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PIO VALENZUELA (1869 - 1956)
NOTE: A revision from a biographical article in a website, “Filipinos in History.”
The website is no longer available.
Pio Valenzuela was born in Polo, Bulacan on July 11, 1869 to comparatively affluent parents: Francisco Valenzuela, a captain mayor, and Lorenza Alejandrino.
After he was tutored at home, he was brought to Manila to study at San Juan de Letran College. In 1888, he enrolled at him University of Sto. Tomas and finished his Licensure in medicine in 1895. He then practiced medicine in Manila and Bulacan.
In July, 1892, when he was a medical student, he joined the Katipunan when this secret organization was barely a week old. The Katipunan [literally “Society”] was a secrete society founded by Andres Bonifacio and dedicated to the overthrow of Spanish colonialism and the establishment of an independent Philippine nation. Even before he was conferred the medical degree, he was elected Physician of the society in January 1895 and Fiscal General in December of the same year.
Valenzuela became a close friend of its founder, Andres Bonifacio, and was godfather to the Supremo's and Gregoria de Jesus's first child. After their house burned down, Bonifacio and his family lived in the Valenzuela home.
In December 31, 1895 election, Valenzuela might have won the presidency of the Katipunan Supreme Council. Instead, he accepted his compadre’s (Bonifacio's) offer to campaign for him. He was inducted together with the other elected officials at Bonifacio's residence on New Year's Day of 1896.
On January 16, 1896, after spending a two-week stay in Polo, he returned to Manila and took up residence at No. 35 Lavezares Street in San Nicolas. Valenzuela considered it a convenient place for him to live and edit the projected Katipunan’s official organ. The printing press was transferred from the house of Bonifacio and put under his management with the help of Ulpiano Fernandez, a printer of El Comercio, and Faustino Duque, a student from San Juan de Letran. Both of these friends were from his hometown of Polo.
He suggested the name Kalayaan [“Liberty”] for the society's organ, and Bonifacio and Emilio Jacinto approved. The latter took charge of editing it and, upon Valenzuela's suggestion, Marcelo H. del Pilar's name was listed as editor. In order to mislead the Spanish authorities the paper falsely stated that it was published in Yokohama, Japan.
The press lacked needed printing type pieces. Four employees of the printing press of Diaro de Manila stole the typing pieces and each was paid a peso for each piece of type. Two friends, Aguedo del Rosario and Apolonio de la Cruz, gave the press pieces of type free of charge.
A thousand copies of the first issue of Kalayaan dated January 18, 1896, emerged in mid-March. This maiden issue of eight pages included a news item written by Valenzuela under his nom-de-plume Madlang-Away entitled “¿Catuiran?” [“The Reason?”]. The article described the cruelties of a Spanish priest and the civil guards of San Francisco del Monte against a poor barrio Lieutenant.
Copies of the paper were initially distributed in Bulacan and later to other parts of Luzon; the Katipunan rapidly gained many adherents and sympathizers.
Valenzuela considered the publication of Kalayaan as the most important accomplishment of the Secret Chamber of the Katipunan. This body, composed of only three members (Valenzuela, Bonifacio and Jacinto) was organized in the home of Valenzuela in early 1896. In one of its meetings in July 1896, the Secret Council decided to assassinate the notorious Fray Mariano Gil, parish priest of Tondo who had discovered the existence of the Katipunan. Dr. Valenzuela and Bonifacio attempted but failed to carry out the killing. They then distributed, at various places, letters falsely implicating wealthy Filipinos as being associated with the Katipunan movement.
Valenzuela was a member of the Katipunan committee which met with a Japanese Admiral named Canimura and handed to him a memorial to be delivered to the Emperor of Japan beseeching him for help in the Filipinos' emancipation struggle.
Valenzuela administered the Katipunan oath of membership to Isidro Torres, Feliciano Jocson and three others who all proved loyal to the organization. In addition Valenzuela organized many branches of the Katipunan in various municipalities of Morong and Bulacan. In April 1896, Valenzuela, in the company of Bonifacio and his brother Procopio, along with Jacinto, organized the Katipunan branch in Kawit. At the same time he did not neglect his medical profession and gave free medicine to the poor.
During a secret general meeting called by Bonifacio on the night of May 1, 1896, at sitio [borough] Ugong in Pasig, Valenzuela presented to the body a motion to solicit contributions to buy arms and munitions from Japan in order to carry out the revolution as early as possible. The motion was carried on condition that it first is submitted for approval of Dr. Jose Rizal who was in exile in Dapitan. Since Valenzuela was the most educated member of the society, the group chose him as their emissary.
Accompanying Valenzuela were Rufino Mugos and a blind man named Raymundo Mata, to consult the ophthalmologist, Rizal, for medical consultation. These three left for Dapitan on June 15, 1896, aboard the ship Venue, with Valenzuela assuming the assumed name Procopio Bonifacio. Immediately upon their arrival six days later, he and Rizal discussed privately the Katipunan plan. Rizal told him that the revolution should not be started until sufficient arms were secured and with the assured support of the wealthy Filipinos.
Upon his return to Manila, many Katipuneros came to him to ask about Rizal's reply and the day set for the revolution. As this would run the risk of exposing the Katipunan to authorities, Valenzuela was advised by Bonifacio to keep away from the streets and hide from the members. He moved to the house of Dr. Anastacio Francisco and then transferred to that of Maximo Cecilio, a pharmacist. He had to practice his profession at night and, during the day, he went in disguise to towns far from Manila.
In preparation for the eventuality that the Katipunan was discovered, Bonifacio asked Valenzuela to procure at least 2,000 bolos.
When the Katipunan was discovered, Valenzuela fled to Balintawak on August 20, 1986. However, availing of the amnesty offered by the August 30 decree of Governor General Ramon Blanco, he and the other leaders of the Katipunan surrendered to the Spanish authorities on September 1, many leaving for exile in Hong Kong.
Valenzuela, however, was detained, tried and deported to Spain where he was tried again and sentenced to cadena perpetua, or life imprisonment. He was imprisoned first in Madrid, then in Malaga, Barcelona, and still later in Manila, Africa [sic.] serving his term for about two years.
After the United States assumed control of the Philippines, Valenzuela returned to Manila in April 1899. However, his enemies accused him of being a radical propagandist and America imprisoned Valenzuela until September of the same year.
Upon his release, he was first made the municipal president of his hometown of Polo. From 1902 to 1919, he served as president of the military division of his district. From 1919 to 1925, he served the people of Bulacan for two terms as provincial executive or governor. During his political career he was uncompromising in his opposition to graft and corruption in the government.
After he retired from politics, he wrote his memoirs especially in regard to his revolutionary days. He also practiced his medical profession, but only for philanthropic purposes. He was married to Marciano Castry by whom he had seven children. He died in his hometown of Polo early in the morning of April 6, 1956.