Wednesday, August 17, 2011
The summary execution of Gat Andres Bonifacio after a hasty trial exposed some horrifying defects of our national character like regionalism, deviousness and divisiveness, our pitfalls to this very day. To commemorate the death of the Supremo of the Katipunan, I read through "Mga Kasulatan sa Pagllilitis " (Agoncillo, 1963). The brothers Bonifacio--Andres and Procopio--were accused of "nagtipon ng kawal barilan at sandatahan ng walang pahintulot...at parating gumagawa ng pulong na lihim" (illegal army and possession of arms, secret assemblies) Utterly grave was , "May panukalang ihapay itong pamahalaan at patayin ang Presidente [Aguinaldo]" (intent to overthrown government and assasinate the president) They were sentenced to death, "parusang kamatayan", but curiously enough, in the same document, the death penalty was commuted to "destierrong walang taning dusang gaganapin sa isang tanging lugal nahiwalay at babantayan." (perpetual exile at an isolated and well-guarded place)
So what happened? Why were Andres and Procopio killed just the same? On the 97th birthday of former President Emilio Aguinaldo in 1969, historian Teodoro Agoncillo read a paper at a conference of the Philippine Historical Asscociation where he recapitulated certain facts. He said that Aguinaldo decided to exile Andres and Procopio Bonifacio instead of executing them but was overrruled by the Council of War. Consequently, in a letter signed by General M.Noriel, a certain Major Makapagal was ordered to kill the brothers and had he failed to mete the punishment, Makapagal would have been punished with all the rigors of the Spanish Military Court.
Very few know that Andres Bonifacio had joined the La Liga Filipina established by Jose Rizal on 3 July 1892, and had successfully organized its local councils. When Rizal was arrested and hastily exiled to Dapitan , Bonifacio founded the Katipunan, attracting Liga members who saw the need for more drastic measures. Surprisingly enough, Bonifacio's death is commemorated yearly in Maragondon, Cavite but only since 2008 in Manila, under Mayor Alfredo S. Lim's second incumbency. On the day of his tragic and cruel death, Gat Andres Bonifacio is given military honors at his shrine beside City Hall and his other monuments and markers all over the city are embellished with wreaths of summer flowers.
He wrote: "In contrast to Burgos who wept because he died guiltless, Rizal went to the execution ground calm and even cheerful, to show that he was happy to sacrifice his life, which he had dedicated to the good of all the Filipinos, confident that in love and gratitiude, they would always remember him and follow his example and teaching. In truth, the merit of Rizal's sacrifice consists precisely in that it was voluntary and conscious. He had known perfectly well, that, if he denounced the abuses which the Spaniards were committing in the Philippines, they would not sleep in peace until they had encompassed his ruin; yet, he did so because , if the abuses were not exposed, they would never be remedied. From the day Rizal understood the misfortune of his native land and decided to work to redress them, his vivid imagination never ceased to picture to him at every moment of his life the terrors of the death that awaited him; thus he learned not to fear it, and had no fear when it came to take him away. The life of Rizal, from the time he dedicated it to the service of his native land was, therefore, a continuing death, bravely endured until the end for love of his countrymen. God grant that they will know how to render to him the only tribute worthy of his memory: the imitation of his virtues."
Let us then imitate Rizal's virtues as a gift for his 150th birthday.
(Source: Mabini, Apolinario, The Philippine Revolution, translated into English by Leon Ma. Guerrero, 1969)
Saturday, April 23, 2011
Pres. Felipe Calderon felt betrayed and hurt, to say the least. As expected, Amb . Pascual was attacked relentlessly by legislators, the academe, the labor sector and the public in general. Had he not resigned, he could have been declared "persona non grata." However, US Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, came to the rescue, praised Pascual's good work in helping Mexico fight drug lords and announced that the ambassador would stay for a bit to insure orderly transition. She declared that his replacement will be appointed after the Mexican presidential elections (next year!) ; a charge d'affaires will take over in the meantime. Was that a veiled threat?
