Tejeros Convention Site, Cavite

After visiting some of our relatives in General Trias we headed on to one of the famous sites in Philippine History. I’ve been here in 2008 when I and Pabz had our Cavite adventure but didn’t really explore the surroundings. After some more research I learned I miss a lot of areas, so with Caile and Anton we entered the grounds of the Casa Hacienda de Tejeros.

But before entering there was already a marker located outside the estate. Written in Tagalog it was stated that the Tejeros Convention in concise version which I will explain later on. Anyway, the village of Tejeros was included in this estate used to be part of Gen. Trias (San Francisco de Malabon) but it was later annexed to the town of Rosario, maybe because the town was too small.

I will write about the Hacienda later on but first let us discuss how this particular site was decided as the future of the Philippines and the fraction between fellow Filipinos which led to the death of a hero and stained the history of Philippines forever.

Tejeros Convention

Upon parking we went to the new building which was replaced. At the foot of the stairs was a statue of General Emilio Aguinaldo, the president during the Revolution and led the resistance against Spain. When I came here 8 years ago the statue was there so that means they ware taking care of the site. Here is the translation to his summarize bio in the marker.

Emilio Aguinaldo y Famy (1869-1964)

Hero and the first president of the Philippines. Born in Kawit, Cavite on 22 March 1869. Became the town captain of Kawit and joined the Katipunan under the name “Magdalo” in 1895. Became the president of the Revolutionary Government in Tejeros on 22 March 1897; Republic of Biak na Bato on 2 November 1897. Exiled in Hong Kong on 27 December 1897, where he had the flag of the Philippines. He came back to pursue his fight for freedom on 19 May 1898.

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New statue of Aguinaldo

Established the Pictorial Government on 24 May 1898. Delegated Julian Felipe composed the music “Marcha Filipina Magdalo,” eventually became the National Anthem on 4 June 1898. Declared the Independence of the Philippines from Spain on 12 June 1898 in Kawit, Cavite. Established the Revolutionary Government of the Philippines on 23 June 1898. Gathered the congress of Malolos on the church of Barasoain in Bulacan and established the Saligang Batas on 15 September 1898.

Declared as President at the same time of the establishment of the Republic of the Philippines on 23 January 1899. Led the Filipino-American War between 1899-1901. Captured in Palanan, Isabela on 23 March 1901 and died on 6 February 1964.

Now that you learn about Gen. Aguinaldo let us focus on one part of his colorful life. The events in Tejeros.  Right across from the statue of Gen, Aguinaldo is the convention’s original marker and it stated,

“A Revolutionary Assembly was held on March 22, 1897, in the building known as the Casa-Hacienda of Tejeros. That once stood on this site. Presided over by Andres Bonifacio toward the end of the session, the assembly decided to establish a central revolutionary government, and elected Emilio Aguinaldo, President; Mariano Trias, Vice-President; Artemio Ricarte, Captain General; Emiliano Riego de Dios, Director of War; and Andres Bonifacio, Director of the Interior. Certain events arising in the convention caused Bonifacio to bolt its actions.”

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Tejeros Convention

With the brief description it was clearly stated the unfortunate events of the convention. Just think of it, Andres Bonifacio who was the leader of the KKK had been demoted to a Director of the Interior, and there were more issues than that. After reading, my cousins and I went up the stairs to the open building. We were greeted by a wood mural of the participants of the Revolutionary War and a bust of each of the people who played a role during the convention. It was incomplete.

So here goes the full story of the events in Tejeros which will forever be marked on the pages of Philippine History.

The First Meeting

“On March 22, 1897, the Magdiwang and Magdalo councils met once more, this time at the friar estate house in Tejeros, a barrio of San Francisco de Malabon. This convention proved even stormier than the Imus meeting and, as in Imus, the declared objective of the meeting was not even discussed.

