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#OnThisDay: Selected Historical Events in the month of September

1st September
On September 1, 1939, Nazi Germany invaded Poland with a force of 66 divisions, introducing to the world its version of total warfare, the Blitzkrieg or "lightning war." Joined later by the Soviet Union with around 33 divisions, which was earlier humiliated by the Polish-Soviet War in 1918-1921 and by this time signed with Germany in a non-aggression pact, the invasion of Poland was accomplished in a span of five weeks. This was regarded as the beginning of the Second World War.

Photo collage courtesy of Wikipedia

Nazi Germany long called for the annexation of Danzig, a "free city" placed under the protection of the League of Nations after the First World War, and the closure of the Polish "corridor" which separated East Prussia from Germany proper. In effect, the Germans claimed it was their Verteidigungskrieg or "defensive war", citing causes such as the Gleiwitz Incident, which happened on the day before the invasion commenced (August 31), as justification for resorting to military action. Despite the eventual declaration of war by Britain and France on Germany, Allied assistance to the Polish armed forces were severely limited.

Misconceptions, however, persisted long after the war, particularly on the state of the 39-division-strong Polish defense. Among these include the supposed attempt of Polish cavalry to charge against German mobile forces at Krojanty, and the supposed annihilation of the Polish air force on the ground during the first days of the conflict. While the integration of cavalry influenced Polish military doctrine, they did not form the majority of Polish armed forces. Polish pilots would also figure greatly for most of the war, being one of the largest foreign contingents flying within the ranks of British and French air forces. In addition, the Polish role in breaking the German Enigma codes proved beneficial for the Allied war effort, providing Allied planners with valuable intelligence which may have been largely unavailable to them otherwise.

2nd September
On September 2, 1945, General Tomoyuki Yamashita "surrendered" to the combined Filipino and American forces in Kiangan, Ifugao, the same day the formal surrender of Japan was signed at USS Missouri. However, this story has been revised by the Philippine Veterans Affairs Office, which asserted that Yamashita was in fact "captured" by elements of the USAFIP-NL (United States Army Forces in the Philippines-Northern Luzon) and the Japanese general was forced to come out of hiding to prevent the annihilation of his troops.

Known as the Tiger of Malaya for his successful military campaigns against the British colonies Malaya and Singapore, Yamashita eventually went down in history for his supposed "hidden treasure" in the Philippines, a claim believed and perpetuated no less by Former President Ferdinand Marcos himself. To this day, "Yamashita's gold" continues to capture the attention of the populace. A national holiday was set on September 3 to commemorate this event.

7th September
On September 7, 1901, the Boxer Protocol was signed by Qing China and 11 other nations, effectively ending the Boxer Rebellion (also known as the Yihetuan Movement, 义和团运动). The Boxers, many of whom practiced wushu, kung fu, or in other parlance Chinese boxing, saw themselves as nationalists who combated foreign incursion and religious missions. While the Boxers also sought the overthrow of the Qing government, the later shift of official imperial support for their cause allowed the Boxers to focus on expelling foreign presence in the Chinese Empire.

The world powers responded by reinforcing their troops in China. While the United States played a limited role in the conflict, the nation was also compelled to send a contingent to protect American interests. This came to be known as the China Relief Expedition. The United States was made capable of pouring in thousands of soldiers to China as the Philippines, being geographical neighbor of China, came into American control after the Spanish-American War. While the Americans were still fighting the Filipino-American War, anti-imperialist groups being vocal in opposing the annexation of the Philippines in the first place, and President William McKinley having initial aversion to commence foreign intervention during an election year (1900), the eventual participation in the Eight Nation Alliance would nonetheless signal the beginning of active American military involvement in international coalitions.

8th September
On September 8, 1944, the first Vergeltungswaffe 2 rockets (V-2) were successfully launched, hitting targets in Paris and London. With an operational range of 320 kilometers, this was the introduction of the world's first long-range ballistic missile in warfare. Developed by Peenemünde Army Research Center, headed by renowned scientist Wernher von Braun as its director, the cost of V-2 and related "wonder weapons" reached the scale of the Manhattan Project, the American attempt to produce nuclear weapons.

The significance of the V-2 went beyond its military utilization as it also contributed in opening outer space to human exploration. Earlier, on June 20, 1944, a V-2 rocket test achieved an apogee of 176 kilometers, well above the Karman line which defined the boundaries of space. The V-2 was also used later by the United States, which managed to take many of the German engineers involved in the project, to take the first photos of the Earth from space in 1946. Other nations such as Britain and the Soviet Union also took interest in the further development of the V-2 for their respective purposes. Until the end of the Second World War, no effective countermeasure was mounted against the V-2 rockets despite issues in the missile accuracy, catching the attention of the Allied Powers.

In terms of popular culture, the V-2 also captured the cosmic imagination of artists. Among them would be Georges Prosper Remi, also known as Hergé. In his comics Tintin, particularly the volumes entitled Destination Moon (1953) and Explorers on the Moon (1954), he sought to be as scientifically precise as possible in his portrayal of space exploration. One of his eventual inspirations would be the V-2 rocket, which design he integrated in the Moon rocket secretly built by the fictional Syldavian government.

9th September
On September 9, 1878, President Sergio Osmeña, Sr. was born in Cebu. A member of the Filipino-Chinese community, Osmeña would serve as a journalist during the Philippine Revolution. In the advent of American rule in the Philippines, he finished law and became governor of Cebu. During his governorship, he successfully ran as representative of Cebu in the Philippine Assembly, and was elected the first Speaker of the House of Representatives. He would hold the position from 1907 until 1922, when he was elected to a Senate post.

An ardent proponent of Filipino independence missions in the United States, the Osmeña-Roxas mission contributed to the passage of the 1933 Hare-Hawes-Cutting Act. However, the Philippine Senate under the leadership of Manuel Quezon blocked the ratification of the said legislation due to various reasons, Quezon himself heading a new mission to bring home the Tydings-McDuffie Act in 1934.

