Wenceslao Vinzons

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Wenceslao Vinzons
Wvinzons.jpg
Member of the Philippine House of Representatives from Camarines Norte's Lone District
In office
December 30, 1941 – July 15, 1942
Preceded by Trinidad P. Zenarosa
Succeeded by Vacant[1]
Post later held by Esmeraldo Eco
Governor of Camarines Norte
In office
1940 – December 30, 1941
Member of the 1934 Philippine Constitutional Covention from Camarines Norte
In office
1934–1935
Personal details
Born (1910-09-28)September 28, 1910
Indan, Camarines Norte
Died July 15, 1942(1942-07-15) (aged 31)
Daet, Camarines Norte
Profession Lawyer

Wenceslao Quinito Vinzons (September 28, 1910 – July 15, 1942) was a Filipino politician and a leader of the armed resistance against the Japanese occupying forces during World War II. He was the youngest member of the 1935 Constitutional Convention. Among the first Filipinos to organize the guerrilla resistance after the Japanese invasion of the Philippines in 1941,[2] he was executed by the Japanese Army.

Early life and education[edit]

Vinzons was born in the town of Indan, Camarines Norte to Gavino Vinzons and Engracia Quinito. He graduated valedictorian from his local high school, and proceeded to Manila to study at the University of the Philippines.[3]

While at the university, Vinzons gained fame as a student leader. A member of Upsilon Sigma Phi, Vinzons would be elected president of the student council and editor-in-chief of the Philippine Collegian.[3] He was also known for delivering an oratorical address entitled Malaysia Irredenta, where he advocated the unification of Southeast Asian nations with a common Malay origin.[4] The piece won him the Manuel L. Quezon gold medal for excellence.[3]

Vinzons obtained his law degree from the University of the Philippines College of Law in 1932, and placed 3rd in the bar examinations of the following year.

Political career[edit]

After graduation, Vinzons, along with Narciso J. Alegre and Arturo M. Tolentino (a future senator and Marcos-era vice-president) founded a political party, the Young Philippines Party,[3] which advocated the grant of Philippine independence from American rule.[4] After the passage in 1934 of the Tydings–McDuffie Act which laid the groundwork for independence, Vinzons successfully sought election that same year as a delegate representing Camarines Norte to the 1935 Constitutional Convention tasked with drafting a new constitution. As a member of the Convention, he was instrumental in prescribing Tagalog as an official language of the Philippines.[3] At 24, he was the youngest delegate, and the youngest signer of the 1935 Constitution.

During the 1935 presidential elections, Vinzons actively campaigned for the presidential bid of former president Emilio Aguinaldo, the main challenger to then-Senate President Manuel Quezon.[3] Vinzons' efforts helped Aguinaldo carry Camarines even though Quezon won the presidency.[4] Following Aguinaldo's defeat, Vinzons put on hold his political career, opting instead to become the president of a mining corporation based in his home province.[4]

Vinzons resumed political life in 1940, when he was elected governor of Camarines Norte. The following year, he successfully ran for election to the National Assembly, representing the lone district of Camarines Norte. His service in the legislature was interrupted by the Japanese invasion of the Philippines in December 1941.

Guerrilla activities and execution[edit]

Within days following the arrival of the Japanese forces in the Philippines, Vinzons began to organize armed resistance in the Bicol region against the invasion army, which had arrived in the region on December 12, 1941. He commandeered all the rice warehouses in Camarines Norte, and ordered the confiscation of explosives used in the province's gold mines for use against the Japanese army.[5] By December 18, 1941, he would lead a raid against a troop of Japanese soldiers in Basud, Camarines Norte. His guerrilla forces soon grew to around 2,800 strong, and in May 1942, Vinzons would lead these forces to successfully liberate the provincial capital of Daet.[5] It is said that between December 1941 and May 1942, Vinzon's troops, armed with poisoned arrows among others, were able to kill around 3,000 Japanese soldiers.[5] As a result, the capture of Vinzons became a prime objective of the Japanese army.

With the help of a former guerrilla-turned-informant, Vinzons was seized by the Japanese military together with his father on July 8, 1942. He refused to pledge allegiance to his captors, and was brought to a garrison in Daet. It was there, on July 15, 1942, that Vinzons was bayoneted to death after refusing one final entreaty to cooperate with the Japanese forces.[2] Shortly thereafter, his father, wife, sister and two of his children were also executed by the Japanese.[6]

Tributes[edit]

Wenceslao Q. Vinzons, a member of the fraternity Upsilon Sigma Phi, is hailed as the Father of Student Activism in the Philippines.

Vinzons' hometown of Indan was renamed Vinzons, in his memory, as was an elementary school in Manila. The student activity center of the University of the Philippines campus in Diliman was named Vinzons Hall in 1959. Vinzons Hall also houses the offices of the Philippine Collegian. Senator Richard Gordon, an admirer of Vinzons and himself a former UP student council and youngest Con Con delegate of 1972, commissioned sculptor Sajid Imao for a bust in his honor at Vinzons Hall as part of rehabilitation efforts by the UP Student Council in 2009.[7]

Several of Vinzons' relatives embarked on political careers. Fernando Vinzons Pajarillo was related to Wenceslao and had been elected congressman and governor, for many terms. Wenceslao's son was a one-time governor. His daughter Rannie Vinzons-Gaite was once member of the Provincial Council.[citation needed]

The current lone legislative district of Camarines Norte is currently served by a descendant, former BIR Commissioner and now Representative Liwayway Vinzons-Chato.

A three-act musical on Vinzon's life, entitled "Bintao", was staged at the University of the Cordilleras in January 2008.[8][9]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Executed by the Japanese in 1942.
  2. ^ a b Filipinos in History Vol. II. Manila, Philippines: National Historical Institute. 1990. p. 267. 
  3. ^ a b c d e f Filipinos in History Vol. II. Manila, Philippines: National Historical Institute. 1990. p. 266. 
  4. ^ a b c d Perez, Jose B. (2007-12-13). "More on Vinzons". Bicol Mail Online. Retrieved 2008-01-06. 
  5. ^ a b c Perez, Jose B. (2007-11-29). "Vinzons". Bicol Mail Online. Retrieved 2008-01-06. 
  6. ^ Filipinos in History Vol. II. Manila, Philippines: National Historical Institute. 1990. p. 268. 
  7. ^ Domini Torrevilas (2009-04-29). "A bust for Wenceslao Vinzons". The Philippine Star. Retrieved 2010-09-01. 
  8. ^ Elizabeth Lolarga (2008-01-05). "The short, short life of Bintao Vinzons". Philippine Daily Inquirer. Retrieved 2008-03-13. 
  9. ^ Mari-An C. Santos (2008-02-15). "REVIEW: "Bintao" recalls the struggles of revolutionary leader Wenceslao Vinzons". Philippine Entertainment Portal. Retrieved 2008-03-13. 

References[edit]

  • Filipinos in History Vol. II. Manila, Philippines: National Historical Institute. 1990. p. 267. 
  • Perez, Jose B. (2007-11-29). "Vinzons". Bicol Mail Online. Retrieved 2008-01-06. 
  • Perez, Jose B. (2007-12-13). "More on Vinzons". Bicol Mail Online. Retrieved 2008-01-06. 
House of Representatives of the Philippines
Preceded by
Froilan Pimentel
Representative of Camarines Norte
1941–1942
Succeeded by
Esmeraldo Eco