Reading about the alleged Binay billions and the paper trail that leads to Canadian banks reminded me of an inquiry made, shortly before the outbreak of the Philippine Revolution in August 1896, regarding assets of Andres Bonifacio in Hong Kong and Shanghai Banking Corp. and Chartered Bank. I was disappointed that the Manila representatives of these banks replied to my query that Bonifacio did not maintain accounts with them, though I presume that funds had been withdrawn and the accounts closed by then.
Emilio Aguinaldo is mentioned in the four-volume HSBC history because he deposited part of the money from the 1897 Pact of Biak-na-Bato in HSBC and lived on the interest. Some colleagues insisted that the funds be split and distributed so they could go on their merry way, and when Aguinaldo refused he was sued in court. The original documents are extant in London waiting for a Filipino historian to work on them.
HSBC once put out an advertisement in the Philippines using Jose Rizal as a product endorser, because he had written his brother Paciano to send his allowance through the bank as it had better rates than anyone else in the market. I checked this out and found Rizal’s recommendation to be true. However, HSBC was silent over Paciano’s reply that he checked out the rates and found better exchange with Chartered Bank.
The 2015 list of millionaires in the Senate based on their statements of assets, liabilities and net worth show Cynthia Villar as the richest senator and Antonio Trillanes the poorest. This list reminded me of Rizal’s own SALN at the time of his trial for sedition in December 1896. His declared property was ordered confiscated for damages to the state in the amount of P1 million, later reduced to P100,000. According to the trial records, Rizal declared that his assets and property in Dapitan included his professional books and medical instruments, and a letter of credit amounting to P73.76. He also turned over a gold tiepin with a bee in the design, and a pair of gold cufflinks with little pearls and two amethysts. After his execution the family requested the return of this tiepin and cufflinks; these were turned over to his mother as souvenirs only on Jan. 20, 1898.
The Register of Deeds in Laguna certified that Rizal owned no land there, but from the practice of his profession in Dapitan and his winnings from lotto, he acquired pieces of land in his place of exile. He paid Sixto Carreon P110 for the following:
“A piece of land in the sitio of Daanlungsod, of the town of Lubungan, bounded on the North by lands of Don Santos Daimiel; on the South by lands of Moises Adverulos y Arroyo, alias Mangulong; on the East by the river of the old town of Lubungan; on the West by hill country of the public domain. It has an area of approximately 34 hectares, 47 ares and 50 centiares, and a stand of more or less two thousand abaca plants.
“Another piece of land in the same sitio, bounded on the North by lands of Angelo Alamang; on the South by and of Feliciano Eguia; on the East by the river of the old town of Lubungan; and on the West by land of Dionisio Adveruelos. It has an area of approximately 58 ares and 58 centiares, and a stand of one thousand abaca plants more or less.
“The total area of both pieces is thus approximately 25 hectares, 6 ares and 8 centiares, with a stand of 3,000 abaca plants, more or less, the greater part of which is ready for stripping.” (This does not seem to add up correctly but is copied directly from the trial records translated from the original Spanish by Horacio de la Costa, SJ.)
Rizal also declared land acquired from public domain with the exception of a small part acquired from the property of a certain Lucia Pabangon at P8. Here is a description of the land and what was found on it:
“A piece of hilly and stony land whose area is estimated to be approximately 18 hectares; bounded on the North by land of Celestino Acopiado and in part by hill country of the public domain; on the East by hill country of the public domain; and on the South and West by the Day of Dapitan on which is found the following:
“A house of light materials, of bamboo and palm-leaf thatch with wooden posts and plank flooring, measuring ten meters and 5 centimeters long and 11 meters and 40 cms wide.
“A light material shed of bamboo and palm-leaf thatch with wooden posts and plank flooring, measuring 15 meters long and 7 meters and 10 cms wide. Both house and shed are in good condition.
“31 coconut trees, 10 bamboo trees, and a number of fruit trees.”
Rizal also owned “a vessel of the kind called vilus, unfinished, measuring 19 meters 85 cms. from stem to stern, 1.65 m breadth of beam and 1.30 m depth of hold, and two masts containing … : one-half jar of white lead; one bamboo container of balao (?); three lengths of abaca cable, one of ten fathoms, two of eight; a pile of lumber; 58 buri mats for the sail; and an anchor.”
In themselves these pieces of information are trivial and useless, but they provide a glimpse into how Rizal lived out his exile. A lesser man would have sulked and despaired, but it is clear from the data that he made good use of his time and talent to profit himself and the community around him. The SALN of our heroes help us to understand their background and motivation to help us become heroes ourselves.
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