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Alvarez freed us from Spain

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“On the morning of May 18, 1899 General Alvarez strode into the fort. On his side were Major Calixto, Captains Ramos, Gowito, and Midel. Their aides followed them from behind as they triumphantly marched in. General de los Rios saluted General Alvarez to acknowledge his triumph; General Alvarez also returned the courtesy.” -Dr. Rony Bautista, General Alvarez: His Concept of National Unity, copyright, 1972.

According to an eye-witness of the surrender of the last Spanish Governor-General of the Philippine Islands, Diego de los Rios to Gen. Vicente Solis Alvarez, “ the ceremony was full of pomp, victor and vanquished were dressed in their finest military uniforms. The gates of the fort opened and de los Rios and his officers marched out to meet Alvarez and his officers. De los Rios and Alvarez saluted each other and the Spanish Governor-General handed his saber to the rebel.”

Here is what the erstwhile, Chairman of the National Historical Institute (NHI), now National Historical Commission of the Philippines (NHCP),  Esteban D. Ocampo said about this astonishing military feat  of Gen. Vicente Solis Alvarez before a large convention of historians all over the country:

“It came as a great surprise to the participants-that here is indeed a revolutionary leader with rare quality of leadership worthy of emulation who should be perpetuated in the Hall of Fame as a National Hero.”

It is indisputable to posit that the attainment of victory by a  ragtag and  underrated revolutionary army organized by Gen. Vicente Solis Alvarez against the globally feared Spanish Colonial Forces which were concentrated at Fort Pillar, Zamboanga for the final defense of Spanish sovereignty, would have not come to pass without the broad and solid alliance of the Los Deportados, Los Voluntarios, and the native warriors plus the full logistical  support of the most influential and highly respected Muslim leader, Hadji Abdulla Nuno from Taluksangay. Such military coalition culminated in the capture of the biggest Spanish fortress in Mindanao and amazingly brought about  the surrender of the last Spanish Governor-General, Diego de los Rios  on May 18, 1899 marking the true date of independence of the Mindanao and Sulu and officially from the factual military point of view, also the Philippines from Spanish Crown and not  June 12, 1898 which was just legislated by Congress via Republic Act 4166 and hastily approved by President Diosdado Macapagal on August 4, 1964. It was reported that the overarching justification for the change of the date of the Philippine Independence from July 4, 1946 to June 12, 1898  was  the proclamation at Cavite  II el Viejo (present-day Kawit, Cavite), by Gen. Emilio Fame Aguinaldo  without any  valid factual military basis for Spain was still largely in control of the Philippine Islands at that time. The truth is, General Aguinaldo did not win the war against Spain and there was no de facto surrender or turnover of Spanish sovereignty by  Gen. Fermin Jaudenes who was the Spanish Governor General of  the Philippine Islands at that time into the hands of the highest Filipino revolutionary commander.

This spectacular military victory of Gen. Vicente Solis Alvarez and his shadowy army which could not be matched  by any other revolutionary organizations including that  of the most decorated hero, Gen. Emilio F. Aguinaldo, is contained in the well-researched and richly-referenced monographed by Dr. Rony Bautista, a nationally respected historian and  confirmed by no less than the former Chairman, Esteban A. de Ocampo of the National Historical Institute. The research paper of Dr. Bautista entitled, “Zamboanga’s General Vicente Alvarez: His Concept of National Unity “ is also  documented and published as one of the historical documents in a book  compiled, edited, and annotated by Gregorio F. Zaide, Documentary Sources of Philippine History, Volume 8.

The expediency and essentiality of organizing alliances and coalitions have played a vital and decisive role in achieving common goals and objectives in almost all fields of human endeavor. Agreeably in the Philippines, the most popular strategy of achieving higher probability of victory in politics, is for one party to coalesce or enter into an alliance with another or several parties or organizations having the same interests or platforms. Like in the past, small and weak nations joined forces to defeat a common formidable enemy. In  international relations, the oldest recorded alliance was that of the Anglo-Portuguese signed in 1373 between the United Kingdom of England  and Portugal.

In World War II, an alliance among countries was the coalition headed by Germany, Italy and Japan popularly known as the Axis Powers who fought against another alliance, the Allied Powers composed of British Empire, France, Russian Empire, and the United States. However, alliances do not by themselves, insure victory or success in all cases. Other vital elements have to be factored in and considered as such , sprit de corps, close coordination,  operative machinery, unlimited financial and other logistical resources, superiority of technology,  effective  strategy of control and management of the alliance, and many others.

I consider it very relevant and of great pedagogical value for the general enlightment of the present generation, to vigorously emphasize and earnestly remind them that in the   political history of the Philippines, a remarkable and  very successful military alliance  worthy of  citation and emulation apart from being a great source of patriotic pride and honor,     took place between and among the Christians, Muslims, and other native warriors  under the cultural solidarity,  unified, and diplomatic leadership of General Vicente S. Alvarez which commendably brought about the capture of the biggest Spanish fortress in Mindanao, Fort Pillar and consequently the surrender of the last Spanish Governor General of the Philippine Islands, Diego de los Rios and  finally, the turning over of Spanish sovereignty over Mindanao and Sulu, if not the entire Philippines to the Zamboanga Revolutionary Army on May 18, 1899. This spectacular military feat by our local patriots could easily dwarf all those that are nationally commemorated, extravagantly recognized, overly honored,  and pompously celebrated   revolutionary achievements of the officially-proclaimed heroes in Luzon.

Unfortunately this  huge military victory of our local revolutionaries has virtually been hidden and tightly guarded like a  top military secret presumably for fear that this historical event could potentially turn upside down and cause the re-writing of the history of Philippine revolution against the Spanish Crown and eventually change the date of our true independence from June 12, 1898 to the May 18, 1899.

For the longest time, I have been fervently hoping, wishing, and praying that a very influential and popular national legislator would take up the cudgels for the comprehensive and impartial review of the historical justifications used by  Congress under the Presidency of Diosdado Macapagal in the enactment Republic Act 4166 changing the date of Philippine Independence from  July 4, 1946 to June 12, 1898. With all due respect, for me, such legislative act as it was approved in form and substance, would not even pass for a Barangay Ordinance or Resolution of a Sudent Council. (By Clem  M. Bascar)




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