History and Culture

LOOK: The Historic Place Where Heneral Luna was Killed

Nueva Ecija

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Choose Philippines | Sep 30, 2015
LOOK: The Historic Place Where Heneral Luna was Killed

Director Jerrold Tarog's latest masterpiece "Heneral Luna," portrayed by John Arcilla, is the talk of the town. It has sparked debates on whether Antonio Luna (29 October 1866 – 5 June 1899) was really assassinated or not and whether Emilio Aguinaldo ordered his assassination or not. Basically, it has pushed most of us to review what we learned about history in school and question what we know (or what little we know). It has kept historians and scholars to their feet as they collate different versions of the general's death, unearth old books and studies, and look for more evidences on Luna's tragic fate.

Heneral Luna (Tarrog, 2015)

The movie's main reference was Dr. Vivencio Jose's "The Rise and Fall of Antonio Luna," a book published in 1972, among others. Isabel (Mylene Dizon) and Joven Hernando (Aaron Villafor)'s characters may be highly fictional for the sake of narrative cohesiveness and dramatization but most of Heneral Luna is historically accurate. This includes, most especially, his death through multiple shooting and stabbing in the hands of the Kawit Brigade in Cabanatuan in Nueva Ecija.

In an article by historian Ambeth R. Ocampo, he republished the testimony of Cabanatuan resident Antonio Jimenez who exhumed Luna's remains in 1902 or 1903. The narration was first released in La Sampaguita on July 20, 1926 during the editorship of Lope K. Santos.

After the remains of the said General Luna had been disinterred, I saw in the cranium two marks, of two wounds inflicted with a bolo, one towards the posterior part, two inches long, and the other towards the front which destroyed the cavity wherein was found the left eye. There were also two wounds more in the bones of the right arm which were well marked. I have also seen several holes in the cranium which possibly were the effect of bullets from a gun."

This grim episode happened in front of the casa parroquial in Cabanatuan where the Malolos Republic had its office and where the general was summoned by the president for a cabinet meeting.

St. Nicholas of Tolentine Cathedral Parish
(Photo from Shubert Ciencia, 2007)

The parochial building was built in 1866 by Fr. Jose de la Fuente. It was destroyed in the earthquake of 1880, rebuilt by Fr. Mariano Rivas in 1891, and became the spot of Luna's assassination in 1899. It was razed by fire in 1934 and was totally reconstructed into a new church, which is now the St. Nicholas of Tolentine Cathedral Parish. It is the mother church of the Diocese of Cabanatuan, which was created on February 16, 1963.

St. Nicholas of Tolentine Cathedral Parish
(Photo from Shubert Ciencia, 2007)

The convent has been converted into a school and a marker is placed on the spot where Luna died. It stands on what is now the street corner of del Pilar and General Luna.

(Photo from Shubert Ciencia, 2007)


(All photos from Shubert Ciencia are with Creative Common License - For Commercial Use from Flickr. Cover photo is from Heneral Luna, Jerrold Tarog, 2015)


  • Ciencia, Shubert. "Murder in the Convent." 13 Sept. 2007. <http://bigberto.blogspot.com/>
  • Ocampo, Ambeth R. "Where are Antonio Luna’s bones?" Philippine Daily Inquirer, 15 Sept. 2015. Web. <http://newsinfo.inquirer.net/>.
  • St. Nicholas of Tolentine Cathedral Parish. <http://sntparish.blogspot.com/>.
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