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Lingering Questions On Katipunan Events in Pasig -- First of two parts

Francis Yumul


In the latter part of the 1990s, when the country was gearing towards celebratory mood for the Centennial year, the city of Pasig set itself on a much grander path: The documentation and discussion of the city's role in the founding of our nation-- Particularly its relation with the Katipunan. Pasig, after all, is often referred to as one bulwark of the Supremo, Andres Bonifacio.


True enough, civic groups were formed, public discussions, commemorations were held, and historical markers erected, all to highlight the so-called Pasig's historical significance. In the process, a considerable amount of literature on the subject was also published.

Foremost among the topics discussed were Katipunan themes: "Asamblea Magna," Nagsabado," Bitukang Manok, Pantayanin, etc. There were also initiatives from local government units, particularly in the placing of historical markers. Some of which was done without the backup of verified documents or sound research. 


Now,  two decades later, after new studies and documents on the Katipunan and other Philippine History topics came out and are laid to the public, a number of these Pasig historical themes are exposed to open scrutiny. What do we need to know more to fully grasp these events?


Asamblea Magna-- What and Where?


On May 3, 1896, a general meeting among Katipunan leaders was called by Supremo Andres Bonifacio in Pasig.  It was to appraise what the Supremo termed as "difficulties with which our Society is beset. " The movement had been exposed. Bonifacio wanted to act and start the uprising so as no to be forced against the wall. The Katipunan assembly in Pasig is known today as the "Asamblea Magna."


In Gen. Santiago Alvarez's memoirs, he mentioned, the said meeting ( Malaking Pulong) was held in the house of Valentin Cruz, "located behind the Pasig catholic church." (Barrio San Nicholas)  It was initially planned in an open space area located near "Sapang Nabas." The dismal weather forced the Supremo to transfer the meeting to Gen. Valentin Cruz's place.

But a marker erected sometime in the 1990s declared a different version claiming that the so-called  "Asamblea Magna"  took place in Ugong (further north, at the banks of Marikina River). Yet still, another marker said to be erected thru the initiative of the LGU of Barrio Ugong was so specific in claiming that it was Bahay Kuwago, right there in Ugong. Which is which? What's the confusion?


Katipunan marker at Bahay Kuwago, Barrio Ugong, Pasig. Claimed by Dr. Pio Valenzuela to be the site of the historic Asamblea Magna. 


One probable explanation could be found in Agoncillo's "Revolt of The Masses," where he pointed out that it was Pio Valenzuela who claimed the "Asamblea Magna" happened in  Barrio Ugong. Pasig


Agoncillo writes a footnote on Chapter VIII: "In an interview with Dr. Valenzuela on October 2, 1947, he told me that the meeting actually took place in Ugong and not in Bitukang Manok, which was a small river. Among those present in the meeting were: Andres Bonifacio, Emilio Jacinto, Pio Valenzuela, Emilio Aguinaldo, Enrique Pacheco, Cipriano Pacheco, Alejandro Santiago, Capitan Ramon of Pandakan, Pio H. Santos, Pantaleon Torres, Francisco Carreon, Nicodemus Carreon, Aguedo del Rosario, Candido Tirona, Gregorio Coronel, and others. The meeting was ended at about eleven the next morning. After the meeting Bonifacio and Aguinaldo whipped out pistols and fired in the air to celebrate the event. The data on this chapter is based on my interview with Dr. Valenzuela and on his unpublished Memoirs."


Is there really a term in Katipunan documentation of the word "Asamblea Magna"? If there is, when did history start to use what the Alvarez memoir first termed as "Malaking Pulong? Why the Latinization?  And where is Sapang Nabas?  


Tradition?


It needs to be said that behind the necessity to find sound documentation to established facts about the "Asamblea Magna", one cannot ignore the reality that there is still this lingering presence of oral tradition about the Katipunan in the mentioned area -- Barrio Ugong and the neighboring environs.

There were legendary caves in the cliffs where St Paul's College is (and close to motel row) that were believed by locals to be the hideout of Katipuneros. This persisted way to the eve of the Centennial celebrations. But it does make sense - nearly all the KKK redoubts (baluwarte) around Manila were on high ground: Pamitinan (Montalban), Cubao, Hagdan Bato (Mandaluyong). The only high ground the Spanish controlled was El Deposito (San Juan).



The Ugong marker on the Asamblea Magna. With further reference about Nagsabado and Gen. Valentin Cruz. Said to be the initiative of the Ugong LGU.



First Battle


The "Asamblea Magna" in Pasig can be defined as one of the most revealing events in the history of the Katipunan. It could also have been the start of the crack between Bonifacio and Aguinaldo. With Bonifacio favoring starting the revolt and Aguinaldo, consulting Rizal first. It was a reminder to Bonifacio that Rizal (despite exiled in Dapitan) still holds the primacy in the nationalist struggle. It could also be defined as "the potent sign of the Cavitismo", that Bonifacio is slowly being sidelined leading to the tragic events at Tejeros. But as things turned out, after months of uneasy calm, the stage was being set for Pasig's important role in the revolution


On the night of August 29, 1896, Pasig Katipuneros attacked the Spanish detachment at Pasig,  for what is now understood as the first battle of the revolution -- "Nagsabado".


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