Prior to the subsequent Commonwealth period, Osmeña was caught in the fragmentation of the dominant Nacionalista Party, with his faction gaining the House of Representatives majority in 1934 but the Quezon faction earning a majority in the Senate. In what was regarded as a graceful act towards unification of the party, Osmeña gave way for the nomination of Quezon as President of the Commonwealth, with himself being nominated as the Vice President. This was not the first time the Nacionalista Party was divided, but reconciliation was on top of Osmeña's agenda.

As Vice President, Osmeña was also appointed as the first Filipino Secretary of Public Instruction, the predecessor post of the Education Secretary today. The Commonwealth period, however, would be interrupted by the Second World War. After Quezon's death in the United States in 1944, Osmeña assumed the presidency at the time the liberation of the Philippines was at sight. He also oversaw the immediate postwar transition wherein he was bent to resolve prevailing issues such as reorganization of national and local governments, the cases of collaboration with the Japanese, reconstruction of the budget system to address housing, cultural heritage, and other projects which require funding, secure rehabilitation financing from the United States, as well as the fair share of reparations from Japan, and to ensure active involvement of the Philippines in international arrangements being created in the postwar world, including the United Nations and the Bretton Woods system. Osmeña also had to preside over a nation preparing for its first postwar election, with his former ally Manuel Roxas heading the oppositionist Liberal Party.

Despite Osmeña's indifference to the popular movements inherited during the war, including the Hukbalahap (Hukbong Bayan Laban sa Hapon), and his clear actions to invalidate the governments they set up in their respective areas, the Americans in particular had decreasing confidence on his capability to contain the internal threat. They shifted their support to Roxas, who despite his collaborationist past during the Japanese occupation appeared to be a more viable choice for their purposes. Banking on his track record spanning four decades in public service, Osmeña found himself in a sort of "rose garden strategy" by choosing to fulfill his presidential duties instead of actively campaigning like Roxas. The severe disadvantages of Osmeña would be sufficient for him to fail in securing a new term. The margin of victory by Roxas, however, would be among the slimmest in Filipino presidential elections with more or less 200,000 votes separating the two candidates. Instead of contesting the results, Osmeña showed magnanimity in defeat. At least until 1992, he was the only outgoing president to attend his successor's inauguration.

Later in life, he would be regarded as the "Grand Old Man" of Philippine politics, serving in the Council of State until the administration of Ramon Magsaysay, and in the National Security Council under the administration of Carlos P. Garcia. Remaining as one of the paramount leaders of the Nacionalistas even after his presidency, Osmeña did what he could to sustain unity and stability in the party. The Nacionalista Party exists to this day. He died on October 19, 1961 in Quezon City.

10th September
On September 10, 1875, Bishop Nicolas Zamora was born in Manila. The grandnephew of executed priest Jacinto Zamora (one of the Gomburza), he was also embarking an educational path towards priesthood when the Philippine Revolution broke out in 1896. His father Paulino, who had been converted to the Protestant faith and secretly distributing Bibles in the Philippines, was eventually suspected by the Spanish of being involved in the Revolution. This resulted to his father's exile to Chafarinas Island, off the Morocco coast. Meanwhile, Nicolas had served as a lieutenant under the command of General Gregorio del Pilar.

When Paulino returned to the Philippines in 1898, Nicolas joined him in preaching the Gospel. Upon the arrival of American missionaries in the archipelago, Nicolas Zamora would be baptized by the Presbyterian Church in October 1899. However, his ministry would begin with the Methodist mission, who saw his potential as a preacher when he was initially recruited as their Tagalog interpreter.
In March 1900, he was ordained as a deacon, making him the first Filipino Protestant minister to be ordained. His ministry had attracted the attention of even the Philippine Independent Church (Iglesia Filipina Independiente), wherein its Bishop Gregorio Aglipay proposed his transfer to them. Zamora, however, refused Aglipay's offer. At the time, the church headed by Aglipay reportedly had over a million members. In 1903, Zamora was made an elder of the Methodist Church.

Disappointed with the progress of Filipinizing the church and the unfair treatment of Filipino ministers, however, led to some leaders establishing Ang Kapisanang Katotohanan (Society of Truth) in 1904 with the purpose of accelerating the pace of evangelism and the creation of Filipino church leaders. Initially, Zamora was indifferent with the society, but the rejection of "foreign field" status for the Filipino church in 1908 changed his mind. In February 1909, after delivering his sermon, Zamora called for breaking away from the Methodist Church. This allowed the formation of Iglesia Evangelica Metodista en las Islas Filipinas (IEMELIF) as the first self-sustaining Filipino Protestant church in the Philippines.

Despite the limitations of the new church, they saw themselves freed not only from American leadership, but also from evangelism constraints presented by their Comity Agreement, which designated evangelization fields for the different denominations. By the time of Zamora's death on September 14, 1914, IEMELIF had a reported membership of 11,000.

10th September
On September 10, 1763, Gabriela Cariño Silang and her army of around 2,000 laid siege on Vigan, Ilocos. However, miscalculation on their part, supposedly caused by an optical illusion, led to Gabriela's ranks being reduced significantly. Scouts had mistaken Vigan's groves to be Spanish troops. Meanwhile, the delay on Gabriela's eventual offensive allowed the Spanish to assemble a massive force, sufficient to overtake Silang and her followers. The religious attribute this victory to La Virgen de la Caridad (Our Lady of Charity), which image was housed in nearby Bantay Church. Gabriela was made to watch the death of her remaining followers, with herself being executed last. On the other hand, those allowed to live were punished with 200 lashes.

Regarded as one of the foremost Filipina heroines to this day, "La Generala" Gabriela was born in Santa, Ilocos on March 19, 1731 to a Spanish father and a Tinguian mother. Raised a Roman Catholic, she would be married off at the age of 20, only for her husband to die three years later. She would eventually meet the Pangasinan-born Diego Silang, at the time a courier serving Ilocos and Manila. They would marry in 1757 after years of courtship.

