The Anda Monument in Bacolor-A A +A
Tuesday, October 2, 2012
NEXT week, Bacolor will mark a milestone in its long and colorful history when it unveils a monument dedicated to Simon de Anda y Salazar. Anda was the lieutenant governor of the Spanish colonial government who moved the seat of government from Manila to Bacolor in October, 1762. To show you how big Simon de Anda was among Kapampangans at the time, an entire town in Pampanga was named after him: San Simon. Filipinos elsewhere honored him by naming their towns Anda (one in Bohol and another in Pangasinan).
In Manila, they erected an Anda monument on Bonifacio Drive (near Intramuros), which still stands today. In Bacolor, a multi-sector committee organized jointly by Mayor Jomar Hizon and parish priest Fr. Jess Manabat, and led by Francis Musni of the Center for Kapampangan Studies, is putting together a program on October 8 that will commemorate the 250 th anniversary of Bacolor as capital of the Philippines. The program will feature a Holy Mass and a parade with government employees, schoolchildren from the Bacolor Elementary School and students and marching band from the Don Honorio Ventura Technological State University (DHVTSU).
The parade will have stopovers at the statues of three prominent Bacoloreños, namely, Senator Pablo Angeles David and poets-playwrights Juan Crisostomo Soto and Felix Galura. The highlight is the unveiling of the Anda monument in front of the municipal hall, honoring the man who rallied Kapampangans to form a resistance movement against the British, as well as symbolizing the prominence of Bacolor at the time as capital of the Philippines. Exactly 250 years ago, on October 8, 1762, Simon de Anda, the youngest oidor (member judge) of the Audiencia Real (Royal Audience, the highest tribunal in the country), was appointed lieutenant governor by Archbishop Antonio Rojo, who was concurrent Governor General pending the arrival of the newly appointed governor general from Spain (it took seven months to travel from Spain to Mexico, and eight months from Mexico to the Philippines).
The successful occupation of Manila and Cavite by the British was attributed to the Archbishop’s lack of military knowhow and leadership, and so it was mostly up to Anda to secure and transfer the seat of government, and to organize a resistance. The British Occupation was an extension of the Seven Years War in Europe between England and France, wide Spain siding with the latter.
Bacolor was a perfect choice to host Anda’s refugee government because it was far enough to escape British attack but not too far to stage a counter-attack against the British. A water channel in Bacolor led directly to Pampanga River whose mouth was only a short distance from the coast of Manila across the bay.
Bacolor was also home to the people who would be perfect for the resistance that Anda was organizing: the brave and loyal Kapampangans. A King of Spain, Charles II (1661-1700), once commended Kapampangans for their “great fidelity in my service.” Kapampangans were “the Castilians of these islands” and that “one Spaniard and three Pampangans is equal to four Spaniards,” wrote Fray Gaspar de San Agustin in 1751.
Nineteenth-century Spanish journalist Felipe del Pan described them as “the loyal companions of our disgraces and our glories.” When the British attacked Intramuros during a typhoon on October 5, 1762, “a thousand Malays (Pampangos)… armed only with bows, arrows and lances, advanced up to the very muzzles of the English pieces, repeated their assaults and died like wild beasts, gnawing the bayonets.
Had their skill and weapons been equal to their strength and ferocity, it would have cost the English dear.” It was a Kapampangan soldier, Jose Manalastas, who penetrated the British headquarters, located Gen. William Draper’s tent, and dragged him at knifepoint.
Had the Commander of the British naval forces not been rescued on time, the British Occupation would not have happened at all. Within a week of Simon de Anda’s arrival in Bacolor, the gobernadorcillos of more than 20 towns in Pampanga showed up in the new capital to reiterate their allegiance to Spain.
Buoyed by their support, Anda organized a resistance composed of 10,000 mostly Kapampangan volunteers. This resistance successfully kept the British forces confined to Manila and Cavite. Even Diego Silang’s revolt in Ilocos, which relied on British support, fizzled out. Capt. T. Backhouse reported to the Secretary of War in London that “the enemy is in full possession of the country,” so that when the Seven Years’ War ended in 1763 with a victory for England, the signatories in the Treaty of Paris did not include the Philippines among the Spanish territories to be surrendered to the victor.
Thus, in April 1764, the British pulled out of Manila and the Spaniards, although losers in Europe, still claimed victory in the Philippines. As Francisco Leandro Viana, who was in Manila during the British Occupation, explained to King Charles III in 1765, "the English conquest of the Philippines was just an imagined one, as the English never owned any land beyond the range of the cannons in Manila."
Simon de Anda returned to a hero’s welcome in Manila, eventually assuming the post of Governor General. The King rewarded Bacolor with the honorific title Villa de Bacolor and a special coat of arms. (Only seven other towns and cities in the Philippines bore the title villa by royal decree: Cebu, Vigan, Lipa, Tayabas, Pila in Laguna, Arevalo in Iloilo, and Libon in Albay).
The church was also rebuilt into the majestic place of worship that the Pinatubo lahars eventually destroyed in the 1990s. The Anda monument they will unveil next week will be the second in Bacolor. The first Anda monument was erected in 1853 in front of the house where Simon de Anda stayed in 1762-64, across the church patio. It was a 6-meter obelisk on top of a 1.7-meter pedestal, which in turn stood on a 6-meter square graded base.
One side of the obelisk had a marble plate on which was carved a commander’s cane and a general’s sword united by a crown of laurel and palms. According to Luther Parker (the Thomasite who served as principal of the Bacolor Trade School in 1908-10), it was made of Meycauayan stone, and surrounded by an elegantly designed iron fence which stood upon the edge of the largest step. When the Revolution broke out, Tiburcio Hilario ordered that monument destroyed. When Luther saw it in 1909, only the pedestal had remained. The marble slabs with inscriptions were rumored to have been buried under the front door stones of the present DHVTSU when the school was reconstructed in 1907. The monument that will be unveiled next week is smaller but has retained some features of the original, including the Spanish inscriptions on four sides of the pedestal. Through this monument, Bacolor not only has created a new tourist destination but more importantly, has recreated that moment in history when it helped contain the British Occupation within Manila and Cavite and prevent it from spreading throughout the Philippines.
Published in the Sun.Star Pampanga newspaper on October 02, 2012.