Mamerto Alejandrino Natividad, Jr. (June 12, 1871 – November 11, 1897) was a Filipino haciendero and military leader who led numerous successful battles during the Philippine Revolution against the Spaniards. He was credited with establishing army headquarters at Biak Na Bato, which is now a national park because of its historical significance. Together with Jose Clemente Zulueta, he wrote the proclamation entitled “To The Brave Sons of the Philippines”, which called for the expulsion of the friars from the Philippines. General Mamerto Natividad, Jr. was a signatory to the Biak Na Bato convention, but a steadfast dissenter to the Treaty of Biak Na Bato, which asked for peace and reforms as he preferred independence.
He was born on June 12, 1871 in Bacolor, Pampanga, the eldest of 12 children of Mamerto Natividad Sr., a lawyer, and Gervasia Alejandrino. He came from a prosperous family that owned haciendas in Pampanga and Nueva Ecija.
At age six, Mamerto (Mamertito) was sent to study in Manila in the school of Jose Flores in Binondo and later at Ateneo Municipal de Manila and Colegio de San Juan de Letran. He was one of the student leaders when a strike threatened to divide the college into regional camps. In his second year, he dropped out and returned to Nueva Ecija to help manage his family's landholdings.
At age 13, Mamertito started supervising his father's farms in San Vicente and San Carlos in Cabiao, Nueva Ecija.
He was known for firing a gun at a Spanish justice of the peace who slapped his younger brother for failing to show respect to the Spaniard and a certain priest. He was incarcerated, but later escaped. He tried to kill a Spaniard who harassed the Natividads in their hacienda in Sapang, Jaen.
On Dec. 2, 1893, he married Trinidad Tinio, daughter of Don Casimiro Tinio or Capitan Berong of Aliaga, Nueva Ecija. Their union produced two daughters who died young, one at two years and seven months and the other only a week old.
The couple started farming in a barrio then known as Likab (presently Quezon) then moved to Jaen where they farmed for another year. Mamertito was directing tenants in Matamo, Arayat, Pampanga a year later.
They traveled to Manila for medical treatment after Trinidad miscarried. When the revolution broke out in August 1896, Mamertito decided to return home after learning that Cabiao was among the rebels.
Mamertito and Trinidad traveled to Matamo to elude arrest. Three days later, Mamertito's mother arrived and informed them that their father had been executed by Spanish authorities on September 26, 1896 in San Isidro, together with attorney Marcos Ventus. Mamerto Natividad, Sr. had been recently initiated into the Katipunan. He was arrested for sedition, then tortured and killed.
This fueled Mamertito's anger towards the Spaniards. When asked what action he would take, Mamertito answered his mother, "The duty of a son" and left for the battlefield.
When he was freed, he and his brothers – Benito, Jose Salvador, Joaquin, Pedro, and Francisco – joined the Philippine rebellion against the Spanish authorities to avenge their father's death. The Spaniards retaliated by torching their house and their sugar mills at Jaen, Nueva Ecija. Their family left for Cavite and became the house guests of Baldomero Aguinaldo in Binakayan, and joined the Katipunan.
Within the Katipunan, Natividad was part of the Magdalo faction. He advised General Aguinaldo to settle and put an end to the Magdalo-Magdiwang rivalry. (Andres Bonifacio was part of the Magdiwang faction.) In his book, Revolt of the Masses, Teodoro Agoncillo mentioned that Gen. Mamerto Natividad, together with the eminent historian and poet, Jose Clemente Zulueta and Sr. Anastacio Francisco detested and convinced General Aguinaldo to reverse his pardon for the Bonifacio brothers. "These men sang the same chorus, to wit, that the Bonifacio brothers must be liquidated in the interest of the Revolution since it had been made clear that Andres was intent upon having General Aguinaldo murdered and taking the highest position for himself. Under such powerful pressure, General Aguinaldo withdrew his pardon."
Natividad fought against the Spaniards in several battles. He once chided his wife, Trinidad, for preventing his presence in the battle of Zapote and assured her that Edilberto Evangelista would not have fallen were he with him. He fought in the battles of Pintong Bato in Imus, Cavite (his brother Benito was wounded there), San Rafael, and Baliwag, Bulacan. He conducted raids in Carmen, Zaragoza, Penaranda, Santor (now Bongabong), Aliaga and Karanglan in Nueva Ecija.
On June 6, 1897, he was named Lieutenant General for Central Luzon by the Assembly of Puray in Montalban, Rizal six days short of his 26th birthday. The appointment was later approved by General Emilio Aguinaldo on June 18. He was the youngest general at that time.
With the revolutionaries overwhelmed in Cavite, Natividad was commissioned to look for a place of retreat. He found Biak-Na-Bato. When Aguinaldo evacuated from Cavite in June 1897, he proceeded to Biak-Na-Bato. There he issued a proclamation which was drafted for him by Jose Clemente Zulueta and Natividad, his second in command. The proclamation was entitled “To The Brave Sons of the Philippines”. It called for the expulsion of the friars, return of land to Filipinos, freedom of press, religious tolerance, and legal equality. The tenth paragraph described the aspirations of the Philippine Revolution:
Mindful of the common good, we aspire to the glory of obtaining liberty, independence and honor for the country. We aspire to have common law, created for all citizens, which will serve them as a guarantee and assurance of respect, without exception. We aspire to have a government which will represent all the active forces of the country, in which will take part the most capable, the most worthy in virtues and talents, without regard to their birth, their wealth, or the face to which they belong. We desire that no friar shall set his foot on any part of the Archipelago, and that no convent or monastery or center of corruption, or partisans of that theocracy which has made this land another inquisitorial Spain, shall remain. In our ranks order shall always be respected.
