Last weekend I met physically for the first time my distant cousin, Edgardo Valenzuela, whom I had been exchanging Likes on Facebook under the group Pio Alejandro Valenzuela’s Family and Kin.
There are two significant elements in this column: 1. We are descendants of one of the members of the Triumvirate who led the “Kataas-taasang Kagalang-galangang Katipunan ng mga Anak ng Bayan,” (KKK) or Katipunan, against the Spanish colonizers; and 2. The Ateneo School of Government’s Leadership and Social Entrepreneurship (LSE) program initiated by Edgardo and his wife, Cristina Liamzon, in Rome in 2008.
Let me dwell on the latter first. The LSE program in Dubai has currently two batches this year, Batch 36 held every other Friday, and Batch 37 conducted every other Saturday. The tandem delivered their lecture on managing a social enterprise, mentored former students who have initiated their small businesses, and helped form the LSE Dubai Alumni group.
According to Edgardo, the LSE program is a collaborative effort pioneered in Rome with the primary objective to help marginalized overseas Filipinos (OFs) gain self-awareness and self-confidence to become agents of change and social transformation.
He was based in Italy for 22 years with Cristina, and worked with the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations (UN).
As the couple and other volunteers expand the program to other countries, they are building a movement that is characterized by collaboration and volunteerism. As part of the LSE’s strong community culture, the participants are encouraged to use what they have learned from the program to help other OFs. The LSE program is also being conducted this year in Italy, Spain, Hong Kong and Singapore.
My wife, Rachel Salinel, is an alumna of the program belonging to Batch 26 in 2015. She and three of her batch mates conceptualized a directory of Filipino professionals in the UAE which was their business plan for their social enterprise. The project called FEME Connect Directory was given the Viability Award in September 2015 and it became a reality in June 2016 when copies were distributed at the Philippine Independence Day celebrations in Dubai.
Our great grandfather Dr. Pio Valenzuela was born in Polo, Bulacan on July 11, 1869, and studied at San Juan de Letran College and, in 1888, enrolled at the University of Sto. Tomas where he finished his Licenciado en Medicina in 1895.
Below are excerpts from the book Dr. Pio Valenzuela and the Katipunan, published by the National Historical Institute in 1992 and revised in 1996, written by my uncle Arturo E. Valenzuela, Jr., who is a Fellow and Emeritus of the United Architects of the Philippines and a former Member of the Board of Architecture, Professional Regulation Commission.
During the first hour of New Year’s Day of 1896, the “Kataas-taasang Tatlo,” popularly known as the Triumvirate, were inducted; with Valenzuela as the new Fiscal General, Emilio Jacinto as the new Secretary General and Andres Bonifacio as the President. They were the members of the “Camara Negra” (Black Chamber), the organization’s counter-intelligence arm, a secret chamber within the Katipunan which passed judgment over members who violated the secrets of the society. They were the executive, legislative and judicial authority of the Supreme Council and were the primary contributors to the society’s organ “Ang Kalayaan.”
Valenzuela was credited for the growth of Katipunan membership. Immediately upon taking over his new post, Bonifacio requested him to stay in Manila. Valenzuela agreed on the condition that the printing press of the Katipunan be transferred and put under his management from Bonifacio’s house to his rented place at 35 Lavezares Street, San Nicolas, Binondo, a convenient place for him to edit the official organ of the Katipunan.
On August 19, 1896, the existence of the Katipunan was discovered by the Spanish authorities. Many suspected members and sympathizers of the Katipunan were arrested outright, but the main nucleus of the Katipunan were able to escape and assembled in various areas of Balintawak – like sitios Kangkong, Pugad Lawin and Pasong Tamo.
The uprising began on August 23, 1896 in Pugad Lawin where the Katipuneros led by Bonifacio tore their cedulas (resident certificates) and shouted “Mabuhay ang Pilipinas! Mabuhay ang Katipunan!” The uprising of the Katipunan later on flourished to a full-scale revolution against Spain.
The heroic deeds of Dr. Pio Valenzuela were recognized by the Philippine Historical Committee in 1941. A marker was placed at the former house of Dr. Valenzuela in Lavezares Street which reads:
WHERE “ANG KALAYAAN” WAS PRINTED – “This house was occupied by Dr. Pio Valenzuela, together with Ulfiano Fernandez and Faustino Duque, Filipino printers who turned out for Dr. Valenzuela and Emilio Jacinto 2,000 copies of the newspaper entitled “Ang Kalayaan,” giving Yokohama as the place of publication to avoid suspicion. The first issue was dated January 18, 1896 but was not circulated until the middle of March. The second issue which was in preparation was seized by the Spanish authorities when the revolution broke out that year.”