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June 06, 2003

MILAGROS C. GUERRERO
EMMANUEL N. ENCARNACION
RAMON N. VILLEGAS

Nineteenth-century journalists used the phrase “el grito de rebelion” or “the Cry of Rebellion” to describe the momentous events sweeping the Spanish colonies; in Mexico it was the “Cry of Dolores” (16 September 1810), Brazil the “City of Ypiraga” (7 September 1822), and in Cuba the “Cry of Matanza” (24 February 1895). In August 1896, northeast of Manila, Filipinos similarly declared their rebellion against the Spanish colonial government. It was Manuel Sastron, the Spanish historian, who institutionalized the phrased for the Philippines in his 1897 book, La Insurreccion en Filipinas. All these “Cries” were milestones in the several colonial-to-nationalist histories of the world.

Raging controversy

If the expression is taken literally –the Cry as the shouting of nationalistic slogans in mass assemblies –then there were scores of such Cries. Some writers refer to a Cry of Montalban on April 1895, in the Pamitinan Caves where a group of Katipunan members wrote on the cave walls, “Viva la indepencia Filipina!” long before the Katipunan decided to launch a nationwide revolution.

The historian Teodoro Agoncillo chose to emphasize Bonifacio’s tearing of the cedula (tax receipt) before a crowd of Katipuneros who then broke out in cheers. However, Guardia Civil Manuel Sityar never mentioned in his memoirs (1896-1898) the tearing or inspection of the cedula, but did note the pacto de sangre (blood pact) mark on every single Filipino he met in August 1896 on his reconnaissance missions around Balintawak.

Some writers consider the first military engagement with the enemy as the defining moment of the Cry. To commemorate this martial event upon his return from exile in Hong Kong, Emilio Aguinaldo commissioned a “Himno de Balintawak” to herald renewed fighting after the failed peace of the pact of Biyak na Bato.

On 3 September 1911, a monument to the Heroes of 1896 was erected in what is now the intersection of Epifanio de los Santos Avenue and Andres Bonifacio Drive –North Doversion Road. From that time on until 1962, the Cry of Balintawak was officially celebrated every 26 August.

It is not clear why the 1911 monument was erected there. It could not have been to mark the site of Apolonio Samson’s house in barrio Kangkong; Katipuneros marked that site on Kaingin Road, between Balintawak and San Francisco del Monte Avenue.

Neither could the 1911 monument have been erected to mark the site of the first armed encounter which, incidentally, the Katipuneros fought and won. A contemporary map of 1896 shows that the August battle between the Katipunan rebels and the Spanish forces led by Lt. Ros of the Civil Guards took place at sitio Banlat, North of Pasong Tamo Road far from Balintawak. The site has its own marker.

It is quite clear that first, eyewitnesses cited Balintawak as the better-known reference point for a larger area. Second, while Katipunan may have been massing in Kangkong, the revolution was formally launched elsewhere. Moreover, eyewitnesses and therefore historians, disagreed on the site and date of the Cry.

But the issue did not rest there. In 1970, the historian Pedro A. Gagelonia pointed out:
 

The controversy among historians continues to the present day. The “Cry of Pugad Lawin” (August 23, 1896) cannot be accepted as historically accurate. It lacks positive documentation and supporting evidence from the witness. The testimony of only one eyewitness (Dr. Pio Valenzuela) is not enough to authenticate and verify a controversial issue in history. Historians and their living participants, not politicians and their sycophants, should settle this controversy.
 

Conflicting accounts

Pio Valenzuela had several versions of the Cry. Only after they are compared and reconciled with the other accounts will it be possible to determined what really happened.

Was there a meeting at Pugad Lawin on 23 August 1896, after the meeting at Apolonio Samson’s residence in Hong Kong? Where were the cedulas torn, at Kangkong or Pugad Lawin?

In September 1896, Valenzuela stated before the Olive Court, which was charged with investigating persons involved in the rebellion, only that Katipunan meetings took place from Sunday to Tuesday or 23 to 25 August at Balintawak.

In 1911, Valenzuela averred that the Katipunan began meeting on 22 August while the Cry took place on 23 August at Apolonio Samson’s house in Balintawak.

