Star, Sirius, reappeared in the eastern sky just before sunrise after several months of invisibility. They also discovered that the annual flood of the Nile River came soon after Sirius reappeared. They used this event to fix their calendar, and came to recognize a year of 365 days, made up of 12 months, each 30 days long, and an extra dividend of five days added at the end of every year. But they did not allow for the fractional difference of about a fourth of a day, and their calendar slowly drifted into error. According to the famed historian and Egyptologist James Henry Breasted (1865-1935), the earliest date known in the Egyptian calendar correspond to 4236 B.C. in terms of our present-day calendar system. That's 6,247 years ago!

The Mayan people believed the world had been created and destroyed twice before the birth of the era they lived in, and dated the inception of the era as August 13, 3114 B.C. (Gregorian calendar). They reckoned time from this date on two systems, the "long count" and the "calendar round." The long count was based on a 360-day year called a tun, divided into 18 months of 20 days each. The Mayan counting system was based on 20 rather than ten, and years were not calculated in decades but in groups of 20 called k’atuns. Twenty k’atuns (which is equivalent to four centuries) was called a b’aktun. The calendar round simultaneously counted days according to a 260-day and a 365-day year. The purpose of this elaborate counting was to arrive at a especially significant point of coincidence: every 18,980 days or every fifty-two 365-day years, both systems come together.

 

NOT YET THE END

Speaking of the Mayan calendar, because of the misinterpretation of certain over-zealous doomsayers, it circulated worldwide that the world will end on December 21, 2012, in conformance to the end of a Mayan calendar cycle. It was featured in an episode of the hit TV series The X-Files, and the 2009 science fiction apocalyptic film 2012 was based on this belief.

While the date is regarded as the end-date of a 5,125-year-long cycle in the Mesoamerican (Mayan Long Count) calendar, it is simply the day that the calendar will go to the next b’aktun. The date December 20, 2012 has a Long-Count value of 12.19.19.17.19. It is not the end of the calendar but is the last day having a b’aktun value of 12. The next day, December 21, 2012 is 13.0.0.0.0. Such end of b’aktuns occurs approximately every 400 years, and no cataclysmic event has occurred at the end of the 12 previous completions.

The maximum date that can be designated in the Long-Count notation is 19.19.19.17.19. It corresponds to the Gregorian date of October 12, 4772. This is the “true” last date of the Mayan calendar. So, enough of the doomsday paranoia, it’s creating so much negative energy!



THE GREEK AND THE ROMANS

The Greeks and the Romans have a similar calendar system – having a year of 300 days composing of ten months – during ancient times. This was an approximate of the earlier Middle-eastern lunar calendar.

The earliest known Roman calendar consisted of a year of 304 days. The Romans seemed to have ignored the remaining 60 days, which fell in the middle of winter. The ten months composing the calendar were named Martius, Aprilis, Maius, Junius, Quintilis, Sextilis, September, October, November and December. The last six names were taken from the Roman words for "five," "six," "seven," "eight," "nine" and "ten." Romulus, the legendary ruler of Rome, supposed to have introduced this calendar about 738 B.C.

The legendary Roman ruler Numa added two months, Januarius and Februarius, at the end of the calendar year. To make the calendar corresponds approximately to the solar year, he also ordered the addition of a month called Mercedinus, which had 22 or 23 days. This month was inserted between February 23 and 24 every other year.



THE JULIAN CALENDAR

During the reign of Emperor Julius Caesar (c. 100-44 B.C.), the accumulated error caused by the incorrect length of the Roman year had made the existing calendar about three months ahead of the seasons. In 46 B.C., Caesar asked the astronomer Sosigenes to review the calendar and make ways of improving it. Acting on Sosigenes' suggestion, the emperor ordered the Romans to disregard the moon in calculating their calendars. He re-divided the year into 12 months of 31 and 30 days, except for the last month, February, which had only 29 days (this was later reduced to 28 days by his successor to the throne, Augustus Caesar) during regular years and one day more during leap years. To realign the calendar with the seasons, Caesar ruled that the year we know now as 46 B.C. should have 445 days. The Romans called it "the year of confusion."

The Romans renamed Quintilis to honor Julius Caesar giving us "July." The next month, Sextilis, was renamed "August" by the Roman Senate to honor Augustus Caesar, adopted son of Julius Caesar. Later, the fifth month became the seventh month and the sixth became the eighth and so on. This is why September, which came from the word Septem, meaning "seven," is now the nine month of the year.

The Julian calendar was widely used for more than 1,500 years. It provided for a year that lasted 3651/4 days. But it was actually about 11 minutes and 14 seconds longer than the solar year. This difference, again, led to a gradual change in the dates on which the seasons began. By the year 1580, the spring equinox fell on March 11, or ten days earlier than it should.



THE GREGORIAN CALENDAR

The Gregorian calendar was designed to correct the errors of the Julian calendar. In 1582, on the advice of astronomers, Pope Gregory XIII (1502-1585) corrected the difference between season and calendar by ordering ten days dropped from October 15, 1582. This procedure restored the next equinox to its proper date. To correct the Julian calendar's errors regularly, the pope decreed that February would have an extra day in century years that could be divided by 400, such as 1600 and 2000, but not in others, such as 1700, 1800 and 1900. This is the calendar in use today in most part of the world.

The Gregorian calendar is so accurate that the difference between the calendar and solar years is now only about 26 seconds. The difference will increase by 0.53 seconds every hundred years, because the solar year is gradually getting shorter.

