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Towards Bagumbayan: New Town, Killing Ground

Towards Bagumbayan: New Town, Killing Ground

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Published by Steve B. Salonga
 THE ROOTS OF THE FILIPINO NATION by Onofre D. Corpuz ©1989 Chapter 12  TOWARDS BAGUMBAYAN: NEW TOWN, KILLING GROUND Without 1872 Rizal would be a Jesuit today; instead of writing   Noli   me  tangere   he   would   have   written   something   quite   the   opposite. The knowledge of that injustice and cruelty stirred my   imagination   even   as   a   boy,   and   I   swore   to   dedicate   myself   to   avenging   those   victims   someday....   May   God   grant   me   the   opportunity one
 THE ROOTS OF THE FILIPINO NATION by Onofre D. Corpuz ©1989 Chapter 12  TOWARDS BAGUMBAYAN: NEW TOWN, KILLING GROUND Without 1872 Rizal would be a Jesuit today; instead of writing   Noli   me  tangere   he   would   have   written   something   quite   the   opposite. The knowledge of that injustice and cruelty stirred my   imagination   even   as   a   boy,   and   I   swore   to   dedicate   myself   to   avenging   those   victims   someday....   May   God   grant   me   the   opportunity one

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Published by: Steve B. Salonga on Sep 17, 2010
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 HE
R
OOTS
 
OF 
 
THE
 ILIPINO
 ATION 
 
by Onofre D. Corpuz
 ©
1989
Chapter 12TOWARDS BAGUMBAYAN: NEW TOWN, KILLING GROUND
Without 1872 Rizal would be a Jesuit today; instead of writing Noli me
 
tangere he would have written something quite theopposite. The knowledge of that injustice and cruelty stirred myimagination even as a boy, and I swore to dedicate myself toavenging those victims someday.... May God grant me theopportunity one day to fulfill my vow. – Rizal to Mariano Ponceand his colleagues in La Solidaridad (April 1889)
There was, in 1591, a native settlement just south of the Spanish city of Manila. The work on the walls of the city had not been completed then.When the south wall was finished the site of the settlement was just 300paces away from the wall. The people in the settlement were the familiesthat had been forced to leave their homes in Manila, site of the old town of Raja Soliman that the Spaniards had taken over for their city.The natives called their settlement “Bagumbayan,” meaning “new town,”with subtle intimations of fresh hopes in a new life. The people wereassigned to the Spanish king as a royal encomienda; we read from thetribute reports for 1591 that Bagumbayan had a population of 1 900.Bagumbayan was built on low ground turning into swamp as it met thewaters of the bay. Just south of it was the village of Ermita. South of Ermita, in turn, was the village called by the Spaniards Malate. The nameof the place was really "Maalat," salty, because it used to be a fishing villageand the people produced salt, but the Spaniards called it their way. Thisvillage of Malate was special; after the Spaniards had taken over Manila forthemselves the regime reserved the site of old Malate for the descendants of the chiefs and princi- pales of the old town of Manila. Immediately east of Bagumbayan was more marshland with nipa palm groves. The east of thistract is occupied in modern times by the undistinguished hulk of the cityhall of Manila.
1
 
 
 HE
R
OOTS
 
OF 
 
THE
 ILIPINO
 ATION 
 
by Onofre D. Corpuz
 ©
1989
In 1605 a summer house for the Spanish governor-general was a-buildingto one side of Bagumbayan. It would have a pleasant prospect across agarden and ponds; this was to enable him to escape his ugly and depressingquarters within the walls. Upon his death the next year the place wasbought by the Recollects, who built a convento. The site was secure becauseby the 1630s part of the area had become the parade ground for the troops.In 1644 the governor-general ordered the demolition of the convento forits being too close to the walls. When his term was over however, the clergyhad their way again and built the church of Santiago. It was this churchwhich all Spaniards who lived outside the Intramuros had to attend. Thenew church of San Juan de Bagumbayan, nearby, was for the natives. Thenipa groves next to Bagumbayan were still lush and thick during the 1750s.During the latter years of this decade the governor-general tried anew tohave the churches torn down but the friars sought to have himexcommunicated, and he failed.In the war of 1762 the British captured, first, the churches of Malate andErmita. From here they went on to take the churches of Santiago and SanJuan de Bagumbayan. The British army general reported of these edificesthat they “were much nearer the walls than the rules of war prescribe.”They were key salients, and the cover that they provided the invaders sealedthe fate of Manila. After taking the city, of course, the British promptlydemolished the two nearer churches and cleared the area of Bagumbayan, sothat no trace remains of these structures nor of the old convento nor of theold settlement today.It was in Bagumbayan, now a clear field, where the surviving mutineersof the Tayabas regiment were executed by musketry in 1843. For more andmore Filipinos thereafter, Bagumbayan would mean death, not life, nothope, because thenceforth it became the Spanish regime's killing ground forrebels and martyrs. The execution of three Filipino priests by the garrotte in1872 made them the first symbols of the newborn Christian Filipinonationalist movement.
Towards Politics: Reformers and Demonstrators
2
 
 
 HE
R
OOTS
 
OF 
 
THE
 ILIPINO
 ATION 
 
by Onofre D. Corpuz
 ©
1989
The first Filipino patriotic statements may be dated to the 1860s. Afterthe loss of the curacy of Antipolo to the Recollects the Filipino priestscontinued to press their rights to serve as parish priests and not only beassistants to the friars. For sometime now the latter had been steadilytaking over the curacies of the priests pursuant to a series of royal decreesfrom Spain.In 1864 Jose Apolonio Burgos, who was still only a deacon but wouldeventually obtain two doctorate degrees from the University of Santo Tomas,answered a particularly strong attack by a Madrid newspaper against thearchbishop, Pedro Pelaez, and the Filipino clergy. His reply, based on civiland canon law, argued the disqualification of the friars from the ministry of the parishes. It then proceeded to debate the racist opinions of the friars onthe Filipino priests, and finally to expose the former's attacks on the latter'sloyalty to Spain as merely another trick to set the civil authorities againstthem.Burgos work was entitled “
 Manifiesto que a la noble Naci
ó
n Espa
ñ
oladirigen los leales Filipinos” 
(“Manifesto addressed by the loyal Filipinos tothe noble Spanish Nation”). The key to the reply was Burgos' identificationof his people as “Filipinos”. It was a new usage; Burgos used the term as aname for a new group in the colonial population, a group to which belongednot just natives but also Chinese mestizos, and not only these but alsoSpanish mestizos and full-blooded Spaniards born in Filipinas. The newmeaning of the term began to enter common usage, at least in the patrioticand reform literature, more and more from here on. It was by no meansuniversal usage: the friar orders and the peninsular Spaniards would persistin naming the different sub-groups separately, persist in calling the natives“Indios” until the end of their regime.Nevertheless, the more intelligent Spaniards were sensing not only thenew usage; they had begun to see in it a separation in identity between thepeninsular Spaniards on the one hand, and their colonial subjects, the newFilipinos, on the other. We know that the archbishop of Manila sent alengthy memorial to the then regent of Spain in 1870. In this memorial thearchbishop reported that the feelings of the native priests against the friar
3

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