By Ed Aurelio C. Reyes

Kamalaysayan Writers and Speakers

(June 1996)

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FEW YEARS ago, I was reacting to a song popularized by  singer-actress Geneva Cruz, that carried the lines, "Anak ng Pasig naman kayo! Tapon doon, tapon dito!" I felt that it was a mass insult on  Pasigueños,  an imputation that people from that important capital town (of Rizal province), now city, are more wasteful and pollutive than other Metro Manilans.

Without a single Pasigueño in mind, I felt uneasy that such a judgment was being sung in the airlanes, and later even made the theme song of a movie. Pasig River is dead because of pollution, that's true, but it flows from the polluted Laguna de Bay, through many polluting towns before reaching the polluted Manila Bay at low tide, and it even flows backwards during high tide.

A couple of months ago, I met one proud Pasigueño, Joe Eddie Velasquez, whom I recruited to be Kamalaysayan's coordinator for Pasig, Marikina and the province of Rizal. I would not now bother the readers of this column with more information about him. But I write this to surprise you with specifics on why™ he is proud to be "Anak ng Pasig."

Whenever we hear the words "Katipunan," "Katipunero" or "Revolution," names of only a handful of places come to our minds: Tondo, Pugad ng Lawin, Balintawak, Cavite, and "at best," the so-called "first eight provinces." Pasig is not included among these names.

But it turns out that Pasig played two very important roles in the outbreak of the 1896 Revolution which was no less than the very Birth of our Nation almost a full century ago.

Early in May of 1896, in time for the pilgrimage of the Virgin of Antipolo, a fleet of 17 bancas were rowed upstream from Quiapo, carrying the leaders of the various provincial councils of the Katipunan. They were led by Andres Bonifacio. They reached that part of the river appropriately nicknamed "Bitukang Manok," and were hosted there by the Katipunero leader from Pasig, Gen. Valentin Cruz, in a big gathering dubbed as "Asamblea Magna."

It was in that historic gathering that the Katipunan decided to begin the war against Spain shortly. Although there were waverings in the future about this decision, especially on the part of Cavite's Emilio Aguinaldo, the Decision at Bitukang Manok was one decision Katipuneros from Batanes to Cotabato were united and determined to uphold.

Late in August the same year, when the Katipuneros from all over, except Cavite, were implementing the order to attack (they all succeeded but the Caviteños did not show up to perform its role of capturing Intramuros), two thousand Pasigueños led by KKK Gen. Valentin Cruz rose in revolt in what was to be the first of the victories of the Katipunan against the Spanish forces. The event was dubbed as "Nag-Sabado, establishing for generations of Pasigueños to this day a heroic heritage they can all be proud of.

Unfortunately, generations of miseducation and generations of historical distortions have virtually erased from the mind of the Filipino people and from the collective memory of the Pasigueños themselves the two glorious Katipunan events of Asamblea Magna and Nag-Sabado in Pasig.

Not all statesmen forgot, though, as we can glean from the following words from the illustrious nationalist late Senator Jose W. Diokno: "Where would Pugadlawin, Kawit and Malolos be, were it not for Bitukang Manok?" His words, however, have been virtually drowned out by such lines from the song as "Anak ng Pasig naman kayo! Tapon doon, tapon dito!"

But things are not to remain unchanged. A wide citizen-government network, called Sentro Sentenaryo sa Pasig, has emerged to work for a fitting commemoration of the centennial of the Philippine Revolution of 1896 with the projection of Pasig back to the public mind as the site of two historic moments that made that revolution possible.

Representing the Kamalaysayan campaign network, this writer joined National Centennial Commission Chairman Salvador H. Laurel in a battery of speakers at the beginning of a mammoth celebration of the centennial of the Asamblea Magna last May. Many activities, that uphold the Kamalaysayan's appeal for a "kasali lahat" commemoration of the centennial of the birth of the nation, have been slated and hectic preparations are now underway.

It might indeed turn out that as Pasig showed the way in the 1896 Revolution a hundred years ago, the Pasigueños will again show us the way to really have a fitting celebration of our nation's 100th birthday.

This August and well beyond, it will not only be my friend and namesake who will be one proud Pasigueño. By then, the majority of the people from that city will be waving high the spirit of the Katipunan with a deep sense of pride in their hearts.

(Kamalaysayan Media Service)



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