Friday, December 30, 2005

What are you singing on New Year's Eve?

After agonizing over the PHP 11,800 cost of a Magic Sing, which we resolved by splitting the amount into the number of users, our household has been caught by the karaoke bug. My sisters and children have been belting out the the songs of their lives day in and day out. My average sleep per day fell way below the average of the entire year this Christmas Week, while beer consumption and fat intake jumped to its highest in the past two years. You might want to call this phenomenon the Magic Mic Effect. Well, that is not yet a problem, until we get a demand letter from the neighbors or a cease and desist order from the Pollution Adjudication Board (for noise pollution). Never mind, for as we approach New Year's Eve, yodelling on the Magic Mic while torturing people's ears is much better than lighting firecrakers and losing a few fingers in the process.

So, what am I singing on New Year's Eve? Here is my Top Ten:

1. La Vida Lawyer (ehr, Loca) by Ricky Martin

One day I would set this tune to lyrics I made up for my use alone

2. Save the Last Dance for Me by Michael Buble

Hurrah for the baritones! You can dance the cha-cha on the side.

3. The Impossible Dream

This one is to remind me that singing is also an art.

4. We Didn't Start the Fire by Billy Joel

Tip: change the line "JFK blown away" to "GMA go away" and get charged with sedition.

5. Ang Huling El Bimbo by the Eraserheads

I've been trying to hard to beat Rico J. Puno and Ely Buendia, but the highest score the Magic Mic could give me is 65 on the amateur level. They should have another score for soul singing -- you score by sounding like a departed soul.

6. My Way by Paul Anka

To avoid the crowd walking out on you, sing the lyrics backwards -- as in, "Way My it did I!"

7. Copacabana by Barry Manilow

To remind me that I used to like mushy songs by mushy singers before I graduated to Gorillaz.

8. My Girl by the Temptations

For my daughter, Tressa, to keep from wanting another and save my wife the trouble of another pregnancy.

9. Each Day with You by Martin Nievera

For the wife whom I married on Valentine's day 1998. You should try it one day, and buy only one gift for Valentine's and wedding anniversaries forever.

10. What a Wonderful World by Louis Armstrong

To remind me that there is hope in the world, bad presidents and all.

Happy New Year Everybody!

Saturday, December 24, 2005

Merry Christmas Everybody!

"For God so love the world that He gave His only begotten son so that who ever believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life..." Let's party, we're saved! from Hans, Marvin, Tressa, Ces, Justin and Juancho Aceron.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

La Vida Lawyer Mugs to Friends

Email me. Link to me. Post a comment. I have a few more left. It's free. Shipping not included.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

My Reading Backlog

A couple of months ago, I made the rounds on the bookstores and stacked up my reading list. Titles on Philippine history dominated the list. These titles eventually helped me put up the series of posts on Andres Bonifacio and Gomburza. I was getting ready for Rizal's trial and got myself some Rizal biographies and Fr. Horacio de la Costa's translation of the Rizal Trial transcripts, but the material is gripping and I am outraged. I guess I will have to postpone that for later. Meanwhile, a pile of books has been left out. and I plan to indulge in them during the holidays and probably the next 365 days.

1. Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell by Suzana Clarke (Fiction)

Academically-inclined 19th Century magicians meet Mr. Norrell who wants to practice the profession. Then another talented practical magician, Jonathan Strange, shows up and starts a rivalry/alliance. I need complete free day to finish this. I hope I find one soon before they turn this into a movie.

2. I am Charlotte Simmons by Tom Wolfe (Fiction)

American university life as told by Tom Wolfe. I'm now on the chapter about college basketball, and I find a strong resemblance with Philippine universitites. Not to be read while waiting for your turn in the bank. You'd look stupid laughing alone. Guards might take you for a fool, or so I learned.

3. Guns, Germs, and Steel by Jared Diamond (Non-fiction)

UCLA professor Jared Diamond discusses why history unfolded differently on different continents. I've read a few chapters already and found it very amusing.

4. Collapse by Jared Diamond (Non-fiction)

Jared Diamond discusses how societies choose to collapse or fail. The book helps me in analyzing, which direction the Philippines would go.

6. Invented Eden by Jessica Hagedorn (Fiction)

The Tasaday tribe story as a novel.

7. Invented People by Robin Hemley (Non-fiction)

The Tasaday tribe story by a journalist.

8. Discipline and Punish/ The Birth of the Prison by Michel Foucault (non-fiction)

The history of corporal punishment in France as only Foucault could tell it. Boy, our prisoners are lucky. According to Foucault, in the old days in France, they'd tear up the flesh of prisoners and parade them in public.

9. Last Temptation of Christ by Nikos Kazantsakis (fiction)

Nikos Kazantsakis's novel on the divinity and humanity of Christ. I am hoping it would remove the bitter aftertaste that The Da Vinci Code left me.

10. The Poetry of Pablo Neruda (Poetry)

Hopefully, I could snatch a few lines to woo the wife. :-)

What's on your reading list? Free La Vida Lawyer mug if you drop me a few lines. Offer ends on Christmas day. Shipping not included.

Monday, December 12, 2005

My Favorite Bad Movies

It just occured to me that I could name more favorite bad movies than favorite good movies. These are films I watched as a kid frequenting Ali Mall on weekends with PHP 20 pabaon from my Dad. Movies were cheap at PHP 5.50 for orchestra seats, and pop corn was just PHP 2. The Filipinos were then on the the Guinnes Book of World records for watching an average of 19 films a year. I can’t believe we feasted on this junk for years. But hey, I must say I enjoyed them. Here is my favorite bad movies list:

10. Tartan - A Vic Sotto starrer a la Tarzan, where they had villagers speaking in a strange language in which the syllables “sepe” were added to each word in the Tagalog sentence. Famous line “ Gasepego pasepela kasepeyo ehsepe!” Go figure.

9. Mong --A comics to movie flick, introducing six foot eight Bonnie de Jesus about a basketball player who can’t shoot. Famous scene: Mong’s dad rents a prostitute to get his son “baptized”. Dad gets tittilated listening to the moans of the girl in the room. But camera shows prostitute scratching Mong’s back wth a big wooden fork (the kind you get from Baguio City to hang on your wall) and begging to stop because she’s too tired to go on.

8. Tres Moskiteros at si Ako -- Tito Vic & Joey with the late Maria Teresa Carlson were on this film. The three comedians do not act as musketeers except for the last ten minutes of the movie, which was shot in an “old kingdom” set to justify the title. Famous scene: Tito Sotto making a shaking gesture with his right hand and obscene face contortions. Nova Villa comes in the room and asks what is he doing. He says “Nagbabate.” And then the camera zooms out to reveal Tito beating eggs for breakfast.

7. Six Million Centavo Man -- This is a Chiquito starrer ripping-off Lee Majors’s Six Million Dollar Man. Chiquitto gets bionic abilities after an operation that cost Six Million Centavos. They showed surgery being done on what was obviously a dead pig being passed off as Chiquito’s tummy.

6. Hot Dog - Another Tito, Vic, and Joey starrer about an enchanted dog with golden feces. Highlight of the film is when the dog demonstrates his golden abilities as Tito Vic and Joey cheer on the side “Echas! Echas! Echas pa!”

5. Starzan - Joey de Leon takes the lead here with Chitae (Rene Requiestas) and Zsa Zsa Padilla. In the film, Zsa Zsa gives birth to a baby while moaning “It’s coming! It’s coming!”, and Joey looks on and says “It’s showing! It’s showing!”

4. Zuma - Max Laurel plays the fabled snake man of Filipino comics donning green paint all over his body and two mechanical snakes hanging over his neck. He gets a woman pregnant, who then undergoes an operation to abort the fetus. But during the operation, the fetus jumps from one woman to another and finds another hostess, who eventually gives birth to Galema, Zuma’s daughter.

3. For Your Height Only -- Weng Weng plays Agent 00, a secret police agent barely three feet tall. The film is now internationally hailed as one of the best bad movies ever. Highlight of the film is Weng Weng, looking scared stiff, with two burning fire extinguishers hanging on his back flying supposedly to go after the bad guys.

2. Pete Matipid -- Another Chiquito movie based on his TV show where he plays Pete, the miser. Meal time with Pete is amazingly cheap as he takes out fried chicken hanging on a string from a closet. Tintoy, his perennial side kick, tries to get a slice of the chicken, but is stopped by Chiquito, saying to save the chicken, they will only smell it, and eat only the rice.

1. Working Boys -- Tito, Vic, and Joey star again in this all gags ending in sort of kidnapping movie. The trio play the role of utility men. One of them plays a barber. At the start of the film, a customer asks if he could get a haircut and was asked to wait outside. At various points of the movie, he asks if he could get his turn but is made to wait again until he is remembered at the end of the film with an overgrowth of hair and beard and looking like a monster. i still see the actor who played this character in Timog Avenue, Quezon City with his long hair.

Can you name me your favorite bad movie? I promise to give a limited edition La Vida Lawyer coffee mug (shipping not included) to the best replies to this post with your favorite bad movies. Drop me a few lines, with the title of the film, the actors and a short summary of what was it about. You can also link to posts on your own blogs. This contest is open to all. But if you're living abroad, you have to find a way to pick up the mugs from my office in Quezon City. Contest ends on Christmas day Philippine time. Cheers!

Monday, December 05, 2005

Pop Month in La Vida Lawyer: The Eraserheads Tribute

It’s the merry month of Christmas, traditionally a tough time for La Vida Lawyer (what with all his inaanaks knocking), but for this month I’ll tune out of politics past and present, and indulge in pop culture. Warning: even my wife disagrees, violently at times, with my taste.

As I post this blog, the Ultraelectromagnetic Jam album is playing on ITunes. This is a tribute to the Eraserheads, the phenomenal Philippine rock band who broke up four years ago. The new album has young bands and singers doing cover versions of staple Eraserheads songs. And I am proud to say that I am not disappointed with this project; in fact, I am well pleased. When I inserted the CD on the Mac, ITunes recognized it immediately and fetched the track names. It is curious that the songs have been classified as “World” music, which probably means that the album is going to be marketed abroad.

