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Cry of Pugadlawin: 1896 Philippine Revolution Against Spain

By Renato Perdon
August 11, 2015


119th years ago this month (Augst 2015) the Filipinos took arms against the Spanish colonial authorities. The main objective was to end colonialism and start a new life as independent people. The event that had taken place in the Philippines forever changed the course of history, not only for the country, but for Asia as well.

The church authorities even encourage the spread of rumours in their effort to extract the needed information about the secret society from their Filipino servants but the government was not keen on reacting right away on unverified rumours.
Meanwhile, two members of the Katipunan, Apolonio de la Cruz and Teodoro Patiño, workers in the Diario de Manila printing press, had a personal disagreement and the irritants led to the discovery of the Katipunan. Patiño told his sister who was staying at the orphanage managed by religious nuns about the society. His sister, shocked by the revelation, told the nuns about what her brother just told her. It was suggested that Patiño should talk to Father Mariano Gil, the parish priest of Tondo, and tell about the whole story.

On 19 August, the priest learned from Patiño the existence of the Katipunan and immediately he acted. The priest went to the printing press and found the printing paraphernalia used by the Katipunan in printing its propaganda materials. More evidences were found and eventually they were turned over to the police. The events that followed were fast. A mass arrest of Filipinos who were suspected of being members of the Katipunan were made and they were placed behind bars.  More than 500 persons were initially arrested and convicted of illegal association and thrown into Fort Santiago.

The news of the discovery of the Katipunan reached the officers of the society. Bonifacio called for an emergency meeting of officials to decide on the next move. Since the Spanish authorities, by that time, started to clamp on the members of the society, the situation was tense. Before the end of the third day, many rebels left Balintawak and proceedied to Kangkong. By the 22 August they arrived at the house of Juan Ramos in Pugadlawin were they rested and served hot meals.

It was at this stage that Bonifacio decided to ask all those present, around 500 of them, whether they were prepared to fight to the last. Everyone agreed. The Katipunan supremo then asked every one to bring out their cedulas (identification paper) and asked the members to destory it as a symbol of their defiance of Spanish authorities. Everyone did what was asked for them and while they were tearing their cedulas, they were shouting Long Live the Philippines. This was the Cry of Pugadlawin that took place on 23 August 1896.

Meanwhile, more Katipuneros arrived and brought the information that they were being pursued by the Spanish civil guards. Knowing that with the lack of arms they could not start a fight against the enemies, the Katipuneros decided to retreat and marched towards Pasong Tamo. On 24 August, they arrived at the house of Melchora Aquino, popularly known among Katipuneros as Tandang Sora.
The general attack of Manila was decided to be made on the night of August 29. A manifesto addressed to Filipinos asking them to rise was issued by Bonifacio. It said: ‘This manifesto is for all of you. It is absolutely necessary for us to stop at the earliest possible time the nameless oppression being perpetrated on the sons of the people who are now suffering the brutal punishment and tortures in jails, and because of this please let all the brethren know that on Saturday, the revolution shall commence according to our agreement.’

The first bloody encounter took place in San Juan del Monte on 30 August 1896. The main target was to seize the Spanish powder storage. However, with untrained and poorly armed supporters whose main weapons were bolos and few firearms and strong belief on anting-anting, the Filipinos although fought bravely and courageously lost in the battle. Many of them were slaughtered by the Spanish troops with their deadly volleys of rifle and artillery shots.
John Foreman, a British trader who was residing in Manila at the time of the Battle of Pinaglabanan or San Juan del Monte described the incident. ‘About 4 a.m. on Sunday, August 30, the rebels concentrated in the village of San Juan del Monte, distant half an hour on horseback from the city gates. They endeavoured to seize the powder magazine. One Spanish artilleryman was killed and several of the defenders were badly wounded whilst engaged in dropping ammunition from window openings into a stream which runs close by.
‘Cavalry and infantry re-inforcements were at once sent out, and the fist battle was fought at the entrance to the village of San Juan del Monte. The rebels made a hard stand this time under the leadership of Sancho Valenzuela (a hemp-rope maker in a fairly good way of business), but he showed no military skill and chiefly directed his men by frantic shouts from the windows of a wooden house. Naturally, as soon as they had to retreat, Valenzuela and his three companions were taken prisoners.
‘The rebels left about 153 dead on the field and fled towards the Pasig River, which they tried to cross. Their passage was at first cut-off by gunboats, which fired volleys into the retreating mob and drove them higher up the bank, where there was one hand-to-hand fighting. Over a hundred managed to get into canoes with the plan of reaching the Lake of Bay, but as they passed up the river the civil guard lying in ambush on the opposite shore, fired upon them, and in the consequent confusion every canoe was upset.
‘The loss to the rebels in the river and on the bank was reckoned at about 50. The whole of that day the road to San Juan del Monte was occupied by troops, and no civilians was allowed to pass. At 3 p.m. the same day martial law was proclaimed in Manila and seven other Luzon provinces.
‘The next morning of sunrise, I rode out to the battlefield with the correspondent of the Ejercito Español (Madrid). The rebels slain had not yet been removed. We came across them everywhere – in the fields and in the gutters of the highroad.

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