José Burgos

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José Apolonio G. Burgos (9 February 1837 – February 17, 1872) was a Filipino secular priest and member of the Gomburza who were falsely accused of mutiny by the Spanish authorities in the Philippines.

An image of Fr. José Burgos from Jose Sevilla's book Mga Dakilang Pilipino (1922). (Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons/Jose Sevilla/Regenerate)

Early Life

Burgos was born in Vigan, Ilocos Sur on 9 February 1837 to Spanish lieutenant Don Jose Tiburcio Burgos and Ilocana Florencia Garcia. He was orphaned at 10 years old.

He finished Philosophy at the Colegio de San Juan de Letran (CSJL) with high honors and Theology at the University of Santo Tomas (UST) at the top of his class.

After a few years, he returned to UST for his master's and doctorate degrees in Theology and Canon Law.

As Clergyman

Burgos first served as parish priest at the Sagrario de Intramuros, where he was scolded because of his liberal ideas.

Because of his educational background, he became professor at CSJL and master of claustral ceremonies at UST. He was also part of the examining boards for priests.

He was vocal in criticizing the government and the church for abusing and discriminating Filipinos and Filipino priests. He opposed the removal of Filipino priests from their parishes when the Jesuits went back to their former parishes in 1859. He believed that the parishes should be left in the hands of the native clergy. He also supported the idea of assigning more Filipinos in the clergy. He was close to Father Pedro Pelaez, who was spearheading the secularization. When Pelaez died in an earthquake, Burgos continued the movement.


The Spanish friars took advantage of the Cavite mutiny to get rid of Burgos and other critics. After the rebellion, together with Father Mariano Gomez and Father Jacinto Zamora, Burgos was arrested and placed under trial for instigating the mutiny. He was given a defense attorney who incriminated him instead by saying that his client confessed his involvement in the mutiny. The three Filipino priests were sentenced to death by garrote.

Before he was executed, Burgos forgave Col. Francisco Boscoso of the military court. He said, "I forgive you, and may God forgive you as I have forgiven you. But what wrong have I done? Shall I die without reason? My God is there no justice at all on earth?"

Burgos and the other two priests who were executed were the inspiration of José Rizal in writing his second novel, El Filibusterismo. Filipino historians believe that the Gomburza's death spurred the separatist movement against Spain.




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