I’ve been discovering a lot of things about lesser known Filipinos who fought during the revolution. Thanks to the rain lately, as there was nothing better to do but read, read, read.
I found out about this man, Sancho Valenzuela, a rich, tall man who took up arms against the Spanish at the time when he’s got everything a Filipino could want – wife and kids, a nice big house and a great business.
Most of those who led the revolution were educated men. Businessmen like Sancho Valenzuela of Sta. Mesa. He and his men who fought courageously until they were captured and executed in Bagumbayan.
Valenzuela placed it all on the line. He lost everything in the end.
What was it that drove him to do something no one had done before him and few, if any, have done since?
Another question that baffles me is why was he assigned by Bonifacio to capture the Polvorin along the Rio Pasig? He had no military experience and the site was just a few kilometers from Manila (reinforcement can easily be summoned).
Was this a plan gone awfully wrong? did they truly believe that they can win without sufficient modern arms?
An account from someone who saw Manila after the failed siege the following day:
“The next morning at sunrise, I rode out to the battlefield with the correspondent of the Ejercito Espanol (Madrid). The rebel slain had not yet removed. We came across them everywhere – in the fields and in the gutter of the high roads… Old men and youths had joined the scrimmage … every corpse we saw was attired in the usual working dress”
These men had rushed to their death. Whether they understood the dangers or they were made to believe that they would be safe and protected, we just don’t know. We’ll probably never understand the psychology behind what they did. was this a mad decision?
Was it a suicide mission?
It could not be – evidence points to plans of follow up uprising in neighboring Cavite – the Manila Katipuneros had their sights on winning Manila but ended up doing an “alsa balutan” as Spanish authorities made a fierce crack-down the following days after they were soundly defeated.
I could read all the notes about this incident but still feel that I will never understand what was inside their hearts.
Valenzuela’s sacrifice deserves to be honored. Such men are so rare in our historiography. Sadly, their stories are forgotten and lost.
There are two things I learned from what I read about Valenzuela.
First, is that the leaders of revolution were not only educated but in most cases, rich and influential (Valenzuela had won in an exposition for “exhibiting seven coils of abaca hemp in different diameters”) in the communities where they live in.
The NHI historian, Mona Quizon said that “the tragedy of the revolution was that the very best were the first to fall”. This speaks volume about how the war took away some of the brightest minds since naturally, those who understood the concept of freedom were the first ones to rise and fight for it.
When the good ones are gone the bad ones come along.
Most of the men that inspired the revolution would be dead before the end of the 19th century. It is as if they were exterminated by some death squad. And those brave ones, the remaining katipuneros who’ll continue fighting would all end up dead or exiled by the time the Americans won over the majority of the population.
Second lesson, well, most likely never see men like Valenzuela again. Just look at the rich Filipino businessmen today and ask the question if they would be willing to do what Valenzuela did during his time.
He not only funded the movement, he took the lead and died for it.