At the advent of the Seven Years' War in the Philippines by 1762, an international conflict which saw Spain on the opposing side against Britain, the British were quite intent to enlist local assistance in the archipelago. At the outset, Diego was offering his help to organize Ilocano volunteers for the Spanish cause, but with rumors of Ilocos being turned over to the British, and the Spanish rejecting Diego's proposal, he turned against Spain and sought an alliance with Britain.

Fresh from his victory in Vigan, Diego sent emissaries to various areas to rise up as well, stirring not only hatred of the Spanish, but also of the local elites (babaknang). The British, meanwhile, had not ignored Silang's exploits. When Silang sent a delegation to them, the British granted him weapons and a new title, the governorship of Ilocos. Diego's creation of a new government, however, was abruptly ended by his assassination on May 28, 1763 in the hands of Miguel Vicos and Pedro Becbec. His reported last words were to his wife, "Matayakon, Gabriela!" (I am dying, Gabriela)

Gabriela, who played an active part throughout Diego's campaigns, gathered her husband's followers and fled to Abra. From there, she consolidated what was left of Diego's forces and continued the crusade of her husband.

11th September
Oplan Bojinka: a Philippine connection to 9/11?

On September 11, 2001, al-Qaeda operatives hijacked four commercial airliners, three of which hitting their targets, namely the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. The fourth plane, aimed to crash on either the Capitol or the White House, was successfully diverted by its passengers to land on a rural area instead. This, however, cost their lives. In all, almost 3,000 died and 25,000 were injured. The United States government responded by launching its so-called War on Terror to stress concerted efforts to combat international terrorism, which led to interventions in various countries, including the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

What was regarded as a "dry run" for the September 11 attacks would be Oplan Bojinka, a three-phase terrorist plot against the Philippines. In 1994, future 9/11 conspirator Khalid Sheikh Mohammed worked with Ramzi Yousef to implement Bojinka by January 1995, coinciding with Pope John Paul II's visit to the Philippines for World Youth Day. Besides the planned assassination of the Pope, 11 airliners with routes between the United States and Asia were chosen to be planted with bombs. Finally, a plane would be crashed in the United States, with the acquisition to be done through renting, buying, or hijacking a 12th plane for the purpose. While multiple targets were considered, it was decided the attack would be made against the headquarters of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) in Virginia. The bombing of Philippine Airlines Flight 434, conducted by Yousef on December 11, 1994, was considered a test for this larger plot. Financing was believed to be sponsored by Osama bin Laden himself, who used front organizations to transfer the funds to Manila.

The plot, however, was uncovered by Filipino authorities, with some of the conspirators captured soon after, and various chemicals capable of creating improvised explosive devices secured. Gathered intelligence, meanwhile, were shared with the United States. It was said Bojinka would have been Mohammed's first mission for al-Qaeda, but Filipino authorities would later claim that American intelligence missed the clues laid to their table by the details of the foiled plot.

11th September
Francisca Susano, recognized by the National Commission of Senior Citizens as the "oldest Filipino" as of this year, died on November 22, 2021 at the age of 124. Born September 11, 1897, she has a pending claim with the Guinness World Records as the oldest living person in the world. At the moment, Tanaka Kane (田中カ子) of Japan was verified to be the oldest living person on the planet. She was born on January 2, 1903.

12th September
On September 12, 1762, the island of Balambangan in Sabah was ceded by the Sulu Sultan Muizz ud-Din (Muizzud-Din, Pangiran Bantilan) to the British East India Company, which was represented by hydrographer Alexander Dalrymple. Balambangan was chosen for its geographical position, seen as suitable to build a factory, and possession of a good harbor frequented by Chinese trade. He also figured it would be an easier island to defend, with Jolo being one of his initial considerations but was seen as a more difficult choice if ever. Perhaps beyond the knowledge of Dalrymple, a British fleet had already sailed by September 24 of the same year to occupy Manila. At this point, the Seven Years' War had reached the Philippines.

Later, Dalrymple arrived in Manila on October 6, meeting the former sultan Azim ud-Din (Fernando Alimud-Din). The old sultan was imprisoned by the Spanish, being stranded in Pasig when he was meant to be transferred to Pampanga due to the British invasion. While away from home, the British found out that Azim ud-Din pledged concessions to the Spanish. In hopes of saving what was agreed upon between the Company and the current sultan Muizz ud-Din, Dalrymple worked with the Jolo court to pass a resolution invalidating the commitments entered by Azim ud-Din during his time outside the sultanate. While the British secured this nullification, it was also learned that Muizz ud-Din had died in 1763. To reaffirm the treaties entered by Muizz ud-Din and intent to create new deals with Sulu, the British decided to restore Azim ud-Din to the throne. They would arrive at Jolo on May 17, 1764.

Balambangan was eventually settled by the Company on January 23, 1763, with Dalrymple offered the role of managing the settlement. In all, he negotiated four treaties with Sulu for the British East India Company. Mismanagement by Dalrymple and his successors, however, earned the ire of the Moros. Datu Teteng, a member of the Sulu royal family, attacked the island on March 5, 1775, capturing loot worth around 926,886 Mexican dollars, 228 muskets, 45 artillery pieces, and 22,000 rounds of ammunition, among others. The incident seemed to have pleased the Spanish, who received from Teteng gifts in Zamboanga and accepted his offers of trade with them.

The Sulu sultan tried to deflect blame by pointing all discretion to Datu Teteng for his actions, with the sultanate having no hand in the attack. Teteng was later accused of trying to invade Zamboanga, which made the Spanish wary of his actions despite lack of evidence. He would continue his offensive against British and Dutch shipping in the following years.

The Dutch would attempt to settle in Balambangan, but withdrew in 1797. British resettlement, on the other hand, would be tried in 1803. They would eventually evacuate Balambangan two years later. The island would be under Malaysian jurisdiction to this day.

