SA LOOB NG BAYAN
“We are born, grow up, reach old age and die… [but] love of the country is perhaps the most constant of emotions, if there ever be anything constant in the human heart, and, it seems, will not leave us even in the tomb.”
“Pagbabagong Loob,” work by Mcquel Jairo Felerino.
Once there was a petulant and spoiled brat boy who dreamed of becoming a soldier. He and hisplaymates had fusil-fusilan (fake light flintlock musket) and they loved to mimic the Guardias Civiles in their town. Because he was a son of a landed sugarcane magnate, he played the role of the “general” all the time. One time he and his playmates proceeded to their atbuan (sugarcane field) to mimic, in that time, the kasamak (tenants). Of course, he took the role of a boss and his playmates the kasamak. As he lashed the damulag (carabao) it moved along with the rotating kabio (kabiaw, sugarcane extractor) connected to it; unfortunately his left toes were caught by the extractor. The doctor removed all his toes immediately (take note: without pakapata or anesthesia).
This courage exhibited by the young Maximino “Minong” Hizon became known in his hometown Mexico, Pampanga. Fast forward, in June 1898 he became a general of the Philippine revolution and liberated Pampanga, with Mexico as his headquarters. His amputated toes became his mark, earning the moniker Heneral Putol (Amputated General) by the revolutionaries, and, surprisingly, the Americans used it in verifying his identity when he was captured in Mexico two years after.
Minong was a typical happy-go-lucky anac macualta (son of affluent ones) uninterested in schooling. His parents sent him to Colegio de San Juan de Letran but instead of taking his studies seriously, he frequented the dance halls of Manila. Then he had decided to drop in schooling because of his poor grades and both his parents died, hence he returned to Mexico to manage their azucarera (sugar plantation).
While in Letran, Minong met the idealistic Emilio Jacinto. He did not take Jacinto’s ideals seriously, until he lived with the kasamak and realized the struggles of a common laborer. Then the brat Minong suddenly became a changed man, contented being with his kasamak.
Minong was gradually exposed to social issues. He was attracted by the masonry and joined through the invitation of Ruperto Lacsamana, former gobernadorcillo (town mayor) of Mexico and a known Kapampangan liberal. Both of them also joined Jose Rizal’s La Liga Filipina, as the latter visited Pampanga days before he was deported to Dapitan. Because of their affiliation to these liberal brotherhoods, Fray Juan Tarrero, O.S.A., Augustinian curate of Mexico, had them excommunicated. Minong was not alarmed of the decision, but Laxamana was removed in his office. Minong further challenged the prevailing social condition and embraced revolutionary ideals by joining the Katipunan, a brotherhood where his schoolmate Jacinto was among the leaders.
On the very same day the Katipunan was discovered (19 August 1896), Minong was arrested and deported to Jolo, Sulu. He was only released in February 1898, together with other political detainees, following the Truce of Biak-na-Bato.
Minong immediately joined Francisco Makabulos, a Kapampangan general who did not surrender in Biak-na-Bato. He was appointed by Makabulos the commanding general of Pampanga, as the latter focused its operation in Pangasinan. Upon Emilio Aguinaldo’s return from exile in Hong Kong, Minong was given the title Primer Jefe del Ejercito libertador Filipino de la Pampanga (First Chief of the Filipino Liberation Forces in Pampanga). On 1 June 1898, his hometown Mexico and the neighboring towns of Sta. Ana, Arayat, Angeles, San Luis, San Simon, and Porac supported the revolution, until on 26 June 1898, Pampanga was officially under the revolutionary government with Minong as the military governor.
Because of the revolution he met his wife Victoria Peralta, niece of Gen. Antonio Luna residing in Malolos, Bulacan, the capital of the revolutionary government, the first democracy in Asia.
Minong remained active in the revolution until the outbreak of the War against the United States on 4 February 1899 whose famed Pampanga Company valiantly blocked the American advance towards Bulacan. He was later named the military commander of Pampanga in November 1899, as the Americans continued running after Aguinaldo in North Luzon. In one occasion, Aguinaldo was nearly captured by the Americans if not of Minong’s mischievousness. Disguised as fishermen, Minong and his comrades hid Aguinaldo inside a coffin and pretended they were on their way to the cemetery. As the American soldiers went closer to them, Minong instructed his men to shout “Kolera! Kolera!” and the Americans fled in fear.
