Monday, December 19, 2011

Hacienda Luisita and Gen. Antonio Luna: The Untold Origin

What is the untold origin of Hacienda Luisita?

This is the untold history of Hacienda Luisita, the most controversial estate in the Philippines today.

Antonio Luna y Novicio (October 29, 1866 - June 5, 1899) was a Filipino pharmacist and general who fought in the Philippine-American War. He was also the founder of the Philippines's first military academy.

Antonio Luna was born in Urbiztondo, BinondoManila. He was the youngest of seven children of Joaquín Luna, from Badoc,Ilocos Norte, and Spanish mestiza Laureana Novicio, from Luna, La Union. His father was a traveling salesman of the products of government monopolies. His older brother, Juan, was an accomplished painter who studied in the Madrid Escuela de Bellas Artes de San Fernando. Another brother, José, became a doctor.

At the age of six, Antonio learned reading, writing, and arithmetic from a teacher known as Maestro Intong. He memorized theDoctrina Cristiana (catechism), the first book printed in the Philippines.
His early schooling was at the Ateneo Municipal de Manila, where he received his Bachelor of Arts degree in 1881. He went on to study literature and chemistry at the University of Santo Tomas, where he won first prize for a paper in chemistry titled Two Fundamental Bodies of Chemistry. He also studied pharmacy, swordsmanship, fencing, military tactics, and became a sharpshooter. On the invitation of his brother Juan, Antonio was sent by his doting parents to Spain, to acquire a licentiate and doctorate in Pharmacy.
He obtained the degree of Licentiate in Pharmacy from the University of Barcelona. He pursued further studies and in 1890 obtained the degree of Doctor of Pharmacy from the Universidad Central de Madrid.

In Spain, he became one of the Filipino expatriates who mounted the “Propaganda Movement” and wrote for La Solidaridad, published by the reformist movement of the elite Filipino students in Spain. He wrote a piece titled Impressions which dealt with Spanish customs and idiosyncrasies under the pen-name "Taga-ilog".
Luna was active as researcher in the scientific community in Spain, and wrote a scientific treatise on malaria titled El Hematozoario del Paludismo (Malaria), which was favorably received in the scientific community. He then went to Belgium and France, and worked as assistant to Dr. Latteaux and Dr. Laffen. In recognition of his ability, he was appointed commissioner by the Spanish government to study tropical and communicable diseases.
In 1894, he went back to the Philippines where he took the competitive examination for chief chemist of the Municipal Laboratory of Manila, came in first and won the position. He also opened a sala de armas, a fencing club, and learned of the underground societies that were planning a revolution, and was asked to join. Like other leaders, he was in favor of reforms rather than independence as goal to be attained. Nevertheless, after the Katipunan's existence was leaked in August 1896, the Luna brothers were arrested and jailed in Fort Santiago for their participation in the reform movement. Months later José and Juan were freed, but Antonio was exiled to Spain in 1897, where he was imprisoned at the Cárcel Modelo in Madrid.
His more famous and controversial brother Juan, who had been pardoned by the Spanish Queen Regent herself, left for Spain to use his prestige to intercede for Antonio. With Juan's influence working, Antonio's case was dismissed by the Military Supreme Court and was released.
Antonio prepared himself for the revolutionary war he had decided to join. First, he went to Madrid and other cities in Germany and Belgium, studied field fortifications, guerrilla warfare, organization, and other aspects of military science. He studied military tactics and strategy under Gerard Leman in Belgium.
In Hong Kong, he was given a letter of recommendation to Emilio Aguinaldo by the Filipino revolutionaries. He returned to the Philippines in July 1898, wary of American treachery.

