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The Philippine Revolution
GOMBURZA. Reluctant martyrs started it all

Without 1872, there would have been no Plaridel, Jaena or Sanciongco; nor would the brave and generous Filipino colonies in Europe have existed. Without 1872, Rizal would now have been a Jesuit and instead of writing "Noli Me Tangere," would have written the opposite. Observing those injustices and cruelties fired my young imagination and I pledge to dedicate myself and to avenge some day those victims. With this idea, I have studied and this can be discerned in all my works and writings. God will give me the opportunity someday to keep my vow.
          Jose Rizal in a letter to the staff of La Solidaridad in Paris

The Filipino people had been languishing in silence and apathy during the long time they have remained under Spanish rule. Though there were a few brave souls who refused to remain silent in the face of injustice, they too needed a big push before they could pick up the cudgels for the Filipinos who fell victims at the hands of foreign oppressors.

It was after the execution of Fathers Mariano Gomez, Jose Apolonio Burgos and Jacinto Zamora on February 17, 1873 that this needed impetus to fight for freedom came.

Their Crusade
The three priests, all graduates of the University of Sto. Tomas, were brilliant men who used their education to fight for reforms to break the 300 year old dominance of the Spanish government.

They headed the secularization movement which alleviated the plight of Filipino priests by insisting on the prior right of the native secular clergy to assignment in parishes over that of the friars newly arrived from Spain. Burgos, the youngest and most brilliant of the three, was especially vulnerable in this regard since he was the synodal examiner of parish priests. He got into a tiff more than once with then Archbishop of Manila Gregorio Martinez in this regard.

Burgos was linked to many activities perceived as hostile towards the Spanish since he was also one of the organizers of the Committee of Reformers which campaigned for more liberal laws. The Committee was composed of two sections: the laymen and the clergy. The lay group was header by Joaquin Pardo de Tavera while the cleric section, which included Gomez and Zamora, was headed by Burgos.

This reform committee staged demonstrations both during the liberal administration of Gen. Carlos Ma. De La Torre and the reactionary period under Gen. Rafael Izquierdo.

Gomez, parish priest in Bacoor, Cavite was founder of the newspaper La Verdad(The Truth) in which he described the deplorable conditions of the country and printed the liberal articles of Burgos.

The priests earned the ire of the Spanish and were called filibusteros.

126th Anniversary of the GOMBURZA Martyrdom

Recently, a commemorative event was held in honor of the martyred priests. This was organized by the National Centennial Commission through its GOMBURZA Anniversary Committee, in cooperation with the National Historical Institute, the Manila Tourism and Cultural Affairs Bureau, the National Parks Development Authority and the Intramuros Administration.

The special rites, held at the Rizal Park, GOMBURZA Monument and the Paco Park Cemetery started at 6:30am. Flowers were offered at the Monument the execution site of the three martyrs.

Highlight of the event was the unveiling of a marker at Paco Park Cemetery declaring the park a National Historical Shrine. This was contained in a resolution by the NHI recognizing the park as the place of interment of national hero Jose Rizal and the GOMBURZA.

The recent discovery of bones at the Paco Park by the Manila City Engineers Office became big news as they appeared to be those of one of the GOMBURZA priests. It was but unfortunate that the said bones were found in the ladies' comfort room.

Luis J. Morales, Executive Director of the NCC, earlier expressed interest in this finding. "For years, the government and the public were unaware of the exact location of the three martyred priests' tombs because there were no markers or epitaphs when the GOMBURZA remains were laid at the Paco Cemetery. Unfortunately, public toilets were built at the site of the tomb."

"It was coincidental or just by divine providence that one of the alleged GOMBURZA bones was finally discovered last month, probably in time for yesterday's commemorative rites of the 126th Year Anniversary of the Martyrdom of GOMBURZA," he added.

With this new development, the NCC has embarked on a project to verify the authenticity of the bones.

Excerpts. Jennifer R. Casipit. Kalayaan Vol 3 No 3 March 1998



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