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Course Code and Title: GEHS – Readings in Philippine History

Lesson Number: 7

Topic: “One past but many histories”:

Controversies and Conflicting Views in Philippine History


This chapter analyzes the different controversies and conflicting views in

Philippine history through primary and secondary sources. Does it synthesize four
historical events in Philippine history, namely, (1) the first mass in the Philippines; (2)
the Cavity Mutiny; (3) the retraction of Rizal; and (4) the cry of Rebellion: Balintawak
or Pugadlawin? These historical events need to be understood carefully to contextualize
better present-day Philippine society regarding culture, economy, and qualities.

Learning Objectives:
At the end of this lesson, you should be able to:
 Analyze and synthesize facts from primary and secondary sources in
reconstructing and understanding significant events in Philippine history.
 Interpret historical events using primary sources.
 Demonstrate the ability to argue for or against a particular issue using primary
 Realize the importance of understanding significant events in Philippine history.
 Use current technology to assist and facilitate learning and research.

Instructions: True or False. Write true if the statement is true. Otherwise, write false.

______ 1. The Cavite Mutiny is an event that leads to the execution of the
______ 2. Jose Rizal is the Father of Filipino Nationalism.
______ 3. There is no doubt that Rizal retracted his writings to be able to marry
______ 4. Jose Rizal’s essays go against the Catholic faith.
______ 5. The significance of the martyrdom of the GOMBURZA is questioned by
Another controversy in Philippine history is the real story behind the 1872
Cavite Mutiny. The mutiny was considered to be unsuccessful and ended with the
execution of the three Filipino martyrs – Fr. Mariano Gomez, Fr. Jose Burgos, and Fr.
Jacinto Zamora to which Dr. Jose P. Rizal dedicated El Filibusterismo. The execution of
the three priests is considered one of the catalysts of the 1896 Philippine Revolution.
Furthermore, Rizal’s retraction of his writings against the Catholic Church remains very
controversial since there is still no solid proof that he retracted his writings despite the
pressure of the alleged letter of his retraction.

The Cavite Mutiny

The year 1872 is a historic year of

two events: the Cavity Mutiny and the
martyrdom of the three priests: Mariano
Gomez, Jose Burgos, and Jacinto Zamora,
later on, immortalized as GOMBURZA. These
events are significant milestones in Philippine
history and have caused ripples throughout
time, directly influencing the Philippine
Revolution's decisive events toward the end of the century. While the significance is
unquestioned, what made this year controversial are the different sides to the story, a
battle of perspectives supported by primary sources. We zoom in to the Cavite Mutiny
events, a significant factor in the awakening of nationalism among the Filipinos of that

Spanish Accounts of the Cavite Mutiny

Jose Montero y Vidal is a Spanish Historian who interpreted that the
Mutiny attempted to remove and overthrow the Spanish Colonizers in the Philippines.
His account corroborated with Governor-General Rafael Izquierdo y Gutierrez, the
governor-general of the Philippine Islands during the Mutiny. They mentioned that a
group of native clergy powered the mutiny.

Primary Source: Excerpts from the Account of Jose Montero y Vidal

Source: Jose Montero y Vidal, “Spanish Version of the Cavite Mutiny of 1872,” in
Gregorio Zaide and Sonia Zaide, Documentary Sources of Philippines History, Volume
7 (Manila: National Book Store, 1990), 269-273.

The Cavite Mutiny is an aim of natives to get rid of the

Spanish government in the Philippines due to the removal of
privileges enjoyed by the laborers of the Cavite arsenal, such as
exemption from the tribute and forced labor. The democratic and
republican books and pamphlets, the speeches and preaching of the
apostles of these new ideas in Spain, and the outburst of the
American publicists and the insensitive governor's cruel policies
reigning government sent to govern the country. Filipinos put into
action these ideas where the occurring conditions which gave rise to
the idea of achieving their independence .
Jose Montero y Vidal

Primary Source: Excerpts from the Official Report of Governor Izquierdo on the
Cavite Mutiny of 1872

Source: Rafael Izquierdo, “Official Report on the Cavite Mutiny,” in Gregorio Zaide and
Sonia Zaide, Documentary Sources of Philippines History, Volume 7 (Manila: National
Book Store, 1990), 281-286.

