SOURCE: Press and Public Affairs Bureau
Mindanao lawmakers stressed the urgency of correcting the "injustice inflicted on our brothers in the South" whose heroic sacrifices during the long excruciating struggle against colonial rule are missing in the pages of Philippine history.
Rep. Rufus Rodriguez and Rep. Maximo Rodriguez strongly urged Congress for the passage of HB 2508 which would declare as National Heroes those who led the revolution against Spain and the United States in Mindanao.
"It is unfortunate that for a hundred years our historians have disregarded the heroic deeds of the people of Mindanao by merely mentioning them in passing, if at all," the authors lamented.
However, their optimism is just overwhelming that to them "a hundred years is not too late to correct our history books."
"A hundred years could not suppress the recognition that is due to our heroes in Mindanao," the Rodriguez brothers declared.
They stressed that it is about time to declare as national heroes the likes of: Nicolas Capistrano, Apolinar Velez, Vicente Roa and Apolinario Pabayo from Misamis Oriental; Rufino Deloso, Simeon Ledesma and Capitan Daligdig from Misamis Occidental; Simeon and Wenceslao Gonzalez of Surigao; Datu Uto and Datu Ali of Cotabato; Amai Pakpak of Marawi; and Gen. Vicente Alvarez of Zamboanga.
"Only by recognizing the heroic struggle of the people of Mindanao against colonial rule and by declaring as national heroes the Mindanaoans who fought so that this nation may be free and independent, can we achieve a truthful and meaningful national celebration of the Philippine Centennial and the unity of the entire Filipino people," the authors insist.
History shows that the Spaniards, burdened with financial constraints, could not fight all fronts at the same time (Luzon and the Visayas and Mindanao), so, Rodriguez noted, they fixed their attention in Mindanao.
"Because of this, their control in Luzon was eased as the big bulk of their forces was sent to the South. It was during the period that the Katipunan spread all over Luzon. Therefore, there is enough reason to believe that the Moro resistance had contributed greatly in the strengthening of the Katipunan because without the military campaign in Mindanao, there would have been enough Spanish forces in Manila to check their activities," they added.
Rodriguez also surmised that the Moro resistance, raids and piracies were their contributions in the fight against the colonizers that reached the climax in the Philippine Revolution of 1896.
The authors noted that in all books written on Philippine History, there is a very scant account, if at all, of the revolutionary heroes of Mindanao. They cited Teodoro Agoncillio's Philippine History, Gregorio Zaide's The pageant of Philippine History, and Dr. Sonia M. Zaide's The Philippines: A Unique Nation (with Dr. G. Zaide's History of the Republic of the Philippines.)
They also noted Eufronio M. Alip's Philippine History: Political, Social and Economic, and his other book Political and Cultural History of the Philippines. Likewise, Antonio Molina's The Philippines through the Centuries, and also Conrado Benitez's History of the Philippines.
For a brief background of the named "heroes of Mindanao", the authors cited the following:
a) Gen. Nicolas Capistrano, the leader of the Cagayan revolutionaries who waged a one year war against the American in 1900-1901 and led the attack of the Cagayan revolutionaries assisted by Bukidnon lumads, against the Americans in the Battle of Cagayan of April 7, 1900;
b) Col. Velez, who commanded the revolutionaries in the west of Cagayan de Oro and victoriously led the defenders in the Battle of Macahambus Cave of June 4, 1900.
c) Cap. Vicente Roa who, on May 14, 1900, led the Cagayan revolutionaries in the east in an encounter with the 40th US Regiment where he was killed, together with 14 Cagayano soldiers in the Battle of Agusan Hill;
d) Simeon Ledesma, who organized the first resistance group in Western Misamis against the Americans;
e) Rufino Deloso, who led a force of 400 revolutionaries and engaged the American in no less than 20 encounters from May 14, 1900 to January 6, 1901;
f) Capt. Daligdig, the lumad leader in the Oroquieta Laungan area who led numerous assaults against the Oroquieta Garrison of the Americans;
g) Amai Pakpak led Muslim defenders of Fort Maqrawi in both the 1891 assault by Spanish Gov. Gen. Valeriano Weyler and the 1895 invasion of Gov. Gen. Ramon Blanco. Amai Pakpak died fighting the 3,000 Spanish troops;
h) Datu Ulo must be credited for incessantly fighting the Spaniards from 1880 to 1886. The Spanish expeditions against Datu Ulo weakened the over-all military strength and financial resources of the Spaniards, making them vulnerable a few years later to the revolution waged by the Katipunan;
i) Datu Ali organized and led the resistance to American rule from the Cotabato Valley . His fortress in Cotabato was the largest ever constructed in Mindanao easily holding 5,000 men;
j) Gen. Vicente Alvarez, who led the revolutionaries against the Spanish forces which withdrew to Zamboanga. Montero, a Spanish general was killed and General del los Rios surrendered the only city to Gen. Alvarez in May 1899;
k) And the Heroism of the brothers Simeon and Wencelsao Gonzales should be recognized. Simon Gonzalez was appointed by Gen. Aguinaldo as military commander of Mindanao, and Wenceslao as governor of Surigao on January 2, 1896. They, among other important events, declared Surigao and Butuan free territory and part of the Republic of the Philippines and they were the first to hoist the Philippine flag in these places.
"These heroic wars waged by our Muslim brothers sapped and diminished the military strength and divided the attention of the Spanish authorities. The Muslim resistance led to the strengthening of the Katipunan because without the military campaign in Mindanao, there would have been more than enough Spanish forces in Manila to check the Katipuneros," the authors pointed out.
HB 2508 directs the National Historical Commission to undertake a full blown research on the lives and heroics of the named Filipino revolutionary leaders in Mindanao, and to erect the monuments and historical markers of the different sites of the war against the Spaniards and the Americans.
The amount of P30-million is also provided for the implementation of the proposed Mindanao Heroes Declaration Act of 2013.