Friday, January 18, 2013

Filipino Martyr: HIGINO P. FRANCISCO

(d. 1921)
Revolutionary Patriot
A man of rare civic virtues, Higino Francisco y Prospero played a crucial role in saving the
life of Felipe Agoncillo, who would later be a very important diplomat in the government-in-exile of
President Aguinaldo, during the tumultuous year in 1896.
Agoncillo was then a wanted man from Taal, Batangas. He had been ordered deported to
Jolo, Sulu by the Spanish colonial government, but had eluded arrest by the Guardia Civil and gone
to Manila.
Hunted by the law, Agoncillo tried to seek refuge in the homes of several of his relatives
and friends in the city, but all of them refused to let him in for fear of being implicated in his crime.
Finally, almost in desperation, he knocked at the door of a house on Magdalena Street in Tondo.
Its occupants were unknown to him. He just took a chance that they would take him in for the
night. Fortunately, luck was on his side that fateful night since the owner of the house, Higino
Francisco, was an assuming patriot. Throwing caution to the wind, Higino not only provided
shelter to Agoncillo, but also helped him secure a passage on board a Japanese vessel, the Heorimi
Maru, bound for Yokohama, Japan.
Agoncillo left on April 28. 1896 and, after a fortnight in Japan, he proceeded to Hong Kong
to join other Filipino expatriates.
Higino Francisco was also responsible for the planned rescue of Dr. Jose Rizal either from
his Spanish jailers at the place of his confinement or from the hands of his custodians at the time of
his scheduled execution in Bagumbayan. He was, however, dissuaded by Rizal’s family from
carrying it out.
Upon learning of his design, the authorities raided his house. Their search yielded a large
number of firearms. On account of this, he was put in jail, tried and sentenced to death. He was
saved from the gallows by the government’s 1897 proclamation of general pardon.
Francisco had aided Dr. Rizal in his patriotic endeavors. As a token of gratitude, Rizal
presented him the original manuscript of his novel Noli Me Tangere. Knowing that it would fetch a
high price later, Francisco, however, returned it to the mother of the hero. Long after the
revolution was over, the government did buy it for P30, 000.
The street in Sulucan Estate in Sampaloc known as Miguelin was later renamed in Higino
Francisco in the patriot’s honor, but due to a contractual provision involving the estate, its name
was changed back to Miguelin.
Francisco died in December 1921.

De Ocampo, Esteban A. and Alfredo B. Saulo. First Filipino Diplomat. Manila: National
Historical Institute, 1977
Historical Bulletin Volume 15, January – December 1971

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