Many Kagay-anons may have heard about the famous “Bautista Manuscript” but to this day few know what it was all about.
It was written by a public-school teacher Filomeno Marcos Bautista, Sr., who was the former Academic Supervisor of Surigao, Bukidnon and Misamis upon his retirement in 1933.
Filomeno Marcos Abellanosa Bautista was born on April 25, 1890 in Cagayan de Misamis. He personally witnessed the Fiesta Nacional of January 10, 1899 celebrating the Philippine independence from Spain.
A government scholar at the Philippine Normal School and the Philippine School of Arts and Trades, he was appointed the first principal of Mambajao Elementary School in Camiguin and eventually became the Division Academic Supervisor of Misamis, Surigao and Bukidnon.
“But his crowning glory as an academic was when he founded the Parents-Teachers College (PTC) in 1946 with a group of civic minded individuals,” said his son, the late Filomeno “Dodong” A. Bautista, Jr. during an interview we conducted at his residence on May 5, 2020.
PTC opened in in June 1948 initially offering classes in the elementary and secondary (day and night) school and courses in Education, Liberal Arts, Secretarial and Commerce in the tertiary level held at a two-story building in Licoan. It was later renamed the Cagayan de Oro College (COC) when the Dongallo and Argayoso families invested in it, and now renamed the Phinma Cagayan de Oro College following its buyout by the Phinma Group.
“He retired in 1933 to write Glimpses of Mindanao-The Land of Promise and The Bautista Manuscript of the Philippine Revolution in Misamis Province, 1900-1901, both published in 1939. I was his clerk for both manuscripts,” Dodong, as he is known to friends, disclosed.
According to Fr. Francis C. Madigan, S.J., who headed the Xavier University’s Research Institute for Mindanao Culture (RIMCU) who edited and published the 56-page mimeographed manuscript in 1968, the author had to rely on oral testimonies of eyewitnesses to the events narrated in his manuscript due to the dearth of written sources.
However, Antonio J. Montalvan II, a Kagay-anon columnist, social anthropologist, university professor and heritage activist, believes this could be an apocryphal statement usually assessed of the Bautista Manuscript.
“Actually, there is no dearth of written sources of that time. Numerous documents of that era exist, including accounts of the Phil-Am War at the US Library of Congress and Hispanic documents at the National Archives,” Montalvan notes.
“There is nothing wrong with a book based on oral testimonies. Bautista’s sources were eyewitnesses. What he did by recording their narrations of a distinct historical event was already a noteworthy act. Trained historians, however, will look for the fine print to establish credibility. For example, who were the sources? There must be attribution for oral sources. Without that, readers can easily say hearsay. Reading a historical narration of that kind requires corroboration to give justice to the author,” he added.
Although he already knew of the manuscript’s existence in 1957, it took Fr. Madigan another ten years before the first mimeographed edition was published by RIMCU in 1968.
According to a book review written by the late Fr. Miguel A. Bernad, S.J. in Philippine Studies vol. 16, no. 4 (1968): 788–789 published by the Ateneo de Manila University in 1968, the elder Bautista’s manuscript is divided into two parts: Cagayan de Oro’s history prior to the American Occupation, and the Filipino resistance to the American Occupation in Misamis.
However, Fr. Bernad said the first section contains some inaccuracies due to the author’s lack of access to a good library.
“Apparently the culprit is not just a good library. It was easy to subject it to the test of verisimilitude. He mentions the collapse of the new bridge to Carmen on the day of its inauguration. There was only one casualty, a Spaniard who he names as Castillebe Hebrad. I know where the man was buried. We knew his family. He was married to Modesta Reyes of Mambajao. There at the Reyes Cemetery was his tombstone: Luis Hebrard de Castellvi. There are living descendants. Castellvi’s only child Luisita Castellvi de la Rama had a daughter who is still alive today – Paching de la Rama Batestuzzi. Her son Luigi was a student of XU in the 1970s. They live in Manila,” Montlavan said.
Fr. Bernad cited the following as an example: ‘According to history, there was a time when the capital of the province was moved to the town of Misamis now in Occidental Misamis, but due to its unfavorable condition the capital was moved back to Cagayan.” The facts: The Corregimiento which comprised much of Northern Mindanao had its capital first at Iligan. In 1766, under Father Ducos, it was transferred to Misamis, Whence the name: “the Corregimiento—later the Province—of Misamis.” The capital was later transferred to Cagayan.
Nevertheless, the eminent scholar praised the latter part of the manuscript as “the valuable part of Mr. Bautista’s contribution to history.”
“The remaining 25 pages tell the story of the Filipino resistance to the American Occupation in Misamis: the bombardment of Cagayan by the American ships; the landing of the American troops; the organization of a Filipino resistance army at Gango under Nicolas Capistrano; the battle of Cagayan; the removal of Filipino headquarters to Tanculan; the battle of Agusan; the battle of Macahambus Hill; and finally the surrender of the Filipino troops at Sumilao.”
“Mr. Bautista has done a thorough job, giving a list of the officers, and the dead and wounded in each particular action. He has also reproduced some of the Visayan ballads of the era.”
“This is consequently a contribution of very great value to the history of a district. There is need for many more monographs of this kind dealing with local and regional history, and Father Madigan and the Institute for Mindanao Culture of Xavier University deserve much credit for bringing the Bautista manuscript to the attention of scholars,” Fr. Bernad recommended.
Although he was not quite sure where copies of the 1968 mimeographed manuscripts are today, the younger Bautista said he was sure “there are some copies still floating around” and mentioned Mrs. Ruth Tiano Pañares, whose late husband was his “experimental Class” teacher in City Central School as one of those who had a copy.
Montalvan acknowledged he also has a copy. “What I have is the Madigan mimeographed version. It came from my brother in-law who was one of Madigan’s editors.”
During Dodong Bautista’s term in the Cagayan de Oro Historical and Cultural Commission (Hiscom) with Fr. Francisco Demetrio, S.J., Atty. Pureza Neri, Atty. Federico Del Puerto and Atty. Tommy Pacana, the Bautista family provided a copy to Xavier University.
“My only copy which had a signed dedication signed by my father (Filomeno M. Bautista, Sr.) I gave to Msgr. Antonio Ledesma, S.J., (Archbishop Emeritus of Cagayan de Oro Archdiocese), since he was very interested in the history of Cagayan de Oro, and I believe is the best person who can perpetuate the history of the city,” he added.
Despite its limitations, Montalván said it is still proper to accord The Bautista Manuscript its rightful place in Cagayan de Oro’s History.
“For me, the best compromise to accord the Manuscript and give it dignity is this: It is a secondary source of historical events narrated by eyewitnesses. Being secondary, it has to be used corroboratively,” Montalvan said. “It is also about time that a present-day version be published by Xavier University edited of its errata.”
For those interested to read The Bautista Manuscript, it is printed in its entirety in The Local Historical Sources of Northern Mindanao edited by Fr. Francisco R. Demetrio, S.J. published by Xavier University in 1995, copies of which may still be purchased from the Museo de Oro. (compiled by Mike Baños)