Actor-turned-politiko Sen. Lito Lapid is keen on giving recognition to Apolinario dela Cruz popularly known as Hermano Puli for fighting against the secularization of Spanish friars and seeking for equality in the union of men and women during the Spanish colonization in the country.
For standing for his faith, Hernando Puli, known as “Hari ng Katagalugan,” was executed in Tayabas, Quezon on Nov. 4, 1841.
It is for this reason that Lapid wants to designate Nov. 4 of every year to be declared as a holiday in Quezon province in honor of the local hero.
“Naaangkop na kilalanin natin si Apolinario ‘Hermano Puli’ dela Cruz na kilala rin bilang “Hari ng Katagalugan”,” Lapid, known for his iconic film role “Leon Guerrero,” said in the explanatory note of the bill.
“Ang kanyang ambag sa pakikibaka para sa kalayaan sa pananampalataya at sa pambansang kasarinlan at pagkakaisa ay tunay na di matatawaran,” Lapid added. “Ating ipapakita ang pagpapahalaga sa kanya, sa pamamagitan ng pagtatalaga ng isang araw upang kilalanin at itaguyod ang diwa ng kanyang maiksi ngunit makabuluhang buhay.”
The life of Hermano Puli, an alias used by dela Cruz, was portrayed in the movie, Ang Hapis at Hinagpis ni Hermano Puli, in 2016. It was directed by renowned director Gil Portes, and starred by Aljur Abrenica, Louise de los Reyes and Markki Stroem.
Dela Cruz, a local of Lucban, Tayabas, along with indio secular priest Br. Ciriaco de los Santos and nineteen other individuals from Tayabas, founded the Hermandad de la Archi-Cofradia del Gorioso Senor San Jose y de la Virgen del Rosario, the brotherhood of the Great Sodality of the Glorious Lord Saint Joseph and of the Virgin of the Rosary).
The brotherhood or religious group influenced many locals in the Province of Tayabas now Quezon, Laguna, and some towns in Batangas while it sought meaningful change and social justice; the right of the Filipinos for religious freedom; to have secular Filipino Priests, and; a fine brotherhood (Cofradia) to uplift the lives of the poor.
Lapid said Hermano Puli understood that religion was vital in the efforts to overcome the Spanish colonizers. Through the confradia, he showed how the Christian religion that Spain had used to domesticate the will of the Filipinos became the wellspring of their rebellion.
It paved the way for Father Jose Burgos’ struggle to secularize the Philippine parishes and Father Gregorio Aglipay’s efforts to establish the Iglesia Filipina Independiente.
A similar measure was filed in the House of Representatives during the 17th and 18th Congress that reached the third and final reading, but no counterpart bill was filed in the Senate.
“This bill seeks to recognize the invaluable contribution and sacrifices of Apolinario “Hermano Puli” dela Cruz to the struggle for religious freedom and independence from foreign domination,” Lapid added.