Opinion: Bago City: Rich in History, Natural Treasures, Culture (Part III)
One of the illustrious sons of Bago City and subsequently also of Negros who played a vital role in the revolution of 1880s, was none other than Gen. Juan A.Araneta (a man, a leader and a hero) who was born on July 13, 1852 in the historic town of Bago, some 21.5 kms south of Bacolod City, or 30 minutes drive from the capital city.
Araneta (a man, a leader and a hero) who was born on July 13, 1852 in the historic town of Bago, some 21.5 kms south of Bacolod City, or 30 minutes drive from the capital city.
Juan Anacleto, whose parents Romualdo Araneta and Agueda Torres, both from Molo, Iloilo, had settled in the virgin lands of Bago. It was a time when Negros was witnessing massive immigrations from neighboring provinces, due to its emerging sugar industry. During this period, Negros developed sugarcane cultivation as an industry and the great need for laborers and merchants attracted people from nearby places to strike new lands or start an enterprise to fill the rising needs of Negrenses. Bago, its neighboring areas like Pulupandan, Bacolod, Talisay and Silay were among the favorite places for immigrants from Iloilo, Molo, Jaro, Mandurriao and La Paz and even Antique, Aklan and Capiz, among others, to settle and join the economic and cultural revolution here.
Little is known of the childhood of Juan Anacleto Araneta except that he grew up to be a leader, a rebel who got himself into a lot of adventures, both mischievous and amorous. His brother-in-law, Pedro Sarmiento sent him to the Ateneo Municipal in Manila sometime in 1871 where his creative and adventurous spirit found expression in intellectual combats and scholastic endeavors. He earned medals of merit, and upon graduation, a "Pepito Mercantil." Juan Anacleto’s experiences in the Ateneo must have influenced his dynamic and rebellious spirit. Here, he was exposed to the Jesuits whose approaches to study was that of the freedom of inquiry which led to the acquisition of libertarian ideas that also sparked the flames of patriotism and democracy in Araneta’s contemporaries in Ateneo, including Jose Rizal, Jose Alejandro, his fellow Negrenses and later collaborators, Aniceto Lacson who in later years became a revolutionary hero like him in northern Negros, specifically Talisay and Silay, along with Rafael Ramos, Zoilo Diaz, Emilio Gaston and Ramon Lacson, to mention a few.
The spirirt of freedom was buried in their hearts as more Negrenses went back to live the ways of their parents and elders, notably the cultivation of sugarcane. In the solitude of the slopes of Mt. Kanlaon and the rich soil, Juan Anacleto made use of his farming knowledge and love of nature acquired in his studies and experiences in coming out with new techniques in expanding modern farm practices in his lands.At 39, Araneta lost his wife. To soothe his grief, he went on a tour that brought him to the US and Europe. His 18-month travel abroad was fruitful. He was exposed not only to the US and Europe insofar as democracy was concerned, but also the stable governments in those modern and developed societies there. He also met with Filipino leaders engaged in the so-called Propaganda Movement. The seeds of discontent began to germinate and the culprits of the Age of Reason and Enlightenment spreading all over the European states took roots in his heart. The warm atmosphere of the rising sun started to awaken the dormant spirit of freedom acquired in the Ateneo had begun to sprout, fired by the warmth of the European enlightenment in his heart.*