(Tomorrow, June 12, 2011, the Filipino people will be led by the Aquino regime in the celebration of the 113th anniversary of the proclamation of Philippine Independence. The IFI faithful will surely participate in the celebrations and share their joy with the rest of the Filipino people. The Aglipayan would like to share this article with the thought that Aglipayans here and abroad have reasons to celebrate because our forbears, especially First Supreme Bishop Gregorio L. Aglipay, had fought for national independence in all aspects of life, including religious freedom.)
by: Quennie Ann Palafox
(National Historical Commission)
The Philippine Revolution that sparked in 1896 had witnessed the rise of great Filipino patriots all over the country who took significant roles and made noteworthy contributions in the revolution that became forerunner to the Philippine’s quest for freedom from foreign tutelage. These men responded to the call of nationalism and contributed their talents and skills to their struggle for independence against the Spaniards, who had robbed the country’s sovereignty or the right to self-rule from its original inhabitants for more than 300 years. Filipinos belonging to all social classes paved their way to the country’s largest revolution that would eventually leave a mark in the heart of Filipino people up to the present day.
So much effort has been exhausted to the glorification of celebrated heroes and romanticizing prominent national leaders chronicling a plethora of their lives and works, neglecting unconsciously in one way or the other the unrecognized heroes who to the same extent did heroic acts for the love of their motherland. Historians tend to propagate the myth that history is the story of the great heroes and their splendid deeds setting aside heroes underneath the surface, their contributions unknown to the majority Filipinos yet deserve to be acknowledged. Thus, there is a need for an ardent historian to embark on a task of reassessing the writing of Filipino heroes in the past and correcting its being popularity-oriented to give justice to heroes that are forgotten but deserved remembrance. The definition of hero is not exclusive to great men but also extend to those who attempt to improve the lives of their fellowmen and attain a society associated with goodness.
Filipino nationalism did not thrive alone in the arms struggle or whatever sort organized to topple the Spanish government and the abusive friars. It also found its expression in the religious life of the Filipinos in the form of rejection of the Catholic religion by going back to the native religions being practiced by the country’s inhabitants prior to the advent of Spanish colonization. The demand for the secularization of the parish churches awakened the nationalist fervor and became a fire that spread quickly arousing the Filipinos to unite in attaining their ideals and aspirations in breaking the chain of foreign control. The launching, in 1902, of a Philippine national church called the Iglesia Filipiniana Independiente, was the culmination of this vision which was first raised in the Assembly of Paniqui which was convened in 1899 for the purpose of organizing the Filipino clergy. At the forefront in convening the assembly was a man, who was a former Catholic priest, a nationalist, a patriot, a guerilla leader, and the first Supreme Bishop of the Iglesia Filipiniana Independiente. His name was Gregorio Aglipay Cruz y Labayan.
Few have been known about Gregorio Aglipay who continued the work begun by Fr. Jose Burgos- the Filipinization of the Catholic Church. He was born in Batac, Ilocos Norte on May 5, 1860. His parents were Pedro Aglipay Cruz and Victoriana Labayan Hilario. He obtained his Bachelors of Arts degree from Colegio de San Juan de Letran and went on to the University of Santo Tomas to study law. Religious calling was something he could not refuse which prompted to enter the Vigan Seminary in 1883. On December 21, 1889, he was ordained as priest in Manila, and for eight years served as coadjutor (assistant parish priest) in various parishes. The Revolutionary Government under the auspice of Emilio Aguinaldo chosen him to serve as military chaplain on October 20, 1898 then he was the only priest who signed in the Malolos Congress in Malolos, Bulacan in September representing the province of Ilocos Norte.
Aglipay was raised to the rank of vicario general castrence (military vicar general) by General Aguinaldo in a decree issued on the 20th of October. He issued several manifestos urging the Filipino clergy to unite and take over the government of the Church in the country. In May, 1899, Archbishop Nozaleda excommunicated Aglipay for allegedly inciting rebellion against church authorities although up to that time, the latter had not expressed any schismatic intentions. Mabini gave Aglipay firm support in a manifesto in which he urged the Filipino clergy to elect an Ecclesiastical Council which would set up a provisional organization for the Filipino Church. Mabini’s objective was the establishment of national church which, although still under Holy See, would work in harmony with the Revolutionary government. Isabelo de los Reyes, a labor leader, offered him the position of supreme bishop but he refused at first, but finally accepted the offer which marked his severance from the Roman Catholic Church.
He became a guerilla leader during the Philippine-American war but with the capture of General Aguinaldo in 1901, surrendered to Col. MacCaskey in Laoag. In 1935, he ran for presidency of the Commonwealth but was defeated by Manuel L. Quezon. On March 12, 1939, Aglipay married Pilar Jamias of Sarrat, Ilocos Norte since marrying of a clergy is allowed in the Aglipayan Church. His service to the church was cut-short when he died on September 1, 1940 due to cerebral stroke. The movement for a Philippine Church demonstrates both the anti-friar nature of the Philippine Revolution and its nationalist content. The support given by millions of people to the Aglipayan church revealed its ardent desire for independence.
