Monday, January 23, 2012

The Pact of Biyak-na Bato and the "Te Deum" of January 23, 1898

Signing and Singing for a Truce?

"Te Deum" such as this?

January 23, 1898- A "TE DEUM laudamus" was sang at the Manila Cathedral, it signaled the end of what the Spanish colonial regime labeled that time as "Insurreccion" but to the Filipinos a revolution (1896). The singing of the Te Deum was part of an agreement between Aguinaldo and the Spanish government known as "The Pact of Biyak na Bato". Among the points agreed in the Pact for a truce are the ff:

(1)that Aguinaldo and his companion would go into voluntary exile abroad;

(2) that Gov Gen. Fernando Primo de Rivera would pay the sum of 800,000 Pesos to the rebels in three instalments: (a)400,000 Pesos to Aguinaldo upon his departure from Biak na Bato, (b)200,000 when the arms surrendered by the revolutionists exceeded 700, and (c) the remaining 200,000 Pesos when "Te Deum" was sung and general amnesty proclaimed by the governor;

3) that Primo de Rivera would pay the additional sum of 900,000 Pesos to the families of the non combatant Filipinos who suffered during that armed conflict.

By the time the "Te Deum" was sung Aguinaldo was already in Hong Kong with part of the money. A sellout?.  I must say also, it was indeed a very expensive "Te Deum".

Aguinaldo with some of his men at Biak na Bato 1897, his right hand resting on the shoulder of  Spanish Colonel  Miguel  Primo de Rivera,  future Prime Minister and dictator of Spain. On the photo one can also see the young General Gregorio del Pilar (with a cane)

Aguinaldo and his men in Dagupan train station December 1897. On their way to exile in Hong Kong

Delusions of an attention seeker
The Pact of Biyak-na Bato would not come to existence if not for the eccentricity, craziness and the delusional ideas of Pedro Paterno. A true blooded "papansin" (attention seeker), who fashioned himself in Spain as a tagalog nobleman, Paterno was able to convinced Governor General Fernando Primo de Rivera that he had enough contacts to seek a armistice with the rebel revolutionaries and somehow find a way for peace. After months of shuttling from Manila to the rebels lair, convincing the Aguinaldo group and even at the point of bribing, Paterno was able to bring both rebel and Spain to sign what he termed as a formula for lasting peace; "the Pact Biyak-na Bato"

Pedro A. Paterno

Of course history would then reveal the flaws of the said pact, with both Spanish colonial government and the Aguinaldo group accusing each other of non fulfillment of the terms written and agreed upon.

Sing A Different Tune
In the end that "Te Deum" sang on the 23rd of January 1898 at the Manila Cathedral turned out to be the swan song of the Spanish power in Asia,  Months later Uncle Sam would  arrive and  take the position of the Iberians.  Filipinos would then sing a different tune.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Father Francisco de Paula Sanchez: Rizal's Batman

Fr. Francisco de Paula Sanchez 1849-1928

Father FRANCISCO DE PAULA SANCHEZ...Ang "BATMAN" ni José Rizal.,The Spanish Jesuit priest was Rizal's favorite professor in Ateneo (in Literature). It was under Fr. Sanchez that Rizal learned the Greek and Latin Classics. It was also the priest who pushed the young Rizal to cultivate his literary skills by encouraging him to write essays and poetry. Mutual respect was there and father Sanchez even became a staunch defender of the Noli. But in a letter to Blumentritt dated May 1890, Rizal described the priest ; "Father Sanchez is a penetrating observer, although rather pessimistic, always looking at the bad side of things. When we were in school we used to call him a 'dark spirit' and the students nicknamed him 'Paniki', which is' a kind of bat".

Rizal  during his early years in Ateneo

When Rizal was exiled in Dapitan, Father Sanchez was sent by his Jesuit superiors to try to refrorm his former student's radical stance towards the catholic religion and the Spanish religious in the Philippines. True enough, there were series of long conversations, debates and heated arguments between mentor and student which resulted in Father Sanchez failing to convince Rizal. But mutual admiration never waned. Together they did expeditions around Dapitan collecting scientific specimen in the area. The jesuit priest happens to be the curator of the Ateneo Museum during that time, so most specimen collected made their way to the Jesuit museum.

