Newsletter of the District
- Mar 2002
in the Philippines:
Revolution of 1898 : The Main Facts
Fr. Emerson Salvador
the XIXth century, Spain opened the Philippines to world trade and
that stimulated a remarkable progress in commerce, agriculture and
industry. Records show that foreign investors were permitted to
do business in Manila as early as 1809. This opened the way to material
prosperity and the Filipinos began to enjoy a higher standard of
living. The improvement of agriculture, the opening of Manila and
other ports to foreign commerce, the development of Manila as a
commercial center, easier and faster communication with Spain, increased
educational opportunities, and the offering of professional courses,
and so forth, led to the emergence of another elite among the native
population- the ilustrados. It was in this middle class that
liberalism was to take root in the Philippines. Up to that time,
the only career that enabled a Filipino to achieve some parity with
the conquistadores was to be a priest, the increase of educational
opportunities and professional courses opened new vistas for the
ambitious scions of the rising class of well-to-do families. However,
because of the religious values of the people, the priesthood still
remained an attractive and relatively fruitful career.
rise of the ilustrados would not caused the inquietude of
the friars were it not for the fact that many of them were being
influenced by liberal ideas emanating from the mother country. The
revolt in Spain, which had deposed Isabella II, succeeded in establishing
a Provisional Republic, which for about two years (1868-1870) put
liberalism in the saddle. Under the republic, General Carlos Maria
de la Torre, a fierce liberal, was appointed the Governor-General
of the Philippines. He encouraged free and open discussion of political
and social problems. He abolished strict censorship of the press.
He encouraged Filipinos to speak out boldly for the political rights.
He openly affirmed his support of the Filipinization of the clergy
and the secularization of the parishes held by the friars.
November of 1870, the Spanish Cortes elected a new constitutional
monarch (an Italian prince, Amadeo, who reigned only three years)
and six months later, brought a new Governor to the Philippines,
General Rafael de Izquierdo. He was completely opposed to the liberal
policies of his predecessor, and with the help of the monarchists
and the friars, he revived press censorship, curtailed political
discussions, and declared himself unsympathetic to secularization.
De la Torre’s tenure of office was short but it was just long enough
to wet the Filipinos’ appetite for their political and social rights.
The hands of the clock could not be turned back.
Cavite Mutiny of 1872 and the Execution of three Filipino Priests
20, 1872, about two hundred discontented Filipino soldiers and workers
at Cavite arsenal rose up in arms and killed their Spanish officers.
In two days the mutiny was smashed by the government troops. Since
there was evidence that the mutineers were in collusion with soldiers
in Manila, the whole matter was judged not merely a local revolt
but one aimed at the separation of the colony from Spain. The suspected
leaders were those believed to have been harboring liberal ideas.
Many masons were arrested, punished and exiled. Many Masonic Lodges
were forced to close and those that remained merely existed. General
Izquierdo caught by surprise the Lodge Espanola in Cebu,
while at work, and turned over to the court of justice all Masons
those arrested in that tragic event of 1872 were three priests,
Fathers Burgos, Gomez, Zamora. Father Jose Burgos was a Philippine-born
Spaniard and had been a student of the brilliant Filipino priest,
Dr. Pedro Pelaez who so ably championed the rights of the Filipino
clergy. After the death of Father Pelaez in 1863, Father Burgos
took up the torch for the Filipino clergy, and in 1864 anonymously
published a manifesto, which implored the righting of wrongs
done to Filipino priests who had proved loyal to Spaniards whose
moral and intellectual qualities were beyond question. When, in
the middle 1860’s, a Reform Committee of laymen and priests was
organized in Manila and Madrid to press for secularization of the
parishes, Father Burgos became leader of the sub-committee of the
clergy which also included Father Mariano Gomez and Father Jacinto
Zamora. At the time of his arrest, Father Burgos, 35 years of age,
was serving on the staff of the Manila Cathedral.
Gomez was a Chinese-Filipino mestizo. He was the curate of Bacoor
Cavite, when he was arrested, and about 73 years of age.
Zamora, 37 years of age, was serving as a curate of the Manila Cathedral
when he was arrested. His imprisonment and trial caused him to
lose his mind.
three priests were accused of having fomented the Cavite revolt.
The charges were supported by the perjured testimony of a man who
was connected with the Cavite mutiny and consequently they were
publicly garroted on February 17, 1872. The above public execution
created consternation, shock and scandal among the people. The refusal
of the Manila Archbishop to defrock them thereby expressed the Church’s
official doubt as to the guilt of the three priests. It was inevitable
that the friars would be blamed for their execution. The opinion
held universally by the Filipinos was that the friars were indeed
was difficult to ignore the racial implications of the execution.
The executed priests were called martyrs by the ilustrados
and other sympathizers. The line between anti-Spanish friar and
anti-Spaniard became thinner with dire results for Spanish sovereignty.
above event represents a recognizable stage in anticlericalism in
the Philippines, a stage equated with anti-friary. However, it was
an attitude initially directed at four religious orders only, the
Recollects, the Dominicans, the Augustinians, and the Franciscans.
1872, the reactionary policy of the Government continued unabated.
To avoid persecution, a few ilustrados went to voluntary
exile to Europe and nearby Asian cities. Spain proved a haven, in
spite of the Bourbon restoration, since her people were enjoying
certain political rights agitated for by the liberals and republicans.
