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Artemio Ricarte was accused of conspiracy, rebellion and insurrection against the Americans on June 9, 1904.

Today in Philippine History, June 9,1904 a distinguished Filipino General, Artemio “Vivora” Ricarte was accused of was accused of conspiracy, rebellion and insurrection against the Americans.

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Born of poor parents in 1866 in Batac, llocos Norte, Ricarte had to• work his way through school successfully earning the Certificate of Maestro de Instruccion Primaria from the Escuela Memorial in Ermita. One of the first members of the Katipunan, he held the position of treasurer of the: Balangay ng mga Anak Bayan Mapagtiis (the Katipunan name of Francisco de Malabon). He fought during the Battle of San Francisco de Malabon, one of the earliest skirmishes between the Filipinos and Spanish forces during the revolution. Throughout the tumultous years of the Filipino-Hispano hostilities, Ricarte, popularly known then as the Vi bora (snake), 4 was always on the forefrcnt leading the Filipino forces. A brigadier-general of the Katipunan under the Magdiwang Council, he consequently occupied the position of Cap-tain-General of the reorganized revolutionary government controlled by the Magdala Council. He held this position until the time of the signing of the Pact of Biak-na-Bato on December 14, 1897.

Ricarte’s encounter with the Americans began with the American occupation of Manila. As early as 1898 he was known to be very much outspoken with regards American intentions over the Philippines. He entertained suspicion and distrust in America’s promise to help the Filipinos obtain their freedom from the Spaniards. He eveen warned General Emilio Aguinaldo saying that the Americans are a more dangerous enemy than the Spaniards. It did not take a long time though to prove his doubts. Soon Fil-American hostilities broke out and American occupied Manila became the target of operations of the Philippine Revolutionary forces.

On January 7, 1901 he was deported to Guam together with some revolucionarios after a failed attempt to gain control of Manila. In 1902 he was joined by Apolinario Mabini who was also exiled after the fall of the Malolos government. The two refused to go back to the Philippines if the price was taking the oath of allegiance to the American Government. In 1903 they were sent back to Manila but were not allowed to to leave the ship unless they first took the oath of allegiance. True to his words, Gen. Ricarte refused to take the oath but the Sublime Paralytic then a very sick man said to Ricarte,”Allow me to take the oath that I may see our homeland before I die. I feel that I have only a shortwhile more to live, and if I go with you, I would just be a burden” and so Mabini took his oath. Ricarte was transferred to another ship and was taken to HongKong where he stayed for another ten months.

Gen. Ricarte relentlessly worked to overthrow the American presence in the country to no avail. After another unsuccessful campaign in the North he decided to go back to Manila where he conferred with Aurelio Tolentino, a Tagalog playwright known for his plays which depicted the Philippines’ struggle for independecne from the United States . They began their work by filling in military commissions and distributing them in Manila. They sought the support of several known personalities but they began to be disgruntled when the people on whom they depended so much for a successful revolution were not sympathetic to their cause. They decided to separate ways to gain more followers – Toeltino to Camarines Norte and Ricarte to Mariveles.

While in Mariveles, he worked as a clerk at the Justice of the Peace office under the assumed name of Jose Garcia. Unfortuantely, the clerk of court where he was working turned out to be a Filipino spyh and through him the authorities learned of Ricarte’s presence in the town. He was captured on May 29, 1904 by the American troopers. He languished in jail for the next six years and upon his release on June 1910, he was again pressured to take the oath of allegiance. He was given two hours to deicde, he pleaded that he be given forty eight days to do so in order to his family but was denied. Thus Ricarte still undaunted by his harrowing six-year imprisonment refused to take the oath. On that same day he was banished to Hongkong with no money and clothes except for the one he wore. He then resumed his fight against the American government in the Philippines until the British government became suspicious of the presence of political exiles in Hongkong. Ricarte found himself again in prison for one month and afterwards managed to secure a ship passage to Japan through the effort of his wife Agueda Esteban. Taking this opportunity to free himself from the clutches of the Americans, Ricarte and his wife sailed for Japan. They stayed in that country for twenty six years but that did not change his hopes and affections for the Philippines. he carried considerable correspondence with his countrymen in the Philippines. A reading of his letters would reveal his undying nationalism.

During the Second World War, however, Ricarte became a “misunderstood patriot” and this wa due to his collaboration activities with the Japanese. He fought with the Japanese because he sincerely believed that the Philippines would secure her independence with the help of the Japanese. But whatever Ricarte did during the Japanese occupation history will vindicate him as a man who stood by his principles – a patriot who preferred the difficult life of an exile in Japan to surrender to the Americans whom he sincerely believed, merely supplanted Spanish tyranny and deprived the Filipinos of their bitterly fought for freedom.

Some accounts said that towards the end of Second World War, Gen. Ricarte was aked by a Japanese military officer to leave the Philippines but he refused saying, “I can not take refuge in Japan at this critical moment when my people are in distress. I will stay in my Motherland to the last.” Due to the hardship and difficulties from evading American and Filipino attackers, Ricarte became ill and suffered from debilitating dysentery. In July 31, 1945 at the Hungduan, Ifugao, Artemio “Vivora” Ricarte died at the age of 78.

Sources: General Artemio Ricarte y Garcia: A Filipino Nationalist by Maria Pilar S. Luna.

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