Friday, 17 November 2017

Today in Philippine History: November 17, 1898 and General Martin Teófilo Delgado's Revolution

        (The Philippine flag flies over Santa Barbara 
             in the Iloilo Province, Philippines)

Thinking about the Philippine history, I just found it funny that both sides of my ancestry may have participated in it somewhere down the line.

On my mother's side, my maternal grandfather's sister-in-law told us that my grandfather's ancestors came from a small city in Cebu Province, carrying one of the family names that traces its roots to Lapu-Lapu, the brave captain of the natives on the Mactan Island who fought off Ferdinand Magellan, his Spanish soldiers and a thousand of rival natives a month after Magellan landed in the Philippines. 

Ferdinand Magellan, or Fernando de Magallanes, stumbled upon the Islas Filipinas for Spain on March 16, 1521, and unfortunately for him, he got killed on Mactan Island with his head probably ending up as Lapu-Lapu's prized trophy that was eventually displayed on his front porch.

Now, on my father's side, there was this general who fought against the Spanish government in the Iloilo Province. His name was General Martin Teófilo Delgado and according to my aunt, my grandfather used to tag along with him when my grandfather was a kid.

On November 17, 1898, General Martin Teofilo Delgado got his soldiers to put up a flagpole made of a long bamboo in front of the house of Señor Vicente Bermejo. And after the revolutionary leaders' meeting inside the house to set up their own independent government, they all went outside and stood in front of the revolutionary army and a crowd of locals from different towns and villages in Iloilo Province.

                  (General Delgado's statue at 
                  Santa Barbara's public plaza)

And upon the General Delgado's command, the two soldiers raised the Philippine flag to the Philippine hymn being played by his brother Posidio Delgado's band. When the flag reached the top of the bamboo pole, it danced with the tropical breezes and the crowd cheered!

"¡Viva Independencia! Fuerá España! Viva Libertád!", shouted the General to the crowds, celebrating their independence from Spain. This was an important moment in Philippine history.

         (1858-1918; The General lived until 60.)
(A gun on his left hand and a sword on his right)

The raising of the Philippine flag in Santa Barbara, Iloilo Province that day was the first outside of Luzon. That year the Philippines gained independence from Spain.

And 119 years ago this day, November 17, a gallant Ilonggo, and an ancestor, led the historical moment at Santa Barbara in the Iloilo Province.

(The marker that says the Philippine flag should be permanently hoisted all year long, day and night, and illuminated in front of the Santa Barbara in Iloilo)

        (The 120-foot pole and one of the only five 
         giant Philippine flags flying in the country; 
           this is the only one outside of Luzon)

So on one of my many trips to Iloilo, I made sure I visited Santa Barbara and visited the General's statue standing bravely at the public plaza. Just like it was on November 17, 1898, General Delgado's statue faces the Philippine flag with his arms raised in victory with a gun on one and a sword on the other. Finally, I was able to pay my respects to a fearless and honorable ancestor, who probably didn't even care about recognition or pedestals for himself. 

The public plaza was just right next to the beautiful Santa Barbara parish church, which we made sure we also visited.
             (The beautiful neoclassical facade of 
                      Santa Barbara church)

The biggest Philippine flag outside of Luzon flies proudly on a 120-foot pole over Santa Barbara that celebrates today the 'Cry of Santa Barbara'. It is one of the only five giant Philippine flags flying in the Philippines.

And along with the people of Santa Barbara, and probably along with a few distant relatives still living there, I join you in celebrating this important day in Philippine history.

(The main altar retablo features the patron saints) 

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