Amb. Carlos Pascual, a Cuban-American, used to be connected with the Brookings Institute and, curiously enough, his previous diplomatic assignments were to "precarious" states like the Ukraine, so when he was sent to Mexico, there was a lot of "eyebrow raising" here. Be that as it may, Amb. Pascual made frequent visits to Los Pinos (Mexico's Malacanan) , had the ear of the President with whom he was reported to have discussed and perrhaps planned "Rapido y Furioso" (Fast and Furious) a controversial deal that secretly sent 2,000 high-powered arms to Mexico, the unmanned flights of drone planes over Mexican territory, and heaven knows what other obscure operations which Mexicans fear may be violating their Constitution.
In a radio interview, Mexixcan historian, Dr. Lorenzo Meyer, said that was certainly not the first time a US ambassador to Mexico has had shown his hand. In 1853, Amb. James Gadsen negotiated with the corrupt Pres. Antonio de Santa Ana the sale of a vast part of Mexican territory to the USA. The " Gadsen Purchase" so infuriated the Mexican people there were many uprisings and revolts against Santa Ana who was overthrown by the Ayutla revolution.
Dr. Meyer also related that in 1912, when Francisco Madero became president after the dictatorship of Porfirio Diaz, US Ambassador Henry Lane Wilson thought him a weak reformist so he openly cultivated the friendship of Madero's rivals like Gen. Victoriano Huerta. Emboldened, the latter rose against Madero and during a meeting, supposedly at the US embassy, Amb. Wilson advised Huerta to "do what was best for Mexico". Huerta lost no time and Madero was assasinated. For his part, US Pres. William H. Taft believed that Amb. Wilson had gone too far and bade him to stop meddlding in Mexican political affairs. Had there been Wikileaks in those tumultuous times, Ambassadors Gadsen and Wilson could have been lynched.# (written in Mexico city, March 2011)
According to Toto, late one evening, he caught a glimpse of someone buying a copy of Mommy's book at the reception desk of his office and the secrtary was surprised when the man said he was buying the book because his grandfather, Leon, was on the cover. Intrigued, my brother dashed out of his office, assistant Peter Lee at his heels, to look for the mysterious stranger. They had hoped to catch him by the elevators but he was nowhere to be found so they rushed down to the front desk of the building where visitors had to retrive their IDs.
"We sighted Franz when he was already walking away from Tower One (of the Philippine Stock Exchange) ," Toto related. "Peter gave chase seeing he was carrying a red book (color of the cover), so we invited him to the brokers' lounge." Franz Villafuerte, grandson of Gen. Leon Villafuerte, works as a government securities dealer at the Development Bank of the Philippines. His Lolo Leon lived to a ripe old age of over 100 and passed on in 1956. Like Macario Sakay, his friend and fellow revolutionary, he had an "anting-anting" which he bequeathed to Franz's father but which his mother buried in their garden. I can only imagine why she could have done that ; I have two Rizalista "anting-anting" which I have not quite deciphered but are on display in my living-room.
Toto told Franz, whom he described as a handsome mestizillo, that our mother put that famous group picture of Gen. Macario Sakay and his comrades-at-arms, Leon Villafuerte included, on the cover of her latest book because she is an admirer of the former. Manila Mayor Alfredo S. Lim , another Sakay die-hard, had a monument built in his honor at the Plaza Morga in Tondo. Franz had not heard about it. Toto continued to say that yet another Sakay stalwart, his sister Gemma, will surely want to interview him about his Lolo Leon. (to be continued)
Considering how the post-Aguinaldo revolutionary guerrillas were being hunted and killed by the Americans, the Bringandage Act of 1903 punished them with death and/or life imprisonment with hard labor. It is heartening to know that Franz's elders did not conceal their blood ties with Gen. Leon Villafuerte even if he had joined Sakay who was branded an outlaw or "bandolero" by the American colonial government.
Gen. Leon Villafuerte was a follower of loyal "magdiwang" Gen. Luciano San Miguel who never stopped fighting, not even after the uneasy truce declared at Biak na Bato, nor after President Emilio Aguinaldo was captured in Palanan , Isabela, in 1901. When Gen. San Miguel was killed in battle in 1903, many of his men joined Macario Sakay, among them Leon Villafuerte.#
Tuesday, January 11, 2011
It was still the post-war, a grim period of rebuilding a devastated economy, recovering shreds of natonal self-respect while choking on unequal treaties so, naturally, there was a resurgence of nationalism. Senator Claro M. Recto invoked Jose Rizal and authored a bill which made his novels (the unexpurgated versions) compulsory reading in all colleges and universities in the Philippines. This was sponsored by the Committee on Education headed by Senator Jose P. Laurel and supported by all senators with the exception of three--Franciso (Soc) Rodrigo, Decoroso Rosales and Mariano Cuenco.
