Biak na Bato, Bulacan

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Sierra Madre

It’s my grandmother’s birthday and we had a little celebration at home for we were still in mourning. But after our lunch and there was little to do than to take a siesta in this hot day Kuya Nik asked me to go explore in the mountain park of Biak na Bato. Ta Gie and Ta Eps also went with us and we drove to the park. There were a couple of cars in the area and some were looking at the souvenir booths beside it.

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Entrance and marker

We decided to check it out later as we walked to the entrance and paid 200 pesos with a tour guide. When we first came in I looked at the historical marker located at the right side, with the Philippine flag waving proudly amidst the greenery growing around the memorial. As we walked inside the national park here is the famous history which lies within.

The Biak-na Bato Republic

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Emilio Aguinaldo established his headquarters in Biak-na-Bato in Bulacan province. The news immediately spread throughout the country, and the revolutionaries were once more in high spirits. General llanera, who was in Nueva Ecija, declared his support for Aguinaldo. In July 1897, Aguinaldo established the Biak-na-Bato Republic and issued a proclamation stating the following demands:

  • Expulsion of the friars and the return of the friar lands to the Filipinos
  • Representation of the Philippines in the Spanish Cortes
  • Freedom of the press and of religion
  • Abolition of the government’s power to banish Filipinos
  • Equality for all before the law

A charter based on the Cuban Constitution was also drafted by Felix Ferrer and Isabelo Artacho. It was signed on November 1,897. The Biak-na-Bato Constitution provided for the establishment of a Supreme Council that would serve as the highest governing body of the Republic. It also outlined certain basic human rights, such as freedom of religion, freedom of the press, and the right to education. Emilio Aguinaldo and Mariano Trias were elected Supreme Council president and vice president, respectively.”

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Historical marker

A brief history of the past and as we followed our guide we came across some difficult paths. The trail was cemented but some parts of it were once again reclaimed by mother nature. Trees continued growing underneath it thus destroying the paved trail. Also, there were steep paths on our way and even before we reached our first destination. The national park was large and since we don’t have enough time to see the whole area, we chose some places to visit. So our guide took us to the eastern trail and we tried to stop a couple of time to look at the stream.  One of those places was the picnic area.

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Waters from the rain

A fourth of the tables and benches were submerged in water. I remembered when we were young, we swam in this particular spot, and there was barely any water back then. But due to the consistent rain, the once green water is now muddy and brown.  So we continued on to the first stop, Aguinaldo’s cave.

Aguinaldo’s Cave

This particular site, a cave with water on half of it was considered a historical landmark. It was named after the man who used to dwell in this cave. During the Philippine Revolution, Emilio Aguinaldo and his men sought refuge in the mountains of Sierra Madre and particular to Biak na Bato.

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Going around Aguinaldo’s cave

Aguinaldo used the cave as his personal office, where he conducted business and where he stayed. A table used to be inside the cave, but due to vandalism, it was taken away. Here Kuya Nik and I decided to swim. The water was up to our waist and the current was a bit strong, on top of that the water was very cold. So we had second thoughts and instead just dip for a little bit. We crossed the cave through the rocks around as we do that here is the continuity of the Republic of Biak na Bato.

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Aguinaldo’s Cave

“By the end of 1897, Governor-General Primo de Rivera accepted the impossibility of quelling the revolution by force of arms. In a statement to the Cortes Generales, he said, “I can take Biak-na-Bato, any military man can take it, but I can not answer that I could crush the rebellion.” Desiring to make peace with Aguinaldo, he sent emissaries to Aguinaldo seeking a peaceful settlement. Ironically, nothing was accomplished until Pedro A. Paterno, a known turncoat and a lawyer from Manila volunteered to act as a negotiator.

On August 9, 1897, Paterno proposed a peace based on reforms and amnesty to Aguinaldo. In succeeding months, practicing shuttle diplomacy, Paterno traveled back and forth between Manila and Biak-na-Bato carrying proposals and counterproposals. Paterno’s efforts led to a peace agreement called the Pact of Biak-na-Bato. This consisted of three documents, the first two being signed on December 14, 1897, and the third being signed on December 15; effectively ending the Republic of Biak-na-Bato.”

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Creatures of the mountain

After that we walked some more following the trail eastward, passing by the “Cuarto Cuarto Caves” then on the way we also saw some interesting creatures. A small snail moving steadily and a small white insect on the branches greeted us. It was like a pet of the fairy world or the goddess of the mountain. It was so beautiful

After that, we moved on crossing to the other hanging bridge to the other side. By that area was the Bahay Paniki or Cave of Bats. There were some interesting variety of bats in the cave, and we didn’t dare enter and bother the bats inside. We moved on and back to where we started and to our surprise a new memorial dedicated to the historic events of the Revolution.

 

The Pact of Biak na Bato

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“The Pact of Biak-na-Bato signed on December 15, 1897, created a truce between Spanish colonial Governor-General Fernando Primo de Rivera and the revolutionary leader Emilio Aguinaldo to end the Philippine Revolution. Aguinaldo and his fellow revolutionaries were given amnesty and monetary indemnity by the Spanish Government, in return for which the revolutionary government would go into exile in Hong Kong. Aguinaldo had decided to use the money to purchase advance firearms and ammunition later on return to the archipelago.

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Katipuneros in the cave

On December 23, 1897, Generals Celestino Tejero and Ricardo Monet of the Spanish army arrived in Biak-na-Bato and became hostages of the rebels. A ceasefire was declared by both camps and an agreement between Aguinaldo and the Spanish forces was made -that the Spanish government will grant self-rule to the Philippines in 3 years if Aguinaldo went to exile and surrender his arms. In exchange, Aguinaldo will receive P800,000 (Mexican Pesos) as remuneration to the revolutionaries and an amnesty.

After receiving partial payment of P400,000, Aguinaldo left for Hong Kong on December 27, 1897. Some Filipino generals, however, did not believe in the sincerity of the Spaniards. They refused to surrender their arms. Nevertheless, the Te Deum was still sung on January 23, 1898.

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Inside the cave

The pact was signed in San Miguel, Bulacan, in the house of Pablo Tecson, a Philippine revolutionary captain who served as Brigadier General in the ‘Brigada Del Pilar’ (military troop) of General Gregorio del Pilar during the Revolution.

The Filipino’s and the Spaniards did not trust each other. As a result, periodic clashes between the two groups still took place even after Aguinaldo’s departure from the country. The Spanish did not pay the entire agreed amount. Continue to The Spanish-American War.”

As you can see in the end the pact failed and it was thus disappointing that all the hard works of the revolutionaries were all in vain. We took some pictures around the monument and then walked some more. In the end, we crossed the first hanging bridge back to the entrance, where we said goodbye to our tour guide and went to the souvenir shops in the parking lot.

Here are the links for more information:

https://www.philippine-history.org/biak-na-bato.htm

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pact_of_Biak-na-Bato

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Republic_of_Biak-na-Bato

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Say Cheez!

 

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