Randy Ford Author- EL CONQUISTADOR Chapter Twenty-five

Chapter Twenty-five

Sonja placed Carlos on a schooner while she sought sanctuary in the sultan’s palace. It was the hardest thing she ever had to do, but she knew she couldn’t return to Manila. She didn’t have a choice. Carlos couldn’t remain in Jolo, and she couldn’t return to Manila. And Carlos felt drawn to Manila because of Omar situation. He felt guilty and felt drawn to Manila because of it. And Sonja sought sanctuary in the sultan’s palace knowing that she wouldn’t be turned away.

This family, then separated from each other and from their beloved hacienda, was pulled in two directions. They suffered. They were torn apart, and wounds were opened that no one foresaw. Unfortunately, in Jolo, the name Martinez became associated with traitor and the next Spanish expedition.

Jaime never understood what happened. He never understood why his family was torn apart. He didn’t have all the facts so didn’t understand. He saw what happened to Jolo and what happened to his family and saw how his family’s fate and the town’s fate were intertwined. He heard stories but no one put it together for him. So he lived with questions unanswered and through extended periods of violence … violence and separation. He saw Spanish men level Jolo more than once and then rebuild it more than once. They rebuilt it and tried to turn it into a Spanish town. They widened streets, filled in the shoal, and created a fort and a plaza. By the time they finished, if he were able to return Jaime wouldn’t recognize the place. He often wondered if the hacienda survived. He also wondered what happened to his stepmother.

Jaime looked to B. D. Bartholome for guidance. Though he didn’t know about their spying, he knew the priest and his father were friends. Jaime had a great deal to overcome. Living in Manila, he overcame suspicions that came from being from Sooloo. It helped that he was half-Spanish. It didn’t hurt that he loved the queen and had clearly inherited his father’s love for her. And he and Father Bartholome went to great lengths to prove their loyalty.

Very few indeed, and possibly none of the priests in Mindanao were in any specific danger. Compared to other ecclesiastics, they were considered less of a threat. They were considered less of a threat because they were considered less Spanish. Besides they were needed. They were needed because strengthening the church was essential.

A papal delegation to the Spanish crown, the Patronato Real, presented a one-sided view of the Philippines. To them these islands were essentially a mission; and strengthening the church was essential because any threat to the faith represented a threat to Spanish authority. Political developments in Spain solidified this mentality. Opposition to Queen Isabela at home fueled fears in Manila.

While attending San Carlos Seminary in Manila, Jaime established himself as a brilliant student and a devoted member of the Catholic faith. He went on to obtain his ordination and his conquio or licenses to hear confessions. Still he wasn’t sure he wanted to be a priest. He agonized over it. He prayed and agonized over it. No one agonized over it more deeply or more frequently than he did. He couldn’t forget his past. He wondered what happened to the family’s home and his stepmother.

Among Jaime’s many memories of home, there was one he would never forget. A memory he never forgot. Often on moonlit nights, when there was no other sound but quiet waves, borne on wind, he walked along the bay alone and heard distant songs. Painfully these simple lyrics brought it all home.

 

Changing, shifting winds

Tell Jaime,

Do not forget me.

Sooloo.

Emerald water.

A smooth sea.

Sooloo.

Sailing the Sulu Sea

Peaceful and perfect.

Now comes the southwest monsoon.

It is a good wind.

Oh, wind,

You blow the waves….and my heart, into a

thousand pieces.

With unleashed passions, Jaime lost sight of God. While sometimes in a more traditional sense he followed rituals of the church and sometimes regained what he lost, ore often though wind songs nailed him to a cross he bore.

For many years, he fought this. For many years it was hard, and he fought this. Especially when he was alone at night, when he walked alone at night along the bay, he heard wind songs … wind songs that beckoned him. He often caught himself dreaming of Jolo and heard wind songs that beckoned him. He dreamed of Jolo and felt a connection that went beyond what you would’ve expected. He felt a connection before he moved to Zamboanga. He always felt a connection but he couldn’t go back to Jolo because of who he was … because his name was Martinez. To get as close as he could to where he couldn’t go he moved to Zamboanga. And the move corresponded with his fall from grace, and in consultation with B. D. Bartholome he decided to leave the priesthood. They came to the same conclusion and decided that Jamie could best serve God through matrimony.

Jamie named his first son after his father; and this child was given a double surname, that of his father and his mother, with the latter coming last. One must know the custom of naming a child, and know that instead of Narrasid, he carried on the lineage of the Martinez clan. And through long narrative ballads, Carlos Martinez Narrasid never let the story and tragedy of his Spanish grandparents die.

Bonifacio’s call to arms shook Manila, but few people in Zamboanga paid attention to it. Thus Spanish officers in the fort were caught off guard by a rash of killings. The uprising that followed forever disrupted the old regime.

