Thursday, January 19, 2017

The Burgos Enigma

Fr. Jose Burgos (1837-1872)

Perhaps, if I may say,  it was his "kastila" features, his creole background and not counting even his intellectual gifts, that led to his undoing. Spain of 19th Century mistrusted so much her sons born in the colonies. The experience Spain had in the Americas, with this great wave of new thinking brought by the Enlightenment which resulted to revolutions and subsequent independence of many of her colonies, had made her weary if not too cautious of this criollos and mestizos, that sector she at first relied so much in spreading "Pax Hispanica". 

With Burgos, Spain saw the events in Mexico reverberating. Burgos was another potential Padre Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla, the Mexican clergy who led the "Grito de Dolores' -the Mexican Cry of Independence and like Fr. Hidalgo, Burgos championed the cause of the native clergy. The pamphlets and writings Burgos spread were like papers for bonfires that potentially could burn the colonial authorities. (But I want to say, that I found him and his works with real subversive tendencies) They even wanted to put a "Carlist" label on him just to indicate that he is afterall,  still a "kastila". But it was too late the creole Burgos actually was redefining the issues of what it would take to be called a true son of the motherland- Filipinas.

 Later on, It would take another Jose to put another definition to the label "Filipino".

Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla (1753-1811)
Padre Hidalgo uttered the famous "El Grito de Dolores", a "pronunciamiento", a call to battle for Mexican Independence, the grito or the cry happened in the small town of Dolores (Hidalgo) in Guanajuato, Mexico. Miguel Hidalgo was a criollo- one similarity Burgos shared with him, besides both being a curate.

     "El Grito de Dolores"(detail) by Mexican muralist Juan O'Gorman       

The Gomburza Monument by Solomon Saprid


Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Rizal-Blumentritt (A Friendship That Started In Mistrust)

One thing the Blumentritt-Schuchardt Correspondence has revealed is that long before Jose Rizal and Ferninand Blumentritt were communicating with each other, Blumentritt was already in contact with some of the leading illustrados and Filipino intellectuals particularly Trinidad Pardo H. de Tavera and Isabelo de los Reyes. In early 1881,  Blumentritt came to know Tavera by chance. Helping Schuchardt with his “Studium” of creole languages in Santo Domingo (the Dominican Republic), Blumentritt came in contact with the secretary of the Dominican ambassador to Paris (2me Secrétaire de la Légation de la République Dominicaine) who happens to be Tavera. Blumentritt was also receiving journals and newspapers from Manila. He mentioned to Schuchhardt in their correspondence of receiving a letter from Isabelo de los Reyes. Finally in a letter dated 14 August 1886 Blumetritt wrote to Schuchardt:

“ In Heidelberg, Obere Neckarstraße 11 wohnt jetzt ein deutsch schreibender Tagale D. José Rizal, man muss diesem Schüler der Ges. Jesu gegenüber auf der Hut sein, sonst gibt er, das was man ihm mittheilt als sein eigenes "Product" zum besten. Er hat mich mit einem tagalischen Buche beschenkt” .

(In Heidelberg, Obere Neckarstraße 11 now lives a Tagalog who writes in German, D. Jose Rizal, one must be wary of this student of the Jesuits otherwise he might claim what one imparts to him as his own "Product ". He gifted me with a tagalog book”).

Incredibly Blumentritt mistrusted Rizal at the beginning: "gegenüber auf der Hut sein, sonst gibt er, das was man ihm mittheilt als sein eigenes "Product" zum besten, it simply meant copyright issue. Blementritt wrote that Rizal might claim that what he learns from them as his own.

Portion of the Blumentritt letter to Schuchardt dated 11 August 1886  (Univertity ogf Graz)

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

The Blumentritt-Schuchardt Correspondence

I have always pointed out to colleagues who are somehow into Germanistik (German Studies), Philology and Philippine Studies the incredible amount of datas, studies, and possibilities that scholars could learn just researching on both the writings of Ferdinand Blumentritt and Rizal. University of Graz (Austria), few years ago opened their "Sammlung" or collection of the Blumentritt-Schuchardt Correspondence. Reading it, I was led to consider new territories understand the beginnings and the minds within the Rizal and Blumentritt freindship.

