Confessing the Katipunan

Deponatur sacerdos qui peccata penitentis publicare præsumit.

The Sacrament of Penance and Reconciliation, commonly known as the Sacrament of Confession, is one of the seven sacraments of the Catholic Church and is very much a part of the Filipino Christian’s way of life. Through it, Christians are able to confess their sins to a priest in order to obtain absolution (forgiveness) for sins committed against God and fellowman. Being absolved allows the Christian to be reconciled to the greater Catholic community.

We are not about to engage on the necessity, benefits, and Biblical veracity of the Sacrament of Confession. Rather, this blogpost seeks to clarify the involvement of the alleged violation of the Seal of the Confessional to an important event in Filipino History at the turn of the 20th century: the discovery of the Katipunan.

Today, history reminds us how government authorities discovered in the afternoon of 19 August 1896 the existence of the underground rebel group Katipunan (officially known as the Kataas-taasang, Kagalang-galangang Katipunan ng̃ mg̃á Anak ng̃ Bayan or the “Supreme and Honorable Society of the Children of the Nation”) which was, for years, already plotting the downfall of the Spanish regime. Conventional history tells us that the existence of the Katipunan was divulged as a result of a petty quarrel between two of its members, Teodoro Patiño and Apolonio de la Cruz. It is said that the two had a misunderstanding regarding wages (both were employees of the Diario de Manila), and that de la Cruz also blamed Patiño for the loss of some printing supplies. As an act of vengeance, Patiño angrily revealed the secrets of the Katipunan to his sister Honoria who was a nun at an orphanage in Mandaluyong (it was not explained to us the rationale of how Patiño’s quarrel with de la Cruz prompted him to reveal the existence of the Katipunan to his sister).

Honoria, being a nun, naturally grew shocked and upset upon finding out that his brother was part of a rebel group related to the Freemasons, the ancient enemy of the Catholic Church. Sor Teresa de Jesús, the mother portress of the orphanage, saw Honoria distraught, prompting the former to interrogate the latter. Honoria told everything she heard from her brother. Later in the evening, Sor Teresa called Patiño and advised him to tell everything he knew about the Katipunan to Fray Mariano Gil, the Augustinian curate of Tondo. Father Gil, in turn, alerted the authorities who then unleashed a crackdown on suspected members after incriminating evidence was found. The unexpected discovery of the Katipunan compelled its leader, Andrés Bonifacio, to publicly declare an uprising days later. The rest, as they say, is history.

Through the years, Filipino students have been taught that the Katipunan was discovered as a result of Fr. Gil’s violation of the seal of the confessional. The poor friar has been painted as a villain since. And this event in our history has become a favorite target of Filipino anti-Catholics and other Hispanophobes.

But is it true that Fr. Mariano Gil violated the seal of the confessional?

In many textbooks, it is written that the Augustinian parish priest of Tondo indeed violated the secrecy of confession. Take one instance, for example (taken from Rex Bookstore’s The Filipino Moving Onward and My Country and My People for Grade 5 students):

Upon the advice of the Mother Portress of the orphanage, Teodoro Patiño made a confession to Fr. Mariano Gil…

But if we are to consult standard history books written by big names such as Teodoro Agoncillo and Renato Constantino, we will see that they did not even mention the word “confession” nor did they allude to the sacrament. And in Gregorio Zaide’s first book, Documentary History of the Katipunan Discovery: A Critico-historical Study of the Betrayal of the K.K.K. New Revelations, the controversy regarding the alleged breaching of the seal of confession was tackled, but it seemed to center more on breaking the then prevailing myth that a woman confessed the existence of the Katipunan to Fr. Gil (the “traitor” was then believed to be either Juana de Guzmán [Patiño’s wife] or Honoria).

It is not known to many, however, that this controversy was already put to rest many years ago, at least by Concepción Escalada, Honoria’s daughter. According to Zaide, Concepción revealed that she heard her mother deny that Teodoro gave the information inside the confessional. Her uncle Teodoro simply told the Katipunan plot to her mother Honoria in the presence of Sor Teresa.

Image result for fr. mariano gil horas mo na

Fr. Mariano Gil had been receiving death threats from the dreaded Katipunan.

Nevertheless, Zaide’s account of Honoria’s revelation was doubted by Agoncillo. Even to this day, many historians are divided on the issue. So for the sake of argument… what if Patiño really did confess, and Fr. Gil did divulge the details of his confession to the authorities?

