By Billy Begas
Former Speaker and incumbent Davao del Norte Rep. Pantaleon Alvarez on Thursday said that May 18, 1899, should be recognized as the true Philippine Independence Day instead of June 12, 1898.
The celebration of Philippine Independence Day on June 12, 1898, Alvarez said, is “historically inaccurate and false.”
He stressed that the declaration of Independence Day from Spanish colonial rule on June 12, 1898, in Kawit, Cavite, led by Emilio Aguinaldo is not “precisely correct.”
“Noong nangyari yan, habang nagwawagayway ng bandila si Aguinaldo, tuloy pa yung digmaan. Hindi pa sumusuko Espanya. We only gained and complete independence from them on May 18, 1899, following the surrender of the last Spanish general Diego de los Rios to Filipino revolutionary general based in Zamboanga,” said Alvarez referring to General Vicente Alvarez of Magay, Zamboanga City.
The lawmaker said General Alvarez was recognized for his efforts in bringing peace to the people of the island by resolving the conflict among the heirs of the Sultanate. As a result, he was bestowed with the title “Datu Tumanggung” along with the corresponding privileges and authority to govern over the subjects of the sultan in Zamboanga and Basilan.
On May 14, 1899, General Alvarez was conferred the rank of General of the Philippine Revolutionary Forces in Malolos, Bulacan, to join the fight against the Spaniards and the impending Americans.
Further, on May 18, 1899, the General made a conquest in Zamboanga and liberated Fort Pilar from the control of Governor-General Diego de los Rios, who at that time, was the highest Spanish general and official in the Philippines.
General Alvarez declared: “La Republica Independiente de Zamboanga,” signaling the surrender of the Spaniards to the Filipino revolutionaries, the solon said.
The lawmaker said that not much has been told about General Alvarez in existing history books, many of which focus on heroes from Luzon.
“We should give credit where it is due. We also have to recognize and give honor to those who have fought and actually won against the Spaniards during that era. General Alvarez of Zamboanga must be etched in the echelon of heroes that freed our country from the shackles of Spanish colonizers,” the former Speaker added.
Alvarez expressed the need to rectify the historical injustice that national heroes, who were born outside of Luzon, have long endured due to years of neglect.
On July 3, 2008, the City Council of Zamboanga passed Ordinance No. 334 in honor of General Alvarez’s heroism in liberating Zamboanga City from the last remaining Spanish colonizers on May 18, 1899.
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