In various locations of the 2nd District and 5th district of Quezon City, there are several monuments that commemorate the Filipino’s fight for equality and freedom against the Spanish (1521-1898) and American (1898-1946) colonizers of the archipelago. Chartered in 1935, Quezon City is a relatively new city in the country’s history, yet many of its districts were part of older towns during the foreign occupation of the land.
The Novaliches district was established by the Spanish Governor General Manuel Pavía y Lacy (1814-1896), in 1854. From then, the territory would continue grow to include the barangays (the smallest Philippine local government unit) of Apolonio Samson, Baesa, Bagbag, Bagong Silangan, Balong Bato, Capri, Commonwealth, Batasan Hills, Culiat, Fairview, Greater Lagro, Gulod, Holy Spirit, Kaligayahan, Nagkaisang Nayon, New Era, North Fairview, Novaliches Proper, Pasong Putik Proper, Pasong Tamo, Payatas, San Agustin, San Bartolome, Sangandaan, Santa Lucia, Santa Monica, Sauyo, Talipapa, Tandang Sora, Unang Sigaw; before being separated into the 2nd and 5th districts in 2013. And within this area, several notable events of revolution occurred; which can be noted by the names of several barangays.
The conquest of the islands did not start with the landing of the Portuguese explorer Ferdinand Magellan (1480-1521) in 1521, rather is began with the arrival of the Spanish conquistador Ruy López de Villalobos (1500-1544) in 1542 and his declaration that the islands of Leyte and Samar as Filipinas, after Prince Philip II of Spain (1527-1598). And this would continue with the 1565 founding of the first colonial settlements by the Spanish conquistador Miguel López de Legazpi (1502-1572) in in Cebu, Panay and Manila.
During this continuing occupation of the islands, there were many revolutions, which were mostly regional, and thus did not threaten the Spanish control over the whole Philippines. As the centuries marched on, the development of faster transport and communication systems allowed information to scatter faster among the different provinces, and the most horrid news to react the native population was the 1872 garrote execution of the three native Catholic priests Mariano Gómez de los Ángeles (1799-1872), José Apolonio Garcia Burgos (1837-1872), and Jacinto del Rosario Zamora (1835-1872), for their role in the Cavite Mutiny of 1872. This created a larger resentment of the native population against their Spanish colonizers.
The first to act were the young intellectual reformists, who started the Propaganda Movement; which demanded the equality between the Spaniards and the natives, representation in the Spanish parliament, creation of a secular public school system, and the abolition of forced labor and sale of products to the government. The reformists used publications such as the Diariong Tagalog (Tagalog Newspaper, 1882) and La Liga Filipina (The Filipino League, 1892) in the Philippines, and La Solidaridad (Solidarity, 1889-1895) in Spain, to air out their demands.
One of the most notable members of the Propaganda Movement is Dr. José Protasio Rizal Mercado y Alonso Realonda (1861-1896), who had angered the Spanish authorities and the clergy, with his revealing novels Noli Me Tangere (Touch Me Not, 1887) and El Filibusterismo (The Filibuster, 1891). Aside from his many articles in the La Liga Filipina and La Solidaridad, these two books exposed the ills of Philippine society for all to read. In 1892, Dr. Rizal was arrested and exiled, only to be executed by firing squad in 1896 for rebellion, sedition and conspiracy. In 1903, seven years after his death, the residents of Novaliches erected a monument to Dr. Rizal in front of the Novaliches Proper Barangay Hall, which still stands to this day.
Aside from campaigns of the reformists, a revolutionary sentiment was growing among natives. Among them was Andrés de Castro Bonifacio (1863-1897), who was part of Dr. Rizal’s La Liga Filipina. On the night of Rizal’s arrest and exile in 1892, Bonifacio, along with other members of the La Liga, formed the Katipunan (Kataas-taasang, Kagalang-galangang Katipunan ng̃ mg̃á Anak ng̃ Bayan) movement to overthrow the Spanish colonizers. Among its members was a teenage student, Emilio Dizon Jacinto (1875-1899), who would soon be called the “Brains of the Katipunan”. Aside from writing for the Katipunan newspaper, Kalayaan (Freedom), and the Kartilya ng Katipunan (Primer of the Katipunan); Jacinto served as the Secretary of State of the revolutionary government, and continued the fight against the Spaniards and American until his death by malaria, in 1899. In 2015, a small monument to Jacinto was erected in the gardens of the Cathedral-Parish and Diocesan Shrine of the Good Shepherd, along Regalado Avenue, by the Knights of Columbus.