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Marker

According to Jacinto Lumbreras, a Magdiwang and first presiding officer of the Tejeros convention, the meeting had been called to adopt measure for the defense of Cavite. Again this subject was not discussed, and instead, the assembled leaders, including the Magdiwangs, decided to elect the officers of the revolutionary government, thus unceremoniously discarding the Supreme Council of the Katipunan under whose standard the people had been fighting and would continue to fight.

Bonifacio presided, though reluctantly, over the election. Beforehand, he secured the unanimous pledge of the assembly to abide by the majority decision. The results were:

Position

Name

Party

President

Emilio Aguinaldo

Magdalo

Vice-President

Mariano Trías

Magdiwang

Captain-General

Artemio Ricarte

Magdiwang

Director of War

Emiliano Riego de Dios

Magdiwang

Director of the Interior

Andrés Bonifacio

Magdiwang

Emilio Aguinaldo had been awarded the highest prize of the Revolution on his own birth anniversary, although he was not present, being busy at a military front in Pasong Santol, a barrio of Imus. As for Bonifacio, the death-blow to the Katipunan and his election as a mere Director of the Interior showed clearly that he had been maneuvered out of power. It must have been a bitter pill to swallow, especially since even the Magdiwangs who were supposed to be his supporters did not vote for him either for President or Vice-President.

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Basement of the convention site

But another insult was yet to follow. Evidently, the Caviteño elite could not accept an “uneducated” man, and a non-Caviteño at that, even for the minor post of Director of the Interior.  Daniel Tirona protested Bonifacio’s election saying that the post should not be occupied by a person without a lawyer’s diploma. He suggested a Caviteño lawyer, Jose del Rosario for the position. Bonifacio, accepted the decision but not before insisting on a recount of the votes. Supporters such as Severino de las Alas made abortive efforts to help make Bonifacio vice president.

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Bonifacio at the Tejeros Convention

This was clearly an intended insult. It naturally infuriated Bonifacio who thereupon hotly declared: “I, as chairman of this assembly and as President of the Supreme Council of the Katipunan, as all of you do not deny, declare this assembly dissolved, and I annul all that has been approved and resolved.” Bonifacio was insulted, demanded that Tirona retract the remark. When Tirona made to leave instead, Bonifacio drew a pistol and was about to fire at Tirona, but stopped when Ricarte tried to disarm him. Bonifacio then voided the convention as Supremo of the Katipunan.

In addition to Bonifacio’s statement voiding the outcome the probity of the election held has been questioned, with allegations that many ballots distributed were already filled out and that the voters had not done this themselves

The new result of the election:

Position

Name

Party

President

Emilio Aguinaldo

Magdalo

Vice-President

Mariano Trías

Magdiwang

Captain-General

Artemio Ricarte

Magdiwang

Director of War

Emiliano Riego de Dios

Magdiwang

Director of State

Jacinto Lumbreras

Magdiwang

Director of Finance

Baldomero Aguinaldo

Magdalo

Director of Welfare

Mariano Alvarez

Magdiwang

Director of Justice

Severino de las Alas

Magdiwang

Director of the Interior

Pascual Alvarez

Magdiwang

“Aguinaldo, who was at Pasong Santol, a barrio of Dasmariñas, was notified the following day of his election to the Presidency. At first, he refused to leave his men who were preparing to fight the enemy, but his elder brother, Crispulo Aguinaldo, persuaded him to take the oath of office, promising to take his place and would not allow the enemy to overrun the place without dying in its defense. Aguinaldo then acceded to his brother’s request and proceeded to Santa Cruz del Malabon (now Tanza), where he and the others elected the previous day, with the exception of Bonifacio, took their oath of office.

