Magandang basahin ang artikulong ito na sinulat ni Jose Maria A. CariÃ±o. Kasama ito sa mga istorya at salaysay sa librong Baler, Aurora. Tinatalakay dito ang ilan sa mga katanungan ko tungkol sa istorya ng Pagsalakay sa Baler (Siege of Baler). Una ay kung bakit isang bersyon lang ng istorya ang lagi nating naririnig, ang ikalawa ay kung bakit walang bersyon ng istorya mula sa panig ng mga Pilipino o mga-tiga Baler. Nililinaw ng pag-susuring ito ang ilan sa mga kontrdiksyon tungkol sa improtanteng bahaging ito ng ating kasaysayan.
The truth about what really transpired inside the walls of the church in Baler may never be known. It should be noted that there appeared to be a code of silence among all the Spaniards who suffered the Siege of Baler. According to writer Manuel Leguineche: “The military kept their silence because they are the military, the priests for being priests, the best words are those that have not been uttered. There was a pact of silence, nobody uttered a word.”
On the other hand, from the side of the Filipinos, there was no local chronicler or writer who meticulously wrote a detailed account on all the events from a Philippine perspective. Thus, most of what is known today is secondary information passed on and handed down from generation to generation of Baler inhabitants and descendants of the Filipinos involved in the saga.
The two primary sources in Spain are firsthand written accounts on the Siege of Baler: Saturnino Martin Cerezo’s EI Sitio de Baler; Notas y Recuerdos, Guadalajara, 1904, and the diaries of Father Felix Minaya y Rojo, O.F.M, which used to be kept in the Archivo de Pastrana, Guadalajara, but are now at the Franciscan archives in Madrid. Father Minaya’s diaries were never published, although journals based on the diaries of Father Minaya, written by Father Lorenzo Perez and published by the Franciscans in Spain, came out much later. The fact that Father Minaya’s diaries were not published in toto pointed to the possibility that there were passages that would have put the church in a bad light, thus Father Lopez’s “sanitized” version. Cerezo’s book went on to become a best-seller, with several editions and reprints including the latest in October 2005. Martin Cerezo’s book translated into English by F.L. Dodds as notes and recollections of the Siege of Baler, with the title in red and gold. It became a vade mecum, a handbook or guideline, for American military academies on survival in a siege.
Among the first noticeable differences between the stories of the military man and the priest was that Father Minaya’s diary was written during and immediately after the siege, just as a personal record of what transpired in Baler. On the other hand, Lieutenant Cerezo’s account was published in 1904 for a general public in mind. It also appears that Lieutenant Cerezo’s account has the triple objectives of glorifying the military, of serving as a venue for his own promotion within the military, and as his own public relations campaign for the consumption of the public.