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Retracing the steps of Gregoria de Jesus

Who could resist being part of this historical journey from Indang to Maragondon in Cavite, tracing the trail taken in 1897 by Gregoria de Jesus aka Oriang when she followed her captured husband Andres Bonifacio, founder of the revolutionary movement, and his brother Procopio as they were taken from town to town after their arrest?

The Trial Trail, as it was called, was designed by Bobbi Nakpil Santos-Viola, head of the Bahay Nakpil-Bautista Foundation Inc., with help from Bhel Esquierdo-Asinas of the Bacoor Local Culture and the Arts Council and the Advocates for Heritage Preservation. Originally meant for the third and fourth generation Nakpil descendants of their Lola Goria, the tour invitation was extended to a few others—a distinct privilege. (Andres and Oriang did not have surviving children, and Oriang’s descendants are from her second marriage to composer and revolutionary Julio Nakpil.)

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And so it began at the Noveleta Municipal Hall, where Mayor Dino Carlo Reyes Chua proudly welcomed us to the town that proves Cavite is not entirely Aguinaldo country. In entering Cavite, one cannot but notice the Aguinaldo Shrine, stately even in the distance, the favored site of June 12 flag-raising ceremonies. It would have been worthwhile to visit the shrine for its historical significance, but not for this day’s trail.

Noveleta became the seat of the Magdiwang faction, with Noveleta native Mariano Alvarez as a recognized general credited with the growth of the Katipunan in Cavite. He was the uncle of Oriang, and was said to have introduced the couple. Mayor Chua is committed to preserving the history of the town and the Casa Tribunal, now embarking on a mini-museum to highlight historical events especially for the youth to take pride in. May more mayors be similarly imbued with such sense of history and citizenship.

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Oriang’s trail properly begins in Barangay Limbon, Indang, for it was where the Bonifacio brothers—Andres, Ciriaco and Procopio—were arrested on orders of Aguinaldo. Ciriaco was killed in this attack and Andres wounded. They were held here for a day.

Andres and Procopio were detained in Naic, also where Aguinaldo completed his Cabinet of Reconciliation which was not done during the Tejeros Convention. From Indang, Oriang and two women companions were told to come to Naic to ask Aguinaldo to postpone the trial. They walked under heavy rain and were refused audience by Aguinaldo, although Oriang caught a glimpse of him. They were instead arrested and jailed for a night.

At Casa Hacienda de Naic is a dungeon-like room with lifesize figures of the brothers. Our historian guide for the day, Xiao Chua, who takes his students on this tour, invites them to stay in the dark and stuffy cell for a few minutes to experience what detention was like.

Because it was midafternoon and we had not had lunch—again to simulate what Oriang had to endure—we unfortunately skipped the Museo ng Paglilitis ni Andres Bonifacio or the Trial House where the court martial was held, with Oriang called upon for questioning.

Maragondon at dusk was an emotional experience, a painful climax to Oriang’s month-long search for Andres and Procopio, her via crucis. It is a scenic and serene forested area with Mount Buntis, one of the hills Oriang traversed, and Mount Nagpatong in view. The Bonifacio Shrine honors their martyrdom and the spot where they were shot, and where Andres’ remains were supposedly found. Against this backdrop, Chua called on our sense of patriotism, to read and discover primary sources to better appreciate who we are as a nation and for a more accurate rendering of history.

The tour was also richer in insights in the company of social anthropologist Butch Nakpil-Zialcita and Cavite son, food scholar and book designer Ige Ramos, who has just published his “Republic of Taste: The Untold Stories of Cavite Cuisine.” A food tour must be next after our introduction to Indang’s bibingka and Tanza’s La Paella local dishes.

Right in their own hometown, the citizens of Cavite have history coming to life. Let it not go to waste.

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Neni Sta. Romana Cruz ([email protected] gmail.com) is chair of the National Book Development Board and a member of the Eggie Apostol Foundation.

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TAGS: gregoria de jesus, History, opinion
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