The Fateful Day: Captain Pedro Janolino and Felipe Buencamino

Originally authored on September 20, 2015

The first man General Luna met in Cabanatuan to respond to the summon of Aguinaldo was Captain Pedro Janolino, whom he disarmed in Angeles for cowardice. Together with the Kawit Battalion, they refused to take orders from Luna during the Battle of Caloocan in February 1899 and as punishment, Luna had disarmed and relieved them of their duties. On the way to Aguinaldo’s office his famous temper provoked by the failure of sentry to salute him thus, he slapped the slack guard. Upon being informed that Aguinaldo had left for San Isidro, Nueva Ecija, he ran upstairs and found Felipe Buencamino instead. They exchanged heated words.

When a rifle shot was heard, the General rushed down to investigate. Sprang from behind the door, where he had been concealed, Janolino attacked Luna from behind, inflicting a severe wound with a bolo. The Kawit Battalion mobbed the General and stabbed with daggers and shot. Mortally wounded, he still managed to wobble to the street away from his assassins. He fired his pistol but failed to hit anybody. Colonel Paco Roman came to his defense but  was shot to his death. Captain Rusca also tried to assist the stricken General but he too was shot and took refuge in the nearby church. As Luna fell on the convent yard, Aguinaldo’s mother Trinidad Famy Aguinaldo was said to have watched the killing and even managed to ask “Nagalaw pa ga iyan?” One of the assassins nudged Luna’s body with his boot to validate.

The following day, Luna was buried with military honors with Aguinaldo conferring however, the assassins went free. After Luna’s death, Aguinaldo ordered all chiefs of brigades under Luna arrested. Some were killed like Major Manuel Bernal, who was tortured first and his brother Captain Jose Bernal, who was released but was later assassinated in Candaba, Pampanga. Aguinaldo also ordered the disarming of two companies he suspected as pro-Luna.


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Aide of Antonio Luna: General Benito Alejandrino Natividad

Originally authored on September 19, 2015

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A military leader, governor, and judge who hailed from Jaen, Nueva Ecija, He, together with his brothers, fought in the Philippine rebellion against the Spanish authorities to avenge their father’s death, a prominent lawyer and first martyr of Nueva Ecija. He also fought in the Philippine American War and served as aide to General Antonio Luna, who courageously fought in the Central Luzon campaign. Natividad was almost killed fighting by the side of Luna suffering a serious bullet wound in the leg. The young Lieutenant Manuel Quezon was promoted to Captain just for getting him safely behind the lines by hiding Colonel Natividad in a hay stack.

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At the age of 24, Natividad was promoted to brigadier-general for this act, becoming one of the youngest generals to fight the Americans. If only he was physically fit, he would have been with General Luna during that tragic trip to Cabanatuan. He became a cripple due to his wounds and temporarily took over the command of the Ilocos provinces which was the reason why General Manuel Tinio was recalled by Aguinaldo to help in the re-organization of the forces of Nueva Ecija in 1899. Natividad remained with a few riflemen and a number of armed insurgents who guarded the whole Ilocos region at that time. This also included the guarding of 4,000 Spanish prisoners and 25 American prisoners of war scattered in those towns. Despite their huge numbers, the prisoners did not even think of rising against the General because they were treated very well and deemed El Cojo or not a man to fool with. Notwithstanding his helplessness as a result of his wounds, he took his luck with the Tinio Brigade rather than surrender himself to the enemy. However, upon the capture of Aguinaldo in Palanan, Filipino soldiers, even if they were able to thwart the Americans until 1901, were forced to give up.

When the war ended, he continued his law studies at San Juan de Letran and became a full-fledged lawyer. Eventually, he rose to become a judge. Natividad was elected governor in Nueva Ecija and served from 1910 to 1913. Governor Natividad successively served as provincial fiscal in Zambales, Tarlac, Cavite, Rizal, Samar, Albay, and Leyte. He was also promoted as judge of the Court of First Instance in Leyte, Cebu, and Davao.

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He married late at the age of 40; his wife, Amalia Inocencio was 10 years his junior. She was a native of Cavite and they had two daughters, Aurea and Amparo. He lived long enough to play golf in the 1960’s to see June 12 declared as Independence Day. Reflecting on the past, he mentioned to his daughters that he could forgive the Spaniards but never the Americans because of their cruelties and deceptions. He died in 1964 and his remains were interred in San Agustin Church in Intramuros.

