A photograph of the scene earlier today, January 11, 1897, when the execution of thirteen convicted revolutionaries was carried out at Bagumbayan Field.
Jan 9, 1897. 11:20AM
Manila, Philippines - Correspondence acquired by Diario de Filipinas shows that revolutionary elements in Cavite have been aware and preparing for a ‘final’ assault by Spanish forces since late last year. The letters cover concerns about food supply, warnings about preparations and basic organizational orders from the Magdalo provincial command to various towns under their authority.
In a letter dated November 17, 1896, Cayetano Topacio, identified as Minister of Finance of the People’s Council of Magdalo and using his Katipunan name “Magtipon”, urged leaders of the local councils of the Katipunan to plant seasonal crops to avoid a food shortage. “…many of our brothers have publicly announced that, if we have no as yet felt the shortage of food, we shall soon suffer this hardship. This will happen all the more, if we do not work with the same industry as formerly…That is how we can evade a grim enemy like Hunger.” Topacio also goes on to recommend to continue planting tobacco as a cash crop.
Part in parcel with the preparations for the coming assault was a transfer of the seat of power of the Revolution to Imus, Cavite. In a letter dated December 21, 1896, “Mabangis” or Baldomero Aguinaldo, President of the People’s Council of the Magdalo, informed the various heads of the towns that: “…according to a decision made today, has deemed it proper to cause the transfer from now on of this Government to the Fort in the municipality of Haligui.” Sources indicate that the reason for the transfer is Imus is one of the more strongly fortified towns in the region.
In a letter on December 21, 1896, Emilio Aguinaldo issued an order to his various generals requesting for troop dispositions. "Upon receipt of this order, please prepare immediately a report in duplicate, mentioning all the guns under your command." Analyst say that these letters, along with others acquired by Diario, indicate that the level of preparation of revolutionary forces far exceeds what the Spanish authorities projected.
Sources say that the Spanish authorities in the Philippines and Spain were surprised by the level of preparedness demonstrated by Cavite-based revolutionaries after the Revolution broke out. This was in contrast to the almost ad hoc approach that Manila-based revolutionaries took to preparations for organized military campaigns. As a result, Governor-General Camilo de Polavieja, since taking over the government on December 13, 1896, has taken a more measured approach to handling military affairs. Since then, there has been an unspoken ceasefire in Cavite, with only minor sorties occurring in places like Pateros and Taguig. Sources within the government also indicate that Polavieja will be receiving major reinforcements from Spain. This is also differs from the type of support offered to Governor-General Ramon Blanco, who Polavieja replaced. During Blanco’s tenure the position of the Spanish Crown was that Blanco could quell the rebellion with existing forces. This proved to be a faulty assumption.
Based on correspondence it appears that the Revolutionaries are attempting to expand their preparations in the face of Polavieja’s reinforcements and subsequent plans to decisively end the rebellion in the colony in the coming months.
Correspondents from Imus, Cavites and writers Pedro S, Achutegui, SJ, and Miguel A. Bernad, SJ contributed to this report.
Jan 5, 1897. 10:45AM
Manila, Philippines - Early yesterday, January 4, saw Bagumbayan field host another series of Spanish government ordered executions. Eleven men from Camarines and Bicol were summarily executed by firing squad at 7:00AM. Among the men were three priests accused and convicted of using their local ecclesiastical influence to aid the nascent Philippine Revolution. These far more subdued executions come five days after the much celebrated and attended death of Dr Jose Rizal.
The latest executions continue a series that began with the founding of the court martial courts on August 30, 1896 by former Governor-General Ramon Blanco. The handing down of death sentences has increased under current Governor-General Camilo de Polavieja. Sources within the Palace say that this is part of his broader campaign to stamp out revolutionary sentiment in the Islands. It was also reveled that in December of last year Polavieja drafted guidelines for forced resettlement of residents in various barrios. He believes that barrios have become breeding grounds, and support centers, for revolutionaries. Analysts have warned Polavieja that his continued draconian measures may backfire on the Spanish government.
