By Ed Aurelio C. Reyes

Kamalaysayan Writers and Speakers

(May 31, 1997)

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E STILL HEAR a lot of people talk about "the coming Centennial" as if the real highest point of this decade's series of historical centennials had not yet come.  It actually was last year's Centennial of the Birth of Our Nation in the 1896 Philippine Revolution which was what our SENTENARYO 96 of August 1995 to August 1996 was all about.

          To be sure, there were a number of historic events after the Birth of the Nation in August 1896, like the martyrdom of Jose Rizal in December 1896, the treacherous execution of Andres Bonifacio in May 1897, the surrender or sale of the Revolution to Spain by Aguinaldo later that year, the Kawit affair in June 1898, the changing of the colonial guards in August 1898, the convening of the Malolos Congress the following month, and the purchase of the Philippine archipelago, along with the flora and fauna and people on it, before that year was over, plus the inauguration of the Philippine Republic in Malolos and the beginning of the American bloody invasion and occupation of the Philippines early the following year.

          But none of these matches the significance, from Filipino point of view, of the historical passage of the people of these islands from being separate communities and tribes into nationhood, in the form of their first-ever unified enterprise that was the Philippine Revolution of 1896. Before that year was over, the flames of the Revolution had spred all over the archipelago, from Batanes to the north up to Cotabato and Sulu in the south.

          Among the events of 1898, the declaration at Kawit was not the most important one. Considering that by the very text of the Acta of supposed "Independence" we had become independent from Spain and become a protectorate of the "Mighty and Humane North- American Nation" called the United States, it was at best an infamous historical event, one that does not merit being celebrated with any measure of honest pride.

          The more important event in 1898 happened on August 13 of that date. August 13, 1898 is that date dividing between 333 years of Spanish rule and almost a century by now of American domination. It was on that date that Spain, completely besieged at Intramuros by Filipino forces, surrendered only to its fellow-Caucasian power, the U.S. of A. and lowered its flag in the walled capital only to be replaced by Uncle Sam's stars and stripes. To the tearful dismay of the Filipino forces, their de-facto leader had earlier agreed to allow the Americans to enter the city first upon the latter's promise that the Filipinos would be allowed to follow soon afterwards. The Filipinos were not allowed to follow and had to inaugurate their republic in Malolos months later.

          August 13, 1898 is the date with much bigger historical significance than the Protectorate Proclamation at Kawit two months earlier.

(Kamalaysayan Media Service)



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