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Aides of Antonio Luna: Colonel Francisco Roman and Captain Jose Bernal

Originally authored on September 19, 2015

From his headquarters in Bayambang, Pangasinan, deep into establishing a guerilla base in the Mountain Province in June 4, 1899, Luna received a summon via telegram from Aguinaldo in Cabanatuan , Nueva Ecija. Immediately, Luna left accompanied by Colonel Paco Roman, the brothers Major Manuel Bernal and Captain Jose Bernal, Major Simeon Villa, Captain Eduardo Rusca and 25 cavalrymen. The following day Luna and his party arrived at the outskirts of Cabanatuan but the broken bridge threatened to delay the whole party. The impatient General left his escort and proceeded to his summons with only Colonel Roman and Captain Rusca to accompany him. At about 3:00 P.M., they arrived at the casa parroquial (convent) in Cabanatuan where the Philippine Republic was holding office.

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It’s Lola Basyang’s Birthday!

Originally authored on February 11, 2019

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For many years, readers mistook the real Lola Basyang as an old woman full of ancient stories stuck in her antiquated baul, only to find out later she was a man. Lola Basyang became a generic name in Philippine society depicting an old grandmother telling stories to her grandchildren meant to teach moral lessons. It was in the pages of Liwayway Magazine, which he co-founded in 1922, where Severino Reyes’ Mga Kwento ni Lola Basyang appeared and eventually became the most widely read prose feature of the magazine. Until today, the name Lola Basyang is still being used by different art forms, stage and, television shows.

On February 11, 1861, Severino Reyes, a noted playwright, writer, dramatist, and acclaimed as one of the giants of Tagalog and Filipino Literature in the early 20th century, was born in Sta. Cruz, Manila. A well-educated man who attended several institutions of higher learning, he completed Bachelor of Philosophy at the University of Santo Tomas. Proficient in both Tagalog and Spanish with a fair knowledge of Latin, Greek, Hebrew, and several Philippine dialects, Reyes could converse profoundly on religion, history, philosophy, literature, arts, and sciences.

“For to Children Belong the Kingdom of God”: Infant Jesus

Originally authored on January 20, 2019

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Babies always signify purity, innocence, warmth, and new beginnings. They are instruments to break the barriers and boundaries. It was a sound judgement for Ferdinand Magellan to present the statue of the Infant Jesus as a gift to Princess Humamay upon landing on the Philippine islands. The gesture captivated her heart as a mother, which even disarmed the resolve of King Humabon and his tribesmen. Infants proved to possess the power of uniting which led to the natives’ baptism and conversion to Catholic religion.

Steeped in history and religious traditions, every January, the entire Philippines is abuzz with feasts that celebrate the Child Jesus which centers in Cebu. The Santo Nino traces its origin to the Holy Infant Jesus of Prague. In our country, this statue is the oldest relic. Years after Magellan’s miserable crew left the Philippines after a skirmish led by Lapu-lapu which took Ferdinand’s life, the returning Spaniards still found the natives worshiping the same image of the Infant Jesus. Due to Filipinos’ rich cultural background, they are known to be very loyal in their devotion to religious figures.

One Hundred Years of Philippine Women’s Leadership

Originally authored on January 26, 2019

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful committed citizens can change the world!”

Compared to other parts of Southeast Asia, women in the Philippine society have always enjoyed a greater share of equality which predated the coming of the Spaniards. Based on the context of Filipino culture, standards, and mindset, the concept of gender equality already existed.

Women before could become village chiefs in the absence of a male heir. They could achieve status as medicine women or high-priestesses (Babaylan) and astrologers. Whether some Filipino men are willing to admit it or not, women wield considerable authority, the housewife in particular.


Image may contain: 1 person, text that says "Francisca Tirona Benitez Epitomized the ideal woman she believed every Filipina should aspire to be: one who has successfully combined the art of homemaking and the pursuit of a career and still be of service to the community."

In June 9, 1919, through the vision of seven far-sighted pioneering Filipino women educators and civic rights leaders, Clara Aragon, Concepcion Aragon, Francisca Tirona Benitez, Paz Marquez Benitez, Carolina Ocampo Palma, Mercedes Rivera, and Socorro Marquez Zaballero, the Philippine Women’s College was founded with the assistance of the prominent lawyer Jose Abad Santos who drafted its constitution and by-laws.

