Today, the Philippines is celebrating its Independence Day, a day which Filipinos celebrate freedom as well as the people who have fought for it. On this occasion, this entry today at the Urban Roamer pays tribute to some of these people.
The people you will read about today hail from the little town in Metro Manila called Pateros. They are not much known to many, especially outside the town. But their stories are stories deserved to be told today, their struggles and the sacrifices they have made for the sake of the freedom of their town and our country as a whole that we enjoy today.
The year was 1896 and the membership of the revolutionary secret group the Kataastaasang, Kagalanggalang, Katipunan ng mga Anak ng Bayan or KKK (or the Katipunan) was in full swing. One of those who joined early that year was a Pateros native, Macario Almeda. Born in 1867, he was a farmer who eventually rose to become at 29 years of age the youngest cabeza de barangay (equivalent of today’s barangay captain) of their barangay Cabeceria 9, becoming known as Cabesang Cario. In the Katipunan, he assumed the Katipunan pseudonym “Kidlat” or lightning.
Owing perhaps to his position and his leadership skills, Almeda was soon appointed as commander of the movement’s Pateros chapter called Magtanggol. He quickly organized the chapter officers, which included a fellow named Marcos Lozada who was appointed as secretary. Subchapters were formed as membership in Pateros grew to about 1,200 by August.
Then came the premature discovery of the KKK, which launched the Philippine Revolution. As Andres Bonifacio and his men were preparing to attack El Deposito at San Juan del Monte, Almeda mobilized his men to make their move. On August 29, they launched an attack on the Pateros Tribunal or the town hall and seized the artillery stored there and proceeded to the area near the border of Taguig to repel Spanish forces that would be coming from that direction. Unfortunately, superior Spanish artillery and a botched defense plan for the north of Pateros, the Katipuneros were defeated after intense fighting that ended before dawn the following day.
In the wake of this event, several men were arrested and eventually deported to the Marianas Islands. While Almeda managed to get a temporary reprieve, he and Lozada continued their revolutionary activities in secret. Arousing suspicions, especially from the Spanish priest of the town, they were eventually arrested and were interrogated about their activites, to which Almeda replied, “If our defense of what is right and our affiliation with Katipunan is a grave crime against the government, then let our souls be unto God and our bodies to the government.”
Those words sealed the fate of Almeda and Lozada. On September 15, 1896 2 Guardia civil troops had both men tied up, marching north towards the intended destination of Pasig. However, upon reaching near the boundary of Pateros with Pasig, Almeda and Lozada refused to march any further. It infuriated the Guardia civiles but Almeda replied with what would eventually be his last words, “If you really think we did something wrong, then shoot us here and leave us to die in our town.” Almeda and Lozada knelt to the ground to prove their point and the Guardia civiles had no recourse but to execute them on the spot.
The love of Almeda and Lozada for the country and for their town has made a mark on Pateros’ history. Thus, the same road along which they died has been named in honor of Almeda and another road in the town was named after Lozada. In addition, an obelisk was erected in the spot where they died in their memory.
May their lives and sacrifices will not be lost upon us.
Acknowledgements as well to the unofficial site of the Municipality of Pateros