Saturday, December 20, 2014

Forgotten Filipino Heroes: Panday Pira

by Antonio C. Antonio
October 30, 2014

When Filipinos talk about heroes, we seem to automatically refer to the following illustrious names: Dr. Jose Protacio Realonda Mercado-Rizal; Andres de Castro Bonifacio; Apolinario Maranan Mabini; Gen. Emilio Famy Aguinaldo, etc.  Our history books, more often than not, often refer to these names as Philippine heroes… leaving the impression that they are the only ones.  However, there really is a long line of heroes that accompany this patriotic group.  They are often referred to as the forgotten Filipino heroes.  Here is one of them.

“Panday Pira (1488 – 1576) was a Pampango blacksmith who is acknowledged as “The First Filipino Canon-maker”.  His name literally translates as “Blacksmith Pira”, panday being the Filipino word for blacksmith.

Panday Pira was a native of the southern islands of the Philippines.  He migrated to Manila in 1508 and established a foundry on the northern bank of the Pasig River.  Rajah Sulayman commissioned Panday Pira to cast the cannon that were mounted on the palisades surrounding his kingdom.  In 1570, Spanish forces under the command of Martin de Goiti captured Manila and took these artillery pieces as war booty, presenting them to Miguel Lopez de Legaspi, the first Spanish Governor-General of the Philippines.

Legaspi eventually established a permanent Spanish settlement in Manila on May 19, 1571 and on June 3 of the same year, Rajah Sulayman waged the Battle of Bankusay Channel to re-capture his kingdom from the Spaniards.  Rajah Sulayman failed in this and perished in the battle.  Panday Pira then fled to Pampanga where he attempted to begin a new life in Sitio Capalangan in the town of Apalit, working as a blacksmith forging farm implements.  He was, however, summoned by Legaspi back to Manila and put to work forging cannons for the Spaniards.  He established his foundry in what is now Santa Ana.  Santiago de Vera, the sixth Governor-General, commissioned him to cast cannons for the defences of a fortress he built, the fortress of Nuestra SeƱora de Guia (Spanish, “Our Lady of Guidance”), now called Intramuros.  To the Spaniards, Panday Pira was known as Pandapira, and they exempted him from paying tribute and forced labor.

In 1576, Panday Pira died at the age of 88.  His death was a great loss to the Spaniards who had to petition the King of Spain for a blacksmith to take his place.  It was not until 1584, that a Spanish blacksmith from Mexico arrived.” (Wikipedia)

Reading literature about our heroes should rekindle our patriotic spirit aside from learning from the life and time of these forgotten Filipino heroes.

Just my little thoughts…

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