Nevertheless, we see Carlos Martinez Narrasid entering Ateneo, a Jesuit college in Manila. (Remember his father attended San Carlos Seminary, not Ateneo.) Carlos Martinez Narrasid was not only accepted into the college but his individual conduct was acceptable. Acceptable meant that he dressed in the Spanish tradition, spoke Spanish and ate Spanish food, as did Spanish families throughout the colony. After such scrutiny, which according to liberal thinking bordered on degradation, he stayed away from set courses, courses that emphasized a glorious Hispanic tradition. This meant that he didn’t take courses like “Discovery and Civilization of the Philippines,” “The Conquest of Granada,” “The Glories of the Spanish Main,” and “The Crusades.” Instead he read (and endlessly discussed) each issue of “La Salidaridad,” a journal edited in Spain by a handful of subversives. Spanish friars published their own quarterly that opposed these radical views. This was a time when the masses supposedly paid no heed to politics. This was a time when the masses were supposedly incapacitated by ignorance and laziness, and were supposedly a primitive, spoiled, happy lot. They were supposedly spoiled and happy and indolent do to a cheap and easy lifestyle that came from living in the tropics.

Until they were shocked by violence, friars held onto their notions. And oh, what a hero Rizal was! Martyred! If he hadn’t been innocent, he couldn’t have been martyred. Happily for the insurrection, he sacrificed his life and died as only Rizal could. Guiltless and fearlessly facing a firing squad, the hero dressed in a black European suit refused a blindfold. What person in the colony, on either side, could have remained untouched by the martyrdom of Rizal? It was a beautiful day. He wouldn’t kneel. It was a beautiful day and he wouldn’t kneel and refused a blindfold. The Remingtons of the 70th shot him as a traitor. And that was when young Carlos Martinez Narrasid became a Freemason.

How ennobling it was to belong to a lodge when the government ordered the arrest of all its members. How ennobling it was to be a Mason when the government ordered the arrest of all Masons. According to police reports and local intelligence, there existed a vast Masonic network. Here, there, and everywhere, there were cells and committees. And Masons were part of a secret lodge. And the lodge was a clever and shrewd guise for conspiring against the regime! So the government ordered the arrest of all Masons. But just as Bonifacio used Masonry, he also quietly but tirelessly worked the masses.

 The masses, whose huts didn’t seem worth searching and who could scarcely write their names, joined the Katipunan. Though it may seem strange, it took the government more than four years to discover Bonifacio’s activities and the Katipunan. Personal interest and that only, at first, kept Carlos safely in the confines of Ateneo. But after Rizal’s execution, he joined the Masons and quickly gained prominence in the shadowy world of the insurrection, first against Spain and then America.

With all of their might, they fought in the chivalrous tradition of ancient times. Without fear and without reproach, they were called upon to rise above general disorder and passion. It gave young men such as Carlos a chance to become a hero. It couldn’t have come at a better time for him.

Early on Americans seemed like they would help Filipinos regain their inalienable rights. Everyone thought Mr. Aguinaldo had a solid agreement with the Yanks and thousands in each province took on Spanish forces. Carlos was among them, but unfortunately the siege of Manila stalled because Aguinaldo refused to assume command. This opened the door for General Merritts.

Feeling a sense of duty, Carlos set aside his studies. He boarded a ferry for the port of Cavite, where wrecks of the Spanish fleet were objects of great interest. (One of them still bore on a strip of canvas with the legible words “Remember the ‘Maine!'”) Here Admiral Dewey was handed keys to an empire. Here he found a fleet he was ordered to remove.

Dewey was loved by Americans without exception and saluted with hallelujahs and a few words, “The Star Spangled Banner,” and “My Country, ’tis of Thee.” There soon appeared Dewey cigars, Deweyville, Deweyburg, and Deweytown. There was a flood of baby boys named Dewey. Girls sang of him, ladies admired him, and widows loved him. And from a ferry, Carlos saw this extraordinary man. He was sitting under an awning on the quarterdeck of his command ship, a revenue cutter. “He was the man in white sitting alone on the McCulloch!”

Finally a word about the Spanish surrender of Manila and how Americans forced them to surrender without firing a shot. Only Americans benefited from a pre-arranged deal. It all went as planned. Dewey gave a signal; the governor general then hoisted a white flag, and American troops marched into Manila before Filipinos could. All of which explained why Carlos exploded when he heard about it.

Like him, many Filipinos felt America’s behavior called for hostilities. However, General Aguinaldo, who enjoyed great popularity and in some ways acted like a dictator, seemed shy and deferred to his advisors.

Carlos never met Don Emilio. Such an honor was impossible since he went to work for Americans at the Cavite Naval Yard. Although seemingly kindly disposed toward his employer …. docile, amiable, and intelligent … during this time, Carlos was evasive. He re-enacted the part his grandfather played in Sulu. But deserved the admiration and thanks of their countrymen.

Then one Sunday Carlos saw headlines of an American newspaper: “Women Slain in Moro Slaughter.” It stopped him cold. Those headlines stopped him cold. But instead of blaming Gen. Leonard Wood and responsible men of the U. S. Army, he examined himself. It was required of him. The facts required it of him. The facts left him numb; so he quit his job and returned to Zamboanga. (He would’ve gone on to Jolo, if he could’ve.) He was convinced that truth about the incident was never told and that injustices that existed before the insurrection were still there.

While extolling heroism of the American troops, the newspaper article omitted gruesome details of ” a splendid victory.” “Impossible to tell the sexes apart during the fierce battle on top of Mount Dajo. Six hundred men, women, and children gunned down along the rim of the caldera.” As interminable variations of the story came out of Jolo, those images of frightened, crying, small children clinging to their mothers …. Carlos couldn’t forget that these were children of Sooloo. The list of the dead included brothers and sisters, cousins, uncles and aunts …

Randy Ford

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