By Jason B. Neola
NAGA CITY --- Officials of this city, led by Mayor John G. Bongat and Vice Mayor Nelson Legacion, will lead the commemoration of the 155th birth anniversary of Filipino hero Jose Maria Panganiban y Enverga.
Ceremonies will start at 7:00 o’clock this morning, Feb. 1, at the Naga Central School 1 grounds where his statue stands.
Ms. Teresita Defeo Espina, a 75 year old surviving granddaughter of the national hero has been invited as special guest, along with the incumbent municipal officials of Jose Maria Panganiban town, in Camarines Norte, led by Municipal Councilorr Marie Pante Aviado and the Camarines Norte Provincial Museum personnel led by Abel Icatlo, provincial curator.
Espina was an honor student, served as editor of her school paper and became a school teacher. Her mother, Guadalupe E. Defeo, now 97, is the eldest granddaughter of the hero whose mother was an Enverga from nearby Quezon (then Tayabas) province.
Also known by his pen name Jomapa, the Bicol hero was born on February 1, 1863 in Maburao (now renamed in his honor), in Camarines Norte (when both Camarines Norte and Camarines Sur was a single province known as Ambos Camarines). As a student, he went to Nueva Caceres (the old Spanish name of Naga) to study at the seminario conciliar (now Holy Rosary Seminary) where he surpassed all his classmates by always getting “sobresaliente”(Excellent) in his grades.
He then went to enroll at the University of Sto.Tomas and completed his preparatory medicine with honors.
In May 1888, Panganiban went to Spain to continue his studies in Barcelona but abandoned them after he joined La Solidaridad and became its essayist and translator. In his sickbed he wrote Rizal: “I regret I cannot be with you in your patriotic labor for the redemption of our land… If only I have the strength I had before, I will work with you unto the bitter end.” He had contracted a pulmonary ailment while in Spain and died on August 19, 1890.
The ceremonies, including the wreath laying, will be witnessed by students, barangay officials and guests, such as Schools Division Superintendent Dr. William Gando, MGen. Jesus Manangquil, commanding general of the 9th Infantry Division of the Philippine Army, City Police Director PPSupt. Jonathan Panganiban, Fire Marshal C/Insp. Jose Callos, Jr., and JSupt Milton Placencia.
Officers and personnel of the Philippine Army will render full military honors while the Naga Central School 1 Children’s Rondalla will give an intermission number during the brief program.
Nagueños built important landmarks in honor of Panganiban, including a statue at the Naga CentralSchool 1 where the ceremonies will be held, and a major roadway bearing his name.