He insisted that the mutiny is stimulated and prepared by

the native clergy, mestizos, and lawyers as a signal of objection
against the injustices of the government such as not paying
provinces for tobacco crops, pay tribute, and rendering of forced
labor. It is not clearly identified if Indios planned to inaugurate a
monarchy or a republic because they don't have a word in their
own language to describe this different form of government, whose
leader in Filipino would be called "hari". However, it turned out that
they would set at the supreme of the government a priest, that the
leader selected would be Jose Burgos or Jacinto Zamora which is
the plan of the rebels whose who guided them, and the means
they counted upon its realization.
Rafael Izquierdo

Other Accounts of the Mutiny

Two other primary accounts exist that seem to counter the accounts of Izquierdo and
Montero. First, the account of Dr. Trinidad Hermenegildo Pardo de Tavera, a Filipino
scholar, and researcher, who wrote a Filipino version of the bloody incident in Cavite.
Another account, by French writer Edmund Plauchut, complemented Tavera’s account
and analyzed the motivations of the 1872 Cavite Mutiny.

Primary Source: Excerpts from Trinidad Pardo de Tavera’s Account of the Cavite

Source: Trinidad Pardo de Tavera, “Filipino Version of the Cavite Mutiny,” in Gregorio
Zaide and Sonia Zaide, Documentary Sources of Philippines History, Volume 7 (Manila:
National Book Store, 1990), 274-280.
The event is just a simple mutiny since up to that time the
Filipinos have no intention of separation from Spain but only secure
materials and education advancements in the country. However,
the mutiny was used at a powerful level. Also, in this time, the
central government deprived friars of the powers of involvement in
civil government and in governing and handling universities. This
resulted in the friars afraid that their leverage in the Philippines
would be a thing in the past, took advantage of the mutiny, and
reported it to the Spanish government as a broad conspiracy
organized throughout the archipelago with the object of abolishing
Spanish sovereignty. The Madrid government without any attempt
to investigate the real facts or extent of the alleged revolution
reported by Izquierdo and the friars believed the scheme was true. Trinidad Pardo de

Primary Source: Excerpts from Edmund Plauchut’s Account of the Cavite Mutiny

Source: Edmund Plauchut, “The Cavite Mutiny of 1872 and the Martyrdom of Gom-Bur-
Za,” in Gregorio Zaide and Sonia Zaide, Documentary Sources of Philippines History,
Volume 7 (Manila: National Book Store, 1990), 251-268.

He traced the immediate cause to a peremptory order from

the governor, Izquierdo, exacting personal taxes from the Filipino
laborers in the engineering and artillery corps in the Cavite arsenal,
and requiring them to perform forced labor like ordinary subjects. Until
then, these workers in the arsenal had been enjoying exemptions
from both taxes and forced labor. January 20, the day of the revolt,
was payday and the laborers found the amount of taxes as well as the
corresponding fee in lieu of the forced labor deducted from their pay
envelopes. It was the last straw. That night they mutinied. Forty
infantry soldiers and twenty men from the artillery took over command
of the Fort of San Felipe and fired cannonades to announce to the
world their moment of triumph. It was a short-lived victory. Apparently,
the mutineers had expected to be joined by their comrades in the 7th
infantry company assigned to patrol the Cavite plaza. They became terror-stricken, however, when
they beckoned to the 7th infantrymen from the ramparts of the fort and their comrades did not
make any move to join them. Instead, the company started attacking them. The rebels decided to
bolt the gates and wait for the morning when support from Manila was expected to come. He gave
a dispassionate account of it and its causes in an article published in the Revue des Deux Mondes
in 1877. He traced that the primary cause of the mutiny is believed to "be an order from Governor-
General Carlos to subject the soldiers of the Engineering and Artillery Corps to personal taxes,
from which they were previously exempt. The taxes required them to pay a monetary sum as well
as to perform forced labor called, polo y Servicio. The mutiny was sparked on January 20, 1872,
when the laborers received their pay and realized the taxes as well as the falla, the fine one paid to
be exempt from forced labor, had been deducted from their salaries.
Different accounts in the Cavite mutiny also highlighted other probable causes of the
"revolution" which includes the Spanish Revolution which overthrew the secular throne,
dirty propagandas proliferated by unrestrained press, democratic, liberal and republican
books and pamphlets reaching the Philippines, and most importantly, the presence of
the native clergy who out of animosity against the Spanish friars, "conspired and
supported" the rebels and enemies of Spain.

In addition, accounts of the mutiny suggest that the Spanish Revolution in Spain during
that time added more determination to the natives to overthrow the current colonial
Spanish government.

The GOMBURZA is the collective name of the three martyred priests

Mariano Gomez, Jose Burgos, and Jacinto Zamora, who were tagged as the
masterminds of the Cavite Mutiny. They were prominent Filipino priests charged with
treason and sedition. It is believed that the Spanish clergy connected the priests to the
mutiny was part of a conspiracy to stifle the movement of secular priests who desired to
have their own parishes instead of being merely assistants to the regular friars. The
GOMBURZA were executed by garrotte in public, a scene purportedly witnessed by a
young Jose Rizal.
Their martyrdom is widely accepted as the dawn of Philippine nationalism in
the nineteenth century, with Rizal dedicating his second novel, El Filibusterismo.


