Friday, January 18, 2013

Filipino Martyr: AMBROSIO FLORES

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Revolutionary leader and propagandist, Ambrosio Flores was born in Manila on March 20,
1843 to a well-to-do couple, Don Ignacio Flores, a corporal of the Spanish regular army and Doña
Josefa Flores. He studied Latin under the tutelage of Don Esteban del Rosario and later enrolled at
the University of Santo Tomas for a course in philosophy. For one reason or another, Flores shifted
to medicine but whether he finished it or not is not known due to Revolution.
Following his father's footsteps, he enlisted on May 12, 1860 in the Spanish regular army,
fought against the Muslims in Mindanao, and discharged the post of standard bearer (Abanderado)
for eleven years. For some time he held the exalted position of Ayundante de Estado Mayor de
Plaza. After 33 years of military service, he retired with the rank of a first lieutenant.
Ambrosio Flores married his cousin Doña Modesta. He was inspired by the works of Rizal
and joined the propaganda movement prior to the outbreak of the Revolution. He hated the friars
who were the powerful forces behind Spain's colonial abuses. As a consequence, he joined
Freemasonry in April, 1892, becoming successively first master of the lodge Solidaridad; in-charge
of Bathala II, a club or triangle in Manila; and in 1893, Grand Master of Gran Consejo
Regional,the first central Masonic organization in the Philippines.
In 1894, Flores and another reformer, Faustino Villaruel, traveled to the provinces to
solicit contributions for Jose Rizal.
For advocating general education and for his sympathetic attitude toward the Katipunan,
Flores was jailed twice and stayed in prison , 17 months in all.
Later, Flores joined the revolutionary forces and became one of Aguinaldo's trusted
generals. But the existence of petty jealousies in the military ranks constrained him to resign from
the army.
In a conference at Bacoor, Cavite in August 10, 1898, he was named governor of the
province of Manila. During this period he held office at Marikina, then the capital of Manila
province. On September 8,1898, he transferred his office to San Juan del Monte from where he
directed provincial affairs until the outbreak of hostilities between the Americans and Filipinos on
February 4, 1899. It was during his incumbency as governor that he divided and made into a
municipality every part of the city and organized these municipalities into battalions in
anticipation of the war against the Americans.
Flores was recalled by the Filipino Army in 1899 and was appointed Director of
Fortifications and Defense. In the early phrase of the Filipino-American war he fought in the
defensive and bloody battles of Polo and Calumpit. On May 27, he was appointed Acting Secretary
of War in place of General Antonio Luna in Cabanatuan on June 5, 1899, he was appointed
Secretary of War. In addition to the tremendous responsibilities of directing military operations,
Flores and Don Eduardo Gutierrez were appointed to represent the province of Battings in the
Revolutionary Congress held in Tarlac on July 14, 1899.
Following the fall of the Filipino in the north and on the advice of the Mabini Cabinet,
peace proposals were made to the Americans. Flores, Florentino Torres and Colonel Manuel
Arguellas were charged with the mission to effect a conditional cessation of hostilities upon
agreement that the Philippines be an independent protectorate of the United States of America. To
this issue Flores remarked:
It seems to me that the protecting owner should have a controlling voice in all foreign
relations but the management of internal affairs of the country ought to be left to the Filipinos, the
United States as the protecting power should be compensated for the protection of the Philippines.
The negotiations for a truce, however, failed because of the demand of General Elwell Otis
that no conditions for cessation of hostilities be met or effected until the Filipino Army lay down
their arms.
Undaunted by the gradual diminishing strength of the Filipino Army on January 5,1900,
Flores as Director of War decreed in Tarlac the revival of the Katipunan and the extension of its
activities to Nueva Ecija. He initiated men into the organization as a way of selecting potential
manpower for the army, instilled patriotism and discipline in the ranks and enlisted civilian help in
carrying on the war.
But the strong and well-equipped Americans dominated the war theater. In the north,
Flores together with his army and family, retreated to Nueva Ecija where in 1900, he surrendered
to General Arthur McArthur with the surrender of other revolutionary generals the momentum for
peace to gain ground.
With his assets and properties having been destroyed by the war, Flores returned to
Manila a poor man. For a living, he engaged in newspaper work, first as director of La Luz (The
Light), later, as columnist, of El Grito del Pueblo (The City of the People), and as director of La
Democracia in January 1901.
Politics lured him into joining the newly organized Federal Party of which he became one
of the directors. In February 1901, he was appointed member of the Taft Commission together with
Dr. Trinidad H. Pardo de Tavera and Arsenio Herrera. In June
of the same year, Flores was named first governor of the newly created Rizal province a position he
held until 1904.
During his term as governor he stroked peace and order he restored peace and began to
search for ideal sites for the provincial government offices. Being a well-known and respected
citizen of Rizal, Flores was adopted a son of Pasig through the passage of a municipal resolution,
on December 20, 1903.
An indefatigable man, he studied law and at 62 became a member of the bar. On July 1,
1911, Flores was appointed Justice of the Peace of Pasig.
Flores resided in Maybunga, a barrio of Pasig where he died on June 24, 1912, at the age of
69. Dr. Santos, his attending physician, confirmed complication of heart sickness as the cause of
his death. At the time of his death, he was still Justice of the Peace of Pasig and a Venerable of
Lodge Silangan. His remains were interred at Paang-Bundok, a sitio Pasig.

Filipinos in History. Manila: National Historical Institute, 1989.
Quirino, Carlos. Who’s Who in Philippine History. Manila : Tahanan Books, 1995.
Villaroel, Hector K. Eminent Filipinos. Quezon City : Textbook Publishers, 1965.

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