The letter posted here, was written by Blumentritt to the eminent German linguist Hugo Schuchardt (1842 – 1927). Their correspondence, that lasted for almost 30 years would often talk about Rizal, the Philippine languages and the situation in the country that time. Very interesting to point out also that this letter of Blumentritt to Schuchardt dated 2. January 1882 mentions a Filipino who Blumentritt contacted in Paris and who recently wrote him a letter. It turns out that Schuchardt that time was studying the "creole" languages, particularly that of the former Spanish colony in the Americas- Santo Domingo (Dominican Republic), Blumentritt who was somehow helping Shuchartdt with his study was led to the Embassy of Santo Domingo in Paris. He communicated with the secretary of the ambassador whom he thought to be from Santo Domingo, to his surprise the man is a Filipino,who wrote him this letter stating: "“Yo soy Filipino: he nacido en Manila y por eso me ofrecen tanto interés las obras que se ocupan de mi tan hermoso como desgraciado pais." That Filipino was Dr. Trinidad Pardo de H. Tavera, (who was also a scholar of Philippine languages and ethnography etc.).

Going through the Blumentritt-Schuchardt Correspondence opened up many horizons...incredibly many! One is how Blumentritt introduced Rizal and other Filipino ilustrados that time to the European intelligentsia, those were big personalities. Another field is the study of Philippine languages itself with both even discussing "chavacano" etc. I keep on saying, "there is a world out there."

The letter of Blumentritt to Schuchardt metioning Rizal (University of Graz)

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

The Trial of Juan Luna. Paris 1892-1893 (And The Napoleonic Code. Article 324 )

Paris, France September, 1892, in a fit of rage with jealousy, Filipino painter Juan Luna shot his wife and mother in law at point blank. Luna claimed his wife was seeing a Frenchman and that they were lovers. He was subsequently arrested and held for almost half a year while the case against him was being heard. One claim of the defense that became an interesting point among historians and those who study the case, was the reality of Luna coming from a lower race and is susceptible to irrational acts, being a "sauvage" (savage/wild). February 1893, Luna was acquitted, the murder of his wife and mother in law was declared a crime of passion and owing it to the temporary insanity of Luna and him being a sauvage, he was given his freedom.

Juan Luna

The Napoleonic Code. Article 324
Actually, right from the very beginning of the procedure against Luna, the Tavera women would have no case because the very essence of the Napoleonic Code or "Civil des Français" (particularly that 1810 French Penal Code Article 324) and the prevailing norm of the society that time was "anti women". It gives leniency to the so called "honor killings". It permitted the murders of an unfaithful wife and her lover at the hand of her husband. In Luna's case, proving his innocence  was simply secondary, right from the start of the the trial the nature of the law is on his side.

The French Civil Code. Opening Page

The Napoleonic code- was established by Napoleon I in  1804, its core purpose was to uproot the existing feudal law but like all laws it must have had its own loopholes. The Penal Code Article 324 which was actually implemented in 1810, also greatly influenced if not reinforced the existing laws and traditions of many Middle East countries.
It was only in 1975 that France repealed Article 324.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015


"Nagsabado sa Pasig" is the term use to describe and glorify the Katipunan action in Pasig in August 29, 1896-Saturday. In the early weeks leading to that fateful day in August, the commander of the Spanish detachment in Pasig, the then Lt. Manuel B. Sityar had been noticing uncommon gatherings of men in the wee hours of the night in the areas of Pasig and Mandaluyong. But the rainy season had prevented him to investigate and learn more of this gatherings. In fact, one of the most important Katipunan meetings the "Asamblea Magna",   happened in May of the same year in Pasig.

Pasig town center in the late 1890's.  Seen here is the church and also the waterway, the famous "Bitukang Manok"

Beginning August 1896, the local Katipunan leader in Pasig Gen. Valentin Cruz started sending secret feelers to the Katipuneros from different "visitas" or "barrios" around Pasig that uprising could happen soon. Andres Bonifacio and some members of the Kapitunan council at that time had seek refuge in the Morong area (Rizal Province) protected by the local Katipunan chapters of the great plains of Morong/Marikina-Pasig area..the so called "Pantayanin". Arrest of suspected Katipunan members in Manila had already started in the last days of July after the discovery of Katipunan  paraphernalia in a Manila printing shop .