In June 1900, Minong was badly wounded after a battle in Zambales mountains. He decided to recuperate at home in Mexico to be able to see also his wife. Unfortunately, a wealthy uncooperative man from San Fernando, Pampanga reported to the Americans that Minong was sighted in Mexico. As the Americans visited his house, Minong, still indisposed, hurriedly jumped outside their window, rode his horse but he fell down. The head of the arresting party approached him and asked for his name. He replied “Francisco Balagtas.” Doubtful, the American captain removed Minong’s left boot and saw his amputated toes, thus, ascertained he was Maximino Hizon.
Minong, who hated the Yanquis (Americans) so much, refused to take the oath of allegiance to the U.S. Gen. Arthur MacArthur thus declared Minong an irreconcilable, along with Gen. Artemio Ricarte and Apolinario Mabini, and was deported to Guam on 7 January 1901. Eight days after, all the irreconcilable left Manila, but before leaving, Minong bade goodbye to his wife, who was pregnant, and he told his unborn son to hate the Yanquis for him. Unfortunately, Minong, at the very young age of 31, died of heart attack eight months later in Guam. Minong was one of the three Filipino generals who never surrendered to the Americans, the others were Ricarte (who chose to be banished) and Luciano San Miguel (who chose to die in the battle).
Minong’s compassion for his people and country made him a better, responsible person. As Rizal once said, “We are born, grow up, reach old age and die… [but] love of the country is perhaps the most constant of emotions, if there ever be anything constant in the human heart, and, it seems, will not leave us even in the tomb.” Rizal further stressed:
As children we love to play games which we abandon in our adolescent years. In our youth we work for an ideal, but later we become disillusioned and turn away from it in favor of something more positive and practical. As parents we lose children to death and time wipes away our sorrow much like the widening sea makes the shore vanish from sight as the ship sails into the deep. In contrast, the love for country is never wiped away once it finds a place in the human heart, for it bears the divine seal which makes it eternal and indestructible.
Minong was indeed an epitome of Rizal’s universal idea of one’s amor patrio (love of motherland).
Sixth of the 20-part series of “Sa Loob ng Bayan.” Follow the stories of 20 great Filipinos from Central Luzon everyday here on psaysay.tumblr.com and www.facebook.com/TOSP.R3ACH. “Sa Loob ng Bayan” is a collaborative project of Project Saysay, The Outstanding Students of the Philippines Region 3 Alumni Community of Heroes, and Project Captured in time for the 8th Ten Outstanding Students of the Philippines Regional Week in Bataan (23-27 April 2015).
He could have been saved if he just accepted the efforts of getting him out of Capas by a fellow Olympian who bested him silver place in the 1928 Amsterdam Summer Olympic Games (a difference of only eight seconds) and happened to become a lieutenant in the Imperial Japanese Army.
“Tibay ng Loob,” work by Mcquel Jairo Felerino
In war one carries neither his degree nor his social status but his rank and his firearm. Like the tens of thousands of soldiers who had converged in Bataan 73 years ago, they were once educators, students, farmers, engineers, doctors, lawyers, and an Olympian. Yes, there was an Olympian during the defense of Bataan, and he was no ordinary Olympian as he bagged the country’s first Olympic medal (and in Southeast Asia) and the only two-time Filipino Olympic medalist, both bronzes. He was Teofilo Yldefonzo, a Piddig, Ilocos Norte-born swimmer who earned the moniker “The Ilocano Shark.” Unfortunately he died two months after the horrendous Death March in the Japanese concentration camp at Camp O’Donnell in Capas, Tarlac, and his body is supposed to have been included in the mass grave in Libingan ng mga Bayani for those who had perished in Capas.
He could have been saved if he just accepted the efforts of getting him out of Capas by a fellow Olympian who bested him silver place in the 1928 Amsterdam Summer Olympic Games (a difference of only eight seconds) and happened to become a lieutenant in the Imperial Japanese Army, Yoshiyuki Tsuruta. Yldefonzo died on the arms of his younger brother, Teodoro, a medic and also among the war prisoners.
