Lessons from Sancho Valenzuela

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's men killed inside his rope factory in Sta Mesa. Notice the Filipino civil guards.

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.

Valenzuela (tall guy in the middle) and his men displayed for the photographer. Valenzuela is looking down, probably contemplating his fate.

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.

Familiar? this is Bagumbayan. "On 4th September, Sancho Valenzuela, Eugenio Silvestre, Modesto Sarmiento, and Ramon Peralta were publicly executed for their complicity in the San Juan del Monte". It was said that when he was shot he stayed in the kneeling position for a long time before he dropped to his side. Their bodies were placed in a common grave and were never found by their relatives

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.


9 responses to “Lessons from Sancho Valenzuela

  • norrington516

    The answer is apparently he wasn’t. According to eminent Katipunan & Bonifacio researcher Jim Richardson, Sancho Valenzuela was not a Katipunero and not a revolutionary – and his source for this is none other than Julio Nakpil, one of Bonifacio’s most steadfast lieutenants and the man who married Bonifacio’s widow, Gregorio de Jesus. Nakpil stated that Sr.Sancho was not a mason and not a revolutionary and was only implicated in the revolution because he let the Katipuneros eat at his rope factory.

    Sancho was not tasked with taking the Polvorin because he was not a leader in the Katipunan – rather, like Don Francisco Roxas and Don Antonio Luna (yes THAT Antonio Luna) who were both implicated in the Revolution by forged documents made by Bonifacio and Jacinto after Roxas and Luna refused to support the Katipunan, Sancho Valenzuela was a victim of the outbreak of revolution.


    • Arnaldo Arnáiz

      Interesting research from Mr. Richardson. It is possible as it was the practice of the underground movement to implicate well known and rich locals so they’d be forced to take part in the revolution. There are, however, accounts written by other historians about Valenzuela’s active participation. But imagine if Richardson’s right, the man’s heroism would have been completely accidental.

  • Dolores Sarmiento

    I appreciate your efforts in sharing this history to us Taga Teresa Ka

  • dario noche

    i made an infograph of sancho valenzuela here:

  • Malu Maniquis

    Thank you for your insights. We are preparing a docu film on Bonifacio for this 150th to be shown fro free to students. We have a Boni150 Committee tog w/ descendants of Bonifacio and Oriang w Julio. Hope we can use these very very informative photos. That makes Sancho et al..the first revolutionists executed in Bagumbayan.

  • Anonymous

    Hi De AnDa,

    Today marks the 116th Anniversary of the Battle of Pinaglabanan.
    May I ask, is the streets along V. Mapa Santa, Mesa :
    Valenzuela, Sarmiento and Peralta named after Sancho Valenzuela, Modesto Sarmiento and Ramon Peralta?

    • De AnDA

      I believe they were. Considering the geographic location

      But don’t quote me because I don’t have my old maps with me 🙂

    • Edgar Barroga

      I know that Modesto Sarmiento was a revolutionario with Valenzuela and Victorino Mapa That was according to my Grandmother Justina Delos Santos Sarmiento who is the mother of my father Alberto Sarmiento remember Lola’s Canteen she is my mother We are part of the families who know each other from the Reyes by the Capilla Legaspi Manalo Barrpga Pascual Perez Valbuena to the Del Rosario Aquinos Etc I am so grateful for your efforts to gain more knowledge of the past . Like you I am also interested n so enthusiastic of how in. Teresa we all know each other from the playground to the roles . I even tried to draw a composite of all the families n the location of their houses .
      When I get a chance to reminisce the past with Celia Francisco we have a very enjoyable time . Keep me posted with your research. Thank you n God Bless you😅

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: