The 'Unang Sigaw' monument in Balintawak

By Severino Samonte

August 29, 2022, 11:57 am

<p>This Bonifacio Monument in Balintawak was installed in 1971 to replace the Old Cry of Balintawak Monument which was transferred to the UP campus in Diliman, Quezon City in 1968. <em>(PNA photo by Ben Briones)</em></p>

This Bonifacio Monument in Balintawak was installed in 1971 to replace the Old Cry of Balintawak Monument which was transferred to the UP campus in Diliman, Quezon City in 1968. (PNA photo by Ben Briones)

MANILA – When I wrote for the Philippine News Agency on Nov. 28, 2018 an article on how the first "Cry" or "Unang Sigaw" monument of the 1896 Revolution was transferred in 1968 from Balintawak to the University of the Philippines (UP) campus in Diliman, Quezon City, there were varied reactions from some readers.

Such comments came after I shared with my Facebook friends and the general public as well the article posted on the PNA website. The article was written in time for the observance of the 155th birth anniversary of the Katipunan founder and revolutionary leader Andres Bonifacio on Nov. 30, 2018. It also marked the 50th year of the transfer of the monument to its Diliman site.

Most of the brief comments, particularly those from the relatives and sympathizers of Bonifacio, were thankful to me for writing about it, but some were unfavorable and tended to raise questions and express doubt.

I can no longer recall their exact words, but here's an example of an unfavorable remark: "It's not true. I know the Bonifacio monument at the UP campus was erected out of human bones found scattered in various areas of the country."

I ignored it as I thought that it was just made to drive home the point that the bones of Bonifacio remained missing and the hero himself was not yet given proper burial since his execution on a mountain in Cavite on May 10, 1897.

The following is an example of another doubting comment: "If the said monument was relocated to the UP campus, why is it that there is still a Bonifacio monument in Balintawak at present?"

After liking this remark, I replied to the commentator: "You are right. There is now another Bonifacio monument in the area. It was erected there in 1971 to replace the one which was moved to the UP campus. It has a different and separate story that will be the subject of another write-up."

A medical practitioner whose ancestral home used to be located within a normal shouting distance from the "Unang Sigaw" monument until the 1960s had gratifying words: "Thank you for your concern at that time that saved the monument from being lost forever."

Dr. Merlito Landayan Ramos, a relative of the revolutionary heroine Melchora R. Aquino, better known as Tandang Sora, was referring to a portion of the article where I mentioned how I brought to the attention of concerned government authorities the removal of the monument from its old site at Balintawak, where it was inaugurated on Sept. 3, 1911.

Earlier, it was also through a story I wrote in the former Philippine News Service (PNS) sometime in September 1968 that then historian and chairperson Carmen Guerrero Nakpil (RTP) of the National Historical Institute (now National Historical Commission of the Philippines) learned about the dismantling of the monument. PNS was the predecessor of the present PNA.

After Mrs. Nakpil read the news story published together with a photo of the monument in the Daily Mirror of the Manila Times Publications, she immediately got in touch with then UP President Carlos P. Romulo and asked if the discarded monument could be transferred to the UP campus.

Romulo agreed and the monument was inaugurated at its new site on Nov. 29, 1968.

Filipino history books said 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 Avenue (Edsa), MacArthur Highway, Rizal Avenue Extension, and A. Samson Road in Grace Park, Caloocan City.

The then Bureau of Public Highways (BPH), precursor 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 bridge.

The cloverleaf interchange construction was necessitated by the extension of the then Manila North Diversion Road (MNDR), which was inaugurated in 1966 by then President Ferdinand Marcos Sr. 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.

The present Bonifacio monument at the Balintawak Cloverleaf Interchange bridge was put up in 1971 by civic-spirited citizens grouped under the Balintawak Community Club (BCC) and headed by then Col. Vicente Malapitan, father of former Caloocan City Mayor and now Congressman Oscar M. Malapitan. The elder Malapitan retired as head of the Dental Services of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP).

The BCC was organized in the 1950s to lead the annual celebration of what was then called the First "Cry" of Balintawak every August 26.

In 1962, however, then President Diosdado P. Macapagal signed a new law moving the date of the celebration to August 23. The name of the celebration itself was changed from "Cry" to Pugad Lawin although the place remained at Balintawak.

After the "Cry" monument was transferred to UP-Diliman in 1968, the BCC continued sponsoring the Pugad Lawin celebration in Balintawak every August 23 even in the absence of the original memorial.

In 1970, Malapitan and the other BCC officers and members decided to put up a new Bonifacio monument in the area. They ordered a body-sized sculpture of Bonifacio from an Italian artist at a cost of PHP60,000.

The monument, featuring Bonifacio with a bolo in the right hand and the Katipunan flag in the left, was inaugurated during the celebration of the 75th anniversary of the "Cry" of Pugad Lawin on Aug. 23, 1971.

In 1982, Malapitan and the other BCC officials decided to transfer the sponsorship of the "Cry" celebration to Pugad Lawin Philippines Inc. (PLPI), a nationwide organization based in Quezon City.

PLPI now holds the annual celebration at the Katipunan Shrine in Barangay Bahay Toro, Quezon City in partnership with the Quezon City government. (PNA)