Yldefonzo was actually the predecessor of today’s Filipino athlete-soldiers. While a lieutenant in the defunct Philippine Scouts, the elite Filipino soldiers directly under the U.S. Army, Yldefonzo participated in various international sports competitions and became one of the invincible swimmers in Asia in his time. Yldefonzo beaten Tsuruta, also an unbeatable swimmer, in the Far Eastern Games (forerunner of today’s Asian Games) but in the 1928 Olympiad, the second time the Philippines had participated the quadrennial sporting event, he finished bronze and Tsuruta silver. Tsuruta bested again silver over Yldefonzo’s bronze place in the 1932 Los Angeles Summer Olympic Games.
The Ilocano Shark competed for the last time in the 1936 Berlin Summer Olympic Games and finished seventh, before the sporting event was interrupted by World War II. He left a legacy in the world of sports by transforming the breaststroke style that is more onto the surface of the water than under which was more common in his time. Yldefonzo is now credited the “Father of the Modern Breaststroke.”
Six years after, Yldefonzo became one of the defenders of Bataan and experienced Death March. At the age of 38, Yldefonzo died while in the concentration camp. His daughter Norma Yldefonzo followed his steps and became a swimmer, bagging silver in the 1954 Manila Asian Games. His great-grandson Daniel Coakley also became swimmer, bagging two gold and a silver medals in the 2007 Nakhon Ratchasima Southeast Asian Games. Coakley also represented the Philippines in the 2008 Beijing Summer Olympic Games, exactly 80 years since his lolo sa tuhod had placed to Inang Bayan her first Olympic medal in history.
Only a few were written about this hero. Yldefonzo is one of the thousands of Filipinos who had perished during World War II waiting for the new generations to be appreciated and be inspired by his taya para sa bayan.
A special feature of “Sa Loob ng Bayan” in solidarity with the nation’s observance of Araw ng Kagitingan. Follow the stories of 20 great Filipinos from Central Luzon everyday here on psaysay.tumblr.com and www.facebook.com/TOSP.R3ACH. “Sa Loob ng Bayan” is a collaborative project of Project Saysay, The Outstanding Students of the Philippines Region 3 Alumni Community of Heroes, and Project Captured in time for the 8th Ten Outstanding Students of the Philippines Regional Week in Bataan (23-27 April 2015).
Not because he was a nephew of the first Katipunan president and of the editor of La Solidaridad he automatically became general; he was overlooked, intentionally, because of his young age; he was a self-made hero, and will be a reminder that one is never too young to serve the nation.
“Kusang Loob,” work by Macquel Jairo Felerino.
He was not informed about the Katipunan, even though its first president was his uncle. He was among the last to know it existed if not of the outbreak of the 1896 Philippine Revolution. He was only 20 years old at the time and was about to enter the escuela de artes y oficios (arts and trade school) in Bulacan.
He decided to abandon also the comfort of being young to catch up in the revolution. He wanted to see Andres Bonifacio personally in Balintawak, Caloocan, but the Supremo was nowhere to be found. So he returned to Bulacan and tried to join the Bulakenyo revolutionaries under Isidoro “Matanglawin” Torres, general from Malolos, Bulacan and regarded the father of revolution in Bulacan. Unfortunately, he found Torres’ headquarters in Masucol, Paombong, Bulacan deserted after Spaniards bombarded it from Manila Bay.
Very willing to enter the revolution, he proceeded to Cacarong de Sili in the hills of Bigaa, Bulacan (now part of Pandi, Bulacan) and joined another general, Eusebio Roque. Because of the great number of revolutionaries in Bulacan, Governor-General Camilo de Polavieja made a dictum “En Cavite esta el escandalo, y el peligro en Bulacan” (“the commotion is in Cavite, the threat is in Bulacan”). On New Year’s Day of 1897, people in Cacarong de Sili were surprised of a great number of Spanish forces. It was the baptism of fire for the young man, who was nearly killed by a bullet that caught his forehead. Cacarong de Sili fell, thousands had died, Roque was executed, and Cavite was next.
The young man lost three childhood friends in Cacarong who had joined him since the start. They named their group Siete Musqueteros and he as D’Artagnan. In May 1897, Cavite, the bedrock of revolution, fell to Spain. Bonifacio was executed by fellow revolutionaries in Cavite days before, and Emilio Aguinaldo became the new leader of the Philippine Revolution. From Cavite, the center of revolution was transferred to the mountains of Biak-na-Bato, San Miguel de Mayumo, Bulacan. Upon learning about the arrival of Aguinaldo, the young man and his remaining musketeers presented themselves in Biak-na-Bato. However, they were mistaken to be Guardias Civiles because the young man wore a guardia civil uniform. Aguinaldo ordered their detention but released after clearing their identity. The young man informed Aguinaldo that the Spaniards had fortified Paombong and he asked to appoint him in the mission to sequester arms in that town, and it was granted.