Luna first saw action in Manila on August 13, 1898. Since June, Manila had been completely surrounded by the revolutionary army. Luciano San Miguel occupied Mandaluyong; Pio del Pilar, Makati; Mariano Noriel, Parañaque; Pacheco, Navotas, Tambobong, and Caloocan. Gregorio del Pilar marched through Sampaloc, taking Tondo, Divisoria, and Azcárraga; Noriel cleared Singalong and Paco, held Ermita and Malate. Luna thought the Filipinos should just walk in and enter Intramuros. But Aguinaldo, heeding the advice of General Merritt and Commodore Dewey, whose fleet had moored in Manila Bay, sent Luna to the trenches where he ordered his troops to fire on the Americans. After the disastrous farce of the American Occupation, Luna tried to complain to US officers at a meeting in Ermita about the disorder, the looting, rape, mayhem by US troops.
To quiet him, Aguinaldo appointed Luna as Chief of War Operations on September 26, 1898 and assigned the rank of Brigadier General. In quick succession, he was made the Director of War and Supreme Chief of the Army, arousing the envy of the other generals. Luna felt that bureaucratic placebos were being thrown his way, when all he wanted was to organize and discipline the enthusiastic, ill-fed and ill-trained young troops into a real army.[1]
Luna saw the need for a military school, so that he established a military academy at Malolos the 'Academia Militar' (October, 1898- March, 1899), the precursor of the present Philippine Military Academy. He appointed (former Guardia Civil) Captain Manuel Bernal Sityar, a mestizo, as superintendent. He recruited other mestizos and Spaniards who had fought in the Spanish army in the 1896 revolution for training.
A score of veteran officers became the teachers at his military school. He devised two courses of instruction, planned the reorganization, with a battalion of tiradores and a cavalry squadron, set up an inventory of guns and ammunition, arsenals, using convents and town halls, quartermasters, lookouts and communication systems. He even asked his brother Juan to design the uniforms, and insisted on strict discipline over and above clan and clique loyalties.
Luna proved to be a strict disciplinarian and thereby alienated many in the ranks of the soldiers. An example of this occurred during the "Fall of Calumpit" wherein Luna ordered Tomás Mascardo to send troops to bolster his defences. However, Mascardo ignored orders; an angry Luna left the frontlines to confront Mascardo. Upon returning to the field, the Americans had broken through his defenses at the Bagbag River, forcing him to withdraw.[citation needed]
Luna fought gallantly at battles in BulacanPampanga, and Nueva Ecija against the better equipped US forces. In the battle at Caloocan, the Kawit Battalion from Cavite refused to attack when given the order. Because of this, he disarmed them and relieved them of duties.
Knowing that the Revolution and the infant republic were a contest for the minds of Filipinos, Antonio Luna turned to journalism to strengthen Filipino minds with the ideas of nationhood and the need to fight a new imperialist enemy. He decided to publish a newspaper, “La Independencia.” This four-page daily was filled with articles, short stories, patriotic songs and poems. The staff was installed in one of the coaches of the train that ran from Manila to Pangasinan. The paper came out in September 1898, and was an instant success, a movable feast of information, humor and good writing printing 4,000 copies, many more than all the other newspapers put together.
When the Treaty of Paris (where Spain ceded the Philippines to the US) was made public in December 1898, Luna quickly realized that only decisive military action could save the republic. His strategy was to bottle up the Americans in Manila before more of their troops could land, execute surprise attacks while building up strength in the north and, should the enemy pierce his lines, wage a series of delaying battles and prepare a fortress in the northern highlands of Luzon. This was turned down by the High Command.
The Americans gained the time and the opportunity to start hostilities with the Filipinos at the place and time of their choice. On the night of February 4, 1899, a weekend when they knew most of the Filipino generals were on furlough in Bulacan, the Americans staged an incident along the concrete blockhouses in Sta. Mesa near the San Juan del Monte bridge. An American patrol fired on Filipino troops, claimed afterwards that the Filipinos had started shooting first (thus ensuring that the US Congress would vote for annexation) and the whole Filipino line from Pasay to Caloocan returned fire and the first battle of the Filipino-American War broke out. It had become a war of conquest, occupation and annexation which Luna,Mabini, among others, had predicted and repeatedly warned Aguinado and his generals against.
Luna was at the front line, leading three companies to La Loma, to engage General Arthur MacArthur's forces. Fighting went on at Marikina, Caloocan, Sta. Ana, and Paco. The Filipinos were subjected to a carefully planned attack with naval artillery, with the Dewey's US fleet firing from the Manila Bay. Filipino casualties were horrific; Luna personally had to carry wounded officers and men to safety.