13th September
On September 13, 1907, General Macario Sakay was executed by American authorities. The Tondo-born revolutionary entered various jobs in his early years, including being a barber, a tailor, a kalesa manufacturing apprentice, and even a stage actor. He joined the Katipunan in 1894 with the codename Tagausig (Prosecutor). Organizing for the Revolution in the Manila area, he would later be imprisoned by the time of the Filipino-American War.

During the advent of American rule in the Philippines, Sakay was granted amnesty and became a founder of the Partido Nacionalista, which campaigned for Philippine independence through legal means. The 1901 Sedition Law (Act No. 292), however, prohibited advocating for independence, whether through "peaceable or forcible means." Disenchanted with the setup provided by the United States, Sakay took up arms once more, assuming the presidency of the Republika ng Katagalugan (Tagalog Republic) in May 1902.

Establishing his center of operations in Morong (now Rizal Province), Sakay organized his forces and awarded ranks to integrees who would be able to contribute weapons to the republic. It was also by this time when Sakay decided to keep his hair long, which became an iconic theme for the revolutionary leader. It was said that Sakay was once ambushed while taking a bath. While he survived the incident, he was convinced that personal care would be detrimental to the cause of attaining freedom. He would maintain a long hair until his death. The American government, meanwhile, took every opportunity to put Sakay in bad light, designating him as a bandit, among others.

In 1905, union leader Dominador Gomez was tasked to negotiate with Sakay in exchange for his freedom. Gomez's organization, the Union Obrera Democratica Filipina, was known to have conducted the first May Day commemoration in the Philippines for labor. The union, however, was also accused of supporting Sakay's activities, leading to arrests which forced members to dissolve the union.

Upon meeting with Sakay, Gomez argued that continued resistance was blocking the way towards the creation of a Filipino national assembly, a step towards independence. Persuaded that a constitutional means was now available, Sakay agreed to end his struggle on the condition that amnesty was granted for all of his troops. The surrender occurred on July 14, 1906. He would be among the last of the Filipino generals to lay down their arms. Warm reception for Sakay in Manila, however, proved to be a conveniently concealed trap.

On July 17 of the same year, a party supposedly hosted by Cavite Governor Louis J. Van Shaick (a Medal of Honor recipient) led to the disarming and the arrest of Sakay and the revolutionary leaders with him. While the Philippine Assembly was indeed organized and inaugurated in 1907, as provided for by the Philippine Organic Act, Sakay would have no opportunity to participate in the new body.

14th September
On September 14, 1815, the Manila-Acapulco galleon trade ended as the last galleon made its journey. Regarded as the first global trade route as it essentially covered great distances, the galleons were large armed ships used by the European powers for both war and commerce. In the case of the Spanish Empire, which by the beginning of the galleon trade in the 16th century had significant presence in the Pacific from both sides of the ocean, it was aimed to open the economy of Asia to Europe.

Along with this came sociocultural exchanges, evidences of which remain observable to date, and scientific knowledge particularly in navigation. Galleons from the Philippines usually rode the Kuroshio (黒潮) Current, a northward current that splits in the Luzon area from the southward Mindanao Current. As late as the 1800s, Japanese ships in particular were diverted by the Kuroshio Current, causing them to end up far from the Japanese archipelago. One documented case was the 1806 rescue of Inawaka-maru's crew in Hawaii, with the said Japanese ship only meant to travel from Hiroshima to Edo (Tokyo).

Despite logistical issues, the Spanish heavily banked on local resources and expertise to maintain this trans-Pacific link, and it did not prove too difficult to integrate European technology in Philippine shipbuilding tradition. Sailing around twice a year, the cargo limit for galleons coming out of Manila was pegged at a value of 250,000 pesos, while the limit for those emerging from Acapulco was 500,000 pesos. With the cost of galleon construction averaging less than 100,000 pesos, it was projected to be a profitable venture. The imposition of limitations, however, contributed to the eventual decline of the galleon trade.

Some 20 percent of galleons from Manila either got shipwrecked or returned to port, a higher failure percentage than that of galleons from Acapulco. While piracy and related human interventions harassed the galleon trade, it was not the most significant reasons behind failure. Quantitative analysis of records of 410 Manila galleons and 340 Acapulco galleons show that late departures, environmental conditions, the typhoon season, and potential corruption made Manila galleons less successful in their trips.
While the Spanish government mandated final dates throughout the years when the galleons should leave port, it was not as faithfully followed in Manila, wherein port officials tried to overload the ships even at the cost of missing the calmer weather if an early departure was made. Navigating from Philippines to Japan was also a challenging feat even for skilled sailors, although this probably was more evident during the typhoon season rather than dealing with more usual phenomena such as the Kuroshio Current.

The opening of alternative routes also contributed to the decline of galleon trade. In July 1765, Governor General Jose Antonio Raon (the namesake of a street in Manila) arrived in the Philippines aboard the Buen Consejo, the first Spanish ship to have travelled around the Cape of Good Hope in South Africa since at least the 17th century. This demonstrated that a more efficient route was made available to Spain. Ultimately, the Mexican War of Independence (1810-1821) made the difficulties of sustaining the galleons more apparent to the Spanish government.

In April 1813, the Mexicans successfully occupied Acapulco. Five months later, upon convening the Congress of Chilpancingo, Mexican independence was endorsed. While the galleon trade ended long ago, both nations still looked back at its historical and cultural influences. In 2015, the governments of the Philippines and Mexico campaigned for the nomination of the galleon trade route in the UNESCO World Heritage List.

October 8 was dubbed as the Day of the Galleon (El Dia del Galeon) to commemorate the first return journey of the galleon in 1565.

15th September
On September 15, 1898, the regular session of the Malolos Congress was convened in Barasoain Church. Ilocos Norte Representative Pedro Paterno, known for his role in negotiating the Pact of Biak-na-Bato a year prior and later member of the American-organized Philippine Assembly, was elected President of the Congress. Jolo Representative Benito Legarda, future Resident Commissioner of the Philippines under American rule, was elected Vice President. In addition, Representatives Gregorio Araneta and Pablo Ocampo were elected as First and Second Secretaries, respectively.

