JUNE 12, 1898 is celebrated in the Philippines as Independence Day. June 12 is celebrated as opposed to American-imposed July 4 because June 12 speaks of a Filipino revolution against Spain, as opposed to an American “granting” of independence.

In Benguet as in the rest of the country, Filipino flags are hung to demonstrate nationalism, that feeling of nationhood celebrating its right to self determination. In Benguet as in some parts of the country, the celebration may be wanting in mindfulness, an understanding of the place’s own role in that Aguinaldo led revolution of 1898.

I’ve made the point many times that it is with reckless abandon that mainstream Philippine history, for shame, has it that the Cordillera did not partake in the 1898 revolution. The truth is, sources record the Aguinaldo government travelling north from Manila in the latter half of 1898, fleeing from the Americans.

In La Union, the government party is split by a pursuing American column, one group having among them Republicans Pedro Paterno, Sergio Osmeña, and Julian Gerona. They head for the mountains, entertaining the hope that they can keep the Republic alive in Benguet.

And then it plays out, the little known footnote to the history of the first Philippine (Aguinaldo) Republic: its Benguet “chapter,” so to speak. This chapter, written about in the local municipal records of the Benguet town of Tuba, has it that the Republicans do make it up to the mountains of Benguet and do establish an official presence in the place.

Said municipal records have it that “500 Republicans did come up the Naguilian trail. After looting and burning the comandancia, they organized Benguet province under the government of the Republic of the Philippines with Juan Cariño as Governor and President of the Board.

Other board members were Emigido Octabona (Justice), Andres Valbuena (Treasury), and Mariano Lagasca (Police). Of La Trinidad, Miguel Picarte was made President, Agustin Caoili, Vice President, and Juan P. Llego, the Secretary.” Another source, Sanders Laubenthal, states that another Cariño, Mateo, was designated Presidente, or Mayor, of Baguio.

The Aguinaldo Republic was established not just in Benguet, but in Baguio, too. Yet celebrations in these our towns, if you will, have not the mindfulness of celebrating our own local participation. It’s really way past time that our educational sectors set history straight in the way the 1898 revolution is taught and celebrated.