On February 7, Luna issued detailed orders with five specific objects to the field officers of the territorial militia. It began “By virtue of the barbarous attack upon our army on February 4,” and ended with “War without quarter to false Americans who wish to enslave us. Independence or death!” Since the outbreak of war the US forces had continued bombardment of the towns around Manila, burning and looting whole districts.
A Filipino counter-attack began at dawn on February 23. The plan was a pincer movement, using the battalions from the North and South, with the sharpshooters (the only professionally trained troops) at crucial points. It was only partly successful because at a moment of extreme peril, with some companies already bereft of ammunition, the battalion from Kawit, Cavite refused to move, saying they had orders to obey only instructions directly from Aguinaldo.
That kind of insubordination had been plaguing the Filipino forces. Most of the troops owed their loyalty to the officers from their provinces, towns or districts and not to the central command. The hostility of the Caviteños towards the Manileños was an old wound. The Manileño ilustrado, Antonio Luna, was resented by companies or battalions commanded by warlords and landlords from other provinces. At one point, Luna had to be restrained from shooting a Caviteño colonel.
Nevertheless, despite their superior firepower and more newly arrived reinforcements, the Americans were so compromised that General Lawton, still in Colombo in Ceylon with his troops, received a cabled SOS, “Situation critical in Manila. Your early arrival great importance.”
And so it went, battle after battle, incident after incident until Luna proferred his resignation, which Aguinaldo hesitantly accepted. Luna was absent from the field for three weeks, during which the Filipino forces suffered several defeats and setbacks. Swallowing his pride, Luna went to Aguinaldo and asked to be reinstated, begging for more powers over all the military chiefs, and Aguinaldo agreed.
At the end of May, Colonel Joaquín Luna, Antonio’s brother, warned him about a plot concocted by “old elements’ of the Revolution (who were bent on accepting autonomy under American sovereignty to stop the terror of “the American rampage” that was ravaging the country) and a clique of army officers whom Luna had disarmed, arrested, or insulted. Luna shrugged off all these threats and continued building defenses at Pangasinan where the Americans planned a landing.
On June 2, 1899 he received two telegrams. One asked for help in a counter-attack in San Fernando, and the other, “purportedly” signed by Aguinaldo, ordering him to come to headquarters, a convent at CabanatuanNueva Ecija, to form a new cabinet. Having high hopes that he would be promoted as Premier and Secretary of War, Luna set off; first by train, then on horseback and eventually in three carriages to Nueva Ecija with his aides. Two of the carriages broke down and he proceeded in the only one left, with Colonel Francisco Román and Captain Eduardo Rusca, having earlier shed his cavalry escort. Upon arriving at Cabanatuan on June 5, Luna proceeded to the convent, alone. As he went up the stairs, he ran into an officer whom he had previously disarmed for cowardice, and an old enemy, whom he had once threatened with arrest, a hated “autonomist,” and was told that Aguinaldo had left forSan Isidro, Tarlac in Tarlac. Enraged, Luna asked why he had not been told the meeting was canceled.
As he was about to depart, a single shot from a rifle on the plaza rang out. Outraged, and furious, he rushed down the stairs and met Captain Pedro Janolino, accompanied by some of the Kawit troops he had previously dismissed for insubordination. Janolino swung his bolo at Luna, wounding him at the temple. Janolino's cohorts fired at Luna, others started stabbing him, even as he tried to bring his revolver to bear. He staggered out to the plaza where Román and Rusca were rushing to his aid, but they too were set upon and shot. As he laid dying, blood gushing from multiple wounds, Luna uttered his last words: “Cowards! Assassins!” He was hurriedly buried in the churchyard, after which Aguinaldo relieved Luna's officers and men from the field.
The demise of Luna, the most brilliant and capable of the Filipino generals, was a decisive factor in the fight against the American forces. Even the Americans developed an astonished admiration for him. One of them, General Hughes, said of his death, probably relishing the irony, “The Filipinos had only one general, and they have killed him.[2]
Subsequently, Aguinaldo suffered successive, disastrous losses in the field, retreating towards northern Luzon. In less than two years, he was captured in PalananIsabela by American forces, led by General Frederick Funston and their Kapampangan allies, the Macabebe mercenaries. Aguinaldo was later brought to Manila, and made to pledge allegiance to the United States.

