Pasig, 1896: Victory
in Katipunan's First Major Battle
By Jose Eduardo Velasquez
Kamalaysayan Writers and Speakers
Jo-Eddie Velasquez, acting executive director of Kamalaysayan since 1999. He is one of two historian successor's of Pasig City's outstanding historian Dr. Carlos Tech. The other one, his current close-in teammate, is Dr. Luciano Santiago.
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ESIDES EARNING the distinction of hosting the historic Asamblea Magna in May 1896, the people of Pasig showed everyone how an entire community should move as one to respond to the Assembly's decision and challenge.
On Saturday, August 29, 1896, as the last long shadows of dusk merged with the darkness of twilight, two thousand Pasigueqos and Katipuneros gathered at the common ends of barrios Maybunga and Caniogan. After a short preparation, armed only with scythes, bolos and a few firearms, they marched to their historic destiny. A shirt hour later, after crossing the original bridge of Bitukang Manok River at Plaza de Paz (now known as Plaza Rizal), they engaged the surprised but well-armed Guardia civil in a fierce battle and overran the biggest local Spanish garrison outside Manila. The people themselves, not just a few rebels in trenches, won that victory for the Revolution, antedating by a day the victory won at Binakayan in Cavite.
It was a historic encounter permanently etched in the collective local memory as "Nang Magsabado ang Pasigueño". Before midnight, one of the attackers was dead, and several others were slightly wounded on both sides.
Despite the highly tense situation, the jubilant spirit of the people already tasting victory was pervasive. Amidst the explosion of firecrackers similar to what we have on New Year's Day, and gunfire, both the Guardia Civil headquarters and the municipal hall were completely overrun. The rebels were able to gather 20 long firearms from the abandoned armory, and from the next few hours well into the days of the following week, Pasig was effectively liberated.
After that battle, a contingent of a few hundred Pasigueños joined the Supremo Andres Bonifacio in San Juan in the now famous battle of Pinaglabanan. Some other Pasigueño contingent were even reported to have managed to join the attacks of other Katipunan units outside Manila. Meanwhile, the remaining people of the town besieged the convento of the local parish church where some of guardia civil had retreated.
In the most crucial moment, "Nagsabado sa Pasig" became one of the first major victories, if not the biggest victory, of the Katipunan. Led by the then newly-promoted General de Brigada Valentin Cruz, it illustrated a most successful plan of Andres Bonifacio to create the second thrust of the simultaneous attacks on Manila.
People's Power in Pasig, 1896
As an uprising of hardly-armed townspeople coming from almost every family of Pasig, and led by Katipuneros, it was a model of the first exercise of People's Power for national change. Indeed, it qualifies as a forerunner both of the Balangiga Victory against U.S. occupation forces in Samar some years later and of the EDSA People Power Uprising in 1986.
"Nagsabado" was the in the finest tradition of a decisive response to the national challenge for revolutionary change issued by the Asamblea Magna of the Katipunan at the riverbank of Bitukang Manok. For the Pasigueño, it was the epiphany of their role in national history, national change and national development. It was a watershed in our history as a nation. Yet, until recently, it was largely forgotten. If ever it lingered in some footnotes of some historians, it was never accorded the proper appreciation for its role in the birthing and molding of our nationhood.
In the depths of the twists and turns of the Bitukang Manok River, in the shallow and murky and stinking Parian Creek, lies a mystery that rages against our collective short memory of our history, of our gross neglect of our historic heritage and environmental patrimony. It seethes against those who seek to define history to serve their own narrow interests.
A century after "Bitukang Manok" and "Nagsabado", the Katipunan spirit raises again the challenge waiting for an immediate, all-out and honorable response.
This August, a full century after the "Nagsabado" victory of their forebears, the people of Pasig wil relive the glory and heroism of the historical event, within the Kamalaysayan framework of Sentenaryo '96, the Filipino people's commermoration of the Birth of the Nation in the 1896 Revolution. One hundred years to the day after the "Nagsabado" victory, the Pasigueños will hold the "Nagsabado Festival", a cultural and empowerment festival that seeks to draw public attention to the almost-forgotten circumstances of that historic period.
This will also be a time for local consultation and discussions to recall the 1896 events and face up to the challenges ahead. The history of the people of Pasig flows on and on, as does their enigmatic and mythical river.
(Kamalaysayan Media Service)
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