On Aug. 28,  Bonifacio and Emilio Jacinto went to Mandaluyong to confer with the Katipunan leaders there. The next morning, Bonifacio held another meeting. He told his men that it was now time to begin the uprising then asked if they were ready. When the men said yes, there was also this tearing of the cedula symbolizing the break with Spain etc. After that, General Cruz, and other Katipunan leaders traveled to their respective towns to alert their troops.

In the  light of dusk of August 29, 1896, while Bonifacio was preparing his men in the attack of Mandaluyong the sons of Pasig led by Valentin Cruz were attacking the Spanish detachment in Pasig. Pasig historian Dean Carlos Tech described the events as follows:

  "Nightfall of Aug. 29, the men from the Pasig barrios of Pineda, Bagong Ilog and Ugong crossed the San Mateo River to Maybunga, where they joined the forces from Santolan, Rosario, Maybunga, Palatiw, Sagad, Poblacion, Pinagbuhatan, Bambang, Kalawaan, Buting and other barrios of Pasig. After some final battle instructions, the gallant sons of Pasig, armed with scythes, bolos, spears, a few guns and their determination to fight for freedom under the leadership of General Cruz, marched to attack the town. The townsfolk, who were in a fiesta mood, lined the streets, cheering their heroes on. (It was a precursor of the fiesta mood of the Edsa uprising 100 years later.) There were almost 2,000 of them, representing almost every family of Pasig, from all levels of society, in a show of unity against tyranny. At Plaza de Paz, now Plaza Rizal, a sniper in the church tower hit a man from Bagong Ilog who thus became the first Pasigueño to offer his life on the altar of freedom. The revolutionaries attacked the Tribunal and the Guardia Civil headquarters, in what is now the Guanio residence, capturing 17 de piston rifles and three Remingtons. Manuel Sityar, the Guardia Civil commander, hid in the church tower. It was a glorious night for Pasig, and the whole town rejoiced in that firs victory of the revolution which the old folk remember as ''Nagsabado.'' 

General Valentin Cruz, this studio shot was done in a later year.

Lt. Manuel B. Sityar- Like other mestizos in the Spanish army, Sityar would later be recruited by General Antonio Luna in the revolutionary forces in the Philippine-American War. General  Luna would  also named him superintendent of the "Academia Militar"-the first military academy in the Philippines.

."Memorias Intimas" by Sityar has a different account.  Sityar evaded the Pasig Katipuneros and escaped to Pateros, he even inspected what happened there. The Katipunan revolt in Pateros was bolder and also bloodier compare to that of Pasig. What happened then the following days when the guardia civil reinforcement arrived in Pasig?. If ever it was indeed a victory, it was short. Valentin Cruz with his men joined Bonifacio's group and eventually got routed in Pinaglabanan.  Valentin Cruz was captured then tortured. He was tied  to a rope whereby his body was submerged head first to the river of "Bitukang Manok". He endured the torture and was later exiled to the Marianas. 

In an open forum/lecture in the late 1990"s about  the events of "Nagsabado", Pasig historian Carlos Tech was asked how many Guardia Civil were with Sityar that time, he answered,  only 2. When asked how many casualties were there on the side of the Pasig Katipunan, there was only one.

"Nagsabado" perhaps needs a new interpretation.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

AGUINALDO - BONIFACIO- Their views in the "Asamblea Magna" at Pasig. May 1896.

