Gomburza

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Engraving featuring the three priests
July 2018 picture of the execution site, with the Rizal monument in the background at left
GomBurZa execution site

Gomburza, alternatively stylized as GOMBURZA or GomBurZa, refers to three Filipino Catholic priests (Mariano Gómez, José Burgos, and Jacinto Zamora), who were executed on February 17, 1872 in 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.

Mariano Gomez de los Angeles was a well-known Catholic priest during their time,[1] for he is part of the trio of accused of mutiny by Spanish colonial authorities in the Philippines in the 19th century. Gomez was the child of Alejandro Francisco Gomez and Martina Custodia. He was born in the suburb of Santa Cruz, Manila on August 2, 1799. He was a Tornatras, one born from mixed native (Filipino), Chinese, and Spanish ancestries. He studied at the Colegio de San Juan de Letran and later studied theology at the University of Santo Tomas, preparing himself for the priesthood in the Seminary of Manila. Gomez was designated as the head priest of Bacoor, Cavite on June 2, 1824. He also taught for the agriculture and cottage industries aside from taking care of spiritual necessities. He fought for the rights of his fellow native priest against Spanish abuses. He was also active in the publication of the newspaper La Verdad. On February 17, 1872, he was one of the priests executed due to the false accusation of treason and sedition, taking an active role in the Cavite Mutiny and was later on sentenced to death by garrote in a military court at Bagumbayan field.[citation needed]

Jose Burgos was born in Vigan, Ilocos Sur on February 9, 1837 and was baptized on the 12th of the same month. His parents were Jose Burgos, a Spanish lieutenant in the Spanish militia of Ilocos, and Florencia Garcia, a native of Vigan. During his early teenage years, he studied at the Colegio San Juan de Letran and later went to the University of Santo Tomas, receiving a Bachelor of Philosophy in 1855, Bachelor of Theology in 1859, Licentiate in Philosophy in 1860, Licentiate in Theology in 1862, Doctor of Theology, and Doctor of Canon Law in 1868.[2]

Jacinto Zamora was born on August 14, 1835 in Pandacan, Manila. His parents were Venancio Zamora and Hilario del Rosario. He studied at the Colegio de San Juan de Letran and graduated with a degree of Bachelor of Arts. He later transferred to the University of Santo Tomas and obtained a degree of Bachelor of Canon and Civil Laws. He prepared for priesthood in the Seminary of Manila. He had dreamt of becoming a priest at a young age. After being given ministerial and priestly authority, Zamora was able to establish parishes in Marikina, Pasig, and Batangas and was assigned to also oversee Manila Cathedral on December 3, 1864.

Gomburza incurred the hatred of Spanish authorities for fighting for equal rights among priests and leading the campaign against the Spanish friars. They fought on the issues of secularization in the Philippines that led to the conflict of religious and church seculars.[3]

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.[4] Mutiny by workers in the Cavite Naval Yard was the pretext[5][6] needed by the authorities to redress a perceived humiliation from the principal objective, José Burgos, who threatened the established order.[clarification needed]

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, Sangley, and rural Indios.[7]

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. It was supported by the secular priests, most of whom were mestizos and darnas assigned to parishes and far flung communities, who 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]

Martyrdom[edit]

The execution of Gomburza is one of the most controversial issues that is deeply embedded in Philippine history, however their tragic end lead to the dawn of the Philippine Nationalism in the 19th century, intensified by the Filipino's' national hero, Dr. Jose P. Rizal, in dedicating his second novel entitled El Filibusterismo which condemns the Spanish rule and the elite Filipinos. In his novel he wrote "To the memory of the priests, Don Mariano Gomez (85 years old), Don Jose Burgos (30 years old), and Don Jacinto Zamora (35 years old). Executed in Bagumbayan Field on 28th of February, 1872. The church, by refusing to degrade you, has placed in doubt the crime that has been imputed to you; the government, by surrounding your trials with mystery and shadows causes the belief that there was some error, committed in fatal moments; and all the Philippines, by worshiping your memory and calling you martyrs, in no sense recognizes your capability. In so far, therefore, as your complicity in the Cavite Mutiny is not clearly proved, as you may or may not have been patriots, an as you may or may not cherish sentiments for justice and for liberty, I have the right to dedicate my work to you as victims of the evil which I undertake in combat."[8]

Their death can be dated way back in February 17, 1872 in a public execution at Bagumbayan (Luzon) using a garrote due to "false accusation" charged against them by the friars. Their alleged crime include treason and sedition for being the masterminds of the uprising insurrection of Indios (native Filipinos) working in the Cavite arsenal. Furthermore, according to the Spanish military tribunal, they were believed to have been a part of a movement aimed to overthrow the Spanish government, making them a threat to the Spanish Clergy.[9]

The said event that contributed to Philippine Independence on June 12, 1987 was mentioned by several accounts that went through rigorous study and investigation by Filipino historians, narrating the reasons and circumstances happening during those times. Moreover, the mystery of their "false accusation" was unveiled by Filipino historians over time through scrutinizing several accounts of witnesses of the execution.