The album opens with “Alapaap” by 6 Cycle Mind. I have to confess that I have not heard of this band, but they do a pretty good rendition here. They added a new guitar track and some percussion in the opening dreamy sequences before the song flies off with the guitar loops on the first verse. In the bridge, where we used to hear Ely going pa pa ra pa pa, we hear a lead guitar doing the notes instead, before the vocals modulate. Geez, that sure works.

Paolo Santos does “Magasin” in the second track. He uses the guitar lead to introduce the song on the C, E, Am, F F minor chord progression, in place of the “Hoo Hoo” vocal track. Its amusing, even more so when he adds a few more notes when the song reaches the bridge. Ely and Paolo both have high octave male voices, so Paolo breezes thru this one with ease, but really the wonder of this version is the song itself, about seeing one’s ex-girlfriend becoming a pin up girl for a porno magazine. This is way off Paolo’s clean image as a singer-songwriter, but he manages to sing this song well with his image intact.

Imago does “Spoliarum” in the third track. The song originally appeared in the Sticker Happy album, which I think is the album where the Eraserheads managed to hit the perfect balance between artistic integrity and commercial viability. Imago does a good job here too with a lady vocal. Frankly, I’m still wondering what the song means, if it has any meaning to begin with.

Kitchie Nadal was fun to hear in Ligaya (track 7) as she breaks out in laughter while singing the line “ilang ahit pa ba ang aahitin”. Funny, the line still fits even if a woman is singing it. Francis M., does great work in “Superproxy” (track 9). He gives it enough energy probably more explosive than that of Ely’s.

Orange and Lemons, the band responsible for that “Pinoy Ako” hit song, sings “Huwag Kang Matakot” in Track 10. This song originally appeared in Natin 99 Album, just before the turn of the millennium, with the Eraserheads music going a little bit on the weird side with their experimentations on electronica. “Huwag Kang Matakot” was the most accessible in that Natin 99 album, and I believe it was there to make the album commercially viable. As a pop song, “Huwag Kang Matakot” had great possibilities and a real infectious hook. Orange and Lemons gives the song a little updating here. They cleaned up the sound by using acoustic string guitar for the riffs. In the bridge part, they inserted, some loops from Julie Tearjerky, another EHeads hit, and they clipped out some words from the chorus while inserting lyrics from “Tikman”, all in a playful manner. Great effort by Orange and Lemons, even better than the original.

The highlight of this album is track 15, where Rico J. Puno, the total entertainer, does his own version of “Ang Huling El Bimbo.” Rico J. Puno is an institution in the Philippine music industry with his signature raspy and soulful voice. And I’m pretty sure, the Eraserheads in their youth knew “Kapalaran”, Rico J.’s signature song, by heart. To have him sing what probably is the most popular Eraserheads song ever -- it even got an MTV Asia Music Video Award -- is the best proof that the Eraserheads and their music form a watershed of artistry in the Philippine pop music scene. When I learned that Rico Puno was signing “El Bimbo”, I imagined him breaking into his signature “baby baby" belting in the third verse of the song that goes “ sa panaginip na lang pala kita maisasayaw”. But instead, he restrains himself a bit and opts for a cool classic delivery. No problem with that. I guess Rico J. Puno has matured.

The album ends with “Para sa Masa” sang by most, if not all, of the artists appearing in the album a la “We are the World” The song is Ely’s lamentation and despair for the band’s effort and failure (?) to lift the masses and their musical taste. Rico J. Puno does the line “Pinilit kong ihaon ka. Ngunit ayaw mo namang sumama.” Great song, a fitting end to a great tribute to the most successful Pinoy Rock Band in history.

To conclude, new and upcoming singers should mine the Eraserheads back catalogue of songs that deserve fresh interpretation: Bogchi Hokbu, Kailan, Playground, Combo on the Run, Tindahan ni Aling Nena, even the Eraserheads’ Christmas Album Fruitcake, and many more. There is one Eraserheads song, Casa Fantastica, which appeared in the 1998 concept album about the Philippine Centennial which should also be unearthed. Those songs are real gems, a true affirmation of what NVM Gonzalez used to say that there is genius in the Filipino race.

Check out the review of the Tribute/Launching Concert of the album held in UP from Katie's site.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

21st Century Lawyer Notes on the Bonifacio Trial

The common verdict of historians is that Bonifacio had a mock trial. There are various reasons cited, e.g. Andres’s counsel Placido Martinez was also a judge, the accused did not have a chance to cross-examine the witnesses against them, the prosecutor asked leading questions, etc.. I do agree with some of them. But let me add a few more reasons to show why the trial was indeed a sham.

1. There was no law against treason.

Whenever confronted with a legal problem, lawyers have a common first impulse. They check the law. And we look at the trial of the Bonifacio brothers, and we find no reference to any law or edict that defined the crime and specified the penalty charged against the Bonifacio Brothers. The Tejeros Convention was an election, but there was no governing law that defined the powers of the elected officials and governed the conduct of citizens. That’s why when the prosecutor asked whether the accused knew if there was a government there, they had to say no. Sure, there was a president, but what were the powers of the President? What was his basis for saying he could do this and that as president. There may have been a president, but surely without laws, there was no government. Where was it written that Bonifacio could not carry a gun? There was a revolution going on, everybody had to carry a gun. How could a trial be fair when there was no law on which the accused is going to be tried?

A dictatorial government would have sufficed at that point. Aguinaldo could have claimed, “I am a dictator, whatever I say is the law.” That would have saved the day. At the very least, all that he needed to do was publish his laws. “It is treason to plot against the President, and it is punishable by death.” That would have given the Bonifacio brothers and all the men under them a fair chance, for at least there was a common measure by which all those ruled could judge their conduct, and Bonifacio and his counter-revolutionary plots would have been justly punished. Yet, Aguinaldo would only think about law and governance much later on with Apolinario Mabini on his side. In the meantime, he had to charge Bonifacio with the crime of treason and sedition, when Aguinaldo himself did not define what constituted the crime of treason and sedition and the punishment for such acts. Bonifacio could have lit a cigar; and without any law but the barrel of his gun, Aguinaldo could have cried that was treason, too. What chance did the Bonifacio brothers have?

2. The Council of War lost jurisdiction on the venue of the crime.

The second point is a little bit technical. It is an elementary principle in criminal law that jurisdiction in criminal law is territorial. Simply put, a government can enforce its criminal laws only in territories were it exercises sovereignty. A murder in Japan, for example, may not be tried and punished in the Philippines. In the same way, a murder in Manila may not be tried and punished in Japan. In the case of Bonifacio, the acts charged against him were all committed in territories where Aguinaldo’s forces have lost jurisdiction, as they have fallen to Spanish hands while the trial was ongoing. Indang and Naik fell. Daniel Tirona and his lawyer candidate Jose del Rosario surrendered to the Spaniards as San Francisco de Malabon fell. What then was the basis of the criminal jurisdiction that Aguinaldo was enforcing against the Brothers Bonifacio when Aguinaldo himself had lost power over Indang and Naik where Bonifacio’s alleged crimes were committed? As a matter of fact, Aguinaldo’s government itself was on the run against the Spanish Army which at the time of the trial already exercised sovereignty over those territories. After Naik and Indang fell, any treason committed there could only be committed against, and tried and punished by the Spanish Army. Aguinaldo had lost power to try and punish Bonifacio’s crime, if indeed, there was a crime.

Given that there was no governing law and that Aguinaldo had lost jurisdiction over the crime, what was the trial for? This reminds of a common government tactic we find nowadays. Whenever a government executive wants to do something that is not popular, somebody would file a court case, and then there would be court order telling the executive what to do. So whenever there was a backlash, the executive would say, oh it’s not me, it’s the court.

Look at Aguinaldo after Bonifacio’s death. Aguinaldo could always point to the Council of War that decided on the death penalty and the generals, Pio del Pilar and Mariano Noriel, who persuaded him to reverse his pardon. I could almost hear him saying, “Don’t blame me, it’s the Council of War… it’s del Pilar… it’s Noriel…it’s….” Hail Aguinaldo! The father of legal ruse.

I was toying with the idea, what if I were Bonifacio’s counsel, what would I have said in that trial? Well, points one and two above, and then probably, a little speech that would appeal to the interest of the Council of War. The Aguinaldo magic was a myth. The early victories were getting reversed. The revolution in Cavite was about to fail. Meanwhile, Bonifacio still had clout outside Cavite. Bonifacio could still save the revolution. Bonifacio had Batangas. Bonifacio had the rest of the Tagalog region in his wings. While Cavite was falling, the rest of the nation was still at war. The Katipunan was still in place. And if the Cavitenos failed, the revolution was still on in other parts of the Tagalog region, and they could be relied upon as sanctuary for the weary Cavitenos, including the members of he Council of War. Besides, what was the risk on Bonifacio, he had not even won a battle? But he was great organizer and his organization was still in place. That’s why it was to the interest of the Council of War to let Bonifacio go and re-organize the Katipunan elsewhere outside Cavite.

I don’t know if that would have worked. Maybe not, but all that is academic now, because we already know that after Bonifacio’s death, the revolution would be dissipated, and Aguinaldo would opt for a settlement with Spain, brokered by Pedro Paterno in Biak-na-Bato.

For further reading, do check out the following books:

Teodoro Kalaw's "The Court Martial of Andres Bonifacio",
Teodoro Agoncillo’s Revolt of the Masses, Adrian Cristobal’s, The Tragedy of the Revolution, Abraham Sarmiento’s Andres Bonifacio: the Appeal, Memoirs of Artemio Ricarte, and Ambeth Ocampo’s Bones of Contention. These are all in circulation.

Monday, November 21, 2005

Trial of Andres Bonifacio Part Six: The Execution

In the morning of May 10, 1897, the Castillians were on the offensive in their quest to recover territories from the revolutionaries. Maragondong, the seat of Aguinaldo’s power, was the next in line. The Spaniards moved their cannons and pointed them towards Maragondong. Meanwhile, in the town, Mariano Noriel called for Major Lazaro Makapagal. Makapagal reported in his uniform to Noriel.

