How Pasig gifted Bicol a hero
From the Desk
You walk along M.H. del Pilar St. and then suddenly as you cross the intersection, which will lead you to Palatiw, at the right side, is an unassuming monument of a local hero that hosted a throng of tricycles waiting for commuters. To some, it may just be a statute of a forgotten leader but as you stare closely at the marker you will be surprised that this person made a mark outside of his town. Pasig, with a surplus of heroes and bravery managed to export a hero in Bicol! The Bicolanos are so grateful to a Pasigueno that a street was named after him in Naga City. His name is Elias Angeles y Lakandula.
Elias was born in Santo Tomas, Pasig on July 20, 1871. His father was Pedro Angeles and his mother was Fortuna Lakandula who were all residents of the town. He spent his childhood studying in Palatiw and then went to the Colegio de San Juan de Letran. As a student he knew the importance of education and law which is why he joined the Guardia Civil in 1891. However, the growing patriotism of that time coupled up by the brewing revolution motivated him to secretly joined the Katipunan in 1893. This is a bold move, since it would be treason aligning yourself to a rebellious group while serving the Spanish Crown. Be that as it may, Elias was astute and inspired that someday soon the efforts of the Katipunan and the Revolution would merit the freedom the Filipinos have been dreaming for the past centuries.
In 1896 he was assigned as a corporal in Nueva Caceres where he met a fellow corporal, Felix Plazo - the other leader of the famous Bicol Revolt. The two due to their like-mindedness became comrade-at-arms – protecting each other’s back like a brother and a friend. The failed uprising in Daet and the eventual execution of the 11 Revolutionaries sparked terror and agitations to all the would-be heroes and even the guardia civils plotting the same rebellion. Rumors spread that the Spanish Authorities are now probing not only citizens but also civil servants to destroy any rebellious plots with bloody punishments vividly narrated by the naysayers. With this, Angeles and Plazo together with others secretly met at the eve of September 15 1898 to carefully plan the revolt in order to evade failure and death. The plot was shared and relayed to the different towns to motivate other revolutionaries and Bicolanos to join the crusade and fight for freedom.
At the strike of midnight, on the feast Day of the Our Lady of Penafrancia (September 18), the first shot of the revolution was fired and the dumbfounded Spaniards who were sleeping and busy preparing for the feast fell prey to the rebels who are now more empowered to take over what is rightfully theirs. The Spaniards together with their loyal subjects took refuge in the San Francisco Church – their last defense. The threat of burning the church prompted a peaceful negotiation in the afternoon of September 19 convened by Fr. Gonzales. Realizing that all was lost, the Spanish Authorities conceded to all the demands of the triumphant revolutionaries – Nueva Caceres is now free and out of Spanish bondage!
In almost three centuries, this will be the first time that the natives will take over the reins of government. Elias Angeles became the Governador Political Militar of the provisional government. Although hard-earned independence immersed from a bloody rebellion, Elias ensured that his leadership would be far from all the treachery of the revolution. He led it peacefully and respected the beaten Spaniards, treating all of them with honor. Hearing the success of the Bicol Revolution without the help of any external force, emissaries were sent to Angeles and Plazo to unite forces and be part of the revolutionary government led by Emilio Aguinaldo. A gentleman of great proportions, Elias welcomed Gen. Vicente Lucban on November 3, 1898 and swore allegiance to Aguinaldo.
Elias is not only a hero because he fought and led a rebellion; he was more of a benevolent leader for he did not declare the independence of Bicol and even helped the government of Aguinaldo extend its foothold in the region. His aspirations for freedom never faltered and even became a towering figure when the American colonizers arrived. His exploits of defending the region are epic. Elias commanded a troop in the battle of Agdangan in Baao Camarines Sur where Filipinos where heavily massacred yet the band under Elias incurred no casualty.
The extraordinary life and bravery of a fellow Pasigueno is something to be proud off and emulated. It only shows that the town in spite of its wealth and abundance is willing to share its laurels to support a larger cause, a bigger picture. Pasiguenos nowadays live elsewhere across the country, across the world carrying with them values and aspirations they have learned from their birthplace. From there, flowers continue to bloom, glories perpetually shared.