About the author: Miguel Saderra Maso (? , 1865 — March 21, 1939) was a member of the Society of Jesus. According to Fr. Jose S. Arcilla, S.J.,
Maso had just finished his last year of regency, or teaching assignment at the Ateneo, when the Bonifacio uprising occurred in August 1896 and was about to return to Spain for his theological studies preparatory to his priestly ordination. When he left the country, he was a co-passenger of Rizal who was on his way to join the Spanish medical corps in Cuba. Scholastic Saderra Maso was ordained to the priesthood in 1889, and returned to the Philippines 1901, when he was assigned to work at the Manila Observatory. He died in San Pedro, Makati on 21 March 1939 at the age of seventy-four.
The Manila Observatory, however, has slightly different biographical information:
He was born in Olot (Gerona, Spain) and joined the Society of Jesus in 1882. In 1890 he arrived at the Manila Observatory and was put in charge of [t]he seismological station. In 1895 he published the first work on the seismology of Philippines (La sismología en Filipinas), which includes a catalogue of earthquakes for the periods 1599-1865 (historical) and 1866-1889 (instrumental), with intensity maps for larger events. He returned to Spain to complete his studies in theology and was back in Manila Observatory in 1901, where he worked in seismology and terrestrial magnetism. He installed seismographic stations in Butuan, Ambulong, Baguio and the island of Guam. He established also meteorological and geomagnetic stations in several places in Philippines and studied the occurrence of earthquakes and volcanic eruptions. In 1910 he published a new catalogue of destructive earthquakes and in 1913 the first study of seismotectonics of Philippines. In 1932 after suffering a stroke he returned to Spain.
the Spanish scholar Luis E. Togores Sánchez in his paper which reproduces portions of the original Spanish text however states the diary having been written by an anonymous member of the Society of Jesus. In his paper he contextualizes the importance of the document as follows:
There are two landmarks in the loss of Philippines in 1898: the Cavite naval battle and the subsequent siege of Manila. Between May and August 1898 the Tagalog independentist forces under Aguinaldo, and the Northamerican soldiers under Commodore Dewey and General Merrit, laid siege to and took over the capital city of the Colony after a long and hard siege, filled [full] of struggles. A Jesuit’s personal diary found in the Rome archives provides a day-by-day chronicle of the siege. By contrasting this Information with other existing documentation it has been possible to reconstruct one of the historical keys to the understanding ofSpain’s defeat in the Pacific.
About the diary: Extracts from it have been published twice. First in English and second, in Spanish, nearly a decade apart. The entries translated into English were published as “The Fall of Manila: Excerpts from a Jesuit Diary.” Philippine Studies, vol. 37, no. 2, 1989, pp. 192–214. The Spanish diary entries were published as “El asedio de Manila (mayo-agosto 1898). «Diario de los sucesos ocurridos durante la guerra de España con los Estados Unidos, 1898»,”in Revista de Indias, 1998, vol. LVIII, núm. 213, (c) Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas. The article was published online under Creative Commons License No. 3 (Spain).
Referring to the Jesuit he attributes as the author of the diary, Fr. Jose Arcilla S.J. says of the diary that,
The following is a translation of an excerpt of a diary kept by a Jesuit scholastic, Miguel Saderra Maso, on orders of his rector at the Ateneo Muncipal de Manila, Fr. Miguel Saderra Mata…
The original diary could not have been written by him for he was out of the country when the events described took place. But he was ordered by his rector to make a clean copy of an original record made, as is usual in Jesuit houses, by the house chronicler.
Arcilla states that,
The translation offered here covers only a part of the entire diary which records the events from 21 April 1898 to 7 February 1899… It is based on the text preserved in the Archivum Romanum Societatis Jesu, the central Jesuit Archive in Rome, manuscript “Phil.” 1001-XII, 20 (olim Philipp. [Arag.] 1-IX).
For his part, Luis E. Togores Sánchez puts it in his paper, that,
El manuscrito que nos ocupa narra de forma breve y concisa, día a día, las vicisitudes de los habitantes de Manila, su percepción de los cercanos combates en la línea defensiva, por la pluma de un jesuíta residente en la ciudad. Visión privilegiada por ser la Compañía de Jesús, sus miembros, grupo poderoso en la sociedad manila. Es anónimo, y de él sólo vamos a extraer —ya que es muy extenso y prolijo— aquellas referencias y noticias relativas al asedio de Manila durante aquellos luctuosos sucesos de hace un siglo. El diario abarca desde el día viernes 21 de abril de 1898 hasta el martes 7 de febrero de 1899
(“The manuscript before us narrates briefly and concisely, day by day, the vicissitudes of the inhabitants of Manila, their perception of the close combat in the defensive line, by the pen of a Jesuit resident in the city. Privileged view for being a member of the Society of Jesus, a powerful group in Manila society. It is anonymous, and from him we are only going to extract – since it is very extensive and tedious – those references and news related to the siege of Manila during those tragic events of a century ago. The diary covers Friday, April 21, 1898 to Tuesday, February 7, 1899.”)
In a footnote in the paper, the author writes,
Quiero en primer lugar dar las gracias a mi amiga Cecilia Harrison por haberme facilitado el documento que constituye el núcleo y corazón de este trabajo. Sin ella éste no hubiese sido posible.
(“First of all, I want to thank my friend Cecilia Harrison for providing me with the document that constitutes the nucleus and heart of this work. Without it this work would not have been possible.”)
The diary entries are therefore presented in two languages: the original Spanish as put forward by Sánchez and English translation by Arcilla. However, they do not necessarily reflect each other, as the Spanish excerpts may, in some cases, be shorter or longer than the English translations. In cases where an entry was reproduced in only one language, only that version is reproduced.