The most recent executions conclude a campaign to root out revolutionary sentiment in Nueva Caceres. It began with the arrest of well-known and wealthy notary Manuel Abella. Included in the first wave of arrests was Tomas Prieto, a well-off pharmacist. Under torture, Prieto confessed that Domingo Abella, the son of Manuel, was engaged in weapons smuggling and supplying to revolutionary elements. Among the accused of weapons smuggling was Father Severino Diaz and other religious members of his parish.
The next wave of arrests began on September 19, 1896, with the arrest of Father Diaz, Father Inocencio Herrera (the cathedral’s choirmaster), and Father Severo Estrada (the cathedral’s coadjutor). Additionally, Father Gabriel Prieto of Albay, the brother of Tomas Prieto, was accused and arrested of revolutionary crimes. On December 29, the priests and previously arrested Bikolanos stood trial and were quickly ordered to be executed. Analysts were surprised at the rapidity with which the decision and death penalty was handed down. There are rumors in Bikol that the arrests and executions were part of a plot to eliminate locally influential Filipinos in civil society and the Church.
Executed yesterday were the following individuals: Manuel Abella, Domingo Abella, Camilo Jacob, Florencio Lerma, Cornelio Mercado, Mariano Melgarejo, Tomas Prieto, Macario Valentin, Fr Severino Diaz, Fr Inocencio Herrera, and Fr Gabriel Prieto.
Their families have declined to issue a statement.
Father John Schumacher and O.D Corpuz contributed to this report.
Jan. 3, 1897. 1:50PM
Manila, Philippines - Reports from Pateros, Taguig, and Silang indicate that pitched battles have been fought between Spanish troops and Revolutionary forces. These come on the heals of reports that an unofficial ceasefire is being observed in Cavite.
In Pateros and Taguig revolutionary forces under the command of General Emilio Aguinaldo, Pio del Pilar, and Mariano Noriel were defeated by Spanish troops. This was the final battle in a series of skirmishes that began four days ago. On December 31, 1896, after a plea for assistance from existing rebellious elements in Pateros, Aguinaldo marched across land and engaged Spanish loyalists, catching them by surprise, and successfully forcing a surrender. By the evening of December 31, Pateros was under rebel control. Analysts say these two towns are considered of some strategic importance since they control trade along the Pasig River flowing into and out of Laguna.
Beginning on January 1 and extending through January 2, Spanish relief troops have engaged in minor skirmishes in an attempt to probe rebel positions. Earlier today a largecontingent of Spanish troops from Laguna arrived in Pateros and forced Aguinaldo’s withdrawal.
Reports are filtering in that east of Silang, in Las PInas and Dasmarinas, revolutionary forces have attacked Spanish fortified strongholds. These strongholds were established during former Governor-General Ramon Blanco’s campaigns. Their purpose was to a base of operations to launch counter-attacks into rebel held Silang. The rebel attacks were successfully repulsed by Spanish forces.
Correspondents in Laguna, Cavite and writer O.D. Corpuz contributed to this report.
Dec 31, 1896. 9:45AM
The trial courts of the Spanish government continued cracking down on alleged revolutionary activities this week when they sentenced thirteen men from Camarines to death. The guilty verdicts and subsequent orders of execution were rendered almost immediately after noted indio social critic and writer Dr Jose Rizal was executed on December 30.
Among the eleven men are three priests alleged to actively support the Philippine Revolution in Camarines. They are Inocencio Herrera, Severino Diaz, and Gabriel Prieto. The eight other men sentenced to death are from leading provincial families in Camarines. They stand condemned of being complicit in the Revolution. They are Manuel Abella, Domingo Abella, Florencio Lerma, Mariano Melgarejo, Macario Valentino, Cornelio Mercado, Tomas Prieto, and Camilo Jacob. No official date has been set for their execution, but it will take place sometime in the first week of January. Diario was not able to reach the families of the convicted for statements.