From 1928 to 1940, Valenzuela maintained that the Cry happened on 24 August at the house of Tandang Sora (Melchora Aquino) in Pugad Lawin, which he now situated near Pasong Tamo Road. A photograph of Bonifacio’s widow Gregoria de Jesus and Katipunan members Valenzuela, Briccio Brigido Pantas, Alfonso and Cipriano Pacheco, published in La Opinion in 1928 and 1930, was captioned both times as having been taken at the site of the Cry on 24 August 1896 at the house of Tandang Sora at Pasong Tamo Road.

In 1935 Valenzuela, Pantas and Pacheco proclaimed “na hindi sa Balintawak nangyari ang unang sigaw ng paghihimagsik na kinalalagian ngayon ng bantayog, kung di sa pook na kilala sa tawag na Pugad Lawin.” (The first Cry of the revolution did not happen in Balintawak where the monument is, but in a place called Pugad Lawin.)

In 1940, a research team of the Philippines Historical Committee (a forerunner of the National Historical Institute or NHI), which included Pio Valenzuela, identified the precise spot of Pugad Lawin as part of sitio Gulod, Banlat, Kalookan City. In 1964, the NHI’s Minutes of the Katipunan referred to the place of the Cry as Tandang Sora’s and not as Juan Ramos’ house, and the date as 23 August.

Valenzuela memoirs (1964, 1978) averred that the Cry took place on 23 August at the house of Juan Ramos at Pugad Lawin. The NHI was obviously influenced by Valenzuela’s memoirs. In 1963, upon the NHI endorsement, President Diosdado Macapagal ordered that the Cry be celebrated on 23 August and that Pugad Lawin be recognized as its site.

John N. Schrumacher, S.J, of the Ateneo de Manila University was to comment on Pio Valenzuela’s credibility:

I would certainly give much less credence to all accounts coming from Pio Valezuela, and to the interpretations Agoncillo got from him verbally, since Valenzuela gave so many versions from the time he surrendered to the Spanish authorities and made various statements not always compatible with one another up to the time when as an old man he was interviewed by Agoncillo.
Pio Valenzuela backtracked on yet another point. In 1896, Valenzuela testified that when the Katipunan consulted Jose Rizal on whether the time had come to revolt, Rizal was vehemently against the revolution. Later, in Agoncillo’s Revolt of the masses, Valenzuela retracted and claimed that Rizal was actually for the uprising, if certain prerequisites were met. Agoncillo reasoned that Valenzuela had lied to save Rizal.

The Pugad Lawin marker

The prevalent account of the Cry is that of Teodoro Agoncillo in Revolt of the masses (1956):

It was in Pugad Lawin, where they proceeded upon leaving Samson’s place in the afternoon of the 22nd, that the more than 1,000 members of the Katipunan met in the yard of Juan A. Ramos, son of Melchora Aquino,…in the morning of August 23rd. Considerable discussion arose whether the revolt against the Spanish government should be started on the 29th. Only one man protested… But he was overruled in his stand… Bonifacio then announced the decision and shouted: “Brothers, it was agreed to continue with the plan of revolt. My brothers, do you swear to repudiate the government that oppresses us?” And the rebels, shouting as one man replied: “Yes, sir!” “That being the case,” Bonifacio added, “bring out your cedulas and tear them to pieces to symbolize our determination to take arms!” .. . Amidst the ceremony, the rebels, tear-stained eyes, shouted: “Long live the Philippines! Long live the Katipunan!

Agoncillo used his considerable influenced and campaigned for a change in the recognized site to Pugad Lawin and the date 23 August 1896. In 1963, the National Heroes Commission (a forerunner of the NHI), without formal consultations or recommendations to President Macapagal.

Consequently, Macapagal ordered that the Cry of Balintawak be called the “Cry of Pugad Lawin,” and that it be celebrated on 23 August instead of 26 August. The 1911 monument in Balintawak was later removed to a highway. Student groups moved to save the discarded monument, and it was installed in front of Vinzons Hall in the Diliman campus of the University of the Philippines on 29 November 1968.

In 1962, Teodoro Agoncillo, together with the UP Student Council, placed a marker at the Pugad Lawin site. According to Agoncillo, the house of Juan Ramos stood there in 1896, while the house of Tandang Sora was located at Pasong Tamo.

