Sunday, October 10, 2010

10 de Octubre, Hermenegildo Flores: Forgotten Hero - from Bulacan to Marinduque.

Hermenegildo Flores, the forgotten hero from Bulacan. He wrote the poem “Hibik ng Filipinas sa Inang Espana” one that elicited poetic responses from two of our foremost national heroes, Marcelo H. del Pilar with “Sagot ng Espanya sa Hibik ng Filipinas” and the Great Plebeian himself, Andres Bonifacio who wrote “Katapusang Hibik ng Filipinas”, a historic poetic triad. Writings about Flores are to a large extent limited only to that stirring poem he wrote that led to the Bonifacio poem, described as “the climactic moment to the history of Tagalog poetry during the 19th century” (Mabangio).

But there was more to him. Hermenegildo Flores was killed as a prisoner of war at the Casa real in Boac. Because of his writings and his role as the leader of the revolutionary struggle in Marinduque during the Filipino-Spanish war he suffered extreme cruelty. His corpse was not given the last rites of the Church, rites that normally constituted a mark of respect. Instead, his remains were brought from the Casa Real to the Boac riverbed nearby and burned to ashes.

It happened on a Sunday, exactly 103 years ago today, on October 10, 1897, the ninth day of the Feast of Santo Rosario.

A religious procession marking the event started at 6:00 pm on that fateful night as darkness enveloped the town passing through the streets of Mataas na Bayan and Labak. The very long procession returned to the Boac church three hours later. At this point the revolutionists from Mogpog led by Fabian Medenilla raided the Casa to free their comrades, comrades that included Flores and Remigio Medina, one who led the revolutionists from Torrijos.


They were not freed. The next morning Medenilla, who led the attack , was found dead by the door of an office inside the building , with a bullet hole on his head. Flores, known locally as “Bindoy” and Medina were also found dead together with other prisoners. Flores’ and Medina’s lifeless bodies were burned at the river bank while the other dead prisoners were loaded on a cart and hauled to Cemeterio del Tampus to be buried there.

(A street in old Boac)

We find in a footnote in The Philippine Revolution by Zaide that it was Gen. Emilio Aguinaldo who sent Flores to Mindoro and Marinduque to persuade the local patriots to join the revolution. In Marinduque, Flores formed a revolutionary army and set up his headquarters in Sta. Cruz. On March 4, 1897, he led the first direct and successful assault on the Spanish quarters at the Casa Real of Santa Cruz.

On March 23, 1897, the date when Aguinaldo took his oath as President of the revolutionary government, Flores convened the patriots of Mindoro and Marinduque in Sta. Cruz. The assembly attended by local patriots was presided over by him with Mariano Ricaplaza acting as secretary. “After mature deliberation, the patriots took the oath of loyalty and adherence to the cause of the Revolution and Flores was elected governor of Mindoro and Marinduque” (Zaide).

(An old page from a local historical manuscript)

In memory of that bloody October night the people of Boac named the street running in the north-south direction fronting the Casa Real as “10 de Octubre”. To remember the event a small marker was installed at the old Rizal monument there with only the two names of Flores and Medina mentioned.

The street has a different name now, the historical marker appears to have disappeared with the construction of a new Casa Real (I couldn’t find it the last time I checked). Historical amnesia, indifference, insensitivity. Whatever.

May we, somehow, remember their heroic deeds and offer our humble prayers in gratitude to Flores, the hero and his comrades for their souls to rest. - by Eli J. Obligacion

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