Roman Catholic nations of Europe adopted the Gregorian calendar almost immediately. German states and Protestant countries kept the Julian calendar until 1698. Britain did not change to the Gregorian system until 1752, Russia until 1918, and Turkey until 1927.

In other parts of the world, particularly in Asia, there were also independent origins of the calendar. But it is interesting to note that both Hindu and Chinese calendars were lunar in character slightly more accurate than its Middle-Eastern and European counterparts.
 
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Sunday, January 1, 2012

DIARIO DE MANILA

Diario de manila ia an influential Spanish-language daily newspaper in the Philippines during the Spanish regime founded by Manuel Moreno, and later bought by Ramirez Campaña, which covered both local and foreign news.



HISTORY

The Spanish-language daily broadsheet newspaper Diario de Manila was conceptualized and founded by Manuel Moreno on October 11, 1847. Its first issue was released on January 1, 1848. It ceased publication in 1852 but was reopened in 1860 by printing press owners Manuel Ramirez and Baltazar Giraudier with Jose Felipe del Pan (1821-1891) as editor-in-chief.

Under the publishing enterprise Ramirez Campaña, whose headquarters were based in Intramuros, Manila, and business and editorial offices in Binondo, Diario de Manila became quite influential. It covered both local and foreign news. It became the major competitor of La Esperanza, the first Philippine daily in Spanish founded by Felipe de la Corte, in just about more than a year of publication, and in a time when several newspapers in Spanish came into existence. The publication lasted for nearly four decades up to the end of the Spanish regime.


SIGNIFICANT PERSONALITIES

Jose Felipe del Pan, became the editor-in-chief of Diario de Manila from its reopening in 1860 up to his death on November 23, 1891. Under his helm many notable contributors, both Spaniards and Filipinos, worked with the newspaper.

The most prominent among Diaro de Manila’s journalists is Filipino nationalist Isabelo de los Reyes (1864-1938). He wrote several articles for the broadsheet, including “Invasion de Limahong” (“Invasion of Limahong”), which appeared on November 1882. He eventually became associate editor of the newspaper.

Baltazar Giraudier, Spanish-Filipino writer, artist, printer and co-founder of the Diario de Manila, and who also wrote for another newspaper, the illustraciones Filipinas, was commissioned by Spanish Governor-General Malcampo to draw the landscape of Jolo. He was accompanied by Malcampo to Jolo during an organized military expedition on February 1876 against the Muslim pirates who had been receiving substantial amount of arms and ammunitions during the previous years. Giraudier’s resulting drawings of the landscape of Jolo, which appeared on the newspaper, were considered to be among the best lithographic illustrations of Jolo.

In 1897, an article titled “El Gran Problema de las Reformas en Filipinas” (“The Great Problem of Reforms in the Philippines”) was published in Diario de Manila. It was written by Camilo Milan y Villanueva, former governor of several provinces in the archipelago and government adviser. It raised and laid down the issues for instituting reforms in the country.

Jesuit priest, Fr. Jaime Nonell, published an article which described observations of the typhoon that occurred on September 1865 done by Fr. Francisco Colina. The article prompted the establishment of the Observatorio Meteorologico del Ateneo de Municipal de Manila.

Spanish diplomat and writer of plays, operas and novels, Enrique Gaspar de Rimbau, also wrote articles for Diario de Manila while he was serving as consul in Hongkong.


LINK WITH THE KATIPUNAN

On July 7, 1892, the revolutionary movement Kataastaasan Kagalang-galang na Katipunan nang manga Anak nang Bayan or Katipunan was founded by Andres Bonifacio. It laid down three fundamental objectives: Political, moral and civic. The political objective consisted in working for the separation of the Philippines from Spain.The moral objective revolved around the teaching of good manners, hygiene, good morals and attacking obscurantism, religious fanaticism, and weakness of character. The civic aim espoused the principle of self-help and the defense of the poor and the oppressed.

In 1894, after more than two-and-a-half years, the Katipunan took a step further to propagate its teachings and principles and to win more adherents to its side through the establishment of a printing press. One difficulty encountered was the lack of funds to purchase even a small printing press.

Two Katipuneros from the Visayas, Candido Iban (1863-1897) and Francisco del Castillo, who came from Australia, had one thousand pesos between them for having won in a lottery. With a magnificent gesture, the two bought the small printing press of Bazar El Cisne from Antonio Salazar for four hundred pesos.

Unfortunately, the printing press lacked many types, particularly that of the letter “a,” which is the much-employed letter in Tagalog. Emilio Jacinto (1875-1899), the “Brain of the Katipunan,” who is much interested in the press, borrowed twenty pesos from his mother and bought some of the letter types from Isabelo de los Reyes. It was, however, not enough, the printing press was still inadequate to make any printing job. The problem was solved by four Katipuneros working at the printing establishment of the then popular daily Diario de Manila. They stole some types from the printing plant and gave them to Dr. Pio Valenzuela (1869-1956). They conducted their activities under the unsuspecting eyes of the management, who were mostly active members of the Spanish colonial reserve forces. Most of their secret activities took place during the two-and-a-half hour lunch breaks when the Spanish personnel took their meals and their siesta.

Valenzuela suggested the name Kalayaan (Freedom) for Katipunan’s newspaper, and Bonifacio at Jacinto approved it. It was agreed that Jacinto will be its editor but that the name of Marcelo H. del Pilar be made a front as the editor. It was also agreed that to fool the Spanish authorities as to the place of printing, “Yokohama” should be placed on the masthead. The first printing, although run through several difficulties, was successful. The second printing was, however, stopped when the Spanish authorities raided the printing press.

