August 24, 2018

The Roundup of Katipunan Sympathizers and Two Other Stories set in Batangas Town in the Late 19th Century

Image credit:  Sandra Plummer Collection at the Fort Worth Library's Digital Archive. Colorized courtesy of Algorithmia.
Image credit:  Sandra Plummer Collection at the Fort Worth Library's Digital Archive. Colorized courtesy of Algorithmia.
[Topics in this article: Spanish colonial era Philippines, Batangas in the Spanish colonial period, Batangas town, Batangas City Batangas, General Brigido Buenafe, Emilio Aguinaldo, Manuel Sapata, Fernando Po Island]
From the so-called “Historical Data1” for Batangas City that was researched, written and submitted in the early 1950s by the Department of Education District of Batangas as required by the administration of President Elpidio Quirino, we get accounts of three different events that supposedly happened in the then-town of Batangas late in the 19th century.

As with other “historical data” not just for Batangas but other parts of the country as well, the information contained in the documents was written sometimes with very poor research or transcribed from the recollections of the elderly. Very few contain citations – if at all – which therefore makes the information difficult if not impossible to corroborate from other sources.

Still, the events contained in this article cannot be dismissed especially in light of the fact that literature about the Philippine Revolution in Batangas late in the 19th century is very scarce. Also, these stories were likely written down from the recollections of old people; and the fact that they are difficult to corroborate does not necessarily mean they are not historical.

THE ROUNDUP OF KATIPUNAN SYMPATHIZERS
In 1896, during the governorship of one Manuel Sapata, suspected Katipunan sympathizers were rounded up by Spanish authorities in the town of Batangas. Many readers will recall that 1896 was the year when the Philippine Revolution against Spanish rule finally broke out after brewing for some years in the underground.

The use of the word “governorship” was likely in reference to the “gobernadorcillo,” a position within a municipality which “combined charges or responsibilities of leadership, economic, and judicial administration2.” Besides, the Provincial Governors at the time were Don Leandro Villamil, who was dismissed; and Don Emilio Sampedro Uria, who took over from the fomer3.

The more prominent among the local sympathizers arrested were Casimiro Beredo and Francisco Blanco. Both were sent into exile to the island of Fernando Po 😲 in Africa, which at the time was a Spanish colony and presently called Bioko4. This bit of information is corroborated by the 1975 publication “Symbols of The State Republic of The Philippines5.”

The rest of the Katipunan sympathizers, numbering about 100, were taken to the Bilibid Prison or the “Carcel y Presidio Correccional” at the Mayhalique Estate in Manila. The facility is presently referred to as the “Old Bilibid Prison6.” Presumably, some of these participated in the jailbreak on the 3rd of May 1897 when the prison guards were rushed and their guns taken.

Among those who were left behind and were put to death by prison administrators was one Lauro de Marquez, who was supposedly anti–Catholic. Unfortunately, the source document failed to state if he was among the Katipunan Sympathizers rounded up in the town of Batangas.

THE SURRENDER OF SPANISH FORCES
In 1898, the Spanish Army in Batangas according to the source document was “on the verge of collapse.” By “Spanish Army,” the document likely meant the Guardia Civil, which was “organized as a military force charged with police duties7.” The reader has to understand that the “Spanish” Guardia Civil also had among its ranks native Filipinos.
READ: “The Katipunan’s Attacks on Lian and Talisay, Batangas in 1896 as Narrated by Artemio Ricarte
At any rate, according to the source document, the remaining Spanish forces along with their families assembled in the convent (church) in the belief that the revolutionaries would “respect the place.” This belief likely stemmed from the Medieval European principle of church sanctuary, a practice whereby fugitives were immune from arrest if inside the premises of a church8.

Filipino revolutionary forces under the command of General Eleuterio Marasigan of Calaca, however, were positioned at the plaza directly in front of the convent. After a tense standoff, the nuns in the convent and the wives of the Spanish forces pleaded with the officers of the Guardia Civil to surrender. Seeing that their position was untenable, they raised the white flag to put to an end “the Spanish tyranny and oppression in Batangas” in May of 1898.

THE CELEBRATION OF INDEPENDENCE
Soon after the surrender of Spanish troops to Filipino revolutionary forces in the then-town of Batangas, communication was received from General Emilio Aguinaldo with instructions that all alcalde-mayores (town mayors) should plan for the celebration of independence from Spain on 12 June 1898. Hence, on this day, townspeople of Batangas “gathered at the Plaza Mabini to celebrate in a very impressive military ceremony.”

After the ceremony, a representative whom Aguinaldo had sent to the celebration asked the townspeople who they would wish to be appointed the new alcalde-mayor of Batangas. “The people shouted in unison and clamored for General Brigido Buenafe, father of the ex-Mayor of this town, Mr. Juan Buenafe. General Brigido Buenafe became the first and last mayor of the town of Batangas during the short-lived Philippine Republic9.”

Notes and references:
1History of the Poblacion (Batangas City),” online at the National Library of the Philippines Digital Collections.
2Gobernadorcillo,” Wikipedia.
3Chronological List of Alalde-Mayores, Govenors and Other Officials, Indicating Their Terms of Offic in Batangas Province,” compiled by Jigger Gilera MD, online at the Facebook Group History of Batangas.
4Bioko,” Wikipedia.
5Symbols of The State Republic of The Philippines,” published 1975 by the Bureau of Local Government, Republic of the Philippines.
6New Bilibid Prison,” Wikipedia.
7Civil Guard (Spain),” Wikipedia.
8Sanctuary,” Wikipedia.
9 While there are, indeed, references to a General Brigido Buenafe within the context of the Philippine Revolution over the Internet, the author of this article is unable to corroborate that he was appointed alcalde-mayor of Batangas town during the short-lived republic under the Presidency of Emilio Aguinaldo.

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