The Constitution of 1876 had accommodated a few of the principles
of the short-lived Spanish republic of 1873-1874. Notwithstanding
the educational and professional opportunities in Manila, many young
Filipino students went to Spain to study. These ilustrados
launched a propaganda campaign to acquaint the Spanish government
and the public with the need for political, religious and economic
reforms in the colony. The chief propagandists were Marcelo H. del
Pilar (who helped implant Freemasonry in the Philippines), Graciano
Lopez Jaena, (founder of the paper La Solidaridad and who
later organized the Lodge Revolucion and one of the founders
of Lodge Solidaridad, Madrid, Spain), Mariano Ponce, Antonio
Luna, and a few others. But towering above them all was Dr. Jose
Rizal, initiated on November 15, 1890 in Lodge Solidaridad.
these reformists desired was equality of both Spaniards and Filipino
in the colony before the law and the same political rights then
operative in Spain. To secure these demands, it had become imperative
to ask that the Philippines be represented in the Cortes and be
considered a province of Spain. To this was added the demand for
the secularization of the parishes.
and their sympathizers tried to counteract the reformists since
many of their ideas had already been condemned in 1864 in the Syllabus
of Errors of Pius IX. The demand for freedom of the speech,
press, and association was viewed by the friars as opening the doors
to heretical ideas and secret societies like Freemasonry. The friars
interpreted the agitation for reform as simply a disguise for separation
from Spain and they were therefore disloyal and anti-Spanish. The
reformists, on the other hand, accused the friars as protecting
their own corporate interest and disregarding the common good.
reformists tried to demonstrate that the friars were the source
of most if not all the evils happening in the colony. Of the 160
issues of the paper La Solidaridad, there was practically
no issue that did not criticize or make fun of friars. The anti-friar
spirit was soon shifted to the anticlericalism and antichurch feeling
even among some ilustrados thanks to Masonry in which they have
affiliated. In Europe some of the passionate liberals and Masons
were not only anticlerical but antichurch as well, a kind of people
the reformists had to live with.
the position of the Filipino clergy during all this was their support,
out of expediency, for the reformists of the Filipinization of the
parishes. The plight of the Filipino priests was presented in Spain
by the reformists, because it was their answer to the substitution
of the disliked friars.
Revolution: First Phase
news of Rizal’s arrest and exile in Dapitan on July 7, 1892, shocked
and surprised Filipinos everywhere, since Rizal by then had become
the symbol of their national hopes. That very night, Andres Bonifacio
and his followers, despairing of obtaining reform by peaceful means,
organized a secret society, the Katipunan, for the violent
overthrow of the Spanish Government. This was anti-friar
and the whole spirit was liberal. One of the aims of that society
was to cast the friars out the country and distribute their land
to the peasantry.
secrets of the Katipunan were well kept for more than four
years. In August 1896, an Augustinian friar learned from one of
his parishioners their secrets and securing evidence reported at
once to the colonial authorities. The authorities took immediate
action. Hundreds of suspects were arrested. Bonifacio and others
fled from Manila to the hills of Balintawak and from there the cry
of independence rung out. The Philippine revolution had begun.
Governor General immediately organized an offensive against the
revolutionaries using many thousands of soldiers from the Peninsula.
All the Masons were accused as the masterminds in overthrowing the
Spanish power in the Philippines. Many ilustrados and Masons
were arrested, tried, tortured and executed, culminating in the
execution of Jose Rizal on December 30, 1896. A few days later other
Masons were executed.
Aguinaldo had in the meantime won the leadership of the revolutionary
forces from Andres Bonifacio. And in December 15, 1897, the conciliary
attitude of Governor Primo de Rivera finally ended in the signing
of the Pact of Biak-na-bato. This brought about an uneasy peace
for four and a half months.
Revolution: Second Phase
April of 1898, the United States and Spain entered in a war over
Spanish policies in Cuba. On May 1, the U.S. Navy destroyed the
Spanish Pacific Fleet in Manila Bay. The Americans enlisted the
aid of the Filipino rebels in overthrowing Spanish military forces
ashore. Gen. Emilio Aguinaldo was brought back from Hong Kong to
take command and pursue the war against Spain with remarkable efficiency
and soon became the master of Luzon. On June 12, 1898, he proclaimed
the Philippine independence.
Revolution: Third Phase
of 1898, US Army troops landed on Philippine soil and accepted the
surrender of the Spanish garrison at Manila. Finally, on December
10, 1898, the United States signed the Treaty of Paris in which
Spain ceded the Philippines to America and received a payment of
$20,000,000. It became clear for the revolutionaries then that the
Philippines was to stay in the hands of foreign power. Tension
mounted between the Filipino and American forces until at last in
early 1902, hostilities broke out. For three years war raged in
the Islands. The Filipinos fought valiantly but vainly to secure
their newly won independence. By April of 1902, the American soldiers
defeated the effective resistance to American authority. Gradually,
American civil government replaced military command and peace and
order were restored.
Majul, Anticlericalism during the Reform Movement,
Studies in Church History, Cornell U.P. 1969
Islands under the Cross, 1967
Archefugi, Religious Revolution in the Philippines, vol.1
1860-1940, Atheneo de Manila, 1960
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