A Biographical Sketch of "Vibora"

Monday February 03, 2014 ()

   General Artemio Ricarte
   General Artemio Ricarte
From the legal union and matrimony of Esteban Ricarte y Faustino with Bonifacia Garcia y Rigonan were born three children: Sixto, Artemio, and Iluminada, in the town of Batac, province of Ilocos Norte situated in the extreme north of the Island of Luzon, Philippine Islands.

Artemio Ricarte y Garcia was born on the 20th day of October in the year 1866, which day, according to the Roman system of martyrological reckoning, was commemorated and a feast dedicated by the Roman Catholic Church to the General of Africa, Artemio by name, and to all children born on that day the name Artemio was ustally given.

Artemio's parents were very poor, however, the education of the three children was not neglected. After they had finished -the elementary and secondary courses of instruction in their own province, the two brothers were sent to Manila, the capital of the Philippines, to acquire more education.

A Biographical Sketch of "Vibora"

At the age of 15, two years after his brother, Sixto, was matriculated in the College of San Juan de Letran, Artemio was conducted to Manila by his father to be enroled in the same college attended by his brother.

Artemio, after attending this center of learning for five consecutive years, passing on all the subjects leading to the degree of Bachelor of Arts, transferred at once to the University of Santo Tomas. As Ricarte was not satisfied that his education should be limited to religion alone, knowing that his people would not be greatly benefited thereby, his eagerness to being himself near to his people had made him decided to become a school teacher.

In 1889 Artemio was admitted in the Higher Normal School established in Ermita, Manila, and in the following year, 1890, he obtained his title of "Maestro de Instruccion Primaria" (Teacher of Primary Instruction) and was at once sent to the town of San Francisco de Malabon, province of Cavite, to superintend the primary school there. During his six years of successful and uninterrupted teaching in this school Ricarte, in numerous occasions, was complimented and cooperated not only by the local authorities but also by the provincial officials as well, and moreover by those of the surrounding districts joined in paying him tribute for.

While practising his profession as a teacher, Ricarte heard of a movement in Spain by Filipinos headed by Dr. Rizal, to petition the Spanish Monarch to grant the Filipinos the rights and privileges of a Spanish citizen, and due to the strong opposition of all the Spaniards in the Philippines especially the meddlesome friars, the petition was neglected by the Spanish Government. He then held a conference with Andres Bonifacio and, as a result, a decision was reached for the formation of a secret society known as the "K. K. K. ng mga A. N. B.", which in English is the Loftiest and Dearest Society of the Sons of the Country.

In 1896 Artemio Ricarte y Garcia or the primary school teacher of San Francisco de Malabon, Cavite, having been affiliated with the Society, took the name of Vibora the serpent which is in the gospel of St. Matthew, 10: 16, "Behold, I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves: be ye therefore wise as serpents, and harmless as doves". It was then that the name of Vibora came into prominence all over the camps of the Revolutionists during and after the Revolution for the reconquest of the Independence of the Philippines until now this designation is still a living cognomen of the stubborn General as many of his critics characterized him.

On the 31st of August of 1896, at 10:00 a. m. in San Francisco de Malabon known by the revolutionary name of "Mapagtiis", a revolution was started by Vibora, and after 19 hours of bloody skirmishes the Spanish forces were crushed and fell easily into the hands of Vibora, their headquarters ransacked and the civil guards as well as the officers of the guards were taken prisoners by the Revolutionists. At Noveleta the Revolutionists under Alvarez also defeated the Spanish forces stationed there and Aguinaldo succeeded in liberating the surrounding places of Magdalo from the hands of the enemies, thus the province of Cavite, within a week, was cleared off the Guardias Civiles.

In the organization of the Central Government of the new-born Philippine Republic in the year 1897 Vibora was unanimously elected to the post of General-in-Chief of the Army of the Republic, a rank higher than that held by the ranking officer registered in the Spanish Army. The post of Capitan General y Generalisimo of the Philippines' Revolutionary Army was performed by Vibora until the complete surrender on February, 1898, of the Revolutionary forces in regard of the Peace Pact of Biaknabato.