The Raid in Paombong made the young man famous. He successfully captured the arms after conniving with the town’s men as they drank the Spanish soldiers. The young man’s musketeers disguised as pregnant and mothers with babies, but what they actually carried under their sayas and on their arms were weapons. With this, the young man gained Aguinaldo’s confidence and they became close friends. Aguinaldo saw in him his late elder brother Crispulo who died in a battle in Cavite.
Months after, Aguinaldo entered a peace treaty with the Spaniards in Biak-na-Bato. Aguinaldo, together with the young man and other leaders of the revolution, were exiled to Hong Kong. In May 1898, with the help of the Americans, Aguinaldo returned to the Philippines. The young man was made by Aguinaldo the dictador of Bulacan and liberated the province from the Spaniards at the young age of 22. The young man was elevated to the rank of Brigadier General.
Exposed to liberalism at the very young age, for he came from a progressive, liberal family, this young man had lakas ng loob (strong will) to be like his uncles. His uncle Fr. Toribio Hilario del Pilar was deported to Marianas for being associated to the Gomburza. The other one, Marcelo Hilario del Pilar, also known as Plaridel, was hated by the Spanish friars for ridiculing them in public, so he instead left the country to join the propagandists in Spain to ask for reforms. And while studying bachilier en artes (equivalent to today’s secondary school) at Ateneo de Manila, the young man lived in a very busy house of an another uncle in Manila, Deodato Arellano, frequently visited by Manila-based liberals like Bonifacio and Emilio Jacinto, and there the Katipunan was secretly established and his uncle was made the first president of the secret society.
The young man likened his adventurous assignment given to him by Plaridel: Once upon a time, in Malolos, Bulacan where Spanish friars were hated so much by many people there, Plaridel instructed him to replace with lampoon the anti-Noli Me Tangere pamphlets. His innocence was not suspected as he reached the sacristy with ease. During the mass the Spanish curate asked the parishioners to read the pamphlet; the churchgoers burst in laughter, and the friar thought he was being understood.
The young man later became one of the famous Filipino generals. His name was Gregorio “Goyo” Hilario del Pilar, and his death in the Cordilleras prolonged the life of the first democracy in Asia from being crushed by the American forces. He saved Aguinaldo, the life of the Filipino government, from being captured, and it took the Americans so long to locate Aguinaldo in the mountains of north Luzon. Goyo died at the age of 24, too very young. His last entry in his diary reads “I realize what a terrible task has been given me. And yet I feel that this is the most glorious moment of my life. What I do is done for my beloved country. No sacrifice can be too great.”
It’s not because he was a nephew of the first Katipunan president and of the editor of La Solidaridad he automatically became general; he was overlooked, intentionally, because of his young age; he was a self-made hero, and will be a reminder that one is never too young to serve the nation.
Seventh of the 20-part series of “Sa Loob ng Bayan.” Follow the stories of 20 great Filipinos from Central Luzon everyday here on psaysay.tumblr.com and www.facebook.com/TOSP.R3ACH. “Sa Loob ng Bayan” is a collaborative project of Project Saysay, The Outstanding Students of the Philippines Region 3 Alumni Community of Heroes, and Project Captured in time for the 8th Ten Outstanding Students of the Philippines Regional Week in Bataan (23-27 April 2015).
This youngest Filipino general had enjoyed his entire youth in loving and be loved in return not only by his fellow Novo Ecijanos but also by the people whom he liberated.
“Sa Ibang Bayan,” work by Mcquel Jairo Felerino
Almost 117 years ago, the Vigan heritage complex, now one of the New7Wonders Cities of the World, had witnessed a very important episode in our life as a nation. The Archbishop’s Palace, a diocese at that time, became the general headquarters of the Northern Expeditionary Force sent by Gen. Emilio Aguinaldo, president of Asia’s first democracy (October 1898), to liberate Ilocandia from the Spaniards. This expeditionary force was legendary for it was composed of “very young, as in usual in the Philippine army,” the youngest being 15 years of age and the oldest 29, wrote by an American observer.
