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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
HK played key role in RP history

By Augusto de Viana
Last updated 08:10am (Mla time) 07/01/2007

MANILA, Philippines—Before overseas Filipino workers came to Hong Kong in droves, the former British Crown Colony had long had its share of visitors from the Philippines, mainly crewmen of trading vessels.

The British took over the island of Hong Kong in 1842 and developed it into an entrepot. By the latter part of the 19th century, Hong Kong was a busy port town accommodating ships, cargo and passengers from all over the world.

During this period, Hong Kong became a refuge of Filipino patriots. Among them was Jose Ma. Basa, a rich Manila merchant who gave financial and moral support to Filipino reformists in the 1860s.

When the Cavite Mutiny broke out on Jan. 17, 1872, Basa was one of those arrested by Spanish authorities. He and 22 others, including Joaquin Pardo de Tavera, Balvino Mauricio, Antonio Ma. Regidor and Maximo Paterno, were deported to Guam.

Basa stayed in Guam until 1874. Subsequently, he sailed to Hong Kong where he started a prosperous trading business while continuing to support the struggle for reforms in the Philippines.

His role in the smuggling of Jose Rizal’s “Noli Me Tangere” to the Philippines is little known. It was at his house where copies of the book were sent by Rizal from Europe. A young seaman named Perfecto Rufino Riego took the books and secretly distributed them in Manila.


The social and political ambience in Hong Kong made it a haven for Filipinos. Rizal lived and practiced medicine there for some time.

When the Philippine Revolution broke out in August 1896, more Filipinos escaping Spanish tyranny found their way to Hong Kong.

Among them were Galicano Apacible (who eventually formed the Philippine Central Committee (PCC) better known as the Hong Kong Junta, a sort of Philippine government-in-exile) and the lawyer Felipe Agoncillo, a staunch supporter of Filipino causes, who was accused of being a filibustero (subversive).

Agoncillo was about to be arrested when he fled to Hong Kong, where he was later joined by his wife, Marcela, and their daughters. The family lived in a house on Morrison Hill Road in the Wanchai district.

One of the visitors to the Agoncillo home was Antonio Luna, who became a general in the Philippine revolutionary army.

According to Marcela Agoncillo, Luna loved to cook. He would head straight to the kitchen whenever he dropped by, and even searched the market for the cooking ingredients he needed.

Revolutionary leaders led by Gen. Emilio Aguinaldo arrived in December 1897. For their meetings, they rented the house next to the Agoncillo residence.

First Flag

After he returned from Singapore where he decided to cast his lot with the Americans, Aguinaldo asked Marcela Agoncillo a favor: Would she sew the Philippines’ first national flag?

Marcela accepted the task. She bought the finest silk cloth from a nearby market and, with her daughter Lorenza, then five years old, and Delfina Herbosa Natividad, Rizal’s niece who was married to one of Aguinaldo’s generals, worked on the flag manually and with the aid of a sewing machine.

In Marcela’s recollection, their eyes and fingers hurt because of the prolonged sewing. Often they missed meals. Sometimes they had to redo a particular part—for example, a ray in the sun that was not sewn straight.

The flag was finished in five days. On May 17, 1898, it was packed among the other things that Aguinaldo brought to Manila.

It was first unfurled in Cavite Nuevo, following the Filipino victory in the battle of Alapan on May 28, 1898.

But the formal unfurling was on June 12, 1898, at the proclamation of Philippine independence in Kawit, Cavite.

Most Important Centre

Hong Kong continued to serve as the base of the PCC during the Filipino-American War.

In his memoirs, Apacible expressed admiration for the British administrators of the colony:

“I must confess that the British Government of Hong Kong had treated us not only with decorum but [also] with benevolence. Hong Kong is the most important center of our revolutionary activities and labors during our conflict with America, and the refuge of prominent Filipinos involved in the movement.

“The political refugees from many countries residing there were protected by the same English laws and the English spirit of equity. English chivalry inspired the Hong Kong government to fulfill this sacred duty toward all political refugees.”

Historical markers

Perhaps the only remembrances of the stay of Filipino patriots in Hong Kong are the two historical markers installed by the Hong Kong Antiquities Council at the former sites of Rizal’s residences and one indicating the area where the first Philippine flag was sewn.

The other sites of historical importance to Filipinos, such as the base of the PCC and the homes of patriots like Agoncillo, Apacible and Basa, have yet to be properly marked.

18,487 Posts
Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Thanks for sharing this with us Wanch. Any idea whether those residence are still there? Or got torn down?
The residence are gone but there is a plaque dedicated to Jose Rizal on Wyndham St. in Central.

Again, note that the first one of these was sewn in HK

18,487 Posts
Discussion Starter · #5 · (Edited)
Here's something I found.

The first known Filipino OFW (Overseas Filipino Worker) was Jose Rizal, the national hero of The Philippines. He was exiled in HK and lived in Mid-Levels from 1861-1896

Written on the marker: "Dr. Jose P. Rizal (1861-1896) National hero of the Philippines Lived in this area with his family from December 1891 to June 1892."

He also practiced medicine in HK

THe granite steps near Lyndhurst Terrace and marker #13 of the Sun Yat-Sen Historical Trail. The old buildings are gone but these are almost the same granite steps hurdled by Rizal more than a hundred years ago.

It is noteworthy that when Rizal was living in Hong Kong, Sun Yat-sen (孫逸仙), instrumental in the eventual overthrow of the Qing Dynasty and acknowledged as the father of modern China, was studying medicine at the nearby Hong Kong College of Medicine for Chinese.

Rizal and Sun Yat-sen might have crossed paths in Hong Kong!

Rizal's clinic was at the site where Century Square stands today.

"Dr. Jose P. Rizal (1861-1896)
Philippine physician, poet, author and patriot practised medicine in 1891-92 in a clinic which once stood on this site"
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