There was weeping and gnashing of teeth at committee hearings that began in April 1956. Vehemently opposed to the bill were the Catholic hierarchly, the Catholic Action of the Philippines, Congregation of Missions, Knights of Columbus, the Catholic Teachers Guild and other Catholic organizations. Stinging commentaries by radio personalities of Church-supported stations called Rizal a ' 'thing of the past and his books an "inadequate Bible of Philippine nationalism today."
With daggers drawn, the Veteranos de la Revolucion (Spirit of 1896) rallied behind Senators Recto and Laurel. Indignant, so did the Alagad ni Rizal, Freemasons, and the Knights of Rizal. The archaic posture of the Church infuriated even the Book Lovers Society. They all affirmed that prohibiting generations of Filipino youth from reading the novels and works of Rizal was tantamount to executing the hero all over again, just like what the Spanish friars and colonial authorities did.
Many of those who opposed the Noli and Fili had not read the novels carefully, or not read them at all, except perhaps for a certain Fr. Jesus Cavanna who tried to slaughter the nationalists with a curious numbers game. He said that in the Noli, out of 332 pages only 25 had patriotic passages while 120 pages attacked the Church; as for the Fili, out of 293 pages only 41 alluded to patriotism and 80 were anti-Catholic. He must have gone through the novels with a fine-toothed comb but interestingly, he is the very same Fr. Cavanna who was inextricably involved in the Rizal retraction hoax.
Source: Totanes, Stephen Henry S., "The historical impact of the Noli Me Tangere and El Filibusterismo" (Budhi Papers, #7, Ateneo de Manila University Press, 1987)
Heading the Veteranos de la Revolucion, Emilio Aguinaldo, President of the First Philippine Republic, denounced the Filipino clergy for putting themselves "under the yoke of the old Spanish friars, against whom the Filipinos of 1896 had risen in arms..."[with] our blood spilled on the battlefields." He demanded the true separation of Church and State and said that Rizal's novels were "banned by the Spanish authorities who had kept Filipinos subject for more than 300 years under the guise of Christianity".
It was Magdalo times all over again ! Four thousand (4,000) revolucionarios gathered at Imus, Cavite, some gave moving testimonies of how they risked their lives just to be able to read the NOLI and FILI when still under Spanish subjugation. They unanimously approved a manifesto calling "un-Filipino and morally repulsive" any opposition to Senator Recto's bill. An old venerable declared he would stop going to church until the bill was approved. Another exclaimed, "My loyalty to religion ends where my loyalty to the country begins."
The Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines insisted that Rizal attacked "the possibility of miracles, purgatory, the sacraments, indulgences, prayers, disparaged the veneration of saints, images, relics, the Blessed Mother and questioned Papal authority. Worst, Rizal doubted "God's omnipotence". In a pastoral letter, Bishop Rufino Santos of Manila explained their opposition to the "compulsory reading in their entirety of such books in any school where Catholic students may be affected."
Senator Laurel, head of the Education Committee, modified Recto's bill for expediency's sake by allowing exemptions for "reasons of religious belief." On 12 June 1956, Republic Act. No. 1425 (Rizal Law) was finally passed. Thus, the writings of Rizal especially the unexpurgated versions of the NOLI and FILI, became compulsory for all public and private schools in the Philippines.
Source: Locsin, Teodoro, "The Church Under Attack", "Phillippines FreePress", May 1956
Sunday, January 9, 2011
Incredibly prescient, Rizal knew he was going to be vilified after death. When he returned to Manila in 1887, he visited the Ateneo, talked to Padre Faura who told him that everything he had written in the NOLI was true, but that he may lose his head for it and if he should persist in his beliefs (Masonry) he should never again set foot in his alma mater. The Jesuits were probably alarmed because if their famous alumnus had turned his back at Mother Church, others would eventually follow suit.
