August 31 - National Heroes Day in the Philippines

Posted on August 31, 2020

(Last Monday in August)

In the past, I have written about some of the Philippines' national heroes... José Rizal and Andres Bonifacio...

...but the last Monday in August celebrates those two and many more heroes!

Sultan Dipatuan Kudarat was a Muslim leader of the southern Filipino island of Mindanao. He lived waaaay back in the 1500 and 1600s, and he fought off Spanish invasions and forced conversions to Catholicism. 

Marcelo H. del Pilar was a writer and journalist who tried to help the Philippines reform and eventually decided that a revolution and independence was needed. Sadly, he died before that could be achieved. 

Gabriela Silang took over the Ilocano rebel movement after her husband was assassinated. She led the movement for independence for four months but was then captured and executed by Spaniard forces.

Melchora Aquino is called the Grand Woman of the Revolution because she operated a store that was a refuge for exhausted freedom fighters and a sort of hospital for wounded revolutionaries. Her home was the place for secret meetings. Aquino provided food, medical care, and advice - and when she was caught by the Spaniards, and interrogated, she never gave away any names or secrets. At that point she was deported and placed under house arrest, but when the Philippines won their independence, she was able to go home again!

Emilio Aguinaldo was the first president of the Philippines - and of any constitutional republic in Asia!

Apolinario Mabini was the first prime minister - and so much more, since he was nicknamed the "brain of the revolution" that resulted in an independent Philippines, and he was a trained lawyer who served as a legal and constitutional consultant to the new government.

Juan Luna was an accomplished artist who worked to make sure that the new Filipino nation was recognized by other countries, including the United States.

August 30 – A Frigid Discovery...

Posted on August 30, 2020

Julius Johannes Ludovicus Ritter von Payer - in addition to having a really long name - had a pretty long career description: he was an officer in the Austro-Hungarian army,  he was a painter and the founder of a painting school "for ladies," he was a history and geography teacher and a professor at a military academy, he was a topographer and a mapmaker, he was a mountain climber with more than 60 peaks in the Alps in his list of "first person known to climb" list...

...and (pant, pant) he was an Arctic explorer!

It's that last bit that earned Payer the most fame. He participated in a German exploration of the Arctic, working as a topographer. That means he wrote and drew a detailed description of the natural features of the areas explored, including the shapes and altitudes of landforms, rivers, and lakes. The sketches and writings were later transformed into a map of the area.

August 30, 1873: Payer and co-explorer Karl Weyprecht discovered and named Franz Josef Land, a bunch of islands in the Arctic Ocean. 192 islands, to be exact!

The Soviet Union annexed the islands in 1926, and they are now part of the Russian Arctic National Park.

And they're pretty amazing:

Photographers love the islands for the wildlife and the icebergs:

August 29 - National Sports Day in India

Posted on August 29, 2020

Dhyan Chand is really, really, really famous - at least in the world of field hockey! This man, who was born in India (then British India) on this day in 1905, is considered the greatest player EVER in field hockey.

I found it interesting that he achieved such greatness even though Chand didn't care for hockey as a child. I gather that he played in some casual games with friends, but it wasn't until he was grown and in the Army that he really played.

And he really played well, then! 

Dhyan Chand was born Dhyan Singh, but he practiced hockey on his off hours, which meant he was practicing at night. But there were no lights on the Army field (or he wasn't authorized to use them, maybe?), so he had to wait for the moon to come out so he could see the ball! Because he always practiced when the moon came up, he was nicknamed "Moon" - or "Chand" in Hindi!

After a while that nickname became the name by which he was known. And his brilliant play in international settings earned Chand more nicknames: the Wizard and the Magician.

Chand helped India win three gold medals in the Olympics - in 1928, 1932, and 1936. At least partly because of him, India dominated men's field hockey during his career.

Actually, India dominated for longer than Chand's hockey career - India won EVERY SINGLE Olympic gold for men's field hockey from 1928 to 1956!!

And Chand's birthday is celebrated as National Sports Day! Wow - that's pretty amazing.

Field hockey - also known simply as hockey - is similar to ice hockey, but of course is not played on ice. Instead it is played on grass, on artificial turf, or on a synthetic field. Sometimes it is even played indoors on a "field" made of wooden boards. There are hockey sticks, but instead of a flat puck that mostly slides on the ice, there is a round, hard ball made out of plastic. 

The first time men's field hockey was held in the Olympics, in 1908, Great Britain won a clean sweep: gold, silver, and bronze.

You might wonder how one nation could win all the medals in a team sport, but Britain sent separate teams from all four of its nations-within-the-nation: Ireland, Scotland, Wales, and England. The four teams came in the top four spots, with the following medals: England gold; Ireland silver; Wales and Scotland bronze.

The first time women's field hockey was an Olympic sport, in 1980, Zimbabwe won the gold. 

Field hockey is still an Olympic sport, although I don't think I have ever seen it covered (not super popular here in the U.S.). During the Rio games (the most recent, since the 2020 Tokyo games were postponed due to COVID-19), Argentina won the men's gold, and Great Britain won the women's gold.

Birthday of philosopher John Locke

(Last full weekend in August)

Plan ahead: