Wednesday, August 11, 2010

General Antonio Luna

UP prof tells of Gen. Luna’s assassination

MANILA, Philippines—Had the Philippine Revolution not lost the brilliant and enigmatic Gen. Antonio Luna in June 1899, it might have presented the invading US forces a less than easy conquest, according to such scholars as Prof. Vivencio Jose of the University of the Philippines.

Jose, author of “The Rise and Fall of Antonio Luna,” which was published in 1972 and reprinted in 1981 and 1992, will talk about Luna, including his death in the hands of fellow revolutionaries led by Emilio Aguinaldo, before members of the Diliman Book Club at the Bahay ng Alumni’s ROC (Restaurant of Choice) in UP Diliman on Aug. 14 at 6 p.m.

Jose says his research has given him an endless mission—to uphold Luna as a revolutionary figure betrayed by fellow Filipinos who could not see beyond kinship and personal alliances.

In his book, Jose sketches how Luna was assassinated:

On June 5, 1899, Capt. Pedro Janolino, Aguinaldo’s ally, struck Luna on the temple as the latter was rushing down the stairs of the convent of Cabanatuan in Nueva Ecija, to check on gunshots he had heard in the courtyard.
Then, Janolino’s troops from Cawit, Cavite, started shooting and stabbing Luna as he tried to flee toward the front part of the convent. Two of his aides, Col. Francisco Roman and Capt. Eduardo Rusca, were struck down as they tried to stop his killers...
A sordid chapter in the annals of Philippine history. I looked up the wiki entry and it substantiates the sad ending of General Antonio Luna. That entry said that the volatile Luna was hacked in the head in a confrontation with his fellow officer.

Aside from being a trained chemist, the great Antonio Luna was also a master fencer, skilled sharpshooter, avid musician, and a trained military strategist and tactician. During the war with the Americans, he urged the building of a systematic network of trenches, bunkers, and artillery positions from Caloocan to Novaliches. Many of his plans were not implemented by Aguinaldo, which probably led UP historian Vicencio Jose to surmise that had he not met an untimely death at the hands of his compatriots, the Philippine Revolution might have presented the invading US forces a less than easy conquest. That was 111 years ago. The Manila Bulletin has an interesting article on the occasion of his 111th death anniversary:

General Luna was a dedicated partisan of the Filipino republic. He infused discipline and rigid training into the Filipino army. Unfortunately, a sector of the Filipino leaders wanted to submit to the enemy. He had them arrested and punished - an act that led to his untimely death. The enemies of the Filipino republic killed him on June 5, 1899, in Cabanatuan, Nueva Ecija. American Civil Governor of the Philippines William H. Taft considered General Luna's death a heavy blow against Filipino aspirations. His own foes on the battlefield paid the highest tribute to General Antonio Luna on his death. To United States (US) General Frederick N. Funston, he was the "ablest and most aggressive leader of the Filipino republic," To US General James F. Bell, General Luna "was the only general the Filipino army had." Selflessness and unwavering loyalty to the land of his birth are two sterling legacies General Antonio Luna bequeathed to his countrymen. The Filipino people badly need these qualities today.

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