First of all, let me thank Palm Grass Hotel for giving me this wonderful opportunity to be able to work on various projects on the theme of Cebuano heritage, the promotion of which is a corporate advocacy that I have come to share with the hotel.
This sculpture entitled Leon Kilat ug ang Kagubot sa Sugbo sa 1898 is just the first of a series of seven wood reliefs that delve on important events of Cebu’s history, from the arrival of the Spaniards until the end of their colonization in 1898.
I am not originally from Cebu but I have been residing here since I came to take my college education back in 1989. It’s only recently that I came to be interested in local history, the story of this place I now call my home.
This project on Cebu’s history has led me to do further research, particularly on facts that relate to my work. In this particular work, for example, I had to find out exactly what kind of rifles the Spaniards were using or how Pantaleon Villegas or Leon Kilat looked like.
My readings on the events that led to Tres de Abril enabled me to discover the story of Florencio Gonzalez, who was one of those who conspired the revolt and eventually became one of the first martyrs. Incidentally, the Gonzalezes, the family of “filibusteros”, were also Surigaonons. I found out later that we were actually descended from the same family that once resided in Guigacuit, Surigao del Norte.
So, in the course of my own research for this series of artworks, I have been led into discovery of the story of my own family. And it makes me so proud to know that my own forebears had been part of that glorious moment when finally Filipinos, Cebuanos and Surigaonons, rose up against foreign domination back in the late 19th century.
The local Katipuneros may have been driven away from Cebu City after holding it under control for three days and this tactical defeat may have caused the death of Leon Kilat in the hands of traitors. But we know from history that the struggle lived on and it lead to the declaration of Independence in Cebu not on June 12 but on Christmas Eve, on December 24, 1898.
But, of course today, we celebrate the first declaration of Independence for the whole country on June 12, 1898.