The commanding general of this force was not an Ilocano but a Tagalog; he was not even a military man but a haciendero from Licab, Aliaga, Nueva Ecija (Licab is now a separate town). He became general at the age of 20, the youngest ever in the history of the Filipino nation, and was the liberator of the north from the Spaniards after almost 300 years. His name was Manuel Tinio, a beloved general by the Ilocanos.
Tinio was then studying in Letran when he joined the Katipunan in 1896. Upon the outbreak of the revolution, he returned to Aliaga and joined in the first cry of revolution in the whole of Central Luzon, and in the whole north, in San Ysidro Factoria, then the provincial capital of Nueva Ecija, in September 1896.
When Aguinaldo transferred the center of the revolution from Cavite to the mountains of Biak-na-Bato, San Miguel de Mayumo, Bulacan in 1897, Tinio was called from Nueva Ecija and became general. Tinio, who earned Aguinaldo’s trust and confidence, also accepted deportation to Hong Kong. Upon his return in May 1898, Tinio was assigned to the north to liberate Pangasinan, La Union, and the rest of Ilocos and there stayed until the War against the United States in 1899.
Tinio was a complete stranger to the Ilocanos. He studied Ilocano and befriended the locals. His sincerity was tested when he arrested the most hated Spaniard in Vigan for haughtiness. An American journalist who was a war prisoner of Tinio wrote that “[a]ny Filipino that dared to pass him without first saluting soon learned to rue his neglect.” The Ilocanos wanted that proud Spaniard be executed, but Tinio told the public “he shall not be killed in cold blood… we are not savages.” Still, the Ilocanos demanded Tinio justice for the ill doings of that Spaniard. To appease the Ilocanos, Tinio asked them to gather at plaza the following morning. That plaza is now the famed Plaza Salcedo, named after the Spanish conqueror of Ilocandia, Juan de Salcedo, in front of the Vigan Cathedral where nightly dancing fountain show is taking place.
“When the morning came,” wrote by the American journalist, “the plaza was thronged.” Tinio appeared to the public with the hated Spaniard escorted by four revolutionaries, “armed not with guns or bolos but with rattan canes,” and asked the Ilocanos to form into line. The arrogant Spaniard was instructed by Tinio to salute the Ilocanos one by one as they pass in front of him. “Each time a man passed and he failed to salute him” the arrogant Spaniard received a strike from the revolutionaries. “All day long, from morning until night, that endless file marched by and to each one the now humbled Spaniard repaid a salute which at some time past he had demanded by force.” Out of gratitude of the Ilocanos, on his 22nd birthday in 1899, a grand festivity was held in Vigan in honor of Tinio.
When the War against the United States broke out in February 1899, Tinio prepared the north to welcome the Filipino government once his region Central Luzon fell to the hands of the Americans. The Filipino capital Malolos, Bulacan was captured and the government transferred to Tinio’s Nueva Ecija, particularly in San Isidro and Cabanatuan. But the Americans were very eager to capture the government so Aguinaldo was forced to transfer the seat of government to Tarlac, getting much closer to Tinio’s jurisdiction. While Aguinaldo kept his mobility across Central Luzon, a very unfortunate incident happened in Cabanatuan Church where Gen. Antonio Luna, an Ilocano general, was assassinated. Despite what had happened to Luna, llocanos still revered Tinio.
In November 1899 Tarlac fell to hands of the Americans. The famed Brigada Tinio was the only remaining force in the north which saved Aguinaldo and the Filipino government from falling. Unlike the greedy Caviteño General Daniel Tria Tirona, whose forces based in Cagayan supposedly a great help to Aguinaldo in the north, Tinio never thought of surrendering despite the hardships he had to endure in the Cordilleras, like in the lyrics:
Sa bundok ang tahanan.
Ang hirap ng katawan.
Walang unan, walang kumot,
Walang banig sa pagtulog.
Inuunan pa ay ang gulok
Bathin ang kahirapan
Pag-ibayuhin ang tapang
Kahit mamatay sa laban.
Layon natin ay itaguyod,
Baya’y tubusin at itampok.
