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Who were the Thirteen Martyrs?

By Ambeth Ocampo
First Posted 13:43:00 01/15/2007

Filed Under: Human Interest

On January 11, a brass band played rousing music in Plaza Moriones, Tondo, Manila, competing with the ambient sound of jeeps, trucks and people going to work early in the morning. It was the 110th anniversary of the execution of Domingo Franco (1856-1897), whose bronze bust was the focal point of commemoration and the plaza.

Manila Mayor Lito Atienza, who was not in the trademark Hawaiian shirt, arrived before the floral offering and made a walk-through inspection of the "barangay" [neighborhood district], surprising street sweepers who did not do a good job that morning. Celia Diaz-Laurel, granddaughter of Domingo Franco, led a small group of the hero?s descendants, including Julio Diaz, who disappointed fans expecting the movie star and not the distinguished gentleman in the second row.

Domingo Franco was executed in Bagumbayan in the early morning of Jan. 11, 1897 on or around the same place where Jose Rizal fell dead 12 days earlier. Franco is a member of the group remembered in history as the ?Thirteen Martyrs of Bagumbayan.? Unfortunately, we know the title of the tragic event but do not remember the individual names of all these heroes and why they were executed.

Nobody needs to know them unless you?re a student taking an exam in Makabayan or Hekasi. The names of these Thirteen Martyrs are plain useless information unless, of course, you come across them as a nervous contestant in ?Game ka na ba?? where this piece of trivia may open the opportunity for a million-peso windfall.

For whatever it?s worth and to remind us of the other 12 heroes who were not mentioned in Plaza Moriones yesterday, here?s the list of the Thirteen Martyrs:

1. Domingo Franco, a tobacco merchant, was originally from Capiz but moved to Manila. One of the founding members of Liga Filipina, he knew Jose Rizal and was said to have distributed ?Noli me tangere? and ?El Filibusterismo? when it was dangerous to read or even own a copy. He helped raise money to send to the so-called Propaganda Movement in Spain and for these, he was arrested, tortured, and eventually executed.

2. Numerio Adriano (1846-1897) was a lawyer and a Mason. He knew Rizal and Apolinario Mabini. Being a founding member of Liga Filipina, he was also implicated in the Katipunan.

3. Moises Salvador (1868-1897) studied at the Ateneo Municipal and took further studies in Madrid. He knew Rizal and was a Mason and a member of Liga Filipina -- just the right mix to be included in the group executed in early 1897.

4. Francisco L. Roxas (1851-1897) was a musician and businessman. He would probably be better known today had his musical compositions survived, but his life was cut short when he was implicated in the Katipunan revolt. He protested this and maintained his innocence, but since his name was on a list found by the authorities, he became a reluctant hero and joined the Thirteen Martyrs of Bagumbayan.

5. Jose Dizon was an engraver in Casa de Moneda in Manila. He was involved in the Katipunan, having joined a group that met sympathetic Japanese for the procurement of arms for the revolution. Like all the other members of the Thirteen Martyrs, he too was a Mason.

6. Benedicto Nijaga, a second lieutenant in the Spanish army, was reputedly a good soldier. But his loyalty became suspect when he was connected to the Katipunan revolt. We do not know whether his name was on a list of Katipuneros found during the raid of the printing shop of Diario de Manila, or whether he was implicated by an enemy or somebody who had been tortured.

7. Cristobal Medina was a Filipino corporal in the Spanish army, yet his loyalty remained with his country and his countrymen so he joined the Katipunan and was supposed to have helped plan the uprising in San Juan del Monte on Aug. 30, 1896. For this act, real or imagined, he was implicated.

8. Antonio Salazar was a businessman originally from Cavite and owned Bazaar El Cisne. It was from his confession, extracted by torture, that others were implicated in the Katipunan, particularly Domingo Franco.

9. Ramon A. Padilla, an employee of the Manila customs house, was rude to Emilio Aguinaldo, who nursed a grudge against him that almost led to a duel. He later apologized to Aguinaldo and this probably saved his life for the moment, but only until Jan. 11, 1897.

10. Faustino Villaruel (1841-1897) was a merchant from Pandacan and a Mason like all the others. He was also a founding member of Liga Filipina, and supporter of the Propaganda Movement.

11. Braulio Rivera (1867-1897) was also a member of the Katipunan.

12. Luis Enciso Villareal (1846-1897) was originally from Daraga, Albay, and was known for his graceful dancing and fiddle playing. He read a French manual on tailoring and opened a shop on Escolta Street, where he conducted brisk business. He won the lottery and traveled in Japan. He was probably implicated with the Katipunan because he was a Mason and a member of Liga Filipina, and contributed to the Propaganda Movement.

13. Eustacio Manalac is the person we know so little about. Nobody has done even basic research to find out his date of birth and simple biographical data like marital status, children, occupation, etc. All we are told is that he was a Mason rounded up as a suspected Katipunero when the Katipunan was exposed in August 1896.

Comments are welcome at aocampo@ateneo.edu.

More Inquirer columns

Previous columns:
Serendipity in historical research ? 01/10/07
Aguinaldo?s decree on young love ? 01/05/07
Looking back, looking forward ? 01/01/07
Discovering the Filipino through the arts ? 12/29/06
Words of advice ? 12/27/06
Rizal?s last Christmas ? 12/22/06
Gifts ? 12/20/06
Cafe Adriatico ? 12/15/06
If Rizal were alive today ? 12/13/06

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