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The argument

Meanwhile, Bonifacio and his men, numbering forty-five, again met at the estate-house of Tejeros on March 23. All of them felt bad about the results of the previous day’s proceedings, for they believed that anomalies were committed during the balloting. Convinced that the election held was invalid, they drew up a document, now called the Acta de Tejeros, in which they gave their reasons for not adopting the results of the convention held the previous day. From Tejeros, Bonifacio and his men proceeded to Naik in order to be as far as possible from Magdalo men who, they thought, were responsible for the commission of anomalies during the Tejeros election. Aguinaldo, wanting to bring back Bonifacio to the fold, sent a delegation to him to persuade him to cooperate with the newly constituted government. But Bonifacio refused to return to the revolutionary fold headed by Aguinaldo”.

Aside from this information there was also another story from Artemio Ricarte’s point of view. Written in the diary are the events during the convention.

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Andres Bonifacio Bust

“From the early hours of the day set for the assembly, the Hacienda Tejeros was filled not only with the chiefs of the Magdiwang jurisdiction but also with many of the Magdalo government. Among the leading Magdiwang men, besides the chief of the Katipunan, were the following: Mariano Alvarez, Pascual Alvarez, Santiago Alvarez, Lucio San Miguel, Mariano Trias Closas, Severino de las Alas, Santos Nocom, and among those of the Magdalo government were Baldomero Aguinaldo, Daniel Tirona, Cayetano Topacio and Antonio Montenegro.

As soon as the meeting was opened under the chairmanship of Jacinto Lumbreras who briefly explained its object, Severino de las Alas asked for permission to speak, which was granted. He said. that before taking up the question of the defense of a small territory of the province of Cavite it is desirable to speak first of the kind of government the country ought to have under the circumstances; this government to consider later all desired plans of defense. The presiding officer answered that the country has been ruled since the formation of the Katipunan ng Mga Anak ng Bayan, by its supreme council, the provincial councils and the popular councils.

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Gen. Pascual Alvarez

The chairman again explained the purpose of the meeting which was of the utmost importance in those critical moments. Andres Bonifacio with the permission of the chairman spoke in support of the stand of Jacinto Lumbreras on the government which was actually reigning in the country. He explained, also, the significance of the letter K in the center of the rising sun on the flag which is: Kalayaan” (Liberty). Severino de las Alas again spoke and said that the letter K in the flag and the flag itself do not precisely specify the kind of government the present insurrection has, that is, whether it is monarchical or republican. Andres Bonifacio replied that the Katipuneros from the “Supremo” of the Superior Council to the Inferior Council, recognized as their principle; Union. Fraternity, and Equality; from which it could be seen clearly that the government of the Katipunan ng mga Anak ng Bayan, is rigorously republican in form.

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Gen. Trias

After an exchange of words between Antonio Montenegro and Santiago Alvarez which caused temporary adjournment, the meeting was again resumed proceeding to transact business in the following manner, quoting again from Ricarte’s Memoirs:

Jacinto Lumbreras said: ‘As the question under discussion is completely outside of what is mentioned in the call for the meeting and the establishment of general government for the insurrection, I should not continue to preside over this meeting’. Andres Bonifacio, the president of the Supreme Council of the Katipunan ng Mga Anak ng Bayan, that plunged the country in its present state, was then acclaimed by all to preside over the assembly. Vibora (Artemio Ricarte) acted as secretary. Andres Bonifacio opened the meeting saying:

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Don Delas Alas

“As you desire to set up a supreme government to direct the insurrection, abolishing what was organized by the Katipunan and the resolution approved in the assembly of Imus, as President of the Supreme Council of the Katipunan, I accede to your just petition, but first of all I desire to ask you to recognize a principle as a basis of agreement in this or in other meetings, which is: that we respect and obey the will of the majority”. All gave their approval to this.

The Republic of the Philippines was agreed on and proclaimed, with enthusiastic hurrahs. Then followed the election of those who were to occupy the following offices in the government of the Republic of the Philippines: President, Vice-President, Captain-General, Director of War, Director of Interior, Director of State, Director of Finance, Director of Fomento and Director of Justice.

