By Ramon Jorge Sarabosing
In case you forget or do not know or have no idea of it at all, then it is time that you do. After all, this is a significant event that happened not only in our local history but of Mindanao as well.
Greg Hontiveros, acknowledged nationally and internationally local historian, book author-intellectual, lecturer, wrote in his acclaimed book, “Butuan of a Thousand Years” about this milestone event in chapter 26, Raising the Tricolor.’
With Mr. Hontiveros kind permission, we are publishing in part the said chapter below.
Incidentally-and worth mentioning here- every morning of January 17, the City Government of Butuan hold a special commemorative program and re-enactment of the event at Guingona Park, the heart of the city.
Raising the Tricolor
The Republica Filipina would spread from Surigao to Butuan, welcoming new adherents to its cause. On January 17,1899, Wenceslao Gonzalez, the designated governor of Surigao under the Aguinaldo government hoisted the Philippine flag in Butuan.
If one goes by official records, this significant event proves it was the first time that the Philippine colors was formally flown by an appointed official of the first Philippine Republic in Mindanao. Fr. Pastells Mission describes the event:
“On January 17 Wencesalo (Gonzalez), the man using the title of governor of Surigao, showed up in Butuan. Preceded by the Philippine flag, under the sound of music accompanied by some local leaders, he entered the town.
He was wearing red trousers, carried a saber and revolver, and had an insignia of a calvary colonel with squares and the triangles of his cufflinks.
Nevertheless, he denied that,as far as he was concerned, those emblems had any masonic meaning.
Father Nebot came out to meet him and accompanied him up to the courthouse, where Wenceslao made him sit at the right side.
There were many vivas and some good and simple faithful proclaimed a very enthusiastic one for their parish priest. The pontifical flag was lowered and the Philippine banner hoisted,and before saying goodbye Father Nebot offered him the convent to stay in.”
More interesting details followed. But to understand the full history of Butuan and Caraga region itself, it is better to read Hontiveros equally significant book.
Mr. Hontiveros holds office ( as president of Butuan City Heritage Society, Inc.) at the second floor of the city library.)