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Nagueños honor heroism of 15 Bicol martyrs

By Ana-Liza Macatangay

“IF there is any that we can do in honor of their nobility as martyrs, it is in living up to their aspirations of creating a better country for us Filipinos, despite the odds – a vision which I believe is the same goal that we have been looking at now particularly here in our beloved City of Naga.”

Mayor Nelson Legacion conveyed this message during the 127th Anniversary of the Martyrdom of the Quince Martires of Bicol held Thursday, January 4 at the Plaza Quince Martires, in this city.

The statement was read by Councilor Lito del Rosario with a focus on the celebration’s theme: “Challenges and Triumphs: Naga’s Journey since the Martyrdom.”

Legacion expressed that, akin to his predecessors, the city has been diligently working towards the progress of Naga. He highlighted the city’s remarkable transformation into a more livable and economically dynamic hub, overcoming past challenges and tribulations.

RENOWNED historian Professor Danilo M. Gerona, one of the speakers at the commemoration of the 127th Anniversary of the 15 Bicol Martyrs, narrated the stories of courage and sacrifice of the 15 Bicolano heroes at the rite conducted at the Plaza Quince Martires in Naga City on January 4, 2024. JRM-PIA5/Camarines Sur

“With us championing always the spirit of collaboration and innovation, we are optimistic that we can always emerge triumphant and victorious as we continue Naga’s journey towards a more sustainable development since the martyrdom of our beloved 15 Bicolanos,” Legacion said.

The Martyrdom of the Quince Martires or the 15 Bicol Martyrs is a story of heroism and sacrifice of Bicolano heroes who sacrificed their lives when they were executed by firing squad on January 4, 1897.

This occurred after their apprehension under suspicion of conspiring against the Spaniards.

Of the 15 martyrs, 11 of whom were executed at Bagumbayan field, now Luneta Park.

They were Rev. Inocencio Herrera, Rev. Gabriel Prieto, Rev. Severino Diaz, Manuel Abella, Domingo Abella, Cammilo Jacob, Tomas Prieto, Florendo Lerma, Macario Valentin, Mariano Melgarejo, and Cornelio Mercado.

Jose Rizal was executed in the same place five days earlier.

The other four freedom fighters were Leon Hernandez, Ramon Abella, Mariano Arana, and Mariano Ordenanza. Records state that they have died in prison or while in exile.

Invited to give inspirational messages were City Councilor Jose B. Perez, Committee Chairperson for Culture and the Arts where he retold the history of Quince Martires; Rotary Club of Naga President Jonathan Lao on Bicol’s contribution towards Philippine Independence; and the renowned historian Prof. Danilo Madrid-Gerona, who expounded on the story of courage and sacrifice of the Quince Martires.

Gerona discussed two opposing poles of nationalism as he narrated the life stories of the 15 Martyrs, their courage, and the sacrifices that led to their heroic symbol of nationalism.

“Nationalism even in its pure, sublime and abstract form, emanated from material causal forces, deeply embedded in the peculiar historical and cultural setting of the locality.

While every region claimed a nationalist cause as a motor for their insurrectionary actions, such nationalism was certainly forged by certain material, but not necessarily selfish aspirations or even selfish ones with altruistic coating,” Gerona concluded.

For Leo Paulo Imperial, chair of the Social Science Department of Ateneo de Naga University and President of the Nueva Caceres Heritage Movement Inc., the commemoration of the 15 Bicol Martyrs is very important as it gives local pride to Bicolanos, which for him can translate into national pride that will make Nagueños and Bicolanos proud.

A flag-raising and wreath-laying ceremony also took place at the Plaza Quince Martires led by the local government of Naga, Naga City Masonic Lodge, Boy Scouts of the Philippines, and the Rotary Club of Naga. With reports from JMadrid, PIA 5/Camarines Sur

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