Bikol honors its 15 martyrs of the 1896 revolution
This year’s commemoration once more saw the participation of personnel from the Army division, providing the ritual taps and 21-gun-salute during the ceremonies led by Naga Mayor John Bongat and Army Brig. Gen. Pedro Sinajon, Assistant Division Commander of the 9th Infantry Division.
Naga City councilors led by Naga Vice-Mayor Gabriel Bordado together with some descendants of the martyrs hung garlands on the bust-relief of each of the martyrs at the Quince Martires monument.
The Plaza Quince Martires was erected at the center of then Nueva Caceres (now Naga City) in 1926.
The 115th commemoration was themed: “Looking Back, Looking Forward.” Tito G. Valiente, executive director of the Institute of Bicol History and Culture of the Ateneo de Naga University, and guest speaker at the rites, urged the current generation to continue the commemoration of the Bicol martyrs whom fellow Bikolanos look up to as heroes.
These eleven martyrs were sent to Manila for trial by the Provincial Junta of Camarines Sur headed by then Governor Julian Ocampo after being arrested as suspects for supporting the rebels who were holed up in Mount Isarog.
Three other martyrs died while in exile and a fourth one died inside the Spanish prison in Nueva Caceres. The execution of the martyrs started a series of arrests and incarcerations of other Bicolanos suspected by Spanish colonial authorities to be involved in the revolution.
Four martyrs were spared from the firing squad but nonetheless died while held prisoners by the Spaniards: (12) Leon Hernandez, a rich man from Libmanan, Camarines Sur (father of Don Jaime Hernandez, founder of the University of Nueva Caceres) who died while being tortured at the convent of the San Francisco church; (13) Ramon Abella, eldest son of Manuel Abella, who died in exile in Fernando Poo, an island near Africa; (14) Mariano Ordenanza, from Naga, a public works employee, who died in a prison in Spain; (15) Mariano Arana, from Magarao, Camarines Sur, who also died while in exile in Fernando Poo.
According to Barrameda, with the discovery of Fr. Herrera’s tomb, three burial sites of the Bicol martyrs are now on record — added to those of Fr. Gabriel Prieto and Fr. Severino Diaz, whose tombs were discovered inside the Naga Cathedral in the 1950s. The burial grounds of all other martyrs remain unknown.
Until 1910 when the Diocese of Lipa was established, the Diocese of Caceres created by Pope Clement VII by virtue of a papal bull in August 14,1595, included the then province of Tayabas and the Samar island.
Mrs. Masilang said historians now need to trace how Fr. Herrera’s remains found its way to a burial site in Sariaya Church after the priest’s execution in Bagumbayan in 1897.
with report from Sonny Sales