Novaliches: The former town that was forgotten in Philippine history

MANILA-- Very few of the country's present population maybe aware of the fact that Novaliches, a former town now divided between Quezon City and Caloocan City in the northernmost periphery of Metro Manila, also played an important role in the Philippine struggle for independence from Spain during the 1896 Revolution launched by the Katipuneros headed by Andres Bonifacio.

Proof of this is that towards the end of November 1896, a fierce battle took place in Novaliches between a group of Katipuneros and Spanish soldiers then occupying the town which was founded in September 1855.

In that Battle of Novaliches, the headquarters of the Spanish troops in the town was seized, burned down and destroyed by the raiding Katipuneros, although their leader, Gen. Luis Malinis, a close aide of Bonifacio, was killed.

This little-known incident was narrated in a book, Ang Kasaysayan ng Novaliciches (The History of Novaliches) written by historians and researchers Prof. Rosalina M. Franco-Calairo of the University of the Philippines-Los Banos, and her son, Prof. Emmanuel Franco Calairo of De La Salle University-Dasmarinas.

The book, published in 1997, was based on various historical data and documents the mother-and-son team of historians were able to gather after years of painstaking research at the National Archives, the National Library, the De La Salle Library-Filipiniana Section, and the University of the Philippines-Diliman Library.

According to the book, Novaliches played a very important role during the revolution against Spain since it served as a gateway between the then neighboring provinces of Bulacan and Manila, which was later renamed Morong and now Rizal province.

Gen. Emilio F. Aguinaldo passed through the northeastern portion of Novaliches adjacent to Montalban, Marikina and San Mateo on his way to Malolos and Biak-na-Bato in Bulacan by way of the neighboring towns of San Jose del Monte, Norzagaray, and Santa Maria in May 1897.

Prior to the outbreak of the revolution, Bonifacio had gone several times to Novaliches to organize the revolutionary movement there through his Novaliches native friends, Canuto Dumalay and Tomas Geronimo. In fact, Bonifacio made the Tuliahan River in Novaliches as one of his sanctuaries during the revolution, along with Balara (then in Marikina) and the Pamitinan Cave in Montalban (now Rodriguez town in Rizal).

In the centenary edition of the Memoirs of the Revolution, published in 1998 by the National Centennial Commission headed by former Vice President Salvador Laurel, the Cavite Historical Society and A.T.S. Associates, Gen. Aguinaldo also cited Novaliches, along with Caloocan, Marikina, San Mateo, Montalban, Pasig, Mandaluyong, Makati, San Juan del Monte, Las Pinas, Palanyag (now Paranaque), Antipolo, Pateros and Taguig as among the towns of the former Morong province that participated in the revolution.

The facts narrated in the Calairos' book confirmed similar historical incidents contained in an earlier book, The Katipunan and the Revolution: Memoirs of a General, written by the late revolutionary Gen. Santiago V. Alvarez and published in 1992 by the Ateneo de Manila University Press. This earlier book was based on Gen. Alvarez's personal accounts of the 1896 revolution. Its original text in Tagalog was translated into English by former University of the Philippines History Prof. Carolina S. Malay.

Alvarez, one of the brave generals of the Philippine revolution, was a son of the revolutionary leader Mariano Alvarez of Cavite after whom the town of General Mariano Alvarez (GMA) in that province was named.

According to the same memoirs, the young Alvarez was a close aide of Bonifacio. As such, he was able to keep notes about their personal experiences, which eventually became the basis of the book.

Both the books of Alvarez and the Calairos narrated that in November 1896, after Boniifacio and his party had left from Balara for a visit to Cavite, Gen. Luis Malinis decided to attack the enemy position at Novaliches, then still a separate town since Quezon City was not yet In existence at that time, having been created only in October 1939.

He carried out the siege toward the end of November 1896. After a pitch battle, the Sons of the People at noon burned the civil guards' headquarters and the chapel where the enemies had entrenched themselves. Unfortunately, the brave General Malinis was killed by the Spaniards, Alvarez wrote.

The death of General Malinis and the prompt arrival of reinforcing Spanish troops from Manila and other nearby areas turned the tide of battle and enabled the enemies to soon retake Novaliches from the Katipuneros.

Recognizing the heroism of Malinis in the Battle of Novaliches, the people of the town later renamed the old Novaliches-Polo Road leading to the former Bulacan town of Polo (now Valenzuela City) as Gen. Luis St. in his honor.

It is because of the important role played by Novaliches in the 1896 Revolution why a street in Makati City, located at the old Makati poblacion, has been named Novaliches, along with other historically noted places such as Malolos, Biak-na-Bato, Pasong Tamo, Barasoain, Kakarong, Kawit, Imus, Zapote, Pasong Tirad, Pateros, and Antipolo, among others.

Another book entitled Himagsikang 1896, published by the Miranda Book Store in 1995 based on a diary of the 1896 Revolution from Jan. 1, 1896 to Dec. 31, 1896 and authored by historians Zeus A. Salazar, E. Yulo , and A. Navarro, also confirmed that a battle between the Katipuneros and the Spaniards took place on Nov. 26, 1896.

It was just unfortunate that when the Americans took over the Philippines, Novaliches was reduced in 1903 to a barrio and annexed to the then town of Caloocan, Rizal. The former town was later divided between Caloocan and Quezon City under Republic Act No. 333 passed by the Old Congress in July 1948.

Thus, when most Filipino historians began writing the accounts of the 1896 Revolution in the 1950s or thereabouts, Novaliches was no longer existing on the national map as a town and its actual role in the country's revolutionary history was not mentioned anymore � eclipsed by Caloocan, together with Quezon City which was born on Oct. 12, 1939, or 43 years after the start of the historic 1896 Revolution.

This is the reason why the rightful place of Novaliches in the 1896 Revolution is now missing in the country's history and it was not included in the Centennial Trail during the celebration of the Philippine Independence centenary in 1998.

Source: Philippines News Agency