Natividad also actively engaged in procuring provisions for the revolutionary headquarters in Biak-na-Bato.
During August 5–7, 1897, Natividad's troops, together with those of Melecio Carlos, overwhelmed the Spaniards in San Rafael, Bulacan. The battle left six revolutionaries dead, while the Spaniards had 50 casualties.
Using Baliuag river, Natividad and his men held back enemy reinforcements. He and his men sank three merchant vessels full of Spanish Cazadores coming from Angat and Bustos. Natividad's forces fought on for two more days, inflicting more casualties on the Spaniards, before retreating to the mountains.
On August 30, 1897, with 80 men in tow, he personally directed the assault on Aliaga town with General Manuel Tinio and his forces against the 8,000 men of General Primo de Rivera. After three days of fighting, the Spanish forces had to surrender, even after receiving reinforcements from Zaragoza town under the commands of Generals Monet and Nuñez on Sept. 6, 1897. Nuñez was seriously wounded in the battle.
On October 9, Natividad led a rebel force to Karanglan, Nueva Ecija and fought a column led by Commandant Navarro, inflicting considerable casualties. He captured a Spanish detachment that included the friar Gomez in Baler, district of Principe. He also led an attack in Tayug, Pangasinan.
For bravery, Natividad was elected chief commanding general of Central Luzon after the reorganization of the revolutionary government in Biak-na-Bato.
Pact of Biak-Na-Bato
General Natividad was among those who signed the Constitution of Biak-na-Bato, which was adopted on November 1, 1897. However, he opposed the Pact or Treaty of Biak-na-Bato, which called for the cessation of war and the declaration of peace on the basis of amnesty and reforms.
Pedro Paterno unsuccessfully tried to change Natividad's mind, recalling how his family suffered under Spanish rule. Natividad told Paterno that he was wasting his time, since he had already decided to fight the Spaniards to the end to attain independence. He also doubted that the Spanish government would live up to its part of the Treaty, which included expulsion of the Spanish friars from the Philippines and questioned Paterno's motives.
His wife recalled the time when Natividad's brother Benito, wanting to go home and marry soon, attempted to influence Mamertito to accept the peace proposals. The latter threatened to shoot him if he persisted in his efforts.
If Natividad did not die, the Treaty of Biak-na-Bato would not have been consummated, at least not with the same conditions and date, changing the course of Philippine history. In his book, General Jose Alejandrino stated that "the major obstacle which Paterno encountered in his negotiations was the opposition of that unconquerable leader and he succeeded in his objective only after Natividad was dead."
On November 11, 1897, Mamerto Natividad overwhelmed the Spanish troops at the barrio of Entablado, Cabiao, Nueva Ecija in the company of General Pio del Pilar, Major Jose Ignacio Padua, his brothers Benito and Jose Salvador, and some 200 soldiers. As the Spanish soldiers were retreating, he peered through his field glass to view their movement when he was shot and killed by a Spanish sniper through the right eyebrow. He was carried by his comrades and his brothers in a hammock to Biak-na-Bato, Bulacan. He died en route in Daang Kawayan at about 6 o'clock.
He was buried with military honors in the bank of a river that flowed near Biak-na-Bato and a period of mourning was declared. Eulogies were given by President. Emilio Aguinaldo and Pedro Paterno. Aguinaldo declared that "Nobody may forget the 9th of November because on this day two great patriots lost their lives for the freedom of our mother country" referring to Natividad and Candido Tria Tirona.
His family later tried to recover his remains, but the changing path of the river had scattered his remains.
After his death, the Treaty of Biak-na-Bato was signed. Spanish authorities exiled the revolutionary leaders to Hong Kong, including Natividad's brother Benito and Aguinaldo.
President Aguinaldo paid tribute in his message at the opening of the Malolos Congress at the Barasoain Church in Malolos, Bulacan on September 15, 1898. He was greatly mourned by Aguinaldo, who considered him a real brother-in-arms and his right-hand man.
His brothers continued to fight against Spain. Benito and Salvador rose to the rank of general, Joaquin became a Colonel while Francisco and Pedro were lieutenants. The Natividads were known as the family of generals.
Biak Na Bato, the headquarters established Natividad for the Philippine Revolutionary Army was declared a national park in 1937 by President Manuel L. Quezon by virtue of its association with the history and site of the Biak-na-Bato Republic.
- Revolt of the Masses, Teodoro Agoncillo, 1956, pp. 259–275
- The Price of Freedom by Gen. Jose Alejandrino
- Filipinos In History by the National Historical Institute, 1990, pp. 53–55
- Revolt of the Masses, Teodoro Agoncillo, 1956, pp. 259–275
- Manuel, E. Arsenio (1955). Dictionary of Philippine Biography. Filipiniana Publ., 289–292.
- The Price of Freedom by Gen. Jose Alejandrino
- Hall of Fame, Sol H. Gwekoh, newspaper article