When the second stage of the Hispano-Philippine Revolution planned by Aguinaldo in combination of Commodore Dewey had broken out on June 1898, Ricarte was appointed by Dictator Don Emilio Aguinaldo as General de Division (Major General) of the Dewey-Aguinaldo's Revolutionary Army. In the fight provoked by the Americans in the night of February 4, 1899, Vibora, General in Chief of the Filipino troops that ware around Manila-city, directed the operation against the American Imperialistic Army.

In June, 1900, Vibora with the intention of attacking the American soldiers, secretly managed with his men to enter Manila, and before he realized his purpose, he and his men armed with knives, were surprised by the Americans at the foot of the Paco bridge, Manila, and he was captured and taken prisoner. This occurred in the morning of July 1, 1900 and Ricarte was at once led before the Commanding officer of the American forces and tried for his alleged secret entrance into the enemy's line in Manila which was under American occupation. In defence Vibora gave his answer in the following effect: "As we could not enslave ourselves under foreign domination, it was our intention to reproduce another Sagunto into the City of Manila."

Vibora, after his confinement from July 1, 1900 in the American Military Headquarters at the Anda street, Intramuros, Manila, was deported with many of the Revolutionary prisoners to the island of Guam (Guahan, during the Spanish regime) of the Marianas group or the Ladrones Islands, for two years.

Before the end of the year 1902 many of the deported, after taking the oath of fidelity to the American Government established in the Philippines, were returned to the Islands, while Apolinario Mabini and Vibora remained in the Asan prison, Agana, Guam, because they refused to suscribe the oath of allegiance declaring that it was too inhuman and very humiliating to their personal honor and dignity.

In February 1903, Mabini and Vibora were taken on the U. S Army transport "Thomas" for Manila and while at Manila-Bay they were once more urged to suscribe the oath of allegiance, but due to illness Mabini took the oath, Vibora was taken to another steamboat "Galic" to be deported to Hongkong. Arriving at Hongkong without any resource to depend upon, he has to search for work. By the mediation of Mr. Eligio Reyes, he was able to earn a living of 25 Mex a month at the English printing establishment "Victoria." While here Vibora heard of a strained diplomatic relations between Russia and Japan to come out, and then Vibora thought of a revolution that night be started on anew in the Philippines to overthrow the government established by the Americans in the Islands. Vibora in December, 1903 secretly managed to conceal himself on board the "Wenshang" and disembarked at Manila without having been discovered by the Americans in the Islands.

After he had studied the conditions of his country Vibora began to reorganize his Revolutionary forces to drive by force all the Americans from the Islands, if the demand to redeem America's pledge of Independence to the Filipinos would be denied them.

While in Sisiman planning to procure arms and munitions for the attack of Manila, due to excessive heat, Vibora fell ill of fever. He went to the town of Mariveles, province of Bataan, P. I., to recover but unfortunately on his arrival in the town he caught another disease, the so-called beri-beri and not until about two months when he was well again.

After having been cured of his two infirmities Vibora prepared to reunite his broken Revolutionary Army; but unluckily this time a filipino Judas with the name of "Luis Baltazar" clerk (Escribano) of the Court of First Instance of Bataan, denounced and turned the person of Vibora to the Constabulary authorities for a sum of $10,000 which was the reward offered by the American Government to anyone who could capture Ricarte, dead or alive.

The capture of Vibora was realized by Baltazar on Sunday the 29th of May, 1904, in the cockpit of the town of Mariveles where Vibora went with his chief confidant to meet several persons with whom to discuss the uncompleted plan of general mobilization and attack, and also to meet there his messengers whom he sent to confer with certain Mendigoren staying at a place with his soldiers armed with rifles. It was in the morning of the same day that Luis Baltazar and a platoon of Constabulary soldiers arrived in Mariveles unnoticed and their motive was unknown to the people of the town nor Vibora and his men were aware of their secret mission and have not taken any precaution for their protection and escape; many believed that Luis Baltazar was incapable of exercising the role of a spy since he was employed in a judiciary branch.

