The Bull vs the Bully (Part 2)-A A +A
Monday, October 14, 2013
SPANISH friars in 18th-century Philippines wielded a lot of influence on their parishioners, especially in a Spanish-friendly province like Pampanga, but by hauling Candaba mayor Don Thomas Maniago to court in 1771, Fray Melchor Hamardo, OSA picked the wrong man to fight.
The friar, who accused the mayor of desecrating the San Andres Apostol parish church in Candaba by arresting an alleged criminal who had sought sanctuary there, had secured an excommunication order for Maniago, courtesy of Padre Jose David, the vicar forane or the representative of the Archbishop of Manila to Pampanga.
Both the friar and the vicar forane had, however, underestimated a man who belonged to a great Kapampangan clan and who knew how to take advantage of his well-placed Kapampangan connections in the Archdiocese of Manila.
The surname Maniago probably came from the Kapampangan word sago (horns); manyago (maniago) means “horned” or “someone who uses his horns” or “someone who makes or sells horns” or maybe “wild as bull,” the same way we say “manansala,” “manipon,” “manalili,” “macapagal,” “macasaet,” etc. which all started as adjectives describing someone’s occupation or trait before they evolved into family names.
The most famous member of the Maniago clan is of course Francisco Maniago of Mexico town, who led the Kapampangan Revolt of 1660.
(A possible descendant, Liza Maniago, born in Baguio and now based in the US, has another theory: the Maniagos of Pampanga actually came from a place in northeastern Italy, near Venice, called Maniago, known for brave warriors and for producing steel blades since medieval times.)
Thomas Maniago of Candaba was actually a quiet and honorable man, but when Fray Hamarda literally used his bully pulpit to humiliate him in public, something in the mayor snapped.
According to witnesses, the Spanish friar had been so upset by what he considered Maniago’s arrogance that he started asking people to turn against the mayor. One cabeza de barangay, Don Bernardo Sadie, testified that the friar asked the chief of police of Candaba, Don Phelipe Cabigting, to apprehend and coerce him (Sadie) to testify against Maniago.
When Cabigting refused, the friar threatened to slap him, hit his head with a wooden staff, and take him to task for not attending Sunday Mass.
During the Mass, the priest went up to the pulpit before the gospel reading and, according to witnesses, “guingcas sabi, ampon gagaliguit quing matning siuala quing mesabing manibala quing amanung sangano, at pepaticdaun ne quing pangalucluc na ing mesabing manibala (started cursing the mayor, and in a voice trembling with fury, using crude language, he told the mayor to stand up),” ordering him to leave the church or else “itucnang ne ing cacamal camalan a Missa na, anti ing mipatucnang napin quing pamanamanu nang gagcas quing miayaliuang masaguang amanung e sucat sabian (he would stop the Mass, which was what happened anyway as a result of his cursing and using bad words that are unbecoming of him).”
Maniago kept silent while Fray Hamarda berated him, and waited for the priest to finish before calmly leaving the church. After the Mass, he waited in the convento so he could explain his side, but Fray Hamardo refused to see him, saying he would never forgive him even in front of Jesus Christ Himself.
The next thing he knew was the friar had asked for his excommunication, which means he could no longer go to Mass nor receive Holy Communion -- a mortal punishment for any Kapampangan who took his Catholic faith seriously.
With the town’s parish priest and his province’s vicar forane now both against him, Maniago had no choice but to elevate his case to the Archbishop of Manila who had ecclesiastical jurisdiction over Pampanga (the Diocese of San Fernando would be created only 177 years later, in 1948).
It was Maniago’s good fortune that the sitting Archbishop at the time was Basilio Tomas Sancho de Santa Justa, who would go down in history as the archbishop who ordained the first native priests (most prominent of whom were Kapampangans) after the Augustinians, the Jesuits, the Recollects, and other religious orders opposed his policy of episcopal visitations (where the archbishop visited individual parishes to personally check conditions and audit records).
Archbishop Santa Justa also convened the Manila Council composed of himself and the Bishops of Cebu, Nueva Segovia (Ilocos) and Caceres (Bicol) precisely to form a secular bloc against the powerful religious orders and to address grievances against abusive friars.
Fray Hamarda and the vicar forane of Pampanga must have been horrified to hear that Maniago’s case was one of the first cases to be heard by the Manila Council itself. And it was again Maniago’s good fortune that one of Archbishop Santa Justa’s two secretaries was a Kapampangan, Padre Nicholas Dorotheo Masangcay y Coronel. He facilitated the proceedings by translating the witnesses’ testimonies from Kapampangan to Spanish.
(At least two other prominent Kapampangan priests were in high places in the Archdiocese at the time: Padre Manuel Francisco Tubil, the first Filipino ever to obtain a doctorate, and Don Pedro Leon de Arziga, the first Filipino layman to become a Doctor of Philosophy.)
Maniago testified that he was declared excommunicated on June 16, 1771 by the vicar forane upon the request of the parish priest of Candaba, "with a lot of fanfare and solemnity before the high mass in said town, complete with the ringing of bells, because the Padre Prior had said that I had brought an accused named Pablo Saddi out of a sacred place."
"I have suffered because of this," continued Maniago, "even if I am not guilty. I did not bring the accused out of the church, nor did I order it." He narrated how Fray Hamarda’s contempt for him had begun way back when Maniago, then still a cabeza de barangay and teniente (vice) mayor, had sent a dying man in a hammock to the priest for the last rites. The priest, according to Maniago, upon seeing that he was the same man who had stolen his horse, refused to hear his confession and instead ordered him thrown into the river. He died a few hours later.
"This clearly proves the vindictive nature of the Reverend Padre Prior," said Maniago.
In the end, Archbishop Santa Justa and the members of the Manila Council decided in favor of Maniago, saying that the vicar forane of Pampanga "acted hastily and in an irregular and strange manner in excommunicating" Maniago, who had already denied Fray Hamarda's accusation and had appealed thrice to the vicar forane, who never bothered to give his day in court.
Both the vicar forane and the parish priest were transferred to other assignments afterward.
Published in the Sun.Star Pampanga newspaper on October 15, 2013.