Historical accounts[edit]

The Execution was documented by a Spanish historian named Jose Montero Y Vidal who even wrote a book entitled Historia General de Filipinas that centers solely on a Spaniard's perspective of the Cavite Mutiny. The inclusion of biased story-telling of the reasons for the execution of Gomburza later gained criticisms.[10]

Vidal's account was corroborated by the then Governor General who ruled the land in the name of Rafael Izquierdo. In his report, he narrated that the abolition of privileges enjoyed by the workers of Cavite arsenals caused the "revolution". He also blamed the media, specifically the Spanish press, regardless of democratic, liberal or republican affiliation, for the circulation of unrestrained press, which featured dirty propaganda such as overthrowing a secular throne, which inspired the Indios (native Filipinos) to organize the said revolution. General Izquierdo also mentioned the native clergy being a part of the rebels who were against the Spanish friars. The clergy supposedly wanted to end hold of Spain over the Philippines in order to elect a new "hari" who would rule the land and named Fathers Jose Burgos and Jacinto Zamora to be the ones responsible.The accounts of these two Spaniards supported one another, thus pointing to a planned conspiracy among educated leaders, mestizos, abogadillos, Manila/Cavite residents, and native clergy. Furthermore, on June 20, 1872 , the feast of the Virgin Loreto was celebrated in the district of Sampaloc, involving a fireworks display as a normal tradition. However, according to Izquierdo and Vidal, the fireworks mislead those in Cavite, causing them to attack Spanish officers, fulfilling republican wishes to eradicate the Spanish presence. There was also a mass murder of friars, which made the arrest of Gomburza legal. Through a quick court trial, they were sentenced to death by strangulation.[1]

However, speculation arose with their swift end that stirred the public, with some of the controversies published by Philippine News Agency. The reports stated that the Spanish prosecutors bribed a witness to testify against the three priests who were charged with sedition and treason, which led to their death by garrote. Moreover, according to Edmund Plauchut, as quoted by Jaime Veneracion, late on the night of February 15, 1872, the three priests were found guilty of treason as instigators of mutiny in the Cavite Navy-yard and were sentenced to death by Spanish Court martial. The judgement of the court was read to the priest in Fort Santiago the next morning, and they were told that they would be executed the following day (February 17, 1872). After they heard the sentence, Burgos broke into sobs, Zamora lost his mind and never recovered it, and only Gomez listened impassively.[11]

Almost forty thousand of Filipinos, who were at different places surrounding the platform, witnessed the execution of the Filipino priest and saw Saldua (the artilleryman who testified for the conviction of the priest). When Gomez's confessor, a Recollect friar, exhorted him loudly to accept his fate, he replied: “Father, I know that not a leaf falls to the ground but by the will of God. Since He wills that I should die here, His holy will be done.”

Nonetheless, Dr. Trinidad Hermenigildo Pardo de Tavera, a Filipino scholar and researcher, informed the world of the Filipino side of the controversy. According to him, it was a mere mutiny by the laborers of the cavite arsenal for their dissatisfaction from the abolition of their privileges due to the orders of General Izquierdo on the 20th of January, 1872. About 200 men, including soldiers, laborers, and residents of Cavite, headed by Sergeant Lamadrid, assassinated all Spanish officers in sight, including the commanding officer. But then, Gen. Izquierdo, along with the friars, exaggerated the event to alarm the Spanish Government in order to delay installing reforms for the native Filipinos. Such reforms included the establishment of a school of arts and trades, which aimed to improve the education of Filipinos but would mean that the friars would lose their power in the government. Gen. Izquierdo took advantage of the event to instill fear in the minds of native Filipinos. Unfortunately, the Spanish Government in Spain relied on the report of Gen. Izquierdo and made no more attempts to investigate the issue. They believed that the said movement was indeed a big and well planned conspiracy to dissolute the Spanish Sovereignty in the Philippines.[12]

Cavite mutiny[edit]

The so-called Cavite Mutiny of workers in the arsenal of the naval shipyard over a pay reduction produced a witness willing to implicate the three priests, each of whom 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.[5] Notably, 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.[13]

Gomburza sculpture at Parish of the Holy Sacrifice

Further reading[edit]

  • Zaide, Gregorio F. (1984). Philippine History and Government. National Bookstore Printing Press.
  • Janet Espina- Clemente & Jeoffrey Rhoel C. Cruz (2019). The Life and Works of Rizal. C & E Publishing, Inc.

Footnotes[edit]

  1. ^ HISTORY OF THE PHILIPPINES. GREENWOOD. p. 186. ISBN 978-1-4408-7358-4.
  2. ^ "Father Jose Burgos was born in Vigan, Ilocos Sur February 9, 1837". The Kahimyang Project. Retrieved 4 December 2019.
  3. ^ "The GOMBURZA were executed February 17, 1872". The Kahimyang Project. Retrieved 4 December 2019.
  4. ^ "Nationalista Party History". Archived from the original on 27 June 2007. Retrieved 30 July 2007.
  5. ^ a b "The Secularization Issue and the Execution of Gomburza". Archived from the original on 28 September 2007. Retrieved 30 July 2007.
  6. ^ "Padre Jose Ma. Burgos". Retrieved 30 July 2007.
  7. ^ "Hidalgo and Luna: Vexed Modernity". Archived from the original on 27 August 2003. Retrieved 30 July 2007.
  8. ^ Clemente;Cruz, Janet Espina;Geoffrey Rhoel (2019). The Life and Works of RIZAL. 839 EDSA, South Triangle, Quezon City: C & E Publishing, Inc. pp. 186–187. ISBN 978-971-9811-43-5.CS1 maint: location (link)
  9. ^ "The martyrdom of GomBurZa | Presidential Museum and Library". Retrieved 3 December 2019.
  10. ^ "The Cavite Mutiny Position Paper | Politics". Scribd. Retrieved 4 December 2019.
  11. ^ Ocampo, Ambeth. "The martyrdom of GomBurZa". Malacan Palace Presidential Museum&Library.
  12. ^ Piedad-Pugay, Chris Antonette (5 September 2012). "The Two Faces of the 1872 Cavite Mutiny". National Historical Commission of The Philippines.
  13. ^ Casipit, Jennifer R. "GOMBURZA. Reluctant martyrs started it all". Retrieved 30 July 2007.