The news of the capture of Vibora spread throughout the entire length and breadth of the town of Mariveles, and the adherents of the captive on hearing the rumor decided to rescue their leader. Seeing the hostile attitude of the townspeople the captors telegraphed immediately to Manila for a swift boat to take their victim in a safe place. In the night of the same day at 8:00 o'clock the captive was placed on board the coastguard "Carmen" for Manila escorted by Baltazar and the Constabulary soldiers.

At 8:00 o'clock in the morning of the following day the coastguard "Carmen" docked at Manila inside the "malecon" (breakwater) in front of the monument of Simon de Anda and at once Vibora was taken ashore at first to Intramuros by a "carromata " (carriage) to the Anda Street prison where he once from July 1900 to January 1901, was confined, and finally to the headquarters of the Constabulary next to the Binondo church, a former "Oriente" hotel which was newly occupied and offices installed as Constabnlary headquarters. Once in this headquarters alone in a room waiting for the word of the General of the Constabulary, Mr. Bandholtz, Arturo Dancel, a pro-American and provincial Governor of Rizal, entered the room and with an arrogant gesture made inquirings of the prisoner, who was seated in a chair with hands manacled. After Arturo Dancel was gone, there issued into the room a person much taller than regular who was no other than Mr. Bandholtz himself and after questioning Ricarte, he pushed a button and in answer to the bell a messenger came who was ordered to release the prisoner off the manacles and later he was removed to another chamber at the entrance of which a guard was detailed.

The prisoner was conducted into the Court of First Instance with Judge Manuel Araullo presiding to answer the two charges presented against him by an American prosecutor.

At the close of the investigation, it was found that Vibora has to serve a sentence of one year and a half imprisonment for the alleged illegal possession of firearms and six years imprisonment with hard labor and $10,000 fine for the crime of conspiracy.

In the latter part of June 1904, Ricarte began to serve his sentence terminating it with good conduct before the expiration of the term in 1910 as it was the practice in the Philippines that all prisoners conducting themselves excellently while serving out their term in the prison has the chance to have their sentence commuted varying from two months each year and upward.

From the headquarters of the constabulary, hardly after the sentence has been pronounced by Judge Araullo, Ricarte was then taken to the Bilibid Prison where in a lonely dark cell he was shut in from the rest of the world and not even allowed to communicate to his people nor to keep in his possession any letter from his family. It has to be read in the hands and in the presence of the guard. For six years with nothing to do Ricarte passed the time in monotony and obscured meditation, except by the little change of the daily exercise which he had found convenient and which he had methodically designed to amuse himself and to preserve his health while serving out his term. He spoke to only one man and that was his custodian, the guard of the prison. Every day he implored him for something to work on and in vain for six years he received no answer to his daily supplication. The day were months and the months years in the prisoners calendar. He would not suggest for him clemency of the Government of the United States implanted in the Philippine Islands. There was not a spark of mercy for him and the daily grind of monotony was slowly tearing his heart.

During his confinement in the Billbid Prison until his release on the 26th of June, 1910, Ricarte was frequently visited by several American Government officials, among them was Mr. Fairchild, ex-Vice-President of the United States in the Roosevelt administration. All of them held council with him in which he was asked to acknowledge the protection of the American flag as well as high position in the American Government was offered him. But Ricarte refused all these with the following contestation: "In the present circumstances it is too humiliating for me to consider such proposition, however, I will think it over after I have completely served up the two terms of my imprisonment."

The bodily exercises, three hours during the day and three hours during the night until perspiration appeared, which Ricarte had been practising daily as was his habit while in Guam, had produced him wonderful result. Instead of a dismal and blank walls of the cell, he found happiness in the improvement of his health, escaped dicease which perhaps have overtaken him and would have ended early his life, and forgot his anger over the vicious conduct of the prison warden.

