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May 18- Our True Day of Freedom


If we speak of our independence from the Spanish Crown based on the law of war or conquest, the true date is May 18, 1899 and not June 12, 1898 as what was proclaimed by Gen. Emilio F. Aguinaldo in Cavite ll el Viejo ( present-day, Kawit, Cavite) which was not recognized by either the United States or  Spain. Attesting to the historical fact that it was here at Fort Pilar where the last Spanish Governor General Diego de los Rios and all the remaining Spanish colonial forces surrendered to Gen. Vicente Solis Alavarez, the Commander of the Zamboanga Revolutionary Army and the First President of the Zamboanga Republic, are the following widely recognized and respected historians and highly credible and prominent personalities:
“ The capture of the Spanish fortress by General Alvarez, throws new light into why the Americans were forced to proceed to and stay in Sulu although the specific order issued by American General Elwell S. Otis was for the troops to occupy Zamboanga. It was important to the American colonial interest to have firm control of it because the Spanish Governor General Diego De los Rios had established in Zamboanga the de jure sovereignty of Spain over the Philippines; and the capture of Governor General de los Rios brought about the transfer of Spanish sovereignty to Filipino hands.”- ESTEBAN B. DE OCAMPO, Chairman, National Historical Institute, Ministry of Education and Culture, Ermita, Manila, 1979.
“Hon. Maria Clara L. Lobergat
Congresswoman, Zamboanga City

Dear Madam Caling:

The enclosed clipping of an item in the Philippine DAILY INQUIRER of June 11, 1996, reports that the long Spanish colonization of the Philippines actually ended here—with the surrender of the Spanish Governor-General, not to the American troops but to the Zamboangueno military forces.
This is most exciting event—and should be brought to the attention of the National Centennial Chairman, Salvador Laurel.
It is you who could get Chairman Laurel, the AFP, the Spanish Embassy, and others involved in the commemoration of this historical event.” ( Portion of a letter by Justice Rafael C. Climaco written on June 25, 1996.

“The surrender ceremony was full of pomp. The victor and vanquished were dressed in their finest military uniforms. The gates of the fort opened and De los Rios and Alvarez saluted each other and the Spanish governor-general handed his saber to the rebel.”- Historical account of Bienvenido Gregorio, history teacher at Ateneo de Zamboanga as cited by former Editor-publisher of the Morning Times, E. Rene R. Fernandez, PDI Mindanao Bureau, as contained in his article entitled, Zamboanga: Where Era of Spanish Rule Ended, published by PDI on June 11, 1996.

“Two companies of infantrymen initially pressed into military service by the Spaniards, defected to the side of Revolutionary Forces. They were the Deportados and the Voluntarios. The former was composed of convicts, criminals, parolees, political prisoners from Pampanga, Tagalog Region, Bicol, Samar, Cebu, Bohol, Iloilo, and Caraga; and the latter was composed of the Animists, Muslims, and Christians of Sama Magay, Banginge, Kalibugan, Tau-sug, Subanun, local Visayan and Zamboangueno stocks. They joined the forces headed by General Vicente Alvarez.

On the morning of May 18, 1899 General Alvarez proudly strode into the fort. On his side were Major Calixto, Captains Ramos, Gowito, and Midel. Their aides followed from behind as they triumphantly marched in. General De los Rios saluted General Alvarez to acknowledge his triumph; he was held up by his aide as he was badly wounded on the knee. Some of the men in formation were also wounded.  General Alvarez also returned the courtesy.”
Dr. Rony Bautista’s account of the actual surrender of Governor General Diego del los Rios found on page 32 of his research paper entitled, Zamboanga’s Gen. Vicente Alvarez: His Concept of National Unity.

Based on the cited historical accounts, it is safe to conclude that the actual turn-over of Spanish sovereignty over Mindanao and Sulu, if not the entire Philippines by the last Spanish Governor General, Diego de los Rios to Gen Vicente Solis Alvarez, the Commander of the Zambonaga Revolutionary Army, (not to the American forces or to Gen. Emilio F. Aguinaldo) factually took place not in Kawit, Cavite on June 12, 1898 but on May 18, 1899 at Fort Pilar, Zambonga, marking our genuine date of independence from the Crown of Spain.

By Clem M. Bascar

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