San Juan de Dios Church
. . . . Nakita niya ang isang silid na mayroong dalawang nakasinding kandila. Isang pari na may hawak na tambo sa kamay ang matamang nakikinig sa isang sakristan na nagsasalita sa ibang lenggwahe. Naroon si Crispin at takot na takot na inililibot ang mga mata na puno ng luha kahit saang dako, na tila humihingi ng tulong o naghahanap ng isang lugar na maaaring pagtaguan. Humarap ang pari kay Crispin at tinanong ang bata. Tumakbo ang bata sa likod ng sakristan, ngunit iniharap naman siya nito sa pari. Hinawakan siya ng pari sa likod at galit na galit na pinalo. Ngunit nanlaban ang bata, sumipa, sumigaw hanggang sa bumagsak sa sahig. Muli itong bumangon, ngunit muli ring bumagsak at humampas ang ulo sa sahig. Desperadong bumangon ang bata kaya't galit na galit na kinagat ang kamay ng pari. Kinuha ng sakristan mayor ang isang kahoy at pinukol ito sa ulo ng bata na biglang bumagsak. Nang makita ng paring may sugat ang kanyang kamay ay sinipa niya ang bata na nasa sahig na at hindi gumagalaw o sumisigaw man lang; nagpagulung-gulong ito sa sahig na tila wala nang buhay.
. . . . He saw a bedroom where two dim tapers burned. The curate, with a rattan whip in his hand, was listening gloomily to something that the senior sacristan was telling him in a strange tongue with horrible gestures. Crispin quailed and turned his tearful eyes in every direction as if seeking some one or some hiding-place. The curate turned toward him and called to him irritably, the rattan whistled. The child ran to hide himself behind the sacristan, who caught and held him, thus exposing him to the curate’s fury. [Then he hold Crispin at the back and furiously beat the child.] The unfortunate boy fought, kicked, screamed, threw himself on the floor and rolled about. He picked himself up, ran, slipped, fell, and parried the blows with his hands, which, wounded, he hid quickly, all the time shrieking with pain. Basilio saw him twist himself, strike the floor with his head, he saw and heard the rattan whistle. In desperation his brother rose. Mad with pain he threw himself upon his tormentor and bit him on the hand. The curate gave a cry and dropped the rattan — the sacristan caught up a heavy cane and struck the boy a blow on the head so that he fell stunned — the curate, seeing him down, trampled him with his feet. But the child no longer defended himself nor did he cry out; he rolled along the floor, a lifeless mass that left a damp track.
Do some of you still remember this small portion of a novel? Well, maybe the high school students do. The above passage came from Jose Rizal's Noli me Tangere. It was actually used by Rizal as a dream of Basilio (Crispin's brother) of what was happening to his brother back in the church. Of course, some of us will think the story just came from the creative brain of this little man. Thus, concluding it was just an imagination. But townsfolk in San Rafael, Bulacan believed that this story was an actual and real happening. That Sisa and Basilio were real individuals that lived in the place back in old days. They also believed that Bayan ng San Diego (Town of San Diego, to where Sisa, Basilio, and Crispin live) was in fact San Rafael.
San Juan de Dios Church: Crispin
San Rafael is one of the municipalities in the province of Bulacan. The place is a witness of many bloody wars and violence against its inhabitants. San Juan de Dios Church, particularly, was the place in which these events concentrated. This church was constructed in 1863 (though such year is not sure), and was administered by Augustinian friars. Fray Antonio Piernavieja, OSA was the first friar of the said church.
To those who don't know who are Sisa, Basilio, and Crispin, they are three of the most famous characters of Jose Rizal's book Noli me Tangere. The two children (Basilio and Crispin) were employed in the church of San Diego (according to JR's book) as bell-ringers. They are helping their mother Sisa for everyday expenses. Their father (which I can't recall if he was named by JR or not) was always on cockfighting (sabong in Tagalog), and oftenly beating Sisa. This story of a typical poor family makes it very terrible to imagine that it really is happening till now.
According to a local lore, the above story of Crispin actually happened in San Juan de Dios Church. The real boy was accused of stealing money (2 gold pieces, some say) by the Senior Sacristan from the donations. In Noli me Tangere, it was not really said if Crispin actually died. When the Senior Sacristan discovered a deviation on the donated money, he accused Crispin and never let him go home while his brother Basilio can only go home till 10pm (however, that time there is a 9pm curfew). When Sisa went to the church to fetch Crispin, she asked the priest his whereabouts but the clergyman answered that the child ran away the night before. However, there are stories that the Senior Sacristan threw Crispin's body into a well in the convent, and never to be seen by his mother. Sisa lost her mind because of the incident.
There was a bloodstain on a wall in San Juan de Dios Church still believed by the townspeople to be Crispin's handprint. It still exist until now. According to modern stories, Crispin's ghost still visits or still replays what happened to him when he was alive. People can hear an agony of the dead boy and laughing sounds of playing children in the church.
It was believed that Fray Antonio Piernavieja was the priest in the story. From Bulacan, he was transferred to Cavite in 1896 because of the brutality he made similar to Crispin's story. There, he was taken prisoner by the insurgents and made him their bishop. However, he took advantage of his position in collecting and forwarding information about the plans and preparations of the insurgents to the Spanish authorities in Manila. Discovering this, they tied Fray Antonio Piernavieja in the open field and leave him killed by hunger and thirst.
He was also Jose Rizal's inspiration for the character of Padre Salvi.
San Juan de Dios Church: Battle of San Rafael
The famous Battle of San Rafael was the celebrated revolution that happened there. It was also the bloodiest fight claiming hundreds of lives not only of Filipinos but also few of Spanish soldiers who fought in the war.
General Anacleto Enriquez was the Katipunero in-charge of the Filipino troops who fought in the said war. On November 30, 1896, from Hacienda Buenavista (now San Ildefonso), Enriquez and his troops moved to San Rafael after finding out that the place to where General Torres ordered to moved was hard to defend.
By seven in the morning, Anacleto’s forces were under the strongest artillery and infantry attack unleashed by the Spanish forces since the start of the revolutionary war. Either because all means of escape had been cut off or because they simply preferred death instead of surrender, Anacleto, and his men proceeded to the San Rafael Church (San Juan de Dios Church) for their last stand. At noontime, one of the largest military contingents ever mobilized by the Spanish authorities during the Philippine Revolution assaulted the church. The soldiers engaged in combat hand-to-hand. When the war was over, the church was said to be full of blood - in the altar, sacristia, and choir area. Bodies of the dead and internal organs scattered throughout the place. It was a gruesome scene if you imagine how other people describe it.
Now, the church is still standing and, according to the locals, also haunted by its past.
 Noli Me Tangere. Mayla B. Atienza Ed. St. Augustine Publications, Inc. 2006. ISBN 971-683-514-0. 1624-1626. Espana cor. Don Quijote St., Sampaloc, Manila.
Photographer : Ash Castro
Gantimpala Theatre Foundation, Manila Philippines
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