Today in Philippine History, June 25, 1864, Galicano Apacible was born in Balayan, Batangas

Friday March 22, 2013 ()

Galicano Apacible   
Galicano Apacible   
On June 25, 1864, Galicano Apacible, a patriot and propagandist, was born in Balayan, Batangas. He was the youngest of the three children of Don Vicente Apacible and Catalina Castillo.

Apacible had his early education at the town’s public school and then transferred to the private school of a licensed teacher. Kanoy, as he was fondly called, was eight years old when he completed his preparatory course. There was no high school in Balayan and so he went to Manila where he enrolled at the private school of Benedicto Luna. From there he enrolled at the Colegio de San Juan de Letran.

Kanoy and his elder brother Leon, lived in a boarding house at 15 Anda Street in Intramuros with their relative, Jose Rizal, and then moved to the boarding house of Antonio Rivera on Santo Tomas Street. The Apacibles would follow Rivera when he moved his boarding house later to Postigo Street also in Intramuros In Rivera's boarding house, they organized a student orchestra called Estudiantina, where Kanoy was a flute player. Under the leadership of Rizal, the group also organized a secret society called El Companerismo, whose main objectives were mutual protection, and civic and patriotic education. Although El Companerismo faded out, the ideas that Rizal inculcated remained in the hearts and minds of the members.

Today in Philippine History, June 25, 1864, Galicano Apacible was born in Balayan, Batangas

When Kanoy was about to finish his secondary course, he asked his mother what course she wanted him to study. He preferred law, but his mother wanted him to take up medicine because his brother Leon was already studying law. A dutiful son, he enrolled at the University of Santo Tomas, which at that time was the only school offering a medical course. Because of the antiquated teaching methods and above all, the humiliating treatment shown by the Dominican professors to their Filipino students, many of his classmates chose to continue their studies abroad. Apacible himself had fight with one of his friar professors. For that, he had to leave the university. He had already completed the fifth year of the medical course when he sailed for Europe aboard the ship of Messageries Maritimes.

He finished his Bachelor of Arts degree at the Institute of Tarragona and his Licentiate in Medicine and Surgery at the University of Barcelona in November 1889. He studied at the Universidad Central de Madrid for his doctorate in Medicine.

While in Spain from 1885-1889, Apacible was president of a political society called Asociacion Filipina Solidaridad en Barcelona. He was also one of the founders of La Solidaridad together with other Filipino patriots Marcelo H. del Pilar and Graciano Lopez Jaena.

He made many trips to France, beckoned not only by the delights of Parisian life but by the hospitals that gave him opportunities to practice his French as well as his medicine. During the Universal Exposition in 1889, he joined Rizal, T.H. Pardo de Tavera. Antonio Luna and many other Filipinos who were in France at that time. They had many discussions over the best ways to improve the situation in the Philippines.

As he journeyed back to his native land, he learned that his family was under persecution by the Spanish government; that his brother Leon, a judge of the Court of First Instance, had been exiled to Lepanto; and that Rizal had been arrested and deported to Dapitan. It was rumored that upon his arrival, he too would be arrested and imprisoned.

Apacible stayed in Hong Kong for more than a month and in December 1892 he received instructions from his family that the situation in Manila was no longer dangerous for his return.

Upon his arrival, he found that he was under suspicion for his political activities in Spain and on account of his being a Freemason of the 33rd degree, a fact which he never denied. At that time of the outbreak of the Revolution, Apacible and the governor of the province of Batangas, Leandro Villamil, were friends. The governor called him to be at his side to prevent him from aiding or communicating with his friends. The governor did this because he knew all the while where his friend’s sympathies lay – with his compatriots on the battlefront.

In order to escape the reprisals that were commonplace under the rule of Governor Camilo Polavieja, Apacible applied for a position on board the British S.S. Zafire that regularly journeyed from Manila to Hong Kong. He was immediately accepted as they were in need of a physician.

After making a few voyages, he resigned and settled in Hong Kong. He served as an adviser to the Alto Consejo de los Revolucionarios (High Council of the Revolutionists). From Hong Kong he wrote to Mabini: "I am working exclusively for our dear Motherland, exposing my life and abandoning all my personal interest. I wish for no reward except the satisfaction of helping in securing our freedom. I hope that the government and public opinion will always do me justice; if not, it matters little to me; there will always remain the inner satisfaction of having worked disinterestedly and according to my humble abilities".

While in Hong Kong, he was named chairman of the Comite Central Filipino (Filipino Central Committee) based there. He was sent to Tokyo as a special agent to secure arms and ammunition for the revolutionaries. While there he met leading figures such as Marquis Ito, Count Okuma and Dr. Sun Yat Sen. The latter was his closest companion as they were both working for the freedom of their countries.

He was in Hong Kong when General Aguinaldo was captured by General Frederick Funston in Palanan, Isabela. The committee was dissolved, and in 1903, Apacible returned to Manila and practiced medicine. He worked at the San Lazaro Hospital from 1906 to 1907, when he was elected governor of Batangas. He occupied this position until he was elected Assemblyman in 1908 and reelected in 1912. In 1911, he became vice-president of the Nacionalista Party and a member of its Executive Committee. From 1917 to 1922, he was Secretary of the Department of Agriculture and Natural Resources, but resigned due to ill health.

He went back to Hong Kong and after seven months there, he returned a healthy and happy man with no official tasks to preoccupy him.

In 1944, he met an accident and the period of enforced physical inactivity that followed impaired his health. He became weaker and weaker. Three years after his accident, he lost his sight, although his mind remained clear. He succumbed on March 22, 1949 and was interred at the La Loma Cemetery in Manila.

(Galang, Zoilo M. Encyclopedia of the Philippines. Volume 9 Builders of the New Philippines. Manila : P. Vera & Sons Co., 1936.
Villaroel, Hector K. Eminent Filipinos. Quezon City: Textbook Publishers, 1965. ) both via The Philippine Historical Commission
Photo credit: Wikipedia Commons


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