From 1892 to 1896, the Katipunan continued to recruit and train members, while gathering arms and seeking support from other people. Bonifacio would travel several times from Manila to Novaliches, to confer with his close associates; Canuto Dumalay, Tomas Geronimo and Melchora Aquino de Ramos (1812-1919). Aquino, who was better known as “Tandang Sora” (Old Sora),is considered the “Mother of the Revolution”; and she would allow Bonifaco to conduct his meeting at her home, and even give him advice. Already 84 years old at the start of the revolution, Tadang Sora would give shelter and medical aid to injured Katipuneros. In 2008, near Aquino’s birth place and home, a shrine was erected in her memory, with the sculptures rendered by Toym Imao.
Abdulmari “Toym” de Leon Imao (born 1968) comes from a family of artists. He first took up architecture at the University of the Philippines, but the call of the arts was too strong and he became a sculptor. Later he took his Masters in Fine Arts at the Maryland Institute College of Art as a Fulbright Scholar. Aside from sculpture and installations, Imao has also done production design work for theater and film.
During the revolution, the Spaniards discover of Aquino’s activities, and arrest her. After failing to garner any information during the interrogations, the authorities decide to exile Tandang Sora to the island of Guam, where she remained until 1903. Brought home by the new colonizers, the Americans, Aquino sailed on the S.S. Uranus, along with 76 other exiles. At aged 107, Aquino died at the house of her daughter, Saturnina. She was first buried at La Loma Cemetery, in the Mausoleum of the Philippine Veterans of the Philippine Revolution. Then in 1971, her remains were transferred to the Himlayang Memorial Park, with her tomb surrounded by a shrine by Florante Caedo. In 2008, her body was once again relocated to its permanent resting ground, at the shrine near her birth place.
Florante “Boy” Beltran Caedo (1939-2004) is a second generation sculptor. Aside from training under his father, Anastacio Caedo, took his formal studies at the University of the Philippines (UP) College of Fine Arts (CFA), which he completed in 1963. Instead of focusing in exhibitions, the young Caedo started working under his father’s tutelage, before breaking out on his own in creating public art pieces. Florante was able to develop a style classical sculpture that greatly differed from his father, bring a new dynamic and expressive nature to Philippine art. His greatest monuments appeared to be frozen in mid-action and floating in the air, such as his Emilio Jacinto on horseback (1972) at the Himlayang Pilipino Park and his Saint Michael (1984) near the Malacañang Palace.
In August 19, 1896, the Spanish authorities discover the existence of the Katipunan, and began their operations to quell the insurrection. Bonifacio gathered the Katipuneros at Pugad Lawin (Hawk’s Nest), where they torn their cédulas personales (identification certificates), and they declared their independence from Spain. The “Sigaw ng Pugad Lawin” (Cry of Pugad Lawin) is commemorated by a 1983 monument by National Artist for Sculpture, Napoleon Abueva.
Napoleón Isabelo “Billy” Veloso Abueva (1930-2018) studied at the U.P. School of Fine Arts, under National Artist, Guillermo Estrella Tolentino (1890-1976), who was then the director of the school. Although trained in the classical style of sculpting, Abueva broke from its mold and began experimenting on modernist styles and techniques. Soon he became known as and Godfather of Philippine Modern Sculpture. Aside from the many historical monuments that are found all over the Philippines, Abueva has also been commissioned to create sculptures around the world. In his youth, he was awarded the Ten Outstanding Young Men of the Philippines (TOYM) award; which would herald more awards and distinctions in his life. He was proclaimed National Artist for Sculpture in 1976, making him the youngest recipient of this distinction. And just like his mentor, Abueva also served as dean of the U.P. College of Fine Arts.
