Cavite Province and Its History – Part IV

Thirteen Martyrs of Cavite Monument beside City Hall of Trece Martires, Cavite. Photo Credit: Ramon F. Velasquez

The Philippine Revolution started in 1896 when a small, flamboyant general, Emilio Aguinaldo (1869-1964) of Kawit, came to prominence as he led the Katipuneros in taking Kawit, Binakayan, and several other settlements. His success made Cavite the focal point of the revolution.

Shortly before the Katipunan was uncovered, Emilio Aguinaldo planned to attack the Spanish arsenal at Fort San Felipe. He enlisted other Katipuneros to recruit enough men to overrun the Spanish garrison. Their meetings were held at the house of Cabuco.

Aguinaldo and the other Katipuneros agreed that they would arm the inmates of the provincial jail who were made to work at the garrison. The task of recruiting the inmates was given to Lapidario, the provincial jail’s warden. Aguado was to supply Lapidario with money to buy arms.

According to their plan, the fireworks from the warehouse of Inocencio would signal the uprising. Other leaders of the uprising were Luciano, Conchu, Pérez, Pablo José, Marcos José, and Juan Castañeda. The revolt was to start on September 1.

On August 26, Aguinaldo received a letter from Andres Bonifacio. The latter reported that a Katipunan assembly in Balintawak on August 24 decided to start the revolution on August 30, to be signaled by a blackout at the Luneta, then known as Bagumbayan. On the appointed day, Bonifacio and his men attacked the Spanish powder magazine in San Juan. Later that same day, the Spanish authorities declared martial law in Manila and the provinces of Cavite, Laguna, Batangas, Bulacan, Pampanga, Tarlac, and Nueva Ecija.

Aguinaldo learned of the declaration of martial law in a meeting with Spanish Governor Fernando Pargas on August 31, 1896. He then went to Cabezas’ haberdashery and asked him to inform Lapidario that they had no alternative but to rise in arms. Cabezas was the one who enlisted Lapidario for the planned uprising.

But Cabezas was not in favor of starting the revolt on August 31, 1896, so they discussed the uprising further. They decided to postpone the attack to September 3. However, the Spanish learned of the plan from a dressmaker named Victoriana Sayat, and they immediately arrested Lapidario, de Ocampo, and Aguado. The three were held incommunicado in the boat Ulloa and interrogated. They are presumed to have been tortured.

De Ocampo revealed the names of his companions, and they rounded up the thirteen suspects on September 3 along with dozens of other Cavite leaders, including the musician Julian Felipe.

When the revolution broke out, Julian Felipe joined his fellow Caviteños, who fought against the Spaniards during the Philippine Revolution. Felipe was arrested and incarcerated for nine months at Fort San Felipe in Cavite, alongside the Thirteen Martyrs of Cavite. Later, he was found innocent and was released on June 2, 1897. After he was freed, he rejoined Aguinaldo’s troops. He composed various nationalistic songs, including the Philippine National Anthem, that inspired his compatriots to continue fighting against the Spaniards.

Also subsequently released were Pablo and Marcos José and Juan Castañeda of Imus, who are also believed to have been involved in the uprising.

While awaiting trial, guilt-stricken de Ocampo tried to commit suicide by slashing his stomach with a piece of broken glass. However, he was included in the indictment for treason before a military court that found them guilty on September 11 after a four-hour trial.

At 12:45 p.m. the following day, thirteen prominent Caviteños: ten Freemasons, and three Katipuneros, were brought out of their cells, taken to the Plaza de Armas, outside Fort San Felipe, and executed by a Spanish firing squad on September 12, 1896. The Trece Mártires de Cavite were executed for cooperating with the Katipunan during the Philippine Revolution against Spain. The execution of the thirteen influential Caviteños was aimed to halt the spread of upheaval that started in Cavite el Viejo (Kawit), San Francisco de Malabon (the City of Gen. Trias), and Noveleta. Conversely, all municipalities in Cavite took arms.

Their bodies were later buried in a common grave at the Catholic cemetery in Caridad’s village. Later, the bodies of seven of the martyrs—Máximo Inocencio, Victorino Luciano, Francisco Osorio, Luis Aguado, Hugo Pérez, José Lallana, and Antonio San Agustín—were exhumed and reburied elsewhere. But the rest—Agapito Conchu, Máximo Gregorio, Alfonso de Ocampo, Eugenio Cabezas, Feliciano Cabuco, and Severino Lapidario remained unclaimed in their common grave.

After the battles of Binakayan and Calero on November 9 – 11, 1896, Spanish sovereignty in the province was terminated, except in Cavite Arsenal, the home base of the Spanish Far East Fleet.

In 1906, a monument to the Thirteen Martyrs was erected in the San Roque district of Cavite City, at the head of the San Roque causeway. Their families reinterred the remains of their loved ones at the foot of the monument. The monument is located at the intersection of M. Valentin St., Lopez Jaena Rd, Zulueta Rd, and P. Burgos Ave.

In 1954, the capital of Cavite was transferred to a newly created city near the center of the province, named Trece Martires, in their honor. Each of its 13 barangays was named for each of the martyrs. On May 24, 2004, a new monument of the thirteen patriots was inaugurated near the City Hall in Trece Martires.

The Cavite Mutiny of 1872 ignited the sparks of the revolution. However, the execution of the thirteen martyrs brought down the curtain for the Spanish regime in the Philippines.

Sources:

Philippines Handbook by Carl Parkes

Brief History of Cavite from Cavite Province Website


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