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Canovas and Rizal – A connection?

There are certain events that might alter the course of history, and there are heroes and villains who often inspire these events.
Just over seven months after Jose Rizal’s execution in Manila, on August 8, 1897, the prime minister of Spain was assassinated.

Here’s an excerpt from the New York Times front page edition on August 10.

MURDER OF CANOVAS
Golli says it was to avenge the Barcelona Anarchists and Don Rizal.

He confessed that he killed Senor Canovas to avenge the Barcelona anarchists, and the insurgent leader, Don Jose Rizal, who was executed at Manila, Philippine Islands, on Dec. 30 last, as an instigator of the Philippine rebellion. Dr Rizal denied that he was a rebel leader, but he admitted that he had drawn up the statutes of the Philippine League (Aug 10, 1897)

In June 1896, a bomb was thrown at the Corpus Christi procession in Barcelona. The anarchist group was blamed and hundreds of alleged revolutionaries were jailed at the Montjuic Fortress. Prime Minister Canovas ordered the cruel repression and torture. Many prisoners died, but some survivors might have shared time with Jose Rizal when he was held at Montjuic by Spanish authorities. Governor General Eulogio Dispujol of Barcelona paid Rizal a visit. Dispujol was the same Spanish military governor who sent Rizal to Dapitan and was now the military governor of Cataluña. He was arrested on his way to Cuba where he was volunteering as an Army doctor. His request was initiated by Governor Blanco and signed by the Spanish War Minister, Azcarraga. He was briefly imprisoned at the Montjuic Castle and brought back to a ship bound for Manila, where he faced the court martial. Governor General Polavieja succeeded Blanco on Dec 13 and oversaw the military trial and Rizal execution on Dec 30, 1896. In another news report, Golli expressed regret that he did not kill Polavieja, for having caused the murder of Rizal.

Just recently, Rizal was honored with the inauguration of the “Sala Jose Rizal” room the famous Montjuich Castle, atop a hill in Barcelona, which served as military prison. It was part of Rizal’s sesquicentennial celebration this year around the world.  It is interesting that an Ilocano patriot and another Mason, Isabelo de los Reyes, suspected of revolutionary activities was imprisoned in Bilibid on January 1897. His writing similar to Rizal that revolution could wait by exposing friar and corruption.  The arrival of a new  governor in Manila replacing the ruthless Governor-General Polavieja saved his execution but deported him to Spain. He was imprisoned at the Montjuic where he later wrote:

I repeat that the so-called anarchists, nihilists, or as they say nowadays, Bolsheviks, are the true saviours and disinterested defenders of justice and universal brotherhood…. I took advantage of the occasion to put into practice the good ideas I had learned from the anarchists of Barcelona, who were imprisoned with me in the infamous Castle of Montjuich.

The harsh treatment of the Montjuic prisoners might have unleashed the uprising against the Spanish monarchy. The reason for the assassination of Canovas by the Golli might be on the advice of another doctor, Dr Ramon Betances. Just like Rizal, Betances was also was familiar with martial arts, gun, and fencing. He might have provided the training to the assassin and mentioned Rizal on his discussions with Golli.  The assassin’s original targets were the members of the Spanish royal family, but upon the advice of Dr Betances, Canovas was assassinated instead. Betances coordinated support for the pro-independence movement in the Philippines while in Paris but there was no record of meeting Rizal.  He might have obtained a copy of Rizal’s valedictory poem of Ultimo Adios from his Mason friend in Hongkong.  He provided Rizal’s final masterpiece to the Puerto Rican insurgents’ propaganda movement against Spain.

Antonio Canova was immediately replaced in interim by Marcelo Azcarraga, the University of Santo Tomas (UST) law graduate just like Isabelo De Los Reyes. Azacarraga is not only Filipino by definition of the original term being born in Manila but his mother has Bikol blood. He was the thirteenth Prime minister of Spain following the restoration of the Spanish monarchy.  The loss of Canovas upon the Conservative Party became speculation among the Spanish press but General Azcarraga has acquired great popularity through his skill in organizing the country’s resources for Cuba and Philippine campaign. The Liberal Spanish faction prevailed over the conservative after Canova’s assassination. Sagastas recalled Gov Weyler and replaced the Cuban butcher with Governor Blanco.  Ironically, Blanco was the governor who tried to save Rizal from the Canovas’s administration heavily influenced by the cleric in Manila.  The same Weyler expelled the Rizal family from the farm in Calamba that the Dominican friars wanted out. This was Madrid’s desperate move to save the Spanish empire from growing insular unrest and the impending signs of the little splendid war coined by John Hay.

US President Wm McKinley sent condolence to Madrid through his ambassador to London, John Hay. On September 6, 1901 he suffered the same faith when he was shot in Buffalo, NY by Leon Csologosz, an anarchist. By that time John Hay was already the Secretary of State having successfully negotiated the Treaty of Paris. The former Lincoln’s White House intern would be involved in the three famous assassinations in history.  Mckinley died of his gunshot wound, and John Hay would inform Theodore Roosevelt on a telegraph on September 14.  The American empire only accelerated to the 20th century

On the 20th of August 1897, the Italian assassin, Michelle Angiolillos, the avenger of Rizal’s death was summarily sentenced to death. Having at no time during his trial nor during the days leading up to his execution shown any sign of remorse, Angiolillo then walked calmly to his execution by strangulation at the garrote.