He was not equally famous to known propagandist such as Marcelo H. del Pilar and Jose P. Rizal but he had joined the Philippine Revolution using his pen and wisdom as his greatest weapons. Pascual Poblete’s real name was Pascual Hicaro, Poblete was his mother’s surname. He was born on May 17, 1857 to parents Francisco Hicaro and Maria Poblete in Naic, Cavite. He studied at the Liceo de Manila where he graduated Bachelor of Arts. He had been contributing columns and essays for La Oceanie Española before he and Marcelo H. del Pilar founded the Diariong Tagalog. He was the founder and editor of the Revista Popular de Filipinas, which published articles mainly on public education and Filipino womanhood. Poblete then already serving as the editor and translator of the Revista Popular de Filipinas established Patnubay ng Catolico. He was also an associate editor of Ang Pliegong Tagalog in 1896. When the Philippine Revoluton broke out, he was imprisoned and deported to Spain and then to Africa as a subversive. He was nominated to the public policy board of the Ministro de Ultramar in Spain due to extraordinary talent in writing and then edited El Grito del Pueblo of the Nacionalista Party and Ang Kapatid ng Bayan upon returning home. He is remembered for writing the translation of the novel Noli Me Tangere by Rizal in the vernacular in 1909, and on December 30, 1913 he published Dia Filipino that contained many of Rizal’s writings. He enraged the Americans who charged him in court because of the drama which he wrote entitled El Amor Patrio but he escaped. He died of heart attack in Manila on February 5, 1921.
This man was known in history for his being the second husband to the young widow of Andres Bonifacio, Gregoria de Jesus, following the very untimely death of the Supremo of the Katipunan. Strange to many of the Filipinos, Nakpil was not a mere husband of the Lakambini of the Katipunan but a revolutionist, and a man endowed with great talents being a musician and composer. Julio Nakpil first saw the light on May 22, 1867 in Quiapo, Manila. At age eight, his parents enrolled him in the Quiapo public elementary school called Escuela de Instruccion Primera. His love for music made him take violin lessons from Maestro Ramon Valdes, in piano under his cousin Manuel Mata. When the revolution broke out, he was already a Freemason and was active in Rizal’s Liga Filipina, an organization which Bonifacio was also an active member. He fled Manila on November 2, 1896 to meet with Supremo Andres Bonifacio in Balara, Marikina. The Supremo assigned him delicate missions such as transfer by night of some 30 to 40 copper boxes of gunpowder from the Spanish arsenal in Binangonan, Morong, to Tejeros, San Francisco de Malabon, Cavite between December 1896 to March 1897. Bonifacio who had developed big trust to Nakpil designated him as acting secretary then minister of National Development (fomento) in the formation of the Departmental Government. He became a loyal follower of Bonifacio even after his death and in Pasig; he met the young widow of Bonifacio, Gregoria de Jesus whom he married on December 10, 1898 in the Catholic Church of Quiapo. His wife gave birth to eight children. His patriotic musical compositions include, among others; Pasig Pantaynin (1897), Kabanatuan (composed in honor of Gen. Luna), Salve Patria (1903. He drew his inspirations for his compositions from the Philippine Revolution .He died on November 2, 1960
Taking part in the Philippine Revolution should not cost the individual to raise arms against the Spaniards when one can use his knowledge and talents to participate in this said battle to overpower the abusive Spaniards; this was proven by Justo Lucban, a physician, revolutionist and politician. Justo Lucban y Rilles was born to Don Agustin Lucban and Dona Andrea Rilles, wealthy couple, in Labo, Ambos Camarines (Camarines Norte) on May 28, 1863. He was the second of the six children in the family; he was the brother of the great General Vicente Lucban. He entered in 1873 finishing his Bachelor of Arts at the Colegio de San Juan de Letran. He eventually took up medicine at the University of Santo Tomas and thereafter, he was conferred the Licentiate of Medicine. Lucban rendered his service as medical officer in the revolution against Spain. He was one of those who signed the Pact of Biak-na-Bato. He joined the battle for freedom against the Americans in 1898 and affixed his signature in the Malolos Congress on September 15, 1898 representing his hometown Ambos, Camarines. He subsequently became the editor of the “La Independencia”, a newspaper advocating for Philippine Independence in 1906. He became active in politics when he represented the first district of Manila and the third to be appointed as mayor of Manila in 1917. Lukban was credited for building the Rizal Avenue, Jones Bridge, and putting up schools, public baths and toilets, and his battle against prostitution. His service to the public was disrupted because of heart ailment, dying at the age of 64 on September 2, 1927.
What should be remembered in our history are the great deeds of Filipinos regardless of its position in the society not the personalities of the heroes such as family background, wealth, and power. We Filipinos are known to give importance to something that is associated with wealth and power. Only few Filipino heroes are honored especially those who belong to the rich and powerful clans that had tragic deaths or simply their stories were just being romanticized by the authors of their biographies. Today’s generation must correct the errors that have been committed in the past by recording the events and personalities with fairness that occupy important places in our country’s history and cultural heritage.