GLIMPSES & GAZES

By Severino C. Samonte

November, one of the four months of the year with 30 days, along with April, June and September, can be considered unique. It is the only month that begins with a number in red, being a legal holiday, and ends with another number also in red.

In Philippine tradition, Nov. 1 is observed as "All Saints' Day" when the Filipinos honor their dead loved ones, and culminates with the celebration of Bonifacio Day on Nov. 30, the birth anniversary of Gat Andres Bonifacio, the founder of the 1896 revolutionary organization called "KKK" or "Kataas-taasan, Kagalang-galang na Katipunan ng mga Anak ng Bayan" (Supreme Society of the Sons of the Country).

According to the 1998 Centennial Edition of the Philippine Students' Almanac published by the Children’s' Communication Center (CCC), the 11th month of the year is full of significant events in the country's history.

The historical book was published in 1998 in partnership with Filway Marketing Inc., the exclusive Philippine distributor of Collier's Encylcopedia headed by Hector O. Tagaysay, in time for the Centennial Celebration of Philippine Independence on June 12, 1998. Its editorial staff was headed by National Artist for Literature and CCC Executive Director Virgilio S. Almario.

Aside from short entries on important national events for each day of the month, the almanac also contains articles on relevant contemporary concerns such as environmental protection and regional profiles of the country, complete with maps outlining provinces, cities and municipalities.

The major events in November featured in the almanac included the signing of the Biyak-na-Bato Constitution on Nov. 1, 1897, the births of two former Philippine presidents, the death of another head of state, plus the inauguration of the Philippine Commonwealth Government on Nov. 15, 1935.

The two former presidents born in November were Elpidio R. Quirino (1948-1953) and Carlos P. Garcia (1957-1961).

Quirino was born in Vigan, Ilocos Sur, on Nov. 16, 1890. He became the country's sixth president after he succeeded Manuel A. Roxas upon the latter's untimely death on April 15, 1948. Quirino was formally elected president in the succeeding November 1949 elections. He died on Feb. 29, 1956 at his resthouse near the La Mesa dam in Novaliches, Quezon City.

Garcia (president from 1957 to 1961) was born in Talibon, Bohol on Nov. 4, 1896. He was first elected vice president to Ramon Magsaysay in November 1953. He succeeded Magsaysay who died in a Cebu plane crash in March 1957 and was himself elected president in the election the same year. He was also a delegate to the 1971 Constitutional Convention and became its president but he died on June 14, 1971.

President Jose P. Laurel Sr. (1943-1945), who died on Nov. 6, 1959, was born on March 9, 1891 in Tanauan, Batangas. He was the Philippine president during the Japanese occupation.

The Commonwealth Government was inaugurated on Nov. 15, 1935 with Manuel L. Quezon and Sergio S. Osmena Sr. as president and vice president, respectively.

Among the other personalities and events featured with brief descriptions in the almanac were the following:

-- Birth on Nov. 9, 1827 in Binondo, Manila of Teodora Alonso, mother and first teacher of national hero Dr. Jose Rizal. She died on Aug. 16, 1911.

-- Birth of Gen. Gregorio Del Pilar on Nov. 14, 1875 in Bulacan, Bulacan. He died on Dec. 2, 1899, as the hero of the Battle of Tirad Pass.

-- Appointment of Justice Cecilia Munoz Palma of Bauan, Batangas on Nov. 22, 1913 as the first Filipino woman justice of the Supreme Court. She also acted as chairman of the 1986 Constitutional Commission that drafted the 1987 Constitution during the administration of President Corazon C. Aquino (1986-1992).

-- Birth on Nov. 27, 1932 of Senator Benigno S. Aquino Jr. in Concepcion, Tarlac. He was elected governor of Tarlac in 1961 and senator in 1967. He became a political prisoner during the martial law years and was released only in 1980. He went on exile to the United States and was assassinated upon his return at the Manila International Airport on Aug. 21, 1983.

-- Creation of the National Power Corporation on Nov. 3, 1936 as a non-stock public corporation. In 1960, it was converted into a government-owned stock corporation.

-- Establishment in Manila on Nov. 11, 1875 of the Hongkong-Shanghai Bank, first foreign bank in the Philippines.

-- Implementation on Nov. 21, 1849 of the (Governor Narciso) Claveria Decree which provided for the usage of Spanish names and surnames by Filipinos to facilitate census-taking and tax collection and administration.

-- Inauguration on Nov. 24, 1892 of the 195-kilometer long Manila-Dagupan line of the Manila Railroad.

-- Creation on Nov. 28, 1928 of the Philippine Long Distance Telephone (PLDT) Company by Act No. 3436 of the Philippine Commission.

-- Signing on Nov. 30, 1972 of the 1973 Constitution that created the modified parliamentary form of government in the Philippines. The Constitution was ratified by the people in a plebiscite on Jan. 10 and 15, 1973, but it was replaced by the present 1987 Constitution.

The Biyak-na-Bato Constitution

On Nov. 1, 1897, the Philippine Students' Almanac said the representatives of the Philippine Islands assembled in Biyak-na-Bato in San Miguel, Bulacan for the purpose of modifying the Constitution of the Republic of the Philippines drawn up and proclaimed in the town of Naic, Cavite on March 22 of that year.

The preamble of the Constitution included the statement that: "The separation of the Philippines from the Spanish monarchy and their formation into an independent state with its own government called the Philippine Republic has been the end sought by the Revolution in the existing war, begun on the 24th of August 1896; and therefore, in its name and by the power delegated by the Filipino people, interpreting faithfully their desires and ambitions, we, the representatives of the Revolution, in a meeting at Biyak-na-Bato, Nov. 1st, 1897, unanimously adopt this Constitution of the State."

The Constitution, however, was short-lived. In an article titled "Pact of Biyak-na-Bato, A Momentary Truce" appended on the almanac, noted historian Ambeth R. Ocampo said in part:

"On Nov. 18, 1897, (Pedro Alejandro) Paterno, as representative of the revolutionaries, and (Governor General) Primo de Rivera, as representative of the Spanish government, signed the first of the three documents that would later be called the Pact of Biyak-na-Bato. (The second document was signed on Dec 14, and the final on Dec. 15.)

" The agreement provided for the end of the conflict and had the following terms and conditions:

"1. Aguinaldo and the other leaders of the revolution to voluntarily leave the Philippines.

"2. Primo de Rivera to pay the revolutionaries the amount of PHP800,000 in three installments: PHP400,000 when Aguinaldo left 

"3. Primo de Rivera to pay an additional PHP900,000 for Filipinos and their families who did not join the Revolution but were affected by it."

"After the signing of the Pact, Aguinaldo and his men left Biyak-na-Bato and went to Calumpit, where they took a Dagupan-bound train. From there, they rode in a 'carromata' to Sual, Pangasinan, where Aguinaldo and his 25 leaders boarded the steamer 'Uranus' on Dec. 27, 1897 for Hongkong. Aguinaldo had with him the check for PHP400,000."

The rest of the article is now part of the long Philippine history.

Editor’s note: The opinions expressed in the foregoing article are solely the author’s and do not reflect the opinions and beliefs of the Philippine News Agency (PNA) or any other office under the Office of the Press Secretary.

About the Columnist

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He began his journalistic career by contributing to the Liwayway and Bulaklak magazines in the 1960’s. He was the night editor of the Philippine News Service when Martial Law was declared in September 1972. When the Philippine News Agency was organized in March 1973, he was named national news editor because of his news wire service experience.

He retired as executive news editor in 2003. He also served as executive editor of the Malacanang-based Presidential News Desk from 1993 to 1996 and from 2005 to 2008.