Thursday, December 11, 2014

*374. THE SUBJECT WAS SHOP

IF I HAD A HAMMER. Lubao Elementary School Shop Class for boys. 1936-1937.

 My least liked subject during my elementary days was Industrial Arts. Taught to fifth and sixth graders, industrial arts was meant to equip students with manual and vocational skills that one may find useful in a future career in woodworking, cottage industries and native crafts.

 American teachers paid attention to this non-academic subject as Pampanga’s economic activities seemed to revolve around those industries. Crafts such as buntal hat and basket weaving, pottery, blacksmithing, furniture making were known in such towns as Betis and Apalit. Which is why, when the Bacolor School of Arts and Trade made its curriculum, it included advanced courses in carpentry, furniture-making and iron works. It was just a matter of time that the subject was adopted in public elementary schools, under the name ”Industrial Arts”.

 I was a total klutz when it came to handling tools, and I couldn’t even tell a screwdriver from a can opener. So it was with much anxiety that I entered the Industrial Arts building located at the rear of the school—students simply called it “shop”. It was lined with long work tables and had cabinets full of carpentry tools, each little gadget in its own space. The teachers manning the ‘shop’ had a reputation for being ‘terrors’ so this did not help me in appreciating this subject.

But luck was on my side when I found out that our class was assigned to the more mild-mannered Mr. Dimabuyu. My parents knew him personally and they requested him to go easy on me. I had such a weak constituent that even a simple chore like pounding a hammer could trigger an asthma attack. So, for the next weeks, I was spared of carpentry work and was given drafting duties instead. I learned to draw schematic diagrams of every conceivable geometric figure known to man, using a T-square, a triangle and a ruler. I wonder if I could actually make a living out of this. After awhile, boredom set in and I started watching and helping my adept classmates with their handiworks that were becoming more interesting every day.

 The first project was a dustpan fashioned from old cooking oil cans and a piece of wood. The next was a shoe mud scraper made from soda crowns hammered onto a plank of wood. Simple enough. But the succeeding projects became even more elaborate, requiring more sophisticated tools and skills.

For the fruit tray, one had to be good not just in handling the jig saw but also in weaving rattan strips that constituted the side of the tray. The serving tray was the piece de resistance—individual bamboo tiles had to be cut and glued into place much like parquet—and then made even with a shaving plane. The surface was then hand varnished to gleaming perfection. Each finished piece had to be presented to Mr. Dimabuyu for grading.

With his critical eye, he took note of the accuracy of dovetailed pieces, the craftsmanship and the over-all aesthetics. Every flaw was met with a frown while the outstanding ones merited words of praise. In Grade 6, I felt courageous enough to take part finally in our shop class even if I was now under a terror teacher.

The first project stumped me though, a wooden animal pull toy with wheels. I simply could not handle a jigsaw, so I cheated by asking Sidring, our househelp, to do all the sawing, drilling and assembling.

Every day I would bring the pull toy, a work in progress, to the shop, sandpapering it to death so it would look like I was busy with it. I did the painting though, a no-brainer, but still I got a deduction for painting the toy dog green.

 Later, in the school year, a radical set-up was introduced for intermediate students—both boys and girls-- which took us by surprise. The role-reversal experiment called for the girls to take Industrial Arts and Gardening, and the boys to study Home Economics. We had to learn the parts of the sewing machine, do kitchen work and hawk merienda food from class-to-class. That was the worse part as the sight of boys in aprons selling kakanins always caused people to snicker. The girls, on the other hand,  were actually doing well with their bamboo-and-paper parol project.

 It was only when I began living alone that I learned to appreciate this subject now absent in most school curriculum. Industrial arts did not make a handyman out of me, but it sure did prepare me in coping with the challenges of home improvement and repair, which I think I am now capable of doing. With my basic knowledge of carpentry, I could frame pictures, install shelves, mend broken furniture—thanks to the subject I loved to hate—industrial arts!

