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July 22, Pangasinan Independence Day

By Leonardo Micua

IN connection with the 121st celebration of the Philippine Independence Day on June 12, many people do not know that our real freedom day in Pangasinan is July 22.

This was one month and 10 days from June 12, 1898 when General Emilio Aguinaldo, overall head of the Philippine revolution, waved the Filipino flag at the veranda of his house in Cavite Viejo (Kawit, Cavite) as a symbol of the declaration of Philippine Independence from Spain that enslaved us for 400 years. 

According to the book: Pangasinan `1801-1900 written by Professor Rosario Mendoza Cortes, a native of San Carlos City, fighting was still going on at that time and many parts of the Philippines were still not under the control of Filipino rebel hands.

Remember that we were not included among the eight provinces that first revolted against Spain and whose participation were made to symbolize the eight rays of the sun in our dear Filipino flag.

But revolt we did, which culminated in the defeat of the Spanish soldiers who along with some civilian officials and their families as well as friars, made the Dagupan church as the last bastion of resistance against the attacking Filipino rebels.

According to Dr. Cortes’ book, the frantic evacuation to Dagupan, the central part of the province, began on June 30, 1898. Dagupan could have been chosen because it was the northernmost terminal of the Ferrocaril de Manila and its proximity to the Lingayen Gulf, where escape by the sea was possible.

The siege of Dagupan began on July 18, 1898 when the local rebel commanders received an order from General Francisco Makabulos, who was appointed by President Emilio Aguinaldo as politico-military commander of Central Luzon.

Don Daniel Maramba of Sta. Barbara headed the push in the eastern front by capturing Mangaldan after his earlier victories in Sta. Barbara, Mapandan, Urdaneta and Malasiqui.

The other local patriots, Don Vicente del Prado and Juan Quesada who were responsible for freeing many towns in western Pangasinan, were also ordered to join the siege of Dagupan, together with the forces of Eliseo Arzadon, another rebel leader from Dagupan.    

With the coordinated attack from all sides, the defenders were forced to take refuge at the Dagupan church where snipers had full view of the attacking rebels.

The arrival of the forces of General Macabulos to Dagupan finally sealed the fate of the defenders and had to capitulate on July 22 after a five-day battle. The surrendered Spanish troops were marched to the Dagupan plaza and treated as prisoners of war.

Thus, it was only on July 22, 1898 that the whole of Dagupan became truly independent. The jubilant people of the province nurtured their victory and on the same occasion reenacted the proclamation of Philippine Independence day on June 12 in Kawit, Cavite.

But their victory was short-lived with the start of the Filipino American war. 

The Spanish forces in the city of Manila surrendered to the American forces on August 13, 1898 and declared the capital off limits to the Filipino soldiers of President Aguinaldo.

On September 27, 1898, Don Juan Quesada was elected by delegates from Pangasinan who attended the Malolos Congress as governor with Vicente del Prado as representative to the national assembly.

During his retreat to the north, after briefly resting in Bayambang, President Aguinaldo and his troops were accompanied by Quesada on their way out of Pangasinan but never returned home.

With the disbandment of the Filipino army by Aguinaldo, Del Prado held to his guns and fought a guerrilla warfare against the Americans who considered him and peers as brigands. He and his companion were eventually captured in Sison town and were brought to their garrison in Dagupan.

There, he was reportedly asked to swear allegiance to the American flag in exchange for his freedom but he instead spat on it and was hanged at the Dagupan plaza.

In the case of Maramba, he was commissioned lieutenant colonel by General Makabulos and was captured by the Americans. Upon his release, he was allowed to assume his old post in his town of Sta. Barbara. In 1916, he was elected governor of Pangasinan.

He was the governor of Pangasinan who presided the construction of the provincial Capitol near the Lingayen Beach. His monument stands at the approach of the long boulevard that leads to the provincial Capitol named after him.     

The book of Dr. Rosario praised him as the first Pangasinense who imbibed the spirit of the Katipunan which he did during his studies at San Juan de Letran.     

He is today called the Grand Old Man of Pangasinan.

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