On 30 June 1983, Quezon City Mayor Adelina S. Rodriguez created the Pugad Lawin Historical Committee to determine the location of Juan Ramos’s 1896 residence at Pugad Lawin.

The NHI files on the committee’s findings show the following:

  • In August 1983, Pugad Lawin in barangay Bahay Toro was inhabited by squatter colonies.• The NHI believed that it was correct in looking for the house of Juan Ramos and not of Tandang Sora. However, the former residence of Juan Ramos was clearly defined.• There was an old dap-dap tree at the site when the NHI conducted its survey I 1983. Teodoro Agoncillo, Gregorio Zaide and Pio Valenzuela do not mention a dap-dap tree in their books.

    • Pio Valenzuela, the main proponent of the “Pugad Lawin” version, was dead by the time the committee conducted its research.

    • Teodoro Agoncillo tried to locate the marker installed in August 1962 by the UP Student Council. However, was no longer extant in 1983.

In spite of the above findings and in the absence of any clear evidence, the NHI disregarded its own 1964 report that the Philippine Historical Committee had determined in 1940 that the Pugad Lawin residence was Tandang Sora’s and not Juan Ramos’s and that the specific site of Pugad Lawin was Gulod in Banlat.

The presence of the dap-dap tree in the Pugad Lawin site determined by Agoncillo and the NHI is irrelevant, since none of the principals like Pio Valenzuela, Santiago Alvarez, and others, nor historians like Zaide- and even Agoncillo himself before that instance- mentioned such a tree.

On the basis of the 1983 committee’s findings, the NHI placed a marker on 23 August 1984 on Seminary Road in barangay Bahay Toro behind Toro Hills High School, the Quezon City General Hospital and the San Jose Seminary. It reads:

Ang Sigaw ng Pugad Lawin (1896)

Sa paligid ng pook na ito, si Andres Bonifacio at mga isang libong Katipunero at nagpulong noong umaga ng ika-23 Agosto 1896, at ipinasyang maghimagsik laban sa Kastila sa Pilipinas. Bilang patunay ay pinag-pupunit ang kanilang mga sedula na naging tanda ng pagkaalipin ng mga Pilpino. Ito ang kaunaunahang sigaw ng Bayang Api laban sa bansang Espanya na pinatibayan sa pamamagitan ng paggamit ng sandata.

(On this site Andres Bonifacio and one thousand Katipuneros met in the morning of 23 August 1896 and decided to revolt against the Spanish colonial government in the Philippines. As an affirmation of their resolve, they tore up their tax receipts which were symbols of oppression of the Filipinos. This was very first Cry of the Oppressed Nation against Spain which was enforced with use of arms.)

The place name “Pugad Lawin “, however, is problematic. In History of the Katipunan (1939), Zaide records Valenzuela’s mention of the site in a footnote and not in the body of text, suggesting that the Historian regarded the matter as unresolved.

Cartographic changes

Was there a Pugad Lawin in maps or literature of the period?

A rough sketch or croquis de las operaciones practicadas in El Español showed the movements of Lt. Ros against the Katipunan on 25, 26, and 27 August 1896. The map defined each place name as sitio “Baclac” (sic: Banlat). In 1897, the Spanish historian Sastron mentioned Kalookan, Balintawak, Banlat and Pasong Tamo. The names mentioned in some revolutionary sources and interpretations- Daang Malalim, Kangkong and Pugad Lawin- were not identified as barrios. Even detailed Spanish and American maps mark only Kalookan and Balintawak.

In 1943 map of Manila marks Balintawak separately from Kalookan and Diliman. The sites where revolutionary events took place are within the ambit of Balintawak.

Government maps issued in 1956, 1987, and 1990, confirm the existence of barangays Bahay Toro, but do not define their boundaries. Pugad Lawin is not on any of these maps.

According to the government, Balintawak is no longer on the of Quezon City but has been replaced by several barangays. Barrio Banlat is now divided into barangays Tandang Sora and Pasong Tamo. Only bahay Toro remains intact.

Writer and linguist Sofronio Calderon, conducting research in the late 1920s on the toponym “Pugad Lawin,” went through the municipal records and the Census of 1903 and 1918, could not find the name, and concluded that “Isang…pagkakamali… ang sabihing mayroong Pugad Lawin sa Kalookan.” (It would be a mistake to say that there is such as Pugad Lawin in Kalookan.)