Rizal also did civic projects to improve Dapitan. One of such was the beautification of the town plaza.With the help of Father Sanchez, he designed a relief map of Mindanao which up to now still adorns the plaza of Dapitan.

 Rizal's Mindanao relief map, Dapitan. Photo taken in the early 1900.

The Mindanao relief map, Dapitan. At present time

Austin Coates, the British biographer of Rizal wrote and quoted about father Sanchez: "for the rest of his life-Sanchez  had Rizal's name often on his lips, and, still a teacher, his sternest rebuke to his pupils was that they did not measure up to the standards of Pepito".

The Spaniards actually shot themselves also in Luneta on the morning of the 30th December 1896. Spain and her educational system played a big part in Rizal's life. He reasoned out and wrote his ideas in her language.Rizal's generation indeed owes a lot to such educators as Father Sanchez, for the best crop of Filipinos who ever walked the earth were trained by Spaniards, educators like Father Sanchez.

Ateneo Municipal, when it was still in Intramuros
 Things haven't change since the 19nth Century. Students nowadays still gives strange nicknames to professors even to their favorites. In the case of our national hero it was father 'Paniki'. Perhaps much better if we just simply call Father Sanchez..... 'Batman'.

"To the bat cave"

Friday, January 6, 2012

Adelbert von Chamisso: 19th Century German Poet who visited the Philippines

Adelbert von Chamisso (1781-1883)

Perhaps one interesting traveler who visited the Philippines in the 19th Century was ADELBERT VON CHAMISSO (1781-1838) A German scientist (botanist) of French ancestry, Chamisso traveled around the world with the Russian ship "Rurik" which docked in Manila Bay in1817. He then made exploration trip to Taal volcano and the Cavite/Laguna area. Chamisso is also a figure in 19th Century German Literature. One of his famous poems "Frauenliebe und-leben" was set into music by Romantic Period composer Robert Schumann. Ferdinand Blumentritt in one of his letters to our national hero José Rizal mentioned Chamisso and his travels to the Philippines.

Blumentritt Letter to Rizal (Excerpt)                                        
                                             Leitmeritz, Bohemia
                                              14 November 1886  
  Very esteemed Sir,
I wished very much to answer at once your letter of 4th instant, 
but I have had to give up this pleasure on account of the pile of official 
matters that have accumulated and for having to take care of my eyes 
at night. I'm glad to know that you are well and have called on the Privy 
Cnuncilor Meyer in Dresden. He must be very busy now because he has 
not written me since the 25th of last month.
You will like Berlin; it is a city that offers an infinity of things to a man 
avid for pleasure as well as to the scholar. The ethnngraphic museum, 
so admirably installed by Bastian, must have aroused your respect. In 
the Royal Library (not in the University Library) there is found a large 
number of old books about the Philippines that the German poet A. von 
Chamisso (born French) bought in Manila and brought to Germany 60 
years ago. Among them is a copy of Morga, which is very rare, and 
one Combes. Have you already called on Virchow and Jagor?...........


Rizal's Reply to Blumentritt (Excerpt)

                                            Jaegerstrasse 71, Berlin
                                             22 November 1886 
  Very esteemed Professor,
I received your letter a week ago, but I could not answer you at once while the Royal Library has not informed me if it has the work of Waitz-Gerland and Wallace. Finally it gave me today Waitz' Anthropology of Primitive Peoples and I hasten to ask you if this is the book I need. It deals only with the unity of the human race, if I am not mistaken. The names of Gerland and Wallace are not mentioned in it. I asked also for the work at the municipal library of Leipzig, but I was told that it did not have any, so that I could not translate the famous chapter. Please give me the exact title so that I can begin soon the translation.
I already sent home the tragedies of Schiller and Andersen's stories for my nephew. I want also to do something for science and the history of my native country. I can do that very well at the Royal Library. I knew already the work that Chamisso brought from the Philippines. I read his poems, his account of his trip, and his adventure with a friar, the only rude man he saw in the Philippines. I agree with the poet and you, esteemed Professor, will soon have the same opinion.........

Illustration of Taal Volcano by Ukrainian artist Ludwig Choris (1795-1828). Choris was part of the "Rurik" crew with Von Chamisso

Another Ludwig Choris illustration of Taal volcano