On August 19, 1896, Katipunan member Teodoro Patiño, who said he was the one being blamed for the missing types on the printing plant of Diario de Manila, told the story about the Katipunan to his sister, Honoria, who was then living with nuns in a Mandaluyong orphanage. Honoria was deeply disturbed by his brother's revelation and decided to inform the orphanage’s Mother Superior, Sor Teresa de Jesus, about the existence of the secret society. Sor Teresa in turn reported it to Fr. Mariano Gil, the parish priest of Tondo, who accompanied by several Guardias Civiles immediately searched the premises of Diario de Manila and found evidences of the Katipunan’s existence. They quickly informed Governor-general Narciso Claveria, who ordered the printing press to be padlocked.



REFERENCE:


1. Agoncillo, Teodoro A., Milagros C. Guerrero, History of the Filipino People, R. P. Garcia Publishing Co., Quezon City, 1984.
2. “First Newspapers in the Philippines,” RR’s Philippine Almanac – Book of Facts, 1990. ISBN 971-588-000-2
3. “Newspapers in Philippine History,” Filway’s Philippine Almanac, Quezon City, 1991. ISBN 971-121-156-4

4. Zaide, Gregorio F., Sonia M. Zaide, Philippine History and Government, All-Nations Publication, Quezon City, 2002. ISBN 971-642-192-3

Monday, March 15, 2010

IN THE BIBLE

Throughout time, man's unquenchable thirst for knowledge and wisdom has led him to unending quests, reading thousands of books and treatises, digging archaeological sites, exploring the depths of the oceans and sending spacecrafts into the cosmos. Most often than not, they overlook and many even ignore the greatest collection of knowledge and wisdom of all times – past, present and future – the Bible.
In fact the Bible is the most accurate historical records in man's possession. Interpreted without religious bias, the Holy Scriptures is also a guiding book of infinite wisdom and a viewing window to the future. However, because of man's selfish undoing and, perhaps, ignorance and overeagerness, some facts are overlooked and others are distorted.

THE NAME OF ALMIGHTY GOD
Yahweh is a proposed English reading of יהוה, the name of the God of Israel, as preserved in the original consonantal Hebrew Bible text. These four Hebrew letters (יהוה) are often collectively called the Tetragrammaton (Greek for “four-letter word”), and are usually transliterated JHWH in German, and either YHWH, YHVH, JHWH or JHVH in English.
The name of God was considered by early Hebrews and early Christians as too sacred to be spoken aloud. The Hebrew words Adonai (meaning “My Lord”) and Elohim (“God”) were substituted so that the Scriptures can be read aloud in temples during worship. Later, some translator of the Bible, using the vowels in the word Adonai, and inserting them to the Tetragrammaton transliteration, created the proposed English reading Yahweh and consequently several transcriptions (i.e. Iehouah and Iehovah) leading to the development of the arbitrary and, quite possibly, erroneous name Jehovah.
The only mention of God’s name in phonetic or readable form is found in Proverbs 68:4: “Sing to God, sing praises to His name; extol Him who rides on the clouds, by His name Yah, and rejoice before Him.” This was adapted by the King James translators from the original Hebrew text “as is,” while most other Biblical codex and manuscript translations simply read it as “Lord.” The etymology of the word “Hallelujah” or “Halleluiah” was derived from the Hebrew hallelū, meaning “praise,” and Yāh (or the Latinized Jāh).

CREATION OVER EVOLUTION In reality Biblical and scientific facts do not contradict as some scientists and theoreticians would put them. One point of argument is the origin of man.
Charles Robert Darwin (1809-1882), an English naturalist, in his works, The Origin of Species on the Basis of Natural Selection (1859) and Descent of Man (1871), "suggest" that man evolved from the ranks of apes, as opposed to spontaneous creation by a Supreme Being stated in the Bible.
As it goes, Darwin's "Theory of Evolution" is truly, merely a theory with no definite, verifiable scientific proof. And those who accept it as a fact are committing a grave scientific error. In recent years, science itself in its own arguments and investigations proved "creation" to be more scientifically logical than "evolution."
The very fundamental complex of life – the genes – reveals that mankind came from a single “Mother Eve” with the same basic genetic composition as that of present-day humans, and not as that of some ape-like anthropoids.
Recent discoveries in the field of biochemistry and genetics have strengthened the facts of creation. In 1987, Rebecca L. Cann of the University of Hawaii (Manoa) announced a revolutionary discovery that portrays all Homo sapiens populations as descendant of a single “Mother Eve.” Working along this line, molecular geneticists Mark Stoneking and his colleagues at the University of California (Berkeley) decided to test the idea that "the question of human origins is ultimately a question of genetics. Their approach to the problem was based on the observation that certain portion of the DNA in the cells of all human being, called mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA), is inherited by the mother alone. They discovered a piece of the mitochondrial DNA genetic sequence that was common to all samples taken from different races of people all over the world, which had to have been inherited from a single, common female ancestor of all humans alive today. To emphasize: Human not ape or apelike creature!
These discoveries literally threw Darwin's "Theory of Evolution" in the trashcan. In genetics point of view, because there was no evolution, Biblical “creation” is entirely more scientifically supportable than that of the evolutionary theory. Besides, Darwin's supposedly "missing link" is still missing!
In reality, Darwin doesn’t even have a basic knowledge of genetics; he was unfamiliar with evolutionary or even hereditary science (he is not even familiar with the works of Gregor Mendel), and as such his research resulted into a vague and inaccurate theory. As studies in genetics continue, Darwin’s evolutionary theory about man’s origin is increasingly being regarded as “unscientific.”
The Bible tells us that God created man in his own image. Now for those who believe that their ancestors are apes, that's their own problem!

