Francisco Roxas

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Francisco L. Roxas y Reyes (1851-January 11, 1897) was a businessman, musician and a second cousin of one of the richest men in the Philippines at that time, Don Pedro Pablo Roxas. Don Francisco is remebered today as one of the 13 Martyrs of Bagumbayan.

Early Life

His parents were Don Juan Roxas y Arroyo and his mother was Doña Vicenta Reyes of Binondo. His uncle Felix Roxas y Fernandez would become the mayor of Manila from 1905 to 1917. His grandfather was the first Filipino architect Felix Roxas y Arroyo. According to E. Arsenio Manuel, in his early years he was known as a violinist and he composed several musical compositions, some of which are extant: Florencia, a pas-de-quatre, Magnificat and Ave Maria. He was the musical conductor of an 80-piece orchestra at the wedding of his second cousin Pedro Pablo Roxas.

He entered business in 1880 as a comisionista or commission agent for a shipping lines. By 1887 he had become a consignatorio de vapores or shipping agent with office at Calle de la Barca, Binondo. In 1886 such was his prestige and wealth that he was appointed to the board of directors of Banco Español-Filipino, the first public bank of the Philippines. In 1890 he entered the import-export business for shipping supplies.

He was appointed as an honorary consejero to the Spanish colonial administration, along with his second cousin Pedro Pablo Roxas. Because of his influence he was named a member of the Camara de Comercio de Manila

The Katipunan Incrimination

Don Francisco was representative of the leading Filipinos of the day. He was well educated, wealthy and sympathetic to the liberal yearnings of educated Filipinos. Like other aristocrats and intellectuals he believed that reforms from Spain could be obtained peacefully. It is reported that he supported the La Liga Filipina.

However, alongside the most prominent businessmen of the day, like Jacobo Zobel y Zangroniz and his cousin Pedro Pablo Roxas, Don Francisco was caught up in the turbulent times of the Philippine revolutionary period. Rich Filipinos were suspected of funding the revolution.

He was a well-known millionaire when he was approached by a Katipunan officer in June 1896 who solicited a cash contribution for the purchase of arms.

When he threatened to denounce the secret society, the Secret Chamber decided to forge papers to implicate several rich and aristocratic Filipinos, one of whom was Francisco Roxas. The false papers named him as the president of the society. The incriminating papers were found by authorities in August 1896.

He was arrested the following month, along with Telesforo Chuidian and Jacinto Limjap and on September 18, 1896 Governor-General Blanco suspended him from his honorary position. O.D. Corpuz wrote in his book "The Roots of the Filipino Nation" that "an October 1896 report by a Spanish officer refers to them (traitors) as 'rich proprietors' and despicable, 'shameless filibusteros' who enjoyed high social position and benefited from Spain's protection. It must be said, however, that not one of the men who were falsely implicated betrayed the society to the authorities."

Mariano Ponce, the Propagandist, stated that the arrest of Roxas was a fatal mistake. His relatives Pedro Pablo Roxas and Felix Roxas, future mayor of Manila, who were then both in exile in Paris sent entreaties to the highest offices of Spain to no avail.

Don Francisco maintained his innocence throughout. He was scheduled for execution by musketry just two weeks after the execution of Jose Rizal, along with 12 others: Numeriano Adriano, Jose Dizon, Domingo Franco, Moises Salvador, Luis Enciso Villareal, Braulio Rivera, Antonio Salazar, Ramon P. Padilla, Faustino Villaruel' Eustaquio Mañalak, as well as two Spanish soldiers allegedly sympathetic to the cause Lt. Benedicto Nijaga and Corporal Geronimo Medina.

On the fateful day of January 11, 1897, Austin Craig reported in his book "Life, Lineage and Labors of Jose Rizal" that "Francisco Roxas... had lost his mind, and believing that he was in church, calmly spread his handkerchief on the ground and knelt upon it as had been his custom in childhood."

He is remembered today as one of the "Thirteen Martyrs of Bagumbayan."

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