In July 1892, four days after he established La Liga Filipina in Manila, Rizal was arrested and hastily deported to the wilderness of Dapitan. According to Rafael Palma, an early biographer of Rizal, the Jesuits there offered him quarters at their mission house (probably the most liveable) but only after a spiritual retreat during which he would recant his anti-religious and politically subversive ideas. Needless to say, the steadfast Rizal politely refused.
From his execution on 30 December 1896 to the 1960's six (6) retractions all ludicrous and blatant forgeries have surfaced. These are: (1) "Rizal 's Retraction", Photostat copy, in Jose M. Hernandez's, RIZAL, (Alemars, 1950); (2) "Rizal's Retraction" in "I Abjure Masonry" allegedly by Jose Rizal, San Beda College pamphlet, 1950; (3) "Rizal's holograph", in RIZAL'S UNFADING GLORY, by Fr. Jesus M. Cavanna (revised edition, 1950); (4) "Facsimile of Rizal's Retraction", SELECTED READINGS FROM RIZAL, Ricardo C. Bassig, 1959; (5) "Facsimile of Rizal's Retraction" , PHILIPPINE HISTORY FOR HIGH SCHOOLS, Gregorio F. Zaide, `1961; (6) "Facsimile of Rizal's Retraction", "Statement of the Catholic Hierarchy of the Philippines", 1956.
Absolutely no one has seen the original retraction document from where all these facsimiles were supposedly taken. Amazing, to say the least.
Source: THE FORGERY OF THE RIZAL RETRACTION AND JOSEPHINE'S AUTOBIOGRAPHY, Runes, Ildefonso T. & Buenafe, Mamerto M. (Pro-Patria Publishers, 1962)
On July 1892, four days
According to the authors, a certain Fr. Manuel Garcia claimed to have dscovered the retraction document in the archives of the Archbishopric of Manila after which reproductions were circulated to interested parties like historians Jose Hernandez and Gregorio Zaide who printed the facsimiles in their books for Phhilippine schools, obviously without first scrutinizing the original. So did editor Ricardo Bassig, Fr. Jesus Cavanna , and San Beda College.
Authors Runes and Buenafe were baffled by the discrepancies in the facisimiles themselves, considering these were supposed to be copies of the original document. In Hernandez's book, RIZAL, the date of the facsimile was--"Manila 29 de Diciembre de 1890"--which the authors believed Rizal could not have signed because he was in Madrid at that time finishing his second novel , EL FILIBUSTERISMO. Curiously, in the San Beda College pamphlet, " I Abjure Masonry", allegedly by Rizal and also printed in 1959, the " 0 " of 1890 was half erased and appeared like a new moon or a letter " C ".
In Fr. Jesus Cavanna's book, RIZAL'S UNFADING GLORY (1956), the dateline was "1896" and was so "heavily doctored" observed Runes and Buenafe that the entire text of the facsimile was traced over to match the thickness of the dubious date. Zaide's textbook, printed in 1961, had a more carefully retouched "1896". The discrepancies described above are illustrated on pages 86 and 87 of Runes and Buenafe's revealing book.
Evidently, the mastermind of the retration forgery aimed to neutralize, if not kill the ideas of Rizal. Rizal himself told his close friends that he would be slandered after death. Had he retracted, all his writings especially the two novels, would have been reduced to worthless pulp. Moreover, the retration hoax had to include his mistress, Josephine Bracken, and that romantic tale about their marriage before he was led to Bagumbayan. Rizal did want to marry her while in Dapitan, but the parish priest there refused to consecrate their union because he was a Mason and a filibustero. Clearly, a last- minute marriage was meant to reinforce the crude retraction hoax. Since he allegedly abjured Masonry and returned to the fold, Rizal could then receive the Sacrament of Matrimony.
Rizal remains polemical even beyond the grave. Sixty years after his execution, in 1956, the Catholic hierarchy strongly opposed a bill that required the teaching of Jose Rizal's life, labors and writings in Philippine schools. Despite the raging controvery, President Ramon Masaysay purposefully signed Republic Act 1425.