La Paz is a 4th class municipality in the province of TarlacPhilippines. According to the latest census, it has a population of 61,324 people in 10,361 households.

The municipality has a total land area of 114.33 km², which represents 2.34% of the entire provincial area. La Paz is politically subdivided into 18 barangays, of which barangays San Isidro and San Roque are considered as urban areas and the rest of the barangays are considered rural areas.

The early history of La Paz is told in a legend. Once upon a time there was an old, old pueblo called "Cama Juan" situated right along the bank of the Chico River bordering the province of Tarlac and Nueva Ecija. When the Chico River overflowed during a storm, a great flood swept the entire pueblo at an unholy hour when the entire populace was asleep. The flood left in its wake a picture of total devastation claiming scores of human life.
This forced the inhabitants of "Cama Juan" to evacuate the place and look for a better place to settle in. The old site (Cama Juan) is known as "Balen Melakwan" or "Abandoned Town".
The inhabitants chose a field of evergreen grass and shubbery, which they named "Matayumtayum". Hard work and determination enabled the town to prosper and in time peace and order reigned in the settlement.
Towards the end of the nineteenth century, Francisco Macabulos and Captain Mariano Ignacio selected a more centrally located site for the future town to be known as La Paz. But La Paz existed then only as a barrio of the town of Tarlac until 1892. When it was separated from the latter and rechristened in honor of its patron saint Nuestra Senora de La Paz y Buen Viaje. Its emergence as a new town gave its citizens a chance to run their own government with Martin Aquino as the first Governadorcillo.
In due time, due to the heroic exploits of its own force La Paz was made first seat of the revolutionary government of the province of Tarlac during the Spanish regime with Gen. Francisco Makabulos as its first provincial governor.

Hacienda Luisita is a 6,435-hectare sugar plantation estate located in the province of TarlacPhilippines, owned by the Cojuangco family, which includes the late former PresidentCorazon Aquino and her son, incumbent President Benigno Aquino III. It spans various municipalities in the province, including the capital Tarlac City. The hacienda is primarily within the province's 1st and 2nd legislative districts.
The estate is as large as the cities of Makati and Pasig combined.

Hacienda Luisita was once part of the holdings of Compañia General de Tabacos de Filipinas, Sociedad Anónima, better known as Tabacalera, which was founded on November 26, 1881 by a Spaniard from Santander, Cantabria and Santiago de Cuba, Don Antonio López y López. He was the first Marques de Comillas and was famous for being an associate of the first Spanish Prime Minister with foreign blood, the Spanish-Filipino mestizo Don Marcelo Azcárraga y Palmero. His relative on his Spanish side, Ricardo Padilla, married Gloria Zóbel y Montojo (younger half sister of Mercedes Zóbel de Ayala de McMicking, largest Zóbel owner in the Ayala group of companies) and was an aide-de-camp of Juan de Borbón, Count of Barcelona, father of the current King of Spain, His Majesty Don Juan Carlos de todos los Santos de Borbón y Borbón-Dos Sicilias. The estate was named after Antonio's wife, Luisa Bru y Lassús. Their son, Claudio López, the second to hold the title , donated some of the profits to the Jesuits to create the Pontifical University of Comillas, a university outside Madrid. López acquired the estate in 1882, a year before his death. López was a financial genius who parlayed his work adventures in Cuba and Latin America into a steamship, companies and trading businesses. He was the most influential Spanish businessman of his generation and counted the Prime Minister and the King of Spain as his personal friends. Tabacalera was a private enterprise he founded with the sole intention of taking over the Philippine Tobacco Monopoly from the Spanish colonial government. This included the Hacienda Antonio (named after his eldest son), Hacienda San Fernando and Hacienda Isabel (named after his eldest daughter) in Cagayan and Isabela provinces where the legendary La Flor de Isabela cigar was cultivated. Tabacalera’s incorporators were the Sociedad General de Crédito Inmobiliario Español, Banque de Paris which is now Paribas and Bank of the Netherlands which is now ABN-AMRO. The sugar and tobacco in the Philippines were the reason why the López de Comillas family were able to donate such a huge pontifical university to the Jesuits on top of lavishing on their home, the Palacio de Sobrellano in Comillas and the Güell park (designed by Gaudí) in Barcelona. Don Alfonso Güell y Martos born in 1958, the fourth Marquis of Comillas, currently holds the title. He is also the Count of San Pedro de Ruiseñada, the third to hold that title. Both are grandee status in Spain and as such can address the King as "mi primo" or "my cousin."

