The Bull vs. the Bully-A A +A
Monday, October 7, 2013
LAST YEAR, when Holy Angel University conferred on UST chief archivist Regalado Trota Jose the Order of St. Michael the Archangel for his accomplishments as a lay Catholic educator, he responded by donating to the Center for Kapampangan Studies a copy of an 18th-century document he had dug up in the UST Archives.
We had the document translated and it turned out to be a 1771 excommunication case involving the parish priest of Candaba and the town’s capitan (mayor).
Back then, Spanish colonizers often feuded among themselves over interpretation and implementation of royal decrees. It was usually the Spanish church leaders versus the Spanish civilian authorities—the classic Church-versus-State debate carried out to extreme lengths, from the local parish level all the way up to the center of colonial power in Manila.
The most spectacular incident happened in 1719 when Spain’s top officials in the Philippines—the Governor General himself, Fernando Manuel de Bustillo Bustamante y Rueda, and the Archbishop of Manila himself, Francisco de la Cuesta—quarreled over the issue of sanctuary (where civilian authorities were prohibited from arresting anyone inside a church or convent).
It led to the Governor General being lynched by a mob, apparently on orders of the archbishop. (The event is depicted in a painting by Felix Resurreccion Hidalgo now on exhibit at the National Museum.)
A similar situation, in a parochial level, occurred in Candaba, Pampanga five decades later, in 1771.
The town’s parish priest, an influential Spanish friar named Fray Melchor Hamardo, persuaded the vicar forane (ecclesiastical judge) of Pampanga, Don Jose David, to excommunicate the town mayor, a poor but honorable ladino (Spanish-speaking native) named Don Thomas Maniago.
The excommunication stemmed from an incident on May 20, a resident named Pablo Saddi, who had just been imprisoned in Candaba’s courthouse for inflicting wounds on Bernardino Laquindanum, escaped and sought refuge in the parish church after the evening prayers.
What happened next depends on whose side the witnesses were on. The Vicar Forane, who issued the excommunication order, cited witnesses Macabebe native Don Raphael Macapagal who was residing in Candaba at the time, Doña Maria Tiburcia Saddi, sacristan mayor Don Vizente Mallari, sacristan Don Juan Hernandes and three more sacristans who all said they saw the mayor, Maniago, with six men go inside the church to retrieve the escapee despite Fray Hamardo’s protestations that civilian authorities were prohibited from arresting anyone inside a holy place.
They further testified that when Fray Hamada went to the town’s Casa Real to ask the escribano (municipal secretary) to bear witness to the mayor’s violation, Maniago came out of the window and “spoke imperiously” against the friar, saying “The Padre is meddling and countermanding my superior orders, since I am the king in this town.”
The Vicar Forane added that the escribano himself, 25-year-old Don Victorio Romualdo Lacanilano, confirmed the witnesses’ testimonies.
When Maniago failed to see the Vicar Forane despite three summons, the latter issued the excommunication order upon the request of Fray Hamardo.
It was the worst possible form of censure that a Catholic could get, the equivalent of banishment or expulsion from one’s own community.
Fray Hamardo threw at the mayor the full weight of his bully pulpit, but his mistake was picking a fight with a member of the Kapampangan clan known for initiating rebellions, including the Kapampangan Revolt of 1660, which was led by Francisco Maniago of nearby Mexico town.
The surname Mániago, stressed in the first syllable, means “someone with horns.” Thus, it was a case of a bully (the friar) locking horns with a bull (the mayor).
(To be concluded next week)
Published in the Sun.Star Pampanga newspaper on October 08, 2013.