GENERAL Juan Araneta was chosen secretary of war in the provisional government as early as November 26. He proposed to unite the two provinces into a federal republic. (Federalism during that time was already in the mind of our Negros leaders. President Digong is making a follow up now.)
General Aniceto Lacson and the other members of his cabinet agreed to the proposal of Araneta. On November 27, the new setup was materialized. Lacson remained as president of the Philippine Federal Republic Canton of Negros Island, composed of the Occidental and Oriental provinces. (Canton means a division of a country. We patterned ours from a Swiss state.)
The leaders of revolution in Negros could have been inspired also by the earlier triumphs of the revolutionaries in Iloilo who had started their struggle in August of that year (1898). The provisional revolutionary government in Iloilo was formed on August 28, with Roque Lopez as president. On December 2, Lopez also proclaimed the Republic of the Bisayas.
The group of Lopez recognized the authority of the Philippine revolutionary government under General Emilio Aguinaldo but Lopez and his cabinet dreamed of a national republic federated into Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao. That was ambitious but that simply shows the fire of nationalism inside our leaders.
The people of Negros elected their town deputies to the legislative body (Congress) on December 19. Jose R. de Luzuriaga was voted as president, with Estanislao Yusay of Talisay as vice president, and Jose Lopez Vito as secretary.
We want the Negrosanons to take note of this. As early as November 12, (a week after the capture of Bacolod) Lacson, Araneta, Antonio Jayme, Nicolas Golez, Simeon Lizares, Eusebio Luzuriaga, Agustin Amenabar, and Melecio Severino had sent a letter to the commander of the American forces near Iloilo to request for American protection. The Americans did not reply.
Your guess is as good as mine on the intention of our economic and political leaders. Is it because of sugar trading? Others say that the Spaniards are not good businessman. Others say that the astute Americans can give our “hacendados,” “hacenderos,” and sugar millers a good price. Since then, we have already manifested the kind of attitude we have for the Americans.
There was the outbreak of the Filipino-American War. The Americans under Gen. Marcus Miller captured Iloilo City on February 11, 1899. Our sugar lords in Negros (the heroes of Cinco de Noviembre Revolution), this time, advocated collaboration with the Americans “to save Negros.” A group of our leaders sent representatives to meet Gen. Miller in Iloilo to present their desire to collaborate with the Americans.
Sen. Miller, like a dog of war, advised Lacson to head a delegation going to Manila and declared the allegiance of the Negros group to the United States through General Otis. Many could not believe this but we have to believe it because it did happen. Some are asking, “We risk our lives to fight the Spaniards. Why can’t we risk our lives to fight the Americans?”
That question has been answered already. On March 4, 1899, Brigadier General James F. Smith headed the first American troops (the California Volunteer Infantry) to enter Bacolod. Lacson and his people welcomed the Americans. After that, an American-sponsored government replaced the short-lived Philippine Federal Republic Canton of Negros Island.
It is good because we know what we are celebrating. The “jornaleros” until now are just following. We are not expecting for another war. The “jornaleros” may just want to know how things happen. Where are they now?