ROMAN E. BASA
Roman Basa, great Katipunan leader and martyr, was born in the coastal village of San Roque, Cavite on 29 February 1848. He was the fourth of the six children of Mariano Basa, a fisherman, and Dorotea Esteban. His siblings were Clemente, Ciriaco, Remigia, Francisco, and Manuela. Roman took his early education from Padre Pedro Mañalak, chaplain of the Spanish regiment.
Born to poor parents, he learned to work for a living at a young age. He worked as a clerk in the Comandancia de Marina in Manila. His dedication at work paid off; he was promoted to the rank of oficial Segundo. Basa, who was nearing retirement, left his work and fought in the revolution that broke out in 1896. He had joined the Katipunan on 9 November 1892, using “Liwanag” as a name. It was through Ladislaw Diwa, then a law student at the University of Santo Tomas and his fellow boarder in a house on Calle Asuncion, that he became acquainted with the organization, which the former founded together with Andres Bonifacio and Teodoro Plata.
Even before the revolution, Basa had been instrumental in propagating the aspirations of the Katipunan. He connived with Eulogio Santiago, a machinist of the boat Don Juan, which regularly sailed between Hong Kong and Manila, in secretly smuggling copies of the La Solidaridad and the novels of Rizal hidden in glass containers called dama juanas (demijohns) kept in the cool bin of the ship. In 1893, he worked with Diwa in organizing Katipunan in Cavite. In the same year, he was elected president of the organization with Andres Bonifacio as Fiscal, Jose Turiano Santiago as Secretary, Vicente Molina as Treasurer. Restituto Javier, Briccio Pantas, Teodoro Gonzales, Teodoro Plata, and Ladislaw Diwa as councilors. He held his post as president until 1895.
After his term as president, he refused to hold other sensitive posts because of different views about the organization. He wanted to do away with the tedious initiation rites for new members and was not agreeable with the overspending of the organization, asserting that funds should be saved for other necessities. However, he remained faithful to the Katipunan.
Soon after the revolution broke out in 1896, he was arrested for sedition and treason and was sentenced to die by firing squad. He was shot in Bagumbayan in 1897, leaving his two children Cristina Luz and Lucio. His wife Josefa Inocencio was the cousin of Maximo Inocencio, one of the thirteen martyrs of Cavite. His son Lucio later adopted the surname Torres.
Manuel, E. Arsenio. Dictionary of Philippine Biography Volume 1. Quezon City: Filipiniana, 1955.
Agoncillo, Teodoro A. History of the Filipino People. 8th Ed. Quezon City: Garotech, 1990.