Pursuant to a June 18 Decree by the Dictatorial Government of President Emilio Aguinaldo, Congress representatives were elected in provinces where possible, particularly in areas already liberated and pacified by Filipino forces. A subsequent decree, issued on June 23 and coinciding with the shift to the Revolutionary Government, mandated the appointment of representatives in provinces where election was not considered feasible, provided that the appointees would satisfy residency and capability criteria.

Included in the represented provinces were Islas Palaos (now Republic of Palau), although in February 1899, Spain sold Palau and its Pacific holdings to Germany, claiming that said territories were excluded from the cession made to the United States through the Treaty of Paris. Despite the German-Spanish Treaty, the Filipino claim of sovereignty over Spain's former Pacific territories continued until the presidency of Miguel Malvar, who succeeded Aguinaldo and served from 1901 to 1902.

The Revolutionary Congress ratified the June 12 Declaration of Independence on September 29 of the same year. To help finance the new Filipino government, the Congress passed legislation providing for government bonds redeemable in 40 years, the starting date for counting being December 1, 1898.
They also worked on the creation of the Malolos Constitution, which would be ratified by January 1899. The constitutional committee was composed of the following: Antonio Luna, Jose Luna, Jose Alejandrino, Felipe Calderon, Arsenio Cruz Herrera, Felipe Buencamino, Gregorio Araneta, Pablo Ocampo, Hipolito Magsalin, Basilio Teodoro, Jose Albert, Joaquin Gonzalez, Aguedo Velarde, Higino Benitez, Tomas del Rosario, Alberto Barretto, Jose Ma. de la Viña, Mariano Abella, Juan Manday.

15th September
On September 15, 1972, American Ambassador to the Philippines Henry Byroade sent to the United States Department of State details on the potential imposition of martial law in the Philippines, conveniently called the "Contingency Plan." While no exact date was provided on when martial law would be implemented, Byroade noted that Filipino President Ferdinand Marcos, Sr. extending his stay in power beyond 1973 through martial law might be outside the spirit of the 1935 Constitution, although martial law in itself was not an "extra-constitutional" step. He added that Marcos appeared to have the capability to do so, even without American help, through a transitional government in preparation to shift towards a parliamentary system by 1975. The Interim Batasang Pambansa, however, would not be elected and convened until 1978.

When asked whether Marcos would make a surprise declaration of martial law, Byroade reiterated Marcos would only declare so "if a part of Manila were burned, a top official of his Government, or foreign ambassador, assassinated or kidnapped." Then again, while the ambassador believed that the United States might benefit from non-opposition to Marcos's plans, he also provided a warning that such movement away from "complete democracy" could send ripples to the United States, considering the Philippines supposedly adopted the "American brand" of democracy.

A day prior, on September 14, Marcos wrote in his diary that he assembled the Defense Secretary, the Armed Forces Chief of Staff, and the heads of the service branches to convey his intention to declare martial law. He added that he needed at least 14 months to accomplish the objectives of martial law, which he stated to have included the ratification of a new constitution, the liquidation of the Communist threat, and the implementation of reforms. Marcos would remain as president for nearly 14 years since the declaration of martial law.

In relation to this, Senator Benigno "Ninoy" Aquino, Jr. on September 13, 1972 bared in his Senate privilege speech the existence of "Oplan Sagittarius", a plan to place the Greater Manila Area under Philippine Constabulary control, which Aquino basically connected as the prelude to Marcos's martial law blueprint. It was eventually revealed that the president assigned different codenames for the "Contingency Plan" to various military officers, making it easier to determine leak sources. For his part, Marcos dismissed the idea as he lambasted the Liberals, of which Aquino was a party member, for meeting with Communists. At the personal level, Marcos welcomed the spark of a public debate to "get the people used to the idea of emergency powers."

16th September
When a great comet graced a Filipino rebellion?

On September 16, 1807, the Ambaristo or Basi Revolt erupted in Ilocos. Lasting until September 28, history textbooks would usually have passing reference to this largely economy-inspired uprising. Basi is an alcoholic beverage from sugarcane, a cashcrop for the Ilocanos, and the Spanish government had impositions placed on it since at least 1786.

However, what was probably missed in this episode of the nation was the impeccable timing of the revolt. Just a month later, in October 1807, the French would enter Spain and Portugal to begin the Peninsular War. Even by this time, it took weeks before credible news from Europe ever reached the Philippines, but the falling out between Napoleon Bonaparte and his erstwhile ally in the Iberian Peninsula had been on track way before the actual invasion began. As early as July, there was pressure from France on Portugal to declare war against Britain. Meanwhile, Spain was disillusioned with continuing the alliance with France after the spectacular defeat of their combined armada at Trafalgar two years prior.

This internal weakness may have been exploited by the Basi revolutionaries, who even waved flags of red and gold based on the Señera, the banner of Catalan nationalists who sought independence from Spain, as they marched on and fought the Spanish troops.

Yet another imposing feature in the art portraying the revolt itself was the presence of the Great Comet of 1807, which was not exactly Halley's Comet. Designated with the codename C/1807 R1, it was nonetheless one of the bright comets to orbit near Earth that became visible with the naked eye.
Comets were usually interpreted as warnings or omens. In Philippine mythologies, the local term Bulalakaw actually referred to a messenger god who brought illness, war, and pestilence. Perhaps a fitting description of the time. Not only was there a revolt, epidemic after epidemic began to surface at the turn of the 19th century. One of them, smallpox, had been the focus of the Balmis Expedition from 1803 to 1806. Vaccination as people know it today was relatively new at the time, but Ilocos turned out to be one of the regions which received little attention from the vaccine mission. Smallpox entered Ilocos around 1789.

