Friday, October 22, 2021

Pacete: The fate of the Federal Republic of Negros

THE Negrosanons did not join the first phase of the Philippine Revolution. Our economic leaders were in their comfort zone with Spaniards and priests as friends. The success of revolution in Luzon and the inspiration provided by Graciano Lopez Jaena to his friends in Silay provided the revolutionary spirit towards the end of 1898.

Our province had the inauguration of its own independent Congress on December 26, 1898 under the Federal Republic of Negros, and capitulated to the Americans by March 4, 1899. I am sharing this because in our celebrations in Silay City, Bacolod City, Bago City, and other parts of the province we only remember what happened on November 5, 1898. We have almost forgotten (or we simply do not know) what happened next.

In Negros history, at least, we experienced the shortlived independent government in our province. That all started when the leaders of revolution met in Pueblo de Silay (my hometown) and they decided to start the uprising on November 5, 1898. During that time, Negros was divided into two, Negros Occidental with Bacolod as its capital, and Negros Oriental with Dumaguete as its capital.

Those two provinces were growing sugarcane. The sugar plantation created social classes: the “hacendados” (big time landlords), the “hacenderos” (owners of haciendas, not-so-big), the “apaceros” (sharecroppers), and the “jornaleros” (laborers). The “hacendados” who led the revolution included Aniceto Lacson, Juan Araneta, Leandro Locsin, Jose R. de Luzuriaga, and Teodoro Yulo (among others). They are all from Negros Occidental.

Just like the real military organization, the military force was divided under the command of General Aniceto Lacson and General Juan Araneta. There were secret meetings held in the guise of fiesta celebration, family reunion, or thanksgiving for the birthday. We could always say, especially in Silay, that good food and sweet wine were a part of the revolution.

In the town of Manapla, the war broke out on November 4 under the leadership of Custodio Duyugan. The Manaplahanons were simply over excited or probably misinformed of the date for the start of the uprising. In Pueblo de Silay under Nicolas Golez, the “hacendados” and the “hacenderos” gathered their “jornaleros” to have a festive attack of the Spanish garrison under Lt. Maximiano Correa.

The Silaynons who turned instant rebels raised the Filipino flag at the town plaza after that bloodless attack. However, on the terms of surrender (in paper), it was made clear that the Spaniards surrendered only to the Silaynons after a heavy fight and a bloody hand-to-hand combat. This was done (and agreed) to save the honor of Mother Spain.

Other towns joined the revolution. (They have their small and big stories to tell.) By the evening of November 5, General Lacson came from the north and General Araneta from the south to attack Bacolod.

Lacson, with the help of the big force from Silay, sent the message to Bacolod that his men in Talisay are all battle-ready with sufficient arms and ammunition. His “war think-tank” from Silay has laid down war strategies that would surely defeat Spanish troops. Araneta, on the other hand, was very convincing in his bluff that he got rifles, cannons, cannon balls (and his men had real balls). All those were fake and served as props only because they all came from coconut and nipa.

The Spanish troops in Bacolod, under Isidro de Castro, surrendered without a fight on November 6. The following day, a provisional revolutionary government was established with Lacson as president. By that time, Negros Oriental was still under the Spaniards. A military expedition under the command of General Diego de la Vina was sent to liberate the other half of the island.

Our Cebuano-speaking brothers supported the revolutionary force and by November 30, Dumaguete was captured. You see, history is a witness that we always stand as one as far as Negros Island is concerned. We did it before and we are doing it now again. (To be continued)
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