What can we conclude from all this?

First, that “Pugad Lawin” was never officially recognized as a place name on any Philippine map before Second World War. Second, “Pugad Lawin “ appeared in historiography only from 1928, or some 32 years after the events took place. And third, the revolution was always traditionally held to have occurred in the area of Balintawak, which was distinct from Kalookan and Diliman.

Therefore, while the toponym “Pugad Lawin” is more romantic, it is more accurate to stick to the original “Cry of Balintawak.”

Determining the date

The official stand of NHI is that the Cry took place on 23 August 1896. That date, however, is debatable.

The later accounts of Pio Valenzuela and Guillermo Masangkay on the tearing of cedulas on 23 August are basically in agreement, but conflict with each other on the location. Valenzuela points to the house of Juan Ramos in Pugad Lawin, while Masangkay refers to Apolonio Samson’s in Kangkong. Masangkay’s final statement has more weight as it is was corroborated by many eyewitnesses who were photographed in 1917, when the earliest 23 August marker was installed. Valenzuela’s date (23 August ) in his memoirs conflict with 1928 and 1930 photographs of the surveys with several Katipunan officers, published in La Opinion, which claim that the Cry took place on the 24th.

The turning point

What occurred during those last days of August 1896? Eyewitness accounts mention captures, escapes, recaptures, killings of Katipunan members; the interrogation of Chinese spies; the arrival of arms in Meycauyan, Bulacan; the debate with Teodoro Plata and others; the decision to go war; the shouting of slogan; tearing of cedulas; the sending of letters presidents of Sanggunian and balangay councils; the arrival of civil guard; the loss of Katipunan funds during the skirmish. All these events, and many others, constitute the beginning of nationwide revolution.

The Cry, however, must be defined as that turning point when the Filipinos finally rejected Spanish colonial dominion over the Philippine Islands, by formally constituting their own national government, and by investing a set of leaders with authority to initiate and guide the revolution towards the establishment of sovereign nation.

Where did this take place?

The introduction to the original Tagalog text of the Biyak na Bato Constitution states:

Ang paghiwalay ng Filipinas sa kahariang España sa patatag ng isang bayang may sariling pamamahala’t kapangyarihan na pangangalang “Republika ng Filipinas” ay siyang layong inadhika niyaring Paghihimagsik na kasalukuyan, simula pa ng ika- 24 ng Agosto ng taong 1896…

The Spanish text also states:

La separacion de Filipinas de la Monarquia Española, constituyendose en Estado Independiente y soberano con Gobierno propuio, con el nombre de Repulica de Filipinas, es en su Guerra actual, iniciada en 24 de Agosto de 1896…

(The separation of the Philippines from the Spanish Monarchu, constituting an independent state and with a proper sovereign government, named the Republic of the Philippines, was the end pursued by the revolution through the present hostilities, initiated on 24 August 1896…)

These lines- in a legal document at that – are persuasive proof that in so far as the leaders of the revolution are concerned, revolution began on 24 August 1896. The document was written only one and a half years after the event and signed by over 50 Katipunan members, among them Emilio Aguinaldo , Artemio Ricarte and Valentin Diaz.

Emilio Aguinaldo’s memoirs, Mga Gunita ng Himagsikan (1964), refer to two letters from Andres Bonifacio dated 22 and 24 August. They pinpoint the date and place of the crucial Cry meeting when the decision to attack Manila was made:

Noong ika-22 ng Agosto, 1896, ang Sangguniang Magdalo ay tumanggap ng isang lihim na sulat mula sa Supremo Andres Bonifacio, sa Balintawak , na nagsasaad na isamng mahalagang pulong ang kanilang idinaos sa ika-24 ng nasabing buwan, at lubhang kailangan na kame ay mapadala roon ng dalawang kinatawan o delegado sa ngalan ng Sanggunian. Ang pulong aniya’y itataon sa kaarawan ng kapistahan ng San Bartolome sa Malabon, Tambobong. kapagkarakang matanggap ang nasabing paanyaya, an gaming Pangulo na si G. Baldomero Aguinaldo, ay tumawag ng pulong sa tribunal ng Cavite el Viejo… Nagkaroon kami ng pag-aalinlangan sa pagpapadala roon ng aming kinatawan dahil sa kaselanang pagdararanang mga pook at totoong mahigpit at abot-abot ang panghuli ng mag Guardia Civil at Veterana sa mga naglalakad lalung-lalo na sa mag pinaghihinalaang mga mason at Katipunan. Gayon pa man ay aming hinirang at pinagkaisahang ipadalang tanging Sugo ang matapang na kapatid naming si G. Domingo Orcullo… Ang aming Sugo ay nakarating ng maluwalhati sa kanyang paroonan at nagbalik din na wala naming sakuna, na taglay ang sulat ng Supremo na may petsang 24 ng Agosto. Doon ay wala naming sinasabing kautusan, maliban sa patalastas na kagugulat-gulat na kanilang lulusubin ang Maynila, sa Sabado ng gabi, ika-29 ng Agosto, at ang hudyat ay ang pagpatay ng ilaw sa Luneta. Saka idinugtong pa na marami diumano ang nahuli at napatay ng Guardia Civil at Veterana sa kanyang mga kasamahan sa lugar ng Gulod …

(On 22 August 1896, the Magdalo Council received a secret letter from Supremo Andres Bonifacio, in Balintawak, which stated that the Katipunan will hold an important meeting on the 24th of the said month, and that it was extremely necessary to send two representatives or delegates in the name of the said Council. The meeting would be timed to coincide with the feast day of Saint Bartolomew in Malabon, Tambobong. Upon receiving the said invitation, our President, Mr. Baldomero Aguinaldo, called a meeting at Tribunal of Cavite el Viejo…We were apprehensive about sending representatives because the areas they would have pass through were dangerous and was a fact that the Civil Guard and Veterans were arresting travelers, especially those suspected of being freemasons and members of Katipunan. Nevertheless, we agreed and nominated to send a single representative in the person of our brave brother, Mr. Domingo Orcullo… Our representative arrived safely at his destination and also returned unharmed, bearing a letter from the Supremo dated 24 August. It contained no orders but the shocking announcement that the Katipunan would attack Manila at night on Saturday, 29 August, the signal for which would be the putting out of the lamps in Luneta. He added that many of his comrade had been captured and killed by the Civil Guard and Veterans in Gulod…)

The first monument to mark the Cry was erected in 1903 on Ylaya Street in Tondo, in front of the house were Liga Filipina was founded. The tablet cites Andre Bonifacio as a founding member, and as “ Supreme Head of the Katipunan, which gave the first battle Cry against tyranny on August 24, 1896.”

The above facts render unacceptable the official stand that the turning point of the revolution was the tearing of cedulas in the “Cry of Pugad Lawin” on 23 August 1896, in the Juan Ramos’s house in “Pugad Lawin” Bahay Toro, Kalookan.

The events of 17-26 August 1896 occurred closer to Balintawak than to Kalookan. Traditionally, people referred to the “Cry of Balintawak” since that barrio was a better known reference point than Banlat.

In any case, “Pugad Lawin” is not historiographically verifiable outside of the statements of Pio Valenzuela in the 1930s and after. In Philippine Historical Association round-table discussion in February this year, a great granddaughter of Tandang Sora protested the use of toponym “Pugad Lawin” which, she said, referred to a hawks nest on top of a tall sampaloc tree at Gulod, the highest elevated area near Balintawak. This certainly negates the NHI’s premise that “Pugad Lawin” is on Seminary Road in Project 8.

What we should celebrate is the establishment of a revolutionary or the facto government that was republican in aspiration, the designation of Bonifacio as the Kataastaasang Pangulo (Supreme Presiddent), the election of the members of his cabinet ministers and Sanggunian and Balangay heads which authorized these moves met in Tandang Sora’s barn near Pasong Tamo Road, in sitio Gulod, barrio Banlat then under the jurisdiction of the municipality of Kalookan. This took place at around noon of Monday, 24 August 1896.

It is clear that the so-called Cry of Pugad Lawin of 23 August is an imposition and erroneous interpretation, contrary to indisputable and numerous historical facts.

The centennial of the Cry of Balintawak should be celebrated on 24 August 1996 at the site of the barn and house of Tandang Sora in Gulod, now barangay Banlat, Quezon City.

That was when and where the Filipino nation state was born.