This year’s commemoration of the 114th anniversary of the martyrdom of Fathers Mariano Gomes, José Burgos and Jacinto Zamora (collectively known as GomBurZa) fell on a Sunday. Yet the Philippine Historical Association (PHA), with the generous support of the National Historical Commission of the Philippines (NHCP), marked it with a symposium last February 17, 2013, at 9:00 AM at the Conference Hall of the NHCP, T.M. Kalaw Street, Manila. The symposium was offered to the public free of charge and close to 200 people attended, mostly teachers and students from various universities and colleges in Metro Manila.
The first lecture “GOMBURZA: Mga Bagong Datos” was given by Dr. Luis Camara Dery of the De La Salle University and President of the PHA. Dr. Dery discussed, based on his primary archival research, suspected personalities who have the motive to have the three priests be connected to the Cavite Mutiny and eventual execution. Dr. Dery also discussed additional detail on their last days and the moment of their execution which added windows to the personalities of the three priests.
The second lecture with the theme “BAYANG PILIPINO, 1807-1861: Katutubo at Banyaga sa Mundong Ginalawan ng GomBurZa” was delivered by Prof. Michael Charleston “Xiao Chua” of the De La Salle University and Public Relations Officer of the PHA. It was basically about the often neglected time frame where the three priests lived and walked, the important movements and events therein and how these events culturally divided the native Filipinos among the Western-educated and those that remained indio / katutubo that gave rise to secularization and also the ilustrado class.
An interesting open forum ensued with the Master of Ceremonies Prof. Jonathan Balsamo as the moderator. The occasion was also graced by Mrs. Carminda Arevalo, Deputy Executive Director III of the NHCP, and Mrs. Amelia Yulo and Ms. Gemma Cruz-Araneta, both descendants of the Rizal family, graced the occasion.
Earlier that morning, the official national commemoration for the martyrdom of the GomBurZa was held at the site of the execution at the Rizal Park with Manila Mayor Alfredo S. Lim leading the rites and the PHA, represented by Prof. Chua and Prof. Balsamo, among the institutions that annually offer wreaths of remembrance which included government and academic agencies, the Knights of Columbus and our brother masons (Xiao Chua, PRO, PHA).