Friday, August 14, 2009

Seditious plays, 2

"...On its feet, rabid with fury and frenzy, for three hours..." that was how the Filipino audience of seditious plays was described by Commander Anthony Stanley Riggs in his book THE FILIPINO DRAMA (1905); he was a Manila resident from 1902-05. Continued Com. Riggs, " is also difficult to conceive of our own feelings, were we placed as the Filipinos are..." Perhaps, that was why Riggs felt compelled to delve into the phenomenon of seditious drama in the newly conquered and occupied Republic of the Philippines.

Com. Riggs grudgingly admired the intrepidi Filipino patriots who, with meager financial resources and devastated by a superior military power, wrote play after play in the vernacular, creatively transforming theater into guerilla warfare, as a deperate last-ditch struggle to keep revolutionary flames burning until the restoration of Independence.

Among the audacious Filipino playwrights was Aurelio Tolenltino whose "Kahapon, Ngayon at Bukas" was presented on 14 May 1903, at a jam-packed Teatro Libertad in Manila. In the zarzuela, the actor symbolizing the Tagalog provinces had to trample on the American flag as a sign of victory; Aurelio himself played this role. The Americans in the audience reacted so violently there was a terrible riot after which Tolentino was arrested for sedition.

Juan Matapang Cruz, another intrepid patriot, presented "Hindi Aco Patay" at the Tetaro Nueva Luna in Malabon on 8 May 1903. Accordidng to reports, when the Katipunan flag was shown on stage, some American soldiers in the audience threw empty beer bottles at it, clambered on stage and destroyed the scenery, bedlam followed and J. Matapang Cruz and the actors were arrested by the American secret service a month later.

Gabriel Beato Francisco of Sampaloc (father of Filomena, first woman pharmacist, and Maria, firs twoman lawyer) wrote "Ang Katipunan" which was presented at the Teatro Oriental in Manila and later on 21 February 1905, in Laoag, Ilocos; everyone involved in the presentation, audience included, were arrested for violating the Sedition Act of 1901.

Pantaleon Lopez (1872-1912) wrote "Ave de rapina" or "Ibong manlulupig" in 1901, which alluded to the Dean Worcester versus "El Renacimiento" case where the latter was sued for esposing Worcester's predatory activities in a fiery editorial entitled "Aves de rapina" (Birds of prey"). The zarzuela was staged at the Teatro Angel in Singalong, Manila, under tight police surveillance as tension had been building up, a few days before, due to the arrest of a local band that played the Philippine National anthem at a fiest in Quiapo. Hoping to skirt arrest, Lopez made the fierce bird of prey rattle off a promise to look after the future of the country. Nevertheless, the theater was raided and playwlright, cast and audience were dragged to the Pako police station.

Most of the librettos and scripts of the Philippine seditious theater were confiscated and brought to the USA for translation and further scrutiny and then archived with the "Philippine Insurgent Papers.". Unwittingly, they were preserved for posteritiy in that roundabout and ironic manner.#

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Occupation day,2

According to the family grapevine, my maternal great grandfather, Leon Maria Guerrero, would wake up infuriated on every 13th day of August, a tragic day for him but "Occupation Day", a "fiesta oficial" for the American colonial government.

In the second volume of Capt. John R.M. Taylor's THE PHIIPPINE INSURRECTION AGAINST THE UNITED STATES, this American intelligence officer reported that on 10 August 1898, Gen. Pio del Pilar sent an ominous message to Gen. Emilio Aguinaldo, warning him that "...the Americans want to deceive us...we shall attack them and drive them out." Apparently, while Aguinaldo was organizing his forces in Cavite, Filipino troops in Manila, according to Taylor"...watched the arrival of American reinforcements with rising indignation for they saw that the capaital would not be theirs. They felt that they were about to be defrauded of the prize for which they had labored and fought. Many wanted to see their flag flying over the Walled City." Needless to say, Taylor also believed that all the Filipinos wanted to do was loot Intramuros.

On 12 August, Gen. Riego de Dios, whom Aguinaldo had installed as governor of Cavite, informed him that the Spaniards in Manila had reportedly surrendered to the Americans who were raring to take possession of Intramuros. That very evening, Aguinaldo received a terse telegraphed message from Gen. Anderson forbidding him and his "Filipino insurgents" from entering Manila. Sensing betrayal, Aguinaldo flew into a rage. Meanwhile his former allies had already taken possession of a bridge to prevent him and his troops from entering Manila.

On 13 August, Aguinaldo received yet another stern warning from the American general: "Your troops are not permitted to enter Manila without the permission of the American commander on this side of the Pasig River, as they would be under our fire."

Audaciously, the Filipinos passsed through Santa ana, according to Capt. Taylor"...and got into the city almost as soon as the Americans. They did not get in without opposition by the Americanas, who endeavored to eecute their orders to keep them out without resorting to actual force." On the same day, Aguinaldo received another telegram which read:"Serious trouble threatening between our forces. Try and prevent it. Your force should not force themseves in the city until we have received the full surrender [of the Spaniards].Then we will negotiate with you." To which Aguinaldo replied:"My troops are forced by yours, by means of threats of violence to retire from positions taken. It is necessary to avoid conflict, which I should lament, that you order your troops to avoid difficulties with mine as until now they [Filipino troops] have conducted themselves like brothers to take Manila."

Capt. John Taylor wrote: "It was fortunate for the Americans in front of Manila that Aguinaldo's councilors were not unified and that his soldiers were short of ammunition."#