The "Asamblea Magna" at  Pasig. May 1896. (Gen. Santiago Alvarez-Memoir)

On May 3, 1896 a general meeting among Katipunan leaders called by Supremo Andres Bonifacio was held in Pasig. The venue was the house of local Katipunan leader, Valentin Cruz located near the Pasig church of the Immaculate Conception. The meeting would be known as the "Asamblea Magna". Perhaps one of the most revealing events in the history of the Katipunan.
The meeting was held to appraise what the Supremo called as "difficulties with which our Society is beset. " The movement had been exposed. Bonifacio wanted to act and start the uprising so as no to be forced against the wall. He asked the assembly; "What is your decision? Shall we rise in revolt now?” Aguinaldo then took the floor and cautioned the Supremo against acting hastily.Suggesting a thorough assessment to the situation and then saying: "I am against rising in arms now while we are not yet prepared to face the enemy.”
At this point Alvarez spoke and reminded the assembly of the dire situation they could be in once they start the uprising, likening it to those patriots exiled and persecuted after the event of 1872- Cavite Mutiny. Alvarez mentioned also Jose Rizal who at that time was exiled in Dapitan. It was at this point also that Aguinaldo spoke and asserted: “Mr. Chairman,” “I believe that what the brother who spoke before me had to say is correct and in consonance with the lofty ideals of the Katipunan. I therefore propose to defer any decision until after we have agreed on whether or not to seek the counsel of Dr. Jose Rizal in Dapitan.”
Bonifacio then called a recess. Saying: “we need a little rest and relaxation of the mind, so that we can respond more sensitively to the noble aspirations of the Katipunan.” After the recess a popular decision was then reached, that: The uprising pushed by the Supremo would be deferred until Dr. Rizal is consulted and that “Dr. Pio Valenzuela is hereby delegated to confer with Dr. Jose Rizal in Dapitan. He will be accompanied by a man who has lost his eyesight; Mr. Emilio Aguinaldo assures us that he can provide such a person who will pretend to seek the ministrations of Dr. Rizal."
The "Asamblea Magna" Pasig may have been the start of the crack between Bonifacio and Aguinaldo. It was also a reminder to Bonifacio that Rizal (despite exiled in Dapitan) still holds the primacy in the nationalist struggle. It could also be defined as "the potent sign of the Cavitismo", that Bonifacio is slowly being sidelined leading to the tragic events at Tejeros. Another striking fact in this memoirs was that Bonifacio was pictured here as somewhat "acting in haste" as contrary to that of Aguinaldo....and Aguinaldo was even suggesting consultation with Rizal. This part of the memoir about the "Asamblea Magna" somehow also questions the title "First President" being pushed to honor Bonifacio. What power and what character does this title holds that time?

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Jose Rizal and the German "Kulturkampf"

"Kulturkampf “ – Culture Clash. The German term that refers to Germany’s policies of favoring secularity and limiting the role and power of the Roman Catholic Church in Prussia, Germany. It was implemented in the 1870’s by the Prime Minister Otto von Bismarck. The term “Kulturkampf “ came into use in 1873, when the scientist and Prussian liberal statesman/friend of Rizal, Rudolf Virchow declared that the battle with the Roman Catholics was assuming “the character of a great struggle in the interest of humanity.” In the concluding years of the Kulturkampf upheavals, Rizal made his sojourn to Germany. It exposed him to the liberal minds of Germany and it also gave reasons to the church and authorities in the Philippines to scrutinize his true activities in Germany. “Doctor Uliman" or "German doctor, “German spy” were labels that somehow ask whether it was a handiwork or a provocation by the church to be able to pin down Rizal. The theme of "Kulturkampf" will eventually find its way in Dapitan, in the letters/debate between Jesuit Fr. Pablo Pastells and Rizal.

Caricature of the Pope playing a chess match against Bismarck.."Zwischen Berlin und Rom (between Rome and Berlin)

"Kanzelparagraph" or the The Pulpit Law was an 1871 section (§ 130a) to the Strafgesetzbuch (the German Criminal Code) which outlawed criticism of the state from any pulpit.

Wilhelmsfeld was an "observation ground" for Rizal. Broadening his views on the subject of the relationship between state and church. He had deep discussions about religion with protestant pastor Karl Ullmer

Otto von Bismarck- Blut und Eisen..blood and iron

German caricature highlighting the battle of Bismarck against the catholic religious orders.

Fr Pastells

Nietzsche contra Wagner. Two figures dominated German culture debate in the last half of the 19th Century. Nietzsche foretold the conflict between state and religion, defining it as a comprehensive "struggle for culture"... then breaking with Wagner because of the composer's religious views.