Open hostilities between revolutionary forces and Spanish authorities broke out earlier this year with the discovery of the Katipunan led by Andres Bonifacio, a native of Manila. Since August there have been a number of skirmishes and battles between the Revolution and Spanish forces. The province of Cavite is almost completely under the control of revolutionary forces led by Emilio Aguinaldo and Andres Bonifacio. The Revolution is active in the following provinces: Laguna, Manila, Bulacan, Cavite, Morong, Batangas, Bataan, Pampanga, Tarlac, Nueva Ecija, and Tayabas. Analysts believe that Zambales, Pangasinan, Camarines Sur, Albay, Iloilo, Cebu, and Negros will soon follow.
The Spanish government has refused to give an official statement concerning the on-going trials and the rapidly spreading revolutionary sentiments among Filipinos. However, sources within the government indicate that the court martial courts will continue until the Crown is satisfied that revolutionary sentiments have been rooted out and suppressed.
Correspondents from Camarines and writer O.D Corpuz contributed to this report.
Execution of Filipino writer and social critic Dr. Jose Rizal at La Luneta, Manila, Philippine Islands, December 30, 1896. (Photo by Manuel Arias Rodriguez)
Dec. 30, 11:43AM
Diario de Filipinas
On a condition of anonymity one of the Filipino members of the Spanish military contingent has granted Diario de Filipinas an exclusive interview. During the interview he related his intention to leave military service and join the nascent Philippine Revolution.
Follows are excerpts from the interview covering his recollections of the moments immediately before and after the execution of Dr Jose Rizal in Bagumbayan Field at 7:03AM this morning.
On his mother and Rizal:
Not having a glimpse of the man before, I wondered what he looked like. I remembered how my mother had told me that Rizal was so learned nobody could poison him as he always carried with him his own spoon and fork with which he could detect whether his food was poisoned or not. I had also heard of his fighting for our cause: legends were beginning to be woven around him.
About Rizal’s attitude:
When I saw him I knew he was Jose Rizal. He was of regular build, unshaven and quite pale, perhaps on account of his confinement, but was visibly composed and serene.
On Drowning Out Rizal:
We of the drum corps were about seven paces behind Rizal, who then faced the bay. Our commanding office approached and told us that should Rizal attempt to speak we should beat our drums hard to drown out his voice.
On Rizal’s Final Moments:
The Jesuit priest approached him, said a prayer, then blessed him. Then a colonel approached him too, as our commanding officer ordered us to move two paces backward, and the firing squad, composed of six Filipinos, came forward and took our former position behind Rizal. With visible effort, Rizal raised his right hand, which was tied at the elbow, and took off his chistera.
Amidst the silence, Rizal began to move his head very slowly up and down, his lips moving as if in prayer. [Uncorroborated eyewitness accounts of this morning related he said “I forgive every man from the bottom of my heart.”] Then the commanding officer, by means of his saber, signaled the firing squad to aim. The saber dropped and there was a simultaneous crackle of rifle-fire. Jose Rizal wheeled in one last effort and toppled forward with a thud, his face turned toward the sky and his derby hat thrown forward. He had fallen in the direction of the bay.
In the moments after:
Then, suddenly, as if from nowhere, a small dog appeared and ran in circles around the body of Rizal, barking and whimpering. (This incident later became the subject of talk in our quarters, some of my comrades were quick to conclude that it was a premonition of coming misfortune.) the Capitan Militar de la Sanidad, or medical officer, then stepped forward, knelt before the fallen man, and felt his pulse. Looking up, the medical officer beckoned to a member of the firing squad to come forward and give the body the tiro de gracia: a shot done at close range. I thought I saw a faint mist rise from Rizal’s coat, but it might have been a wisp of morning mist. Seeing the body before me, I felt faint.
Our eyewitness relayed one final note about his feelings toward Rizal: "Rizal lay dead on the dewey grass. The day had started and little did I realize that was gazing on the face of the greatest Malayan of them all, that I was witnessing history in the making."
Filed from Intramuros. Writer Asuncion Lopez Bantug contributed to this report.
Thank you for following our coverage of Jose Rizal’s final days and execution. We will continue to provide updates as events unfold.
In the coming days we will begin expanding our coverage of the continuing hostilities between Philippine revolutionary forces and the Spanish government.