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

*373. FLORES PARA LOS MUERTOS

BURY ME BENEATH THE DAISIES. Tombs in a Philippine cemetery are decorated with traditional circular wreaths called "coronas", following the traditions of All saints Day. ca. early 1900s.

 One of our more enduring traditions is the honoring of the dead every first of November with prayers, candles and flowers placed on their tombs. Flowers served to honor not just the memory of the deceased, but in the distant past, they were also used to mark and identify places of burial.

 In the West, flowers were imbued with meanings, and were used as forms of non-verbal communication, often to express sentiments of love and affection. Thus, three red roses meant “I love you”, while a bunch of forget-me-nots meant--well, forget me not!

 Conversely, there were flowers that signified remembrance and mourning, of sadness and grief. These often became staples in fashioning bouquets, wreaths and funeral coronas, embellished with black ribbons, with the words “Recuerdo”, also created from tiny blooms.

 Everlasting (Helyschrysum bracteatum) were top favorites as they lasted long and kept their brilliant colors for days. Known also as “altar flowers”, we got our supply from Baguio, through relatives living there. The same relatives also sent bunches of calla lilies few days before the undas, which we kept in the coolest part of the house--the bathroom--to prevent browning. As one knows, lillies stand for holiness, faith and purity—appropriate floral offerings for All Saints’ Day.

 The fragrant ilang-ilang (Cananga odorata) meant “paglingap a tapat” (loyal care), while azucenang dilo or romantically called ‘caballero de europa’, stood for greatness. On the other hand, palomaria, locally known as bitaog (Callophylum inophyllum) symbolized care.

 The pink and purple pensamiento (pansy, of the viola family) sent a message of “atiu ka lagi keng isip” (you are always on our minds). Butones (locally known as botong, Barringtonia asiatica (linn.) kurz) , especially the purplish ones siginified “kapayapan”—peace and tranquility. Inclusion of white chrysanthemums or manzanillang puti in the flower arrangement meant a casual greeting of “komusta na ka”(how are you?).

 Perfumed jasmines presented at the tomb meant separation, but its variant—milleguas—or Tonkin jasmine, leaves a promise of “e mawale ing kekang ala-ala” (your memory will not fade away.) The passion flower—pasionaria—represented holiness, while the white adelfa meant, “magpasyal ku”—I will visit.

Orchids expressed profuse love, while sampaguita, profound sentiment. Used in context, the laurel signified a triumph over death. Of course, today, not much thought is given to the concept of floral philogy, or the language of flowers, which was all the rage from the 1920s-40s.

All that is lost in the bewildering variety of foreign-bred flowers now available to the florist (Malaysian mums, Holland tulips, stargazers) and in recent innovations in flower arranging (the use of mixed fruits-vegetable- flowers, artificial blooms of paper and plastic, why, even castaway driftwood!)

 True, there are many ways to affirm our love for our dearly parted, who will always remain sacred to our memory. But none as special as expressing that feeling with the “flowery” language of flowers!

Sunday, November 2, 2014

*372. 1964 MISS INTERNATIONAL’S PAMPANGA CONNECTION

A GEM OF A GIRL. Gemma Teresa Guerrero Cruz, daughter of Carmen Guerrero and the late Ismael Cruz, is crowned Miss International 1964 at Long Beach, California, the First Filipino world beauty titlist. Shown with pageant host and actor Hugh O'Brian. 

When my second book, “ARO, KATIMYAS DA! A Memory Album of Titled Kapampangan Beauties 1908-2012” was launched in July 2013, I had the enviable privilege as having Gemma Teresa Guerrro Cruz-Araneta as my Guest of Honor and Speaker. A friend, Ivan Henares, president of the Heritage Conservation Society of which she is the chairperson of the Board of Trustees, had made the arrangement possible.

 A heavy downpour has delayed her arrival, but when she strode in, resplendent in an antique black and gold baro’t saya that once belonged to her lola Filomena, she got us all starstruck. I, myself was mesmerized by her patrician beauty, tall and regal was she, that led actress Arlene Dahl, one of the judges in that 1964 pageant to observe: “she had an unmistakable air of class that set her apart from others. I think that regality, so evident in her breeding and bearing is what gave her the judges’ nod.” 

