From General To Governor and Director
Upon his release, Manuel Tinio went back to Nueva Ecija to rehabilitate his neglected farms in present-day Licab, Sto. Domingo and Talavera. He lived in a camarin or barn together with all the farming paraphernalia and livestock. A typical hacendero, he was very paternalistic and caring, extending his protection, not only on his family, but also to his friends and supporters. His men even compared him to a ‘hen’.
As a family man, he was very protective of his daughters. Being family-oriented, he took in all the children of his deceased sisters and half sisters (from his father's previous marriages) when their widowers eventually remarried or played around. He treated all his nephews and nieces as if they were his children, giving them the same education and privileges. This resulted in the extremely close family ties of the Tinio Family. He was very loving and fatherly and would entertain his children with stories of his campaigns. Perhaps because he never finished high school, he believed in a good education and, in 1920, sent his two eldest sons to the United States to study in Cornell University.
Manuel Tinio treated everyone equally, rich and poor alike, so everyone looked up to him and respected him. In fact, he paid more attention to the poor than to the rich, because, according to him, the poor had nothing but their pride and were, for that reason, more sensitive. When rich relatives came to visit, his children had but to kiss their hand in greeting, but when a poor relation came, they had to greet their kin in the same manner, but on bended knees - the highest form of respect in those days!.
All his tenants idolized Manuel Tinio, who was not an absentee landlord, but lived with them in the farm with hardly any amenities. However, he always kept a good table and had flocks of sheep and dovecotes in every property he owned, so that he could have his favorite caldereta and pastel de pichon anytime he wanted. He also enjoyed his brandy, finishing off daily a bottle of Tres Cepes by Domecq. Wherever he lived, he received a constant stream of visitors, relatives and friends. Many veterans of the Tinio Brigade, often coming from the Ilocos, invariably came to reminisce and ask for his assistance. Later, as Governor, he would help them settle in Nueva Ecija.
Although he was but a civilian, the prominence he earned as a revolutionary general and his immense network of social and familial alliances eventually became the nucleus of a political machine that he controlled until his death. An ardent nationalist, he fought against the federalists who wanted the Philippines to become an American state. He did not run for any position, but any candidate he endorsed was sure to win the position. Dr. Benedicto Adorable, one of the richest and most prominent men in Gapan, was so fanatically loyal that he often said, "I would vote for a dog if Gen. Tinio asked me to." Of course, he was fanatically loyal because Gen. Tinio had saved him from a Spanish firing squad in 1896!
When Gov. Gen. Henry C. Ide lifted the ban on independence parties in 1906, the political parties with similar ideology merged into the present Nacionalista Party. Manuel Tinio always supported Sergio Osmeña, the leader of the party, throughout his political career. Even during the split between Osmeña and Quezon in 1922, Tinio remained loyal to the former. As the founder and leader of the Nacionalista Party in Nueva Ecija, Tinio stressed the significance of a unified party, emphasizing in every local party convention that the winner will be supported wholly by each party member. Any party member who won an election could serve only one term in office to give the other party members a chance. Should the incumbent seek re-election, Tinio advised his colleagues to support the choice of the convention. As a party leader, he did not want warring factions within the party, and exerted every effort to make rival groups come to terms. Thus, during his lifetime, the Nacionalista Party in Nueva Ecija was unified.
On July 15, 1907 Gov. Gen. James F. Smith appointed Manuel Tinio as Governor of the Province of Nueva Ecija, to serve the remainder of the 3-year term of Gov. Isauro Gabaldon, who had resigned to run as a candidate for the 1st National Assembly. Incidentally, one of the first major bills Assemblyman Gabaldon proposed was the establishment of a school in every town in the archipelago. The Gabaldon-type schoolhouses and Gabaldon town in Nueva Ecija are named after him. Gabaldon's wife, Bernarda, was the eldest daughter of Casimiro Tinio.
Manuel Tinio's first term as governor was marked by the return of peace and order to the province. William Cameron Forbes, Commissioner of Commerce and Police under both Gov.-Generals Wright and Smith, wrote of Tinio:
"…we picked up the new Governor of Nueva Ecija at San Isidro, the capital, General Tinio. He used to be a celebrated insurecto General and Governor Smith has just made him Governor. . . We have more robbery and murders here than almost anywhere, one leading band being continually on the move. General Tinio informed me that he had most of the band in jail already, his guns captured, and the robberies stopped, and the principal outstanding ladron (the only one that I know by name in the whole of Luzon) driven from his borders and over to Pangasinan. I talked busily on road building and maintenance to him for a couple of hours while we sped up to Cabanatuan and went up to call on the local officials. .
An anecdote on Gov. Tinio's bravery has him negotiating with a dreaded tulisan or bandit who held a family hostage for days, threatening to kill them if the constables, policemen, tried to rush him. Unarmed, Tinio went into the house, talked to the bandit and went out after 30 minutes with the bandit peacefully in tow.
Gov. Tinio also brought about agricultural expansion. His Governor's report for the fiscal year 1907–1908 stated that the area of cultivated land increased by 15%. The following year, this was augmented by an additional 40%. These lands, which were settled by over 5,000 homesteaders, mostly Ilocanos, were in the towns of Bongabon (then including Rizal), Talavera, Sto. Domingo, Guimba (which still included Muñoz) and San Jose. The influx of settlers from the north explains why many people speak Ilocano in those towns today.
It was also during his term as Governor that his wife, Laureana, died. The Provincial Board then passed a resolution naming the town Laur, after her. Soon after, he married Maura Quijano, the younger sister of Laureana, who had accompanied her from Ilocos after Gen. Tinio's surrender to the Americans.
