Gomburza Martyrdom Anniversary February 17, 1872
“WITHOUT 1872,” Dr. Jose P. Rizal wrote his friend Don Mariano Ponce, “there would not be now a Sanciangco, Plaridel, Lopez Jaena… Without 1872, Rizal would now be a Jesuit and, instead of writing the Noli Me Tangere, would have written the opposite.”
To highlight further the impact of the Cavite Mutiny and the execution of Fathers Gomez, Burgos, and Zamora, Dr. Rizal dedicated his novel El Filibusterismo to the memory of the three priests, thus: “The Church, in refusing to degrade you, has placed in doubt the crime imputed to you; the Government, in shrouding your cause with mystery and obscurities, creates belief in some error committed in critical moments; and the whole Philippines, in venerating your memory and calling you martyrs, in no way acknowledges your guilt… May your blood be upon the hands of those who, without sufficient proof, assail your memory.”
Many vital details about the martyrdom of Fathers Gomez, Burgos, and Zamora remain hidden to most Filipinos. Foremost of these details is the extraordinary courage of the three martyrs in combatting theocracy in colonial Philippines. When the friars put up in 1868 the newspaper La Verdad and printed article after article vilifying the natives of the Philippines, Father Burgos put up the newspaper El Eco Filipino. Father Gomez kept the funds for the newspaper, while Father Zamora solicited contributions for its support. El Eco Filipino fought for the rights and honor of the Filipino people.
When Don Carlos Maria de la Torre became the governor-general of the Philippines in 1869, Father Burgos and several liberal Spaniards and Filipinos honored De la Torre with a serenade and dinner at the latter’s official residence in Intramuros. In turn, De la Torre publicly praised Father Burgos, declaring: “Hail! Father Burgos, Pride and Honor of the Philippines.” The friars seethed with anger against all these happenings.
Implicated in the January 19-20, 1872, Cavite Mutiny and condemned to die by the garrote, the three priests were confined at Fort Santiago. There were attempts to save them. On the eve of the execution, Srta. Clarita Rubio de Celis recruited 60 men to carry out a suicidal mission – attack all colonial posts in Intramuros and spirit away the three priests. They were blocked by several native priests who feared a general backlash against the native population.
Asked to whom they would like to make a confession, Father Gomez replied: “To any of our most vociferous enemy so that they should know the purity of our conscience.” Going up the scaffold, Father Gomez saw Major Boscasa, the prosecutor who condemned them to death, and said: “May God forgive you the way we have forgiven you.” A friar replied: “Forgive them, Father Gomez, for they do not know what they did.” Father Gomez turned to the friar and said: “Why should we forgive them if they did nothing wrong against us?”
Even colonial historians concluded that the execution of Fathers Gomez, Burgos, and Zamora was a blunder on the part of colonial government. The Cavite Mutiny of 1872 nourished Filipino nationalism.1872 produced 1896 which, in turn, produced June 12, 1898.
Our observance of the anniversary of Fathers Gomez, Burgos, and Zamora’s martyrdom will make our youth aware that the freedom they enjoy today was nourished by the blood and sacrifices of their forefathers.
Opinion and Editorial