Of course, I was thrilled and giddy with excitement at her presence—never mind that she was not a Kapampangan beauty like the subjects in my book; she was, after all, our first world beauty titlist, Miss International of 1964, a crown she won in Long Beach, California back in August, 1964.

But it took Gemma Cruz to provide the Pampanga connection, in a “kiss and tell” story of sorts, that delighted the audience no end, warning the audience that she won’t mention names, “lest you think I am being rude or unladylike”, she quipped, further eliciting more laughter. Let me give way to her own recounting of this event in her life:

 “In Alex Castro’s book about Kapampangan beauties, there is a chapter about beauty queens who had something to do with Pampanga. As I was reading it, a thought crossed my mind: why am I not included here? I had connections with Pampanga! 

 After all, I had two ardent suitors from Pampanga, one from Lubao, and the other from Porac. The one from Lubao was the quiet type, but I didn’t mind doing all the talking because he was very tall ( a basketball player) and was a good dancer. The one from Porac was very conservative, so he was horrified when I won the Miss Philippines and immediately broke off with me. 

 Both are in heaven now, I hope, waiting for me and raring to ask whom I love the best, Porac or Lubao?” 

 With a that, the witty Gemma closed her talk, leaving us “bitin” with a cliffhanger of an ending, what with her intriguing blind item revelations. Maybe she left enough clues to help uncover the identities of her two ardent Kapampangan swains.

Dare you, dear reader, venture a guess?

Saturday, July 26, 2014

*371. He Built According To God’s Plan: Arch. JOSE MA. ZARAGOZA

JOSE MA. ZARAGOZA. Renown for building ecclesiastical structures like the Sto. Domingo Church in Quezon City, Zaragoza was hailed as National Artist for Architecture, Design & Allied Arts on 20 June 2014. His mother hails from the Velez-Infante family of Guagua, Pampanga. Photo ca. 1955.

A part-Kapampangan architect known for dedicating his life to building sacred monuments and churches was recenty honored posthumously with a National Artist award in the field of architecture, design and the allied arts.

 Jose Ma. Zaragoza was born in Manila on 6 December 1914 to parents, Dña. Rosario Velez y Infante and Elias Zaragoza y Roxas. the 1st Filipino graduate of Yale University in 1906.

 The Velez family, of Spanish lineage, were among the most prominent families of Guagua, noted for their vast landholdings and untold wealth, traces of which still remain to this day. No less illustrious were the Zaragozas; Elias himself was the 1st Filipino graduate of Yale University, earning a degree in Electrical Engineering, summa cum laude, in 1906. Later, the senior Zaragoza was granted a 10-year study at Faraday Institute in London.

 Apparently, it was from his father that Joselin, as the young Jose was fondly called, got his aptitude for numbers and design. After graduating from high school at San Beda College in 1931 as salutatorian, he enrolled at the University of Sto. Tomas, where he finished with honors, B.S. in Architecture. He passed the government examinations in 1938.

 After passing the licensure exams in 1938, he joined the firm of Arch. Andres Luna de San Pedro, the Dean of Philippine Architects—and Juan Luna’s son. His Catholic upbringing shaped the direction of his lifeworks—one of his early works was the Villa San Miguel in Mandaluyong. But he rose to great prominence when he won the design project of the Sto. Domingo Church and Convent at Quezon City. It was a significant assignment as an ancestor, Felix Roxas, had designed the original Sto. Domingo Church in Intramuros , subsequently bombed during the war in 1941.

 Zaragoza’s other credits include the Pope Pius XII parish church in Manila, the Don Bosco Bosco church in Makati (finished 4 March 1978), the Union Church of Manila (also in Makati), the National Shrine of the Miraculous Medal in Parañaque, and the refurbishing of the interiors of Quiapo Church. In all, Arch. Zaragoza was involved in the design and construction of over 45 ecclesiastical structures all over the country. But he also distinguished himself in designing corporate offices and edifices.

