Revolutionary Martyr from Bicol
A native of Nueva Caceres, now Naga City, Mariano Melgarejo was one of the 11 martyrs of
Bicol during the Philippine Revolution.
He was an employee of public works in Nueva Caceres when the Spanish authorities
arrested him shortly after the outbreak of the revolution in Manila in August 1896. Like the other
Bicolanos arrested with him, he was suspected of being a member or supporter of the Katipunan.
Their arrest was a consequence of the fear among the authorities that the conflict might spread to
the Bicol region. It was aggravated by the hysteria whipped up by anti-Filipino Spaniards who
harbored hatred against Filipinos with liberal inclinations.
Melgarejo’s name was not among those mentioned in the confession extracted from
Vicente Lukban, who was arrested earlier. Lukban was a member of the Masonic lodge Triangulo
Bicolano, claimed by the authorities as having links with the Katipunan. Melgarejo was implicated
by others who ere also arrested earlier. One of them was Tomas Prieto, the parish priest of
Malinao, Albay. Prieto was supposed to be the central figure of a projected uprising in Bicol.
During his interrogation, he was tricked into mentioning the names of individuals alleged to be
members of the Katipunan or its sympathizers.
Rounded up by the authorities were members of the local clergy, such as Fathers Inocencio
Herrera, Gabriel Prieto, Severino Diaz, Manuel Subarbano and Severo Estrada; businessmen like
Manuel Abella and his son Ramon, Mariano Araña, and Leon Hernandez. Melgarejo, like
Florencio Lerma, Cornelio Mercado, and Mariano Ordenanza, were employees of the local Obras
Publicas. Together with photographer Camilo Jacob and night watchman Macario Valentin, they
represented the masses among the alleged filibusteros.
On October 19, Melgarejo and others were shipped to Manila aboard the steamer Isarog.
In Manila, they were sent to the Bilibid Prison, which was then crowded with other men similarly
facing charges. There, Melgarejo and his fellow Bicolanos suffered further physical abuses and
On December 29, a military court tried 14 detainees from Bicol. One of the lawyers tasked
to defend them was Lt. Jose Taviel de Andrade, Rizal’s former counsel. Other members of the
defense panel were a Captain Diaz and Soreza, Lieutenants Salgado, Rivadalla, and Lopez Blanco.
Their trial was, of course, a farce. It was over in just one day.
Melgarejo and 10 others were sentenced to die by firing squad. Ramon Abella and
Mariano Araña were ordered deported to Fernando Po Island off Africa, while Mariano Ordenanza
was ordered jailed at the Bilibid for 20 years.
On January 4, 1897, the 11 condemned men from Bicol met their martyr’s fate.
Galang, Zoilo M. Encyclopedia of the Philippines. Manila: 1935.
Manuel, Arsenio. Dictionary of Philippine Biography Volume 1. Quezon City: Filipiniana
Reyes, Jose Calleja. Bikol Maharlika. Quezon City: 1992.