Hayo na’t tayo’y makipaghamok,
In March 1901 Aguinaldo was captured by the Americans in Isabela. Tinio just followed Aguinaldo’s plea to surrender, and that ended the epic odyssey of our short-lived democracy in the north.
Tinio returned to Nueva Ecija to revive his abandoned farmlands. The Americans offered him positions in the government and out of zeal to serve the country he accepted the directorship of Bureau of Public Lands and later the governorship of Nueva Ecija. While governor, Tinio expanded farming significantly in Nueva Ecija, which is now enjoying the title the “Rice Granary of the Philippines.” He also welcomed his former Ilocano soldiers to settle in Nueva Ecija as farmers.
In 1924 Tinio died of liver cirrhosis at the very young age of 46 in Intramuros. The American Government chartered a train to Cabanatuan and necrological services were prepared at every station along Nueva Ecija.
Eighth of the 20-part series of “Sa Loob ng Bayan.” Follow the stories of 20 great Filipinos from Central Luzon everyday here on psaysay.tumblr.com and www.facebook.com/TOSP.R3ACH. “Sa Loob ng Bayan” is a collaborative project of Project Saysay, The Outstanding Students of the Philippines Region 3 Alumni Community of Heroes, and Project Captured in time for the 8th Ten Outstanding Students of the Philippines Regional Week in Bataan (23-27 April 2015).
“[L]et us seize back our nation from the usurping hands of our oppressors; let us do so in order to cause happiness; let us recover the manor where we were born, [and] return to our children the home we have inherited from our parents.” -Mariano Ponce to Domingo Villaresa, Hong Kong, 10 September 1897
“Kaisang Loob,” work by Mcquel Jairo Felerino.
There is this iconic photo of three Filipino reformists in Europe dubbed as el triunvirato. Standing from the left are Jose Rizal and Marcelo “Plaridel” Hilario del Pilar, but the one seating often confused with the great Graciano Lopez Jaena is actually Mariano Ponce, a physician from Baliuag, Bulacan. Asked someone to name at least three reformists they know, and he or she will give all the aforementioned names except Ponce; asked who founded La Solidaridad, the 19th-century Reform Movement’s newspaper, and the names will be reduced to Lopez Jaena and Plaridel. Certainly the two became editors of La Solidaridad, but it was Ponce who actually founded it.
All of the three great propagandists did not survive the 1896 Philippine Revolution, which was the extreme opposite of the Reform Movement’s end goal: the Ilongo Bohemian Lopez Jaena and Bulakenyo Plaridel died of tuberculosis, while the Laguna-born Rizal was executed, all in 1896; but Ponce remained to continue their fight, this time not as reformist but a revolutionist.
Ponce was arrested by Spanish officials but released owing to lack of evidence associating him to the revolution happening in the Philippines. He hurriedly left Spain for Hong Kong to join the Filipino community there and silently observed the unfolding of the events in the Philippines. He then became a member of the overseas board to help in smuggling arms for the revolution. The first to be given such assignment were Feliciano Jocson and Jose Alejandrino, the latter was a former reformist, sent from Cavite to Hong Kong by Andres Bonifacio, the supreme leader of the revolution. Bonifacio waited in Batangas for these explosives purchased from Japan, but owing to financial problems these never reached the country. Bonifacio had to leave Batangas for Tejeros, San Francisco de Malabon (now Gen. Trias), Cavite as he had received news that Emilio Aguinaldo had plans to negotiate with the Spaniards, but it turned out he had graced an election that overthrown him, the Tejeros Convention (March 1897). The rest is history.
Aguinaldo, the new leader of the revolution as a result of the infamous Tejeros Convention, had transferred the center of the revolution to Central Luzon, particularly in Ponce’s province Bulacan. In Biak-na-Bato, Aguinaldo’s headquarters in Bulacan, a truce with the Spaniards was signed ending the revolution and exiling its leaders including Aguinaldo himself to Hong Kong (December 1897). This in turn given Ponce the opportunity to participate to the affairs of the revolution as he became member of the Hong Kong Junta, the revolutionary government in exile. Hopeful that the revolution would continue, Ponce advised the revolutionaries to deposit the partial payment given to them by the Spanish government to be used in acquiring armaments.