WHAT ABOUT THE DINOSAURS?When we talk of debates between science buffs in one hand and Biblical defenders on the other hand, this question will most certainly pop up. In my more than 15 years research on the Bible and Biblical manuscripts, I discovered several instances were certain Hebrew, Aramaic or Greek words have no definitve layman’s translation. Since the word “dinosaur" (“terrible lizard”) or any of the names coined for prehistoric creatures have not yet been invented at the time, the scientific part of my mind beckons me to find explanations.
The Hebrew word Liwyathan (found variously in several parts of the Bible: Job 3:8, Job 41, Psalm 74:14, Isaiah 27:1, etc.), for instance, for which the word “leviathan” was derived, really has no real and exact translation. But the narrative “huge reptile with terrible jaws and teeth” gives a clear description of a “dinosaur,” more specifically a Mosasaurus, Tylosaurus or similar prehistoric reptiles. Created by God on the fifth day (Genesis 1:21) before the creation of man and all kinds of animal life, domestic and wild, large and small, on the sixth day. Another similar creature, the Rahab (Job 9:13, 26:12), is described very similar to an Elasmosaurus or Pleisiosaurus. One creature of the Paleozoic Era (210-520 million years ago), the Dinichtys (“terrible fish”) also aptly fit the description in some Biblical translations.
Still another interesting Hebrew word is Behemah (found in Job 40:15), for which the word “behemoth” was derived. In most Bible manuscripts, it represents “large, terrible creatures similar to an ox that eat grass and have a tail like a cedar.” While other scholars shallowly compared the behemoth to a hippopotamus, the description however, is more fitting of a Triceratops, probably the most powerful dinosaur of the Cretaceous Period.

OF THE APPLE AND FIRST SINChildren stories also made us to believe that Adam and Eve committed "sin" in eating the "apple." The Bible tells no such things.
What the Bible tells us is that Eve was “deceived” by the snake in eating “it,” and “it” is the fruit from the “tree of knowledge of good and evil.” Then Eve gave the fruit to Adam and he ate of it. Because of this, their eyes “were opened, and they knew that they were naked....” Sinning and apples were never mentioned. Here some would argue that Adam did sinned using the implicit reference to Adam in Job 31:33. But the original Hebrew text pertained the reference to “other men,” more likely Cain’s inequities, and not to Adam. Another point of reference is Romans 5:12 – “Sin came into the world through one man, and his sin brought death with it.” However, in the succeeding verses, it was also stated that the Law has not yet been given and so the “sin” was not imputed. Even in the original Hebrew (also in the New Testament Greek transcription), the term given was “disobedience” and not sin. Furthermore: “Then the Lord God said, ‘Behold, the man has become like one of Us, and now knows good and evil. He must not be allowed to take fruit from the tree of life, eat it and live forever.” (Genesis 3:22, c.f. Genesis 3:5). If eating the fruit from the tree of knowledge of good and evil is a “deadly” sin, why would Bible say that it made man like gods? Clearly it was meant to be metaphorical. The “disobedience” gave them “knowledge” (of good and evil), which all men now have. But since they were not allowed to partake of the fruit of the tree of life, they and all their descendants were not granted immortality. Otherwise, if Adam and Eve ate of the fruit of the tree of life and not of the tree of knowledge of good and evil, what would become of them?
To continue, Adam and Eve were given additional "labors," and not punishments. The “snake” (the representation of the devil) was the one punished. After Adam and Eve were enlightened by the fruit they ate, "God clothed them before sending them out of Eden" (Genesis 3:1-24). In the first place, being the first man and woman, they are in the process of learning, and they did have the legacy of the freedom to choose. God did not intend for His creation to become a race of mindless robots. Indeed, it was meant to be. Immortality, again in a metaphorical sense, now lies in mankind’s "knowledge" to discern good from evil, which we are further enlightened through the teachings of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

WHERE IS EDEN?The physical location of the Garden of Eden has long been the subject of scholarly investigation by both the scientific and religious communities.
"And the Lord planted a garden eastward in Eden... And a river went out of Eden to water the garden; and from thence it was parted and became into four heads. The name of the first is Pishon; that flows around the land of Havilah, where pure gold is found; and also rare perfumes and precious stones. And the name of the second river is Gihon; it flows around the country of Cush (Mesopotamia, Sudan and Ethiopia?). And the name of the third river is Hiddekel (Tigris); which flows east of Assyria (Iraq and Syria?). And the fourth river is Euphrates" (Genesis 2:8-14).
Many scholars believe that the garden was located in Sumer, at the confluence of Euphrates and Tigris rivers which have since disappeared. Archaeological findings reveal that the oldest known civilization on earth originated in this vicinity. Others believe that it is somewhere in the mysterious northland of Armenia in present-day Turkey. They reason that if the four rivers flowed out of the garden, then the location would be from the origin of the Euphrates and Tigris rivers.

THE CONSTRUCTION OF NOAH'S ARK
The blueprint for the construction of the Noah’s Ark came from God Himself. While the dimensions of the ship are still debatable because of the uncertainty of the length of the cubit (most scholars accept it as equal to 1.5 feet), the measure used in the Biblical account, scholars maintain that the ship's length of 300 cubits, width of 50 cubits and height of 30 cubits can be translated to mean 450 by 75 by 45 feet. This is about the size of 20 modern-day standard basketball courts.
The specifications mentioned in the Book of Genesis speak of a box-like construction. What about the hydrodynamics of the Ark? Can it really survive the cataclysmic upheaval of the Great Deluge? The answer is a definite yes! The length-to-breadth ratio of six to one (300 to 50 cubits) has great advantage over any other proportions. From the standpoint of stability and rolling, the ratio 6:1 is about as nearly perfect as can be desired. As with regards to buoyancy, there can be no other vessel as buoyant and seaworthy as the Ark.
Whereas Noah's ship ranks as the first of its kind, today's shipbuilders had several thousand years of shipbuilding expertise to rely on, but all the accumulated knowledge they could draw from did not give them a better ratio than that of the Ark. This is a clear evidence of Divine Perfection, of the truth of everything narrated in the Holy Scriptures.