Then, Noriel handed over to Makapagal, erstwhile a secretary of the Council of War, a packet. Noriel instructed Makapagal to take four soldiers from Colonel Ritual and bring the brothers Bonifacio with them to Mt.Tala and not open the packet until he reached the mountain. Upon arrival, he was asked to open the packet and read aloud its contents to the two prisoners and obey the instructions strictly. It was to be done with dispatch, because the Spaniards were at the gates.

Good soldier that he was, Makapagal obeyed the instructions. On their way to Tala, the brothers asked whether they were going to be shot. Makapagal replied that he was just taking them away from the fighting.

When they reached the foot of Mt.Buntis, the brothers implored him to open the packet. When he complied, he found a letter,in which the following was written,

Major Makapagal,

In accordance with the order of the Council of War held at Maragondong on May 8, against the brothers Andres and Procopio Bonifacio, who have been sentenced to be shot to death, you and your soldiers under you are ordered to carry out the judgment. I am informing you that any failure to do your duty will be penalized to the fullest severity of the Spanish military law. God will take care of you for a long time.

Mariano Noriel

Procopio stood up and cried, “Naku kuyang!” Andres fell to his knees and tried to embrace Makapagal, and cried, “Kapatid, patawarin mo ako.

Makapagal then cried, “Peloton! Preparen! Carguen, Armas! When the brothers heard the cocking of the guns, they fell silent. Then Makapagal faced Procopio, and said, “Defrenten, Mar!” and pointed him to the woods, they followed a trail and there they shot Procopio.

Lazaro Makapagal then turned to Andres who went down on his knees and begged for forgiveness. “Kapatid, patawarin mo ako!” Andres said. Makapagal replied “Wala akong magagawa.

Then, Andres stood up and ran to the woods to escape. Makapagal and his soldiers followed. Near the big stream at the junction of a creek, Andres was shot. He stopped, reeled and fell dead. The soldiers then dug a shallow hole and buried Andres Bonifacio. Makapagal placed a few twigs. It was all over in a few hours.

On his way down, Makapagal met Gregoria de Jesus who asked him where he took the two men. He replied that they left them in the hills near Tala. “You can inquire from the chieftain there in whose care we left the two.

Gregoria replied, “If that is so, why do you have his clothes?

Makapagal replied, “He requested me to tell you to bring them to him yourself.

Gregoria left him and proceeded to look for her husband. She looked for them for two weeks but never found them.

Up to the present, Bonifacio’s bones have not been found.

In his memoirs, Santiago Alvarez recalls a different version of the execution as related by Lazaro Makapagal, as follows,

"After I read the order to the prisoners, Procopio wept, embraced Andres and asked, 'Kuya, what are we to do?' Andres did not say a word. He bowed his head and sobbed while tears welled in his eyes and rolled down in his cheeks. Not able to bear it, I turned my back and when I faced them again, the deed was done. My men had fired the shots and the poor Bonifacio brothers were prostrate and dead." (translated from Tagalog by Paula Carolina S. Malay published by Ateneo de Manila Press in 1992)

Next post: My legal notes on the Trial of Andres Bonifacio

Sunday, November 20, 2005

Andres Bonifacio Trial Part V: Council of War's verdict -- Guilty!

After the completion of the trial the previous day, the Council of War, its President, Mariano Noriel, and his colleagues, Tomas Mascardo and Esteban Ynfante, met and studied the records of the trial on May 6, 1897. The issues were threshed out, and the decision was voted upon as follows:

1. Andres Bonifacio knew of the existence of a Government of the Philippnes (Sangkatagakluagan) and of its location in the province.

2. Mr. Andres had no permission to hold arms and to assemble soldiers as well as take prisoners from the village of Limbon.

3. Mr. Andres together with his bothers Procopio and Ciriaco ordered their soldiers to commence rapid firing should the soldiers of the Government arrive.

4. Andres enticed the commanders of the soldiers of the Government to go over to his side together with their arms.

5. Andres gave money to the said commanders at the town of Naik.

6. Mr. Andres and his brothers fought the soldiers of the Government and the first one shot was Ciriaco and because of the shots they fired, two soldiers of the Government were killed.

7. In staying in the village of Limbon and in gathering troops , the intention of Andres as well as his brother was to rebel against the Government.

8. Andres and Procopio on account of their unfortunate deeds deserve the punishment of death.

9. The soldiers and commanders who acquiesced to the plot of the brothers Andres Procopio and Ciriaco deserve no punishment but for them to join the army that they might do what is proper in the barracks as well as in battle.

10. It would be proper to give support to the families of the two soldiers who died.

11. The said support should be demanded from Andres and Procopio, aside from the pension given to the families of soldiers who die in combat.

The statement and judgment was signed by Mariano Noriel, Sulpicio Antnoy. T. Mascardo, Crisostomo Riel and Estevan Ynfante. Mariano Noriel forwarded the records to Gen. Emilio Aguinaldo who referred the sme to Judge Advocate General Baldomero Aguinaldo who agreed with the punishment imposed by the Council. Baldomero then said that it should be Emilio who should decide.

When Emilio Aguinaldo received the verdict, he commuted it to banishment. But according to Emilio Aguinaldo, “As soon as General Mariano Noriel, General Pio del Pilar … learned of this (commutation), they called my attention and said, “if you want to maintain the stability of our Revolutionary Government and if you wish tht we should stay alive, please withdraw your edict for those brothers.” Because of this, I withdrew and assigned General Noriel to follow the verdict of the Council of War, to shoot the brothers for the good of the country.”

In the next post, the execution of Andres and Procopio Bonifacio.
(To be continued)

Saturday, November 19, 2005

Placido Martinez, counsel of Andres Bonifacio, to the Council of War: Forgive him.

In part one , the Tejeros Convention, part two , Pedro Giron's testimony, part three Andres Bonifacio's testimony, now in this part, we witness the conclusion of the investigation and the trial.

On May 4, 1897, the Investigating Officer Pantaleon Garcia made a report of the proceedings and submitted it to Gen. Emilio Aguinalo, who immediately endorsed the same to Gen. Baldomero Aguinaldo. Pantaleon’s report stated, among others that based on reports, Andres was gathering soldiers in Limbon without permission and taking prisoners those who refused to join him, and in order to look into the truth of the matter, it was ordered that soldiers be sent at once to the village to reconnoiter, and when they returned they were greeted by gunfire, and they likewise answered in kind. Ciriaco was the first to open fire. Pantaleon further reported that,

“ The argument of the brothers, Andres and Procopio, that they did not know that there was a Government here cannot be accepted because of the testimony of the soldiers of Andres, who had earlier testified that there was a Government here and the Highest Executive Head was M. Emilio Aguinaldo, and besides this the aforementioned Mr. Andres testified that he was one of those conferees at Tejeros which was held there, and he induced Pedro Giron to assassinate Mr. Emilio, the President, and in truth he gave this Giron ten pesos to carry out the evil orders, so that he might come out President.

“Also induced were the officers of the soldiers here to join him, together with those he was commanding and regarding this matter those who can testify are Mr. Pio del Pilar, Colonel Ritual, and others, because they testified in the presence of many”

On May 5, 1897, Gen. Mariano Noriel called the meeting of the Council of War. The accused were present with their designated counsels, Placido Martinez and Teodoro Gonzalez, for Andres and Procopio, respectively. From the records, it seems that, no more testimonies were taken during the hearing, other than a short speech by Andres that was interrupted by the Council of War. The highlights of the hearing were the speeches of the counsels of the accused. A curious note is Placido Martinez, Andres's counsel, who delivered his defense for Andres and likewise acted as member of the Council of War.

The first to speak was the prosecutor, Mr. Jose Elises. Citing Pedro Giron's testimony, he charged Andres with plotting to overthrow the revoluionary government and the assassination of Emilio Aguinaldo -- the Supreme President. He blamed Andres for the death of the two government soliders and asked for the death penalty by musketry in a public place, five rounds each for him and brother Procopio from a distance of ten paces.

Then, Placido Martinez, Andres’s counsel, spoke for his client, as follows:

“The word to defend or protect, does not seem to apply remotely to Mr. Andres Bonifacio, on account of the evil and detestable deeds he had done, and if there is a severe punishment other than death, such may be properly be meted out to him; because to desire the assassination of our Supreme President of the Tagalog Region is just like desiring the murder of all of us; and it is obvious from this that he does not know how to sympathize with us who are of the same blood, his brothers and fellow countrymen; but it is undeniable to your exceeding goodness that we are brothers to error so that we are always supported by counsel

In this matter and in accordance with the things which happened to the aforementioned unfortunate Bonifacio when wounded, he was arrested at the town of Yndang when he was stripped of his clothes and the little that he carried with him was seized from him, it seems this is enough for the wrong he had done, and if this is not yet enough may the court listen for a while to what follows.

Is it not true that in our Kartilla or in the teaching followed by the Katipunan it is commanded that we love our fellowmen as we love ourselves?

Is it not true that our Lord Christ, although punished and killed by the Jews, asked our God the Father to forgive those who had done such to him?

And who are we, mere earthly beings, not to forgive our kind?

For the sake of all of these, I am asking that Mr. Andres Bonifacio be forgiven the transgressions he had committed, so that, if this were done, we may follow what we utter in saying “our Father” to forgive, our Gd, our sins as we forgive those who transgress against us…”

Before he ended his speech, Andres’s counsel commented on Col. Agapito Bonson’s attempts to rape Gregoria de Jesus. “…if there is truth in this (the rape attempts), I should be meted out the proper puisment, but if this is only an empty accusation, do what is proper, because this is a lsur on an officer like the said Bonson who has up to now shown stern devotion.”

Teodoro Gonzales, Procopio’s counsel, argued that Procopio should be excluded from the punishment recommend by the fiscal as Procopio testified that he induced no one, he was not a party to the plans of Andres and he did not make a stand at the time of fighting.

Andres asked that he be allowed to speak. When he was granted the permission, he repeated his earlier testimony, and thereafter, the council forbade him to go on at the request of the audience. The proceedings were thereafter suspended. The minutes of the hearing were signed by Mariano Noriel, Mariano Riego de dios, Crisostomo Riel, Estevan Ynfante, T. Mascardo, Sulpicio Antony, and Placido Martinez

In the continuation -- the ruling of the Council of War.