Months after, Spain was engaged in a war with the United States (April 1898). The Americans, stationed in Yokohoma, Japan and later in Mirs Bay, Hong Kong, helped the revolutionaries in exile in returning home to fight Spain once more. Ponce penned a republican constitution which Aguinaldo had brought in his return to Cavite (May 1898). Although it was never used, Ponce’s constitution was still a humble contribution of him in the formation of the Filipino nation. Apolinario Mabini, the new political adviser of Aguinaldo upon his return, had prepared one but he himself advised Aguinaldo it was too early to have a constitution and instead focus on liberating the provinces and assure international recognition of the Filipino government and independence, especially to ascertain the sincerity of the U.S. Mabini was very eager for international recognition and he transformed the Hong Kong Junta into Comite Central Filipino in which members were sent to various countries as ambassadors; Ponce, likewise, was made ambassador to Japan, marking a new episode in his life.
Ponce was the one who continued the nascent Filipino-Japanese relations established by Bonifacio in 1896. Despite ambivalence, Japan still accepted Ponce and other Filipino revolutionaries as a sign of sympathy. There in Japan Ponce had the opportunity to meet various nationalists, including Sun Yat-Sen, a Chinese nationalist who had dreamed of a democratic republic for his fellow Chinese.
However, the Filipinos, who had just defeated Spain, entered in another war, this time against the U.S. (February 1899). Ponce’s Bulacan was once again in imminent danger, being once again made the center of the revolution where the Philippine Republic, the first democratic constitutional republic in whole of Asia, was born. In order to strengthen Filipinos’ self determination, the new republic asked Ponce to exert efforts to secure ammunition from Japan.
Ponce had experienced difficulty in smuggling armaments as the Americans had warned Japan of interceding in Philippine affairs. Despite being the most powerful nation in Asia at the time, Japan prevented any rift with other powers. Nevertheless, Ponce was successful, but like what had happened to Bonifacio’s first attempt in 1897, the two shiploads of armaments sent by Ponce never reached the Philippines. In June 1899 the famed Nonubiki Maru full of armaments sank off the Shanghai. In January 1900 another shipload of armaments never reached Cagayan because of the American intervention; the armaments were disembarked in Formosa (Taiwan) and were donated to Sun Yat Sen instead. This made Ponce hopeless and decided to resign to the government. A year later, Aguinaldo was captured by the Americans. Ponce remained ambassador until Comite Central was abolished in 1902.
Undeniably, the Philippine revolution and the war against the U.S. had captured Asia’s attention, being the first of its kind in Asia. Ponce became the symbol of Filipino struggle in Asia, when almost every day various Chinese, Korean, and Japanese nationalities had visited him sending their sympathy with the Filipinos. Even high ranking Japanese officials sent their admiration to the Filipino people for being ahead of their Asian brethren. “Let us get to know one another and we will love each other more,” remarked by Sun Yat Sen to his fellow Asian nationalists like Ponce. The Asiatic solidarity and interest to shared heritage had begun to shape from the networks of Asian nationalists.
Ponce returned to the Philippines from Japan in 1907 and Bulacan welcomed him a hero. There in Japan he found his other behalf, Okiyo Udanwara, who was a Japanese noble, and lived in the country like a true Filipina. Ponce made himself busy in writing about what he thought the unconquerable part of the Filipino people, their folklore. The Philippines might be physically conquered but as long as the Filipinos preserved their identity and way of life, they would remain unconquered and would always have the reason why should they continue in struggling for independence and self determination. He was a physician by procession but he wanted to be remembered in his pennames Kalipulako (after the legendary name of Lapulapu of Cebu) and Tigbalang (after the mythical elemental). Ponce, moreover, became a valuable source about Rizal, Plaridel, and other heroes, he being their closest acquaintance.
While on his way to the land where he discerned his ultimate mission in this world, Hong Kong, he died of heart attack on 23 May 1918. He was about to visit Sun Yat Sen, who was victorious in establishing the Republic of China from the remnants of an empire ruled by dynasties after thousands of years.
Ponce is one of the underrated Filipino heroes worthy for admiration. His works speak for himself, that he had done so much for his countrymen whom he dreamed to be appreciative of who they are as a nation.