In the later part of June, 1910, Attorney Mariano Legazpi Florendo presented to the Supreme Court of the Philippine Islands an application of "Habeas Corpus" in behalf of Ricarte, who was liberated by the order of the said Court on June 26, 1910, but, while leaving the Bilibid Prison after he had stepped a little distance from the door of the cell, he was met and detained by an American agent of the police force, who took him to the police headquarters at Bagumbayan by an ambulance where he waited three hours until about 2:00 p. m. when he was conducted by the same agent to the Customhouse and presented before General Collector of Customs Mr. McKoy who persuaded Vibora to swear allegiance to the United States Government. A long discussion ensued between McKoy and Vibora and at the end of which Vibora said: "As you cannot give me 40 days' time to think over this matter seriously, I will give you my full consent to do as you please to dispose off my defenseless self." After this Ricarte refused to talk with McKoy who afterward made his decision to banish Ricarte to Hongkong and left Manila at four o'clock in the afternoon of the same day he was taken from the Bilibid Prison. On board Ricarte was given a first class accommodation at the request of McKoy, but, in order to avoid the displeasure of the "white" passengers, he refused from leaving his cabin to take his meal in the dining saloon in his old and disfigured clothes which were never washed for about six years and besides Vibora had but 23 centavos when he left the prison cell at Manila, five centavos of which had already been spent for a roll of bread while he was detained in the police station at Bagumbayan, an amount not sufficient to tip the Chinese waiters in the saloon. The remaining 18 centavos he kept for the sampan which would take him to the landing on arrival at Hongkong from the steamer.

From July 1, 1910 to the year 1915, Ricarte settled in Hongkong and made his home in the Island of Lamah in the western mouth of the port of Victoria and afterward due to the publication of a fortnightly magazine known as "El Grito del Presente " (The Cry of the Present) which he had founded and caused to be published, he transferred to Kowloon (Hongkong, 1913) where he resided until the outbreak of the European war (1914) which later developed into the World War.

In the early part of March, 1915, by the martial decree of the Great Britain's Government, Ricarte was deported to Shanghai where he arrived with his family -- Agueda his wife and his daughter Salud, after an unpleasant voyage of eight days in a small steamer which moved unsteadily on a rough sea.

At 8:00 a. m. when the boat dropped anchor in the river of Shanghai and before they landed, two Americans, White and Boff, presented themselves before Ricarte with this statement: "The American Consul of Shanghai wishes to see Ricarte; and we would like to know the answer if the Consul could have a conference before disembarking." Ricarte accepted the invitation and accompanied by the two Americans he went down to the launch where the said Consul was suppoesed to meet him; but once in the launch Ricarte learned that he was deceived for the Consul was nowhere to be found, while the launch started immediately for the City.

Ricarte after landing was secretly handed over to John Cavanaugh, warden of the Shanghai penitentiary. After two hours in the cell which resembled a bird's cage built with iron bars, Ricarte, after a strong protest, was set free by John Kavanaugh by the order of the American Consul who refused to confirm the legality of Ricarte's arrest; and while taking a rickshaw to the Filipino Club where he directed his wife and daughter to take shelter. Ricarte was again detained by White and other Americans with the order of his arrest for "vagrancy" issued by the American Magistrate in Shanghai, Mr. Lobirger, and once more Ricarte entered th: same cell in the custordy of Kavanaugh and one hour later he received a visit from Boff who, in order to evade ftrthes molestation on his part, invited Ricarte to return with him to Manila embarking on board the steamer "Namur" which sailed for Hongkong in that same day. Ricarte accepted the invitaion with the greatest plaesure with the condition that he would be accompanied by his family who were staying in the Filipino Club. In an autombile the three, Messrs. White, Boff, and Ricarte, went to take the latter's family from the Filipino Club to the steamer " Namur " which weighed anchor almost immediaely on their arrival for Hongkong, not a surprise to Ricatte inasmuch as he had no intention to make a trip to the port of Shanghai and he heartily rejoiced when the boat pulled off the harbor of Shanghai for Hongkong his former place of banishment.