Contrary to what was expected, Spanish-owned Hacienda Luisita did not languish when the Americans took full control of the Philippine government. In fact, Tabacalera as a whole experienced prosperous times because of the legendary sweet tooth of the Americans. With Cuban sugar not enough for their domestic market, the Americans tapped the Philippines for its sugarcane requirements. At one point during pre-war Manila times, Hacienda Luisita supplied almost 20% of all sugar in the United States. Luisita sugar became popular among Filipino (specifically Ilocano) expatriates in America just as much as Victorias sugar was popular among Manila’s elite circles back home. The Americans also brought the centrifugal-based machinery which doubled the production of the estate and therefore did not require the cane to be loaded by truck to Laguna to be squeezed in the haciendas there, including those of the Roxas y Zobel families. As this new technology swept in Luzon and the sugar mills consolidated, many wealthy families fell into foreclosure or combined their resources. Some of the brave few like Honorio Ventura (who paid for Diosdado Macapagal’s schooling), the De Leons, Urquicos, Lazatins and the Gonzálezes did just that--- which is how PASUDECO came into being. Structurally, there was little change in the hacienda; Tabacalera y Compañía positioned Spanish-Filipino and American-Filipino encargados and administradores to manage the vast estate.

Central Azucarera de Tarlac
During the Spanish regime in the Philippines, a group of Spaniards operating under the corporate name of Compania General de Tabacos de Filipinas (more popularly called Tabacalera) was awarded under the royal grant of the Spanish throne vast tracts of lands in the country.

When the tobacco monopoly was abolished in 1881, Tabacalera was concerned about continuing operations of their cigar factories in Manila. The company's governing body, the Consejo de Administracion, decided to send Señor Lope Gisbert to scout for fertile areas of development. Learning that the railroad would be extended from Manila to Dagupan, Señor Gisbert recommended the acquisition of some 12,000 hectares surrounding the railroad. Tabacalera was able to acquire the said property in 1907 after a long and tedious process, and was registered under the name of Hacienda Luisita after Doña Luisa the wife of the first Marques de Comillas, also the founder and first president of Tabacalera.

The sugar mill, Central Azucarera de Tarlac was erected within the estate in 1927, and started its milling operations in Crop Year 1928-29, and every year thereafter except during the War years of 1943-46.


Here are some of my recent findings, not as a professional historian, but as a curious individual.

These findings are based on commercial and legal documents whose original purposes were for documentation as required by law and contracts.

Yet, such documents are a very important source of history.

After all, history is sourced from documents, not the other way around.

Now, let us proceed to the untold history of Hacienda Luisita.

What is the untold origin of Hacienda Luisita?

Here is what history books do not tell us. This origin is taken from a document. Remember, documents were not written for history. There were encoded and entered as transactions in the ordinary course of business on a day to day basis. Unlike history, documents do not make up angles or perspectives or interpretations.

One document, a certificate of land title, numbered OCT-01-4 which was created formally in 1764 (yes, it's that old), was preserved, and re-constituted, and re-created and re-registered whenever the land registration laws changed over the years, contains certain annotations at the back.

One such annotation is relevant to:

Hacienda Luisita

This annotation was dated Feb 7, 1899 and the annotation was numbered DC-074 S-2-7-1899.