In order to resolve this once and for all, try putting yourselves in Fr. Mariano Gil’s shoes: pretend that you are a priest. Then one day, a tearful penitent visits you for a confession. You are surprised because you know her as a prominent public servant. She is a Catholic, but a Bangsamoro sympathizer and collaborator. During the confession, she also gives you details of an impending attack by her Bangsamoro separatist friends on the capital city. As a priest, you are not allowed to divulge her other sins of having knowledge about bombs being detonated in major cities all over the archipelago through the years. You can only advice her to do the right thing: that is, to surrender to the authorities for having been an accomplice. But regarding her other confession, that of a major attack on the capital city in which many innocent lives are certainly at stake… as a citizen, what are you going to do about it?

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Duterte and Rizal

La imagen puede contener: 2 personas, texto

I noticed how many local Facebook groups and pages, as well as anti-Catholic individuals, are taking advantage of President  Rodrigo Duterte’s childish tirades against the Catholic Church (including God Himself) by using a dead writer as an attack dog to support their disgust of anything that has to do with Catholic priests. I’m referring to Dr. José Rizal. Several memes about our national hero’s anti-friar attacks have been spreading around like wildfire, feeding the liberal happiness of those who loathe the “Bride of Christ”. I’ve even read comments from some die-hard Duterte fans who compared the president to the national hero.

May I remind everyone that using Rizal’s works to back-up the president’s severe lack of breeding are totally useless. Rizal already retracted his anti-Catholic ideas hours before he was to face eternity. To those who do not believe the retraction, I invite you to go to the library and read Fr. Jesús Mª Cavanna’s 682-page-thick “Rizal’s Unfading Glory: A Documentary History of the Conversion of Dr. José Rizal” (4th edition). As the title suggests, the book (my friend Gimo Gómez, son of historian Guillermo Gómez Rivera, nicknames it as “The Blue Book” because of its blue-colored cover) is documented. Heavily. With several photos of evidence. And with testimonies from credible witnesses, including some from Rizal’s family members. Even the National Bureau of Investigation got involved. Therefore, to say beforehand that this book is biased because it was written by a friar is as childish as our president’s crybaby attempts to ridicule an institution that has survived calumnies and persecution for the past two thousand years.

Fr. Cavanna wrote the book as an investigator and as a scholar, not as a priest. Once you’ve read through the book’s entirety, then that’s the only real time that you can argue about Rizal’s stand towards the Catholic Church.

Until then, feel free to shut up.

First published here.

Serendipity in history

I’m always obsessed in trying to link present dates (or celebrations to be more precise) or even persons to historical events. I’m not sure if all historians practice the same, but for me, I find it fun and highly riveting as it somehow reveals a new perspective to a modern event or person.

For example, when I was researching about the life of Captain Abelardo Remoquillo of San Pedro Tunasán, La Laguna, I discovered that he shared the same birthdate as the Japanese aircraft carrier Hōshō which had a minor participation in the sneak attack on Pearl Harbor. It should be remembered that the attack on Pearl Harbor was the catalyst of the Pacific War, a theater of World War II, and that Captain Remo, as he was nicknamed, was a hero of that war.

Today, July 18, I turn 39. When I made a similar research that I did on Captain Remo for my special day, I found out that a least-known historical event —but something terrifying— happened on my birthdate.

138 years ago today, an earthquake rocked Manila and the provinces of Cavite, Bulacán, La Laguna, Pampanga, and Nueva Écija. Many structures such as churches were destroyed, especially those in Manila and La Laguna.

One of these churches was the one in San Pedro Tunasán (now the City of San Pedro).

La imagen puede contener: cielo, árbol, nube, noche y exterior

Iglesia de San Pedro Tunasán (San Pedro Apóstol Parish Church), San Pedro Tunasán, La Laguna (photo taken on 8 March 2017, courtesy of La Familia Viajera).

This church and its parish, dedicated to Saint Peter the Apostle, were established on 18 January 1725. The church houses the once miraculous Cross of Tunasán which infamously suffered a Rizalian satirical jab in the novel Noli Me Tangere.

Incidentally, we’ve been living in San Pedro Tunasán since 2004. My sons Jefe and Juanito were baptized in its church in 2010. And it was there where my wife and I had our belated traditional Catholic wedding on 13 September 2013.

Yes, exactly 99 years before I was born, the church which was to become an important part of my life was destroyed by an earthquake. There is indeed serendipity in history.

Hypocrisy rhymes with stupidity

In her Philippine Star column “From A Distance” published last June 30, Carmen Pedrosa wrote that President Rodrigo Duterte’s June 22 blasphemy was not about God. In fact, the title of that issue’s column made her case very clear: “The issue is not God“.

