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Julio Nákpil, musical revolutionist

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Today is the birth anniversary of a very prominent and highly talented revolucionario. His name is Julio Nákpil. Below is a brief biographical sketch of the Manileño revolutionist written by Carmencita H. Acosta (from the 1965 book Eminent Filipinos which was published by the National Historical Commission, a precursor of today’s National Historical Institute).

JULIO NÁKPIL
(1867-1960)

In Julio Nákpil’s musical compositions is reflected his intense love of country. Upon the request of Andrés Bonifacio, he composed and wrote the lyrics of what the Supremo envisioned as the national anthem of the Philippines, entitled Marangal na Dalit ng Katagalugan.

On November 2, 1896, Nákpil left his home in Manila and proceeded to San Francisco del Monte where he joined the forces of Bonifacio. He fought his first battle alongside Emilio Jacinto in San Mateo under the command of Bonifacio. Nákpil helped in procuring arms and ammunition for the Katipunan. From December, 1896, to March, 1897, he succeeded in sending to Tejeros, San Francisco de Malabón, about 30 to 40 copper boxes of gunpowder taken from the polvorón de San Guillermo in Binañgonan, Mórong. Had Nákpil been caught by the Spaniards, he would surely have been executed.

He assumed the fictitious name “J. Giliw” in all his revolutionary activities, as was the custom during that dangerous period, so as to escape detection by the enemy. When Bonifacio was called to Cavite, he entrusted the command of the revolutionary forces in northern Manila to Isidoro Francisco and chose Nákpil as secretary of said forces. He fought several battles in the aforesaid area under the command of Emilio Jacinto.

His patriotic musical compositions include the “Amor Patrio” which was inspired by Dr. Rizal’s deportation to Mindanáo; “Pahimakas”, a funeral march in commemoration of the execution of Dr. Rizal; “Pásig Pantayanin”, which was dedicated to the bravery and sacrifices of the Revolutionary Army; and “Sueño Eterno”, a tribute to the bravery of the slain General Antonio Luna.

Nákpil was born on May 22, 1867 in Quiapò, Manila, the fourth of twelve children of Juan Nákpil Luna and Juana García Putco. He was self-educated; and earned fame as a pianist and composer. He married the widow of Bonifacio, Gregoria de Jesús, by whom he had seven daughters and one son, Juan F. Nákpil, a renowned architect.

Nákpil spent the last years of his life at his home in Quiapò, Manila, where he died on November 2, 1960. His memoirs of the Revolution were published after his death under the title of Julio Nákpil and the Philippine Revolution. The Bonifacio Centennial Commission conferred on Julio Nákpil a posthumous award in 1963 in recognition of his patriotism.

Those who have been patiently reading my historical posts in the net might notice an ambivalence towards how I treat revolucionarios, particularly the murderous members of the hispanophobic Kataas-taasang, Kagalang-galangang Katipunan nğ mğá Anak nğ Bayan. In one blogpost, I condemned them with the fury of a scornful youth (using street language that may have tore down –unfortunately for me– all credibility of the facts which I have written there). In conversations that I have with other like-minded individuals, I do not, for one second, hesitate to declare that Bonifacio and his Katipunan cohorts were criminals, terrorists, and troublemongers.

So why feature a brief biography of an ex-Katipunero? What made him different from Bonifacio and the other Katipuneros?

True, this is a very difficult topic to ponder and discuss. In a free-for-all historical discussion that I had with my allies Señor Guillermo Gómez Rivera and Arnaldo Arnáiz two weekends ago, I was told that in the conflict between historical characters in the Filipino setting (and this excludes the Yankee invaders), there were no villains nor heroes. It was simply history in the making. Although Señor Gómez also has an ambivalent and sometimes compromising attitude towards certain historical personalities, for him, the nationalism of the person counts most. Therefore, Bonifacio is a hero in his book.

But not for me. I always look for the results of human outbursts. And the result of the Katipunan is what we see right now: a society fit for rabid dogs and not for men. Indeed, Bonifacio may have had nobler purposes and dictates, but his dictates were those of the Masonic lodge, the ancient enemy of the true Filipino faith which is Christianity, aka, Catholicism. The seemingly noble ideals of liberté, égalité, et fraternité bedeviled the foothold of absolute monarchy which, in reality, gave birth and form and spiritual synergy to then heathen and backward peoples such as ours. Freemasonry exchanged it for democracy which, in reality, makes us self-destruct, disfigures us, and places us back to our heathen beginnings, no thanks to liberal amounts of liberation.

Going back to Nákpil, perhaps my inclination towards the arts gave me a soft spot for this Quiapense. After his revolutionary works, he lived a semi-hermit life dedicating himself to music and self-education. Aside from his musical masterpieces (which up to now are the talk of many historians and some classical musicians), he also dabbled in linguistics and scholarship (even making notes on the etymology of local geographical names). Although a Tagalista, his language was actually Spanish: he wrote his memoirs and other personal and scholarly notes (such as Teodoro M. Kálaw’s La Revolución Filipina) in the beautiful language of Miguel de Cervantes. And he was sure damn proud of it. How ironic, indeed, for someone to have joined an anti-Spanish terrorist group but whose language and psyche is that of the colonialists.

During his final years, Nákpil was regarded as a “true gentleman of the old school”. His biographer, the late historian Encarnación Alzona, has this to say about the musical revolutionist:

This writer had the privilege of meeting him when he was already in his eighties. What impressed her was his dignified bearing. He was erect, slender, and sprightly, with a ready smile, and above all his mind was lucid. When the conversation turned to the subject close to his heart –the Philippine Revolution– he talked animatedly. He could recount with vividness his experiences during that turbulent epoch. He remembered distinctly certain personalities and what he learned from them. The episode had made lasting impressions on his mind…

By October 1960 his children noticed in him a pronounced physical debility, although he continued his customary morning constitutional, when the weather permitted. On sunny mornings he could be seen dressed neatly and with the aid of his walking stick strolling on the promenade in the Luneta. On All Saints’ Day, 1 November 1960, however, he stayed in bed. On the afternoon of the following day, 2 November, he expired at his home on Barbosa Street. He was ninety-two years old.

If I were to make a comparison between the Katipunan and, say, the Abu Sayyaf, the latter would have paled in deathly comparison. Although both groups are terrorist organizations, the intellect of many a Katipunero was far higher than that of their modern Mindanáo counterpart. Abu Sayyaf members are scalawags and vermins of the lowest ground. After being neutralized, members remain as scumbags. But many Katipunan members such as Nákpil remained dignified and even exalted.

And his music –and language– dignified him more.

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One response »

  1. Pingback: The National Hero’s Crib (Calambâ, La Laguna) « FILIPINO eSCRIBBLES

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