It is lamenting to say that we only have a few monuments dedicated to our local heroes and illustrious personages in Lipa. One of these was the historical marker and bust of Don Lauro Solis Dimayuga which was displayed at the Lipa Plaza Independencia in the ’90s. Unfortunately, it is no longer visible to the Lipeños as the marker was dismantled anonymously.
Lauro Solis Dimayuga was the only child of Don Catalino Dimayuga y Reyes to his first marriage with Doña Filomena Solís y Metra. Since the baptismal records of 1849-1870 are missing, it is estimated that Lauro was born in 1870 or 1871 as his parents were married in 1869. With the second marriage of his father to Doña Romana Aguilera y Esguerra, Lauro had half-siblings. They were Rafael, a physician who graduated from the University of Chicago, and Prudencia, a spinster.
As a custom among the wealthy Lipeños, Lauro studied at the Ateneo Municipal de Manila for his bachillerato, which, in today’s parlance, is equivalent to a high school diploma. He graduated as an honor student. For further studies, Don Catalino sent Lauro to Spain and sought the aid of his friend Dr. José Rizal to look after his son and to advise him to become a useful man in society.
“In almost all my letters, as you know, I have tried to convince Lauro of the advantages of preparing for a career, whatever it might be, so that he would become a useful man in society. He can pursue it there in Madrid or else abroad. I am glad now of your good decision which coincides with my wishes, though I am disturbed and uneasy about the disease, incipient scrofula, which you have noticed in him, even if it is not serious… Pardon this egoism which is natural in a father like me whose son is far from home and is exposed to all kinds of risks. I have to seek a support for him and no one else but you could do, because of your worth, disinterestedness, and thousand qualities that you possess, as well as my very special esteem for you which I am pleased to express now and always.”
Don Catalino Dimayuga to José Rizal
Letter of October 8, 1890, written in Lipa, Batangas
An English translation of the Original Spanish.
Lauro, together with his cousins Gregorio Aguilera Solís and Baldomero Luz Roxas, joined the groups which Rizal formed while they were in Paris such as the Kidlat Club and the Indios Bravos, whose members pledged to excel in the intellectual and physical prowess in order to win the admiration of the world and to revise the Spaniards’ concept of the term indio.
Dimayuga became active in the propaganda movement. He was a member of the Asociación Hispano-Filipina, a group of Filipinos in Spain that lobbied reforms for the Philippines. One of the notable activities of this organization was the submission of a protest presented to the Spanish Overseas Ministry on September 26, 1890, denouncing the forceful eviction of the inquilinos (tenants) who engaged in bitter disputes with the Dominican friars demanding the increase of land rent at the Hacienda de Calamba.
The Filipino colony in Madrid remembered Lauro as a man linked with many adventures and romances with young Spanish women. Rizal criticized him for this and encouraged him to change so that the reputation and name of the INDIOS BRAVOS would not be besmirched.
As a mason, Lauro Dimayuga showed his anti-friar ideals through his two articles Una Frase de Amor and Las Bellas Lipenses. These writings brought a tragic end to Lauro. In 1896, the Real Audiencia de Manila ordered his imprisonment at the Batangas Provincial Jail. Dimayuga was accused of religious sacrilege when on a Sunday Mass, he allegedly took communion without having confessed, kept the host in his mouth, and passed it on to another person.
While in prison, Lauro Dimayuga repented and experienced a conversion through Father Anastacio Cuento Cruz, who comforted him and aided him in his spiritual needs. Padre Tasio was a secular priest from Taal, Batangas and was the chaplain of the Batangas Provincial Jail, who officiated the Mass during holy days of obligation and made efforts to give spiritual exercises to the prisoners.
On May 3, 1897, a violent uprising occurred in the Batangas Provincial Jail. Lauro was one of the ninety prisoners who did not abscond in the said upheaval. Instead of rewarding him from staying behind, Lauro was shot to death, without a fair trial, on May 4, 1897 in the courtyard of the provincial jail. Mariano Ponce gave further details of his demise in a letter he sent to Antonio Vergel de Dios.
“The most horrible are the circumstances surrounding the execution of Lauro Dimayuga. A number of prisoners in the Batangas Jail rioted, killed all the guards, and, taking all the weapons they could find, fled towards the open fields. Some ninety prisoners remained in the prison, unwilling to escape, despite all the doors being left open. A body of troops from the neighboring town arrived, and their commanding officer saw the ninety prisoners (more or less) who had stayed behind. But rather than reward them for their fidelity, he ordered that they be rounded up in the courtyard and fired upon. You cannot imagine how disgusting and sad that scene was. The men ran from one side of the courtyard to the other hurling insults, curses, and protests at their killers. They begged to be spared from the barbarous slaughter, but eventually fell one on top of the other in the most horrible agonies. That is how they were all killed. The officer responsible for this received only a gentle rebuke from his commander in chief. Lauro Dimayuga, one of the prisoners who chose not to abscond, was spared from the slaughter because he was in the quarters of a guard during the uprising and had prevented the rebellious prisoners from killing him. However, two or three days after the massacre, the few friars of the province came to Batangas. When they discovered that Lauro was alive, they spared no effort to ensure that he was executed. One morning, a sergeant or corporal went to Lauro’s cell and informed him that he had orders to execute him immediately. Lauro displayed great calmness throughout, to the point of jokingly telling the soldier to let him have breakfast first, in effect, ordering him to bring him breakfast, which he ate very confidently. Afterwards, he put himself at the disposal of the corporal or sergeant, who led him to the courtyard. When Lauro was at the execution site, he requested that the soldier shoot on his command, to which the soldier agreed, firing when Lauro shouted, “fire.” The process could not have been cut shorter: no records filed, no extreme unction, nothing.”
Mariano Ponce to Don Antonio Vergel de Dios
August 31, 1897
Cartas Sobre La Revolución
Don Lauro was considered a martyr who left a proud legacy of valor and patriotism. In commemoration of Lauro’s martyrdom, a street in Lipa where his house once stood, was named after him. The National Historical Institute (now NHCP) installed a marker in his honor and unveiled it on January 25, 1991 at the grounds of the Lipa City Hall.
Although Lauro died at a very young age, he left a wife named María Boria del Valle, and a son named Carlos Juan Rafael Valentin Dimayuga, born in 1892 in Sampaloc, Manila. Carlos became a journalist and lived in Vietnam. He then married Marie Jeromine Canavaggio, a French-Vietnamese lady. The direct descendants of Don Lauro Dimayuga now live in France.
It is our hope that the local government may be able to retrieve and reinstall the historical marker of Don Lauro Dimayuga in a rightful and dignified place.