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Remembering GomBurZa

February 17, 2022 marks the 150th Anniversary of the Execution of the three Filipino Martyr-Priests

by Joel Vasquez Ocampo

One hundred fifty years ago - on February 17, 1872 - three Filipino Catholic priests were executed at Bagumbayan, now known as Luneta Park, in Manila City: Padre Mariano Gomez, a priest of Bacoor, Cavite; Padre José Burgos, a priest of the Manila Cathedral; and Padre Jacinto Zamora, a parish priest of Marikina, collectively known as GomBurZa. These three Filipino Catholic priests died fighting for the rights of Filipino priests and for our country.

Padre Jose Burgos

One of them, Padre José Burgos was assigned to the Manila Cathedral. He was one of the main proponents of secularization, which would allow secular (Filipino) clergy to get the position of parish priest from Spanish friars, known as “regulars”, who are members of religious congregations.

He studied college at the Colegio de San Juan de Letrán and University of Sto. Tomas. He was one of the most brilliant Filipinos of his time. He finished seven degrees, including two doctorates. He became a canonical magistrate (mahistradong kanonikal) of the Manila Cathedral.

Yet in spite of his high position, he fought for Filipino priests with lower ranks. Such was his fame that his name was used in a revolt in Cavite on January 20, 1872, causing his arrest and eventually his execution.