But how could it not be about God when Duterte was pretty straightforward in his pronouncements? For her and her readers’ benefit, let us show here the exact transcript (using old Tagálog orthography) of the president’s blasphemy:

Ang guinauá niyáquináin ni Eve. Tapos si Eve, guinising si Adam… —siguro catatapos lang— ‘cumáin ca rin.’ So quináin ni Adam. Then malice was born… WHO IS THIS STUPID GOD? Estúpido talagá itóng p***** i** cung ganán. You created some, something perfect, and then you think of an event that would tempt and destroy the quality of your work!

We are aware that President Duterte has a love-hate relationship with the Catholic Church. For all intents and purposes, he may even had the Church in mind when he uttered this blasphemy. However, it is clear, crystal clear, that the President used the Genesis creation narrative —the very same story that other Christian denominations and even other religions share— as basis for his elementary understanding of God.

How then could she say that this is not about God?

We are aware that Pedrosa is a staunch, nay, blind apologist of the Duterte regime. As such, it is understandable that she will do whatever it takes to make the President spotless, even to the extent of pretending that the President did not commit blasphemy… not to mention pretending to be an expert in Filipino History.

To defend the President from the Catholic Church, Pedrosa demeans the latter by using textbook Filipino History. She begins her cerebral column by saying that José Rizal and his family were victims of what her hateful imagination calls “friar power”, stating further that the Rizal family tried to defend the land that they had cultivated. But since she was using textbook knowledge on Filipino History, she failed to mention that it wasn’t their land in the first place. To make a long story short, that land in question was merely leased to them by the Dominicans, and that the Rizal family lost in a litigation against the said friar order after a protracted land dispute. I would have also loved telling Pedrosa that Rizal’s mother was made to walk from Calamba to Santa Cruz, La Laguna not as punishment for clashing with friars (they had absolutely nothing to do with it) but because she was accused of poisoning her sister-in-law. I would have loved telling her that Rizal was shot to death not to be set as an example to future revolutionaries but simply because he was found guilty of conspiring against the government, and that his accusers were, ironically, the sworn enemies of the Catholic Church: the Freemasons (technically, the enemies of the Church did him in), and that it was the government that decided to have him executed. I would have loved telling her that Rizal was not forced to retract, that he even rejected a first draft of it, and that he accepted a modified version later on. I would have loved telling her that she should first read the documentary evidence presented by Fr. Jesús Mª Cavanna, C.M. regarding the retraction controversy before she could even start arguing for or against it. I would have loved telling her that the real villain in Noli Me Tangere was not Padre Dámaso but Padre Salvi, and that it is wrong to invoke satirically fictional characters vis-à-vis history. But I didn’t bother anymore. Anyway, to say that the GomBurZa priests were friars (when in fact they were secular priests) in that same column is more than enough not to trust Carmen Pedrosa in the telling of our country’s history. In that regard, the historical introduction to this fantastical column of hers has become null and void. So may her pen just stick to political analysis, i.e., intelligently written political speculation.

PEPE ALAS

The best spot to take a photo of Paeté, La Laguna’s breathtaking Iglesia de Santiago Matamoros is several feet away from its façade so that the church would appear superimposed with picturesque Mount Ping-ás (photo taken on 2 November 2014).

But no, I will not stop her from defending President Duterte. After all, she’s been given the free will to defend blasphemers. What worries me is that, in spite of her numerous columns attacking the Catholic Church, we see a couple of instances wherein she extols the legacy, artwork, and importance of the beautiful church of Paeté which is her hometown in La Laguna Province. That church, its artwork, and even the culture and tradition of her hometown were all the handiwork of the friars she loathes so much. As a matter of fact, the whole town of Paeté was founded by friars. She might as well write articles exhorting the destruction of that church and her hometown as well, for critics will easily see the hypocrisy of her Holy Week pilgrimages and whatever concern she has for the church of Paeté. And judging from her less than admirable knowledge of Filipino History, one can surely tell that she can easily fall prey to gullibility. After all, isn’t she the same columnist who fell victim to a satirical blogpost years ago?

* E * L * F * I * L * I * P * I * N * I * S * M *O *

Today, the feast day of Our Lady of Mount Carmel, has just been declared as the Day of Prayer and Penance in reparation for blasphemies, slander, and murder. There will be Masses at the Holy Redeemer Parish Church (1 Brixton Hill Street corner Landargun Street, Gregorio Araneta Avenue, Quezon City) at 6:00 AM, 6:30 AM, and 6:30 PM. The Holy Hour of Reparation begins at 7:30 PM. Carmen Pedrosa and President Rodrigo Duterte are very welcome to attend.

¡Feliz Navidad!

