Biography of Father Jose Burgos
Father Jose Burgos was one of the three Gomburza priests executed by Spanish authorities in the
Philippines after being accused of treason. He was born in Vigan, Ilocos Sur, in 1837, and was garroted
on February 17, 1872, at Fort Santiago in the middle of Bagumbayan field (now Luneta Park).
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, «Doctor en DerechoCanónico» at «Doctor en Teologia».
karapatán, a . José A.
. Burgos :
Padre Jose Ma. Burgos
one of the GOMBURZA martyrs executed by Spain, on suspicion of rebellion
taught Rizal at the Ateneo de Manila
born February 9, 1837
died February 28, 1872 at Bagumbayan by execution
Padre Jose Ma. Burgos studied in San Juan
de Letran. He sought equal treatment for
browns and whites. He was busy seeking
reforms when theCavite Revolt broke out in
Padre Burgos was suspected to be one of
those inciting the people to revolt. On
February 15, 1872, during a secret trial, three
Filipino priests were sentenced to die at the
The three priests, Fathers Gomez, Burgos
and Zamora were executed at the gallows in
Bagumbayan on February 28, 1872. The
three martyred priests were collectively called
Excerpts from TalambuhayngmgaBayani
by Rene Alba
The GOMBURZA priests were executed in
Bagumbayan in 1872, and buried in an
unknown location at the Paco Cemetery.
This Centennial year, bones believed to be
the missing bones of
theGomburza martyrs were accidentally
found at the Paco Park Cemetery by the
Manila City Engineers Office.
The youngest among the three Filipino Martyr
Priests(Fathers Mariano Gomez, Jose Burgos,
and Jacinto Zamora), Father Jose Burgos was
born in Vigan, Ilocos Sur on February 9, 1837.
His parents were Jose Burgos and Florencia
Young Jose's first teacher was his mother who
taught him to read and write. After finishing his
elementary grades in Vigan in 1849, he went to
Manila and enrolled at the San Juan de Letran
College where he excelled in all subjects. At the
age of 17, he finished Bachiller en Artes with
honors. He studied priesthood at the University
of Santo Tomas and said his first mass at
theParroquia del Sagrario de Intramuros.
For his courageous defense of the cause of
Filipino priesthood, Father Burgos earned for
himself the name "Champion of the Cause of
the Filipino Clergy" but incurred the hatred of
the Spanish friars. Thus, when the Cavite
mutiny broke out in 1872, the Spanish
authorities arrested him together with Father
Gomes and Father Zamora, charging them of
having incited the revolution. After a mock trial
at Fort Santiago on February 15, 1872, they
were sentenced to die by means of the garrote, a
Spanish strangulation by an iron collar
tightened by a screw. On February 17, 1872,
they were executed in Bagumbayan, now the
Father Mariano Gomez (1799-1872)
Father Mariano Gomez was born in Sta. Cruz, Manila on
August 2,1799 to parents Francisco Gomez and
After studying at San Juan de Letran he proceeded to
take up Theology at the University of Sto. Tomas.
June 2, 1824 was a memorable date for him. It was on
this date when he was designated as the head priest of
Bacoor, Cavite, Aside from taking care of the town
church's spiritual needs, he also taught the townfolks
agriculture and cottage industry. He also helped in
maintaining a harmonious relationship with his co-priests.
He fought for the Filipino priests' rights against the
abuses of the Spanish friars.
The Spanish authorities got mad at him and ordered for
his arrest. He was sent to jail along with Fr. Jose Burgos,
Fr. Jacinto Zamora, Joaquin Pardo de Tavera and Maximo Paterno.
Fr. Gomez along with Fr. Burgos and Fr. Zamora were executed on February 17,1872. They were
later known as the three Filipino martyrs Gomburza.
Fr. Gomez was responsible for publishing the newspaper La Verdad, meaning The Truth. This
paper served as the voice of the Filipino propagandists against the Spanish colonizers.
JOSE A. BURGOS
(1 83 7-1 272)
Jose Bugos, one of the "Martyrs of 1872"
was born in Vigan,
Ilocos Sur on February 9, 1837. His Father, Don
Jose Tiburcio Burgos, a Spaniard, was an officer
of the army (First Lieutenant of the
BatallonMilicias de Ilocos 5 de Linea, His mother,
Florencia Garcia, was a Spanish-Filipina mestiza
noted for her beauty and intelligence.
Burgos' Christian name was Jose
Apolonio, but when he grew up he usually signed
his name as plain Jose Burgos. Nicknamed Pepe,
he was the youngest in the family with two
sisters, Antonia and Maria.
