The Past of PH Today: July 22, 1815, Apolinario de la Cruz - PH Trending

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Tuesday, 21 July 2015

The Past of PH Today: July 22, 1815, Apolinario de la Cruz

July 22, 1815, Apolinario de la Cruz was born in Lukban, Tayabas
On July 22, 1815, Apolinario de la Cruz, also known as Hermano Pule, crusader of religious freedom, was born in Lukban, Tayabas (present day Quezon province) to Pablo de la Cruz and Juana Andres, who were both religious.
Apolinario wished to become a priest but was disappointed when not one of the religious orders in Manila wanted to accept him because he was a native Filipino. It did not stop him, however, so he entered the San Juan de Dios Hospital, where he eventually became a donado (lay brother) and member of the Cofradia de San Juan de Dios, a religious brotherhood.
He filled his hunger for the word of God in the Cofradia de San Juan de Dios and by attending masses in the churches in Intramuros and reading novenas and other catechism. He returned to Lukban after he was expelled from the hospital.
Back in his hometown, he established the Cofradia de San Jose, aimed at honoring Saint Joseph and Virgin Mary, sometime in the 1830's. Having suffered biases in the practice of religion because of his being a Filipino, he setup theCofradia as avenue of worshippers who would worship "God according to the dictates of their conscience". Given the nature of his Cofradia that celebrated mass on the 19th of every month, historian David P. Barrows described it as a "special cult".
Apolinario started the Cofradia with 19 members and called himself, being the leader, as hermano mayor, thus, he became widely known as Hermano Pule. His Cofradia drew members from the nearby provinces of Batangas and Laguna, and even from Tondo, Manila. Based from the registry or padrones of the organization, its members reached to around 5,000 individuals. It was not surprising why the Cofradia had reached such number because its recruitment system doubled the voting power of any member who could recruit twelve members and was also elevated to the position of cabecilla or headman. Hermano Pule would give the sermons while Father Ciriaco de los Santos, a Filipino priest, would celebrate the mass.
Hermano Pule tried to seek the recognition of the church through a petition to the Bishop of Camarines in order for the Cofradia to openly hold meeting and practice its religious rites but to no avail. The fact that only pure-bloodied Filipinos could join the Cofradia gave an impression to the Spanish authorities that it was political in nature under the guise of religious rituals. The Franciscan friars in the province suspected that its activities were schismatic in nature and had to be suppressed. Thus, on October 19, 1840, the friars pressured the gobernadorcillo of Lukban to arrest members of the brotherhood who were assembled in the house of Francisco de los Santos at that time. Hermano Pule reported the incident to Archbishop Segui in Manila, denouncing the unwarranted act of the friars Father Antonio Mateo of Tayabas and Father Manuel Sancho of Lukban.
On January 21, 1841, he sent another petition citing that the Cofradia is not anti-Catholic, to the Bishop of Nueva Caceres who forwarded it to the juez provisor Father Basilio. The letter endorsed to Fathers Mateo and Sancho remained unheeded. Not losing his resolve, Hermano Pule appealed to the Audiencia in Manila through Don Domingo Rojas but also failed. Meanwhile, the Cofradia did not stop from holding its meetings. On September 19, 1841, Spanish authorities through Father Antonio Roman located some members and arrested them. Consequently, Hermano Pule and his remaining followers lived as fugitives moving from place to place.
On October 23, 1841, the military force under Alcalde Mayor Joaquin Ortega, reinforced by Negrito bowmen attacked the Cofradia encamped in Sitio Isabang, between Sariaya and Tayabas but suffered great casualty. Ortega died in the battle. Aware of the possible repercussion by the authorities, Pule moved his camp to Alitao and fortified it with palisade. There he built a chapel where he assumed the title of supreme pontiff of theCofradia, this time became more determined not to surrender to the authorities.
On November 1, 1841, Spanish authorities attacked his camp, killing hundreds of his men. Hermano Pule escaped to Sariaya where he was finally captured, tried, and sentenced to die by musketry. His body was cut into pieces; his head placed in a cage was hung on a pole along the road leading to Majayjay town. Other prominent members of the Cofradia like Dionisio de los Reyes, Miguel de Jesus and Francisco Espinosa were executed by firing squad five days after Pule was killed.
The story of Hermano Pule started and ended with his hunger to worship the God he came to know from his killers.
References(All via the National Historical Commission of the Philippines) Agoncillo, Teodoro A. History of the Filipino People 8th Ed. Quezon City: Garotech, 1990. Quirino, Carlos. Who’s who in Philippine History. Manila: Tahanan Books, 1995. Zaide, Gregorio F. Great Filipinos in History. Manila: Verde Bookstore, 1970.

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