Nineteen Martyrs of Aklan
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The Nineteen Martyrs of Aklan (Filipino: Labinsiyam na mga Martir ng Aklan; Spanish: Diecinueve mártires de Aklan) were Filipino patriots in Aklan, Capiz, Philippines (present-day Kalibo, Aklan) who were executed by musketry on March 23, 1897 at 2 am, for cooperating with the Katipunan during the Philippine Revolution against Spain.
General Francisco del Castillo, a close associate of Andres Bonifacio. This Aklanon Katipunero was tasked by Bonifacio to establish Katipunan in Panay Island. On March 17, 1897, the young patriot, defender of liberty and leader of the Aklan revolutionists was killed by an assassin during a fight in the present-day Pastrana Park. The untimely death of Gen. del Castillo had signaled the end of the major struggle for freedom in Aklan. His close friends, assistants and soldiers were forced to give up arms, some due to the promise of receiving amnesty. These Nineteen Men, weak from hunger and thirst and racked with rain, were bound together and forced into a black hole of a stone cell on Amadeo Street (now Nineteen Martyrs Street) in Kalibo. Here their hands were manacled and a long bamboo pole was passed through their locked arms across their mangled backs. Then they were strung high up against the wall of the cell, with their backs to the firing line, and during the first hours of March 23, they were shot to death. The few who did not die instantly were bayoneted. That was a night of darkness and terror in Kalibo. But such promise was quickly broken. So on the fateful day of March 23, 1897, the Martyrs of Aklan were executed.
On March 23, 1897, all 19 prisoners were summarily executed by a firing squad in the town square. Their bodies were hastily buried in a mass grave inside a cemetery. In 1910, the Municipal Council of Kalibo changed the name of Amadeo Street to 19 Martires Street.
By virtue of a Municipal Council resolution, the mortal remains of 19 martyrs were transferred to a mausoleum at its present site at corner D. Maagma Sr. (formerly El Provenir) and Acevedo (formerly Magalona) Streets on March 23, 1926. The 19 Martyrs Mausuleum was named to Aklan Freedom Shrine in 1960. On March 29, 2019, the National Historical Commission of the Philippines has declared the Aklan Freedom Shrine as a "national historical shrine". Thereafter, a historical marker on the Nineteen Martyrs of Aklan was unveiled on April 25, 2019 at the Aklan Freedom Shrine.
In order to commemorate the death anniversary of the 19 Martyrs of Aklan, Republic Act No. 7806 was made into law setting the 23rd day of March of every year as a special public holiday in the Province of Aklan. A former general himself, President Fidel V. Ramos let Republic Act 7806 lapsed into law without his signature. And on September 1, 1994, in accordance with Article VI, Sec. 27(1) of the Constitution became law.
On the 102th martyrdom anniversary of the 19 Martyrs of Aklan on March 23, 2018, the National Historical Commission of the Philippines officially turned over to the Provincial Government of Aklan a tableau memorial in honor of the freedom heroes at the Goding Ramos Park.