From their declaration of freedom, the Katipuneros first clashed with the Guardia Civil (Civil Guards), on August 25-26, 1896, in Pasong Tamo, Balitawak. Called El Primer Tiro (first shot) of the revolution, the event was commemorated by “Monumento sa mga Bayani ng 1896” (Monument to the Heroes of 1896) by Ramon Martinez, in 1911. First installed during the American Occupation, the statute was moved to the University of the Philippines (UP) Diliman campus in the 1960s, once the plans to expand the roads into a highway started.
Ramon Lazaro Martinez (1869-1950) completed his artistic training at the Escuela de Pintura, Escultura y Grabado in 1898. Originally a painter, Martinez won a bronze medal for his painting “Coming from the Market” at the 1904 Universal Exposition held in St. Louis, Missouri. Soon he started focusing on sculpture and has been noted to create the “La Madre Filipina” found on top of the Jones Bridge, and the ornamental sculpturing of the Legislative Building prior to World War II.
Soon regular skirmishes between the Katipuneros and Guardia Civil started erupting all over the Tagalog region, and spread through the other provinces. Katipuneros in Novaliches would often rendezvous at a Duhat tree (Syzygium cumini or Java Plum), in the wooded hills a few hundred meters away from Diocesan Shrine of Our Lady of Mercy. Once a location for clandestine meetings, the tree has become a refuge for the revolutionaries to treat their wounds and plan their next move. The tree still stands to this day, and is located inside the Metro Manila College (formerly the Novaliches Academy, established in 1947). At the base of the tree, a marker installed by the National Historical Commission states:
“Under this tree, the Katipuneros held meetings, treated their wounded. Andres Bonifacio, founder of Katipunan was here on several occasions.”
The “Sigaw ng Pugad Lawin” was near the home of Lieutenant Apolonio Samson (aka Tininteng Polonio, 1851-1902) of the Katipunan, and participated in the tearing of the cédulas personales. The nearby barangay, street and schools are named after this revolutionary hero.
On November 1896, Katipuneros raided the headquarters of the local Spanish troops, with their arms seized and the building burned down. Called the “Battle of Novaliches”, the revolutionaries were first winning until the Katipunan leader, Gen. Luis Malinis, was killed in battle. As Spanish reinforcements from Manila were arriving, the Katipuneros with drew. In 2011, in memory of the gallantry of the fallen leaders, the townsfolk renamed the Novaliches-Polo Road to Gen. Luis Road.
During the course of the revolution, the Tuliahan River in Novaliches became one of Bonifacio’s safe havens, while escaping the Spanish authorizes. In 2005, to commemorate his legacy, Ignacio de los Santos Bonifacio, a descendant of the hero’s clan, commissioned a statue to be placed along the Quirino Highway, near the commercial district. However, with the continuing road widening development in the area, the monument was transferred to the Novaliches Proper Barangay Hall Complex, in 2011. Sculpted by Jun Vicaldo, the artwork stands beside the Novaliches Public Library.
Priscillano “Jun” Rodrigo Vicaldo Jr. (1963) is a sculptor, who was first interested in sculpture by his santero (religious icon maker) neighbor, in his native Camarines Sur. Vicaldo soon moved to Manila, and studied along with other noted artists such as Agnes Arellano (born 1949) and Peter Tiamzon de Guzman (born 1962), under National Artist for Sculpture Napoleón Isabelo “Billy” Veloso Abueva (born 1930); while he was studying at the University of the Philippines (U.P.) College of Fine Arts (CFA). After graduating from U.P., Vicaldo continued his studies at the La Salle SIA School for the Arts, in Singapore; and worked under Manuel Casal. Adept in both classical and modernist styles; Vicaldo has exhibited extensively and has many public pieces commissioned all around the country, including pieces at the Subic and Olongapo, Adamson University, National Historical Commission Building, Naga City Robredo museum, Naga Cathedral, Penafrancia Shrine, and Magdalena Laguna.