THE GREAT DELUGE
Geological investigations point to the fact that Mount Everest, the highest mountain in the world, was once upon a time underwater. This is in conformity to the Biblical narrative, “The water became deeper, and the ark drifted on the surface. It became so deep that it covered the highest mountains; it went on rising until it was 15 cubits (22.5 feet) above the top of the mountains” (Genesis 7:18-20).
It has been scientifically estimated that over 75 percent of the earth’s surface is sedimentary in nature, with some areas having more and others less sediments. Tests have shown that while the United States has prodigious sedimentary deposits, centering in California and the Colorado Plateau, the deepest sedimentary deposits (60,000 feet deep) is found in India. It is, however, noted from the layers of silt and clay that the flood duration was between 150 to 200 days, just like what the Holy Scriptures tells us.
The prominent Russian scholar Immanuel Velikovsky (1895-1979) had examined the presence of fish in sedimentary rock, and his conclusion fully supported the catastrophe theory: “When a fish dies, its body floats on the surface or sinks to the bottom and is devoured rather quickly, actually in a matter of hours, by other fishes. However, the fossil fish found in sedimentary rock is very often preserved with all its bones intact. Entire shoals of fishes over large areas, numbering billions of specimens, are found in a state of agony, but with no mark of a scavenger’s attack.”
George F. Dodwell, a retired astronomer and former director of the Adelaide Observatory in South Australia, computed in 1960 a secular variation of the obliquity of the ecliptic, which led to an interesting discovery. He found a curve, and after allowing all known changes, discovered a typical exponential curve of recovery of the earth’s axis after a sudden change from a former nearly vertical position to an inclination of 26.5 degrees, from which it was returned to an equilibrium at the present 23.44 degrees, during the interval of the succeeding 3,194 years to A.D. 1850. He computed the time of the change in the earth’s axis at 2345 B.C. His resulting conclusion is none other than the Biblical account of the Flood.
The Chinese character for the word “boat,” when calligraphed piece by piece would translate “vessel of eight mouths.” This clearly described the Ark and the eight people in it: Noah, his wife, their three sons and their wives. The Shujing (Book of History), also tells of a story about a “great flood” that “reach the heaven” dated around 2348 B.C., just three years off of Dodwell’s calculation. The Epic of Gilgamesh (c. 2000 B.C.), an ancient Babylonian story written on 12 cuneiform tablets is said to be quite similar to the accounts of the Noachian Deluge. Indeed over the millennia, approximately 100,000 books in no less than 80 languages have been written about the Flood.