Several days later, at a New York celebration of Michele Angiolillo’s heroic actions, the Italian anarchist Salvatore Pallavencini emphatically declared the anarchist position thus: “The man who killed Cánovas was a martyr to the cause of humanity and progress. Anarchists think it is better to kill a ruler who is a tyrant than to have a revolution in which thousands have to die because of his acts.”

My estimation why Dr Rizal might not be in favor of a bloody revolution.

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The first Filipino American war veteran

In 1906, the Filipino student’s bi-weekly magazine published in Washington DC received a letter from New Orleans.

“We received a subscription from a Filipino living in New Orleans, and as we did not know there were any Filipinos in the southern part of this country, we were very much surprised, and wrote to him, asking that he send us some details concerning himself and any other Filipinos that there might be in his neighborhood. The Filipino whom we addressed was Mr. Eulogio Yatar, and he sent us some most astonishing news; in fact, we feel almost as the ethnologist does who discovers a new race of people, for we find that there is a colony of 2,000 Filipinos in that Queen City of the South. This community has been established for about a hundred years, the first one who landed there being a Bikol by the name of Augustin Feliciano, who later served in the American navy in the war of 1812. … Other Filipino seamen came, and finding the surroundings agreeable, remained there, and built up this large community. Although the greater part of these Louisiana Filipinos were born in this country, yet many of them are natives of the is-lands, and nearly all Visayans. They speak Tagalog and Spanish, as well as English.”  

The early Filipino settlement in New Orleans has been thoroughly documented by now, but I have been searching for Mr. Eulogio Yatar.  One the stories of Filipinos fighting against the British invasion was about the early Filipino strugglers from St.
Bernard Parish. According to local legend, they were one of the irregular forces of the pirate Jean Lafette serving Gen Stonewall Jackson in defense of New Orlean. Eulogio Yatar gave the name Augustin Feliciano, but who is this Yatar?   Filipino sailors landing in New Orleans can be traced as far as 1763 but we are only all familiar with Filipe Mardriaga and the Burtanog Sisters. Felipe married an Irish girl, Bridgete Nugent. One of their three daughters Elizabeth, born in June 1857, married Valeriano Baltic Borabod. This couple’s second daughter, Othelia Lilian Borabod, was born on Jan 7, 1881. Eulogio L Yatar was born on Dec 7 1877 in Malinao, Capiz and moved to New Orleans where he married Othelia.

How daunting is it to have Feliciano serving in the Continental Navy? Next year the nation will be celebrating the War of 1812 bicentennial. The war that inspired the Star Spangled Banner and echoed the climatic volley of cannon fire
and ringing chimes, the 1812 Overture.

Eulogio Yatar died on 1928 and was buried at the  Yatar Family Crypt, St Vincent Cemetery No.2. in New Orleans. In 1878 the Hispano Filipino Benevolent Society was founded and bought a tomb of 12 vaults and added another row for the members of the Filipino Community in good standing to be buried. This would be known as the Filipino Tomb of St Vincent De Paul. These are stone testaments of the earliest Filipino American Community, engraved with the names and dates of a generation.

The cities of the dead have been New Orleans tourist attraction. The above the ground burial became a necessity as New Orleans is below sea level, creating spectacular museum. It is also a testament to the residents’ loving care for the dead. These cemeteries were heavily damage by Katrina and it is estimated that millions of dollars are needed. There are 42 cemeteries in New Orleans, each with unique stories, but there is no doubt that St Vincent DePaul #2 is where the Filipino Tombs is a shrine, an abbreviated history of Filipino AmericanEulogio Yatar died on 1928 and buried at the  Yatar Family Crypt, St Vincent Cemetery No.2. in New Orleans. In 1878 the Hispano Filipino Benevolent Society was founded and bought tomb of 12 vaults and added another row for the members of the Filipino Community in good standing to be buried. This would be known as the Filipino Tomb of St Vincent De Paul. These are the stone testaments of the earliest Filipino American Community engraving the names and dates of generation.

The cities of the dead have been a New Orleans tourist attraction. The above the ground burial became necessity as the New Orleans is below sea level, creating spectacular museum. It is also a testament to the residents loving care for the dead. These cemeteries are heavily damage by Katrina and it is estimated that million of dollars are needed. There are 42 cemeteries in New Orleans with unique stories but there is no doubt that St Vincent DePaul #2 is where the Filipino Tombs is shrine, an abbreviated history of Filipino American generation.

http://www.facebook.com/pages/Save-The-Historic-New-Orleans-Filipino-Tomb/235754349776058

Note: the 1906 Filipino magazine information are from Eloisa Borah collections of memorabilia and Alex Fabros’ file.  Filipino tomb data from Rhonda Fox, the custodian of Burtanog’s family history. the last picture taken after Katrina.