The Negros Theatrical Revolution (First of Two Parts)-A A +A
As I See It
Tuesday, November 5, 2013
NOV. 5, 1898. In Negros, November 5 is our Independence Day. The “hacendados” and the “jornaleros” became heroes when the Spaniards surrendered to them. This happened 115 years ago. This has set a box-office record in our history. The center stage was the Island of Negros. Our Negrosanon ancestors were in the limelight. There were props with magic and illusion. The curtain call was freedom. How far did that freedom go?
On June 12, 1898, Aguinaldo proclaimed Philippine Independence in Kawit, Cavite. The Spaniards transferred their headquarters in Iloilo. Gen. Diego de los Rios was designated governor-general. He believed that the people in the Visayas and Mindanao are still sympathetic to the Spanish Crown. He proposed to organize a Council of Reforms in the Visayas and Mindanao and the meeting would happen in Iloilo on November 15. The leaders of Negros met on November 1 and chose Juan Araneta to represent them. That was Plan A.
There was Plan B also. In the event of revolt, the following have been chosen as leaders: For North Negros is Aniceto Lacson of Talisay and Nicolas Golez (deputy commander) of Silay. For South Negros is Juan Araneta of Bago, and for Far South Negros is Rafael Ramos of Suay, Himamaylan. The other town committee military leaders are Remegio Montilla and Eduardo Esteban for Isabela, Eustaquio Lopez for Bago, Antipas Vasquez for Himamaylan, Maximiano Guanzon and Alejo Coloso for Kabankalan, Buenaventura Lopez and Santiago Reyes for Saravia, Domingo Hernaez for Talisay, Jose Robles for La Castellana, Severino Rivas and Joaquin Villadelgado, among others.
President Roque Lopez of the Provisional Revolutionary Committee of the Visayas based in Iloilo sent a message to Lacson that the Negros uprising will be on November 5. Lacson met the Silaynon “think tank” of the revolution: Leandro Locsin, Melecio Severino and Nicolas Golez. Araneta was informed about the plan. The sugarcane planter of every “hacienda” was commissioned to be the “capitan” of the troops. The troops are composed of the “jornaleros” who have shown their canine devotion to the sugar blocks.
The military leaders of Manapla, Custodio Duyungan and Luis Mosquera, were over excited. They raided the Spanish garrison on November 4 and arrested the Spaniards. In Silay (the Paris of Negros, the intellectual and the cultural hub), the preparation for the revolution was like a zarzuela. The “hacendados” put on their gala uniform tailored for the war. They assembled at the end of the road leading to Silay seaport. In this place now stands the Cinco de Noviembre Marker.
From there, they were joined in by Timoteo Unson and Vicente Gamboa (other leaders). The siege of Silay Spanish garrison started at one o’clock in the afternoon (Saturday). Lt. Maximiano Correa was with his 25 cazadores or home guards, and 10 native militia men armed with Mauser and Remington rifles. The assault was like a performance in the theater-in-the round with the rebels in all sides. Sporadic and light exchange of fire was heard.
The Silaynons who were zarzuela spectators were just hiding with their buttocks up. There was general admission for the viewers with brave hearts. Just like in the zarzuela, the antagonists and the protagonists would want to highlight the conflict to bring more suspense. Juan Viaplana, Spanish peninsular and a businessman, intervened and proposed to mediate. He advised Correa to surrender. “There is nothing you can do. There are hundreds or even thousands of them outside.”
Correa agreed to surrender peacefully but he requested that in the capitulation it shall be written that the Spaniards surrendered only after a fierce fight and there was a bloody hand-to-hand combat. It was really like a well directed zarzuela production with a happy ending. The Philippine flag sewn by Olympia Severino, Eutropia Yorac and Perpetua Severino was hoisted at the public plaza (2 p.m.). There was band music and the homebodies brought out the top cover of their pots to join the brass band.
Nicolas Golez and his troops marched to Talisay to join the group of Aniceto Lacson. The brave men of Silay with their weapon entrenched themselves at the shoreline to await possible Spanish reinforcement from Iloilo. They expected for gunboats to dock by midnight. The sea was calm and the night was peaceful until the red dawn of November 6. November 5 was won in a bloodless revolution.*
Published in the Sun.Star Bacolod newspaper on November 05, 2013.