WHAT were the causes of the Negrense uprising against the Spanish rule toward the 1890s? The Negrense reaction to the Spanish colonial system clearly showed two major levels of motivations. At this time, for the Negrense ilustrados, it was mainly their concept of political responsibilities and good government coupled with their awareness of the day to day oppressive activities of the Spanish rule which violated their sense of human dignity and justice.
These were brought about by foreign ideas not only through wider educational opportunities but also through the facility of communication which Negros had been experiencing since the opening of Iloilo and Negros to the sugar international trade in 1855.
The increase in geographic mobility enabled the children of Negrenses to study in Iloilo and Manila and in some cases even abroad. Worth noting here were various families whose children studied in the Pontifical University of Santo Tomas such as Mariano Yulo, Leandro de la Rama Locsin, Dionisio Mapa, Estanislao Yusay, Agustin Montilla Jr., Carlos Infante, Vicente Locsin, Melecio Severino and Antonio Jayme. From the Ateneo Municipal came the three outstanding leaders of Negros, namely: Aniceto Lacson, Juan Araneta and Rafael Ramos.
These young Negrenses were exposed to the ideas of the "Age of Enlightenment" which was sweeping Europe in the early 18th century. At the Ateneo, Jesuit education must have developed in the Negrenses an active spirit of inquiry which led to the historic ideas of the French declaration of the rights of man, representative government, acceptance of the majority will, common law for all, freedom of individual citizens and of the press based on the ideas of the Enlightenment. For instance, in the case of Juan Araneta, his contemporaries in school were Jose Rizal, Jose Alejandrino and others who contributed to the propaganda movement and the unforgettable experience for Negrenses and Filipinos who watched the marching Spanish soldiers who led the young Jose Rizal to his martyrdom on December 30, 1896. Equally forceful reasons were the frequent violations of human dignity and justice which gave the uprising of the revolution wide popular support.
Since there were no substantial friar lands in Negros unlike in Luzon, the predominant motive of the Negrense ilustrados as major leaders of the Negrense uprising was a political one: to be freed from tyranny under a corrupt government and to gain political power over the demoralized government including civil and religious bureaucracies and help establish an efficient government system to benefit Negrenses and their workers and the entire citizenry. Despite the silence of workers in haciendas, they gave support to the ilustrados on the assumption that their response was more on the social level, seeing the end of the daily oppressions, and the hope of a better life for them. Consequently, and despite the supposed apathy of the masses, the ilustrados and their allies bonded together to plan the ejection of their oppressors.
On the whole therefore, these were the powerful forces that inspired the Negrense revolution and brought it to its completion. The next column in this three part series will narrate the prelude to the actual uprising.