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