Jose learned his first letters front his
mother. Since early boyhood, he wanted to
become a priest. This was contrary to his
mother's wish because she wanted him to
become a lawyer.
At age ten and an orphan Jose enrolled at
the Colegio de San Juan de Letran on August 1 i,
1847. A brilliant student, he excelled in academic
works and in extra curricular activities. He took
up physical education seriously and became an
adept swordsman and pugilist. On February 11,
1855 at age 18, Burgos obtained his Bachiller en
Filosofiasobresaliente. He immediately started his
theology course and obtained the Bachiller en
Teologia degree, his second, on January 21,
1859, graduating at the top of the class.
After finishing his course for the
Priesthood he sang his first Mass in Intramuros.
He eventually became a parish priest of the
Sagrario de Intramuros, and soon found himself
in trouble with his superiors as a result of his
liberal ideas. On August 11, 1860 more than a
year after his ordination, the young cleric
enrolled at the University of Santo Tomas to
pursue his studies. Because of his experience
with the Spanish students who looked down on
the Filipino whom they called Indios and creollos,
it was only natural for Burgos to prove that the
Filipinos were as good as the white men, if the
Spaniards, he thought, could see that a creole
could excel in advanced studies, they would
begin to respect the Filipinos.
Burgos finished his master's
degree, Licenciado en Teologia on February 21,
1862 and his Bachliller en Canones on February
8. 1866. He continued his studies and obtained
a Doctor en Teologia on April 14, 1868, and
a Licenciado en Canones on Oct. 29, 1868. He
went on studying until he obtained the Doctor
enCanones degree in April, 1871. This was the
highest academic degree he could obtain as a
priest. He received these last four degrees while
acting as a curate of the Parish of St. Peter which
comprised the Walled City. Having taken all
these courses he became a member of the
examining board for priests.
At the Sagrario de Intramuros, he became
an ecclesiastical fiscal, a canonical magistrate of
the Cathedral of Manila and finally the master of
the claustral ceremony in the University of Santo
Despite these enviable positions, Burgos
was neither content nor happy. As an eyewitness
to the ill-treatment and apathy shown by the
Spanish ecclesiastical officials to his
countrymen, he felt aggrieved. To fight the
injustice, he became a staunch and vigorous
advocate for reforms in the country and a strong
crusader for the rights and welfare of the secular
clergy. In a manifesto he wrote in La Verdad on
Jury 27, 1864, Burgos expounded his views and
liberal ideas and extolled the ability of the
During the height of the secularization
controversy when Burgos had become widely
known as the vigorous champion of the cause of
the Filipino clergy, the Cavite Mutiny broke out
on January 20, 1872. The outbreak of the
mutiny afforded the Spanish authorities and the
ecclesiastical authorities a very good opportunity
to get rid of him. Thus, through the influence
and machination of the friars, Burgos, together
with Father Mariano Comes and Father Jacinto
Zamora were implicated in the mutiny. They were
arrested and charged with conspiring against the
state and organizing the mutiny in Cavite on the
night of January 20.
On February 15, 1872, the three priests
were formally tried by the military court headed
by Col. Francisco Moscoso. As the members of
the court were all their enemies, the three priests
were denied a fair trial.
After the prosecutors had presented the
charges and their evidences, Jose Arrieta,
counsel for Burgos, offered no defense for his
client. Instead he stated that Burgos had
confessed his guilt. Protesting the action of his
lawyer, Burgos stood up to face the Council of
War, and said, "I have not confessed any guilt
and I am not guilty; that is not my defense; that
gentleman (pointing to Arrieta) had changed it. I
deny all the charges against me. They have no
foundation in fact or in law."
Between 5 and 6 o'clock a.m., February
16, 187? the priests were gathered at the
guardroom at Fort Santiago and there Major
Boscasa read their sentence: death by garrote.
At sunrise of that fateful day, February 17,
the three priests met their death at Bagumbayan.
Prior to their execution, Governor-General Rafael
de Izquierdo requested the Archbishop of Manila
to degrade the three priests by removing their
priestly habits. His Grace, Gregorio Meliton
Martinet, who was then the Archbishop of
Manila, stubbornly refused this unholy request,
for he was inclined to believe that the three
condemned priests were innocent. They were
therefore allowed to wear their habits.
Of the three priests, Burgos was the last to
be executed. As he ascended the stairs, his
glance met that of Major Boscasa. Fr. Burgos
stopped a while and said:
"I forgive you, and may God forgive you as I
have forgiven you," He proceeded and sat down
on the execution bench. Suddenly he got up and
spoke in a loud voice:
"But what wrong have I done? Shall I die
without reason? My God, is there no justice at all
Before doing his work, the executioner
"Father", said he, "forgive me for what I am
about to do." "I forgive you my son," was the
quiet reply. "Do what is your duty."
