By Juan Escandor Jr.
MINALABAC, Camarines Sur---For the first time in Camarines Sur, the provincial government honored and paid tribute to the revolutionaries here during the Spanish and American periods in the celebration of the 119th Independence Day.
The tribute to the revolutionaries of the 19th to turn of the 20th century Philippines was triggered by Camarines Sur Gov. Miguel “Migz” Luis Villafuerte asking what the Bicolanos were up-to when the Katagalugan areas were busy fighting the Spanish and later the American colonizers.
“We know that the Malolos Covention was held at Barasoain Church while the first Philippine flag was made and hoisted in Cavite. In Camarines Sur, what were the contributions of our ancestors in the struggle for liberty and independence during that time?”
Villafuerte said such query started the research by local historians like Prof. Danilo Gerona and others to lead to the identification of General Ludovico Arejola as the major revolutionary leader in Camarines Sur at the time when the declaration of independence was issued on June 12, 1898.
Based on the research of Gerona, Arejola started organizing in March 1898 the resistance forces against the American forces which comprised 115 macheteros and 10 tiradores and later on 11 formations were added.
Arejola established his base in Taban, Minalabac, Camarines Sur, a remote village along the Bicol River, where he was proclaimed general and overall commander of the Filipino revolutionaries in Ambos Camarines on March 10, 1900.
He, together with the officials of revolutionary fighters, continued to pester the American colonial Army with their guerrilla tactics after he realized their enemies possessed superior power.
The Americans offered Arejola “peaceful way to end the hostilities” twice but the Bicolano general refused, according to Gerona.
However, on the third time, Arejola finally succumbed to the pressure of dwindling number of fighters and inadequate provisions and ammunitions.
“General Arejola agreed on March 25, 1901 to negotiate with 1st Lt. George Curry for surrender which finally took place at the end of that month,” Gerona said.
Faviana Arejola, grandniece of Gen. Arejola who was present during the Independence Day program, expressed his gratefulness to the provincial government of Camarines Sur for honoring her ancestor.
Faviana said their dream that their ancestor’s heroism be given recognition had been fulfilled with the honor bestowed on Monday. The other surviving heirs present were grandniece Minnie Imperial Perez Gomez and grandnephew Jose ‘Jovi’ Virgilio Alvarez, both of Naga City.
Also present during the ceremonies were Camarines Sur second district Rep. Luis Raymund “LRay Villafuerte, Army Gen. Manolito Orense, Police Provincial Director Jerry Biares, Minalabac Mayor Cris Lizardo and other local officials.
The tribute to Gen. Arejola include the re-enactment of the revolutionaries journey over the Bicol River, hoisting of the nine revolutionary flags and the citation of his achievement as defender of people’s liberty and independence.