The killing of General Luna: The facts remain
"That a known historian would spend several paragraphs on what I wrote elated me a bit - and amused me a lot."Last weekend, a friend handed me a page from another broadsheet with the article of historian Ambeth Ocampo entitled, “The Luna Telegram: Not so ‘Deadly’ After All”. I was told that I must read it, and so I did. After all, I have been reading Ambeth for years and even have a collection of his books. I even attended some of his lectures at the Ayala Museum. I was surprised because although unnamed, this particular Ocampo piece made a swipe at me for calling for the authentication of the controversial telegram that was recently auctioned by the Leon Gallery. This telegram, as soon as it surfaced, was immediately and readily referred to by several anti-Aguinaldo write-ups as the one some history books allege to have been sent by Gen. Emilio Aguinaldo to Gen. Antonio Luna summoning him to the Cabanatuan presidential headquarters. Luna went there on June 5, 1899, and met his tragic death from the hands of the presidential guards whom he had earlier disarmed and punished. I made the call for authentication in my piece, ‘The Killing of Gen. Antonio Luna’ that may be read here http://www.manilastandardtoday.com/mobile/article/281251. That a known historian such as Ocampo would spend several paragraphs on what I wrote elated me a bit, and amused me a lot. One, because I repeatedly say that I am but an ardent (but passionate) student of history and he is what he is. Despite this, at least he read this one piece of mine. And second, because I seemed to have irked him enough to turn the usually cool historian to an irate Ambeth Ocampo. He wrote under the subheading Columnist’s ignorance, “Most hilarious was a newspaper columnist who established her credentials as transcriber of Aguinaldo’s unpublished handwritten notes—only to expose her IGNORANCE by calling for forensic examination to determine the telegram’s authenticity. How could it be, she asks, if it is not in Aguinaldo’s handwriting? (emphasis mine) She could be the only person in the universe who does not know that telegrams are never in the hand of the sender. Jim Richardson, historian of the revolutionary period spoiled everyone’s fun by posting photos of the pertinent page of the telegraph operator’s message log book taken from a microfilm of the Philippine Insurgent Records.” Ocampo then put forward this transcription of the telegram’s text as the correct one, “Felipe Buencamino is detained without ordering the formation of the case. I am waiting your reply to my previous telegram where I request the basis for your accusation.” He then concluded that, “The “deadly” telegram is not as deadly as it is said to be, nor is it the “smoking gun” historians have been looking for all this time.” Compare this with what I wrote a week earlier. My piece on Gen. Luna’s death was clearly in reaction to the article “Aguinaldo’s deadly telegram to Heneral Luna emerges in auction” by Amierielle Anne Bulan. This piece was the first of several write-ups that immediately concluded that the said telegram was the “smoking gun” Ocampo was referring to. Without batting an eyelash, Bulan said, “…It’s the telegram historians have been looking for for more than a century…” I was questioning the writer for immediately labeling the telegram without the benefit of authentication. I then called on the Aguinaldo descendants to demand for authentication of the telegram. In fact, many others on Facebook also called for authentication. My exact words were, “IF THE TELEGRAM WAS SUPPOSED TO BE IN THE HANDWRITING OF GEN. MIONG, IT CAN EASILY BE ASCERTAINED IF THE PENMANSHIP WAS HIS. While I am no expert, I am quite familiar with Gen. Miong’s handwriting because I have been transcribing some of his unpublished notes. The one on the telegram attributed to him is very different from his existing self-written records during the period.
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