There’s hardly anything left of the old Spanish era San Francisco de Malabon. Even the old name was lost. The province dropped its hispanized name in the early 1900’s to honor its greatest son, Mariano Trías, the vice president of the de facto government created in the Tejeros convention.
A province mate, Congressman Emilio Virata, himself a historian and a former governor authored the law that changed the town’s name. Virata wrote a bio about Aguinaldo in 1964 published by the mason publishing house in the province.
Now, when young Caviteños ask where the revolutionary Gen. Trias was born they’ll be told that he was born in Gen. Trias. This highlights why such changes screws our national memory.
Lets just hope that Caviteños won’t allow Kawit to become Aguinaldo, or Imus to Revilla.
Last Saturday I visited General Trias but instead of going straight to my relatives I decided to see the old Franciscan church. I have not seen it in decades. It had undergone some minor restoration. It hardly changed its exterior appearance which is welcome news. The plaza in front of it however has become a modern square.
I have vivid memories of the Gen. Trias of the 80’s. The vast farmlands, going out to see the lights of EPZA at night–they were magical days for this young city boy. The clearest summer night skies, the brightest stars I’ve observed as a child in this once sleepy town. The best tinapa and talaba, I get to taste here too.
But even with its hurrying development, with its once farm land fast converted to economy housing, the town will remain as one of the province’s most historic town. I think it’s the most historically underrated part of Cavite.
The town of San Francisco de Malabon used to be friar land that included present day Tanza and Rosario (Tejeros). In the late 1700’s it became private property.
Not too many Filipinos know that the first known movements of the revolutionary war against Spain took place in this town. Gen. Trías coordinated these movements under the directives of the party of Aguinaldo. He had wrestled General Trías from Spanish control in 1897.
Trías, was educated in Manila. Like Aguinaldo and the majority that led the revolution, Trías was a scion of an affluent family. Gen. Trías uncle, Padre Manuel Trías, was the parish priest of Malabon. This priest must have inspired the young man’s revolutionary ideas because Padre Trías’ uncle was Padre Mariano Gomez, one of the GOMBURZA priest.
After San Francisco de Malabon, succeeding power take overs took place in Novelata and Kawit (Cauit).
Not far from the old town of Gen. Trías is Tejero. The place where the first election took place. Aguinaldo of course won, Bonifacio protested. The rest is history.
Near the church is the house where Bonifacio along with his brothers and wife boarded. The marker is still there but the structure has been refurbished through out the years. It had been bought by several owners, one of which is Congressman Emilio Virata, the man who changed the towns name to what it is today. This house was said to be so urbane in its heyday that even national leaders like Osmena, Quezon, Quirino and Roxas used it during their visits.
Another legacy the town is very proud of is the Banda de San Francisco de Malabon (later Banda de Malabon). The first musicians to ever play the national anthem in public which at that time was a marching song.
This same anthem would later have beautifully Spanish written lyrics. However, its lyrical grace was muted when it was decided to have it translated to Tagalog.
Sad to say that much was lost in translation.
Another prominent revolutionary from old San Francisco de Malabon is Artemio Ricarte. He headed the primary school education in town. Originally from Ilocos he was assigned in town to help educate its young. It is here where he got deeper into the movement against Spain. The Philippine Army (that recently celebrated their 117th anniversary) considers this revolutionary as the ‘father of Philippine army’.
This Ilocano revolutionary is one of those historical figure that has long fascinated me. The lone leader to never swore allegiance to the Americans. Mariano Trías has led efforts to bring revolutionaries to the American fold. While Ricarte, jailed and exiled, refused to accept the legitimacy of the American annexation. Historians places his legacy in question because he returned to the country with the Japanese (already in his 80’s). He suffered greatly from his despisal of the US control.
He died in the highlands during the latter part of the Japanese occupation. He was buried there for decades until historical agencies decided to bring him to the Libingan ng mga Bayani in Taguig.
The man’s life story would make a great movie. There’s a play about his life which I have not seen.
It is said that Ricarte still have family members in town. I wish to meet and talk to them one of these days.