ni Prop. MICHAEL XIAO CHUA
WHEN Ms. Rita Gadi asked me when and where the Philippine Revolution started in 1896, I was stupefied at first. How do you quickly explain that many witnesses produced many answers: Kangkong (23 August), Pugad Lawin (23 August), Bahay Toro (24 August), Sitio Gulod, Barrio Banlat (near Pasong Tamo now Tandang Sora Ave., 24 August), Balintawak (26 August). Historians Milagros Guerrero, Emmanuel Encarnacion and Ramon Villegas wrote in an article in 1996 that the now “official” August 23 Cry of Pugadlawin is erroneous (there was no such place name in 1896 maps of the area), and that it was possible that there were many cries as they were organizing people in different places. In a 1989 column anyway, Dr. Ambeth Ocampo cleared that all those other place names cited were in the area called “Balintawak.” So maybe it’s safer to call it Cry of Balintawak.
A bigger problem than the contradicting facts of the first cry are misconceptions about the revolution itself. We Filipinos,
regrettably, easily forget about the past. And worst, many times we commemorate and emphasize our defeats. By reading history written for us by foreigners, we look at ourselves in the point of view of the other. Thus our colonial mentality and inferiority complex which had a long term effect on us—we feel that all good things about us came from foreigners (remember learning about pamana ng mga Espanyol and pamana ng mga Amerikano?), and that “ginhawa” can only be attained if we go out of this country. One thing we tell ourselves is that we lost the Philippine Revolution, and it was the Americans who helped us defeat the Spaniards with the victory of the “Hero of Manila” Admiral George Dewey at the Battle of Manila Bay.
When Gen. Emilio Aguinaldo, tactically agreed to go abroad after his government made peace with the Spaniards, he negotiated with key American diplomats who verbally promised that they will help the Filipinos ensure their independence. One researcher from the National Historical Commission showed me a book by an American historian which stated that there was no evidence that the promise was ever given. This will show us how we must be conscious of perspective when reading history. Facts are not just facts.
On 1 May 1898, the seven-vessel Asiatic Fleet came to Manila Bay under Dewey and in the battle sunk all obsolete twenty Spanish ships. As Dr. Ambeth said, it was a “mismatch.” There was only one American casualty, and he didn’t die of battle wounds but of heat stroke! But Dewey did not have ground forces and so at this point they actually haven’t occupied the Philippines.
As the Americans were returning Aguinaldo back from Hongkong aboard McCulloch, many revolutionaries around the archipelago organized themselves again. Little by little, the Anak ng Bayan returned and took-over different towns from the Spaniards. After one of these battles, the Battle of Alapan, the Philippine flag made by Marcela Agoncillo, daughter Lorenza and Delfina Herbosa-Rizal, was unfurled at Teatro Caviteño in Cavite Viejo (Kawit) on 28 May. Thus we celebrate this as the start of the flag days.
Hearing about the continuous victories of the Filipinos in defeating the Spaniards who were our colonizers for 333 years, Gen. Aguinaldo acted quickly and at 4:02 PM on 12 June proclaimed Philippine Independence at the central window of his mansion in Kawit, in the tune of Julian Felipe’s Marcha Filipina Magdalo / Marcha Nacional Filipina. With this self-proclamation of V-S Day (Victory Over Spain), I believe that 12 June of every year is worth celebrating by every Filipino.
Let me dedicate this column to my professor, Dante Ambrosio, who fought for our bayan and wrote about our constellations, thank you and goodbye. You are now part of the stars.
(Reprinted with permission from Prof. Michael Xiao Chua)
Chua, Michael Xiao. We Won the Revolution. https://www.facebook.com/notes/michael-charleston-briones-chua/walking-history-column-by-xiao-chua-huwag-nang-ipagdiwang-ang-buwan-ng-wika-good/10150286995768622
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