“Carve… into the hearts of our jubilant youth the blossoming and fragrant love of country which we inherited from our forebears, and hence awaken them to follow the footsteps of him who, without second thought, risked his life and property for the aggrandizement or restoration of the past glory of our Motherland.” This is how our hero Gen. Artemio “Vibora” Ricarte sees the importance of memorializing our heroes. In today’s trying times when we are forgetting the meaning of heroism, blinded by ignorance and misinformation, it is our duty to heed Ricarte’s call: to enlighten our fellow Filipinos to the deeds of genuine heroes. Gen. Antonio Luna, an example of such, agrees with his contemporary when he wrote: “Is it not more humane, for you who know this society and its dangers, to guide our countrymen who have strayed from the true path than to abandon them by themselves? Would it not also be the duty of a fellow countryman?”
As if in compliance to the appeals of Ricarte and Luna, the National Historical Commission of the Philippines (NHCP) will open a free-access travelling exhibit in honor of two of our heroes in celebration of their 150th birth anniversaries. These two are none other than Artemio Ricarte and Antonio Luna themselves. The exhibit, titled “A Tale of Two Generals,” will be formally opened on 25 November 2016 at the NHCP central office. The exhibit encapsulates the lives and deeds of Ricarte and Luna, and by memorializing them, the exhibit aims to communicate to Filipinos, particularly the youth, the values and convictions that these two heroes lived by and died for.
In addition to the narrative, the exhibit features interesting and rare pictures and artifacts related to Ricarte and Luna. The story of their early lives is accompanied by extraordinary photographs of schools where they studied, and actual and facsimiles of books used during Spanish times. Luna’s works during his reformist days – Impresiones, El Hematozoario del Paludismo, and his articles in La Solidaridad – are reproduced from Spanish libraries. Little known Tagalog poems that Ricarte wrote since the 1896 revolution are also displayed in the exhibit. As a consequence of the revolution, Luna, initially a reformist, was incarcerated and deported to Spain as documented by handwritten letters.
Despite their differences beforehand, both Ricarte and Luna adamantly defended our newly established independence from the Americans since 1899. A large map of Luzon is on display where these two generals led the Filipino forces into battle. Actual rayadillo uniforms and Mauser rifles, along with pictures of battles, will give visitors a more realistic perspective of the war against the United States. Facsimiles of Luna’s orders, most famous is his “articulo unico,” will show how he maintained discipline among his soldiers.
The war, unfortunately, ended tragically for both Ricarte and Luna. Letters from the Philippine Revolutionary Papers give more detail on Luna’s death at the hands of fellow Filipinos owing to his intransigence. Ricarte, on the other hand, lived on and continued his bitter struggle. His draft constitution, letters on filipinization and other writings are all manifestations of his sincere love of country. The blend of holistic narratives and rare visuals and artifacts will surely interest and educate visitors on the lives and deeds of our heroes in the persons of Ricarte and Luna.
After its formal opening, the travelling exhibit will remain at the NHCP building until the end of 2016. It will be transferred and displayed in various NHCP museums and other institutions afterwards.