Friday, November 18, 2005

Andres Bonifacio Trial: I didn't fire a bullet. Aguinaldo was not validly elected.

In part one, we went through the proceedings at the Tejeros Convention. In part two , we read the testimony of Pedro Giron, the witness who accused Andres Bonifacio of paying Giron ten pesos to assassinate Emilio Aguinaldo. In this entry, we shall read the transcribed testimony of Andres Bonifacio.

I am tempted to re-write it a bit to make it easier to read, but I shall restrain myself in order that we may hear Andres Bonifacio, (codename Maypag-asa) himself in his moment of darkness:

The town of Maragondon, today the fourth of May of the year one thousand eight hundred and ninety-seven. Before the Colonel Judge Advocate and myself, the Secretary, appeared the person of Andres Bonifacio, thirty-three years old, married, native of the town of Tondo in the Province of Manila, whose office is that of President of the Revolution and head of the Katipunan, and in order to make the proper investigation, he was asked if he knew that here in this province there is a revolutionary government, and he answered that he did not know.

Asked if he knew that here in this province of Tanguay (Cavite) there is an army, he answered that he knew and that there were many officers like General Santiago (Alvarez), General Emilio (Aguinaldo), General Pio (del Pilar) and General Ricarte.

Asked if the witness had authority over the government of this province, he answered that he could not say whether or not he had because he had no information even about the founding of the said new government.

Asked if his having stopped at Limbon within the jurisdiction of Yndan (Indang) had the permission of the government, he answered that the Ministers of Magdiwang had information regarding his departure from Yndan (Indang) on his way home to Manila but on account of the absence of a guide who could show the way he had to stop at Limbon.

Asked if he had the permission of this government to assemble bolomen as well as riflemen at the said village of Limbon, he answered that because, as he had already said, he did not know of any other government, for this reason he was not able to report the assembling of his true soldiers whom he contributed here, but it was the Council of Magdiwang through its President who returned said soldiers to him.

Asked the number of his guns gathered together at the village of Limbon, he answered that he sent fifty guns here to help save the situation, but he carried none to Limbon except the seventeen Remington and the few other guns of various make.

Asked if among the said guns there were those which bore the mark of Magdalo, he answered that he did not remember the mark but he had full confidence that those were his because those who verified this were the holders of the guns.

Asked to name the person in charge of his soldiers who removed the mark, he answered that there was no one in charge.

Asked if he knew Pedro Giron, Benito Torres, Mr. Pio del Pilar and Mr. Modesto Ritual, he answered that he knew all of them.

Asked if he remembered that he wrote letters to the said gentlemen in order to have them transfer the guns to the village of Limbon and to join him, he answered that he wrote to no one on the matter being asked about.

Asked if in the days when he was at Limbon there had always been meetings and with whom he had been meeting, he answered that so far as he rembered he had met with no one outside the men who were with him.

Asked if he remembered how many times he met with Pedro Giron in order to ask him to assassinate the President of this Government, he answered that he had not conferred even once with the said person on the matter being asked about.

Asked if he remembered, too, that at Naik he gave money to the officers of the soldiers in order to transfer the riflemen to the witness, he answered that in the name of the Magdiwang and according to the promise of the Minister of Finance and the Minister of War, Mr. Diego Moxika (Mojica) and Ariston Villanueva, to the officers and men of the troops who helped in the battles at Noveleta and Malabon, said troops, as well as the so-called Balara men, were to be rewarded, for their sacrifice, the sum of two hundred pesos in the presence of many witnesses, together with instructions to the officers to whom the money was given to distribute this to the men and to inform General Emilio about it, but outside of this he had not given money to anyone, particularly in the matter being asked about.

Asked if Mr. Diego Moxika (Mojica), Mr. Ariston Villanueva, Mr. Silvestre Domingo and one named Santos were always meeting with the witness, together with his brothers, in the village of Limbon, he answered that Mr. Silvestre Domingo, Santos and Diego Moxika (Mojica), as he recalled, only happened to pass by there on their way to Buenavista, but he did not confer with them except for a few words of conversation exchanged in front of the owner of the house and except for the greetings customary among acquaintances.

Asked if at the time when the riflemen passed the village of Limbon in accordance with the orders of this province, the witness as well as his brothers ordered his soldiers that if on returning they did not stop after three shouts of those guarding the trenches being constructed, nor obey, they should be fired upon immediately, he answered that when the riflemen arrived at the house of the witness they were observed to have surrounded the said house, they were seen by almost all of the inhabitants of the village, and the officer leading the said soldiers, who was allegedly a Colonel, asked for permission to speak with him (Bonifacio) and when he (the colonel) came up the house he said he surrounded the house on account of the news he received in town that the men he was leading would be ambushed by the men of the witness at the Pass where they would go through; but when he realized that the news was false, seeing that no one was lying in waif for him there and the men were in their respective houses, the said Colonel apologized for his having surrounded the house and he was forgiven by the witness. This (incident) was disregarded by the witness, it being considered the fabrication of secret agents or of the enemy, so that the Colonel was not allowed to leave until he had sat down at their table, and when they (the Colonel and his men) said that their mission was to reconnoiter they were given packs of cigarettes and they parted peacefully; but shortly after his departure, one of the soldiers of the witness said that a trench in the outer area was closed allegedly on orders of the officer of the soldiers who had passed and that he had left instructions that no one should be allowed to go out among the soldiers of th witness. The next thing said by the man who came was that the guns of the soldiers who had gone out were seized from them, houses were entered into, and everyone said to be the men of the witness were told to come down. In this matter, in order to understand the truth of these charges and also to know the reasons for the seizure of arms and the arrest of the witness’ men, the witness ordered, through some persons who came to the place where the witness was waiting, someone to go to the said trenches which were closed in order to ask him about the reason and the matter concerning the seizure of arms and the arrest of people, and when this person did not return the witness thrice sent orders, through one named Captain Martin, a native of Silang, to Santos Nokon, and at around ten o’clock at night, Mr. Dorong Puti was sent, to all of whom no answer was given except firmness which gave no satisfaction, and the next day five Mauser shots were fired from the trenches of the soldiers of the said Colonel Yntong (Agapito Bonzon), which was not answered even once by the soldiers of the witness. Shortly after this the trenches were topped and these were surrounded by riflemen and bolomen, accompanied by the officer, Yntong, and others, when this was observed by the witness he ordered in a loud voic tohis commander who was named Benito Torres that no one should open fire in accordance with the shouts of those coming that they were brothers and to let the officers hold talks; they were allowed by the witness to approach but when they had already approached they aimed their guns at all the soldiers in the trenches and seized the arms of everyone, and after having done this, they started shouting that the shameless Supremo who had fled with our money must come out and present himself, and when the witness appeared and presented himself, he rushed and hugged the soldiers he met and shouted to his brothers that he had perpetrated no shameless deed and that he was not absconding with somebody else’s money. In answer to these words he was fired upon on orders of someone who appeared to be a commander, a thin man, but this shot only winged the witness on the shoulder and the bullet struck a man dressed in dinampol, who was standing behind the witness. This was what the witness shouted to the brothers: Look whom you are killing, your fellow-Tagalogs. This was disregarded and they continued firing at the same time until the witness fell, and when he fell he was stabbed on the throat by one of the officers. This is all that can be stated in the named of God and of the nativeland, which can be verified and attested to by the people living there, and perhaps by a few officers and men under Colonel Yntong also. Aside from this, they confiscated all the clothes they owned and the little money they had with them was seized besides and fact that Colonel Yntong tried to force the wife of the witness, according to the one testifying to this, to go up an unoccupied house with the intention of dishonoring her. Thanks to the mediation of some of the brother-officers of Colonel Yntong this did not happen. Likewise, when they were already in the town of Yndan (Indang), the aforementioned commander appeared again and tried to take by force the wife who was looking after the witness. Thanks to the pleading of the witness with Tomas Mascardo, who suddenly appeared, the wife was not taken.

Asked what the arms of the witness and his brothers were, he answered that he had one revolver which had not been lessened by even one bullet, and one poniard; regarding his brothers, in the melee he did not see what arms they had.

Asked if the witness together with his brothers fired at the soldiers of this province, he answered that the gun of the witness, the aforementioned revolver, had not been fired as evidenced the bullets in it; regarding his brothers’ arms these had been seized by the soldiers of Colonel Yntong before the shooting took place.

Asked if he know of if he had reports that even when the soldiers of this government had not yet approached the trenches being guarded by the soldiers of the witness, two soldiers were killed because of gunshots fired from the said trenches, he answered that he knew nothing aside from the two killed in the trenches, from where they were taken by those who carried them to the hospital.

Asked if the witness remembered that he was one of those who met at the Estate House of Tejeros in order to elect a President of the Archipelago, and the witness having understood the matter, answered yes.

Then he was asked if at that meeting Mr. Emilio Aguinaldo came out President; he answered that at that meeting there was confusion as everybody who was there knew and nothing came out of it except to render invalid what had been discussed there by almost all of the Ministers of Magdiwang and even the elected General-in-Chief of the Tagalog Region, Mr. Artemio Ricarte, attested to the truth in a document which states that the election was held through foul means because the true will of the citizens was not followed, so that he could not say that in this meeting Mr. Emilio Aguinaldo became President of the Archipelago.

Asked if the aforementioned Mr. Aguinaldo, because of his election as President of the Archipelago, took the oath of office, the witness, on understanding it, answered that he did not know.

Asked if he knew where Mr. Diego Moxika (Mojica) and Mr. Ariston Villanueva lived, he answered that he left them in the town of Yndan (Indang), but that he did not know the housed where they are staying.

This document was ordered closed and after reading and attesting to its truth he signed it and I, the Secretary, attest to the truth of this.



What could Andres’s counsel, Placido Martinez, add to the statement to improve Andres’s chances of acquittal?
With Bonifacio's defense, how would the Council of War decide?
(To be continued)

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Part Two of the Famous Trial of Andres Bonifacio: The Testimony of Pedro Giron

In Part One of this Famous Trials Series, we had an inside view of the proceedings in the Tejeros Convention based on the memoirs of Artemio Ricarte, the secretary of the meeting during the elections. Then, we noted Andres’s efforts to nullify the proceedings with the signing of the Acta de Tejeros and the Naic Military Agreement. We concluded with the arrest of Andres and Procopio Bonifacio in Indang, Cavite.