Remembering Francisco Santiago, The Father of Kundiman

Originally authored on January 29, 2019

His name may go missing, but his songs are here to stay. Those nationalistic songs to remember him by.

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A composer, pianist, teacher, and film director. Born January 29, 1889 in Santa Maria, Bulacan to a musically inclined peasant parents. When he was seven years old, he took piano lessons from a private tutor and after three years further studying pianoforte under Blas Echegoyen, Faustino Villacorta, and Primo Calzada. He had to support himself throughout school. His most famous piece was “Anak Dalita” which he wrote in 1917 was sung before the Royal Court of Spain upon the request of King Alfonso II.

A Painful Recall: Battle of Manila (February 3 – March 3, 1945)

Originally authored on February 1, 2019

Did the Americans destroy Manila in 1945?

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“It was a firebath! All around us there were explosions and fires, the best imagination of hell one could get.” Manila was being destroyed from inside and out. Men, women, and children retreated below ground where conditions inside cramped air raid shelters deteriorated as the hours turned to days. Bunkers built to house a single family at times held multiple. “We lived like dogs”, as recalled by an American internee in Santo Tomas.

The immediate objective of Americans in 1945 was to rescue the POWs in Cabanatuan and the internees at Santo Tomas. Once this was achieved, the Americans turned their attention to Manila, and this time, avoiding civilian casualties was no longer a concern. Some historians put the sole blame for Manila’s destruction upon the general’s ego and hubris; that MacArthur had to prematurely launched the assault on Manila so that he could personally trumpet the city’s liberation as his crowning achievement in fulfilling his “I shall return” at the earliest possible moment.

The Right Place for Disputed First Mass in 1521

Originally authored on February 22, 2019

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Butuan is racing against time in an attempt to establish the historical truth. With the Quincentennial fast approaching in 2021, it is not giving up on its claim that the first mass was celebrated by Spanish colonizers in Mazzaua, an island in Butuan, 498 years ago. For decades, it has been a long drawn out conflict between Mazzaua and Limasawa in Leyte.

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The pursuit of legitimacy yielded a group of proponents galvanized by a common goal regardless of the existing Republic Act 2733 giving credence to Limasawa as the national shrine to commemorate the first mass held in the country that gave birth to Christianity.

Feast of Our Lady of Lourdes: Comforter of the Afflicted and Health of the Sick

Originally authored on February 10, 2018

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It was May 8, 1892 when the Capuchins opened the first chapel of Our Lady of Lourdes in our country. During the outbreak of Spanish-American War in 1898, the Capuchin community gathered at the chapel and before the venerated image of the Virgin promised solemnly to dedicate to her the new church that they were building if she would save the house and the city of Manila from the terrible destruction of the announced bombing by the Americans.

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Manila did not suffer the fearful effects of the bombs of the military fleet from Dewey and the powerful protection from Mary was obtained. Being faithful to his promise, Rev. Fr. Alfonso of Morentin, the superior of Capuchin Fathers consecrated to the Virgin of Lourdes the new church and was officially proclaimed the “Titular of the Church of the Capuchins”.

Rest In Fish: Tawilis

Originally authored on January 26, 2019

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What really caused the steady decline of endemic TAWILIS?

The proliferation of fish cages is way beyond the established carrying capacity which should just be 10 percent of the 94,000 hectare lake as against the current of over 60 percent occupied by big fishing companies. Of course, this caused the lake to reach the point where conservation efforts would no longer be effective.

The inventory of 76 migratory and endemic species were now down to 15 or less. The catch of the most endemic, TAWILIS dropped to more than 80 percent.

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In 2012, Supreme Court released the Writ of Kalikasan to stop the further issuance of clearance to fish cage operators. There was an unsettling issue in 2014 of Pusod Taal Lake Conservation Center where 28 commercial and backyard piggeries were illegally discharging animal wastes down Lipute River which is a tributary of Taal Lake. “Whatever happened to environmental laws?”

Barring the quality of water in Taal Lake, do the present overcrowding of approximately 6,000 cages located in different municipalities surrounding the lake spark the deterioration of TAWILIS quality if not, its mortality?



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