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The Indios
 

 

THE INDIOS.
At dawn on February 17, 1872, three secular priests are publicly executed at Manila’s Bagumbayan Plaza. One of the martyrs is Father José Burgos, the beloved friend and mentor of a tall, serious young man standing among the crowd of thousands of Indios. A seminarian and scion of a wealthy family, Placido Mendoza watches in disbelief.
This is a pivotal moment in the history of the Philippines, and in the life of Placido. It shocks the native Filipinos, called “Indios” by the Spaniards, into putting their cultural differences aside and coming together to free themselves from their greedy and corrupt colonial masters.

From this turning point, The Indios traces the history of the Philippine Revolution through the life of Placido, whose faith in the church is eroded by events that affect him and the people he loves.

Two groups of patriots emerge: the wealthy and educated Indios, known as ilustrados, who want reforms to curb the abuses of the friars and administrators and to become a province of Spain, and the lower-class Indios, who want independence by any means.
Although an ilustrado, Placido joins the revolution to save the one person closest to his heart from abuse by a friar.

EXCERPT FROM "THE INDIOS"

CHAPTER 0NE

THE EXECUTION

In the early morning hours of February 17, 1872, the Spaniards’ exuberant shouts of "Viva la España!" occasionally rose above the Indios’ murmured prayers and muffled screams as the procession of the three black-robed native priests slowly emerged from the dawn’s shadows. As the guardia civil escorted the priests toward the makeshift stage where their executioner awaited them, a chorus of male voices announcing the arrival of the doomed priests suddenly erupted from lush branches of centuries-old acacia trees that, until then, had been silent witnesses to the unfolding drama. Like echoes, the words quickly spread through the multitude of Indios that filled the plaza, which extended from the banks of Manila Bay and several hectares of grass and dirt into the unevenly paved streets. Men, women, and children made the sign of the cross and dropped to their knees as the news reached them.
The Indios’ recitations of the Holy Rosary, punctuated with exclamations of "Sus-Mari-osep," Jesus, Mary, and Joseph, the festive Spanish voices and the military band’s animated rendition of a martial tune accompanied eighty-five-year-old Father Mariano Gomez, parish priest of Bacoor, Cavite and publisher of La Verdad, as he advanced with slow but measured steps toward the gallows. The padre blessed the crowd of Spaniards and natives just before the executioner wrapped a black shroud over his head. The music and the shroud masked the cracking sound as the elderly padre’s neck broke, but soon his body dropped in a heap on the floor. Then the guardia civil escorted Father Jacinto Zamora, who was next in line, to the gallows. The youthful priest glanced blankly at the sea of white and brown faces that filled the grounds around the stage, and meekly walked to his death.

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