Entry No EDC 073-S-2-6 1898, Real Estate Mortgage amounting to U.S. dollar 20,000,000.00 secured by this Land Title OCT No. T-01-4, embracing the area of Hacienda Mabiga, Pampanga, Kuliat and Capaz, Tarlac to Banco Español-Filipino has been cancelled and this released forever of Real Estate Mortgage has been executed by the Bank in favor of the owner with the full payment of said principal loan and an interest US Dollar 2,000,000.00, the payment of which has broken as follows: General Miguel Malvar correspondingly acquired the area of Tanauan, Batangas and had paid the account of US Dollar 3,300,000.00; Don Servillano Aquino acquired the whole area of Bamban and Capaz, Tarlac and correspondingly paid the account the sum of US Dollar 3,300,000.00; General Antonio Luna acquired the whole San Miguel, Tarlac and La Paz, Tarlac and he paid the account of US Dollar 2,000,000.00, the land was given as a gift to his girlfriend, Miss Luisita Cojuangco: Don Mariano Tayag acquired the area of Kuliat and Mabiga 1,500 hectares (Pampanga) correspondingly paid the account, the sum of US Dollar 3,300,000.00; Don Francisco Macabulos acquired the area of Sta. Ignacia, Tarlac and had paid correspondingly the account, the sum of US Dollar 2,400,000.00; Don Juan Ejercito acquired absolutely the San Juan Del Monte Hacienda embracing up to Sitio Mandaluyong consisting an area of 3,154 hectares and had correspondingly paid the account of US Dollar 3,300,000.00 and DonEsteban Benitez Tallano (Tagean) maintained his rights being the owner over the unacquired Estate and had paid the balance of 6,600,000.00 U.S. Dollar.
Ad Interim Land Registrar
February 7, 1899

What does the above transactional annotation document in the land title OCT-01-4 tell us?

It tells us what history books have failed to capture.

1. General Antonio Luna, the Philippine hero, had US$ 2 million.

2.  We did not know how he obtained such amount.

This annotation is about the redemption of Hacienda Mabiga from Banco Espanol-Filipino with a principal loan amount of $20 million with interest of US$2 million per annum.

Note the names of the people involved in this annotation. General Servillano Aquino, and Francisco Macabulos, General Antonio Luna were revolutionary generals.

Where did these generals get millions of dollars?

And how come these generals were the ones who redeemed the Real Estate Mortgage of Hacienda Mabiga from Banco Espanol-Filipino (now Bank of the Philippine Islands or BPI?)

In an earlier annotation to this title, in fact the immediately preceding annotation, the Tallano mortgaged Hacienda Mabiga to Banco Espano-Filipino (now BPI). (See separate article on this annotation).

Note that Hacienda Mabiga was mortaged by Tallano family with Banco Espanol-Filipino for US$20 million and this amount was the same money used by the US government to the Spain as payment for the Philippines under the Treaty of Paris on December 10, 1898.

Also, note that this annotation was dated Feb 7, 1899. This was after the Treaty of Paris (Dec 10, 1898) for which the United States paid US$20 million to Spain.

In another annotation, you will be able to cross-corroborate that the Tallano family was the source of the US$20 million used by the Americans to pay the Spaniards!

In another notation, you will also be able to cross-correlate the money paid to the Revolutionary Leaders also came from the Tallano Family.

3. General Antonio Luna purchased the entire, yes, the entire areas of San Miguel Tarlac, and La Paz Tarlac.

4. The total land area was not mentioned.
Today, La Paz Tarlac is 11,400 hectares. 
Hacienda Luisita now spans various municipalities in the province, including the capital Tarlac City. The hacienda is primarily within the province's 1st and 2nd legislative districts.

5. General Antonio Luna donated the land as a gift to his girlfriend.

6. General Antonio Lunas' girlfriend was Miss Luisita Conjuangco.

As you have noticed, the annotations and the history accounts dovetail in agreement.

This is what the history books failed to capture, but in reality was documented not by a historian, but by an officer who was doing his work in the ordinary course of business on day to day basis.

And this is a validation, once again, of the existence, the validity, and the authenticity of Torrens Title OCT-01-4 issued in favor of

"Prince Lacan Acuña Tallano Tagean (formerly Tagean Clan), married with
Princess Rowena Ma. Elizabeth Overbeck Macleod of Austria,
the owner in Fee simple of certain lands, known as HACIENDA FILIPINA"

(email me to get a scanned copy of the title issued by the register of deeds)

Note: The early transcriptions were in Spanish but the government had its translated into English through the efforts of then Solicitor General Felix Makasiar under Pres. Diosdado Macapagal (who later become Chief Justice under Marcos). Therefore, the government itself has consistently recognized the validity and the authenticity of OCT 01-4.

History from original source documents! What a refreshing perspective!

1 comment:

  1. Anonymous3:37 PM

    Dapat po siguro ay opisyal n'yong isapubliko ang inyong natuklasan at suportahan ito ng mga balidong dokumento para sa kaalaman ng mga mamamayang Pilipino.