Saturday, January 19, 2013

Filipino Martyr: HUGO PEREZ

Physician, and One of the “13 Martyrs of Cavite”
Born in Binondo, Manila, Hugo Perez was a doctor of medicine and one of the 13 martyrs
of Cavite. His father’s identity has never been ascertained. His mother, Joaquina Perez, a
renowned beauty, was related to another Cavite martyr, the pharmacist Victorino Luciano. He had
a brother also surnamed Perez.
There are no records on the early education of Hugo Perez, but he is known to have
graduated from the University of Santo Tomas with a licenciado en medicina. Thereafter, he
worked as the provincial doctor of Tarlac and, subsequently, of Cavite.
Dr. Perez was also a musician. He played the fife for La Compaña del Trueño, the
orchestra of Agapito Conchu, a famed musician and printer, and one of the Cavite martyrs. Aside
from Conchu, who played the violin, the others in the orchestra were Francisco Osorio (drums) and
Victorino Luciano (pandereta, bass and violoncello). Perez became a Mason, later assuming the
rank of worshipful master of the Cavite lodge. Like many other Masons, he joined the Katipunan.
He came to be called Comandante by his fellow Katipuneros, indicating the authority and status he
had attained within the group.
In August 1896, the Philippine Revolution began. Pocket rebellions occurred
simultaneously in major towns and provinces. Accounts of these revolts were reported either by
friars or soldiers who had escaped from strife-torn areas. Tension mounted in the province of
Cavite. Victoria Crespo, Gov. Fernando Parga’s wife, was told by her seamstress that an
insurrection was being planned in Cavite town. Later, Judge Pedro Solano and his driver’s brother
arrested on suspicion that they had stolen a knife and some of his cartridges. Upon questioning,
the brothers revealed the alleged involvement in the said plot of Severino Lapidario, the provincial
jail warden, and Alfonso de Ocampo, assistant jail warden. Luis Aguado, the maestro de viveres,
was also implicated. All three were apprehended. After three hours of unremitting labor on the
boat Ulloa, they divulged some incriminatory information to the authorities.
De Ocampo accused Perez of being a cabecilla who, together with Luciano, Conchu,
Marcos Jose, Juan Castañeda, and Pablo Jose (the last three were later released), allegedly plotted
the failed Cavite rebellion, set to be launched on September 1, 1896. Perez were arrested and
coerced into making self-incriminating statements whose veracity the panicky authorities never
endeavored to investigate. On September 10, they were made to choose their defense lawyers from
among Spanish and, therefore, biased officers. The next day, September 11, they were charged.
Their self-indicting testimonies were read to them. On the same day, they were presented before a
military council formed on orders of Brig. Gen Francisco Rizzo, Cavite’s commanding general of
operations. All 13 of them were found guilty and sentenced to death by the council. Its verdict,
which came in the evening of that day, was upheld by General Rizzo.
On September 12, the death sentence was read to Perez and the others. Except for
Luciano, who accepted his fate impassively and tried to comfort his fellow unfortunates, everyone
else was stunned. They found the sentence quite harsh. Antonio Osorio, an influential Chinese
businessman whose son Francisco was among those convicted, did everything to avert the death
sentence until the last hour. Despite his known close association with the provincial governor, his
efforts proved futile.
The convicts were taken to Plaza de Armas of Fort San Felipe in the provincial capital,
where they were shot at 12:45 p.m.. Just before the execution, an uncanny silence had swept the
town. Perhaps it was the people’s way of showing their sympathy for their compatriots and
protesting their unjust fate. Not even the arrival of army reinforcements or the official welcome
given to the soldiers by the town band totally broke the silence.
Later, it was discovered that apart from the confessions extracted forcibly from his coaccused,
the articles of evidence found in the house of Dr. Perez were scarcely enough to convict
him as suspected rebel, or be given much weight in a real court. These so-called proofs consisted of
two large pictures of the accused rebels (who were positioned in such a way as to form a triangle, a
Masonic symbol), and a booklet whose frontispiece showed the same symbol.
After the execution, the bodies of the martyrs were brought to the Catholic Cemetery in
Caridad on a carabao-drawn cart. The corpses of Conchu, Lapidario, Feliciano Cabuco, Eugenio
Cabezas, and Maximo Gregorio were unceremoniously dumped in a large hole. The rest were
claimed and given decent burials by their relatives.

Calairo, Emmanuel Franco. Liping Kabitenyo: Talambuhay ng mga Kilala at di-Kilalang
Kabitenyo. Dasmariñas City: De La Salle University, 1999.
Saulo, Alfredo and Esteban A. de Ocampo. History of Cavite : The Mother Ground of the
Philippine Revolution, Independence Flag and National Anthem. Trece Martires : Provincial
Government of Cavite, 1985.

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