The Government’s Story

The arrest of Andres and Procopio Bonifacio and the death of their brother Ciriaco are matters that were themselves in issue, along with the charges of treason and sedition against the brothers, in the trial that followed.

The report of General Mariano Noriel (a signatory to the Naik Military Agreement) to Emilio Aguinaldo laid down the version of the Revolutionary Government, as follows:

“Honorable and Eminent President:

“I should like to inform Your Excellency of the report given me by Colonel Agapito Bonzon, who was ordered to Indang together with our soldiers, on the matter regarding the Supremo, and this is no other than what follows.

“When he met the said Supremo, he used on him sweet words in order to convince him to accept his well-meant invitation, but in spite of this he was not able to soften the hard heart, which, besides refusing it, behaved like a real enemy and ordered his soldiers to open fire, which our side returned; for this reason, the unfortunate shedding of blood came to pass, a thing which he (Bonzon) would not have wished to happen on account of his love for the brothers; but in the pursuit of his duty, he deemed it proper to pursue this line of action and, consequently, paid with the lives of a rifleman from Imus and a boloman from Gargano (Bakood); however, they were able to kill a brother of the Supremo and the latter they left in the Tribunal of Indang in a somewhat serious condition because of the wound he had received in the throat; they were able to capture the twenty riflemen with him and a brother of the said Supremo.

Regarding this occurrence, it is up to your good judgment to determine just how grave is the erroneous and treasonable thought of Andres Bonifacio.

May the Lord God keep us safe for many years. Maguagi (Naik) twenty-eight of April one thousand eight-hundred and ninety-seven.
(From the translation of Virginia Palma-Bonifacio as it appears in Teodoro Agoncillo’s Writings and Trial of Andres Bonifacio and cited by Justice Abraham Sarmiento’s The Trial of Andres Bonifacio: the Appeal, published in 2005 by the UP Press. This is the basis for most quotations of this entry.)

Aguinaldo endorsed the case to the Council of War. Colonel Pantaleon Garcia began the investigation with Lazaro Makapagal as secretary. From April 29 to May 4, 1897, the Council of War took testimonies of the trial.

The Evidence

The inventory of guns seized from Bonifacio consisted of 28 firearms. The testimonies of the following people were obtained: Benito Torres, Nicolas de Guzman, Rafael Non, Narciso Tiolo, Julia Aguila, Cayetano Lopez, Biviano Roxas, Domingo Deulaso, Domingo San Juan, and Gervacio Santiago. Most of these testimonies, however, were remotely relevant, if at all, to the charges against the Bonifacio Brothers. The testimonies of the above witnesses did not support the allegation that the Bonifacio Brothers were plotting against the Revolutionary Government. Benito Torres testified, though, that in Limbon, Indang Cavite, Ciriaco was the first to fire against the government soldiers.

The Testimony of Pedro Giron

The testimony that stood out was that of Pedro Giron, another one of the signatories to the Naic Military Agreement that placed the revolutionary forces under the command of General Pio del Pilar. His statement based on the original transcription of Lazaro Makapagal and translated in the book of Teodoro Agoncillo was as follows:

“Barracks at Naik, the thirtieth day of the month of April of the year one thousand eight hundred and ninety-seven. Before the Colonel Judge Advocate and myself, the Secretary, appeared the person of Pedro Giron, single, twenty-seven years of age, native of the town of Baliuag, and in order to conduct the proper investigation, he stated the following:

“He was asked: If the one testifying knew that here in this province there is a Government, and if this Government had an army; having understood the question, he answered that there is a Government and an Army.

“He was asked: If Andres Bonifacio had authority here in the Province and, because of this, if the said Andres should properly have an Army; having understood the question, he answered that he knows of no authority coming from this Government.

“He was asked: How many were the guns of Mr. Andres Bonifacio and also how many were his soldiers; he answered that he does not know how many were the guns and the soldiers of Mr. Andres Bonifacio, for the one testifying, in his opinion, was being passed off as one of the soldiers of Mr. Andres, although he did not want to be one of them because he knows that Mr. Andres had evil intentions ever since the meeting held in the town of Tanza regarding the election of a President and other officials; one day, the date of which he could not remember, in the town of Malabon, Andres Bonifacio told him, Let us leave this place because the officials lead badly, so the good thing is for you to join me and you will be better off because, without fail, power would become his (Bonifacio’s), since he was the one who started the fight for freedom; one day when all the forces from the town of Tanza were already in this town, which, in his estimate, was already about twenty days later, more or less, Andres Bonifacio had the one testifying summoned, and when he arrived in the house where he was, Bonifacio said, What will become of us here? But even then, inasmuch as he was the one in power, Kapitan Emilio (Aguinaldo) would be forced to submit to him and should he disobey, he would have him killed, so on that very day the one testifying was given ten pesos as payment to kill Kapitan Emilio if he does not yield to his authority and he told the one testifying that any time, so long as he carries out his wishes, he will not neglect to give anything that might be needed; in this regard, thinking this would end in trouble, he separated from Mr. Andres and he went to Buenavista in Malabon and to Pasong Kauayan with a few soldiers of Malabon on the excuse that he was going to get a number of infantrymen who were his fellow townsmen and acquaintances in the towns of Silang, P. DasmariƱas, Malabon and Tanza; the one testifying also knows that Mr. Andres was assembling soldiers because if, as he said, our troops would be defeated, he would take them out with him, and if they would not be defeated, he would then stay here because everybody would be forced to submit to his authority, so he induced a few of the officers here to join him; in truth, the one testifying knows that a number of the soldiers of Mr. Andres were the ones asking that they leave in order to avoid trouble of any kind, but Andres would not accede to this, replying to the one who presented the proposal that if this should happen and we depart then many will say that he had taken fright and submitted completely to the authority of the few who are in power here.

“He was asked: If everything stated in his answer to the third question was known to the two brothers of Mr. Andres Bonifacio, Ciriaco and Procopio, or if they were privy to it; having understood the question, he answered, No.

“He was asked: If he knew that at the house which was occupied by Mr. Andres Bonifacio at Limbon, there had been meetings, at what time these had been held, and what had been talked about, and who were the people meeting there; having understood the question, he answered that he knows meetings were always being held, that he could not recognize these people because he is not from this place and also does not know what they were conferring about.

“He was asked again: If the one testifying knew where the food of the soldiers of Mr. Andres Bonifacio came from, and who were the persons giving them food; he answered that he does not know where it came from.

“He was asked: If the one testifying had anything more to say besides what he had already said; having understood the question, he answered that very early the previous Wednesday he was at Limbon, and at the time of the shooting between the soldiers of this Government and the three Bonifacio brothers, because of his desire that such a thing should not happen, the one testifying placed himself in the middle to influence, perhaps by his good argument and sweet persuasion, Ciriaco Bonifacio who not only refuse to be restrained but also discharged his gun, causing the death of the two soldiers of the Government; in this regard he thought they could not be pacified and he shouted, Brothers, we are not enemies; find out who are the ones who do not want peace. This examination was ordered stopped, so that after it had been read to him and certified, the Judge Advocate then signed and also the one testifying, and I, the Secretary, attest to the truth of this. Between the lines: one day: at Limbon:


For the part of the accused, Procopio Bonifacio testified, among others, that he was not resisting and was in fact surrendering his firearm. He was not aware of the existence of the Revolutionary Government, and learned of it only from passers-by.

Gregoria de Jesus, Bonifacio’s wife, testified likewise, that Colonel Bonzon’s men started the fighting on April 26. No meetings took place. She did not know that there is a President of the archipelago. She also testified that Col. Yntong Bonzon attempted to abuse her.

How did Andres Bonifacio answer the charges against him? How did his counsel Placido Martinez defend him? In the face of this evidence, how did the Court Martial justify its decision?

(To be continued)

Wednesday, November 16, 2005


(Part One)

Did Andres Bonifacio order Pedro Giron to assassinate Emilio Aguinaldo for ten pesos? Did Emilio Aguinaldo get lawfully elected as President of the First Republic? Could Bonifacio have committed treason against a government that was repudiated by an overt act of the same persons who who participated in its creation? It has been more than a century after Andres Bonifacio’s trial, and we still ask the same questions. To commemorate the birth anniversary of Andres Bonifacio on the 30th of this month, I am posting the multi-part series on the Trial of Andres Bonifacio, founder of the Katipunan. More background material on Andres Bonifacio may be found here.

The Tejeros Convention

We begin our story on March 22, 1897. Cavite was liberated by the victorious but divided revolutionary forces, the Magdalo Wing, led by Baldomero Aguinaldo, and the Magdiwang Wing led by Mariano Alvarez. The Tejeros Convention was called originally by the Magdiwang faction to find out how the Magdalo controlled towns could be better fortified, as the Spanish Army began retaking the towns liberated by the revolutionary forces. The meeting took place in the Tejeros Estate, and first presided over by Jacinto Lumbreras.

Severino de los Alas rose at the start to the session to question the agenda. Wouldn’t it be better to determine first the kind of government existing in the country as upon that government would depend whatever defense might be needed? Lumbreras replied, it was a non-issue. The country is ruled by the supreme council of the Katipunan. Andres Bonifacio, founder of the Katipunan and head of the Supreme Council, spoke and supported Lumbreras. The “K” in the KKK means Kalayaan (Liberty). De la Alas argued, the “K” in the flag is irrelevant to the issue. Is the country a monarchy or a republic? That is the question. Bonifacio replied that the Katipuneros recognized the principles of Union, Fraternity and Equality. Clearly, the government of the Katipunan was a republic.