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Gen. Ricarte

Before putting it to a vote, Andres Bonifacio called the attention of the electors who represented different provinces of the Archipelago that those who would be elected by majority vote should be recognized and respected regardless of the degree of culture of each, to which the mass shouted its assent. Ballots were then distributed and after one hour the result was announced. Emilio Aguinaldo was elected President of the government of the Republic of the Philippines, by majority vote, against Andres Bonifacio and Mariano Trias. The President-elect was proclaimed by means of applause and hurrahs.

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Gen. Mariano Alvarez

Immediately after they proceeded to the election of Vice-President, Severino de las Alas stood up and said that as Andres Bonifacio secured second place in the election of President, he should be declared and proclaimed Vice-President of the government of the Republic of the Philippines. Nobody spoke for nor against the proposition of de las Alas so the presiding officer decided that they should proceed to vote. The result was the election by majority vote of Mariano Trias Closas against Andres Bonifacio, Severino de las Alas and Mariano Alvarez.

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stairs to the tunnels

The election of Captain-General immediately proceeded. This resulted in the selection, by a majority vote, of the secretary of the assembly, (Vibora) against Santiago Alvarez. The secretary of the assembly stood and protested against his election, stating: ‘None better than I know my own limitations and fitness: the position with which this assembly honors me, is beyond my scant ability and strength; to me it is a very honorable position but its horizon is too wide for me; so I request the assembly not to resent my refusal to accept it. Cries of disapproval reverberated in the hall, and the chairman called the meeting to order, and said: ‘It is getting dark, so we have to proceed to the election of the other positions’. A proposal, that in order to expedite the election all those who are in favor of one person for a certain position step to one side of the hall and those in favor of another step to another side, was approved. In this way the Director of War was elected which resulted in the choice, by a majority vote, of Emiliano Riego de Dios against Ariston Villanueva, Daniel Tirona, and Santiago Alvarez.

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Gen. Baldomero Aguinaldo

The election of Emiliano Riego de Dios who belonged to the Magdiwang government was received with stentorian acclamation. The same procedure was followed in the election of the Director of the Interior which resulted in the selection, by a majority, of Andres Bonifacio against Mariano Alvarez and Pascual Alvarez. Amid the din of hurrahs, acclaiming Andres Bonifacio, rose the voice of Daniel Tirona asking for permission to speak and he commenced thus:

The position of Director of the Interior is an exalted one and it is not meet that a person without a lawyer’s diploma should occupy it. We have in our province a lawyer, Jose del Rosario, therefore we should protest against the elected and acclaimed’. And, shouting with all his might, said: ‘Let us vote for Jose del Rosario!’ His personal feeling wounded, Bonifacio stood and said: Did we not agree that we have to abide by the decision of the majority whatever may be the social conditions of those elected?” Having said this, he asked Daniel Tirona to repeat all that he had said, and to give satisfaction to the assembly for his phrases defamatory to the one elected.

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Gen. Riego de Dios

As Daniel Tirona tried to hide himself in the crowd without paying any attention, Bonifacio pulled his revolver and was about to fire at Tirona when the secretary of the assembly grabbed his hand and prevented the incident from becoming more than a scare. As the people began to leave the hall, Andres Bonifacio, in high tone, said: ‘I, as chairman of this assembly, and as president of the Supreme Council of the Katipunan, as you all do not deny, declare this assembly dissolved, and I annul all what has been approved and resolved’. He and his followers then left the room.”

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The old Estate-House of Tejeros

This narrative essentially coincides with what Andres Bonifacio, himself, wrote to Emilio Jacinto in a letter dated at Indang April 24, 1897. The proceedings of the assembly were again the object of a written protest subscribed to by more than forty persons, among whom were Andres Bonifacio, Mariano Alvarez, Antonio Ricarte and Diego Mojica, on the ground that fraudulent means were used in the elections for the different offices in the government. Notwithstanding this, Emilio Aguinaldo, president elect, and Mariano Trias Closas, Vice-President elect, took their respective oath of office in the convent of Santa Cruz de Malabon, before a crucifix, on the day following the election.”