17th September
On September 17, 1871, General Francisco Soliman Makabulos was born in Tarlac. Regarded as one of the first members of the Katipunan in Tarlac, the poet revolutionary raised the so-called Cry of Tarlac in January 1897 to wave the banner of the Philippine Revolution in the province. It was said his motivations to join included the death of his friend Francisco Tañedo, a co-founder of the first Masonic lodge in Tarlac. Five months later, he would be granted a rank of general when Emilio Aguinaldo organized an assembly in Puray, Montalban (now Rodriguez) to create the Departmental Government of Central Luzon.

Doubting the peace brought by the Pact of Biak-na-Bato, Makabulos would be one of the revolutionary leaders who continued fighting while Aguinaldo and the Hong Kong Junta was in exile. By February 1898, Tarlac, Pampanga, Bulacan, and Zambales were up in arms. This would pave the way for the establishment of the Central Executive Committee on April 24, a revolutionary government which adopted a 13-article constitution named after Makabulos.

The Tarlakeño general would later join the government formed upon Aguinaldo's return, liberating Tarlac and Pangasinan by 1898. Makabulos would serve as an appointed representative of Cebu in the Malolos Congress with Ariston Bautista, Trinidad Padro de Tavera and Felix David. Makabulos also served as the governor of Tarlac for the First Philippine Republic, a position he would occupy until his surrender to the United States on June 15, 1900. Makabulos surrendered with 130 Filipino troops in Camiling, hoping that the peace process led by erstwhile Aguinaldo officials such as Pedro Paterno and Felipe Buencamino would be able to strike an acceptable deal.

On December 23, 1900, Makabulos would be one of the founders of the Federalista Party, an organization which aimed for American statehood of the Philippines. Initially, those who had already surrendered to the Americans by this time planned to form a Nacionalista Party which aspired independence, a move supported by other leaders who benefited from the American amnesty such as Macario Sakay. However, the American government rejected any form of advocating independence for the Philippines, whether by force or by legal means, as evidenced by the Sedition Law of 1901.
The Federalistas would eventually reform as the Progresista Party after adopting an independence platform in preparation for the 1907 Philippine Assembly elections, when the Americans lifted the prohibition on advocating independence. The shadow of their statehood past, however, haunted the Progresistas in the polls. They won 16 of the 80 available seats.

As for Makabulos, he would become the mayor of his hometown La Paz under the American regime. He died in April 1922.

18th September
On September 18, 1899, the Battle of Olongapo commenced when Filipino troops fired against the armed cargo ship USS Zafiro. While the Filipinos initially hoped the routine patrols would stop sooner or later, they eventually realized that keeping the peace on their part would not stop American ships from roaming.

Olongapo in Zambales had been in control of Filipino forces since the Philippine Revolution resumed in 1898, only to find the armaments of the former Spanish naval base lacking. In light of this, they set up a battery composed of one six-inch (150 mm) Ordoñez gun and one three-inch (76 mm) gun at Kalaklan (Calaclan) Point. Plants were used to hide the artillery.

While the Zafiro was reportedly without damage, it nonetheless alerted the Americans. The protected cruiser USS Charleston was later dispatched, firing her eight-inch guns to silence the Olongapo battery. The Filipinos were able to make a single shot, but this convinced the Americans that a naval expedition was needed.

On September 23, a larger American force composed of the Zafiro, the Charleston, the monitor USS Monterey, the gunboat USS Concord, and the protected cruiser USS Baltimore appeared in Subic Bay. After bombarding Olongapo, Charleston landed some 300 troops on a mission to sabotage the Filipino battery. The Americans retreated upon achieving their task, with Olongapo itself remaining under Filipino control. Later, on December 10, 1899, American troops under Major Robert Spence captured Olongapo, the area remaining an American base until 1991.

The Ordoñez gun installed by the Filipinos, meanwhile, would be taken to the United States and displayed in San Francisco, California.

18th September
On September 18, 1972, the venue of the 1971 Constitutional Convention (Quezon City Hall) was bombed at around 3:40 in the afternoon, leaving 26 injured. This would be the last of the so-called Manila bombings which began at least in March 1972, creating an atmosphere of bomb scare in the Philippines. The Con Con bombing would be cited in Proclamation No. 1081, which President Ferdinand Marcos, Sr. signed to place the nation under martial law.

The Constitutional Convention, also known as Con Con, assembled on June 1, 1971 for its delegates to draft a new Filipino constitution. While publicly supported by Marcos, the process also became a source of controversy. Two weeks before the bombing, the convention voted against the "ban Marcos" resolution 155-131, which would have disallowed the president to run for reelection under the new constitution. This despite the earlier "payola" or delegate bribery expose by Eduardo Quintero, who found himself facing charges on perjury, bribery, and corruption instead of those he accused. Quintero would later be vindicated by a 1988 decision nullifying the warrants against him and demonetizing the money, supposedly amounting to some 379,000 pesos, allegedly found by the authorities in his home.
It was believed that the defeat of the movement to "ban Marcos" contributed to the legal infrastructure of martial law which permitted the president to stay in power beyond constitutional term limits.

As for the bombing, Marcos blamed the Communists, connecting this as their response to September 12 arrests of about 48 alleged subversives in Manila, Pasay, and Quezon City, one of which was said to be a leader of the New People's Army (NPA). Opposition leaders, meanwhile, suspected government forces to be the ones behind the bombings. At any rate, martial law seemed to have accelerated the convention's pace. The new constitution was ratified on January 11, 1973, four months later.

On December 7, 2020, the Senate of the Philippines adopted a resolution honoring the constitutional conventions of the Philippines and commemorating the 50th anniversary of the 1971 Constitutional Convention.

19th September
On September 19, 1910, Senator Arturo Tolentino was born in Manila. He was best known for the Archipelagic Doctrine, which was adopted by the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) in 1982. This gave the Philippines rights to its exclusive economic zone (EEZ) of 200 miles. According to him, he was not financed by the government in this effort, and received only a salary of one peso.