One important commission was from the Lopez Group founder Eugenio Lopez Sr., who asked him to design Meralco’s new Ortigas headquarters, previously based in San Marcelino, Manila. The new, state-of-the-art multi-storey building was completed and inaugurated on 14 March 1969 in time for the electric company’s 66th anniversary. Other iconic landmarks that Zaragoza handled were the Greenhills Shopping Center in Ortigas and Casino Español. 

 Along his professional line, Zaragoza was an honorary fellow of both the American Institute of Architects and the Philippine Institute of Architects. He also was a 2-term president of the Philippine Institute of Architects and also held the presidency of the U.S.T. College of Architecture and Fine Arts Alumni Association. He headed his own private enterprise as president of the J.M.Z. Home Industries.

 The devout Zaragoza was named a Papal Chamberlain of Pope Pius XII (Cape and Sword) in 1956. He was also a Cavalier Magistrale of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta and a Knight Treasurer, Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem. He sat as a director for the Catholic Aid Association and was an active Knight of Columbus member.

 Zaragoza was the first Filipino to attend the International Institute of Liturgical Arts in Rome in 1956. That same year, he also attended the conference at the Union Nationales des Cooperatives d’Énglises et Edifices Religion Sinistres, held in Paris, France.

 Married to the former Pilar Rosello, his family was blessed with 5 children: Ramon (writer), Loudette, Charina (Bb. Pilipinas-Universe 1968) and Vince. The family settled eventually in Makati where the esteemed architect lived out the rest of his life, attending to his pet dogs, as well as to his many religious activities. The acclaimed architect died at age 81 on 26 November 1994, and his memorial services were held at the same chapel that he designed, the Blessed Sacrament chapel of Don Bosco.

 Amidst the Nora Aunor brouhaha, Zaragoza was named as a National Artist on 20 June 2014. But unlike the thespian’s controversial background, Zaragoza’s lifetime achievements in the field of design architecture are, without question, spotless testaments of his brilliance as an “architect for God, for man”.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

*370. TEATRO SABINA: Where Zarzuelistas Take Centerstage

LIFE STAGES. The venerable Teatro Sabina of Bacolor, is the venue for the play, "Reina Malaya", produced and performed by students of Pampanga Trade School. Note the figure of Uncle Sam on the left, which would suggest that this play had a patriotic theme like many plays of the period. Ca. 1927.

In early 20th c. Pampanga, Bacolor’s first and premiere theatre – Teatro Sabina – was where Kapampangan actors and singers, playwrights and composers,  congregated to give vent to their new, artistic pursuits before an adoring town audience.

One such novel art form was the ‘zarzuela’, a play that was both sung and acted by performers,with dialogues and song lyrics in Kapampangan. The Kapampangan ‘zarzuela’ was a product of a brainstorm by the 3 leading poets and dramatists of their time: Proceso Pabalan (Byron) , Juan Crisostomo Soto (Crissot) and Felix Galura (Flauxgialer), who thought of combining declamations and songs in one stage play, sometime in 1900.

Previous to this, staged drama consisted of moro-moros and kumidyas, which only had straight and long dialogues that caused many an audience to sleep in the middle of a play. The group enrolled the services of composer Amado Gutierrez David to create song melodies, and soon, the first zarzuelas emerged from their prolific pens. Pabalan wrote his zarzuelas (Ing Managpe and Magparigaldigal) and Soto his ‘Paninap ng San Roque’.

The rehearsals for the ‘zarzuelas’ were held in the spacious residence of  Mateo Gutierrez-David, father of composer Amado and another zarzuelista—Jose Gutierrez-David, the future justice of the Supreme Court. The Gutierrez-David house is thus considered as the birthplace of Pampanga zarzuelas.