Then he turned to the people who were
present and who were down on their knees.
Father Burgos then extended his hands and gave
them his blessings.
As he was being strangulated, Father
Burgos prayed: "My Lord Father of mine, receive
into Your Bosom, the soul of an inno..."
Death cut short his last prayer. Burgos
died at 8:00 a.m. as a patriot and martyr for the
cause of the Filipinos.
(1835 - 1872)
Fr. Jacinto Zamora was born in
Pandacan, Manila, on August 14, 1835. His
parents were former capitan of Pandacan, Don
Venancio Zamora and Dona Hilaria del-
He obtained his early education in Pandacan
and later transferred to the Real Colegio de
San Juan de Letran where he finished
his Bachiller en Artes. He continued his
studies at theUniversity of Santo Tomas,
graduating on March 6, 1858, with the degree
of Bachelor of Canon and Civil Laws. Like his
fellow student Jose Burgos, he kept on
working for his doctorate in Canon Laws.
With Burgos, Juan Dilig and eight other
student leaders, he headed a student
demonstration in the night of January 24,
1860 demanding the removal of the newly
appointed Mayor. Dissent from the students
was considered an insult to the authorities.
This was brought to the attention of the Vicar
General. He was punished with two months
confinement in his quarters.
Two years after receiving his tonsure, he was
ordained a presbyter. He served in the
parishes of Marikina, Pasig, then of Lipa,
Batangas. After a competitive examination in
which he placed second, he was appointed to
the Manila Cathedral effective December 3,
He was appointed, together with Burgos and
Gomez as members of the Committee on
Reforms and Seculares group. He worked for
the secularization of the Filipino clergy and
fought for their rights. Two groups of Filipino
priests and laymen were founded. The priests
sought the secularization of all legislation
tending to discriminate against Filipinos.
Having been an examiner of new priests,
both Filipinos and Spaniards, he had a first
hand knowledge of their competence.
He had the habit of playing cards after saying
mass. Once he was invited by another priest with a
mysterious invitation: “Grand Reunion… Our
friends are well provided with powder and
munitions.” Unfortunately this invitation fell into
the hands of the Spanish authorities. “Powder and
munitions,” of course, in the card players’ language
meant money with which to gamble throughout the
night. This incident and the Cavite Revolt in 1872
that happened o the same day were enough to
convict him to death.
This “revolt” was merely the uprising of the
laborers at the Cavite Arsenal by veteran
soldiers who felt aggrieved because despite
their long services, they were required to pay
tributes.January 20, 1872, was payday at the
Arsenal and the workers received their wages
reduced by the amount of the tributes. The
mutiny spread to the Fort of San
Felipe, Cavite where it received sympathetic
response among the soldiers under the
leadership of a Filipino soldier, Sgt. Lamarid.
However, the rebels were defeated and
Lamarid was killed.
Accused of sedition for having allegedly
instigated the Cavite
Mutiny, Zamora, Burgos and Gomez were
tried at Fort Santiago on February 15, by a
military tribunal. After the mock trial, they
were found “guilty” and sentenced to death
by garrote. No defense on their behalf was put
Gov. General Izquierdo approved the decision
of the military court and fixed the execution
on the morning of February 17, 1872. To
further disgrace the three priests, he
requested Archbishop Gregorio Meliton
Martinez to deprive them of their priestly
habits so that they would no longer be
ministers of God at their execution. The
Archbishop spurned this unholy request
because he believed in the innocence of the
At sunrise of February 17, 1872, the field of
Bagumbayan (now Luneta) was already
overflowing with spectators – Spaniards,
Filipinos and foreigners. Shortly before 8:00 o’
clock, the death march
from Fort Santiago started. Zaldua went ahead
of the three priests who were dressed in black
habits. He was smiling, for he was anticipating
last minute pardon and money that was
promised him for testifying falsely against
As the execution was about to begin, Zaldua
realizing too late that the promised pardon
and reward were not forthcoming, protested
Of the three priests, Fr. Zamora was the
second to be the garroted. His last moments
were described by Salvador Pons y Torres.
“On hearing his name called, Fr. Zamora
went up the scaffold, without saying a word
and seated himself in the place pointed out to
the executioner, because, days before, his soul
had grown used to the death penalty…. He
To these martyrs, Rizal dedicated his El
Filibusterismo: “The Government, by
surrounding your trials with mystery and
shadows, causes the belief that there was
some error, committed in the fatal moments;
and the whole Philippines by worshiping your
memory and calling your martyrs in no sense
recognizes your culpability.”
In his honor, two elementary schools have been
named after him, one in Manila and another