“Around the Zodiac with Philippine Independence Heroes” in this week’s issue of the Manila Mail (June 18-24, 2014)

Pilipinasblitz Forever
A column by Bles Carmona
For the week of June 18-24, 2014


Philippine Independence Day was declared on June 12, 1898 in Kawit, Cavite and has been commemorated ever since. This year marked its 116th observance, and I count myself blessed to be one of the many heirs to the freedom that Filipino revolutionaries, our heroes sung or unsung, fought for.
Once upon a time, I made a bet with myself that I can go at least once around the 12 signs of the zodiac and be able to name a Philippine national hero who was born under that Sun sign. I was thinking: June 12, 12 signs of the zodiac, at least one national hero or heroine per sign. Lezdoodiz!
Aries: General Emilio Aguinaldo, born on March 22, 1869 in Kawit, Cavite, is the President of the First Philippine Republic. Being an Aries, he’s just got to be the first! After the defeat of the Spaniards by Cmdr. George Dewey, Aguinaldo declared independence on the special date and location we mentioned above. However, the Americans refused to recognize the Aguinaldo regime and this led to the Philippine-American War. Aguinaldo would be captured and retire as a farmer. He died at age 95 in the mid-1960s.
Taurus: Gregoria de Jesus, also known as the “Lakambini” (First Lady) of the Katipunan and the wife of Andres Bonifacio (whom we will meet in the Sagittarius section), was born on May 9, 1875 in Kalookan City. Gregoria was doing revolutionary work by 18 years old, going through extreme danger in doing tasks that only women can do undetected by the guardia civil. The Filipino revolutionary leaders spoke in awe of her courage and daring. After the Revolution, she married another patriot, Julio Nakpil, and raised their children on the ideals they fought for.
Gemini: Born June 19, 1861 in Calamba, Laguna, the Philippine National Hero, Dr. Jose P. Rizal was a Renaissance man of the sciences and the arts. He was a physician, a novelist, a sculptor, a poet, and an intellectual. His two novels, “Noli Me Tangere” (Touch Me Not) and “El Filibusterismo” (The Rebel), written during his long stay in Europe are believed to have inspired the revolution against Spain. Despite having nothing to do with the armed uprising (his writings advocated peaceful means of reform), he was tried for rebellion and sedition. Dr. Rizal was imprisoned in Fort Santiago and executed by firing squad at Bagumbayan (now Luneta) on Dec. 30, 1896, which Filipinos now commemorate as Rizal Day. Of course, the night before his execution, he wrote his last poem, “Mi Ultimo Adios” (My Last Farewell).
Cancer: Apolinario Mabini, a lawyer, born July 22, 1864, was called the “sublime paralytic” for his guidance, sound counsel, and good judgment to Pres. Emilio Aguinaldo. He wrote the Malolos Constitution and most of the decrees of the revolutionary government. Despite his disability which is polio, he planted the seeds of greatness and heroism in other men’s hearts at a critical time in Philippine history.
Leo: Princess Purmassuri of Jolo, Sulu has an unknown birthdate but she exemplifies the Leonine concepts of royalty, being the princess of her clan, and a fierce fighting spirit, being able to defend the entire Muslim Mindanao region against the Spanish onslaught. She had a fighter’s courageous heart!
Virgo: Marcelo H. Del Pilar, born August 30, 1850 in San Nicolas, Bulacan, is the greatest journalist and the moving spirit of the Propaganda Movement during the Philippine Revolution against Spain. He used his powers of logic and analysis to fight the good fight!
Libra: Gen. Miguel Malvar, born Sept. 27, 1865 in Santo Tomas, Batangas, was the last Filipino general to surrender to the Americans during the Fil-Am war. Well, what can I say but that this is what you get when cross a Batangueño and a Libran. Their motto becomes: I will never surrender for as long as I can hack it, man!
Scorpio: Called the “Visayan Joan of Arc,” Teresa Magbanua, born Nov. 4, 1871 in Pototan, Iloilo, is the first woman fighter in Panay Island. An intense, fierce Scorpio co-ruled by Mars and Pluto, Teresa’s mantra might have been: I dig the revolution, man! In fact, I started it for women in my province.
Sagittarius: Born on November 30, 1863 in Tondo, Manila, Andres Bonifacio is known as the Great Plebeian because even if he was from the middle-class himself, he sympathized with the grudges of the common people against the Spaniards. He was also called the Father of the Katipunan which was the highest-level secret organization formed by Filipino Bonifacio, fellow revolutionary Emilio Jacinto and others whose aim was to overthrow Spanish rule in the Philippines. August 23, 1896 marked the so-called “Cry of Balintawak” when Bonifacio and his assembled men tore their “cedulas,” raised the Katipunan flag, and engaged the enemy forces. It was unfortunate that subsequent events, especially the power struggle between Bonifacio and Aguinaldo, are still the subject to speculation. Bonifacio died by assassination on May 10, 1897 in Cavite.
Capricorn: Melchora Aquino, “Tandang Sora”) (literally Old Sora) is considered the Mother of the Philippine Revolution. Tandang Sora was the oldest living soul in the revolutionary movement at that time, being born on January 6, 1812 in Banilad, Kalookan, so by 1896-1898, she was already 88-90 years old! But did that stop her from contributing her share in the movement? No freaking way! It’s worth mentioning at this point that Capricorns, being blessed with sturdy constitutions, do usually go on to live long productive lives.
Aquarius: Padre Jose Ma. Burgos is a priest-reformist, one of Dr. Jose Rizal’s teachers at the Ateneo de Manila. He died by execution in Bagumbayan, Manila as part of the Gomburza triumvirate of martyr-priests on suspicion of rebellion against the Spanish government. Born Feb. 9, 1837 in Vigan, Ilocos Sur, Fr. Burgos is the champion of the cause of the Filipinization of the clergy, to which the Spanish priests did not take kindly. Along with Fathers Gomez and Zamora, Fr. Burgos died by garrote after a mock trial on trumped-up charges.
Pisces: Gabriela Silang, born on March 19, 1731 in Santa Caniogan, Ilocos Sur, is the first Filipino woman to lead a revolt against Spanish colonization, taking over after her husband Diego Silang perished during the fighting.
So there we go. We all made it through the zodiac, one Philippine national hero or heroine at a time. Wasn’t that fun? Being a hero is not the monopoly of any one sign. There is a hero within all of us. You know, just as there are microclimates, so there are microcommunities. Then please let’s be heroes in our respective microcommunities. THAT would be fun!
For personal readings, email me here: pilipinasblitz@gmail.com

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