At this time, the hotheads appeared to be steaming, as Antonio Montenegro spoke to support de las Alas, and in a louder voice claimed that unless some definite understanding was arrived at, the insurgents were mere groups of tulisanes or much worse, brutes. With glaring eyes, Santiago Alvarez stood up, and addressed Montenegro: “We insurgents of Cavite especially of the Magdiwang government recognize and obey the government established by the Katipunan; if you wish to establish any other kind of government more suited to your fancy, retire to your province and conquer territory from the Spanish government as we have done here, and establish there whatever government you like, and no one will interfere with you. We Cavitenos do not need anyone of your caliber as an instructor. “

A commotion ensued. The session went on recess with the Magdiwang guards of Alvarez assuming a threatening attitude against Montenegro’s group. An hour later, heads have cooled down. Andres Bonifacio called the meeting to order. Lumbreras did not want to preside, because the agenda had been changed. Artemio Ricarte (Vibora) took the minutes of the continuation of the meeting.

Andres Bonifacio agreed to the call for the election of a new government on one condition: all must recognize the principle that they respect and obey the decision or vote of the majority. Everyone agreed, and the first elections of the First Republic took place.

The Elections

Before taking a vote, Andres Bonifacio called the attention of the electors to the fact that whoever should be elected by a majority vote should be respected and obeyed, whatever his social status and whatever his degree of culture might be; that is to say even though he should be a casillero (toilet cleaner).

In the following elections, Emilio Aguinaldo was voted President over Andres Bonifacio and Mariano Trias. Santiago Alvarez suggested that Andres Bonifacio be considered the Vice-President having garnered the second highest number of votes as President. No one commented on his suggestion.

The elections continued with Vibora getting elected as Captain General. He protested claiming he was not qualified. But his protests were ignored as the voting continued, this time no longer by balloting. Instead, those who favored any person for a position were made to stand on one side, and those who favored other persons were made to stand on the other, in order to shorten the process as night was falling. Elected in this manner was Emiliano Riego de Dios, Director of War.

Thereafter, the elections for Director of Interior proceeded with Andres Bonifacio getting more people to stand on his side over Mariano and Pascual Alvarez. In the midst of the acclamation for Andres, Daniel Tirona spoke, “The position of Minister of Interior is a very important one and should not be occupied by a person who is not a lawyer. We have in our province a lawyer Jose del Rosario; hence we must protest against the election of the persons elected and acclaimed.” Then he cried “Let us vote for Jose del Rosario, the lawyer!”

Bonifacio rose to his feet and said, “Have we not agreed that we shall obey the will of the majority, whatever might be the social position of the person elected?” He asked Daniel Tirona to repeat what he said or apologize to the assembly for the insult offered to the person elected for up to that time none of those elected was fitted by the reason of his culture for the position to which he had been designated. Tirona hid himself among the crowd, as Bonifacio drew his gun on Tirona, but Vibora seized Bonifacio’s hand and the incident passed without further ado. As the people were about to leave the room, Bonifacio declared, “I, as President of the session and also as president of the supreme council of the Katipunan as you all know, declare this assembly closed, and annul everything that has been done therein.” He then left the room followed by his group. (The above was based on the memoirs of Artemio Ricarte a.k.a. Vibora)

The Acta de Tejeros

The following day, Bonifacio, Mariano Alvarez, Vibora, Diego Moxica and forty four others signed the Acta de Tejeros. declaring among others, that the elections held the day before invalid for lack of legality as the ballots were prepared by one person and distributed to unqualified persons to ensure majority.

That night, however, Emilio Aguinaldo took his oath of office in Sta. Cruz de Malabon.

The Naic Military Agrement

On April 19, 1897, Bonifacio led the signing of the Naic Military Agreement, which placed the entire revolutionary army under General Pio del Pilar. The agreement was signed by 44 generals and leaders including, General Pio del Pilar and one Pedro Giron. Full text of the Agreement may be found here.

Aguinaldo arrived at Naic and caught up with Bonifacio, Gen. Pio de Pilar and Gen. Mariano Noriel. Bonifacio with his two bothers then tried to make their way to Batangas, where a rival government had been set up for him to lead. In a letter to Emilio Jacinto dated April 2, 1897, Andres claimed that the Batangas provisional government was placed under his orders.

The Arrest

On April 26, 1897, Aguinaldo ordered Bonifacio’s arrest to Colonel Agapito Bonzon for “treason and other acts inimical to the safety and existence of the fledgling Republic.”

On April 27, 1897, the three Bonifacio brothers were captured in Indang, Cavite. Ciriaco was killed, and Andres and Procopio were taken to Naic for trial. Bonifacio was carried in a hammock, his left arm shot and neck wounded with a dagger. Soon after, Naic fell to Spanish hands, thus Aguinaldo moved his government to Maragondon where the trial of Andres and Procopio was held.

What really happened in Indang? What were the charges against Bonifacio? What were the evidence?
(To be continued)

Part Two

Part Three
Part Four
Part Five
Part Six
La Vida Lawyer Notes

Thursday, November 10, 2005

How will Gloria play her cards in the event of a diplomatic crisis?

Six US servicemen on "R and R" in Subic. A young lady in a karaoke bar. A van driven by a Filipino driver. The servicemen and the lady get inside the van. She emerges later almost unconscious and cries rape. The six servicemen say she was a prostitute. What do we have here? Stuff that could trigger a diplomatic crisis for Georgie and Gloria. I would leave the arguments to the lawyers and the activists, and indulge instead in a useless speculation on what's to happen next.

Scenario 1. The six servicemen are allowed to leave the country before trial begins. Georgie tells Gloria, "I'm sorry Gloria, we don't trust your system."

How will Gloria react?

Scenario 2. The six servicemen stay in the country, but the trial drags on beyond the one year deadline under the VFA because the judge is always sick. Sometimes, its the fiscal who gets sick, sometimes its the stenographer. And the case is archived as the six servicement leave for Japan. Georgie tells Gloria, "It's your fault, your judge is too slow."

How will Gloria react?

Scenario 3. The six servicemen stay in the country, tried for one year, get convicted and sentenced to die. Georgie tells Gloria. "Absolute pardon or you will have coup. Your system sucks."

How will Gloria react?

Scenario 4. The six servicemen get acquitted. Georgie tells Gloria, "Let's put this behind us. This should not ruin our long standing relationship, in general, and the VFA, in particular."

How will Gloria react?

Scenario 5: The complainant withdraws her complaint, and the six servicemen leave. Georgie tells Gloria, "it wasn't rape after all. I don't want a repetition of this episode in the future. You should give ID cards to your prostitutes."

How will Gloria react?

How I wish in each of these scenarios she would stand up to that smirk and give him a smack in the face, "This is about justice. George. The dignity of our women and the sovereignity of our laws."

Unfortunately, she is on national security mode, which means I will not get my wish. Instead, she'd probably send Mike Defensor again to make sure things get fixed.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Who are the People in your Neigborhood? Meet Mr. Congressman

We needed a bridge for a local barangay. So, we approached the congressman. This is how the conversation went.

"Sorry Padre. I cannot give you your request on that bridge that you need. Our CDF has shrunk to PHP 40 Million. That's not as good as the good old days." Mr. Congressman (Mr. C) said.

I nodded, feigning understanding of what he meant, but giving him the look as if to ask, how do you plan to run in the next elections then?

Mr. C added, "Although, out of the PHP 40 Million, they said PHP 20 Million is for "soft" projects and the other PHP 20 Million for "hard" projects. The local executives are far better than the congressmen these days. They have better funding than congressmen."

I asked, "What do you mean soft and hard?"

Mr C. said, "Hard means actual projects that could be gauged. Soft means funding support for NGO's, foundations and the like. Yung soft pwede mong pitikin kahit kalahati. Sabihin na nating S. O. P. is 50 percent. So out of the PHP 20 Million for soft projects I can get PHP 10 Million. It's still low but not bad.

I gave him the dumb look I give to talkative witnesses on cross-examination. "Pitikin? Fifty percent S.O.P. ?" I didn't know crooks knew poetry.

He continued, " But considering all the people who come to me for money, that PHP 10 Million could be easily spent. Just the other day, the barangay captain of B______ came to me asking for PHP 15 thousand pesos for travelling expenses of his daugther who is supposed to attend a seminar somehere. How do you think I could get out of that extortion try? I told him I'd shoulder half if he shouldered the other half. That bastard, for all I know, he needed only PHP 7,500, and was just trying to make money on me.

I nodded yes, what did the old proverb say "Galit ang magnanakaw sa..?" So much for the bridge.

Monday, October 24, 2005

Atty. Mak, if calling for snap elections is illegal, tell me what's not?

Is appointing a fixer as COMELEC COMMISSIONER illegal?
Is buying election returns illegal?
is kidnapping an election official's family to compel her to cheat for a candidate illegal?
Is bribing military officers to make them cooperate in election fraud illegal?
Is transferring a general who refuse to cooperate in the cheating illegal?
Is the use of government funds for midnight projects that promote an incumbent's re-election illegal?
Is bribing COMELEC officials with envelopes containing PHP 30,000 in Arroyo's La Vista house illegal?
Is calling the COMELEC COMMISSIONER to get an update on the cheating illegal?

You're saying that calling for a snap elections to undo all the evil schemes your famous client did is illegal? Yes, maybe you're right . After all, what does the people's voice have to do with elections. So long as your client can pay and force people to vote for her, real elections can never be legal. For indeed, when the law of the land is power, giving voice to the powerless is illegal.

By the way, you should update your resume, Mr. Election Law Expert. You should add another specialty to your resume: coup d'etat. And when you retire with all that legal fees you get from representing whom Dean Jorge Bocobo refers to as the Moral Midgets, please write us the book on how to turn an elections into a coup d'etat. It must be an interesting read.

Monday, October 10, 2005

Why do I like Buble?

Michael Buble is no Frank Sinatra. I don't even think Buble can do justice to Matt Monro's "Speak Softly Love", the only other singer that Frank considered worth listening to. But here I am finally convinced to dish out hard-earned cash for original CD's of Buble's two albums. I ripped them on Itunes and now they're playing on the Ipod Nano.