 

EVANGELIO DE LA MISA
(Lectura del santo Evangelio según San Juan 1:1-18)

En el principio ya existía la Palabra, y la Palabra estaba junto a Dios, y la Palabra era Dios. La Palabra en el principio estaba junto a Dios. Por medio de la Palabra se hizo todo, y sin ella no se hizo nada de lo que se ha hecho. En la Palabra había vida, y la vida era la luz de los hombres. La luz brilla en la tiniebla, y la tiniebla no la recibió. Surgió un hombre enviado por Dios, que se llamaba Juan: éste venía como testigo, para dar testimonio de la luz, para que por él todos vinieran a la fe. No era él la luz, sino testigo de la luz. La Palabra era la luz verdadera, que alumbra a todo hombre. Al mundo vino, y en el mundo estaba; el mundo se hizo por medio de ella, y el mundo no la conoció. Vino a su casa, y los suyos no la recibieron. Pero a cuantos la recibieron, les da poder para ser hijos de Dios, si creen en su nombre. Éstos no han nacido de sangre, ni de amor carnal, ni de amor humano, sino de Dios. Y la Palabra se hizo carne y acampó entre nosotros, y hemos contemplado su gloria: gloria propia del Hijo único del Padre, lleno de gracia y de verdad. Juan da testimonio de él y grita diciendo: «Éste es de quien dije: “El que viene detrás de mí pasa delante de mí, porque existía antes que yo.”» Pues de su plenitud todos hemos recibido, gracia tras gracia. Porque la ley se dio por medio de Moisés, la gracia y la verdad vinieron por medio de Jesucristo. A Dios nadie lo ha visto jamás: Dios Hijo único, que está en el seno del Padre, es quien lo ha dado a conocer.

Cuarto domingo de Adviento (2017)

 

EVANGELIO DE LA MISA
(Lectura del santo Evangelio según San Lucas 1:26-38)

Al sexto mes fue enviado por Dios el ángel Gabriel a una ciudad de Galilea, llamada Nazaret, a una virgen desposada con un hombre llamado José, de la casa de David; el nombre de la virgen era María. Y entrando, le dijo: «Dios te salve María, llena eres de gracia, el Señor es contigo.» Ella se conturbó por estas palabras, y discurría qué significaría aquel saludo. El ángel le dijo: «No temas, María, porque has hallado gracia delante de Dios; vas a concebir en el seno y vas a dar a luz un hijo, a quien pondrás por nombre Jesús. El será grande y será llamado Hijo del Altísimo, y el Señor Dios le dará el trono de David, su padre; reinará sobre la casa de Jacob por los siglos y su reino no tendrá fin.» María respondió al ángel: «¿Cómo será esto, puesto que no conozco varón?» El ángel le respondió: «El Espíritu Santo vendrá sobre ti y el poder del Altísimo te cubrirá con su sombra; por eso el que ha de nacer será santo y será llamado Hijo de Dios. Mira, también Isabel, tu pariente, ha concebido un hijo en su vejez, y este es ya el sexto mes de aquella que llamaban estéril, porque ninguna cosa es imposible para Dios.» Dijo María: «He aquí la esclava del Señor; hágase en mí según tu palabra.» Y el ángel dejándola se fue.

 

 

 

 

Tercer domingo de Adviento (2017)

EVANGELIO DE LA MISA
(Lectura del santo Evangelio según San Juan 1:6-8, 19-28)

Hubo un hombre, enviado por Dios: se llamaba Juan. Este vino para un testimonio, para dar testimonio de la luz, para que todos creyeran por él. No era él la luz, sino quien debía dar testimonio de la luz. Y este fue el testimonio de Juan, cuando los judíos enviaron donde él desde Jerusalén sacerdotes y levitas a preguntarle: «¿Quién eres tú?» El confesó, y no negó; confesó: «Yo no soy el Cristo.» Y le preguntaron: «¿Qué, pues? ¿Eres tú Elías?» El dijo: «No lo soy.» – «¿Eres tú el profeta?» Respondió: «No.» Entonces le dijeron: «¿Quién eres, pues, para que demos respuesta a los que nos han enviado? ¿Qué dices de ti mismo?» Dijo él: «Yo soy voz del que clama en el desierto: Rectificad el camino del Señor, como dijo el profeta Isaías.» Los enviados eran fariseos. Y le preguntaron: «¿Por qué, pues, bautizas, si no eres tú el Cristo ni Elías ni el profeta?» Juan les respondió: «Yo bautizo con agua, pero en medio de vosotros está uno a quien no conocéis, que viene detrás de mí, a quien yo no soy digno de desatarle la correa de su sandalia.» Esto ocurrió en Betania, al otro lado del Jordán, donde estaba Juan bautizando.