Ninth of the 20-part series of “Sa Loob ng Bayan.” Follow the stories of 20 great Filipinos from Central Luzon everyday here on psaysay.tumblr.com and www.facebook.com/TOSP.R3ACH. “Sa Loob ng Bayan” is a collaborative project of Project Saysay, The Outstanding Students of the Philippines Region 3 Alumni Community of Heroes, and Project Captured in time for the 8th Ten Outstanding Students of the Philippines Regional Week in Bataan (23-27 April 2015).
“Alang-alang sa Bayan,” work by Mcquel Jairo Felerino
Women’s suffrage in the Philippines could have been predated Pres. Manuel Luis Quezon’s Commonwealth Act No. 34 in 1937 if only the Revolutionary Congress in Barasoain, Bulacan had accepted Apolinario Mabini’s Programa Constitucional in 1898. Mabini’s constitution is the earliest known Filipino political document to champion women’s suffrage. Aside from political rights, Mabini’s constitution fosters gender equality in education; the only thing the women are barred from is the judicial function.
Even though Mabini’s constitution was never realized, women were still held in high esteem during the two periods along the birth of the Filipino nation: the continuing revolution and the outbreak of War against the United States in 1899.
In order to make Filipinas’ participation in the war official, Pres. Emilio Aguinaldo established the Asociación de Damas de la Cruz Roja en Filipinas (the first Philippine Red Cross Society) on 17 February 1899, weeks after the war. This Cruz Roja predated today’s Philippine Red Cross which traces back its founding to Republic Act. No. 95 or the Philippine National Red Cross Charter of 1947.
There are anecdotes recorded about the role Cruz Roja had played during the war, and one of the most significant of these is the story of the nurses in Pampanga who were tasked to avert the looming war of two Filipino generals at the height of their war against the Americans.
Aguinaldo started retreating to the north following the capture of Malolos, Bulacan, his capital, on 31 March 1899 by the Americans. Gen. Antonio Luna, the commander of the Manila and Central Luzon forces, established his headquarters in Calumpit, Bulacan train station. He fortified Bagbag River in Calumpit and Rio Grande dela Pampanga as formidable defense lines to impede any American advances toward north. Unable to withstand the Americans, Luna asked Caviteño Gen. Tomas Mascardo, the commander of Pampanga who personally hated the former, to reinforce Calumpit. He received no response after his three communications sent to Mascardo in his headquarters in Guagua, Pampanga. The fiery general then left Calumpit for Guagua to punish Mascardo who was reportedly attending a festivity in Arayat, Pampanga.
Luna sent a notice to Tiburcio Hilario, Pampanga’s civil governor, to prepare for his arrival in Bacolor, then Pampanga’s capital. Hilario tried to avert the standoff between the two generals so he instructed the Cruz Roja nurses in Pampanga to receive Luna in Bacolor Convent while he was trying to contact Mascardo in Arayat.
Nicolasa Dayrit, a 24-year old belle from San Fernando, Pampanga, headed the nurses, armed with flowers and message of solidarity for Luna. They kneeled down on the steps of Bacolor Convent, dissuading Luna from punishing Mascardo. The fiery general acknowledged the presents of the ladies. Shortly after, Mascardo arrived in Betis, Pampanga (now part of Guagua) now willing to cooperate with Luna as per Aguinaldo’s instruction, but Bagbag had already fallen (27 April 1899).
Nicolasa and the Cruz Roja nurses continued their service until the plains of Central Luzon had fallen to the Americans (November 1899). Dayrit fell ill, perhaps due to her nursing of the sick and wounded. She was only saved by Vicente Panlilio of San Fernando, who had just arrived from Madrid, Spain as a fresh graduate of medicine. Panlilio became Nicolasa’s husband.
During World War II, Nicolasa’s family had left San Fernando for Manila as the Imperial Japanese Army occupied their house. However, they were caught by the Liberation of Manila in February 1945 and Nicolasa’s husband was lost and never to be seen again. Nicolasa almost died worrying and waiting for her husband, causing heart failure leading to her death in April 1945.
Tenth of the 20-part series of “Sa Loob ng Bayan.” Follow the stories of 20 great Filipinos from Central Luzon everyday here on psaysay.tumblr.com and www.facebook.com/TOSP.R3ACH. “Sa Loob ng Bayan” is a collaborative project of Project Saysay, The Outstanding Students of the Philippines Region 3 Alumni Community of Heroes, and Project Captured in time for the 8th Ten Outstanding Students of the Philippines Regional Week in Bataan (23-27 April 2015).