Monday, October 12, 2009

The Tres de Abril Stamp: A Painting by Jose Kimsoy Yap Jr.

As its commitment to further promote Cebu’s historical past and Cebuano philately, the Cebu Stamp Club, Incorporated (CSCI) with the cooperation of the Cebu City Cultural and Historical Affairs Commission (CHAC) decided to pursue a historical philatelic presentation on the Battle of Tres de Abril. This project was hatched during the early week of May 1997.

To give more weight for our request to the Stamp Advisory Committee, CSCI’s Richard Allan Uy informed Ms. Patricia “Noeng” Perez of CHAC that a City Council resolution is needed.

Immediately thereafter, a formal letter was sent to the City Government of Cebu by CSCI President Richard Allan Uy. The Cebu City Council wasted no time in acting for our request and unanimously passed Resolution No. 3258 during the regular session held at the Sangguniang Panglungsod of the City of Cebu on June 02, 1997. The mayor at that time, Alvin Garcia, affixed his signature on June 13, 1997.

The Cebu City Government sent a copy of the resolution to the Stamp Advisory Committee of the Philippine Postal Corporation in Manila. On the other hand, CSCI also sent a letter on June 15, 1997 to the Postmaster General Ireneo V. Intia Jr. informing him of our proposal and praying for a favorable action on the part of the Stamp Advisory Committee. A copy of Resolution 3258 was also attached while copies were furnished to Dr. Ngo Tiong Tak, the SAC Chairman; Mayor Alvin Garcia; and Mrs. Fabiolita Ferraris, Philpost 7 Regional Manager.

Earlier, it was already agreed that the visual artist who would make the interpretation of the famous historic battle scene would be prominent Cebuano artist Jose “Kimsoy” Yap Jr.

Finally by August, Kimsoy delivered his beautiful and colorful interpretation. He donated this important masterpiece as his contribution to Philippine philately in general and Cebuano philately in particular.

After ironing out a few details, the artwork was sent to the chairman of the Stamp Advisory Committee, Dr. Ngo Tiong Tak. A few weeks later, the SAC chairman wrote to this writer revealing some information on our stamp proposal. I quote him as follows..

‘.. I showed the painting to the members of the Stamp Advisory Committee during our regular monthly meeting… We are considering using it as one of the four stamps in the final souvenir sheet (#6) in the Centenary of Phil. Independence series. With regards to Pantaleon Villegas (Leon Kilat) he is already featured on s/s #5… It was scheduled for June 12, and the first day cancel will still bear this date.

The representative from the National Historical Institute did not attend the last meeting, but I believe that we had taken up the “Tres de Abril” topic before and he is agreeable to issuing a stamps as it has historical significance."

The Tres de Abril uprising was really one for the books. Mr. Dionisio Sy, a noted Cebuano historian even wrote a recent book on this historical event. The battle took place on April 03, 1898 which incidentally was a Palm Sunday along Calle Valeriano Weyler. A group of around 80 Cebuano revolutionaries wearing the vistidor, a chalico marked with a prayer and a headband with a triangular Katipunan emblem engaged the Spanish Guardia Civil in battle. Capitan Mamfor and Sergeant Royo led the Spanish soldiers.

In this incident, four Spanish soldiers were killed while two Katipuneros also perished. The victorious army of Pantaleon Villegas locally known as Leon Kilat drove the Guardia Civil to Fort San Pedro. The Cebuanos took virtual control of the city from April 04 to 06 until Spanish reinforcements came.

The Tres de Abril uprising marked the beginning of a greater struggle that would eventually lead to Philippine independence. The Cebuano revolutionary movement’s leaders that supported Leon Kilat included Luis Flores, Eugenio Genes, Alejo Miñosa, Atilano Lopez, Candido Padilla, Francisco Llamas, and Jacinto Pacaña.

(reprinted from Richard Allan B. Uy’s column stamplines in the Freeman newspaper).