As soon as the steamer "Namur" dropped anchor at the port of Hongkong Ricarte said to Boff: "Inasmuch as you and Mr. White had deceived me in Shanghai, for the same reason, today, I will refuse to go with you to Manila."

The Britannic Government of Hongkong charged Ricarte as violator of the martial law upon his returned to Hongkong while the American General Consul in Hongkong and Mr. Boff asked the British Government to hand them the person of Vibora to be taken to Manila. Ricarte in this junction defended himself from being carried away by his two powerful enemies and in the early part of June 1915, he was again, under his energitic protest, deported to Shanghai with the full protection of the British Government free from outside annoyance while living peacefully and observing the laws faithfully.

Ricarte, through his wife, Agueda, on arriving at secured passage for Moji, Japan, on a Japanese boat to get rid of the clutches of the yankees who were tracking him. From Moji he bought another ticket to continue his trip on the same boat to Kobe. At Kobe he slept during the night: and in the following morning he took the express, train for Nagoya, Aichiken, and on reaching this point he transferred to an electric car for Seto-cho, Iligashi-Kaigaigun, Aichiken, where he met two Filipino students, Ariston Gonzales of San Rafael, Bulacan, and Felisberto Procopio of Nagcarlan, Laguna. Ricarte resided in Aichiken until the year 1921 when he moved with his wife to Tokyo to teach Spanish in a private school called "Kaigai Shokumin Gakko". In April of the year 1923 he again moved to Yokohama and when the Great Earthquake (Sept. 1st, 1923) followed by a terrific fire and typhoon, had occurred, he together with his wife, Mr. Jose A. Ranes and Mrs. Pedro Bartolome with her twine boys miraculously escaped sure and instant death.

An American news-paper "THE MANILA TIMES" on its number of Sept. 19, 1923, when the "Great Earthquake" had happened, published the following:

"I do not believe he will come back. If the HURON starts for the Philippines, Ricarte is apt to jump over board and swim to Japan to keep away from a land where the flag of the United States is flying side by side supreme over-the Filipino flag."

Y en el periodico filipino "El Debate" en su numero de 4 de Octubre, 1923, se publico por el Sr. Ben. R. Ramos el siguiente articulo:

La Revolucion Filipina se habia apagado y solo vive en nuestro recuerdo amoroso; la Republica Filipina ha desaparecido y solo vive en las paginas de nuestra HIisoria; pero existe un filipiono que representa estas gloriosas epopeyas de nuestras lucchas por la Libertad; un filipino que como la misma Revolucion y la misma Bepublica dejo de tener vida actual en nuestro suelo cuando la fuerza del mas fuerte vencio nuestras armas debiles y deshechas; un filipino que como aquellas dos etapas que evidencian la bravura y patriotismo de esta raza, volvera algun dia cuando suene la hora de nuetra Libertad; ese filipino, ese que personifica la Revolucion sangrienta de ayer, ese que irradia hasta ahora la inextinguible luz de la amada Republica de Malolos,-es Artemio Ricate (Vibora). Ayudemosle, socorremosle en su expatriacion en donde sufre las penalidades de una vida extrana, los rigores de un alma errante y enferma de nostalgia: hagamos que el soplo de la Madre-Patria llegue a sus sienes y le recuerde que aqui, come en cualquiera parte, el filipino es amnado y querido por el filipino. I Kawawa Si Ricarte! ese es el lema del dia, el grito de caridad. Ayudemosle! ...... Enviamos socorro al Japon, pero olvidamos al patriota. Ayudemosie!

At present he is living at Yokohama at No. 149 Yamashita-cho and still teaching Spanish language in the same school at Tokyo.

Japan, Feb. 26, 1925.


  1. Himagsikan nang manga Pilipino laban sa Kastila, Artemio Ricarte, Yokohama, Japan: "Karihan Cafe,", 1927


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