When enough is ENOUGH
From the Desk
August for some may be viewed as a ghost month or a month before the World’s longest Christmas Season. In Pasig, August is regarded with the highest esteem. Historically, it is a month of heroism and of heroes. In recent history, it is also tied up in the founding of a group, the August Twenty-one Movement (ATOM), an organization that stood against a homegrown tyrant whose initials are the same as that of Ferdinand Magellan.
What is with August and how come not all people actually know what happened in Pasig during this month?
The Nagsabado sa Pasig is almost a footnote to the monumental struggle of our forebears in their fight for freedom. A few would actually know and most of these few people are almost dying. This event is after all one of the first major victories of the Katipunan and perhaps the crowning laurel of the Filipinos’ quest for nationhood.
Bitukang Manok, a small tributary of the Pasig River where the famed Nuestra Senora dela Paz y Buenviaje of Antipolo would make her way towards the Galleons is the center of it all. If the great Caesar crossed the Rubicon and claimed victory for the Romans, it was in Bitukang Manok where close to at least 2,000 Katipuneros gathered to assault and challenge the might of Madre Espana and overrun a major garrison outside of Intramuros.
The bridge over Bitukang Manok became a point of no return where Pasiguenos coming from Maybunga, Caniogan and far-flung barrios met as brother at arms with a common message of Enough IS Enough! August 29, 1896 – A Saturday Night, armed with nothing but bolos, knives and some aging rusting firearms, our people led by Gen. Valentin Cruz emerged victors to a force that is more than ready and viciously capable with an obvious god-complex. Even though the Spaniards guarding the town center were outnumbered, it was not actually weapons that defeated them; it was the unbreakable spirit of a people who wanted to be free. It was once said that winning a battle is not about might but because you want it more than anything else in the world. As Sen. Jovito Salonga once said, “Freedom is the bedrock of Human Dignity… we should never compromise or surrender.”
After the skirmishes that left both sides heavily wounded, the raging Pasiguenos aimed to pillage the Headquarters of the Guardia Civil and gather as many weapons as they could. A good amount of gunpowder exploded and lit the skies to a bright victorious haze: a fitting symbol to a brighter day that is to come. Hours and even days after, Pasig’s little barrios and surrounding communities were liberated one-by-one and though Spanish forces still cling power to the area, the firm and oppressive grasp of the colonizers never returned.
The Pasigueno warriors that made it through joined the Supremo, Andres Bonifacio in San Juan to be at arms with fellow soldiers in the famous battle of Pinaglabanan. Some were sent to participate in local wars of the Katipunan outside of Manila while the rest stormed the convento of the Pasig Church where some of the guardia civil presumably retreated.
This tale has been passed on for generations of Pasiguenos because each family claims that they have sent a contingent to this great battle. But just like any story with so many versions often exaggerated and poetically told, it turns into a myth that present day youngsters dismiss and treat as a small local battle. Nevertheless, it took a great senator Jose “Pepe” Diokno to recognize the contributions of Pasig in the crusade of the Katipuneros. In a pamphlet he wrote about the trials of Andres Bonifacio he cited the importance of this battle and went on to say that “If not for Bitukang Manok, there would have been no Pugad Lawin, a Kawit or even a Malolos.”
Nagsabado really happened and just like any monumental victories it may be susceptible to hyperboles. However, the storyteller is not to be blamed. In fact, he is not telling a simple story, he is sharing his life, an epic of a sort. It is not his tongue that speaks but his heart just like how the Hebrews continue to celebrate the Passover and tell stories of their forefathers on crossing the Red Sea. It is natural because he is sharing something that is very close to his heart and that is the story of his freedom – a God-given Dignity.
Nearly half a century after, another victory was felt in Pasig on the 19th of February 1945, when the American Flag was hoisted atop the mirador (Observation Tower) of the Mansion of Fortunato Conception at the middle of the town. It was the day when Pasig was finally liberated from the Japanese forces. The Allied powers marched on to Manila and finally liberated the Milan of Asia in the early weeks of March leaving 100,000 Filipinos killed and with the Philippine Capital one of the worst destroyed cities after Warsaw and Berlin. Pasig was then again rebuilt with the Old Rizal Capitol a silent witness to the horrors of war and the cries of the blood spilt by the foreign invaders. This is a story told by our grandparents who somehow witnessed the rise, the fall and the rise again of the beloved town.
Pasig then again was at the middle of a threshold when the ATOM was founded after the death of Ninoy Aquino on August 21, 1983 and finally removed the ailing dictator in 1986. The slogan of the time was “Sobra na! Tama na! Palitan na!” The town sent once more contingents of protesters in EDSA to protect soldiers who defected from the corrupt government.
Pasiguenos with the likes of Mario Raymundo who became Mayor used his truck and speakers for Ramos and Enrile to speak to the mammoth crowds and with him is a personal image of Fatima which became an Iconic symbol of the peaceful revolution. At that time, Pasig became the home of champions. After the revolution of 1986, the town produced 3 senators all serving at the same congress, Salonga from San Miguel, Saguisag from Sta. Cruz and Romulo who lived in a village also in Pasig. The three senators with Salonga leading the chamber successfully rejected the renewal of the US Bases Treaty as it was already enough and too much for the Americans to use our soil for their hegemonic interests. If you’ll think of it, this little town at the banks of the river gave so much color to our history and somehow acted as the nerve center of the nation’s social conscience. Pasig is the home of the thinking opposition.
The town witnessed a lot and it all started when we got fed up being pushed around by colonizers, invaders, dictators, and quite recently dynasties. We have a town that never rests until dignity is enjoyed by all. It never stands still: it revolves and evolves. For as long as people would continue to love the town, Pasig would continue to love them back.
Pasig is just a small town but for you to live in Pasig, you have large shoes to fill. BE PROUD!