Tolentino topped the Bar Exams in 1934, and was a Doctor of Civil Law. He entered politics in 1949, when he was elected representative of Manila and became House Majority Floor Leader. Six years later, he was elected senator with almost two million votes, garnering the second highest spot out of eight seats available. He was reelected in 1963, again having the second place with 3.5 million votes.
In 1966, he was elected Senate President. However, due to a secret agreement with President Ferdinand Marcos, Sr., Senator Gil Puyat took the position midway, a case of term sharing. Tolentino, however, claimed he was not privy to the said arrangement. He would be reelected as senator in 1969, this time gaining the first place with 4.8 million votes.

Under martial law, Marcos held elections for the Interim Batasang Pambansa (IBP) in 1978. Tolentino ran for a seat in Manila, now reorganized as part of the National Capital Region or Metro Manila. Despite the strong performance of Lakas ng Bayan (LABAN), the main opposition party in the region led by Benigno "Ninoy" Aquino, Jr., he topped the initial election results, as he did the pre-election surveys. However, it was said Marcos's wife Imelda wanted to become first place in Metro Manila. As a result, Tolentino fell to fourth place out of 21 available seats in the official tally. LABAN, on the other hand, was out of contention. Not even Aquino won a seat.

Tolentino retained his seat in the Regular Batasang Pambansa during the 1984 elections, although the opposition bloc United Nationalist Democratic Organization (UNIDO) gained the majority of seats in Metro Manila.

When Marcos decided to hold snap elections in 1986, he sought a running mate who could balance his ticket. Since no qualified candidate wanted to pair with Marcos and fielding Imelda might prove counterproductive, he recruited Tolentino, who was then set to run for reelection in the Batasang Pambansa. Although Tolentino was a member of Marcos's umbrella party Kilusang Bagong Lipunan (KBL), he appeared to serve as an oppositionist in practice, a suitable moderate candidate.

Tolentino initially resisted, but he later admitted seeing the opportunity to succeed Marcos if he consented. Since elections were held a year earlier than what was mandated by the 1973 Constitution, the vice president would have the opportunity to succeed as president once Marcos was term-limited come 1992. In addition, he would have access to the enormous resources of the Marcos political machine, which would otherwise be impossible for him to have as an independent.

However, the results of the election, whether consulting the COMELEC or the NAMFREL count, apparently showed that Marcos did not carry Tolentino as much in the provinces. For instance, while Marcos carried ten provinces in Visayas, Tolentino carried only five. In addition, while Marcos won 54 percent of more than 20 million votes cast, Tolentino won only 51 percent, at least according to COMELEC. The traditional opposition bailiwick Metro Manila, however, did not abandon Tolentino. While Marcos lost heavily there, he won in the region, both in the COMELEC and the NAMFREL count.

Four months later, he would lead a coup to put him as the constitutional successor to the presidency. Since Marcos was exiled to the United States, he argued that the Vice President, i.e., himself, should have assumed the role of Acting President, not the second placer in the election. However, due to lack of popular support, he called off the coup. He failed to win a Senate seat in 1987, but would return to the Upper House once more in 1992.

Tolentino died on August 2, 2004 and was buried in the Libingan ng mga Bayani.

19th September
On September 19, 1868, La Gloriosa or the Glorious Revolution began in Spain when Admiral Juan Bautista Topete conspired against the Spanish monarchy and made possible the return of exiled leaders such as Generals Juan Prim and Francisco Serrano. The revolution, culminating at the Battle of Alcolea where Serrano won over royalist forces, was successful in removing Queen Isabel II from the throne. A provisional government, established on October 3, was set in place with Serrano as prime minister. The regime change also reflected in the Philippines, when Serrano appointed the reformist Carlos Maria de la Torre as governor general by 1869.

One of de la Torre's first acts was to take down and repurpose Ponciano Ponzano's bronze statue of Isabel, which was unveiled in 1860. The task was given to a certain Bartolome Barretto, but the religious and the Manila Ayuntamiento blocked the move by having it declared municipal property. The monument was stored in Barretto's home. It turned out that Barretto was a supporter of royalty as well. Meanwhile, de la Torre's tenure would end by 1871 as the monarchy was restored with the Italian Prince Amadeo assuming the throne.

Isabel's statue would be reinstalled for public display in 1896 until it was brought down by Typhoon Patsy (Yoling) in November 1970. The monument was moved to its present position at Puerta de Isabel II in Intramuros, Manila by 1974, in time for the visit of Spain's Prince (later King) Juan Carlos in the Philippines.

20th September
On September 20, 1898, civic leader and social worker Josefa Llanes Escoda was born in Ilocos Norte. Since 1991, she would be the only woman in the 1,000 Philippine peso banknote, sharing the obverse design with Chief Justice Jose Abad Santos and General Vicente Lim.

After gaining a degree in education, she worked with the Red Cross, which granted her a scholarship to study in the United States. As a suffragette, she advocated the right of Filipinas to vote. The Philippines would achieve women's suffrage by 1937.

Upon returning to the country, Escoda also endeavored to organize the Girl Scouts of the Philippines (GSP). On May 26, 1940, the GSP would be chartered by virtue of Commonwealth Act No. 542, with Escoda as their first leader.

During the Second World War, Escoda and her husband Antonio helped prisoners of war. The Japanese, however, did not appreciate their activity. This led to her imprisonment. She would be last seen on January 6, 1945.

21st September
On September 21, 1972, President Ferdinand Marcos, Sr. signed Proclamation No. 1081 placing the entire Philippines under martial law. Or was it? Apparently, the state of martial law was not announced to the public until two days later, on September 23 at 7:15 in the evening. In fact, the newspaper Daily Express only headlined the proclamation on September 24 in their Sunday release, as ordered by Marcos.

Later on, Marcos would reveal to a historians' convention in December that he signed the proclamation on September 17, presumably postdating the document to the 21st. September 17 was also the date when Marcos informed the United States Embassy in the Philippines of his martial law plans. This was eventually connected to Marcos's fascination of numerology, wherein he was believed to have favored the number seven (7) or its multiples.

