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2012 • 3 • 28

I got lost in utter confusion when I received a message from a geek friend a few months ago. “What can you say about that bill concerning Miguel Malvar?” said the message.

“Which bill?” I asked him.

“About Miguel Malvar being the second president of the Philippines,” answered he. Curiosity sparked instantly as it was my first time to hear about the news. Apparently, Vice President Jejomar Binay had sought the help of the country’s top historians to set the record straight. As I read on, I also learned that there is a pending bill in the Congress filed in 2007 by Oriental Mindoro Representative Rodolfo Valencia, proposing that Miguel Malvar be recognized as such.

The imposing monument of Miguel Malvar in Sto. Tomas, Batangas

I was completely embarrassed that all I could answer to my friend’s questions about the matter was a series of “Hmmm. I don’t know.” Being a Batangueno myself, it is a shame that I did not know much about Miguel Malvar, who is an important figure in history, especially during the Spanish and American eras in the Philippines.

Fast forward and there I was standing at the center of the Gen. Malvar Library in Sto. Tomas, Batangas, Malvar’s birthplace, staring at a sign that reads: Miguel Malvar assumed the position of Commander-in-Chief and Supreme Head of the Filipino Government after the surrender of Vice President Trias and President Aguinaldo. This pronouncement was approved also by the Hong Kong Junta. -The Army of the First Philippine Republic.

Inside the Miguel Malvar Library

Well, I am no historian so I can’t judge and say anything about the bill or the proposition. But I can say that I had an awesome, enlightening time inside the library.

The Life of Miguel Malvar

Commonly considered the last Filipino General to surrender to the Americans during the Philippine-American War, Gen. Miguel Malvar was a man of valor.

Miguel Malvar was born on September 27, 1865 in Barrio San Miguel, Sto. Tomas, Batangas to Máximo Malvar and Tiburcia Carpio. His father was a rice and sugarcane farmer and was said to be rather wealthy. Or at least, wealthy enough to send their children to school. Still, he chose to stop schooling to help in the family business and even started orange cultivation on his land. He married a childhood friend, Maula Maloles, in 1885 and started a family.

In 1890, Malvar became his town’s gobernadorcillo and led a reform movement. But when the Philippine Revolution broke out in 1896, he formed and led an army with Emilio Aguinaldo. On June 15, 1898, after a 2-month battle with the Spaniards, he successfully liberated Tayabas from the oppressors.

A painting inside the Miguel Malvar Library depicting one of the hero’s many battles

But they didn’t celebrate that long as Malvar and the rest of the Philippine revolutionaries faced another war. This time, against a new enemy — the Americans. The Philippine-American War broke out on February 4, 1899, and it was even a harder battle. Malvar struggled and had to change tactics, seeing that they were not as effective with the Americans as they were with the Spaniards. In 1901, Aguinaldo was captured, leaving Malvar leading the revolution. Under his command, the revolutionary forces started an all-out offensive in the towns run by the Americans. However, when American tactics started harming even the civilians and with diminishing support, Malvar and his troops surrendered, putting an end to the long and difficult battle for Batangas against the Americans.

The Miguel Malvar Shrine

The Miguel Malvar Shrine is right inside the Municipal Hall complex. At the center of the compound is the Malvar Monument. A figure of Gen. Miguel Malvar standing so proud and dignified, holding a sword is surely the first to catch the attention of visitors.

The Malvar Monument in front of the Municipal Hall of Sto. Tomas (Malvar Shrine Complex)

On one end of the shrine is the Gen. Malvar Library and Museum, which is filled with small glimpses to the past. The library houses several artifacts, providing information about the life of Malvar and the Philippine Revolution in general. It also showcases paintings, photos and other documents depicting Malvar’s battles, triumphs, struggles, and legacy.

The General Malvar Museum and Library
The lobby of the Miguel Malvar Library
Rayadillo uniform and sword
My friend Celine enlightening herself with photos of Malvar

Founded in 1956 by Miguel Malvar. Jr., the general’s son and former Mayor, the museum is small and simple — it only has three rooms — but is packed with so much details about the life of the hero and the history of the country, especially of Batangas. Any visitor will be impressed by Malvar’s sheer bravery, determination, and patriotism showcased so brilliantly in this simple shrine built in his memory and dedicated to his exceptional character and role in the Philippines’ fight for freedom.

How to get there: Take any bus going to Batangas City that passes through Sto. Tomas. Get off at the Sto. Tomas bus stop. Walk along Gov. Malvar Street — Jollibee is your landmark — and the Malvar Shrine is just a block away. Just keep looking to your left. The museum is open Tuesday-Saturday, 8am-5pm.

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    Keith John Helwig

    Matapang na siya

    Leila Laydia Sombillo

    dyan po ang laydias clan galing…from malvar batangas…:)