One of the highly commented articles here in Biklish is the Past Governors of Bicol (though that, actually, discusses only the governors of Albay). At the end of the article is a wish (or hope) that one day, we can come up also with the basic biographies of said governors.
Luckily, we have Netizens and Biklish friends who have contributed also some information on the names listed in the article. The most active of these are the descendants of Saturnino Benito.
But while searching for the biographies of the other governors of Albay, I came across the special report of Joe Barrameda published in Bicol Mail and entitled: The Bicol Martyrs of 1896 Revisited. The report is interesting as it supports our claims that:
- Jose Rizal is not the only person who “turned the heads of the Spaniards”. Hence, we should not elevate his status as if he is more heroic than the others. In Bicol Region alone, there are at least 72 persons who were either beheaded or deported, or have died in prison cells in 1896. And these are just in Bicol. We have 16 regions in the Philippines, it should be stressed. Likewise, the list that Joe Bar presented are those that appear in records. Definitely, there are also heroes and martyrs whose names escaped the biased eyes of a number of our historians.
- Bicol Region, definitely, was not asleep during the Spanish period. Some historians portray Bicol as one of the sleepy regions when developments are making waves in the pages of history.
- Again, there are still a lot to research and write about. Because of giving focus on Rizal and the others, our historians failed to note that even the lowliest individual in a purok of a remotest barangay, too, has his/her story.
Indeed, though lacking with data, Joe Bar’s report is already interesting. Lalo pa ngani akong na-curious when I came across the name Ramon Santos. His information on Ramon Santos reads:
RAMON SANTOS – Birth date: DNA; Birth place: DNA; Spouse: DNA; Parents: DNA; Date of arrest: 22 September 1896; Place of arrest: Ligao, Albay; Date of death: DNA. Other details: He was a former gobernadorcillo of Ligao. Detained and harshly interrogated in Albay, he was subsequently transferred to the Bilibid prison. On 2 November 1896, he was sentenced by the military court to be deported to Jolo. He was able to return to his family in Ligao.
An na-mentionar kaya ni Joe bar iyo man an Ramon Santos na naging gobernador kan Albay?
If we are to go back to the list of governors of Albay, there is also a Ramon Santos who led Albay from 1904-1906. This Ramon Santos, in Michael Cullinane’s book, Ilustrado Politics, is described as a “shrewd politician” who defeated an American opponent, incumbent governor Arlington U. Betts, ‘in what was described as “perhaps the hottest and most exciting election ever conducted in the Philippines archipelago” (p. 155, citing Manila Times, 8 Feb. 1904).
In Manila, Santos was looked upon as a dangerous figure, an “insurrecto” symphatizer, an alleged cousin of Dominador Gomez, a cacique, and a gambler unworthy to hold office (Manila Times, 8 Feb. 1904). In the province, however, Santos was viewed differently by many American officials. To Harry Bandholtz, the district Constabulary commander, Santos was a valuable politician who had greatly assisted the government in obtaining the surrender of the province’s most notorious lingering revolutionary leader, Simeon Ola.
If we analyze the accounts, it appears that the martyr Santos mentioned by Joe Bar is the same Santos Albay had for governor. Joe Bar’s Santos was deported to Jolo and was able to return to his family in Ligao, Albay. Second, the martyr Santos is a gobernadorcillo of Ligao and, lastly, a rebel and was even considered a martyr. In Cullinane’s book, it is said:
Santos’s rebel days were far behind him and, although he might have had some unattractive habits to Americans — he was, said The Times, 8 Feb. 1904, a “monte player and a “masticator of beetle-nut” — he also had many redeeming qualities and was said to be a “rich hemp merchant” who helped the poor and led a “moral life”. (p.155)
While the accounts consistently appear to point out to the same Ramon Santos, it is safer to still search for additional evidence to be able to conclude that Santos the martyr and Santos the governor are the same. A chat with Joe Bar along with a visit to the repositories of the newspapers mentioned by Cullinane would be a good start. Anyone with an e-mail address or number of Bikol historian Jose “Joe Bar” Barrameda, Jr.?