Vice-President Carmen Calvo has said the remains of Spanish Phalanx party founder Jose Antonio Primo de Rivera will remain in situ next to Franco’s former plot.
Calvo said Jose Antonio, son of dictator Miguel Primo de Rivera (1923-1930), will remain in the Valley of the Fallen because he was a victim of the Spanish Civil War, killed early during the armed conflict in 1936.
“Primo de Rivera is a victim of the dispute, for which the permanence of his remains in the Valley of the Fallen is justified on the same grounds as the rest of the victims,” Calvo said on Friday.
Primo de Rivera was executed by the Second Republic for conspiracy and military rebellion on November 20, 1936. He was the founder of the Spanish Phalanx, a military fascist political organization aiming to topple the democratic republic and replace it with a totalitarian government in his father’s fashion.
Primo de Rivera was enshrined by the Franco regime and became a martyr, earning a special place in the honorary cemetery, at the ‘Basilica de Cuelgamuros,’ in 1959.
According to Andreu Castells in Las Brigadas Internacionales de la Guerra en España, the total number of Filipinos in the Republican ranks was at least sixteen, one of whom was killed and four injured. But according to one volunteer, Pedro Penino, who was able to return to the Philippines, there were around fifty Filipinos (“pure Filipinos” and “mestizos”) who joined the International Brigade as well as the Spanish Republican Army and Militia.
In a 1938 interview with the Spanish weekly Union, Penino said that among the “pure Filipinos” who fought in defense of the Spanish Republic were a certain Claro, a political commissar, in a Mixed Brigade; a Colonel Santiago (from Tondo) and someone surnamed Mendoza who both held high positions in the general staff of General Jose Miaja of the Republican Army; someone surnamed Manuel; and another militia man in Valencia who claimed to be related to Commonwealth president Quezon.
Apparently there is no record of anyone leaving the Philippines for Spain directly. Most of the Filipinos who served in the Republican ranks either left from the US or Mexico or were already in Spain when the war began. Most of the volunteers were not heard of again. With the defeat of the Republican forces, Franco’s falangists herded thousands of prisoners in camps where many were executed or died of hardships.
In 1939, Spanish republicans fleeing the end of the Spanish Civil War entered as the third wave of refugees, benefitting from the Philippine government’s policy of absolute neutrality.
Prior to the end of the war, President Quezon had stressed the importance of absolute neutrality in the war to the public. In a letter dated November 10, 1937 to the Rector of San Juan de Letran College, Quezon urged that the Philippines’ interest in the war should be limited to seeing peace reestablished in Spain. Support for President Quezon’s policy came from loyalists to the Spanish Republic, several religious orders and the local Spanish community.
From 1936 to 1939, Spanish Republicans had fled from the fascist Falange Española of General Francisco Franco. Head of the Nationalist movement, General Franco was cracking down on Republicans in Spain forcing 500,000 Spanish Republicans and their families to flee the country for France and North Africa to avoid incarceration or death. From France, refugees struggled to obtain visas to other countries. Among the few countries who did grant them visas were former Spanish territories such as Mexico, the Dominican Republic and the Philippines.
Returning to Antón, a postscript. Aside from the information above (that Antón eventually did well for himself by having an import-export business), an article by Danny Dolor in 2009 tells us that he was a co-founder of Lebran Pictures, one of the Big Four Philippine movie studios of the 1950s. A 2019 article by Alexa Villano adds that his partners were William Brandt, Manuel Valdes, Rita Valdes Araneta, and Carmen Valdes Nieto, and that “Lebran stopped producing films in 1956 due to poor return of investment. Its owners went on to concentrate in the real estate business.” Benito Legarda Jr. in an email told me Antón prospered by marrying his (Legarda’s), widowed aunt, Rosario Valdes de Stevens, and “was given management of the Valdes real estate holdings lodged in Rita Legarda, Inc. ” We know that he eventually became a Filipino citizen: a list of shareholders of the Manila Jockey Club includes Rafael Antón, and states he was a Filipino citizen. And I know he was associated with the Club Filipino in the 1970s. What a life he must have lived.