DNA Can Identify Remains of Filipino Exiled Rebels and More …

by Bobby Reyes

Naval Gun Crew in the Spanish American War | Photo via Creative Commons

Part XIX of “The Filipino Melting Pot” Series

During the Philippine revolution against the Spanish colonizers in the 1890s, Spain executed Filipino revolutionary figures. Among them was Dr. Jose P. Rizal at the Bagumbayan Field in Manila. The Spanish War Council of Manila also exiled some of them to its other Guam and West Africa colonies. They sent the lucky ones to Barcelona (Spain), and one of them was my grandfather-in-law, Isabelo (Don Belong) de Los Reyes of now Vigan City (Ilocos Sur).

Readers may read how Don Belong became a member of the Katipunan Revolutionary Movement and his subsequent exile to Spain in this link.

I wrote in 2007 that “there is an island in West-Central Africa with a name that some Filipino idiots think was named after one of their matinee idols. The Spaniards called it the Isla de Fernando Po. (Some maps and history books also spelled it as Poo.) When the Republic of Equatorial Guinea was created in the early 1970s, the largest island in the country, Fernando Po, was renamed Bioko. You can read more of my research at this link.

When I worked in Guam in 1972, I tried to convince the Philippine Consulate in its capital city of Agana to start a movement to locate the Filipino rebels that supposedly died on the island. Both Spain and the United States (after it took over the island due to the Spanish-American War of 1898) exiled Filipino rebels to Guam. But the Filipino diplomats in Guam got real busy when then-Filipino strongman Marcos declared martial law on September 21 of that year. And my request got buried in the consulate’s dead files. You can read more about this Filipino “Guam Adventure” in this February 2008 article.

“When I worked in Guam in 1972, I tried to convince the Philippine Consulate in its capital city of Agana to start a movement to locate the Filipino rebels that supposedly died on the island. Both Spain and the United States (after it took over the island due to the Spanish-American War of 1898) exiled Filipino rebels to Guam.”

Then the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) assigned a young diplomat, the Hon. Daniel Ramos Espiritu, as the first Bicolano Deputy Consul General in Los Angeles, CA. Mr. Espiritu and I became good personal friends (as probably his DFA bosses reminded him of a Sicilian adage to “keep friends close and enemies, closer” — as I joked). Why? Because I led a community movement that succeeded in pressuring then-President Fidel V. Ramos to void his appointment of a consul general-designate for the Philippine Consulate General-Los Angeles (PCG-LA) in 1992. Then-President Gloria M. Arroyo recalled the L.A.-based consul general some two years ahead of his tenure in 2001.

Some Filipino diplomats assigned in the PCG-LA treated me as a persona non grata. For curious readers that may be interested in reading the now-historic and unprecedented “recall movements” against two Filipino consuls general in the PCG-LA, please go to this link.

Since Deputy Consul General Espiritu hailed from Naga City, I related to him my writings about the wrong count of the so-called “Fifteen Bicolano Martyrs.” The unexpected then happened. Mr. Espiritu said that one of his ancestors from his maternal side was one of the Bicolnon heroes mentioned in my article. He said that he would accompany our mission to West Africa — once we could marshal the necessary resources to mount the task of locating the graves of the said Filipino revolutionary heroes and conducting DNA tests on their remains and descendants in Africa.

Mr. Espiritu’s tenure in the PCG-LA ended, and he reported back to the DFA Head Office. Later, he became the Filipino envoy to Pakistan.

I discussed with now-Ambassador Espiritu how the mission to West Africa could also possibly find Africans with Filipino DNA. The exiled Filipino rebels would have many opportunities to befriend the prison’s native guards or even the Spanish commandant or jail wardens. Perhaps, being introduced to some attractive woman-kin of the guards and allowed conjugal visits at the prisons. Or even permitted to raise a family in the prison of an island. Thus, increased the number of the “Filipino Melting Pot.”

By the way, marrying the daughter of one of the top officers in the Spanish Army in the City of Barcelona happened to Don Belong. He was a widower when exiled to Spain. According to family lore, he married the daughter of the prison commandant. And he took his Spanish bride to Manila when the Spaniards ended his exile. But as fate would have it, the American colonial authorities, headed by Gov. William Howard Taft, exiled Don Belong back to Spain after forming the Filipino Labor Movement and led the first labor strike in Manila. At least Governor Taft made the courtesy of asking Don Belong where he wanted to be.

There is no problem with Guam, the population of which is reportedly 16% Filipino.

And the proposed Mexican-Filipino conglomerate can eventually compete with China and other global powers in helping develop the continent of Africa economically, starting in the former Spanish colony of the Republic of Equatorial Guinea. There can be feasible projects — from the construction of piers, airports, railroads, and other infrastructures and medical ventures — beginning with some former African colonies of Spain, Portugal, or even Italy that are now independent nations.

“In that case, the Mexican-Filipino conglomerate can propose the project to the African nations. The conglomerate can begin with the Spanish-speaking African countries the process of initiating the needed steps to combat Vaccine Imperialism.”

Remember the topic discussed in this column on January 28, 2021? It urged President Biden to duplicate what then-President William McKinley and Civil Governor-General (for the Philippines) William Howard Taft did in the City of Manila in the early 1900s.

Well, suppose the Biden Administration will refuse to initiate the suggested state-of-the-art 50 Medical Centers (as patterned after the American MedCenter in Manila in the 1900s). In that case, the Mexican-Filipino conglomerate can propose the project to the African nations. The conglomerate can begin with the Spanish-speaking African countries the process of initiating the needed steps to combat Vaccine Imperialism. Please read again what this columnist discussed on April 18, 2021, about How the Filipino Melting Pot Can End ‘Vaccine Imperialism.

Building the suggested 50 MedCenters in 50 foreign countries can help accelerate the drive of Mexico to become the fifth-biggest economy in the world by 2050. Or even sooner. The estimated cost of each MedCenter is some $20-billion. It can lead to the manufacture of medical equipment in its Research-&-Development Center in Mexico and the Philippines to produce affordable vaccines against viruses and bacteria and therapeutic medicine. The needed equipment can be manufactured under license or by “reverse engineering.” More than enough Mexican and Filipino (as aided by the ASEAN’s and other Hispanic nations’) medical professionals, technicians, chemists, biologists, and other experts to compete with the United States, China, and pharmaceutical industries in the European Union.

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