Olongapo SubicBay BatangGapo Newscenter

Monday, September 01, 2008

Remembering the Battle of Imus 1896 and the need for continuing heroism

MORE than a hundred years ago, a man led his people to victory against overwhelming odds with no more than a dozen rifles, bolos, and hearts full of courage. That man was Caviteño Jose Tagle. Together with a hundred of his town mates and several hundred revolutionary soldiers from General Emilio Aguinaldo, he laid siege upon Spanish forces at Imus Hacienda and claimed a victory that would deal the first serious defeat of the Spanish army in the Philippine war of independence against the colonizers.

Known as the Battle of Imus, this victory on September 3, 1896 of the Philippine Revolutionary forces unified practically all of Cavite; it began a war that would eventually lead to the birth of the Philippines as a nation.

According to Gen. Emilio Aguinaldo’s own account of the battle, Jose Tagle, then head of Barangay Pilar of Imus, first came to his headquarters at Cavite Viejo on September 1, 1896 to ask for his aid in raiding Imus. Together, they proceeded to the town accompanied with a brass band but the friars headed by Fr. Eduarte and the Guardia Civil saw them approaching and fled towards the Imus Hacienda where they bottled up and were subsequently subdued.

The second time Aguinaldo met Tagle was on September 3, 1896 when the latter went to his headquarters again to ask for reinforcements in view of the impending attack by strong Spanish forces from Manila then massing off Bacoor. The battle that followed resulted in the defeat of the Spaniards led by no less than the famous Spanish General Ernesto de Aguirre, and the capture of his equally famous Toledo sword.

In recognition of his leadership that contributed to the victory in Imus, Aguinaldo appointed Tagle Municipal Captain of the town with authority of choosing his companions in establishing the government and organizing a revolutionary army in Imus.

In death (1902), he departed quietly as he lived, leaving behind no pictures, letters or war momentos -- nothing except his legend.

And yet, the retelling of the Battle of Imus should not simply be a fascinating tale of victory, of the triumph of the oppressed against overwhelming odds -- a tale that is forgotten as soon as the history book is closed.

Instead, we recall the Battle of Imus as a means to inspire us to continue what heroes like Tagle began: to fight for the nation’s future and ensure the welfare of the next generations.

Proof of the need for a continuing revolution is not simply the presence of so many difficulties and challenges faced by the Filipino people. More than that, actual descendants of our heroes of old are still among us, and they continue their ancestors’ legacy of working for the good of the nation.

Jose Tagle married Isabel Bella and they had three children, namely, Agustina Tagle-Ramirez, Veronica Tagle-Gordon and Jose Tagle, Jr. Little else is known about the life of Tagle, who was as self-effacing as he was heroic (he loved privacy and shunned public attention) but we do know this: his great grandson Richard Gordon -- now Philippine National Red Cross chairman and a senator of the Philippines -- is continuing the Tagle legacy.

Richard Gordon, the great grandson of Jose Tagle, and the people of Olongapo claimed victory by turning their hometown from Sin City to Model City and rising from the successive disasters of the Mount Pinatubo eruption and the abandonment of the Subic Naval Base.

Beyond his years as mayor of Olongapo City, Gordon and his volunteers took on and succeeding in accomplishing the impossible task of converting the Subic Naval Base into a premiere trade and tourist destination.

In the same spirit, nearly a hundred years after the first victory of the Philippine revolution, another man would lead his people from the pits of desperation to previously unbelievable heights of economic and social progress.

After his success at Subic, Gordon came back into the limelight as secretary of tourism where he succeeded again in driving up tourist arrivals to two million a year with a scant tourism promotions budget at a time when coup d’etats and SARS would have turned foreign tourists away.

As senator, he has succeeded in laying the groundwork of true political reform through the successful implementation of RA 9369 or the Amended Automated Elections Law -- fighting to end election fraud from the halls of Congress to the pilot testing of automated elections in the ARMM.

As chairman of the Philippine National Red Cross, Gordon expanded its services from supplying blood to responding to various natural and man-made disasters across the country.

“The challenges that our country is facing today are no less overwhelming than fighting for freedom with little more than a few old rifles against the military might of a world superpower a hundred years ago -- the imperial might of what was Spain. In this century, we are fighting revolution against the worst that we see in ourselves as a nation. In this fight, the war is waged not against men but for change -- not merely OF men but IN men. The unifying thread in all our history from our seafaring Datu forebears to our overseas Filipino workers and from our fight against imperial tyranny to our fight against the tyranny of defeatist mentalities is this: It is our search for the realization of our dream of an enabled, empowered and ennobled existence,” said Gordon.

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