Manuel Pinzon Abella
Manuel Pinzon Abella was born in 1828 in Catanauan, Tayabas. Some scholars pose that he was much younger when he was martyred and was born in 1836.
What is definite is that he and his brother Leocadio left their hometown and migrated to Naga in the 1850s to study for the priesthood. Oral histories pose that another motivation for the move was brothers’ indignation for their sister’s marriage to a “mang-babababoy” or pig farmer. Manuel was said to have amassed his fortune in Bicol, so it is still a mystery why he was concerned about his future brother-in-law’s station. Despite the distance, Manuel continued to support his family financially.
Manuel married Bibiana Isaac and was blessed with ten children, only five surviving childhood: Mariano, Leocadio, Emetrio, Domingo, Concepcion. Another child named Domingo, died in infancy; while the other three children (one was named Juliana) died in a cholera epidemic. He had a child with an unknown woman, Ramon.
Sometime before 1875, Manuel Abella was appointed an “escribano” or clerk of court in Naga. He held this job until his retirement from the government service in 1896. He then engaged in farming of rice and abaca. Don Manuel and his family were named as plaintiffs in, at least, two court cases related to sale of rice lands, which eventually were decided by the Philippine Supreme Court in 1915. It was during these years of active commerce that Don Manuel amassed a great fortune. But he was equally known for his deep sympathy for the destitute and for his genuine philanthropy.
At the heels of the Tagalog insurrection, the Bicol region felt the brunt of the looming revolution. The threat of arrest, imprisonment and execution was intended to keep patriots at bay. In 1896, Tomas Prieto affirmed in a statement to the civil government that firearms have been shipped and distributed to the Abella’s and other prominent citizens, for distribution to the insurgents’ camp in Mount Isarog. On 16 September 1896, the men named in Prieto’s statement were indicted for rebellion. On September 1896, Don Manuel, his sons Mariano, Domingo and Ramon, and the other patriots were shipped to Manila aboard the vessel Isarog, where they were imprisoned and tortured.
Stories passed on spoke of Manuel’s wife Dona Bibiana and his daughter Concepcion making multiple journeys from Naga to Fort Santiago to visit their loved ones. On their first trip, the mother and daughter kept their eyes out for Don Manuel and other family members in a long line of prisoners. Their men were said to have been tall and aristocratic in stature. As several prisoners passed them by, it took moments for the women to recognize that a limping, beaten up captive was Don Manuel. When Bibiana called out to him, Don Manuel stood a little straighter, as he walked back to his cell. The women “would take the bloodied clothes of their beloved and wash it in the river every single day. After, they would return it to them so they at least had that small comfort of decency and home. This purifying ritual continued for many days and weeks even after they were forbidden to see the prisoners.”
The captives were tried in a court, defended by military authorities. From a forced confession, Fiscal Vallespinosa concluded that Don Manuel and his comrades committed rebellion and sentenced them to a maximum penalty under the Spanish Penal Code – death by firing squad. On 04 January 1897, Manuel Abella, his son, Domingo and others were shot at Bagumbayan. They are now referred to as the Quince Martires Bicolanos, a historical inaccuracy as more than 70 Bicolanos were martyred during the course of the Philippine revolution. Don Manuel Abella is remembered through the Plaza Quince Martires in Naga City, Albay, Philippines.
Manuel Pinzon Abella’s Family Tree can be found in Geni.com.
Family History Research Notes
1. Ataviado, Juan T. “The Philippine Revolution in the Bicol Region”. Page 18.
2. Bandong, Maria Regina Victoria Diaz. Email dated 05 June 2010.
3. Barameda, Jose V. ‘’The Bicol Martyrs of 1896 revisited” on Bicol Mail. Date published: 15 January 2008. Date accessed: 26 May 2010.
4. “The Family of Bibiana Isaac and Manuel Abella”. Date published: 20 April 2008. Date accessed: 26 May 2010.
5. GR 8822, dated 30 March 1915. The LawPhil Project. Date accessed: 26 May 2010.
6. GR 8821, dated 24 September 1915. The LawPhil Project. Date accessed: 26 May 2010.
7. Manuel Abella. “Filipinos in History”. Date accessed: 23 Feb 2009.
8. Manuel Abella. National Historical Institute. Date accessed: 26 May 2010.
9. “Naga to Celebrate 109th year of Fifteen Bicol Martyrs“. The Official Site of Naga. Date published: 29 December 2005.
10. Ocampo, Ambeth. “Fifteen Martyrs of Bicol“. Philippines Daily Inquirer. Date published: 17 Jan 2007. Date accessed: 25 July 2010.
11. “111th Commemoration of Bikol Martyrs“. Planet Naga. Date published: 03 Janaury 2008. Date accessed: 25 July 2010.