LADISLAO DIWA

(1863 - 1930)

 

 

          Ladislao Diwa was the man who initiated the founding of the Katipunan. Despite his ceaseless patriotic activities during the entire period of the revolution, history does not remember him too well, except perhaps for a citation in history books as a man who, with Andres Bonifacio and Teodoro Plata, formed the first triangle of the Katipunan.

 

          Rizat once said: "Had it not been for the events of 1872, I should    have been a Jesuit." Similarly, it could be said that had Diwa's father  agreed to his son's ecclesiastical career, Diwa would not have thought of joining Andres Bonifacio in organizing the Katipunan.

 

          Diwa's dislike for the Spanish government and officials of his time came by actual experience. On one occasion, while he was unobtrusivety peddling his uncle's pharmaceutical products he met a group of  Spaniards along a narrow sidewalk. Because he refused to step off the sidewalk, one of them poked his cane in Diwa's face causing a wound on his left cheek. The wound left a scar which he carried in bitter memory of the incident to the end of his life.

 

          On several occasions, the Spanish civil guard called Diwa "mono" or monkey - an insult that only deepened his anger against the Spaniards. Diwa was born in San Rogue, Cavite on June 27, 1863, the third of the ten children of Mariano Diwa and Cecilia Nocon, natives of San Francisco de Malabon (now Gen. Trias) Cavite.

 

          He learned his first letters at home, and later, under Fr. Perfecto  Mañalac who recommended him for admission as a capista to the  Colegio de San Juan de Letran, where he obtained his Bachelor of Arts degree. He also spent 14 years studying for the priesthood. He had to suit just before his ordination because his father raised strong objections. Thereupon, he studied law at the University of Santo Tomas where he befriended Andres Bonifacio who was often secretly distributing propaganda literature done by Rizal and del Pilar. The two became close friends and Diwa boarded with Bonifacio and Plata at Segunto    Street (now Santo Cristo), where he became aqccuainted with other Filbusteros.

 

          Shortly before the outbreak of the 1896 Revolution, he was made curial de jurgado or oficial de mesa for the district of Quiapo. He joined Rizal's "La Liga Filipina" and, after the organization of its branches, became the secretary of the popular Council of Trozo in Tondo, under the presidency of Andres Bonifacio.

 

          On July 6, 1892, upon learning of the decision of Governor-

General Despujol to deport Rizal to Dapitan, he immediately proposed to his friends, Bonifacio and Plata to form a secret association to replace Rizal's "La Liga Filipina." He further suggested that it should be patterned after the "Black Mask" of Italy whose members were grouped into threes so that none of the members would know more than three members of the whole organization.

 

          Bonifacio and Plata agreed to the proposal and on the night of July, 7, 1892, founded the Katipunan at a house along Azcarraga, (now Claro M. Recto Avenue), near Elcano Street, Tondo. They took with them as their co-founders, Deodato Arellano, Valentin Diaz, Jose Dizon, and a few others. They gathered around a flickering table lamp, performed a blood compact, and signed membership papers with their own blood. Diwa adopted the symbolic name "Balete" and formed the first triangle with Bonifacio and Plata subsequently, he set up his own

adjoining triangle with Roman Basa and Teodoro Gonzales, who later became president and counselor, respectively, of the second Supreme Council of the Katipunan. He held the position of fiscal and was chosen counselor in the election of officers in February, 1893.

 

          Diwa's subsequent transfer to the justice of the peace court in Pampanga enhanced his propaganda activities; he even initiated members to the Katipunan in Bulacan, Nueva Ecija and Tarlac. It will be remebered that one of his well-known recruits in Tarlac was Gen. Francisco Makabulos, who became a popular revolutionary figure. The discovery of the Katipunan on August 19, 1896, placed his life in great danger. Subsequently, he was arrested in Betis, Bacolor, Pampanga. He was taken to Fort Santiago, where he was tortured and imprisoned. At the fort, he was surprised to find that one of his cellmates was his close friend and co-founder, Teodoro Plata.

 

          In February, 1897 he saw Plata taken out of hnis cell to suffer his sad fate in Bagumbayan. For four days Diwa was kept alone in his cell and left to die of thirst and hunger. Unexpectedly, was led out of his cell not to be shot but to be set free in an exchange of prisoners between the Spaniards and the Filipinos.

 

          After his release, he wanted to return to Cavite to join his fellow revolutionaries under Gen. Mariano Trias in San Francisco de Malabon. However, he learned that the Spaniards in Cavite were resolved to re-arrest him. To elude arrest, he left San Rogue disguised as a fisherman. He walked along the seashore and even had to wade under water (with only his nostrils exposed) for eight kilometers to reach his fellow rebels in San Francisco de Malabon. Finally, he was able to cross Dalahican from San Rogue to Noveleta, passing through the Spanish trenches.

 

          Free once more, he continued his revolutionary activities in Cavite and was instrumental in effecting the surrender of the Spanish forces under Leopoldo Garcia Oeña which retreated to San Francisco de Malabon on May 28, 1898 after Admiral Dewey's fleet defeated the Spanish navy off Cavite coast. Because of this feat, Diwa was promoted to the rank of colonel in the revolutionary army. After the proclamation of Philippine independence on June 12, 1898, he was named the first civil governor of Cavite.

 

          During the second phase of the Revolution, he joined Gen. Mariano Trias again and became the, latter's secretary. After the capture of Gen. Emilio Aguinaldo by the American forces on March 23, 1901, he and Gen. Mariano Trias surrendered to the American commander in lndang, Cavite, also in March, 1901.

 

          After taking his oath of allegiance to the United States government, he accepted the position of clerk of the Court of First Instance of Cavite. During the- early part of the American regime he taught at Ligaya College, a pioneer educational institution in his hometown which he himself helped to found. He acquired several tracts of land in Tagaytay and Mendez which he planted to coconut and abaca.

 

          Diwa was married twice. His first wife was Delisa Dandan of

Parañaque, whom he had three children, two of whom survived: Mariano and Guadalupe. His second Wife was Honorata Crescini by whom, he had five children: Edna, Heraclito, Cecilia Betis, and Alicia.

 

          Diwa died of nephritis on March 12, 1930 at the age of 67.

 

          In his honor, the Caridad Elementary School in Cavite was renamed Ladislao Diwa Elementary School in 1964.

 

                                           

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