HISTORY AND PREHISTORY
The oldest known man-made relic on Earth was dated to be around 8,000 years old, found at the first Eridu settlement during the Ubaid period in Sumeria. Scientific and historical studies confirmed this to be around 1,500 years pre-Noachian (before Noah and the Great Flood), based on sedimentary formation of the excavated site. This calculation approximates that of Biblical accounts of 1656 years considering there is a 130 years gap before Adam had his third son Seth outside of Eden (Genesis 5:3).
Indeed the time frame from Adam having his third son to the Noachian Deluge, according to Biblical accounts (Genesis 5), is exactly 1,656 years. In fact, if you compute the ages of Adam’s descendants up to the time of the flood, you will find out that the death of Methuselah (the oldest man in the Bible at 769 years old) coincided with the Great Flood. This in a sense is the beginning of man’s history. But there is also such a thing as pre-history. Adam was created on the sixth day; what about before that?
According to the Bible, “God existed before time began” (Psalms 93:2) and “one day and a thousand years is the same to God” (Psalms 90:4, 2 Peter 3:8). I hold on to this as “fact” and not mere conjecture or rhetoric. Allow me, however, to inject my own analysis. Since God, in the beginning, was in the universal void, then the six days mentioned in Genesis constitute six “universal days” and not six Earth days.
In science we know that one complete rotation of the Earth on its axis equals one Earth day; one complete revolution of the Earth around the Sun is equivalent to one Earth year. But everything in the universe is moving. The Milky Way, the galaxy to which our Solar System belongs is about 100,000 light years in diameter. The Earth, the Sun; the entire Solar System lies at the outer rim of the Milky Way. Nobody has yet been able to compute the exact time it would take the Solar System to have a complete revolution around the Milky Way. That’s only for starter.
The cross-sectional distance of the galactic system to which the Milky Way and 30 other known galaxies belong is approximately 5.3 million light years. For the size of the Universe, on the other hand, all the great scientific minds of the world can only speculate its near-infinity – and it’s still expanding! Science itself admits that only five percent of the Universe is known and this reality is written in the Bible (Job 9:7-10, 11:7-8).
The oldest known mineral on Earth – Zircon – was measured to be around 4.4 billion years old. Most scientists place the age of the Universe to be around 13.7 billion years old. Having known the aforementioned parameters, let us go back to the Bible. In Verse 1 of Genesis 1, “God created the Universe,” and in Verse 2, the Earth was mentioned as “still formless and desolate.” Base on science, the two verses constitute a difference of 9.3 billion years.
Since everything in the Universe is moving away from the point of origin, time duration is therefore relative to every point in the expanding universal sphere. It is, however, given that in the initial moment of Creation, the so-called “Big Bang” in science, the energy released was so powerful that everything traveled so far away, as such time carries an exponential duration. That’s Verse 1 of Genesis!
When the Earth was set in place (“still formless and desolate” – Verse 2) around 4.4 billion years ago, simultaneously creating light everywhere as a consequence of nuclear formation (Verse 3-4). Thereafter the energy of Creation began to subside;the ozone layer began to form above the Earth (around two billion years ago); gravity became a force that separate one heavenly body after another from the great void of space (Verse 6-8). The expansion slows down and so does time duration for each particle of space. The Earth began to form; “land is separated from the sea" (Verse 9-10). According to science, the supercontinents began to break up some 600 to 800 million years ago. As the Earth started to clear up from the geologic chaos, plants appeared before any animals on Earth. The Bible tells the same account (Verse 11-13). The expansion continues to slow down, and the orbits of the moons and the planets developed; the Solar System is in its final constitution (Verse 14-19, c.f. Psalms 74:16-17). The Paleozoic and Mesozoic Eras (120-520 million years ago) heralded the coming of Earth’s first animals, great and huge – the prehistoric creatures: Trilobites and dinosaurs. The Bible also tells the same things, which understandably may not be quite specific, but still incredibly relevant (Verse 20-23). Then God created all the kinds of animals, domestic and wild, that we know today (Verse 24-25).
Finally, the advent of Man, which was created in God’s image (Verse 26-30). Note that this part of Earth’s chronology (and anthropology) is the subject of tremendous debates: How long ago was the advent of the first human beings on Earth? Again if we talk of apes or ape-like anthropoids, there’s no arguments – the estimate of 60 million years ago is just about right. But if we talk of humans, then the arguments start. Remember that even science does not have an exact duration of time for Earth’s specific prehistory. It is, however, quite clear that the timeline is correct in the Biblical perspective.
Now, let us get back to the slowing down of the universal “genesis.” In the Bible, the advent of man is between the completion of the sixth day and the beginning of the seventh day. Considering there has yet a fixed time duration, it could be from between 10,000 to 200,000 year ago. While Adam’s age was given in Genesis, it was base on time constituted after the seventh day.
The creation of the universe according to the Bible was completed by the end of the sixth day. “By the seventh day God finished what he had been doing and stopped working. He rested and declared the day as holy...” (Genesis 2:1-4). As a consequence of the completion of the universe, time now becomes a fixed standard unit of measure, no longer a variable based on universal expansion. The time when Adam and Eve were driven out of Eden approximates the time of the earliest settlement in Sumeria, around 8,000 years agp. The Bible, science, archaeology and history point to the same specific time and place.

A MISSING DAY
A few years ago, a space scientist, Harold Mills of Maryland, U.S.A. and his companion in the space program discovered through computer analysis that the earth "lacks a day of rotation." This means the earth somehow "stops moving" for one whole day.
Reviewing the Bible: "On the day that the Lord gave the men of Israel victory over the Amorites, Joshua spoke to the Lord. In the presence of the Israelites he said: 'Sun, stand still over Gideon; Moon, stop over Ajalon Valley.' The sun stood still and the moon did not move until the nation had conquered its enemies. This is written in The Book of Jashar. The sun stood still in the middle of the sky and did not go down for a whole day. Never before, and never since, has there been a day like it, when the Lord obeyed a human being. The Lord fought on Israel's side!" (Joshua 10:12-14).
For the sun and the moon to stop moving, the Earth would have to stop moving, since it revolves around the sun on a fixed orbit. So, the earth did stop for one whole day and that was written in the Book of Joshua thousands of year ago!

THE SIN OF IDOL MAKING
The Second Commandment states: "Do not make for yourselves images of anything in heaven or on earth or in the waters under the earth. Do not bow down to an idol or worship it, because I am the Lord your God and I tolerate no rivals. I bring punishment on those who hate me and on their descendants down to the third and fourth generations. But I show my love to thousands of generations of those who love me and obey my laws" (Exodus 20:4-6, Deuteronomy 5:8-10).
Throughout history, however, man have worshipped idols and adorned their churches with earthen images of "saints" and supposedly "divine" figures. Alleged "miracles" were even attributed to these icons. It became a religious fanatical tradition. Many times in the Bible, God warned his people against making and worshiping idols (Leviticus 19:4, Deuteronomy 4:15-19) and punished them for their idolatries but these unholy practices continued up to this day. In Isaiah 44:9-20, God clearly rebuked idolatry and in Chapter 10 of the Book of Jeremiah, the words against idolatry are clearly given by God. In Romans 1:22-23: “They say they are wise, but they are fools; instead of worshipping the Immortal God, they worship images made to look like mortal man...”
Again in Psalms 135:15-18 God said: “Their idols are made of silver and gold, made by human hands. They have mouths, but cannot speak, and eyes, but cannot see. They have ears, but cannot hear, they are not even able to breathe. May all those who made them and trust in them, become like their lifeless works.”
Today, there are religions throughout the world, "Christians" and otherwise, that produce and use icons, scapulars, crucifixes, carved, molded and painted statues and images, worshipping them blindly, even kissing their feet and adorning them with gifts, flowers and candles forgetting that the True and Living God hates those things (Deuteronomy 4:25).

