Rediscovering Lizzie’s heritage

"All of us should discover our roots."


March 22, 2019 is the 150th birth anniversary of General and President Emilio Aguinaldo y Famy.  This year’s anniversary is marked as Emilio Aguinaldo Day in the whole country, and a special non-working holiday in the province of Cavite. 

Together with other members of Tunay na Kasaysayan ng Pilipinas Inc., a non-government organization advocating for “no hate history,” I went to the Aguinaldo Shrine in Kawit, Cavite to witness the festivities in honor of Heneral Miong’s 150th. 

Going to this place always makes me feel proud as a Filipino. I like seeing the historic house where many important meetings of revolutionaries transpired, and where our country’s independence was proclaimed. I like seeing the Philippine flags that surround the place flying freely and proudly. The monument of Gen. Aguinaldo on top of a horse as if going to battle is a source of inspiration to always move forward no matter the challenges.  

Rediscovering Philippine history in the last seven or so years has developed a passion for the past I did not know I have.  Rediscovering Gen. Aguinaldo has kindled the desire to know more about our country, our heroes, both known and unknown, and what really transpired during the Philippine revolution from 1896 onwards. 

Primary and secondary sources on our valiant past are the resources I choose to use in my pursuit of my own roots because most recent historians I have discovered, possess strong biases for or against major revolutionary personalities. Such tend to obscure their accounting of history and does not facilitate a real understanding of our past. Some of these primary and secondary sources are actual records of the revolution, accounts of those who participated and lived it, and materials written by those who were able to speak with the people who were actually involved in the quest for our independence.

This interest in history made me realize how little I knew about my own roots, and how wrong many of what little I knew were.  Gen. Emilio Aguinaldo is a case in point. Like many of my contemporaries, I was rabidly anti-Aguinaldo and pro-Bonifacio. I believed the poison fed to me as a student and carried this until recent years. 

However, my own inquiry of our past led me to discover the real Emilio Aguinaldo minus the biases and black propaganda thrown his way. I have learned about his most important role in our wars against two powerful countries, Spain and America, his many important contributions to the country, and the CONTEXT within which the tragic deaths of Andres Bonifacio and General Antonio Luna happened. I felt a deep remorse and had to apologize to Hen. Miong.

This is not to say that I have turned to become anti-Bonifacio.  The Supremo remains a hero to me. What I learned is that our heroes were humans like you and me.  As humans, they had their share of weaknesses and committed mistakes. I have learned to appreciate each hero for what s/he gave us, and that certainly, there is no need to pit one against another.

Studying history brought me to meet descendants of our heroes like Dr. Jose Rizal, Felipe and Marcela Agoncillo, Hen. Gregorio del Pilar, Gregoria de Jesus, Gliceria Villavicencio, Gen. Ananias Diokno, Leon and Galicano Apacible,  Gen. Aguinaldo and a few others. Some of the Aguinaldo descendants have even become my friends. 

When TUKLAS participated in last year’s History Con, fourth to fifth generation Aguinaldos came in revolutionary uniforms. A good number of them were kids and teen-agers. TUKLAS’ booth at that time had memorabilia of the revolution and we had pictures of the General on display. There I met Lizzie Aguinaldo, a beautiful and smart fifth grader belonging to the fifth generation of the clan. Like the boys, she also donned a rayadillo uniform.  

The kids attracted a lot of attention during the event, even the media’s.  They were interviewed on cam and featured in several shows. This did not escape Lizzie’s attention. At one point, she asked in all innocence, “Is my Lolo famous?” We were a bit taken aback by her question. And we decided to talk to her a bit about her Lolo Miong. Before ending that conversation, I told her that it will be good for her to learn more about her Lolo’s life because he had a very fascinating and important story. 

During Hen. Miong’s 150th birthday, Lizzie sat beside me.  I remembered our last talk and I asked her if she know more about her Lolo now. She gave a big smile and said yes.  She said that her lolo helped many people and the country a lot, and that he fought Spain and America, and that her lolo was a brave man. I explained a bit more about Hen. Miong’s legacy and she was all ears, her eyes glittering with wonderment.

I asked how she now feels about her Lolo. She said that she was proud of him. She also said that when some of her classmates learned who her Lolo is, they said, “wow!” I could tell that this girl is now beginning to realize how important her heritage is. 

Lizzie said she watched Miong, the Musical with her family and that she liked it because she learned many things about her Lolo. She asked, “Did my Lolo go to office every day?” I told her that after the wars that he fought, he went to his office daily in Manila because he was still doing many things. I said that her Lolo Miong helped the other revolutionaries who fought with him even after the wars were already finished. 

She looked away a bit and said, “When I grow up, I would also like to help people.” She even said that she is planning to run as an officer of her class when she enters Grade 6 because she wants to be a LEADER like her Lolo Miong. I wanted to hug her. 

Later, I was told by an older cousin that Lizzie wants to be a lawyer in the future. This girl has the blood of a great General, the first President of the Republic, and a real hero running through her veins.  As early as now, I can see that she will grow up to be a strong woman. Gen. Emilio Aguinaldo must be smiling down on her. 

Like Lizzie, all of us, young and old, should rediscover our roots, our heritage. We have a past that is full of valor and heroism that we can be truly proud of. Being Filipino now means that our revolutionaries sacrificed their lives for us. The least we can do is to learn about, appreciate, and respect those who came before us. 

It is in gaining our collective identity that we can hold our heads up and move forward as a people. 

@bethangsioco on Twitter Elizabeth Angsioco on Facebook

Topics: Elizabeth Angsioco , Emilio Aguinaldo y Famy , Philippine history
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