• The Pasig Review

Lingering Questions of the Katipunan in Pasig - Nagsabado -- Last of two Parts

Francis Yumul

The morning of August 29, 1896, Saturday, was uncommon for the commander of the Guardia Civil in Pasig Lt. Manuel Sityar. It was supposed to be "tiangge," but just across the street from his detachment where he stood, he saw the market half empty. From the church down to the plaza, it was silent, strangely silent.

Although Sityar had some knowledge and morbid apprehension about specific gatherings of men in the wee hours months before in his area of designation, he was clueless on what was about to transpire. By dusk, it had become apparent. Pasig Katipuneros were attacking the Spanish detachment. Sityar might have thought only of a small disturbance, but what he was facing that time was non-other than the beginning of the revolution. Later to be called -- "Nagsabado"

Pasig historian Dean Carlos Tech, the foremost narrator of Nagsabado described the event: "Nightfall of August 29, the men from the Pasig barrios of Pineda, Bagong Ilog and Ugong crossed the San Mateo River to Maybunga, where they joined the forces from Santolan, Rosario, Maybunga, Palatiw, Sagad, Poblacion, Pinagbuhatan, Bambang, Kalawaan, Buting and other barrios of Pasig. After some final battle instructions, the gallant sons of Pasig, armed with scythes, bolos, spears, a few guns, and their determination to fight for freedom under the leadership of General Cruz, marched to attack the town. The townsfolk, who were in a fiesta mood, lined the streets, cheering their heroes on. (It was a precursor of the fiesta mood of the Edsa uprising 100 years later.) There were almost 2,000 of them, representing almost every family of Pasig, from all levels of society, in a show of unity against tyranny. At Plaza de Paz, now Plaza Rizal, a sniper in the church tower, hit a man from Bagong Ilog who thus became the first Pasigueño to offer his life on the altar of freedom. The revolutionaries attacked the Tribunal and the Guardia Civil headquarters, in what is now the Guanio residence, capturing 17 de piston rifles and three Remingtons. Manuel Sityar, the Guardia Civil commander, hid in the church tower. It was a glorious night for Pasig, and the whole town rejoiced in that first victory of the revolution, which the old folk remembers as ''Nagsabado.''

First Victory of the Revolution?

In his memoir (Memorias Intimas), Sityar has a different account of the uprising. He was able to evade the Pasig Katipuneros and escaped to Pateros and even inspected what happened there. The Katipunan revolt in Pateros was bolder and also bloodier compare to that of Pasig.

What happened then the following days when the Guardia civil reinforcement arrived in Pasig? If ever it was a victory, it was short-lived -- Valentin Cruz with his men joined Bonifacio's group and eventually got routed in Pinaglabanan. Cruz was captured then tortured. He was tied to a rope whereby his body was submerged headfirst to the river "Bitukang Manok." He endured the torture and was later exiled to the Marianas.

In an open forum part of the Centennial celebration in the late 1990s, commemorating the events of "Nagsabado," Pasig historian Carlos Tech was asked how many Guardia Civil was with Sityar at that time, he answered, only two. When asked how many casualties were there on the side of the Pasig Katipunan, there was only one.

Revival or Revision?

In the last years, there has been a growing interest in Pasig about the events of Nagsabado. It can be likened perhaps to the revivalist atmosphere seen during the Centennial celebration. There are also discussions about its significance to the present socio-political situation. But the fundamental questions about the August 29, 1896 event in Pasig remains unanswered -- Above all of this, is this seeming absence of the word "Nagsabado" in almost all Katipunan documents during and after the revolution. We can directly reason out perhaps that it is entirely a historical event that is uniquely Pasigueno. But who coined the term? Why this desire to define it as a victory when details and explanations point to the fact that it can never be accepted as a real military victory? Are we falling to a kind of revisionism?

Divulging the Myth of Nagsabado

The problem with "Nagsabado", this word that defines the Pasig event of 1896 is sorely missing in the collective consciousness of the Pasiguenos. The term "Nagsabado" itself seems to indicate the very artificial word construction done in Tagalog. An action word converted into a sort of a proper noun, to give itself a character of mythical proportion, to glorify the very nature and history of people and community involved with it.

So was Nagsabado an ingenious creation of individuals overly glorying facts? Or a one-sided interpretation of a historic event designed to give the Pasigueno the character of "progressive resistance" against tyranny and colonialism?

Still A Glorious Event For Pasig

One thing holds real though; In the future, when we have gathered the documents of our past when our children will be reasonable enough to argue about it and if the word Nagsabado is proven to be just a crafty creation, the fact will still remain that on the night of August 29, 1896, Pasiguenos, stood for their freedom and initiated the very first move to gear our country towards independence, proving once and for all that Pasig has long been at the forefront of the battle towards self-determination and liberty.

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