Former Media Advisory Council Chair and Marcos's "Media Czar" Primitivo Mijares observed that the president's timing was dependent on the adjournment of Congress, which was originally scheduled on September 21. When the legislature decided to move the adjournment to the 23rd, their plans had to be readjusted as well. Meanwhile, in his own diary, Marcos indicated that he was ready to sign the proclamation on September 20, but was unable to do so because it had to be "retyped."

It was also on September 21 when Senator Benigno "Ninoy" Aquino, Jr. further elaborated through another privilege speech in the Senate his earlier exposition on the so-called Oplan Sagittarius, boldly predicting that martial law would be laid down in the "next 48 hours." On the same day, as Plaza Miranda was made a venue of some 30,000 demonstrators calling for civil liberties, Marcos would be flooded with people trying to confirm Aquino's statements. In his diary, Marcos wrote about denying them.

Contrary to popular belief, however, martial law was not a first for the Philippines under Marcos. On September 21, 1944, President Jose Laurel, Sr. placed the country under martial law by virtue of Proclamation No. 29. The ruling Japanese, pressed by the American offensive as the Second World War entered its fifth year, sought to draft Filipinos in their military and thought that Laurel's proclamation would be sufficient. Then again, not only did Laurel refuse Filipino conscription, he also conveniently worded the proclamation that the Japanese found it as a mere formality.

On the part of President Emilio Aguinaldo, he signed a decree on May 23, 1898 to establish a Dictatorial Government, with himself as dictator. Done upon the recommendation of Aguinaldo's new adviser Apolinario Mabini, it was meant to legitimize strong leadership at least until the war for independence was over. Although the shift to a Revolutionary Government would come a month later, on June 23, along with the reorganization of local governments and the election of Congress representatives, foreign press in particular seemed stuck in calling Aguinaldo a dictator.

24th September
The Last Samurai escaped to the Philippines?

On September 24, 1877, the Seinan War (西南戦争) or the Satsuma Rebellion ended with the victory of Imperial Japanese troops in the Battle of Shiroyama in Kagoshima. This was also believed to be the final act of Saigō Takamori, the rebellion's leader and one of the so-called Three Great Imperialists (維新の三傑) who played a great role in forming Meiji Japan. To this day, however, Saigō's demise remained subject to debate. It allowed stories to emerge, including denials of his death at Shiroyama. One particular belief that persisted for some time was his alleged flight to the Philippines.

At face value, it was not completely farfetched. In 1614, Osaka-born Christian daimyo Takayama Hikogorō, later known as Dom Justo Takayama Ukon, settled in the Philippines with some 300 Japanese believers after the Tokugawa shogunate prohibited Christianity. When a proposal to return to Japan was made, Takayama turned it down. He died in 1615.

However, considering Saigō was an advocate of Japanese expansionism and military modernization, with himself being a vocal supporter of Seikanron or the invasion of Korea, it might seem unlikely for the fallen samurai to have chosen any of the "inferior nations" in Nanshin (Southern Seas) to flee in. Regardless of whether he died honorably or chose to leave Japan after Shiroyama, Saigō would eventually regain the recognition of his homeland. In 1889, the Meiji government pardoned him, and nine years later, a statue was built for him at Ueno Park in Tokyo.

As for Takayama, he was also honored in the Philippines and even beyond. In 2017, he was beatified by the Roman Catholic Church with his feast day set on February 3. His statue overlooking Plaza Dilao, on the other hand, apparently had to give way to modernization as the Metro Manila Skyway Stage 3 was constructed around the area where it stood.

25th September
On September 25, 1879, Senator Lope K. Santos was born in Pasig. A union leader during the advent of American rule in the Philippines, Santos made his mark in the literary world with his 1906 Tagalog novel Banaag at Sikat. To date regarded as an important piece for the Filipino labor movement, the novel was considered as one of the first works on socialism and anarchism in the Philippines. He also advocated for the adoption of a national language, creating for the purpose a grammar book (balarila) which included the ancient script Baybayin.

In the realm of government service, Santos was Governor of Rizal from 1909 to 1912, and Governor of Nueva Vizcaya from 1918 to 1920. Thereafter, he was appointed senator of the 12th district by Governor General Francis Burton Harrison. Santos resigned in 1921.

Santos was given the Presidential Award of Merit (later renamed Presidential Medal of Merit) in 1956. He died on Labor Day, May 1, 1963.

26th September
On September 26, 1580, English privateer Sir Francis Drake completed his circumnavigation of the world, making him the first to do so for England, and the first expedition lead to finish (Portuguese Ferdinand Magellan died in Mactan, unable to complete the entire journey).

Known for harassing Spanish shipping throughout his trip, earning him a rather straightforward Spanish moniker El Draque (The Dragon), Drake's 5-ship expedition eventually reached Mindanao around October 1579, his supposed route touching the Surigao and the Davao areas before proceeding to the so-called Spice Islands (Maluku, Moluccas). This was regarded as the first recorded contact between Britain and the Philippines, except that Drake's memories of this leg in his circumnavigation was not as encouraging.

If Magellan's expedition claimed they found Guam and its neighboring islands as Islas de los Ladrones (Islands of Thieves), Drake also saw himself in a similarly inconvenient position when he claimed to have been robbed in Mindanao while coasting to search for water. Later interpretation of this incident, however, appeared to veer to the possibility of miscommunication between Drake and the locals. Early Spanish contact in Mindanao did not seem to report such thievery. Reinforcing this assessment might be how Drake mistook Davao and Surigao as separate islands, although they were part of a single Mindanao.

On April 4, 1581, Drake was knighted by Queen Elizabeth I, who mandated the expedition to become state secret in attempts to minimize the information available to the Spanish Crown.

27th September
On September 27, 1865, General Miguel Malvar was born in Batangas. Assuming the presidency in April 1901 after the capture of Emilio Aguinaldo, as confirmed by the Hong Kong Junta, Malvar and his "Army of Libe


This post first appeared on Filipino Historian, please read the originial post: here

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#OnThisDay: Selected Historical Events in the month of September

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