How Jose Rizal Honored the Martyred GomBurZa Priests

The popular composite of Fathers Zamora, Gomez and Burgos. Wikicommons

The martyred Filipino priests: Jose Burgos, Mariano Gomes, and Jacinto Zamora died on February 17, 1872.

They were falsely implicated in the Cavite uprising and executed by garroted in Bagumbayan (now Rizal Park). The governor-general at that time was Rafael Izquierdo. 

Father Mariano Gomes de los Angeles was born in 1799 and became secular curate of Bacoor, Cavite on June 2, 1824. Father Gomez was a strong advocate of secularization. 

Father Jacinto Zamora was born in Pandacan and became a priest in 1859. He was parish priest in Mariquina when he developed a gambling habit. He loved playing a card game popular during the Spanish period called panguingue. He also placed bets in cockfights. 

Father Jose Burgos was an intellectual. He earned a total of eight degrees from the Universidad de Santo Tomas: three bachelor, three licentiates, and two doctorates. Father Burgos was closely associated with Paciano Mercado, Rizal's elder brother. 

Jose Honorato Lozano, 1847. The drawing shows a condemned man being led to the garrote. 

The three priests inspired the Ilustrado movement and Jose Rizal paid tribute to them in his second novel, El Filibusterismo

In 1998, their common grave and bones were located in Paco Cemetery. A memorial marker has been placed on the burial site. 

Below is a translated copy of Rizal's dedication to the secular priests. He made some errors in listing the ages and date of death. Padre Gomes was 72 years old, Padre Burgos was 35, and Padre Zamora was 37.

"To the memory of the priests, Don Mariano Gomes, eighty-five, Don Jose Burgos, thirty, and Don Jacinto Zamora, thirty-five, who were executed on the scaffold at Bagumbayan on 28 February 1872.

The Church, by refusing to unfrock you, has put in doubt the crime charged against you; the Government by enshrouding your trial in mystery and pardoning your co-accused has implied that some mistakes was committed when your fate was decided; and the whole of the Philippines in paying homage to your memory and calling you martyrs totally rejects your guilt.

As long, therefore, as it is not clearly shown that you took part in the uprising in Cavite. I have the right, whether or not you were patriots and whether or not you were seeking justice and liberty, to dedicate my work to you as victims of the evil I am trying to fight. And while we wait for Spain to clear your names some day, refusing to be a party to your death, let these pages serve as belated wreath withered leaves on your forgotten graves. Whoever attacks your memory without sufficient proof has your blood upon his hands."

- J. Rizal