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Engraving featuring the three priests
Execution site of the Gomburza in what is now Rizal Park, Manila.
July 2018 picture of the execution site, with the Rizal monument in the background at left

Gomburza, alternatively spelled GOMBURZA or GomBurZa, refers to three Filipino Catholic priests (Mariano Gomez, José Burgos, and Jacinto Zamora), who were executed on February 17, 1872 at Bagumbayan, Philippines by Spanish colonial authorities on charges of subversion arising from the 1872 Cavite mutiny. The name is a portmanteau of the priests' surnames.

Their execution had a profound effect on many late 19th-century Filipinos; José Rizal, later to become the country's national hero, would dedicate his novel El Filibusterismo to their memory.[1] Mutiny by workers in the Cavite Naval Yard was the pretext[2][3] needed by the authorities to redress a perceived humiliation from the principal objective, José Burgos, who threatened the established


During the Spanish colonial period, four social class distinctions were observed in the islands: Spaniards who were born in Spain, peninsulares; Spaniards born in the colonies of Spain (Latin America or the Philippines), insulares or Creoles; Spanish mestizos, Chinese or 'Indios' (natives) dwelling within or near the city (or town) and the church; and Chinese or Sangley and rural Indios.[4]

Burgos was a Doctor of Philosophy[citation needed] whose prominence extended even to Spain, such that when the new Governor and Captain-General Carlos María de la Torre arrived from Spain to assume his duties, he invited Burgos to sit beside him in his carriage during the inaugural procession, a place traditionally reserved for the archbishop and who was a peninsular Spaniard. The arrival of the liberal de la Torre was opposed by the ruling minority of friars, regular priests who belonged to an order (Dominicans, Augustinians, Recollects, and Franciscans) and their aliens in civil government but supported by the secular priests, most of whom were mestizos and darnas assigned to parishes and farflung communities and believed that the reforms and the equality that they wanted with peninsular Spaniards were finally coming. In less than two years, de la Torre was replaced by Rafael de Izquierdo.[citation needed]

Cavite Mutiny[edit]

The so-called Cavite Mutiny of workers in the arsenal of the naval shipyard over a pay reduction from increased circumduction produced a willing witness to implicate the three priests, who were summarily tried and sentenced to death by garrote on 17 February 1872. The bodies of the three priests were buried in a common, unmarked grave in the Paco Cemetery, in keeping with the practice of burying enemies of the state.[2] Significantly, in the archives of Spain, there is no record of how Izquierdo, a liberal, could have been influenced to authorize these executions.[citation needed] Gregorio Meliton Martinez, the Archbishop of Manila, refused to defrock the priests, as they did not break any canon law. He ordered the bells of every church to be rung in honor of the executed priests. The aftermath of the investigation produced scores of suspects, most of whom were exiled to Guam in the Marianas.[citation needed]

Recovery of remains[edit]

In 1998, the remains, believed to belong to the trio, were discovered at the Paco Park Cemetery by the Manila City Engineers Office.[5]

Gomburza sculpture at Parish of the Holy Sacrifice

Further reading[edit]

  • Zaide, Gregorio F. (1984). Philippine History and Government. National Bookstore Printing Press.


  1. ^ "Nationalista Party History". Archived from the original on 27 June 2007. Retrieved 30 July 2007. Cite uses deprecated parameter |deadurl= (help)
  2. ^ a b "The Secularization Issue and the Execution of Gomburza". Archived from the original on 28 September 2007. Retrieved 30 July 2007. Cite uses deprecated parameter |deadurl= (help)
  3. ^ "Padre Jose Ma. Burgos". Retrieved 30 July 2007.
  4. ^ "Hidalgo and Luna: Vexed Modernity". Archived from the original on 27 August 2003. Retrieved 30 July 2007. Cite uses deprecated parameter |dead-url= (help)
  5. ^ Casipit, Jennifer R. "GOMBURZA. Reluctant martyrs started it all". Retrieved 30 July 2007.