LADISLAO DIWA (Oct. 7, 1898 – May 13, 1901)

LADISLAO DIWA was the third and last politico-military government of Cavite during the Philippine Revolution. A historical document dated October 7, 1898, mentions Diwa as Included in the “list of provincial chiefs of provinces subject to the revolutionary government.” At that time the Malolos Congree was still in session. Diwa ceased to be politico-military governor of Cavite when the Philippine-American War broke out on February 4, 1899. He joined General Mariano Trias, commander-in-chief of all revolutionary forces in Southern Luzon.

Trias and Diwa surrendered to the Americans on May 13, 1901, in San Francisco de Malabon. It is not true, as stated in some historical accounts, that Diwa was the “first civil governor of Cavite.” Shortly after, their surrender, Trias was appointed civil governor of Cavite, while Diwa was designated clerk of court in Cavite, a position which he held continuously until his death on March 12, 1930.

It was Diwa who first conceived the idea of establishing a secret society patterned after the patriotic “Black Capes” of Italy. The society, according to Diwa, was to apprise the Filipinos of their deplorable conditions, and rally them in order to obtain reforms. He broached the idea to Andres Bonifacio and Teodoro Plata, his brother-in-law. Reacting to some insulting remarks made by Spanish priest against Filipino women, Diwa, Bonifacio, and Plata decided to set up a secret society, with the three of them forming the first triumvirate. This was in contrast to the Liga Filipina formed by Rizal, a reformist but open society.

But following the arrest of Rizal by the Spanish authorities, Bonifacio, the more aggressive of the trio, saw the futility of achieving reforms by peaceful means. It was he who initiated the organization of the secret revolutionary society, the Katipunan, on July 17, 1892, the day the Spanish government announced the plan to deport Rizal to Dapitan. In the election of the Most Supreme Council of the Katipunan, Diwa was elected fiscal, a position next to that of Bonifacio who was elected interventor or comptroller. Bonifacio became KatipunanSupremo in 1895, one year before the outbreak of the Revolution.

The third of 10 children of Mariano Diwa and Cecilia Nocom, Ladislao was born on June 27, 1863 in San Roque, a municipality of Cavite. A priest, Fr. Perfecto Mañalac, recommended him for admission in the San Juan de Letran College in Manila where he obtained a Bachelor of Arts degree. Abandoning the study of theology, he transferred to the University of Sto. Tomas to take up law. Diwa came to board in the house of Andres Bonifacio in Tondo. However, he did not finish the law course because of the outbreak of the Revolution. He was working as clerk of court in Pampanga when arrested by the authorities for engaging in propaganda work for the Katipunan.

Released from Fort Santiago in June 1897, Diwa joined the revolutionary forces of General Trias. He was promoted to the rank of colonel after securing the surrender of the Spaniards in San Francisco de Malabon in 1898. His military experience served him in good stead when he was appointed politico-military governor of Cavite, succeeding General Emiliano Riego de Dios.

[Sources: (1) Talambuhay ng Magigiting na Lalaki ng Kabite in Major Liberato C. Jimenez Collection; (2)Eminent Filipinos , Manila, NHC, 1965; and (3) L. S. del Rosario, “Ladislao Diwa: Friend of Bonifacio, “Philippines Free Press , August 28, 1965.]