But a permanent venue was needed to accommodate the large repertory of actors, musicians and backstage hands – not to mention the audience. Luckily, Indang Sabina Joven, the unmarried sister of Pampanga’s governor, Don Ceferino Joven, had an idle plot of land in downtown Bacolor. With the help of her family, a theater was constructed that was to bear her name—Teatro Sabina. To further honor her, the performing troop called itself Compania Sabina, which toured all over Pampanga, Tarlac and even Manila.


Many zarzuelas—now considered classic—had their gala performances at Teatro Sabina, which was praised for its excellent acoustics, courtesy of water wells dug in strategic parts of the theater grounds. Pabalan had the privilege of having his zarzuela, “Ing Managpe” (The Patcher) staged first at the renowned theater on 13 September 1900, followed by Crissot’s ‘’Ing Paninap ng San Roque” (1901) and “Alang Dios” (1902).

Hundreds of zarzuelas were written and produced afterward, with many becoming word-of-mouth hits like “Ing Sultana”, “Mascota”, “Sigalut”, and “La Independencia”. Teatro Sabina became a popular venue for staging plays produced not only by professional theatre groups but also by drama guilds of nearby schools.


In 1909, the Teatro Sabina was reconstructed and remodelled. When inaugurated anew, a commemorative board was placed above the frontage of the stage, on the proscenium arch. It contained the names of Pampango dramatists and composers who played major roles in promoting the Kapampangan zarzuela: Proceso Pabalan, Juan Crisostomo Soto, Felix Galura, Pascual Gozun, Pablo Palma, Jose Prado, Amado Gutierrez-David and Jose Gutierrez-David.

The zarzuela era flourished for about 3 decades, thanks to Teatro Sabina.  The support from the Joven family continued until financial difficulties set in. The legendary theater ceased operations in the late ‘20s, ending the golden era of Kapampangan theater.

Saturday, June 21, 2014

*369. KAPAMPANGANS AT THE 1904 ST. LOUIS’ WORLD’S FAIR


FILIPINAS AT THE FAIR! The Philippine Exhibit was assigned the largest space in the fairgrounds of the 1904 St. Louis World's Fair, and a multitude of structures were built to serve as exhibit halls and residences of some 1,100 Filipinos (mostly tribal groups)  flown in to animate the event. No wonder, the Philippine Exhibit caused a major sensation

 “Meet me at St. Louis…meet me at the Fair!” 
So goes the lyrics of the period song that served as the unofficial theme of a magnificent American fair that was dubbed as “the greatest of expositions”, surpassing everything the world has seen before, in terms of cost, size and splendor, variety of views, attendance and duration.

 The 1904 Louisiana Purchase Exposition, popularly known as the St. Louis World’s Fair, opened officially on 30 April 1904, to mark the 100th anniversary of the purchase of Louisiana from France by the U.S.- a vast area that comprised almost 1/3 of continental America. From this land were carved the states of Arkansas, Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, North and South Dakota, Oklahoma and sections of Colorado, Minnesota and Wyoming.

 Save for Delaware and Florida, all the states and territories of America participated in all the activities at the sprawling 1,275 acre fairgrounds that took all of 6 years to build. As a U.S. territory, the Philippines joined 45 nations in organizing a delegation as well as the construction of its own exhibit grounds—the largest in the fair-- to house pavilions, recreated villages, presentations and native Filipino groups.

 Much have been said about the Philippine representation that included “living museums” with ethnic tribes (Samal, Negrito, Igorottes, Bagobos), and regional groups (Visayans, Tagalogs) showing their traditional way of living in replicated villages.

Before large audiences, Igorots demonstrated their culinary practices by eating dogs, while Negritos shot arrows and climbed trees. A pair of Filipino midgets were also featured stars, together with English-speaking, harp-playing Tagalas who represented the more “civilized’ side of the Philippines.

 On a more positive note, the Philippine Constabulary Band dazzled and thrilled crowds with their impressive and stirring performance of march music while the Philippine Scouts, composed mostly of smartly-dressed Macabebe soldiers ("Little Macs", as they were called by their American fans) , performed military drills with precision and aplomb.

