Looking Back

The incredible Father Burgos


Fr. Dr. Jose A. Burgos (1837-1872) is a name always associated with Fathers Jacinto Zamora and Mariano Gomez. In 1872 the three priests, together with the snitch who testified falsely against them, were executed by garrote at the Luneta, in a spot close to the Rizal monument. Thus has the  term “Gomburza” been burned into the minds of Filipino schoolchildren.

We know very little about Gomburza before their necks were broken, but Burgos seems to have been the most promising of the trio due to his intellectual gifts. It is said that Burgos was not far behind Jose Rizal, who left scholars with 25 volumes of writings. Burgos was a doctor twice over (he was at work on his third doctorate at the time of his execution), with a wider area of specialization: He wrote beyond theology and philosophy.

So where are the originals of these Burgos works today? Why aren’t they translated from the original Spanish and made available to a 21st-century audience?

As of 1959 there were 44 known works of Burgos, 12 of which were in manuscripts and preserved in the Luis Ma. Araneta collection in Manila. Only two have seen print: “La Loba Negra” and “Mare Magnum.” The first listing of Burgos’ work is to be found in a 1938 publication of “La Loba Negra,” a historical novel allegedly written by him in 1869 based on a true story culled from primary-source documents. Translated from the original Spanish as “Black She-wolf” (1970), it has since been exposed as a 20th-century forgery by Jose E. Marco. Nevertheless, it has taken on a life of its own, being reset into a prize-winning play by Virginia Moreno, “Onyx Wolf” (1969), which was recently recast into dance by Myra Beltran as “Itim Asu” (2010).

Burgos’ unpublished and unlocated writings are as follows:

“Humana Vitae,” Manila, 1870; “La conchologia de Filipinas” (Shells in the Philippines), Vigan, 1861; “Historia de la religion Romana en

Filipinas y sus misterios” (History of Roman Religion in the Philippines and its Mysteries), Manila, 1863; “Estado de Filipinas a la llegada de los Españoles” (State of the Philippines at the arrival of the Spaniards), Manila, 1864; “Musica Sacro-profana Filipina,” Manila, 1866; “Ñol basio y tia nila,” Manila 1866; “Estudios sobre la vida del Filipino pre-historico” (Studies on Philippine life in prehistoric times), Manila 1866; “Que es el fraile?” (What is a friar?), Manila, 1869; “Los misterios de la carrera sacerdotal” (Mysteries of priestly career) Manila, 1870; “Misterios conventuales,” Manila, 1867; “Que es la Biblia y como el vulgo debe de interpetarlo” (What is the Bible and how to interpret it), Manila, 1868; “Creerencias y costumbres de los Filipinos,” annotated by Jose Rizal and Fernando Blumentritt, Manila 1868-1869; (Studies on the archeology of Manila at the arrival of the Spaniards, Granted a gold medal by my alma mater University of Santo Tomas, 1871); “Como debe de administrarse los santos sacrificios,” Manila, 1871; “Los cides de Filipinas,” Manila, 1866-1867; “Cuentos y leyendas de Filipinas” (Philippine stories and legends) with a prologue by Jacinto Zamora, Manila, 1860; “Estragos bañados en sangre de la religion Romana” (Corruption bathed in blood in the Roman religion) annotated by Prof. Fernando Blumentritt, Manila, 1867-1868; “Misterios de la santificacion,” Manila 1867; “Reglamentos sobre la administracion del confesionario” (Rules for administration of confession); “La lucha de la Religion contra la Ciencia” (Religion vs. Science) annotated by Dr. Jose Rizal, Manila, 1860-1861; “Como se forman las religiones” (How religions are formed), Manila, 1859-1860; “Es verdad los milagros?” (Are miracles true?) Manila, 1859-1861; “Los misterios de la santa inquisicion en Filipina” (Mysteries of the Holy Inquisition in the Philippines), Manila, 1862-1863; “Estudios sobre la pesca de Filipinas” (Studies on Fishing in the Philippines), Manila, 1866-1867; “Los reyes Filipinos” (Philippine Kings), annotated by Blumentritt, Manila, 1860; “La sublevacion de Novales en Manila” (The Novales revolt in Manila);  “Puede la religion mejorar al hombre?” (Can religion make man better?), Manila, 1870; “Hechos virtuosos de San Jose y la Virgen Maria” (Virtuous works by St. Joseph and the Virgin Mary), Manila, 1870; “Remedios que este pais necesita” (Reforms necessary for the country); “Calamidades publicas en este pais” (Public calamities in this country), Manila, 1868; “Vendra el fin del mundo?” (Is the end of the world at hand?), Manila 1861; “El cultivo de la inteligencia en este pais” (Cultivation of intelligence in this country), Manila, 1868; “El Capitan Diego de Salcedo,” Manila, 1867; “Presagios y vaticinios,” Manila, 1866; “Sermones pronunciados”; “Estelas de Sangre,” Manila 1862; “Rituales idolatricos Filipinos”; “Reformas que deberian practicarse”; “Estudio comparativo de los rituales salvajes” (comparative study of savage rituals); “Crimenes de la antigua Manila” (Crime in old Manila), Manila, 1857; “Coleccion de cartas a Don Carlos Ma. de la Torre” (Compilation of letters to Governor-general Carlos Ma. de la Torre).

The list is very impressive, but did anyone notice a few red flags? Most obvious is that Rizal, who was born on June 19, 1861, “annotated” one of Burgos’ manuscripts in 1860-1861! These works of Burgos are all fake, made in the 20th century by a warped genius named Jose E. Marco from Negros. Where to find the real Father


* * *

Comments are welcome at aocampo@ateneo.edu

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Tags: Ambeth R. Ocampo , column , fr. Jose a. burgos , History

  • Mon Sparks

    Has anyone written a bio of Jose E. Marco? He seems to be a highly fascinating character.

  • nes911

    Was j. Marco the same fellow who penned the code of kalantiaw? He must really be a genius to be able to forge all those manuscripts and letting us to believe that they are genuine for decades.

  • ConnieLee90

    Another hoax, after Kalantiaw. And all perpetrated by the same man. How could these have escaped detection by our eminent historians? The ironic thing was that it took the discerning eyes of two Americans to debunk these hoaxes. William Scott uncovered the Kalantiaw hoax, while John Schumacher exposed the forgeries attributed to Fr. Burgos. We’ve been duped and taken in for the ride. Mr. Jose E. Marco was quite a character.

  • George Briones

    Sir, do you find parallels in the (mis)fortunes of Nur Misuari and Andres Bonifacio? Both were beaten in elections of the revolutionary groups that they founded. We know what happened to Bonifacio while Misuari still has to write finis to his story.

  • Cue_Vas

    Add an “s” after the forger’s surname and you get quite another character altogether.

  • markus32

    Where to find the real Father Burgos? From what i know when i was young, their resting place inside PACO park lies near a comfort room :-) Bayad piso.. ihi.. :-)

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