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Looking Back

By Ambeth Ocampo
Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 23:10:00 09/23/2010

Filed Under: history

ARTEMIO RICARTE?S ?Himagsikan nang manga Pilipino laban sa Kastila? was published in Yokohama, Japan, in 1927. The imprint given is ?Karihan Café.? Ricarte?s wife ran a restaurant visited by Filipinos traveling in Japan. If one was homesick or tired of Japanese fare, Karihan Luvimin on 149 Yamasitacho, Yokohama, was the place for Pinoy food and a meeting with a living relic of the Philippine Revolution and a veteran of the Philippine-American War.

For a number of years now, I have sought the assistance of the Philippine Embassy in Japan to negotiate with the owner of the building where Karihan Luvimin once stood so we can install a historical marker there. There has been little progress on this project because our contacts in Japan are more interested in Rizal than Ricarte.

Then there is a memorial to ?Ri-ka-ru-te? at Yamashita Park in Yokohama erected by the Philippines-Japan Friendship Society in 1972. It consists of a block of granite with a relief of Ricarte?s pouting face. It is ironic that when you take a souvenir photograph of the Ricarte Memorial here, its background happens to be the golden arches of McDonald?s, which is quite apt for a man who fought long and hard against ?American Imperialism.?

Yokohama was a refuge not only for Ricarte but also for Mariano Ponce whose house should really be marked because it was visited by his friend Dr. Sun Yat-sen (1866-1925). Ponce, a friend of Rizal, is better known as a member of the Reform Movement in Spain, but his later life is not well known. He wrote one of the first biographies of Sun Yat-sen and published this in 1912.

It would be relevant for us to dig up stories about other Filipino expatriates in Japan in the 19th century and the early 20th century to provide some historical perspective to the many Filipinos today who live and work there. Many young Filipinos are growing up in foreign lands and it is essential that history be used to give them a sense of their roots in the Philippines.

Regarding Ricarte?s stay in Yokohama, we have photographs and some documentary material. His return to the Philippines in December 1903 we know from Philippine National Police and Philippine Constabulary reports.

Ricarte tried to interest the men once prominent in the revolution against Spain to rise anew against the US and was disappointed that he could not enlist their support. In the stenographic notes of his interrogation he said the following:

Ricarte called on Emilio Aguinaldo a number of times and said, ?I reproached Aguinaldo for having sworn allegiance to the American government and not having preferred death, and for having deceived the people and caused so many deaths. I also explained to him the idea which had brought me, and he answered that he did not wish to take part in the revolution seeing that the people did not accept him now. Lastly, I asked him for a sum of money for my aid and he denied me, stating he was poor.?

Ricarte called on Pio del Pilar in Peñafrancia, Paco. He narrated: ?We held a conference which touched upon the situation as it then was and upon my plans. Pio del Pilar having adhered to them all asked to accompany me, which I did not accept because I did not trust him, and I advised him to remain in Manila until such time as he should see that the people responded.?

Ricarte called on Gregorio Aglipay in Calle Espeleta, Santa Cruz, Manila, and they conferred for an hour after which the founding head of Iglesia Filipina Independiente, ?advised me to surrender myself, but with the view of my attitude he told me to do what I thought best. Gregorio Aglipay is a relative of mine, a third cousin, a native of my town [Batac, Ilocos Norte], and I exercise great influence over him because he respects me.?

Ricarte then called on another prominent Ilocano, Isabelo de los Reyes, in Tondo where they, ?had a long conference during which he tried to dissuade me from my intentions, picturing the situation of the country to me, assuring me the people will not respond. I insisted on my ideas and would not let Isabelo de los Reyes convince me, the conference terminating in this manner.?

Reading the above made me wonder why the fervor for independence seemed to have cooled except for Ricarte. Perhaps people wanted a break after the revolution and the Philippine-American War then belittled as the ?Philippine Insurrection.? Maybe these veterans of two wars believed in the overweight William Howard Taft and expected the Philippines to be granted independence after a short period of training in American-style government.

Ricarte recounted a 10-minute meeting he had with Dr. Dominador Gomez thus: ?Dr. Gomez showed himself surprised at my coming and after hearing the explanations I gave him of the purpose of my return from Hong Kong, he advised me not to carry them into effect because without the necessity of shedding blood, the independence of the country would be accomplished in three or four years since Taft had set up the doctrine of ?the Philippines for the Filipinos,? but as I expressed myself as not disposed to recede he advised me to return to Hong Kong since nothing could be accomplished, seeing that the Filipinos would not second me.?

One can only imagine the frustration Ricarte felt when nobody seemed interested in fighting against the US. He would get the same reception when he returned to the Philippines with the Japanese in 1941.

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