 Then there were the superlative government exhibits that showcased the richness of Philippine talents and resources. There were exhibits in various categories: Forestry, Arts, Crafts, Cuisine, Education, Agriculture and Horticulture, Fish, Game and Water Transport and other industries. Tasked with the purchase of collecting and installing these distinctively Filipino exhibits for the St. Louis World’s Fair was the Philippine Exposition Board, specially created by the Philippine Commission.

The Board was allotted an initial budget of $125,000, with a further appropriation of up to $250,000 to mount a world-class exhibit that would show the commercial, industrial, agricultural, cultural, educational and economic gains made by our islands under Mother America.

 Recognitions were given by the organizers of the World’s Fair for country participants where their entries were judged by an international jury. Over 6,000 of various colors were won by the Philippines. Among those granted the honors were many outstanding Kapampangans who were represented by their inventive and creative works that wowed both the crowds of St. Louis and also the esteemed jury. 

In the category of Ethnography, the Silver Prize went to the Negrito Tribe (tied with the Bagobos) that counted Aetas from Pampanga as among the tribe members. They wre represented by Capt. Medio of Sinababawan and Capt. Batu Tallos, of Litang Pampanga.

 The Products of Fisheries yielded the following Kapampangan winners who produced innovative fishing equipment. Bronze Medals: Ambrosio Evangelista, Diego Reyes (Candaba); Fulgencio Matias (Sta. Ana); Macario Tañedo (Tarlac). Honorable Mentions: Alfredo Arnold, Epifanio Arceo, Pedro Lugue, Jacinto De Leon, Pascual Lugue, Mario Torres (Apalit); Eugenio Canlas, Teodoro de los Santos (Sto. Tomas); Andres Lagman (Minalin); Rita Pangan (Porac); Thos. J. Mair, Medeo Captacio (identified only as coming from Pampanga).

 Pampanga schools also performed commendably, with various winners in the Public School Exhibits, Elementary Division. Bronze medal winners include the town schools of Apalit, Arayat, Bacolor, Candaba and San Fernando, while Honorable Mentions were merited by Betis, Guagua and Mabalacat.

In the Secondary School division, Pampanga High School of San Fernando too home the Bronze. From among entries in the General Collective Exhibit category, Mexico was chosen to receive a Silver Medal. The Bronze went to Macabebe and San Fernando, while Honorable Mentions list included Bacolor, Candaba, Floridablanca, Magalang and Sta. Rita.

 The Fine Arts competition produced two Pampanga residents: Rafael Gil who won Silver for his mother-of-pearl art creation. Gil, and the highly regarded Bacolor artist, Simeon Flores (posthumous), also won Honorable Mentions for their paintings.

 The culinary traditions of Pampanga were made known to the world at the St. Louis World’s Fair through the sweet kitchen concoctions of several ‘kabalens’. Angeles was ably represented by Trifana Angeles Angeles (preserved orange peel) ; Irene Canlas (preserved melon); Carlota C. Henson (preserves and jellies); Januario Lacson (santol preserves); Isabel Mercado (preserved limoncito); Atanacio Rivera de Morales (santol preserves, buri palm preserves); Zoilo and Marcelino Nepomuceno (mango jelly); Aurelia Torres (santol preserves) andYap Siong (anisada corriente, anis espaseosa) Mabalaqueñas also tickled taste buds with their homemade desserts: Rafaela Ramos Angeles (preserved fruit, santol preserves); Maria Guadalupe Castro (santol jelly) and Justa de Castro (kamias fruit preserve).

 The World’s Fair at St. Louis closed at midnight on 1 December 1904, and was declared a huge success—thanks in part to the blockbuster Philippine exhibits enriched by the modest contributions of Kapampangans who proved equal to the challenge, to emerge as world-class citizens.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

*368. JULIAN MANANSALA , The Father of Philippine Nationalist Films

MASANTOL'S MOVIE MAN. Julian Manansala, director, producer, film makee, was known as "The Father of Philippine Nationalist Films" for his many movies with patriotic themes.

