MANILA -- As the nation marks on Friday (Nov. 30) the 155th birth anniversary of Gat Andres Bonifacio, the father of the 1896 Revolution against Spain, it is also worth recalling how the “First Cry” monument was relocated from its original site in Balintawak to the University of the Philippines (UP) campus in Diliman, Quezon City in 1968, or exactly 50 years ago this year.

As part of such recollection, it is also worth mentioning the important but little-known role played by the late former National Historical Commission (NHC) Chairman Carmen Guerrero Nakpil, together with the late former UP President Carlos P. Romulo, in the transfer of the said monument from the original place, where it was inaugurated on Sept. 3, 1911, as a tribute to the heroes of the revolution launched by Bonifacio, among many others, on Aug. 23, 1896.

Mrs. Nakpil died on July 30, 2018 at age 96. She served as NHC head from 1967 to 1971. On the other hand, Romulo died on Dec. 15, 1985 and was buried at the Libingan ng mga Bayani (Heroes’ Cemetery) in Fort Bonifacio, Taguig City. He was 87 years old.

Historians say that the “Cry” monument was considered as the first national memorial for Bonifacio and his men prior to the erection in 1933 of the imposing Bonifacio monument at the intersection of Epifanio Delos Santos Ave. (Edsa), MacArthur Highway, Rizal Ave. Extension, and A. Samson Road in Grace Park, Caloocan City.

The monument in Balintawak was inaugurated in 1911 and as such, it used to serve as the site for the annual celebration of the Cry of Balintawak every August 26 until 1962, when it was moved to August 23. The name of the event was also renamed as the Cry of Pugad Lawin.

In 1968, the then Bureau of Public Highways (BPH), predecessor of the present Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH), removed the “Cry” monument to give way to the widening of Edsa and the construction of the present Balintawak Cloverleaf Interchange.

The cloverleaf interchange construction was necessitated by the extension of the then Manila North Diversion Road (MNDR), which was inaugurated by then President Ferdinand Marcos in 1966. It originally covered a length of 36 kilometers from Balintawak to Tabang, Guiguinto, Bulacan.

MNDR was the original name of the present North Luzon Expressway, which begins from Balintawak and ends at Dau, Mabalacat, Pampanga.

Not many people, particularly the millennials, are aware of how the “Cry” monument was transferred to Diliman from Balintawak after it was dismantled from its location, and this article is written for them.

One afternoon in August 1968, while I was on my way from Novaliches to the editorial office of the defunct Philippine News Service (PNS) at the second floor of the National Press Club (NPC) building along Magallanes Drive in Intramuros, Manila, I noticed that the dismantled monument was just dumped together with a heap of garbage near the temporary field office of the BPH in what is now known as Camachile area in Balintawak. PNS was the predecessor of the present Philippine News Agency (PNA).

Newsman instinct told me I must do something about what happened to the monument. I alighted from the public utility jeepney I was riding and took a photo of the monument along with the pile of garbage, using an instamatic camera, the popular model at that time.

At the PNS office, I requested the photo laboratory man to develop the photo while I was writing the corresponding story.

The photo of the dismantled monument was published on the back page of the defunct Daily Mirror, the afternoon daily of the old Manila Times Publishing Co. Inc. It caught the attention of then NHC Chairman Nakpil and immediately contacted the PNS office through the telephone to get additional details.

Since I was the source of the photo and the story, the phone call was referred to me by the duty editor. I talked briefly with Mrs. Nakpil, narrating to her the circumstances behind the removal of the monument from its original location. She promised to do something about it.

I learned later that she discussed the matter with UP President Romulo, who agreed to relocate the monument at the state university campus in Diliman, particularly in front of the UP Vinzons Hall.

The relocated monument was inaugurated on Nov. 29, 1968. (PNA)