JACINTO ZAMORA

(1835 - 1872)

 

 

   Fr. Jacinto Zamora was born in Pandacan, Manila, on August 14, 1835. His parents were former capitan of Pandacan, Don Venancio Zamora and Dona Hilaria del-Rosario.

 

  He obtained his early education in Pandacan and later transferred to the Real Colegio de San Juan de Letran where he finished his Bachiller en Artes. He continued his studies at the University of  Santo Tomas, graduating on March 6, 1858, with the degree of Bachelor of Canon and Civil Laws. Like his fellow student Jose Burgos, he kept on working for his doctorate in Canon Laws.

 

  With Burgos, Juan Dilig and eight other student leaders, he headed a student demonstration in the night of January 24, 1860 demanding the removal of the newly appointed Mayor. Dissent from the students was considered an insult to the authorities. This was brought to the attention of the Vicar General. He was punished with two months confinement in his quarters.

 

  Two years after receiving his tonsure, he was ordained a presbyter. He served in the parishes of Marikina, Pasig, then of Lipa, Batangas. After a competitive examination in which he placed second, he was appointed to the Manila Cathedral effective December 3, 1864.

 

  He was appointed, together with Burgos and Gomez as members of the Committee on Reforms and Seculares group. He worked for the secularization of the Filipino clergy and fought for their rights. Two groups of   Filipino priests and laymen were founded. The priests sought the secularization of all legislation tending to discriminate against Filipinos.

 

  Having been an examiner of new priests, both Filipinos and Spaniards, he had a first hand knowledge of their competence.

 

   He had the habit of playing cards after saying mass. Once he was invited by another priest with a mysterious invitation: “Grand Reunion… Our friends are well provided with powder and munitions.” Unfortunately this invitation fell into the hands of the Spanish authorities. “Powder and munitions,” of course, in the card players’ language meant money with which to gamble throughout the night. This incident and the Cavite Revolt in 1872 that happened o the same day were enough to convict him to death.

 

  This “revolt” was merely the uprising of the laborers at the Cavite Arsenal by veteran soldiers who felt aggrieved because despite their long services, they were required to pay tributes. January 20, 1872, was payday at the Arsenal and the workers received their wages reduced by the amount of the tributes. The mutiny spread to the Fort of San Felipe, Cavite where it received sympathetic response among the soldiers under the leadership of a Filipino soldier, Sgt. Lamarid. However, the rebels were defeated and Lamarid was killed.

 

  Accused of sedition for having allegedly instigated the Cavite Mutiny, Zamora, Burgos and Gomez were tried at Fort Santiago on February 15, by a military tribunal. After the mock trial, they were found “guilty” and sentenced to death by garrote. No defense on their behalf was put up.

 

  Gov. General Izquierdo approved the decision of the military court and fixed the execution on the morning of February 17, 1872. To further disgrace the three priests, he requested Archbishop Gregorio Meliton Martinez to deprive them of their priestly habits so that they would no longer be ministers of God at their execution. The Archbishop spurned this unholy request because he believed in the innocence of the three priests.

 

  At sunrise of February 17, 1872, the field of Bagumbayan (now Luneta) was already overflowing with spectators – Spaniards, Filipinos and foreigners. Shortly before 8:00 o’ clock, the death march from Fort Santiago started. Zaldua went ahead of the three priests who were dressed in black habits. He was smiling, for he was anticipating last minute pardon and money that was promised him for testifying falsely against them.

 

  As the execution was about to begin, Zaldua realizing too late that the promised pardon and reward were not forthcoming, protested violently.

 

  Of the three priests, Fr. Zamora was the second to be the garroted. His last moments were described by Salvador Pons y Torres.

 

  “On hearing his name called, Fr. Zamora went up the scaffold, without saying a word and seated himself in the place pointed out to the executioner, because, days before, his soul had grown used to the death penalty…. He was insane!”

 

  To these martyrs, Rizal dedicated his El Filibusterismo: “The Government, by surrounding your trials with mystery and shadows, causes the belief that there was some error, committed in the fatal moments; and the whole Philippines by worshiping your memory and calling your martyrs in no sense recognizes your culpability.”

 

  In his honor, two elementary schools have been named after him, one in Manila and another in Pasay.

 

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