ARMY SOLDIERS donning the rayadillo, the traditional military garb of the Katipuneros, participate in the commemoration ceremony of the Tejeros Convention which marks the birth of the Philippine Army headed by General Artemio Ricarte. (Photo by SSg Cesar Barrameda-Cuenca)
FORT BONIFACIO, Taguig City – The birth of the Philippine Army traces its roots in the establishment of the first Philippine Revolutionary Government in Tejeros, Cavite on March 22, 1897.
A century and 15 years later, Filipinos revisit history and rediscover the foundation of freedom and democracy in this country by commemorating the Tejeros Convention on March 16, 2012.
The simple rite was jointly sponsored by the local government of Cavite, in partnership with the Army Reserve Command (ARESCOM), Office of the Presidential Governor (OPG) and the Cavite Historical Society (CHS).
It seems to be just an ordinary Friday for students anxious to start the weekend, for employees who have to survive yet another stressing day at work or for ordinary Filipinos dipping hot pandesal in their favorite morning coffee.
Yet for the Caviteños, the members of the Philippine Army and those Filipinos who cared, it was a day to remember the foundation of our government and the root of our freedom.
Revisiting the Past
Amid the fast-paced cyber community, the young people stand distracted, unaware of some significant events of great importance, like the Tejeros Convention, that shaped the country’s history and defined the Filipino as a people.
Hundreds of students attended the celebration at Casa Hacienda, Cavite. Asked about the event, one grade four pupil named Mica just shyly smiled and honestly answered that she doesn’t know what the Tejeros Convention is all about.
Another young attendee, a grade 6 pupil named Bianca, candidly revealed that she is still unaware of the relevance of the said event.
“I know nothing about it since it’s not yet discussed in school,” she said.
For those of us who have forgotten or simply do not know, the Tejeros Convention is a meeting which took place at Tejeros, Cavite on March 22, 1897 between the two parties of the Katipunan – the ‘Magdalo’ led by then General Emilio Aguinaldo and the ‘Magdiwang’ led by the Supremo of the Katipunan, Andres Bonifacio.
The supposed meeting turned out to be the very first presidential and vice-presidential elections in the history of the Philippines. It also earned Aguinaldo the seat as the country’s first president.
It also led to the proclamation of the First Philippine Republic by Aguinaldo on January 22, 1899, making our country the very first republic in Asia.
115th Anniversary Celebration
Every year, the local government of Cavite in cooperation with the Army Reserve Command (ARESCOM), Office of the Presidential Governor (OPG) and the Cavite Historical Society (CHS), organizes the Tejeros Convention Anniversary celebration.
It has become a campaign to broaden public awareness, thereby encourage Filipinos to pay tribute.
This year’s commemoration was held at Casa Hacienda in Barangay Tejero, Rosario, Cavite, the exact same place where the Tejeros Convention ensued 115 years ago.
Students, local government employees and residents of Cavite came to witness another year of the Tejeros Convention. Most of which has made it a tradition to attend every year – an indication that Caviteños are born nationalistic like their forefathers.
Senator Francis “Chiz” G Escudero and Major General Eduardo D del Rosario, Commander of the 2nd Infantry Division, in lieu of Lieutenant General Emmanuel T Bautista, Commanding General of the Philippine Army, graced the activity as guests of honor.
A wreath laying ceremony before the monument of Emilio Aguinaldo commenced the program. Soldiers donned in their guardia civil attires bring a historical air for everyone present.
After the fifteen-minute ceremony, a program inside the Casa Hacienda was held. Guests of honors gave inspiring and informative messages in commemoration of the Tejeros Convention.
Legacy of the Tejeros Convention
What happened during the Tejeros Convention did not just yield to the election of the country’s first president but also marked the formation of the Philippine Army. For 115 years, the Philippine Army continued to serve the country and the people, going beyond its traditional roles to become effective agents of peace and development.
“We thank everyone for demonstrating their undeniable trust of the present crop of Army soldiers. It is our honor to serve and be of help in sustaining the peace and development of our motherland,” Army chief Lt General Emmanuel Bautista said in a statement.
He also emphasized the value of learning the past, thus quoted Pearl Back, “If you want to understand today, you have to search yesterday.”
Message to the Filipinos
Cavite Governor Juanito Victor C. Remulla lauded Cavite for being the number one province in Region IV and the number one in the country when it comes to good governance.
“If the first Republic started in Cavite, then the first initiative to change blunders in governance will also start here,” said Remulla.
Remulla stressed his desire to bring back the true beauty of Casa Hacienda so people could always remember the sacrifices the Caviteños did for our country. He sought for everyone’s support in restoring the home of the first republic and of the Tejeros Convention.
Adding to the importance of the Tejeros Convention, Sen. Chiz Escudero said, “This is one of those victorious occasions in our history that we should celebrate, we could acclaim and we could be proud of.”
Maria Elena A. Marzan, a 41-year old local government employee in Rosario, Cavite shared, “It is my fifth time to witness the Tejeros Convention anniversary. Through this, I learned to appreciate its meaning and significance to my life.”
Every Filipino ought to learn the country’s rich history – be it the simplest event or the most extravagant. Filipino heroes have fought alongside every bit of history and to forget one instant is to forget one life forgone.