Muntinlupa’s Forgotten Hero: Antonino Guevara

Got this from the NHI site. Local government forgot about the local heroes. Col. Guevarra made significant contributions in the revolution that change the course of our history.

Just imagine if he had failed to transport Mabini in 1898 or if he did not join the siege of Lipa? or if he didn’t help hide Mrs. Bonifacio (after Boni’s execution) away from the Aguinaldo assassins in the quaint town of San Pedro?

Why is he not known in local and national history? Because our text books are focused on few and selected heroes used to trigger certain thoughts and ideas. Worst, stories and memories are made. Further diluting the real message of our heroes.

Colonel Antonino Guevara


Revolutionary colonel Antonino M. Guevara was born in San Pedro Tunasan, “the first pueblo” of the province of Laguna.  His nom de guerre in the Katipunan was  “Matatag”.

He was an unlikely revolutionary.  He belonged to the land-owning elite and was educated in Spanish.  As an intellectual, however, he was influenced by the writings of Dr. Jose Rizal.  He became an active participant in the revolution, from its Katipunan days up to its dissolution during the second phase.

In 1897, owing to the unjust practices of the Spanish hacienda overseer, Guevara chose to vacate his land for the town of Muntinlupa, where he would find- or so he believed – respite from authoritarian pressure.  He was wrong, for not long after he had settled there, he was accused of owning a copy of the banned Noli Me Tangere and supporting the Propaganda Movement by disseminating the similarly banned La Solidaridad, the movement’s official organ.  The Spanish friar Jose Rodriguez hurled the accusations against him.

Guevara had actually joined the Katipunan a year earlier, on August 1, 1896, with the help of one of its members, Mariano Crisostomo.  Three days after the Katipunan’s discovery later that month, he joined his comrades in leaving the Katipunan meeting house in Trozo, Manila to avoid an impending raid, and marched toward Daang-Toro.

On August 25, they had an encounter with the Guardia Civil in Pasong Tamo.  They were greatly outnumbered.  Fortunately, a timely rainfall, and the fact that the area was thickly forested saved them.  They then proceeded to Taguig, Pasig, and Pateros, to tell their other comrades that the revolution was already underway and to be prepared for the planned simultaneous uprisings on the 29th of August.

On August 30, Guevara left for his hometown.  Learning that an order for his arrest had been out for days, he fled immediately to the Paliparan forest, and hence to Pasong Buaya. It was there that he received news of the successive military victories of the rebels led by General Emilio Aguinaldo.  Thus, he decided to go to Cavite, where he met not only Aguinaldo but also other revolutionary leaders like Generals Vito Belarmino, Mariano Trias, and Artemio Ricarte.
After some time, Colonel Guevara returned to San Pedro Tunasan.  Aguinaldo had instructed him not to begin as yet the planned uprising in his hometown as this would only cause its loss as a vital link of communication between Laguna and Manila.  He was also instructed to find at once a smelter needed for the manufacture of bolos in Cavite.

It was during this period that he established a Katipunan chapter, called “Katipunan Matatag” after his own alias, in his hometown.  Its membership expanded quickly since his brother Jose happened to be the town’s captain.  Through this unit, it became easier for him to aid and promote the revolution by sending supplies of medicines and munitions to Cavite.  He also foiled the spies of the other side by raising more funds and, more importantly, recruiting more members.  He was able to produce 4,000 new bolos, manufactured from a huge smelter he himself had assembled.

In December 1896, he and his men helped General Crispulo Aguinaldo in building trenches between the towns of Muntinlupa and San Pedro Tunasan.  Later, he was also tasked to aid refugees caught in crossfire by moving them to safer areas.  Thus, he continued to work for the revolution, often barely escaping death.

In early 1897, Guevara joined the group of Katipunan Supremo Andres Bonifacio, his brother Procopio, Alejandro Santiago, Apolonio Samson, and others, in Indang, Cavite.  He served as courier for the supremo, to carry letters to Katipunan brains Emilio Jacinto.  According to General Ricarte in his memoirs, Guevarra was with Bonifacio’s group when soldiers loyal to newly elected president Aguinaldo, attacked them.  Guevarra wrote Jacinto in Laguna about the treacherous assault, in a letter dated May 3, 1897.  In another letter to Jacinto, he wrote about his decision to request General Paciano Rizal for arms instead of the “Magdalo people,” so as not to have “to recognize them as chiefs.”

After the execution of the Bonifacios brothers, it was Colonel Guevara who accompanied the Supremo’s widow, Gregoria de Jesus, to San Pedro Tunasan, taking her away from lecherous Magdalo loyalists.

Guevara was directly under the command of General Rizal, who headed the Laguna area at the time.  He helped supervise the assignment of spies and the replenishment of funds for the procurement of arms.  In 1897, he successfully conducted elections for the Sanggunian (town president) in various towns for fund-raising purposes. In December of that year, he was ordered to organize the Sandatahan as the combat unit of the revolutionary forces in the provinces.

That same month, following the signing of the Pact of Biak-na-Bato, he was among those who sent off general Aguinaldo and company to their voluntary exile in Hongkong.  At that moment, he was suddenly assailed by doubts about the future of the revolution.

In January 1898, accompanied by his old comrade Mariano Crisostomo, he met with Apolinario Mabini, who was then already debilitated by polio and in danger of being captured, to try to persuade him to leave Makati for Laguna and its hot springs.

In February, on his way to Sta. Cruz to deliver a letter from Aguinaldo to General Rizal, he would have fallen into the hands of the local Guardia Civil were it not for the timely warning of a fellow passenger on a boat bound for Biñan.

On May 22, together with Rizal, he attended a meeting of rebels in Biñan, where plans for an attack against the local government forces on the 31st were being finalized. On the day of reckoning itself, the rebels were able to capture to town of Biñan, followed by Sta. Cruz, Cabuyao, and Calamba, where he rejoined his superior.  They proceeded to Lipa, Batangas, to lay siege on the enemy there, claiming victory on June 18, 1898.  By this time, the revolutionary government in Kawit had already proclaimed Philippine independence.

During the period following the fall of Manila, Colonel Guevarra served under General Lukban.  He was assigned to post duty in Nueva Caceres soon after rebel victory was declared in his province, and the popular election records, with a check for P1, 500, were delivered to Malolos.   He also served as special commissioner of Ambos Camarines’ finance department, his duty being mainly to inventory property left by the Spaniards, particularly in San Fernando, Pasacao, Bula, Calabanga, Libmanan, and Maguiring.

References:

Alvarez, Santiago . The Katipunan and the Revolution Memoirs of a General. Translated into English by Paula Carolina S. Malay.  Quezon City: Ateneo de Manila University Press, 1992.

Guevara y Mendoza, Antonino. History of One of the Initiators of the Filipino Revolution. Translated from the Spanish with some notes by O.D. Corpuz Manila: National Historical Institute, 1988.

Ronquillo, Carlos. Paghihimagsik nang 1896-97. Isagani Medina, Patnugot Quezon City: University of the Philippines Press, 1996, p. 78.


4 responses to “Muntinlupa’s Forgotten Hero: Antonino Guevara

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