Rizal’s 1st monument ‘soaked’ in blood of martyrsBy Juan Escandor Jr.
Inquirer Southern Luzon
DAET, Camarines Norte—The blood of Bicolano martyrs who fought during the 1896 revolution “stained” the first ever Rizal monument in this town, according to Abel C. Icatlo, curator of the Camarines Norte Provincial Museum.
The monument, called “Bantayog ni Rizal,” was made of corals taken from an old Spanish prison where many Katipuneros were tortured and executed in a tragic finale to an uprising on April 14-18, 1898, Icatlo said.
He said the four-day uprising, also known as the Daet Revolt, resulted in the arrest, torture and execution of some 500 people, including the civil guards, who were beheaded.
Shaped like an obelisk, which was inspired by ancient Egyptian structures that taper like a pyramid on top, the Daet monument used coral stones that “were soaked and stained with the blood of Bicolano martyrs, so to speak,” Icatlo said.
The building of the monument three years after Rizal was shot in the Luneta was led by the freemasons and the people of Camarines Norte.
Icatlo said the monument, which was devoid of the usual image of the national hero attired in a coat and clutching a book, appeared to be Mason-inspired.
Icatlo discussed the link between Rizal, a member of freemasonry, and the revolutionaries in Bicol in his research paper “World’s First Rizal Monument: A Bikolano’s Pride and Heritage.”
He said the revolutionary movement in Daet was established through the network of freemasonry, which flourished in the 1890s under the leadership of Vicente Lukban.
The latter spread liberal thinking and egalitarian ideals through a farmer’s cooperative that clandestinely channeled funds to the Katipunan, the secret society founded by Andres Bonifacio.
Icatlo said Lukban was arrested even before the outbreak of the 1896 revolution against Spain. Upon his release from prison, Lukban joined Gen. Emilio Aguinaldo before himself becoming a general of the revolution.
Lukban launched successful military campaigns against the Spaniards in Tayabas, Quezon province, following orders from Aguinaldo to push his troops further south to the Bicol mainland.
Where Katipuneros fought
Two years after Rizal’s death, Aguinaldo issued a decree that declared Dec. 30, 1898, as Rizal Day. In response to the decree, the revolutionaries in Camarines Norte held a ceremony which included the groundbreaking of the Rizal monument.
The design of the monument was attributed to Antonio Sanz, a freemason with the rank of a lieutenant colonel, who headed the local revolutionary government. The monument became known as “Bantayog ni Rizal.”
The Bantayog stands in a park beside a river, on the same site where the Katipuneros held their ground until their uprising was quelled by the Spaniards.
Perched on a pedestal, the monument is about 20 feet high. It consists of two cube-shaped levels topped by a pyramidical structure with a symbolic sun above. On the pyramid is a bas-relief of a golden star on each of three sides.