Thursday, February 23, 2012

Petronilo Noble

To localize the rebellion, Governor Ramon Blanco declared martial law on August 30, 1896.   Katipunan General Ramon Bernardo fled with what remained of his men who were armed only with bolos and outnumbered by the Spaniards hunting them. His troops dispersed to avoid being captured.  One soldier named Florentino Policarpio who accompanied the general became sick and was entrusted to compatriots at Masambong.  Bernardo wrote an account of his experience:

“We were defeated in the heated battle at Santa Mesa.  I had a thousand troops, more or les,who were armed with either bolos or guns.  We were overwhelmed by the superior number and arms of our enemy.  Many of my men died or were wounded; most of those seriously wounded were capured by the Spaniards.”

For weeks, the general continued to wander  around Caloocan, Biak na Bato and Balara where he was able to regroup with Bonifacio.  Meanwhile, the Spanish focused on Pandacan due to its notoriety as a “cradle of agitators” and being the home of General Bernardo. 

A battery of cannons was "nakaumang sa Pandacan" when the town was put under "juez de cuchillo" law according to Ricardo Mendoza, former principal of Zamora Elementary School.   Nobody dared to go out of their homes but it was Petronilo Noble who got out of the church raising a flag of truce who negotiated with the Spanish battery to spare the residents.  

Perhaps he convinced them that the Katipuneros have all left to join the fighting at Santa Mesa.  Noble was the parish escribiente and probably a prayerful soul that seeked the intercession of the Sto Niño.   Jocelyn Uy writing for the Philippine Daily Inquirer says the Sto. patron saint of Pandacan "saved the town from being crushed by Spanish colonial troops in the 1890s."

How Noble convinced the Spanish commander, no one remembers.  An inconspicuous street at Beata was later named Petronilo Noble.  

PHOTO: Spanish battery of two 8-centimeter caliber guns firing at Filipinos at the Zapote River bridge, Cavite Province.

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