Looking Back

‘Rape in 1896’

WHENEVER I see some reference to “daang matuwid” (straight path), I remember the argumentative televangelists before the MTRCB asked them to tone down. These used to be very entertaining programs that prompted me to switch channels between “Dating Daan” (Former Path) and its rival “Tamang Daan” (Right Path). So engrossed was I that my father took notice and remarked once, “Hoy! [Expletive deleted] Baka ma-convert ka nyan!” Of course, there was no danger of me getting converted to either group, but it made me wonder about the many different people and groups taking us in different directions. Couldn’t daang matuwid be another form of desired societal change such as “Bagong Lipunan” a generation earlier?

Historians often see from their research that we have not changed much over time, yet it doesn’t lead us to despair but rather to hope that there is always light at the end of a long, dark tunnel.
Someone asked me recently about the splendid documentary editing by the Jesuit historians Pedro de Achutegui and Miguel Bernad whose works are cited or referred to by those in the profession as Achutegui and Bernad. They compiled, translated, ordered and annotated a multi-volume work on Aglipay and the Philippine Independent Church, titled “Religious Revolution,” which appeared from 1961 to 1972; as well as “Aguinaldo and the Revolution of 1896”(1972), which presents the history of the first phase of the Revolution through relevant documents. Sourced from many different archival repositories and private collections, the original documents in Spanish or Tagalog are transcribed and accompanied by an English translation. One wishes that they published more because they had gathered so many materials that now await use in the Ateneo Rizal Library by a new generation of scholars.


What sets this compilation apart from anything else is the fact that the documents do not just tell of the Filipino struggle against Spain, but also show that on the road to freedom and nationhood there were other issues, other enemies. Any student who has been raised on stereotypes about abusive Guardia Civil and lecherous friars are often surprised, and uncomfortable, when presented with Filipinos as villains. But not all is black and white, good and evil; the world is gray and more complicated than we would want it to be.

The third chapter of this book has 36 various documents arranged chronologically to give us another view of the past. There is a document from November 1896 banning the importation of tobacco, cigarettes and liquor that makes us wonder why present lawmakers cannot hike so-called “sin taxes” to earn more revenue and reduce their use.
Another document talks about a woman from Silang, married to a Christian Chinese (“babaying tubo [rito] nakaasaua ng biniagang inchic”), who was raped (“linulupig ang kaniyang kapurihan”) by a man from the same town. Nothing new here except that both crime and culprit were made known to the entire town!
Then there was a document that has a contemporary ring to it and reminds me of convicted former Batangas Gov. Antonio Leviste who was able to go in and out of Bilibid until he was exposed in media. A certain Primo Baguina from Tanauan, Batangas, was arrested in Imus, Cavite, and charged with working for the enemy and imprisoned. He asked to visit his family in Amadeo and was granted passes (“biniguian ng pases”) on condition that he return after two days. Baguina did not return and thus having “taken advantage of his leave with treacherous intent,” an all-point bulletin was issued calling for his arrest and his return, bound, to Imus prison.


We often complain of the frequent change in street names in Metro Manila, but in those days they changed the names of whole towns, first to get rid of Spanish names like Perez Dasmariñas, Mendez Nuñez, and Amadeo which were changed to Mapuri, Mapalad, and Mapagibig, names that remind us of Teacher’s Village in Quezon City where the street names all begin with “M” and are all virtues. Not content with one change, they would later change Mapalad to Alapaap!
They even changed towns with native names. Talisay in Batangas became Taliba. Indang in Cavite became Walang Tinag; Bacoor became Gargano; Silang became Sumilang or Magsilang; Imus became Haligue and then Kawit, so named because on the map it is shaped like a hook. Its name was again changed from the Spanish Cavite el Viejo into Magdalo and Bakay.
They even cite Artemio Ricarte’s memoirs as follows: Noveleta/Magdiwang, San Francisco de Malabon/Mapagtiis, Rosario/Salinas, Santa Cruz de Malabon/Panguagui, Naic/Maguagui, Maragondon/Matagumpay, Ternate/Katuata and later Molukas, and finally Alfonso/Naghapay kay Alfonso.

There are documents on: the cultivation of seasonal crops, elections, respect for government officials, taxation, flow of communication, cattle rustling—topics that I will write about in another column.

The problems we face today are the same problems our ancestors faced a century ago. How come we never learn? Because we like to pass the blame and insist that history repeats itself when it is we who repeat it. Unless textbook and classroom history is corrected to make us see our roles in the shaping of the present and future, we will never break the cycle.
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TAGS: Ateneo Rizal Library, Batangas, daang matuwid, MTRCB
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