A Filipino figured in Mexico’s 200th year of independence

The commemorative plaque of Ramón Fabié inside the Mexican Embassy.

THIS is a very special year for Mexicans, as we celebrate the bicentennial of the consummation of Mexico’s independence, half a millennium of indigenous resistance, and 700 years of the founding of Mexico-Tenochtitlan.

September 27, 1821—200 years ago—marked the end of the struggle for independence from the Spanish Crown which began 11 years earlier. In the morning of September 16, 1810, the priest Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla rang the church bells of Dolores Hidalgo in Guanajuato, which urged people to unite and fight for freedom.

The beginning of this yearning was not easy for the insurgent group of heterogeneous composition among creoles, mestizos, indigenous people and slaves of African descent. All were from different backgrounds, but united with the same goal: to achieve our self-determination.

Certainly, the insurgents were not alone in this fight; foreigners also participated, who were steep in the ideas of independence. They came from other Spanish colonies, such as the Philippines. At that time, it was administered from New Spain and had an important community of Mexicans. It was in this context that the figure of a young Filipino emerged: Ramón Fabié.

Fabié was born in Paco, Manila in 1785—the son of Pedro Crisologo who was a  lawyer of the Royal Court, and Brigida de Jesús. He had his early studies on Philippine soil and then, in 1802, travelled to New Spain aboard the Manila Galleon Rey Carlos, to be educated at the Colegio de Minería. As he excelled in his studies, the Filipino took his professional examination on March 10, 1810 and then moved to Guanajuato for his apprenticeship at the Valenciana mine.

It was there that Fabié made his entry into Mexican history when, in September 1810, the 25-year-old joined the insurgent army led by Hidalgo and was appointed lieutenant colonel of the infantry. Like other young engineers who were of deep, liberal ideas, he was in favor of emancipation, collaborated with his knowledge to the libertarian cause in which he believed, and convinced of the need to change the unfair colonial reality in which most of the population was mired. He participated in the fortification of the city of Guanajuato, where he directed the manufacture of arms and ammunition.

Unfortunately, Fabié was later apprehended by the royalist forces and executed by hanging on November 28, 1810, with no knowledge of his burial site. His feat is nonetheless remembered in my country, and his name is inscribed in bronze letters in one of the walls of the Palacio de Minería in Mexico City. In addition, some streets and even a square have been named in his memory.

Curiously, this important episode in the history of Mexico and the sacrifice of Fabié is little known in the Philippines. For this, on the occasion of the 200th year of the consummation of Mexico’s independence, the Mexican Embassy in Manila honored his memory as it unveiled a commemorative plaque in its premises.

The heroic deed of the young Filipino is one more example of the strong ties that have united Mexico and the Philippines for more than 450 years. Links facilitated by the trans-Pacific route of the Acapulco-Manila Galleon which, together with the administration of the Philippines by the Viceroyalty of New Spain until 1821, opened the doors to a fluid exchange of goods, but also of people and with them: ideas, culture and traditions that prevail to this day.

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