Bonifacio never witnessed the end of the war, as he was accused and executed by the people of Gen. Emilio Famy Aguinaldo (1869-1964), who took over control of the revolutionary government, in May 1897. Aguinlado would also use the Novaliches area as a passageway to the Province of Bulacan. However, much of the town of Novaliches was razed to the ground, as the Spanish authorities had burned down the town, in retaliation for the people’s support of the Katipunan. Even the Our Lady of Mercy Parish was not spared, and was only reconstructed in 1928.
The Philippine Revolution took a turn for the worse, when in December 14, 1897, Aguinaldo signed the Pact of Biak-na-Bato to end hostilities with the Spanish, and accept an exiled amnesty in Hong Kong. Despite Aguinaldo’s departure, many Katipunan generals continued the war; such as General Francisco Macabulos (1871-1922), General Eusebio Roque, and General Canuto Villanueva. At the mean time, the Spanish-American War broke out, starting in Cuba, in April 25, 1989. The Americans intervened in the Katipunan Revolution, when Commodore George Dewey (1837-1917) and the American Asiatic Squadron arrived in the Philippines and destroyed the Spanish Pacific Squadron, during the Battle of Manila Bay, in May 1, 1898.
In mock battle with the Spanish authorities, August 13, the Americans captured the walled city of Manila, now known as Intramuros. This was done so that the Spanish would not admit defeat to the Katipuneros, who had already taken up much of the Spanish strongholds. The end of the Spanish-American War led to the American occupation of the Philippines, as finalized in the 1898 Treaty of Paris. Left with an uneasy peace, with a new colonizer, aggression between the two governments was bound to happen; and sure enough the Philippine-American War (1899-1913) began in February 4, 1899.
Many battles were conducted during the Philippine-American War, and in the area between Novaliches and San Mateo is Barangay Bagong Silangan, where the Battle of San Mateo (a.k.a. The Battle of Payne) occurred on December 19, 1899. On that day, Major General Henry Ware Lawton (1843-1899), led the 11th Volunteer Cavalry and 29th Battalion of the United States Army against the Gen. Licerio Gerónimo (1855-1924) and his 1000 man-strong Morong Command battalion and the Tiradores de la Muerte (a.k.a The Luna Sharpshooters). Amidst the muddy rice fields and a pouring monsoon, Gen. Lawton’s forces were pushed back the Filipino fighters. In the end, Gen. Lawton was killed by a bullet in the chest, by a certain Bonifacio Mariano. This made Gen. Lawton the highest ranking officer killed during the Philippine-American War.
In 2009, the Quezon City Government installed a monument to Gen. Licerio Gerónimo and the Battle of San Mateo, in front of Barangay Bagong Silangan Hall. The sculptures were created by Al Giroy.
Jose “Al” Rabino Giroy (born 1962) is a noted sculptor, who started his career by participating in art competitions as a teen, in the 1970s. Eventually entering the University of the Philippines (U.P.) College of Fine Arts, Giroy would first delve into painting, before finally deciding to take sculpture and train under noted artists such as Froilan T. Madriñan Jr. (1941-2008) and National Artist for Sculpture, Napoleón Isabelo “Billy” Veloso Abueva (born 1930). After graduating, Grioy had participated group exhibitions, but soon focused on commissions for public art. A master of the classical sculptural created many noted monuments for government and private institutions, including churches; which are found all over the country.
Although the Filipinos never truly won the Katipunan Revolution and the Philippine-American War, we have still retained the fierce sense of freedom and nationalism. However, many people have forgotten the lessons from the bravery of the Filipinos who gave up their lives for our country, whereas there are reminders all around us in the names of our streets and barangays, and the monuments that stand in our public spaces.
And with the 1941 Japanese invasion of World War II (1939-1945), there are many stories of heroism by the Filipino people, who joined the USAFFE (United States Army Forces in the Far East) and fought bravely in the Battle of Bataan (7 January – 9 April 1942) and the Battle of Corregidor (May 5-6, 1942); while others went into the forests to engage the Japanese in guerilla warfare. Sadly, none of these stories are told told to the next generation, especially of the men and women of Novaliches who joined in the battles to remove these new invaders.
The challenge for every Filipino is to find out more about their history, beyond the boring lectures of the classrooms. And for the people of Novaliches, they must learn to appreciate the legacy of the past.