Jose Rizal is identified as a hero of the

revolution for his writings that centered on ending
colonialism and liberating Filipino minds to contribute to
creating the Filipino nation. The great volume of Rizal’s
lifework was committed to this end, particularly the more
influential ones, Noli Me Tangere, and El Filibusterismo. His
essays vilify not the Catholic religion, but the friars, the main
agents of injustice in the Philippine society.
It is understandable, therefore, that any piece
of writing from Rizal that recants everything he wrote against the friars and the Catholic
Church in the Philippines could deal heavy damage to his image as a prominent Filipino
revolutionary. Such document purportedly exists, allegedly signed by Rizal a few hours
before his execution. This document, referred to as “The Retraction,” declares Rizal’s
belief in the Catholic faith, and retracts everything he wrote against the Church.
Primary Source: Rizal’s Retraction
Source: Translated from the document found by Fr. Manuel Garcia,
C.M. on 18 May 1935
I declare myself a catholic and in this Religion in which I was
born and educated I wish to live and die.
I retract with all my heart whatever in my words, writings,
publications, and conduct has been contrary to my character
as the son of the Catholic Church. I believe and I confess
whatever she teaches and I submit to whatever she
demands. I abominate Masonry, as the enemy which is of
the Church, and as a Society prohibited by the Church. The
Diocesan Prelate may, as the Superior Ecclesiastical
Authority, make public this spontaneous manifestation of
mine in order to repair the scandal which my acts may have
caused and so that God and people may pardon me.
Manila 29 of December of 1896
Jose Rizal

There are four iterations if the texts of this retraction: the first was published in La Voz
Espanola and Diario de Manila on the day of the execution, 30 December 1896. The
second text appeared in Barcelona, Spain, in the magazine La Juventud, a few months
after the execution, 14 February 1897, from an anonymous writer who was later on
revealed to be Fr. Vicente Balaguer. However, the “original” text was only found in the
archdiocesan archives on 18 May 1935, after almost four decades of disappearance.

The Balaguer testimony

Doubts on the retraction document abound, especially
because only one eyewitness account of the writing of the
document exists- that of the Jesuit friar Fr. Vicente Balaguer.
According to his testimony, Rizal woke up several times,
confessed four times attended Mass, received communion,
and prayed the rosary, all of which seemed out of character.
But since it is the only testimony of allegedly a “primary”
account that Rizal ever wrote a retraction a document, it has
been used to argue the authenticity of the document.
Fr. Vicente Balaguer

The Testimony of Cuerpo de Vigilancia

Another eyewitness account surfaced in 2016, through the research of Professor Rene
R. Escalante. In his research, documents of the Cuerpo de Vigilancia included a report
on the last hours of Rizal, written by Federico Moreno. The report details the statement
of the Cuerpo de Vigilancia to Moreno.
Primary Source: Eyewitness Account of the Last Hours of Rizal.
Source: Michael Charleston Chua, “Retraction ni Jose Rizal: Mga Bagong Dokumento
at Pananaw.” GMA News Online, published 29 December 2016.
Most Illustrious Sir, the agent of the Cuerpo de Vigilancia stationed in Fort Santiago to report on the events
during the [illegible] day in the prison of the accused Jose Rizal, informs me on this date of the following:
 At 7:50 yesterday morning, Jose Rizal entered death row accompanied by his counsel, Señor
Taviel de Andrade, and the Jesuit priest [Jose] Vilaclara. At the urgings of the former and
moments after entering, he was served a light breakfast. At approximately 9, the Adjutant of the
Garrison, Señor [Eloy] Maure, asked Rizal if he wanted anything. He replied that at the moment
he only wanted a prayer book which was brought to him shortly by Father [Estanislao] March.
 Señor Andrade left death row at 10 and Rizal spoke for a long while with the Jesuit fathers,
March and Vilaclara, regarding religious matters, it seems. It appears that these two presented
him with a prepared retraction on his life and deeds that he refused to sign. They argued about
the matter until 12:30 when Rizal ate some poached egg and a little chicken. Afterward, he asked
to leave to write and wrote for a long time by himself.
 At 3 in the afternoon, Father March entered the chapel and Rizal handed him what he had
written. Immediately the chief of the firing squad, Señor [Juan] del Fresno, and the Assistant of
the Plaza, Señor Maure, were informed. They entered death row and together with Rizal signed
the document that the accused had written. It seems this was the retraction.
 At 5 this morning of the 30th, the lover of Rizal arrived at the prison accompanied by his sister
Pilar, both dressed in mourning. Only the former entered the chapel, followed by a military
chaplain whose name I cannot ascertain. Donning his formal clothes and aided by a soldier of
the artillery, the nuptials of Rizal and the woman who had been his lover were performed at the
point of death (in articulo mortis). After embracing him she left, flooded with tears.
 Rizal heard mass and confessed to Father March. Afterward, he heard another mass where he
received communion. At 7:30, a European artilleryman handcuffed him and he left for the place
of execution accompanied by various Jesuits, his counsel, and the Assistant of the Plaza. Father
March gave him a holy picture of the Virgin that Rizal kissed repeatedly.
 When the accused left, I noticed he was very pale but I am very certain that all the time he was
imprisoned he demonstrated great strength of character and composure.
God grant Your Excellency.
Manila 30 December 1896.

