The second chartered city in Ilocos Norte, Batac City is affectionately called the Home of Great Leaders. President Ferdinand Marcos spent his childhood days inBatac. Their ancestral house and his mausoleum, collectively known as the Ferdinand E. Marcos Presidential Center, are a must-see destination during the Ilocos Heritage Tour. Gregorio Aglipay, the founder of the Philippine Independent Church, was born here.
Yet another prominent revolutionary and general was also born here; he was Artemio Ricarte. He was a key stalwart during the Philippine Revolution and the Philippine-American War. One of the trusted officers of General Emilio Aguinaldo, Ricarte showed bravery and leadership in Cavite, Batangas, and Laguna. As a general of the Philippine Revolutionary Army, Ricarte is called the Father of the Philippine Army. He was appointed as the first chief of staff of the Armed Forces of the Philippines on March 22, 1897.
When he was captured by the American forces, Ricarte and Apolinario Mabini were deported to Guam. Undeterred by the pressure to swear allegiance to the new colonizers, El Vibora as he was known for was banned in the Philippines. After a brief stay in Hong Kong, he stowed away to return to the Philippines. He initiated a futile attempt to launch a revolution and his former brothers in arms betrayed him. Then maybe the US$10,000 reward was just too much. Ricarte was jailed in the Old Bilibid Prison and for the second time in the Customs Building.
Beset by the pressure to take allegiance to the US government, political intrigues in and among other revolutionaries, he led a self exile in Japan together with his wife. When the Second World War broke out, he was taken back to the Philippines to help the pro-Japanese propaganda. Against his wishes and convictions, he organized the Makapili which became synonymous to collaborators. Not to be forcibly taken away again from the Philippines, he refused to join the fleeing Japanese back to Japan. Soon he succumbed to illnesses and passed away in obscurity in Hungduan, Ifugao on July 31, 1945.
On March 24, 1997, the General Artemio Ricarte National Shrine and Park was inaugurated by President Fidel V. Ramos in recognition of Vibora‘s legacy. This was in pursuance to Republic Act No. 5648 which was approved on June 21, 1969 and designated his birth house as a national shrine. It should be noted that it took nearly 28 years to fulfill the purpose and intent of the Ricarte Shrine Act. The Shrine contains Vibora‘s military uniform, a photo gallery, and other artifacts and memorabilia. Within the park are Vibora‘s monument which was erected during the centenary of his appointment as the first chief of staff of the AFP, a howitzer, and two bas-reliefs depicting Ilocano history, culture and heritage.