By: Christian Bernard A. Melendez,
Senior Shrine Curator, Museo ng Katipunan-PMS
“Magbigay ayon sa kakayanan, kumuha batay sa pangangailangan.”
This is the general adage of community pantries sprouting all over the country, the first of which was started by an ordinary citizen in Quezon City. Known as the Maginhawa Community Pantry, this concept of bayanihan is an impressive selfless action, adapted and imitated by many individuals (and in some cases, outside of the country).
This act shows the positive culture we Filipinos have. As the motto implies, Filipinos should only get what he needs and deserves–an indication of our generous virtue. And at the same time, the spirit of bayanihan and altruism is reflected in the magbigay part, of which giving is emphasized as voluntary and according to your capacity.
This Filipino virtue is widespread in our history’s annals. During the revolution of 1896 and succeeding struggles, many sympathetic Filipinos, whether active participants in the revolution or not, freely contributed their wealth to the cause. Regardless if they lose financial stability and gain the ire of Spaniards and/or their enemies, they did this in the pursuit of freedom and independence.
Here are some individuals who made significant contributions of their resources in the quest for independence.
Pearl Divers, Lottery Winners: Candido Iban & Francisco del Castillo
Candido Iban and Francisco del Castillo were pearl divers in Australia before they joined the Katipunan. Iban hailed from Lilo-an, Malinao, Aklan while del Castillo was from Bantayan, Cebu. They crossed paths in Manila, both bound for Australia to work. In the Down Under, they seemingly found a valuable pearl since they won in the lottery with a ₱1,000.00 prize.
They travelled back to Manila with their winnings and met on board their ship, Procopio Bonifacio, who has shared to them the ideals of the Katipunan. In Manila, the two pearl divers promptly joined the Katipunan.
At this point, the Katipunan planned to buy a printing press for the secret society’s pamphlets and documents. Knowing the group’s lack of funds, the two men donated part of their savings and their winnings to buy the press at the Bazar El Cisne. Though the machine lacked parts, Iban and del Castillo’s donation greatly helped in the procurement of the printing press.
Afterwards, they were tasked to go back to Panay and spread the ideals of the Katipunan. Del Castillo went ahead while Iban followed later. Both were successful in establishing the Katipunan on Panay, but when the revolution broke out, Francisco del Castillo was unfortunately shot dead while attempting to meet with officials in Kalibo. Iban, who was travelling to Kalibo to join del Castillo, was arrested and imprisoned. Soon, General Ricardo Monet issued an ersatz amnesty to encourage revolutionaries to surrender. Many capitulated but were still imprisoned. On 23 March 1897, after being selected, Candido and his brother Benito, were executed by firing squad. Today, they are known as the 19 Martyrs of Aklan.
The large sum of money earned by Candido Iban and Francisco del Castillo would have made their lives comfortable, but their personal wellbeing cannot provide the same comfort that freedom can offer.
As one of the recognizable figures of the Katipunan, nobody will surely forget Emilio Jacinto’s role as one of the organization’s prime movers. He was highly intelligent and active and, as a result, rose steadily in the Katipunan hierarchy. Jacinto’s concern for the Katipunan’s needs was evident when he secured ₱20.00 from his mother to buy the additional parts for the printing press acquired through Iban and del Castillo’s donation. The acquisition of typesets were needed to print the pages of Ang Kalayaan. Jacinto borrowed the needed amount, which, at that time was considerable. Through his efforts, the Katipunan was able to print and distribute its sole periodical.
A Pharmacist Giving Aid to the Katipunan
Feliciano Jocson was a Katipunero and pharmacist who earned his degree at the University of Sto. Tomas around 1895. In 1897, he established his own pharmacy in Escolta. Clandestine meetings of the Katipunan took place in his shop, and he used his personal finances to propagate the ideals of the Katipunan.
After the death of Bonifacio, he became an emissary to purchase arms abroad for the revolutionaries. He continued fighting against the Spaniards despite the signing of the Pact the Biak-na-bato, which he refused to recognize. Deemed an enemy, General Pio del Pilar issued an order for Jocson’s arrest. He was later apprehended by fellow revolutionaries in Laguna, but died mysteriously while under the custody of Gen. Pio del Pilar.
Christened the Joan of Arc of Visayas, Teresa Magbanua was probably the only Filipino who fought and participated in three major conflicts in the country. Her participation in the fight for freedom started with her insistence to join revolutionaries in Aklan. Though hesitant, her brothers and uncle, who were all revolutionaries, allowed her to join. Subsequently, she displayed her capabilities as a fighter, gaining the respect and admiration of her peers. Her crusade continued with the arrival of the Americans, but with the eventual capture or surrender of the revolutionary leaders, Teresa Magbanua disbanded her group and settled peacefully.
In World War II, Magbanua supported the guerrilla movement, selling her personal belongings to acquire food and supplies for guerrilla forces. With the death of her husband, she also sold their conjugal property in Iloilo to augment the finances of the guerrilla movement. After the war, she settled in Pagadian, Zamboanga with her sister until her death in August 1947.
A true patriot, Teresa Magbanua was unhesitant in sacrificing her material possessions, since freedom was an incomparable wealth that she longed for.
Few details are known about Apolonio Samson’s life. Nevertheless, his generosity was remarkable and recorded in the documents of Katipunan history. He was a teniente, who headed a Katipunan branch in Novaliches, and a farmer.
When the Katipunan was discovered, suspected members were arrested and those who fortunately evaded capture, fled to his property in Kangkong. Samson hospitably cared for his fellow Katipuneros by providing food and shelter while discussions on the Katipunan’s subsequent actions were conducted. He actively participated in the revolution even after Bonifacio’s death, but was imprisoned in 1904. To honor his memory, a barangay in Quezon City and a street in Caloocan City were named after him.
Mother and Son Duo: Melchora Aquino and Juan Ramos
The Katipuneros gathered in Apolonio Samson’s farm swelled and needed to be fed. Fears that authorities may become suspicious of the growing crowd were rife. Through the invitation of Juan A. Ramos and his mother Melchora Aquino, the Katipuneros trekked to Ramos’s larger and secluded farm.
The Katipunan’s meetings resumed in the backyard of Ramos’s home the members agreed to start the revolt. Despite their inadequate weapons, the Katipuneros were determined to proceed with the uprising. Melchora ‘Tandang Sora’ Aquino supported the revolt by supplying the revolutionists with rice and cattle for food. She also cared for the Katipuneros wounded during the skirmish with Spanish troops.
Her efforts came with a steep price. Even though warned by Bonifacio to leave and take refuge elsewhere, she was detained by Spanish authorities. Hoping to get information, Tandang Sora firmly resisted divulging the Katipunan’s secrets despite threats against her. Consequently, she was deported to Guam and only returned to the country in 1903, after the United States established its colonial rule in the Philippines.
The revolution ends but the generosity continues
These individuals mentioned are a fraction of Filipinos who unselfishly committed themselves and their resources to advance aspirations for independence. Heroes of subsequent generations have followed this mold, strongly advocating for nationalistic causes. Filipino generosity is a genuine virtue that would continue on in our nation’s identity and will never fade. In disasters, natural or otherwise, we take initiative to help others—denying recognition and fanfare for ourselves, risking our lives and wellbeing for the sake of our countrymen and the good of the nation.
The Revolt of the Masses: The Story of Bonifacio and the Katipunan, 2nd edition; Teodoro Agoncillo
The Light of Liberty: Documents and Studies on the Katipunan, 1892-1897; Jim Richardson
Feliciano Jocson (Hokson) (Jokson)