Well, Buble has the precise diction, the clear words rolling from note to note, and the big band sound that reminds me of my care free days as a child of the 70s. But I yearn for the depth and roundness of the Chairman of the Board's voice. Buble simply does not have it. Perhaps, it was a mistake to expect that Buble can measure up to the Chairman of the Board. Surely, there must be another reason why I like Buble?

i was singing along Buble's version of the Summerwind, when I realized why. Buble is the first baritone to finally make it big again since the time Lou Rawls and Nonoy Zuniga were pushed out of the airwaves by Michael Jackson and the rest of those high-pitched male pop singers. I really hated it when I went to videoke bars, and found that I could only sing old Sinatra songs, because Top 40 male songs were, more often than not, sung by tenors and some in falsetto voices too. Finally, baritones are fashionable again, and the next time I take the microphone in the videoke bar, my wife will have no reason to tease me for singing old-fashioned Sinatra songs. Indeed, thanks to Buble, Sinatra songs are Top 40 again.

Monday, October 03, 2005

De Quiros: I refuse (Part II)

"...I demand to know what moral authority you have to conscript my loyalty as a citizen. As I said a couple of months ago, I refuse to give it. I refuse to be a good citizen to a bad president. "Bad" in the sense of lame or fake-my apologies to the lame and fake. I refuse to serve, I refuse to defend, I refuse to pay my taxes. Feel free to consider me a destabilizer. I was, I am, I will always be. If I weren't so, you would never have tasted the power you now use so wantonly.

Feel free to arrest me as well. I can always admit that anxious as I was to protect my country, I called up people who sounded like Jojo Binay. For this:

I... am...not...sorry."

More here

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Why it's hard to do business in the Phils

A client of ours, a wholesaler and retailer of computer parts and accessories, received a subpoena from the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) for violating the Radio Control Law. How a computer wholesaler and retailer can fall under the weak arms of the NTC puzzled me for a moment until I read the charges.

Apparently, under the Radio Control Law, retailers of Bluetooth devices and WIFI routers and WIFI capable laptops should register with the NTC before they can sell these devices. I browsed at the requirements for registration, and two items stuck out as unreasonable. The NTC is requiring that the shops should employ a supervising licensed Electronics Communications Engineer (ECE) and a technician with a first class radiotelephone operator’s certificate. My client blurted out that this is crazy, because USB devices and WIFI routers are incidental items in computer retailing, and for them to be required to hire a full-time ECE and radio technician for these incidental items is too burdensome. Indeed, there is no argument that Bluetooth devices and WIFI routers should be registered with the NTC. But to require retailers to hire fulltime ECE’s and radio technicians? That’s really going to push prices for these computer peripherals upwards. Either that or the computer retailers will take Bluetooth devices and WIFI gadgets out of their inventories and push them over to the radio retailers (if you can find any). So if you are going to buy a computer, you will buy it with the computer shop, but if you want Bluetooth or WIFI, you have to find a licensed radio retailer, who must employ an ECE and a radio technician to sell you Bluetooth and WIFI.

Why is it hard to do business in the Philippines? Too. Much. Government.

Monday, September 19, 2005

Where's the Motion for Reconsideration on the EVAT TRO from the Gov't?

Don't believe Bunye when he says that GMA blah blah blah wants to implement the EVAT immediately.

I read the Supreme Court decision on the EVAT law constitutionlaity. The last line is the real curious item. It says,

"There being no constitutional impediment to the full enforcement and implementation of R.A. No. 9337, the temporary restraining order issued by the Court on July 1, 2005 is LIFTED upon finality of herein decision."

I find this really weird, because normally a temporary restraining order is lifted immediately, if there is a finding that there is no basis for its issuance, without waiting for the finality of the decision. The TRO was issued earlier, because there was a cloud of doubt, as it were, that the EVAT law is unconstitutional. But with the decision that the law is constitutional, then the cloud has been removed. So why does the TRO hold?

To the non-lawyers, think of a TRO as quick-fix drug. The doctor gives it to you, if it looks like you are sick. But if it turns out that you are not, the drug is immediately withdrawn from you. No need to wait for a final decision. In the case of the EVAT law case, it seems the quick fix drug has not been withdrawn, even if the doctor says we're perfectly well.

Geez, I just don't know if I I can cite this case in the future.

That is why when Bunye claims that "She (GMA) is determined to have the TRO issued by the Supreme Court lifted as soon as possible," we know that is pure hot air. The Government should have filed its own Motion for Reconsideration for the lifting of the TRO, as discussed above if it really meant to have the law implemented. Having that last line is all they need to have reversed. The last line must have been an oversight. Jurisprudence can surely back up the Motion. But where is the Motion Mr. Bunye?

An idea hit me the other day. What if every Filipino taxpayer intervenes in the case and files a Motion for Reconsideration? it will take forever for the Supreme Court clerks to file those pleadings in the docket, and it will effectively keep the decision from maturing into finality. It will also delay the lifting of the TRO perpetually. Well. it might work. But if I start it, I would definitely get a show cause order from the Bar Confidant for clogging the dockets and fomenting suits.

Don't get me wrong. I don't want the tax measure implemented, especially when I know it is intended to cover the shortfall in the budget that was partly brought about by lavish government spending for the re-election of the sitting President. But if the law is valid, then it should not be suspended. If it's a bad law, then the people responsible for its passage should get the bad press, regardless of the political weather. I hate it when laws become unpredictable. It makes me think that our people are not worthy of the sacrifices of our heroes who fought for self-government. Bonifacio must be turning in his grave (whereever it may be.)

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Famous Trials of the Philippines: The Gomburza Trial of 1872

Today we begin a series on Famous Trials of the Philippines. This is not intended as a scholarly study of these trials but rather a mere re-telling of what has been written about these trials. In the future, I hope to build these trials their own sites, complete with graphics and pictures. But for now, it will be a series of blog entries. Inspiration of course is from Prof. Doug Linder's Famous Trials site.


Any discussion on famous trials of the Philippines can only begin with the trial of Fr. Mariano Gomez, Fr. Jose Burgos and Fr. Jacinto Zamora, (GOMBURZA). The case stemmed from the Cavite Mutiny, an event best described as an overnight disturbance, but which event led to the trial and execution of the three secular priests in the last few decades of the Spanish era in the Philippines. Historians marked the day of their execution as the day when the term “Filipino” became ingrained in the minds of the citizens of colonial Philippines leading to the advent of the Propaganda Movement in Spain, and eventually the Philippine Revolution of 1896. Rizal himself admitted that were it not for the three martyr priests, he would not been part of the Propaganda Movement and would have been a Jesuit priest instead. In spite of its significance, however, the proceedings of the trial have been kept hidden for many years. Fr. John Shumacher, a Jesuit historian, claims that until the present an objective history of the trial cannot be made until the trial records in Segovia, Spain are released to researchers. In 1896, at the start of the Philippine Revolution and twenty-four years after the trial and execution of the three martyr priests, members of the Katipunan extracted testimonies from captured friars who testified that the whole thing was a set-up. Considering, however, that the testimonies were extracted under duress, historians have argued on the credibility of the story.

The Cavite Mutiny

It is the late 19th century, and one of the key issues of the day is the secularization of parishes. Can the parishes be entrusted to the care of the local clergy? Fr. Burgos and Fr. Gomez championed the rights of the Filipino secular clergy to become the parish priests of local parishes over the claims of friars. Fr. Burgos was outspoken in his quest, and even wrote to newspapers in Spain for this cause. His insistence of secularization irritated the friars who belittled the abilities of the Filipino clergy to govern the parishes. Fr. Burgos's outspoken disposition on this issue even merited a warning from the Jesuit provincial, that should Fr. Burgos continue to speak and write about the secularization issue in public, Fr. Burgos may not turn to the Jesuits for help.

The story begins with the arrival in Manila in 1871 of General Rafael Izquierdo y Gutierrez. On the day he assumed control of the colonial government, he declared that “ I shall govern with a cross and the sword in hand.” Whatever he meant by that, it seemed that the emphasis was on the sword.

At that time, the Spanish government subjected the natives to forced labor and the payment of an annual tribute. The workers assigned to the navy yard and the artillery engineers and the arsenal of Cavite, however, were exempt from these obligations. These artisans were chosen from the infantrymen of the navy. They did not have any rank while they render service to the army. But General Izquierdo changed all that when he issued an edict removing these privileges, requiring them to pay tax and render forced labor, and removing from them the rights acquired from retirement. This edict is believed to have caused widespread dismay among those affected who staged the mutiny.

Soon after the publication of the order, forty infantry solders of the navy and artillerymen led by a certain Sergeant Lamadrid seized the Fort of San Felipe in Cavite. Sergeant Lamadrid and his band of mutineers killed the officials who resisted. At ten o’clock in the evening when the rebels entered the fort, the rebels fired a cannon to announce victory to the city. But at dawn, the following morning, the rebels failed to get the support of the soldiers who remained loyal to their regiment. From atop the walls, the rebels called loyal soliders, induced them with promises to make them join the movement, but nothing proved successful. Instead, the regiment hurried to prepare an attack on the rebels, which caused the mutineers to hide in the fort, hoping that Manila would send the rebels help, but none came.

Instead, a column composed of two regiments of infantrymen and one brigade of artillerymen with four cannons came from Manila to quell the rebellion. After a few preliminary assaults, which were not successful, the loyal forces decided to force the surrender of the mutineers by starving them, as it turned out that Fort San Felipe did not have any provisions. With the blockade in force, the mutineers realized their doom and flew the white flag over the walls of the fort.

In spite of the white flag being flung by the rebels, the loyal forces decided to divide into two groups to prepare for the assault of the fort. While this was being done, the principal gate of the fort was opened, and a small group of rebels carrying the flag of truce stepped out. The loyal forces allowed the rebels to take fifteen steps. When the rebels were near enough, the Spanish commander ordered his soldiers to fire. Nobody among the small group that stepped out survived. Thereafter, the loyal forces assaulted the fort, firing shots as they entered it. The rebels offered very little resistance, as the mutiny was completely suppressed.

The aftermath of the mutiny was a mass purging of people who have been suspected of having led or supported it. On the day the news of the uprising was received in Manila, the Governor-General immediately caused the arrest of prominent priests and civilians as conspirators of the mutiny. Among them were Fr. Jose Burgos, Fr. Zamora, (curate and co-curate of the Manila Cathedral), Fr. Gomez (curate of Bacoor), D. Agustin Mendoza (curate of Sta. Cruz), Don Feliciano Gomez, Don Antonio Regidor (eminent lawyer and municipal councilor), Joaquin Pardo de Tavera (counsellor of the administration), Don Enrique Paraiso, D. Pio Basa (old employees), Don Jose Basan, Maximo Paterno, Crisanto Reyes, Ramon Maurente and many others.

The Trial

The sergeants and soldiers taken prisoners at the fort were court martialed and immediately shot, some in Manila and others in Cavite. Soldiers of the marine infantry had their sentences commuted to ten years of hard labor in Mindanao. Meanwhile, the clerics, lawyers, businessmen accused were tried by a special military court. Appointed fiscal of the government was a commandant of the infantry, a future governor of the province, Manuel Boscaza. The defenders were some officers of the infantry who were given only 24 hours to prepare their defenses.

The rebels were charged with the crime of proclaiming the advent of a republic in agreement with the ideas of the leaders of the progressive parties of the Peninsula. During the trial, the principal witness was a certain Francisco Saldua, who testified that the mutiny was a conspiracy, and confessed that he was a part of if. He wished to be pardoned in exchange for his testimony. He testified that for three times he delivered messages to Fr. Jacinto Zamora, who had then gone to Burgos’s abode. Saldua said that Sergeant Lamadrid and one of the Basa Brothers told Saldua that the “government of Father Burgos” would bring the fleet of the United States to assist a revolution. He also testified that Ramon Maurente was financing it with 50,000 pesos, and Maurente would become the revolutions’ field marshal. Saldua also testified that the conspirators met at the home of Lorenzana.

Some military witnesses testified that they were told that should the uprising succeed, the president of the republic would be the parish priest of St. Peter. At that time, Burgos was the parish priest of the Manila Cathedral, which was known as St. Peter as a parish. Fr. Jacinto Zamora was his co-curate. Other military witnesses mentioned the name of Fr. Burgos, or the native curate of St. Peter, as the one who would be president, but likewise this knowledge was only heard by them from someone.

Enrique Genato testified that Fr. Burgos, Marcelo H. del Pilar, Regidor, Rafael Labra, Antonio Rojas and others spoke of clerics, wars, insurrections and rebellions at secret meetings. Marina Chua Kempo testified that she heard the conspirators speak of a general massacre of Spaniards and that Lamadrid, the leader of the mutiny, would be governor or captain general. Fray Norvel testified that the Creoles were inciting the people to rise up in arms against Spai, and that he saw Burgos passing subversive pamphlets.

Fr. Burgos’s landlady testified as a sort of character witness. She vouched that Fr. Burgos was a peaceful man, devout to the virgin, and with no liking for gossip. She said that others might talk of guns and cannons and cry “Fuera oficiales, canallas, envidiosos, malvados! or Viva Fiipinas libre, independiente!”. But Fr. Burgos would advise them to seek reforms without spilling of blood or the recourse of violence.

A curious piece of evidence was a note found in the belongings of Fr. Jacinto Zamora, a gambling and card game afficionado. The note said, “Big gathering. Come without fail. The comrades will come well provided with bullets and gunpowder.” (Nick Joaquin claims that this is a joke for bullets and gunpowder were idioms among card players to refer to gambling funds.)

Captain Fontivel, Fr. Burgos’s counsel, moved to dismiss the case for lack of evidence. But the Governor General rejected it and ordered the court martial continued. The defense then moved that Saldua be called to the stand. But the court claimed that Saldua was too ill to be called to the witness stand.

After eight hours of discussion, the Council of War condemned to die in the garrote the three priests Don Jose Burgos, Mariano Gomez, and Jacinto Zamora. Saldua was likewise sentenced to die. The others were either sentenced to ten years of hard labor or sent to the Marianas for a period ranging from two to eight years.

At 11 o’clock in the evening of February 15, 1872, the Council of War dictated the sentence and asked the accused if they had anything to say in their defenses. Burgos and Zamora expressed their innocence, maintaining that they had no relation with the rebels of Cavite and that there had been no positive evidence against them. The curate Gomez, an old man of seventy years, (Nick Joaquin claims he was 85) said that he was sure his judges would consider him innocent, but seeing that he was denied confrontation with his accusers, a lawyer for his defense chosen by himself, would be useless, the trial over, in influencing those who already decided that he was guilty. The accused were led to the military jail and on the following day, the sentence was pronounced on them by the Commissary of the government himself. As part of the sentence, the Governor General ordered the Archbishop to defrock the priests as has been the custom, but the archbishop refused to defrock the three martyrs until evidence of their guilt was presented to the archbishop. The evidence was never shown to the Archbishop.

The Execution

On February 16, 1872, a big crowd gathered to witness the execution. Saldua, with a smile on his lips for he thought that his pardon was forthcoming led the march. Saldua was followed by Burgos, who cried like a boy, bowing to friends as he recognized them from the crowd, and then Zamora -- who had gone mad and had a vague stare -- followed. Last in line was Father Gomez who with eyes wide open, head held high, blessed the natives who were kneeling along the road.

Saldua, expecting a pardon that never came, was the first to go to the scaffold. Then Fr. Gomez was called. Replying to his confessor, a Recollect, Fr. Gomez said, “Dear Father, I know very well that a leaf of a tree does not move without the Will of the Creator; inasmuch as He asks that I die in this place, may His will be done.” Minutes later, he was dead.

Fr. Zamora rose when his name was called. He had gone mad two days before and he died without a final word.

Fr. Burgos was the last to be called. Upon mounting the scaffold, he cried to Commissary Boscaza, “Gentlemen, I forgive you, and may God forgive you like I do.” Then he sat to his death chair.

Suddenly, he stood up and cried, “But what crime have I committed? Is it possible that I should die this way? My God, is there no more justice on earth?”

The friars went to him and obliged him to be seated again, begging him to die the Christian way. Fr. Burgos obeyed, and as he was being tied he rose exclaiming: “But I am innocent!”

“Jesus Christ was also innocent,” exclaimed one of the friars.

Then Fr. Burgos stopped resisting. Then the executioner knelt before the condemned man saying, “Father, forgive me if I have to kill you. I do not wish to do so.”

Fr. Burgos repleid, “My son, I forgive you, comply with your duty.”

Then the executioner did, and thereafter, Fr. Burgos was dead.

The natives who gathered to witness the event knelt and recited the prayer of the dying. The Spaniards who saw the reaction of the natives panicked and ran to the city walls of Intramuros.

The Aftermath

After the execution, the Spanish colonial government prohibited people from talking about the execution, and the records of the trial were kept from the public. Jose Rizal soon published the novel, Noli Me Tangere", the plotline of which includes a creole character, Crisostomo Ibarra, who was set up by the friars that led to his being charged with sedition by the authorities. Nick Joaquin says this was Rizal's allusion to the fate of the three martyrs.

On February 15, 1892, twenty years after the event, the La Solidaridad, the newspaper founded by the members of the Propaganda Movement, which included Jose Rizal, in Spain, published an account of the mutiny, trial, and the execution written by Edmund Plauchut, a Frenchman supposedly living in Manila at the time of the trial and execution, from whom most of the above narrative was derived.

A few months earlier Jose Rizal dedicated his second novel El Filibusterismo to the three martyred priests. Appearing on the cover of the novel is a picture of the three martyred priests.

Then in 1896, after achieving an early success as the Magdalo faction of the Revolution in Cavite, members of the Katipunan extracted a testimony from Fr. Agapito Echegoyen, a Recollect, who said that he learned from a fellow friar what really happened. He said that the heads of the friar orders had held a conference on how to get rid of Burgos and other leaders of the native clergy and had decided to implicate them in a seditious plot. A Franciscan friar disguised as a secular priest was sent with a lot of money to Cavite to foment mutiny, and negotiated with Saldua to denounce Burgos as the instigator of the uprising. Afterwards, the heads of the friar orders used a large bribe—“una fuerte suma de dinero” – to convince the Governor-General that Burgos should be arrested, tried, and condemned.

Another friar, Fr. Antonio Piernavieja said that a certain Fray Claudio del Arceo disguised himself as Father Burgos, went to Cavite to spread the idea of an uprising. When the mutiny was suppressed, the friars exerted pressure on the Governor General through his secretary and a lady with great influence on him, plus a gift of 40,000 pesos.


Fr. John N. Shumacher opines in his book, “The Making of A Nation: Essays on Nineteenth Century-Filipino Nationalism” published in 1991, that the testimonies of Fr. Agapito Echegoyen and Fr. Antonio Piernavieja on the alleged conspiracy against Fr. Burgos are not credible, because they were extracted while they were captives of the revolutionary army and made under duress. And perhaps, we can add that they were also hearsay. Thus, until we have a firsthand account of this alleged conspiracy, this question of whether the trial was a set up may not be put to rest. For if Burgos Gomez and Zamora were indeed innocent of any crime, what motive could we attribute to Governor General Izquierdo and his military trial court for having acted as such against the prominent priests? Or is it possible that the three martyr priests were just circumstantial victims of Spanish hysteria in the wake of the Cavite Mutiny?

Historians note that the significance of the trial of the three martyr priests lies in the fact that it marked the day that nationalism was born in the minds of the Filipinos. By today’s standards, the trial of the three martyr priests could hardly pass the basic tenets of due process. Clearly, the evidence against the three priests is at best hearsay, circumstantial, and by no means establishing any guilt beyond reasonable doubt. Thus, it can be said that Filipino nationalism may have been borne out of the cry for justice for the three martyr priests, but justice could not be obtained from the Spanish colonizers.

The foregoing accounts were taken from Edmund Plauchut’s article “The Philippine Islands” in La Solidaridad, February 15, 1892, and Nick Joaquin’s “How Filipino was Burgos?” in A Question of Heroes, published by the Filipinas Foundation in 1977 and reprinted recently by Anvil. Nick Joaquin based his trial accounts from Manuel Artigas who had copies of the trial records. Of course, Fr. Schumaker is saying that the authentic records are still in Segovia, Spain and prohibited from being disclosed to researchers. Finally, the date of execution has been officially marked on February 17, 1872 but according to the La Solidaridad and Edmund Plauchut, it took place on February 16, 1872.