Monday, 28 January 2013

A Tale Of Two Generals

A Tale Of Two Generals

            In a battle, one ends up the victor and the other as the vanquished. The vanquished is either outgunned, outfought, routed or captured dead or alive. Or he retreats and licks his wounds in a secluded place.  The victor, on the other hand, rides triumphantly through the streets of the city or town. General Bernard Montgomery and his men, in drubbing the wily General Erwin Rommel and the Germans in the Battle of Tunisia, motored through the towns of allied nations and were showered with confetti amidst cheers and jubilation.

            But that is not always the case.  In the Battle of San Mateo, the bemedaled General Henry Lawton was expected to come out victorious. He was, after all, the army officer who captured the notorious Indian Chief Geronimo.  His deed earned him accolades and he became a hero in the United States. In that encounter in San Mateo, the US troops of General Lawton had the advantage in arms and ammunition.

            Pitted against a small band of insurgents led by General Licerio Geronimo, the odds were heavily in favor of the Americans.  It was supposed to be a route, a massacre. But it did not turn out that way. Instead, Geronimo, a diminutive rebel officer from Montalban, displayed fine military leadership skills as his men drubbed the Americans in a clash on a hilly portion of San Mateo, then part of Morong province. General Lawton, who was at the forefront, was shot dead by Filipino sniper Bonifacio Mariano. And with that, the Filipino rebels turned the tide in their favor.  They won the Battle of San Mateo.

            But the outcome of this battle was downplayed by the Americans. Not much was heard of General Geronimo.  Not much was heard of Bonifacio Mariano.  As they were the colonizers, the Americans pictured their fallen hero as a brave warrior. As the first highest military officer to die in combat in a foreign land, tributes poured for General Lawton as his body was lying in state at Paco Park before being shipped to the United States.

            A few years later, a statue of General Lawton was erected in a park named Plaza Lawton.  It was near Jones Bridge, the Philippine Post Office, Metropolitan Theater, Quiapo and Sta Cruz bridges and near the Manila City Hall.  A town in the USA was also named after the fallen general. About this time, still nothing much was heard of General Geronimo for that resounding victory over General Lawton.

                It would take many, many years before recognition was given to General Geronimo. A statue of the rebel general was built right across the Municipal Hall of Montalban which is now called Rodriguez town. His remains were interred there. Also, an elementary school and a national high school were named after General Geronimo.  Likewise, there is now a Barangay Geronimo in Montalban. And the great marksman who actually shot and killed the American general also got his dues. A street in San Mateo, where he was a resident, is now called Bonifacio Mariano Street.  

              Clearly, the Battle of San Mateo was General Lawton's debacle. It was General Geronimo's defining moment.  And it was the biggest upset scored in the Phil-Am War.


Major General Henry Lawton was a bemedaled American officer who figured prominently in the Phil-Am War. (Phil Am War photo)

Indian Apache chief Geronimo who was captured by the troops of then Capt. Henry Lawton in Mexico. Lawton gained recognition for this.

File photo of General Lawton and his men on their way to Novaliches (Phil Am War photo)

Battle Plan of the Americans (Phil Am War photo) 

General Lawton was shot dead by Filipino sniper Bonifacio Mariano in the Battle of San Mateo. 

General Licerio Geronimo and his men defeated General Lawton and  the American troops in the Battle of San Mateo.

Historical marker at the actual site of the Battle of San Mateo.  It is now part of Brgy Bagong Silangan in Quezon City. It is near Batasan Hills.

Old photo of the monument of General Lawton at Plaza Lawton in Manila.

Plaza Lawton today.  It is now officially called Liwasang Bonifacio.

In the 70s, then Manila Mayor Antonio Villegas renamed Plaza Lawton as Liwasang Bonifacio. It is across the Philippine Post Office.

Commuters, bus conductors and barkers still refer to the place as Plaza Lawton.  Bus and jeepney signboards still bear the name "Lawton".

A statue of an eagle at the Plaza. I asked a police officer and some vendors selling their wares as to where the statue of Gen Lawton was relocated but nobody knew.

A work of art can be seen at the Plaza 

A simple memorial to the victims of WWII sexual slavery 

Plaza Lawton, now Liwasang Bonifacio, is very near Jones Bridge.

The Plaza is a few meters away from the Pasig River.  The Philippine Post Office is across the Plaza. I took this photo while I was crossing Jones Bridge.

Welcome marker at Montalban which is now Rodriguez town. Montalban was the stronghold of the revolutionary forces under General Licerio Geronimo.

Municipal Hall of Rodriguez (Montalban)

The Our Lady of the Most Holy Rosary Church in Montalban was built in 1871

Statue of General Licerio Geronimo across the Municipal Hall of Montalban

About General Geronimo

The remains of General Geronimo are also interred there.

A barangay named after General Geronimo

An elementary school in Brgy Geronimo was named after General Geronimo.

I took shots while the students of Geronimo Elementary School were taking a break.

Statue of General Geronimo at the school quadrangle

General Geronimo, though born in Sampaloc, Manila, grew up in his father's farm in Montalban. His  base of operations during the Phil Am War was Mount Puray in Montalban.

A national high school in Montalban named after the illustrious General.

I was given permission by the guard to take photos of the school ground.

I chanced upon this ancestral house of another illustrious son of Montalban, former Senate President Eulogio 'Amang' Rodriguez.  Montalban was renamed Rodriguez town. 

Front garden of the Rodriguez ancestral house

Two members of the Rodriguez clan are still active in Rizal politics.

The Rodriguez ancestral house is open to the public.

The official vehicle of then Senate President Eulogio 'Ámang' Rodriguez.

Team Elyong is the team to beat in the May polls in Montalban.

Incumbent Mayor Elyong Hernandez is a popular and hardworking town executive.  He is heavily favored to win

The mountains of Montalban

A commercial street in Montalban

Montalban is now a progressive town.

A Jolibee outet at Montalban Town Center

Welcome marker at the town of San Mateo. The actual site of the battle is now part of Quezon City.

Nuestra Senora De Aranzazu Church in San Mateo.  The original structure of the church was built in 1715

Main altar

Side altar

The original statue was brought to San Mateo by the Spanish friars from Aranzazu in Spain.

Municipal Hall of San Mateo.  The Municipal Council passed an ordinance naming a street Bonifacio Mariano honor of the sharpshooter who killed General Lawton.  

Bonifacio Mariano Street in San Mateo, Rizal.

Bonifacio Mariano Street named after one of the heroes of the Battle of San Mateo. He was one of the Tiradores Del Muerte.

The trike driver who gave me clear directions on where to find Bonifacio Mariano Street.