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Materialising J. Calacday’s Paper on Gainza (Part I)

In October 2021, Jethro Calacday, sent me his paper on Gainza not for my expertise (I am not a historian) but perhaps for my deep interest in his kind of research. This all began, I believe, that day I flew to Manila just to attend his thesis defense at the Ateneo de Manila University, with Bishop Barlin as subject.

Like Barlin, Gainza is a nearly sainted figure in Bikol studies or in the Bikolano’s popular imagination.

In the paper, Racialising Reform: Bishop Francisco Gaínza and the Creation of the Native Clergy in the Philippines, 1863–1879 , which was on its tenth draft when I received it through Messenger the second time, Jethro opened the discussion mentioning the Gomburza. Incendiary perhaps but it is novel to put the figure of Gainza in that historical incident.

The paper states: “On 17 February 1872, three Filipino diocesan (secular) priests were publicly garroted in Manila. José Burgos, Mariano Gomez, and Jacinto Zamora were led to the gallows on trumped-up charges of sedition and rebellion following the Cavite revolt—the goal of which was a “policy of terror” to countervail what Spanish colonial functionaries believed as threats to colonial rule (Schumacher 2011).”

The paragraph continues: “Before the execution, the colonial government asked the Catholic hierarchy for the condemned priests to be defrocked. Leading the ecclesiastical tribunal that deliberated the request was the Spanish Dominican bishop of the diocese of Cáceres, Fray Francisco Gaínza—a canon lawyer by training. The tribunal rejected the colonial government’s request, with Gaínza allegedly quipping at one point to “pardon the prisoners and let not priests be carried to the scaffold, because our robes are the same.”

It was while reading the said paragraph that I opted for my column this week a discussion of the form that this historical research has assumed before I even talk about its contents. In that first paragraph, the true and good researcher realizes the ethics and wisdom of citation. The old adage is indeed true: there is no need to reinvent the wheel. And as it is true in research, the skills of the writer begin with how he can navigate the many other studies done on the subject matter. Students of basic research knows this structure as “a review of related literature.”

There is, however, much more to a review of related materials than a mere list of books as references. One goes through a review to discover the theories behind each source and to deconstruct the author. What was the thinker’s milieu? What political views did he hold?

Citations are a matter of ethics. A citation is the courtesy of a scholar to other scholars. When you use a book or a paper, it is incumbent upon you to cite that material. This means you spell the author’s name correctly and, depending on the research protocol you are following, specify the place from where you derived the knowledge. This means you need to tell your readers the date of publication, the particular page from where you formed the citation, and, if translated, the name of translator.

Citation therefore is only for the brave and honest. It is, as researchers state over and over, like giving the sword to your enemy (quite a violent word), who are your peers, readers, and/or critics. You will allow them to be the final arbiter of your sources and how you put to (good or bad) use the said data. They then judge if you lift properly the passage. Were you, as in love, faithful to the original? Did you leave out qualifiers? (These are words like “however,” and “but”) Remove the qualifiers and you lose the essence of the quote; in fact you misquote the quote!

The last sentence of that paragraph says: “Gaínza warned fatalistically (underscoring mine) that the execution would signal the “end of the Catholic clergy with the loss of its prestige and the consequent struggle for country” (Artígas y Cuerva 1916, 501 cited in Abella 1954, 178).

When I was teaching research, I would always tell my students to avoid descriptive words or modifiers, like adverbs and adjectives. To use them would mean you need to explain their usage. In the sentence above, Jethro uses “fatalistically” but he articulates that fatalism by pointing to the “end of the Catholic clergy, “which is fatal. But there is something more to this sentence and this is the use of double citation. Jethro uses a quote crucial to his perspective but he is honest enough to tell us he is using the analysis of Artigas y Cuerva which came out in 1916 as cited by Abella in 1954. If you doubt the quotation, you can always go back to materials mentioned. Is this Manuel Artigas y Cueva the Filipino-Spanish historian and librarian? Is he the same person behind the so-called Act No. 1849 which created the Philippine Public Library? Was this book referred to the one bearing the title Historia de Filipinas and were those lines found on page 501 the same facts found on page 178 of Domingo Abella’s Bicol Annals?

This is the supreme value of double citation: it asks you to come clean. It asks that you respect those who had done previous incursions into the data. Double citation does not stop you from correcting a quote but first you must be able to catch the intellectual culprit. This is reading (and writing) history. And, look, we are barely touching the contents of Jethro Calacday’s paper. Jethro, by the way, is in England, at the Trinity College in Cambridge studying modern Catholicism, the Philippines and US imperialism.

More next week.


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