 The esteemed director-peliculero from Masantol who would leave a name in Philippine movie history as a foremost producer of patriotic and historical films, was born Julian Manansala on 28 January 1899, to Miguel Manansala and Leoniza Mendoza. Julian, ho also was an accomplished layer, comes from an artistic family that counts Vicente Silva Manansala as a member; the future national artist is his nephew.

 In his teens, he was quite a popular figure in his hometown, heading social clubs like “Bulaclac ning Pamacalugud  in 1913 and as an adult, “Batis ning Tula” and ‘’Panyulat Capampangan’’, a literary group. He moved to Manila for his high school education, which he finished at the National University in 1915. Manansala next pursued his Bachelor of Laws, at Escuela de Derecho, which he completed in 1919.

 After taking the bar, he opted to work in Washington D.C. as a Solicitor for Pensioners for over 200 Filipino veteran soldiers who fought for America, helping them secure their benefits and rights as provided by the Law of Pensions and Compensations. He held this post at the Bureau of Pension from 1921-28.

Upon his return to the Philippines, Manansala surprised everyone when he jumped into the fledgling Philippine movie industry bandwagon, joining pioneers Juan Nepomuceno, Atty. Vicente Salumbides, Sen. Jose Vera and Dña. Narcisa vda. De Leon. After all, he had always believed in taking risks and capitalizing on opportunities: ‘’Samantalanan me at gamitan ing guintu mung panahun, qñg pamagaral ang metung a cabiasnan a talagan cajiligan mu, ebala ing nung emu man abalu ing aliwa,uling mayap at pakinabangnan mu nung lunto cang especialista qñg metung a cabiasnan, kesa qñg abalu mu ing sabla, dapot puguit naca man dili.’’ (Grab and use your time of gold to learn one field of interest. Do not worry if you cannot learn everything—it is better to be a master of one, than to be a Jack of all trades).

 Manansala directed his first movie, ‘’Patria Amore’’ in 1929, and proved to be a masterful film make. The movie created quite a stir with its direct reference to Spanish abuses. Considered as discriminatory, the Spanish community filed a case in court, asking to stop the screening of the movie for fear of a backlash against them. The request for a restraining order was denied. From thenceforth, Manansala continued to produce a list of movies with strong nationalistic themes.

 The next year, in 1930, he completed ‘’Dimasalang’’, starring Mary Walter and kabalen, Dr. Gregorio Fernandez, who would also foray into directing. He next signed up with Banahaw Pictures Corp. as its Technical Director and megged ‘’Ang Kilabot ng mga Tulisan’’ (1932), with Dolly Garcia and Salvador Zaragosa.

Unhappy being an employee, he resigned to put up his own Liberty Cinema Corp. Manansala directed and produced ‘’Pag-ibig ng Kadete’’, headlined by the Kapampangan poet, Amado Yuson. He next shot “Mutya ng Katipunan” (1939), with favorite actress, Arsenia Francisco, whom he would use again in one of his last films, “Tawag ng Bayan’’(1940).

 His political interest was piqued when he became the Secretary-General of Manila-based ‘’Nais Capampangan’’. Later, he would also join the consolidated Nationalist Party in Manila as a committee president, for 6 years.

 When his heyday as a filmmaker was over, Manansala returned to his first love--Law. A full 26 years after his graduation, he was finally admitted to the Philippine bar on 19 November 1945, and practiced his profession. He was married to married Donata Quito, 1921, with whom he had 4 children: Antonio, Bonifacio (who would also become a very successful criminal lawyer , at times, working side-by-side with his father), Carolina and Donata.

 Manansala lived by his life credo: ‘’Ing catapatan qng sinta qng calupang cayanacan, qñg meguing cabislac na ning caldua, at qñg Indung Balen, landas neng tune ning pamagtagumpe at caligayan.’’ (Your faith in your young love, in your soul mate, and in your Motherland are the real paths to achieving personal glory and fulfillment). Manansala has certainly treaded on the right path; today, lawyer-director is known as the First Father of Philippine Nationalist Films.