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Josephine Bracken

There were plenty of controversies surrounding the convention and its aftermath which eventually will led to the death of Andres Bonifacio under Gen. Emilio Aguinaldo. Finally, here is another interesting take on what happen during the meeting.

 

“Historian Carlos Quirino claims that due to the previous misunderstanding with Diego Mojica, Nicolas Portilla and Santiago Alvarez, Mariano Trias was apparently “won over” by the Magdalo Council, allowing him to be nominated as one of three candidates for the _Presidency of the Revolutionary Government in Tejeros Convention, namely, Andres Bonifacio, Mariano Trias, and Emilio Aguinaldo. Since Bonifacio and Trias belonged to the Magdiwang Council according to Quirino the Magdiwang votes were split between the two of them, enabling Aguinaldo, the Magdalo’s candidate, to win even in absentia. This is a controversial point in Philippine history because according to Aguinaldo, only eight Magdalo officials were able to attend the Tejeros convention because the on-going Lachambre offensive in Magdalo territory prevented many of its leaders from going to Tejeros which was located in Magdiwang territory.”

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Anyway that was a lot of information and stories that it was difficult to distinguish what was the mood during that time and as years passed by the events became cloudier. We can’t say that Bonifacio was not at fault here because he did agreed on a vote but there was still possibility that the ballot have been tampered even before it started. Until today the Philippines was still suffering from this kind of mentality, cheating to get votes by the corrupted politicians.

Casa Hacienda de Tejeros.

After learning that history we walked around the building, it was an open building with open entrances and windows. Its main function now was a events hall or a place where the young ones hang out after school. But before this modern edifice let’s look at the history of the old Hacienda.

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Tunnel leading to the Casa

“Originally built in the 17th century, Casa Hacienda de Tejeros was considered the Augustinian Recollects’ largest and grandest estate in the Philippines. The hacienda covered 1,125 hectares of arable land, the casa occupying 4 hectares. Tejeros comes from the Spanish word tejer, which means “to weave”, after the weaving industry brought about by Rosario’s major crops, abaca and cotton.”

That was the history of the building and the estate. The original Adobe house did not survive the years of changes and wars in the Philippines. Some say it was destroyed by the Spaniards, some say Mother Nature took care of it but being a site on a controversial point in Philippine history I wouldn’t be surprised if it was torn down for political purposes. The new building which was a convention center held dances and events with a few relics and remnants to its original grandeur.

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Tunnel leading to the river

But going behind the building heading to the river me and my cousins saw the ruins of the old Casa Hacienda. Some of the walls were still intact with the stone stairs leading down. We follow it and saw a couple of tunnels leading in different directions. One leads to the Tejero River but the way was block and too dark to go in. The other tunnel leads back to the building and some say it was connected directly to Aguinaldo’s house in Kawit. The vines, weeds and the darkness had prevented us from exploring these tunnels. Some of the soul have also eroded and we might encounter some unpleasant occupants that we didn’t dare to go in.

The tunnels were believed used as escape route in case the Casa Hacienda came under fire from enemies. One leading to the river where they could escape and the other back to Aguinaldo’s house which I think is too far.

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Old staircase

We went back up again after exploring and taking some pictures. Anton was happy of what he learned and saw today while Caile was just “meh.” nothing special for her. We went back inside and take a couple more pictures. After that I looked up and once again look at the painting of the Tejeros Assembly and I knew that this place and those events played an important role in shaping this country, unsuccessful and tragic as it was it is still part of our history.

Here are the links for more information:

https://kahimyang.com/kauswagan/articles/1258/the-tejeros-convention-according-to-general-artemio-ricarte

http://msc.edu.ph/centennial/tejeros.html

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tejeros_Convention

http://www.geocities.ws/kabitenyo1/moxica.htm

https://jeromeconstantino.weebly.com/blog/casa-hacienda-de-tejero-convention

http://nhcphistoricsites.blogspot.com/2011/10/site-of-tejeros-convention-casa.html

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