IT IS NOT DELILAH"In the Bible, 1,000 years B.C., there's a story of ancient history..." – so goes an old song by Neil Sedaka. The song relates, in melodic humorous adulteration, the story of Samson. Most of us, sad to say, do not really know the story of Samson.
For a start, do you know who is Samson's father? His name is Manoah and he is from the tribe of Dan. His wife has never been able to bear a child until the Lord's angels said to her one day that she'd soon be pregnant and instructed her not to drink wine or eat unclean food, and when the boy is born, his hair must not be cut, because from the day of his birth he would be dedicated to God as a Nazirite. He would be the one to rescue Israel from the Philistines.
In children stories, Delilah supposedly cut Samson's hair that made him weak. This is a fallacy. Delilah was promised by the five kings of Philistines that each of them would give eleven hundred pieces of silver if she could trick Samson into telling her the secret of his strength and in the process capturing him. She persistently asked Samson the secret, imploring his love for her. But our hero also constantly told her something else until one day he got so sick and tired of her bothering him about it that he finally told her the truth about his hair.
Delilah then lulled Samson to sleep in her lap and then "called a man, who cut off Samson's seven locks of hair. Then she began to torment him for he had lost his strength" (Judges 16:19).

WHOSE WEARING THE WRONG CLOTHES
In the Bible, "Women are not to wear men's clothing, and men are not to wear women's clothing; the Lord your God hates people who do such things" (Deuteronomy 22:5).
During the early times, and even in some parts of the Middle East and Asia today, however, the men were the ones wearing dresses, gowns, robes and skirts, and the women wore pants, jeans and slacks. So whose wearing the wrong clothes at this point in time?

UNDERSEA MOUNTAINS
Before science was able to see the existence of mountains and ranges under the oceans, these have already been described in the Bible, in one of King David's songs (II Samuel 22:16).
Undersea travel, on the other hand, was first described by the Prophet Jonah (c. 850 B.C.). In the Bible, Jonah was swallowed by a large fish and he remained in its stomach for three days and nights. "...The water came upon me and choked me; the sea covered me completely, and seaweeds wrapped around my head. I went down to the very roots of the mountains, into the land whose gates lock shut forever. But you, O lord my God, brought me back from the depths alive..." (Jonah 2:5-6).
The first submarine that successfully explored the ocean depths was invented only in 1887, almost 2,800 years after Jonah's underwater odyssey.

CIRCULAR EARTH
Eratosthenes (c. 276-196 B.C.), a Greek scholar, greatly influenced by the observation of Aristotle (384-322 B.C.), measured the circumference of the Earth and proposed that the Earth was round. During his time, people believed that the Earth was flat. Those who think otherwise were accused of heresy, and the likes of Eratosthenes and Galileo were not spared from this "inquisition." In fact it was only in 1993, after 13 years of study and re-evaluation by the Vatican, that Pope John Paul II declared that the Catholic Church was wrong to condemn Galileo. The pope said that Galileo’s condemnation had resulted from “tragic mutual incomprehension.”
In the Bible: "It is he who sits above the circle of the earth..."(Isaiah 40:22). The Earth is circular or nearly circular in shape known already to the Prophet Isaiah (c. 800 B.C.), more than 500 years before the birth of Eratosthenes; more than two millennia before the discoveries of Nicolaus Copernicus (1473-1543), Tycho Brahe (1546-1601) and Galileo Galilei (1564-1642); long, long before Ferdinand Magellan ship's completed the first circumnavigation of the world in 1522; and almost 3,000 years before Yuri Gagarin (b. 1934) of Russia became the first man in space to witness the Earth's round form.


THE INTERNATIONAL DATELINE
Like in Isaiah 40:32, the circular form of the Earth was also mentioned in Job 26:10. The description also pertains to an imaginary line on the surface of the Earth opposite the Prime Meridian where the date changes as one travels east or west across it, roughly along the 180º, corresponding to the time zone boundary separating -12 and +12 hours (day and night) – This is the International Dateline. Bildad, one of Job’s friends, described it quite aptly: “He drew a circular horizon on the face of the sea. At the boundary of light and darkness.”

THE BABYLONIAN CAPTIVITY
It is known historically and Biblically (as told in the Old Testament Book of Jeremiah) as “The Babylonian Captivity.”
In 586 B.C., the Babylonian king Nebuchadnezzar II (605-562 B.C.) destroyed Jerusalem. Nebuchadnezzar II is remembered as the builder of the Hanging Gardens of Babylon and the king who carried off the Jews into their Babylonian captivity (587-586 B.C.). This was prophesied by Jeremiah more than 10 years before it happened. The Jews remained in Babylon under the Medo-Persian Empire until 538 B.C. and there began to speak Aramaic. The Book of Daniel, from which the history of the Jews in exile was told, is mostly written in Aramaic.

HANGING IN EMPTY SPACEWe know that the Earth, the planet in which we live is continuously moving in space seemingly hanging in its boundless void held in balance and order by a mysterious force.
Isaac Newton (1642-1727), an English scientist and mathematician, uncovered this phenomenon and termed his concept as the "Theory of Universal Gravitation." But more than 2,400 years before Newton even start to understand the principle of the "falling apple," the Bible had already recorded the fact: "God stretched out the northern sky and hung the earth in empty space" (Job 26:7).
It is also worth mentioning that in the next verse: “He binds up the water in His thick clouds, yet the clouds are not broken under it.” (c.f. Job 38:34). How fascinating indeed that the clouds are full of water and yet does not fall to earth.

