Heading west from the city center or “poblacion” of Lipa City in the Province of Batangas, into an adjoining barrio called Mataasnalupa, is a road named “B. Morada.” The road is named after a Batangueño intellectual by the name of Brigido Morada, who owned a house in the said barrio that stands till the present day.
Like many young Batangueños of the 19ᵗʰ century who came from families with means, Morada initially left Lipa to pursue further studies after completing basic education in local schools. He began to study law at the University of Santo Tomas, where he was into his 5ᵗʰ year in 1885.
He left for Spain in 1889 to complete his law studies and eventually obtained his degree from the Central University of Madrid. It was while he was in Madrid that Morada became acquainted with national hero Jose Rizal, who was incidentally also a mason like he was1. He became a “staunch supporter of Rizal in the internal politics2” of the Philippines.
In 1893, Morada returned to the Philippines and, in his residence at barrio Mataasnalupa, would open a school the following year. Here, he would on at least one occasion be visited by Rizal.
|Filipino intellectuals in Spain, including Brigido Morada, seated 2ⁿᵈ from left. By Unknown author - http://rizaldiaries.livejournal.com/2004/05/28/, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=9843939.|
Because, like Rizal, he was a mason and fraternized with fellow intellectuals who were associated with the brewing political unrest not just in Batangas but likewise the rest of the country, Morada fell under the scrutiny of the local clergy, who thought of him as a filibustero3.
In the context of late Spanish-era Philippines, the filibuster or filibustero was someone associated with seditious actions against the state, in this case the Spanish colonial government.
In 1897, months after Rizal was executed, Morada was ordered arrested by the Augustinian parish priest of Lipa, Fr. Domingo de la Prieta4.
In a statement later made to American authorities during the next colonial era, one Jose Templo, a prominent citizen of Lipa, would describe what became of Morada:
“Two weeks had hardly passed when I learned, to the great sorrow of my soul, that the poor young man, who divided his time between books and chicken raising, was taken from his house by a couple of municipal guards by order of the parish friar and taken to the capital of this province, where he was placed in the hands of the governor, who, not knowing what to do with him, transferred him to Manila5.”
Like so many who were suspected by Spanish authorities of seditious activity, Morada would end up in prison. But because arrests were being made indiscriminately, the prisons in the country started to become crowded.
In an effort to decongest the prisons, the Spanish authorities started to send many of the prisoners into exile in penal colonies owned by Spain outside of the Philippines6. Morada was one of those sent to the island of Fernando Po, presently called Bioko and part of Equatorial Guinea. It was here where he would die.
Morada would not be completely forgotten. During the 8ᵗʰ Philippine Legislature, Representative Jose Dimayuga of the 3ʳᵈ District of Batangas proposed a bill that would formally rename the barrio of Mataasnalupa into Morada, after its son who was sent into exile on the whims of a Spanish friar.
[Note to the reader: Batangas History, Culture & Folklore is as yet unable to ascertain if this bill was ever passed by the Philippine Legislature and signed into law by the Governor General. This article will be updated if and when relevant documentation is discovered.]
2 “The Roots of the Filipino Nation, Volume 2,” by Onofre D. Corpuz, published 2005 by the UP University Press, online at Google Books.
5 “Lands Held for Ecclesiastical or Religious Uses in the Philippine Islands, Etc.,” a document of the 2ⁿᵈ Session of the 56ᵗʰ United States Congress, February 1901.
6 “El Katipunan o el Filibusterismo en Filipinas,” by Jose M. del Castillo y Jimenez, published 1897 in Madrid.