Wednesday, January 23, 2013
Filipino Martyr: WENCESLAO Q. VINZONS
WENCESLAO Q. VINZONS
Wenceslao Vinzons was born on September 28, 1910 in Indan, Camarines Norte to Gabino
V. Vinzons Sia and Engracia Quinto.
Vinzons was sent to study Law at the University of the Philippines in Manila after
completing his elementary education in Indan and his secondary at the Camarines Norte High
School where he graduated valedictorian. He was known in UP Campus for being an awarded
orator and debater, member and later president of the student council, editor-in-chief of the school
paper, the UP Philippine Collegian, and member of the Upsilon Sigma Phi Fraternity. He was
awarded the Manuel L. Quezon gold medal for excellence in his oration entitled “Malaysia
Irredenta” in which he advocated the unity of all Malayan peoples including the Filipinos and the
Abad Santos medal for excellence in debate.
Although rich and popular, what endeared him to his schoolmates was his humility and
ability to relate with people. He seldom used his car and preferred to take the Meralco bus to the
university and back to his residence. Among his contemporaries at UP were: Arturo M. Tolentino,
Ambrosio Padilla, Arturo B. Rotor, Amado G. Dayrit, Salvador P. Lopez.
Vinzons political activities at UP became broader in scope. In 1932, he rallied the students
to protest the plan of the Philippine Legislature to increase their salaries. In 1934, he organized the
Young Philippines, a political party comprised mainly of young people, which fielded candidates in
the city council of Manila. In the same year, Vinzons, already a full-fledge lawyer and his being
third placer in the bar exams added to his credit, was elected delegate to the Constitutional
Convention tasked to draft the 1935 Charter. He was instrumental in the passage of a provision in
the constitution for Tagalog as a national language.
In the 1935 national elections, Vinzons supported General Emilio Aguinaldo for presidency
against President Manuel L. Quezon by personally campaigning and delivering speeches for the
former revolutionary leader. His speeches against voting Quezon became a ground to charge him
with libel and sedition for which the Court of First Instance in Cavite convicted him of almost fouryear
prison term. The Court of Appeals, however, acquitted him.
Vinzons have carved a name for himself so that in the 1940 elections, he was voted
Governor of Camarines Norte. He resigned his post after serving a year to run in the national
assembly in 1941. He was elected representative of Camarines but was not able to serve his term
because of the Second World War that broke out.
During the war, he organized the first guerilla unit in the Bicol region, the Citizen’s Army
and later his own Guerilla unit. His first big battle against the Japanese was in Laniton on
December 17, 1941. In January 1942, his troops fought the Japanese in Tigbinan. Identified as one
of the important enemies, the Japanese hunted him. Their efforts were rewarded after months of
manhunt after a former guerilla named Villaluz informed the Japanese of his hideout. He was
captured July 8, 1942 together with his father. He and his companions were paraded around the
town of Labo. At the Plaza, the Japanese prodded him to persuade the people to cooperate with the
Japanese administration. “I have only three things to tell you,” he said “plant! plant! plant!”
Infuriated by his speech, his captors brought him to the Daet garrison.
On July 15, 1942, Major Tsuneoka Noburo, the garrison commander, confronted Vinzons
in a last attempt to enlist his services for the interests of Japan’s co-prosperity sphere. The
Japanese asked him to read a piece of paper to which Vinzons replied: “I know,” he answered. “I
have read it twice. They are asking you to execute me.”
“Fifty peoporr (people) say you dorobo (bandit). I kirr (kill) dorobo.”
“I have not had a trial,” he said. “The Geneva Convention says enemy soldiers captured are
not to be killed.”
“You terr (tell) where your men go. Where Americans go.”
“Your captain, Azano, captured me in the mountains. I do not know where my men or their
guns are now.”
The Japanese commander shrieked “you die, you die!,” and slapped him across the face.
“You know, your wife die, she die! I kirr (kill) you too.!”
He answered quietly, “nothing can make me happier than to die for my country, Major.
You will die too.”
Angered, Tsuneoka bayoneted Vinzon’s stomach. A Japanese corporal, Kuzumi Taiku, hit
the helpless resistance leader with a rifle butt at the back of the head.
He was killed together with his wife, Liwayway Gonzales, his father, a sister, and two
children. Their remains have never been recovered. In his honor, his hometown Indan was
renamed after him. In Manila, near Blumentritt, a school is named Wenceslao Vinzons Elementary
School. The student center at the University of the Philippines in Diliman, Quezon City, bears his
Agoncillo, Teodoro A. History of the Filipino People. 8th Ed. Quezon City: Garotech
Eminent Filipinos. Manila: National Historical Commission, 1970.
Manuel, E. Arsenio. Dictionary of Philippine Biography Volume 4. Quezon City: Filipiniana
Quirino, Carlos. Who’s Who in Philippine History. Manila: Tahanan Books, 1995.