WAS PETER THE FIRST POPE AND BURIED IN ROME?
The answer is a definite “No” to both questions. Simon (Peter), the "Prince of the Apostles” was the son of Jona and a native of Bethsaida in Galilee. Christ gave him the name Cephas (Peter), the rock to which He will build his church (Matthew 16:18, John 1:42). There are many controversies surrounding the apostle Simon Peter, especially regarding his death and burial place. Some biblical historians have mistaken another man, Simon Magus (described by the Samaritans as a sorcerer that is "the great power of God" and was rebuked by Simon Peter – Acts 8:9-24) to be Peter, and that his body was buried in Vaticanus (beneath today’s Basilica of St. Peter in Rome), which was a pagan cemetery during those times, and which is very much against the early Christian traditions.
In the 15th century, the Roman emperor Constantine erected a church in the said burial ground, and it has been a traditional belief that Peter was indeed buried there. To this day, the Roman Catholic Church says that the tomb of Saint Peter is under the altar of the Basilica in Rome. "Only, the actual vault itself in which the body lies is no longer accessible and has not been so since the ninth century." There are those, however, who think that it would not be impossible to find the entrance and to reopen it once more. A unanimous request that this should be done was made to Pope Leo XIII by the International Archaeological Congress in 1900, but so far, without result.
In 1957, British archaeologists Jocelyn Toynbee and John Ward Perkins concluded in their painstaking investigation that there is no definite proof that Peter’s remains was buried under the dome of St. Peter’s Cathedral in Rome as was claimed by Pope Pius XII in his 1950 Christmas message.
On the other hand, there are archaeological proofs and documentations that Simon Peter’s burial place was in Jerusalem, near the Mount of Olives. The 1958 book Gli Scavi del Dominus Flevit, documented that an ossuary was found beneath a monastery in the Jerusalem site called Dominus Flevit with an Aramaic inscription that read Simon Bar-Jona, a named mentioned by Christ in Matthew 16:17. The book was written by P. B. Bagatti and J. T. Milik, both Roman Catholic priests.
Another book, Peter’s Tomb Recently Discovered In Jerusalem, written under the name F. Paul Peterson also detailed the circumstances and evidences underlying the fact that the Apostle Peter was indeed buried in Jerusalem and not in Rome.
There are also those who ascribed him as the first pope because he was allegedly martyred and again buried (again) in Rome, but this is not the universally accepted fact. Many Biblical scholars dispute the fact of Peter’s alleged presence in Rome during the prescribed time (A.D 41 to 66), much more he’s burial in a pagan site like Vaticanus. In fact the Bible itself disputes this claim:
According to the Book of the Acts of the Apostles, Peter was in Joppa and then to Caesarea (Palestines), ministering unto the household of Cornelius (Acts 10, historically around A.D. 42 to 43), was imprisoned by King Herod (Agrippa I) in Jerusalem (Acts 12), and was preaching in Jerusalem (Acts 13, A.D. 46-52). In the Epistle of Paul to the Galatians, Paul mentioned his return to Jerusalem after 14 years (A.D. 61) where he met Peter and the other disciples, and soon after that met Peter again in Antioch (Turkey), where he "withstood him to the face, because he was to be blamed," (Galatians 2:11) and said to Peter, "If you, being a Jew, live in the manner of Gentiles and not as the Jews, why do you compel Gentiles to live as Jews?" (Galatians 2:14, around A.D. 65 onward).

THE HEAD OF THE APOSTOLIC CHURCHContrary to popular belief, Peter (Cephas) was not the head of the Apostolic Church in Jerusalem, but James. In fact, James was the first patriarch of Jerusalem, who presided over and gave judgment to the arguments between Paul and Peter regarding “concerns over whether Gentile Christians need be circumcised to be saved” (Acts 15:1-21); hence he is sometimes called James the Just. His name means “Holder of the Heel.”

THE NUMBER OF THE BEAST
The Book of Revelation "reveals" to us many symbolic figures, and one such figure is that of the anti-Christ – the beast.
"...on his head was a name that was insulting to God" (Revelation 13:1). On the tiara which Popes wear are inscribed the following: VICARIVS FILII DEI. Literally it means the "substitute of the Son of God." Indeed, these words are blasphemous – for no one can substitute His place.
The Bible gave the following challenge: "Here is wisdom. Let him who has understanding calculate the number of the beast, for it is the number of a man. His number is 666" (Revelation 13:18).
Now consider this mathematical "revelation": Transform or assume the letters, VICARIVS FILII DEI to be Roman Numerals, get their Arabic equivalent and add them. Those without equivalent are considered 0. That is:
There are many who claimed to have discovered this “revelation.” It is found in the writings of many different religious denominations including the Seven Day Adventist, the World Church of God, the Iglesia ni Cristo, the Rizalistas, and even Catholics. In fact, it may have been in the memoirs of Don Mariano San Pedro y Esteban, a 19th century Spanish trader and traveler and nephew of Queen Isabella II (1830-1904), who himself was a devout follower of Saint James, where it was first uncovered. According to his diaries, it was during his visit to Pope Pius IX (1792-1878) where he first saw the inscription in the pope’s tiara.
In 1939, Eugenio Pacelli was crowned as Pope Pius XII with a tiara having such inscription. It is also noteworthy to mention that both Pope John Paul I (who died mysteriously) and Pope John Paul II (there are those who also questioned the cause of his death) refused to wear the tiara with the inscribed blasphemous phrase.

"Read your Bible now, by the chapters and not by a few verses, and learn while you still have time. Learn the wisdom by yourself and never depend upon the thoughts of other people. It is God who will teach you if you indeed seek to be taught."




THE END
This is a secret that I cannot reveal!

NOTE: This is just a part of what I called my enlightening "Biblical Adventure." I have a lot more discoveries and I will continuously update this blog as time goes by.