Gen. Tinio ran for reelection under the Nacionalista Party in 1908 and won. But there were other things in store for him. His executive ability and decisiveness had not gone unnoticed by the Americans, especially by Forbes who had become Acting Gov. Gen. on May 8, 1909. Months before Forbes assumed the office,
"Manila was being troubled by a series of strikes generally fomented by the shamelessly corrupt labor leader Dominador Gomez, who was taking a cut out of sums levied as blackmail against major American firms. Gomez had been arrested for threats, and some of the other unions collapsed when Gov.-Gen. Smith had questioned the legality of the unions’ use of their funds."
To help settle labor problems, Forbes set up the Bureau of Labor and asked Manuel Tinio to head it. Forthwith, Tinio resigned as Governor of Nueva Ecija and became the first Director of Labor on July 1, 1909, thereby becoming the first Filipino Bureau Director! He quickly solved the strikes. Three weeks later, Forbes welcomed Director Tinio to his staff meeting and wrote in his diary:
"He's a good man, and Col. Bandholtz says he's got Gomez scared to death... Gomez had tried Tinio to employ him, but Tinio refused: "Why pay you to do the work the Government is paying me to do?"
"In a short time the condition of labor and industry in the region about Manila was vastly improved. In general, it may be said that, as a result of Gen. Tinio's management of the bureau, strikes ceased, laborers went their way contented, employees readily corrected abuses bought to their attention, and the (union) leaders fell back into their proper role of caring for and representing the laborers."
Manuel Tinio eventually became a close friend of the aristocratic Forbes, whom he invited to hunting parties in Pantabangan. The latter liked Tinio's company, even offering to give him a hectare of land along Session Road in Baguio,( newly developed by Forbes) so that Tinio could build a house there and keep him company whenever he went up to the cool mountain resort. Tinio did not accept the offer. Gov.-Gen. Forbes also wrote in his journal:
"Tinio later became a great friend of mine. I made him Director of Labor and I rated him as one of the best Filipinos in the Islands. In fact, from the point of view of staunchness of character, and good judgement, and other good qualities, I liked Tinio best of all and wanted to make him Commissioner ."
Gov.-Gen. Francis Burton Harrison succeeded Gov. Forbes. His term was characterized by increased Filipinization of the insular bureaucracy, and he appointed Tinio as the first Filipino Director of Lands on October 17, 1913. It was while he was Director of the Bureau of Lands that cadastral surveys for each municipality began to be made, and the area now covered by the towns of Rizal, Llanera, Gen. Natividad, Laur, Lupao and Muñoz were subdivided into homesteads. In the largest wave of migration ever experienced by the province, thousands of landless Tagalogs and Ilocanos came and settled in Nueva Ecija. But Tinio suffered intrigues sown by the American Assistant Director, who wanted to be appointed to the position. The intrigues came to the point that Tinio was even accused of manipulating the sale of the 6,000 hectare Sabani Estate that was subsequently rescinded. In disgust and for delicadeza, he resigned on September 13, 1914 and returned to Nueva Ecija to manage his landholdings. A subsequent investigation cleared him of all charges, but, disillusioned with the government system, he refused to go back to government service, preferring to live the quiet life of a landowner instead. The Sabani Estate, in present-day Gabaldon, Nueva Ecija and Dingalan, Aurora, never found another buyer and still belongs to the government and is administered by the National Development Corporation.
It was during his term as Director of Lands that his wife, Maura, died. He then married Basilia Pilares Huerta, a Bulakeña from Meycauayan.
After his resignation from the Bureau of Lands, Manuel Tinio went back to Cabanatuan, Nueva Ecija, and built his house on Burgos St. It was the largest house in town. He entertained and kept open house, which meant that anyone present at lunchtime was automatically invited to dine. Everyday was like an Election Day - with people coming to ask for assistance, financial or otherwise. A very generous man, he was not adverse to using his personal financial resources to help those in need.
Manuel Tinio dedicated the remainder of his life to politics. The hold that Manuel Tinio had on the province was awesome. Even if he did not have any position, he maintained absolute control over the local government with the unchallenged power to make or unmake provincial leaders. In order to maintain and gain his political power, Manuel Tinio made it a practice to visit every voter during an election year, reserving for last those who were known to be against his party. A few days before the election, Tinio would visit them. He would sit where everyone who passed by the house could see him. After chatting with his host for an hour or two, without even discussing politics, the whole barrio would conclude that the fellow had been won over by Tinio! His credibility with his partymates shattered, the poor fellow had no choice but to move over eventually to the Nationalista Party!
Lewis Gleeck wrote of Manuel Tinio as "the supreme example of caciquism in the Philippines" and cited the case of one of Tinio's most prominent political leaders who had shot and killed a man in front of many witnesses. The Americans, wanting to show that there was equality under American law, tried to make a big case out of it. However, they could not find a single lawyer in the whole province willing to act for the prosecution. After sending an American lawyer from Manila, the case had to be dismissed, because no witness came up to testify! J. Ralston Hayden, a high American official, said:
"Tinio controlled the entire government: the Courts of First Instance, the Justices of the Peace, the chiefs of police and police forces, the mayors and the councilors. These, together with a tremendous money power, were in his hands. No one dared to stand up against him."
Manuel Tinio was also a very good friend of Manuel Quezon and Sergio Osmeña, the Speaker of the National Assembly and the most powerful Filipino in the political scene at that time. It was not surprising, therefore, that Manuel Tinio was included in the Independence Mission that went to Washington D. C. in 1921.
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