This account corroborates the existence of the retraction document, giving it

credence. However, nowhere in the account was Fr. Balaguer mentioned, which make
friar a mere secondary source to the writing of the document.
The retraction of Rizal remains to this day, a controversy; many scholars,
however, agree that the document does not tarnish the heroism of Rizal. His relevance
remained solidified to Filipinos and pushed them to continue the revolution, which
eventually resulted in independence in 1898.

Rizal’s Connection to the Katipunan

Jose Rizal never became involved in the organization and activities of the
Katipunan, but the Katipuneros still looked up to him as a leader. In fact, Rizal’s name
was used as a password among the society’s highest-ranking members, who were
called Bayani. Andres Bonifacio had already known Rizal during his La Liga Filipina
days, although Rizal did not know Bonifacio personally Nevertheless, Bonifacio so
respected Rizal’s intelligence and talent that in June 1896, he sent Dr. Pio Valenzuela
to Dapitan to seek Rizal’s advice on the planned revolution.
Rizal told Valenzuela that the timing was not right for a revolution. The people
were not yet ready and they did not have enough weapons. He suggested that the
Katipunan obtain the support of wealthy and influential Filipinos first, in order to gain
financial assistance. He also recommended Antonio Luna as commander of its armed
forces, since Luna had much knowledge and expertise in military tactics.

The Cavity Mutiny and the martyrdom of the three priests are very
important milestones in Philippine history and have caused ripples throughout time,
directly influencing the decisive events of the Philippine Revolution. While the
significance is unquestioned, what made that controversial are the different sides of the
story, a battle of perspectives supported by primary sources. Different accounts in the
Cavite mutiny highlighted probable causes of the revolution. The mutiny justified the
reactionary government to persecute the leaders of the secularization movement and
the liberal-oriented Filipino patriots. The simple mutiny at Cavite was magnified by the
Spaniards as a full-blown conspiracy directed against Spanish authority allegedly
instigated by Fathers Jose Burgos, Mariano Gomez, and Jacinto Zamora. The three
priests were implicated to the Cavite “conspiracy”.
Rizal’s retraction of his writings against the Catholic Church
remains to be very controversial since there is still no solid proof that he did retract his
writings despite the pressure of the alleged letter of his retraction. If in case concrete
findings can be made regarding this controversy, it will be considered very valuable in
understanding Rizal’s nationalism and patriotism. More than that, an analysis of the
retraction controversy can be used as a benchmark in measuring how present-day
society values martyrdom, courage, and bravery.

Online Supplementary Materials (Video Clip)

Cavite mutiny

Tunay na kasaysayan sa likod ng Cavite mutiny


Xiao Time: Retraction ni Jose Rizal, totoo kaya?

Analyze the issue and use primary sources to support your arguments.
1. Which of the two sides of mutiny (Spanish version or Filipino version) is more
2. Do you believe in your heart that Rizal made the retraction?

For a five-point essay:
5 – Used many details thoroughly and expertly; applied integrated concepts;
made connections between facts and ideas.
4 – Used many details to illustrate the topic; clearly understood the topic well.
3 – Used some details to illustrate the topic; understood topic
2 – Used one or two details, alluded to details vaguely; followed directions, had a basic
knowledge of the topic.
1 – Used no historical details, made factual errors; thinking not justified, no evidence
knowledge was acquired.
0 – No attempt to answer the question was made.

Candelaria, J., & Alporha V. (2018). Readings in Philippine History. Manila: Rex Book
Store, Inc.
Asuncion, N. et al. ((2019). Readings in Philippine History. Quezon City: C & E
Publishing, Inc.