Tell it to SunStar: Proposed Public Policy Center, 1

(This is from a speech delivered by lawyer Ramon “Ram” Ceniza, past president of the Rotary Club of Cebu and former Provincial Board member, during the 15th Biennial Reunion of the Perez clan)

FERDINAND Magellan first sighted a tiny village in the mainland of Cebu at high noon of April 7, 1521. That was exactly six days before he suffered a humiliating defeat at the hands of Lapulapu at the island of Mactan.

That tiny village called Mandani was ruled by chieftains Apo Noan and a few decades later by a ruler named Lambuzzan.

Although western chroniclers consider that date in April as the founding of Mandani, now Mandaue City, it is my humble submission that Mandani, and for that matter the entire archipelago now known as the Philippines, was founded by brown people long before the advent of the Spaniards and the Americans.

At any rate, it has been a long way--close to 500 years--since 1521 and that tiny village has transformed itself into a town, then in 1969 became a chartered and later highly urbanized city. Presently, it is a virtual metropolis which is home to some 10,000 business corporations and establishments.

•••

The descendants of the five original progenitors of the Perez clan have achieved a lot for themselves and for Mandaue. It would be immodest on the part of the clan to deny its contribution to the economic, cultural and social development of Mandaue. So let me congratulate its members for it.

If the Perez clan was able to exist for the past 30 years, that would be because they are justifiably proud of this contribution. We credit this to the intelligence, industry and vision of generations of our forefathers and leaders in various fields.

•••

Very little is known of the martyrdom of one of the progenitors of the Perez clan. He was presidente municipal Benito Ceniza. When Emilio Aguinaldo, shortly after the outbreak of the revolution, organized the Central Revolutionary Government, he named Benito head of that government in Mandaue.

The Philippine revolution was at the cusp of victory against the Spaniards when the Americans, with their own colonial ambitions, suddenly showed up with their Navy at Manila Bay and ended up gaining control of the Philippines when Spain ceded the islands to them under the Treaty of Paris of 1898.

Ceniza was perceived by the Americans as a holdout revolutionary and a rebel without a cause. No wonder then that he was targeted for elimination.

There are no details about the killing of Benito Ceniza in 1901 by the Americans. One possible scenario is that a unit of American soldiers went to Mandaue to look for Benito in the municipal building. The commanding officer told Benito to break his ties with the revolutionary government and pledge allegiance to the new authorities.

Benito’s answer must have been one of defiance for what followed was a volley of rifle shots. One bullet hit his heart. An American commander then ordered the torching of Mandaue.

(to be continued)
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